Living a debt-free lifeFor over a decade, I worked with a TVS group company -- the largest industrial group of South India. They present Management is complete with fourth generation owner-managers, all of whom have degrees in engineering and advanced degrees in Management, from the best institutions in Germany, USA and UK.
Yet, they follow, very faithfully one great principle taught to them by their grand-fathers and fathers. They are superbly wedding to the idea of zero-debt companies. Even if they borrow, they do so for very small periods of up to two years or less, from a superb non-banking financial company called Sundram Finance. The debt is repaid very quickly.
This extends to every single TVS group company, and they do not do injustice to any stakeholder. The employees are paid industry level wages and perks and they value loyalty. The employees also follow the same principle. ( this author included).
However, we see just the opposite in our society. The younger generation wants to bu flats and apartments right in the heart of cities like Bengaluru or Chennai, where even independent houses are available at prices that are even fifty percent cheaper. And those areas also have good schools. Even if they do not get to live in those houses for a while, it is worthwhile to invest in these houses, so that they loans can be repaid quickly.
Similarly, the present fifty and sixty plus parents find it so difficult to adjust to the changing demands of the sons or daughters and grandchildren, who seem to demand every possible luxury, at a very young age. They hate any advise and deem it a great pleasure to do what they want to do. The result: debts, all the time, with credit cards actively encouraging spending much more than what needs to or can afford.
What alternatives do we have? We can only go on telling them and advising them on the need to live within their means. We can point out the dangers of conspicuous consumption, as it were, pointing out how middle-class people or the upper middle-class people need to exercise caution in whatever they do. We also need to educate them on the importance of saving for very long periods and investing in investment vehicles like the Public Provident Fund.
However, all this is very difficult with this "here and now" generation.
We can bring out a greater awareness in the society, through good case-studies of men and women, who have always lived within their limits, have been able to save for their future, and have lived very healthy lives. Off and on, we can have a frank dialogue with them, impressing on them the huge difference between needs and wants.
As far as elders are concerned, even unconsciously, we are living very simple lives. We always concentrate on needs, cutting down on all unimportant expenditure. We put off air-conditioners after a while and travel by second class sleeper in trains. We are far away from all sorts of junk food.
It is essential that we stay this way, as the present thirty-plus generation and their children, learn at least a little from us. As regards spreading the message of debt-free living, we can try to spread the message to as many people as possible, particularly those who feast on non-vegetarian food as if there were no tomorrow, and end up with the worst of diseases. We can also counsel them on savings for the future.