Let me share some of my observations here. These are not judgments or a discussion on what is right? Or what is wrong? This is an attempt to highlight some of the influencing factors.
Let me discuss one case (names, places and time not considered relevant for our discussion) in our neighbourhood that I had a ring side view for over two decades and made me ponder on what shapes financial position in later life.
This is an instance of two families with similar financial and educational background, working in very similar jobs with single earning members and staying in typical one bedroom (1BHK) apartments. A typical middle class family that one sees all over.
Children of both families attend the same school with reasonable above average intelligence. Nothing out of the ordinary here and logically the future should largely be parallel.
What happens is something like this….The child from one family goes to qualify as a brilliant doctor with top rankings and the younger child goes to be a brilliant industrial designer. Opportunities abound and monetary position is on a distinctly higher level.
In the second family, one child completes graduation and gets a job in a bank. whilst the younger becomes an engineer and gets a job in a medium sized engineering firm. Incomes are on a slightly lower level.
Let me clarify here – I am not getting into a discussion on luck, destiny or any such matter. This close observation of over two decades helped me trace many differences between these two families and I believe they have played a major role in shaping up attitudes of these children, their approach to problems, their enthusiasm, passion for anything in life, their tenacity …..infact their intellectual and emotional quotient was different.
Some of the factors have been - emphasis on education, family discipline, bonding, reading habits, outlook and attitude of parents, responses to difficult times, social networking, manners and social etiquette….etc.
I was amazed at why all these play a role in shaping our financial position, amongst others, in later life. I almost dismissed this as a one-of co-relation but then as I got deeper in the financial markets, I got an opportunity to interact with innumerable people and found that my earlier observations were not random. This kept coming back quite regularly till I was convinced that my observation were indeed not a flight of fancy.
This does not suggest in any way that we are powerless to better our lot. In fact, hard work, smart work, enthusiasm and passion are a must that need be inculcated in every child and it is our birth right to aspire for betterment in our lives and we have seen numerous instances when this has happened. Some of us will probably vouch that this has been their personal experience.
I urge readers of this post not to start an analysis of their own lives and imagine shortcomings where none existed in the first place. There is nothing right or wrong about this just as there is no agreement on How much money is enough?
In my next post, I will look at Expenses – the second aspect of the financial literacy puzzle.