By Sarvesh Talreja Sep. 12, 2017
Most millennials seem to have missed the memo about money being important. They believe small, large, and medium caps are things you get at the neighbouring Nike store.
am driving around Mumbai with a friend that I often drive around Mumbai with, when he tells me he wants to “get into mutual funds” with the same tone that someone would use if they wanted a date with Radhika Apte. While aspiring for such a date could be considered difficult, it takes under half an hour of internet form-filling and all of one web search to start investing in mutual funds. So I tell my friend to begin an SIP, to which he replies, “Is that Stupid Intolerant Politicians?” At this point, we quit talking finance.
As far as I’m concerned, this level of financial literacy is the equivalent of only being able to scribble your name, but somehow very few people my age (FINE, millennials) seem to have any. While I got a very basic knowledge of such matters from a father, who lends money to other people, and by swapping The Bombay Times for the occasional Economic Times, everyone else seems to have missed the memo about money being important. They seem to come from the school of thought that believes small, large, and medium caps are things you get at the neighbouring Nike store.
If memes and social media are any indication, the bright, young future of this world is doing just one of the four things with money – travelling, partying, ordering food, or updating technology. Our weapon of choice to conquer this territory of needless material accumulation is a slick, rectangular, impulse-driven device, known to the world as a credit card. We have this magical purchasing power, so we use it.
While Spider-Man had great power, along with which came great responsibility, we have none. We’ve all come from parents who’ve managed to scrape enough money to buy a house, but we have no such yen. We have no dependents, no real desire to buy yet another house, no immediate nagging need to start families to pretend that our lives have meaning. So what’s there to stop us from treating ourselves to The Great Indian Sale from every e-commerce company, even the one that we’ve purchased a toothbrush from, which takes place every three days? We’ve earned it after all. So what if that phone costs as much as the month’s pay?
While Spider-Man had great power, along with which came great responsibility, we have none. We’ve all come from parents who’ve managed to scrape enough money to buy a house, but we have no such yen
I don’t know who is to blame for this state of affairs. Maybe school was the culprit. We’ve grown up being taught geography instead of “What the Fuck is a Tax Return”, which is why we’re all travelling instead of investing. Or are our parents to be blamed? Maybe they were so busy teaching us the difference between good and bad that the difference between a debt and equity fund didn’t get a chance.
I wonder what went wrong. But somewhere in these last 15 years, the shift in the collective mindset of people has gone from saving for something bigger and of our own, to being distracted by the big, bright, shiny lights of shops, restaurants, and high-rent apartments around us. We’ve become like moths with ADHD and it leaves us with only petty cash at the end of every month. These last few rupees are treated like the salad served beside a burger – it is largely ignored until the next juicy burger comes in. That salad, I’ve tried telling my friends, can be the beginning of the end of your hand-to-mouth existence. Those little ignored pennies that wash up in your account at the end of every month can make for the first step in making money in the future. The salad, I tell my driving friend, is your SIP.
He looks at me intently, and then says, “Hey listen, do you feel like grabbing a cheeseburger right now? ”