Introduction Some common themes run right through the art of keeping our head high, even in the toughest of times. These recurring themes form a holistic package when viewed together as one package. Hence, one has to take a broad view of each of the strategies or methods involved and then weave them together. In particular, we will discuss such strategies with specific reference to a) Start big savings very early in careers b) Never fall for the "wants" trap c) Life life for your sake and not for others d) Instill good values in children every day and e) Update yourself to stay alive in the rat race
Start big savings very early in careers Do this very religiously. Never ever think that you can postpone savings. The real value of money is coming down so badly. It is fine to invest in independent houses in villages and ensure that the rest of the money available is pumped into long term Systematic Investment Plans with good Mutual Funds. The beauty of this investment is that the returns are tax-free. When you consult a good investment advisor, he would advise you to properly invest something like Rs.3000 on a monthly basis. Do this immediately. You can keep invested for around five years and then exit since the capital appreciation is taxed when it exceeds rupees one lakh under the current tax laws. Please do note that this is unlikely to change. Hence you need these investments. A SIP can be started with just Rs.500 or even Rs.100 in some cases. However, expert advice is always good. When you plan for your son's higher education or marriage, it is essential that the corpus should be at least forty lakh rupees, at 2019 prices. It could even be more after accounting for inflation. Our parents had always invested only in long term savings. This is one very important message that we should learn from.
You just cannot afford to spend as if there is no tomorrow, even if your salary or combined family salary is one lakh rupees per month ( take home). As already mentioned, a good house in a big village is far better. You may even a small garden which can be maintained through periodical visits. For instance, even if the outgo is around Rs.30,000 per month, it is fine. Do not even rent out. You can use the same as a farmhouse. Rebuilding an old house is even more advisable. If you pump in Rs.60,000 per month on a flat, rent it out for Rs. 30,000, you are the loser anyway. A flat is a flat. Even assuming that you spend at least Rs.20,000 on your present rented accommodation, what you have is nothing. In many cities, after twenty years, the flat owners are sitting on a highly depreciated asset. When the market crashes and the buyers can find new flats for lesser than the market value, you will find no buyers. This is exactly what is happening in Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore and so on. You need to always think of the long term. Locking up savings in an asset that would depreciate is absolutely useless.
Never fall for the "wants" trap Very costly foreign tours can wait. So can the most expensive things in the form of wants. Interior design is fine but spending ten lakhs for it is absolute madness. This is exactly some upper-middle-class people do. They hope for the good times to always lost. Many lost their way after the 2008 global crisis. Even today, there is the talk of an impending global recession. After all, each and every family can have at best, two cars. Not more than that. If your son wants a car at the age of twenty, never ever give in to the pressure. Advise him to earn the money and then buy a car. You are not caring for him if you give in. You are in effect giving him very wrong messages.
This author has seen that happen in some families. After some years when the man becomes old and needs the care of the son, he never cares and the poor father regrets all his mistakes. After all, a dreaded disease like cancer can set back any person by at least fifteen lakhs, even with the best medical insurance. The post-operative expenses are huge. Hence, be always happy with needs. Never overspend on wants. If you do so, you will regret later.
Live life for your sake and not for others All vanity, all the tendencies to show off, to boast about one's achievements are never too good. When you see someone else doing it, just ignore it. You need not to do it at all. After all, it is your life. This "catching up" games never end and you will be the loser.
Similarly, if it is your custom to be very religious and your own daughter-in-law makes fun of you, never ever compromise. You can make it clear to her that it is your life. She has the choice to be different. But so have you. You need not to compromise at all. You should continue to do what is right. The values are very important. Once you stick to the basic values, doing whatever you think is right is absolutely fine. It is ridiculous to imagine that you can change the world. This never happens. Hence, it is fine to live life the way you want. The views of others, which would include neighbors or relatives or friends could be given some importance. Yet, the final call is yours.
Instill good values in children every day When this author checked the background of some IT professionals who would always spend a bit of their time on weekends in one old age home with inmates who lived on the mercy of donations received from various people, it was revealed that their parents had brought to the same place when they were young. Their parents are retired post masters, headmasters and the like. They still live in their native villages and repeatedly tell their children to do something to the society.
This is exactly why good things happen. The inmates were so happy. The IT professionals would write letters for them. sing songs for them or even dance with one or two men, who would like to do so. The entire place would have fun for over three hours. This is exactly what we need to teach our children. Empathy. Kindness. Truth. And a good heart to do good to others. It was also noticed that the IT professionals had donated money to improve the infrastructure in a big way. We can indeed hold our head high when we notice that our children get to practice some good values.
Update yourself to stay alive in the rat race A twelve-year-old girl was seen to be knowing so much about American politics. Since she studied in a world-class school, watching the videos is not only compulsory but sharing learning with others is compulsory too. The parents were seen chipping in with vital details. It should be noted that updating oneself does not mean more and more qualifications alone. This is just one aspect. The more important aspect refers to keeping oneself updated on matters that concern all of us. The girl under reference had asked why one of her cousins who is an IT professional working in the USA had to come back. The answer lead her to seek a huge amount of knowledge. Her inquisitiveness was amazing. This is exactly the kind of exposure that is needed today. Being updated would also mean knowledge about all affairs that concern each of us everyday.
Conclusion The Art of Living meaningful lives should start even when you are very young. Some dimensions of doing it have been discussed in some detail in the aforesaid paragraphs.