#1. To the entitled millennials who are sometimes unable to afford the ₹300 sandwich (including me!)
In May of 2016, Buzzfeed came up with an article which deeply resonated with my being. The Urban Poor You Haven’t Noticed: Millennials Who’re Broke, Hungry, But On Trend. I was in the third year of my bachelors’ and had to struggle most evenings explaining where I blew up all my money, to my mother. Understandably, I was living off “pocket-money” which was supposed to be dedicated to my fuel and stationary and occasional food-outlets’ expenses. But my fuel tank was always running out in the middle of the week while I had no money to refill it. Where was all my money going? I had no idea. And I couldn’t care less provided my generous father who’d seldom ask a question or two when I demanded “a little more” in-hand-cash.
Back in the late 1980s, when my father was nearly the age I am, not only was he able to job-hunt and apply and fend for himself, he could even buy a nice present or two occasionally for my mother (then equivalent of a girlfriend, but married!). The concept of pocket-money was alien at our place. It was assumed that once you’ve grown up enough, you should be able to fend for yourself.
Coming from the place of having struggled to fend for himself (and succeeding at it!), my father never raised an eyebrow at any of my mostly illegitimate demands that enabled me to “fit in” with the other millennials who were doing exactly the same. A whole generation trying to fit in with one another with no money of our own!
In this whole bunch of the idiots that we sometimes are, I was still able to spot a person or two who were doing things differently. Be it Billy, who you will seldom (perhaps never!) find at a café ordering the 200 bucks coffee (You may spot him at unusual places though – behind the DSLR at the set of his own documentary still in the making with everything DIY on the set, including the lights, done by him, and everything expensive – borrowed!); Or Shalom, who has vowed to not date until he is in a position to pay for the date from his own pocket, not his father’s; people are growing up at all sort of places. They are determined to do the right thing.
Having moved to Delhi early this year and being put in the position to pay my bills off what I earn and struggling against asking my parents to chip in any extra balance, adulthood had taken me in full sway. I had not yet left the “fitting in” of my adolescence behind. I still felt entitled to the ₹ 300 sandwiches every day. This entitlement to everything ridiculously expensive ensured that I go broke around the middle of the month. And then I’d call my father and he’d chip in some extra balance and life would be good again. Until one day, when only a week ahead of my payday, I ran out of money and I called him and he was as shocked as I was, and he put forth the question as politely as ever, “Where did all your money go?” I knew he wanted to ask me to grow up. But he didn’t. But I did.
I asked myself to grow up! Not many months ago from today.
At 23, I have started to be accountable for my money. I have started budgeting. I have stopped trying to fit in as much. I have started to reason out my demands to myself and my family. I have started to slightly want to save for the house I would like to buy in my late thirties maybe. One has to start young!
Start now, Please! Here’s how:
- What you can’t afford, you’re not entitled to!
- Do the math before you start the month, before you leave the house!
- LEARN TO COOK and LOVE IT. You spend more money eating out than you probably notice.
- Go to shopping on a full stomach. (There’s a connection!) Also, talk yourself out of buying anything ridiculously expensive.
- There’s a huge difference between being generous and showing off. Being generous will help you keep friends – showing off will help you keep a bunch of people who mostly envy you and stick around for the privilege of having a spendthrift companion.
Start now, Please! Keep a balance sheet. Be mindful. Save for the house you’d someday buy. Save in the honor of the woman you love. Save for the love of the children who are someday going to depend on you. Save with a heart for the friend who might come to you in times of need. The ₹300 sandwich is taking us nowhere.