Are You Having a Quarter-Life Crisis? Here’s How to Beat it


Are You Having a Quarter-Life Crisis? Here’s How to Beat it

Illustration: Arati Gujar

Spider-Man once famously said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The beauty of one’s school and college years is that there’s no responsibility whatsoever. You’re like Rishabh Pant playing his first, or for that matter, 20th ODI game with careless abandon. In school, everything from your tiffin to uniform to travel is taken care of by your parents, so you can confidently claim that Kolkata is the capital of India in your geography exam. College life is all about wearing torn jeans, spiking your hair like you’re about to audition for Roadies and embarrassing your parents.

It’s all fun and games until you have no choice but adult (yes, I know it sucks) and move out of your parent’s home. That’s when the going gets tough – there is no one to pay your bills and no one to keep tab on the fact that you are running out of milk. This when you realise that it’s not all fun and games, things get real. You start questioning your self-worth, evaluating your success, and find yourself in the midst of a quarter-life crisis.

The trick is not to get bogged down but make the most of what you have and Step 1 is to

budget and manage your finances. Living with parents is like having access to an unlimited credit card, you can live the Vijay Mallya life while being bankrupt yourself. However, the challenge with a salaried life is that money is limited and you can see it being deducted from your bank account as you pay for rent, the househelp, doodhwala, paperwala and so on. When you figure out that you need to invest a part of your savings, you realise that the only acronyms you are familiar with are LMAO, NSFW, BAE.  You know nothing about GDP, GST, and ITR. And that might be worrying.

We consider ourselves “independent” and “woke” but when it comes to applying for documents like PAN-Aadhaar, making investments, and filing income tax returns, we are as clueless as cats. We are told to sign around the criss-crosses on 50 documents and we blindly oblige without understanding much. When the office HR sends seven mail reminders to upload tax proofs, we call that one CA friend in dread and ask for tax- saving investment advice. After spending a few years in the corporate world, we know there is something known as PPF where you can put money and gain exemptions. We scamper for the paperwork, do the bare minimum, and breathe a sigh of relief as the “tax jhanjhat” for another year is over. We don’t make smart choices or use the permissible limits. Tax savings options are plenty, diverse and if you don’t plan well in advance, you will end messing up your finances. I was no different until a couple of months ago.

Living with parents is like having access to an unlimited credit card, you can live the Vijay Mallya life while being bankrupt yourself.

After going through my tax forecast and almost getting a panic attack on finding out how much tax I could be paying, it took a Ted Talk from a finance friend to throw light on the multiple options when it came to saving tax. I was introduced to mutual funds, which until recently only reminded me of that ad on TV where a guy at the speed of a bullet train tells you, “Investments subject market risks.” My friend further threw light on Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS), that felt like Greek and Latin at first, but sounded like an attractive proposition once he explained it, where you can not only save tax but also create wealth at the same time.

To transition from the person who spends leftover money on parties and food to investing in tax saving funds and having Maggi for dinner is what adulting is all about.

Just like the public health system isn’t ready to tackle coronavirus, most millennials are completely unprepared to deal with responsibilities. But like the passing of GST in parliament, it will happen and we must all get used to it. We will find our way around the ever-changing rules of this new version of life and be forced to adapt to it. And soon the quarter-life crisis shall pass. How will you know?

It’s the day you find yourself passionately talking about insurance and investments instead of Goa plans and hip Lebanese restaurants.

To learn how to adult and survive the tax season,  click here.