Introduction Why is enough not enough today? Why are we always running? Why can't we just relax a bit and look around to do different things? Well, we can certainly do so. However, we run the risk of being left behind in the rat race. We need to run because our efforts are not just "enough". But then, what is " enough"? Where do I draw a line? This is exactly what we need to do. We might certainly call this our philosophy of life. Yes, the choice is ours. However, we should understand that there is scope for "more" everywhere. Hence, this concept of " enough" is becoming a bit of an understatement today. We can obviously understand the emerging realities of life and then work out our space in it. That is, by exploring each of the alternatives as they present themselves and then ask a vital question: given the reality as it stands and my present position, is it fine if I can even think of "enough" and then define it in terms of My Philosophy of Life? If the answer is yes, we can go ahead. If the answer is no, then our efforts need to be even more focussed on maximizing all opportunities to shift the goals to whatever we define as " enough".
The world is becoming very complicated. Robots are seen everywhere. In many States, the sheer size of the resident and floating population makes the service sector, the only source of self-employment and livelihood for hundreds of thousands of people. So, what do we have as the reality? Yes, the richest people like the owner of the big Saravana Stores Chain of Chennai can afford to pay crores to TV artistes and engage them as models and also become a model, happily dancing with them in the advertisements that literally dominate Tamil TV Channels. The turnover runs into thousands of crores of rupees. There is everything for everyone in the chain. And then the rich industrialists dominate the Corporate scenario, have unlimited access to the deposits you and I save in banks, for all their unrelated diversification and then run up bad debts. And of course, we also have the IIT or NIT and IIM or ISB crowd earning even five hundred thousand rupees a month with liberal bonuses too. So, the safety net in terms of huge incomes is available only to such economic and social classes. Of course, any discussion about the political class would never be in order. This is because their plunder is a " given". Employment in real terms is shrinking day after day. We have atrocious schemes like NEEM to keep costs low for employers.
This is why the middle classes, caught up at different economic slots in the pecking order between the super-rich as described above, and the lower economic or poor classes, always have to run. Inflation is eating us up. Social tensions like water problem, pollution, highly complicated education system, the growing permissiveness of children and highly commercial relationships everywhere, leave us with no choice. The "enough" goal posts keep on shifting. Yet, we need to find a way out of this madness and develop mechanisms to cope with the emerging realities and tensions. Some steps are a) Defining Clearly, one's philosophy of Life b) Saving for wants and needs that reflect our philosophy of life c) Making every effort to match current " enough" d) Saving for tomorrow's "more" and e) Constantly exploring alternatives.
Defining Clearly, one's philosophy of LifeVery clearly, this will vary from person to person. There is absolutely no way in which we can have any common template. Let us take a real-world example. Name is not mentioned, as the person does not like any reference, direct or indirect. He is a Senior Manager in an auto component company. He is 52. He has some eight years of active work life. He might become GM and, with some luck, VP in the same company. His philosophy of life is to continue to live for a lifetime in the one house he has built for himself in the small town. His wants are limited and saves some Rs.20,000 per month. His wife is a mere housewife. He has enough jewelry to celebrate his only daughter's wedding. All his relatives live within a radius of thirty kilometers. He has no ambition of going abroad. He had utilized the foreign LTA to go abroad only once, to Singapore. His retirement corpus would be some fifty lakh rupees. He is least bothered whether this would be enough. But his long term "enough" is just this. His relatives want his wife to join their trading business, but he is just not bothered. He would think that all his basic needs would be met at any point in life. No costly holidays. No lavish spending. No parties. No beauty parlors. Nothing at all. It is his philosophy of life. Similarly, you need to be very specific in defining clearly what you want, what you have, and what will be "enough", which will then define your philosophy of life.
Saving for wants and needs that reflect our philosophy of life Look at the person quoted above saving Rs. 20,.000 per month. This is possible only because he would not go in for a second home. No investment in jewelry either. The path is clear. Similarly, when you are clear about your future "enough", that will define the way you would possibly plan all your investments and futuristic planning thereof. Now, let us clearly understand what is a need and a want. An RO water facility is a need and not a want. An AC in summer is a need. Not a want. Good basic furniture is a need. Not a want. However, costly holidays both domestic and foreign, clear want. Lavish spending on any aspect that would be done to impress others is a want. Hence, save your money after being clear about these needs and wants. Pure protection policy for Rs. 40 lakh is a need. it is not a want. Accident insurance for a similar amount is a need. Not a want.
Making every effort to match current " enough" This is a big must. One would have to spend on a good education. Any expenditure on skill development of children is an investment, not an expenditure. Similarly, any expenditure on good organic food, for example, is an investment for good health, not an expenditure. Just do it. Look for ways to finance such expenditure. Most middle-class people have small loans to finance the education of children. This is fine.
Saving for tomorrow's "more" This is the inflation that one is talking about. Very long term recurring deposits for ten years will be very useful. This will enable the individual to stay happy as the extra income will come in handy. As we advance in age, the requirements become automatically less. We are not attracted to anything. This is okay. Yet, we need just that amount of money to finance the rise in cost for the same expenditures we are doing now. For example, for a family of four, a monthly grocery bill for good vegetarian food, thrice a day, is around Rs. 5200 per month. Ten years down the line, please be prepared for Rs. 8000 for this vital expenditure. The regular recurring deposits will do the trick.
Constantly exploring alternatives Nice cozy homes, at very cheap prices, with good vegetarian food, and medical care is available on rent in most smaller cities now. One understands that this is a pan-India phenomenon. A 480 square foot accommodation, with all functional facilities and a small kitchen are provided. Food comes at a price. One can cook too. Such alternatives always need to be explored. Social life will be fine as one would get to meet new people and make new friends.
ConclusionTime and tides do not stop for anyone. Realities of life keep on changing. The employment opportunities are likely to arise, only in the service sector. Inflation will keep on increasing. Social tensions too. How we manage our affairs, given these realities is a task and some ideas have been discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs.
A very nice article by the author. 'Enough' for me is not 'Enough' for you. The quantum varies from person to person. A house to live in, the money necessary for food and clothes and a little more for meeting the unexpected expenditures arising out of health problems etc, may be sufficient for me. But somebody may think of having a palatial house and a good car with chauffeur. Like this, the desires will decide your "Enough".
One should be very specific in his requirements. Based on these one should make his budget and see that he will be happy in his life. But unnecessarily going for more and more and running in the life may not be wise thinking.
At the same time, in the present days of competition, we should not be very complacent and we should save some money for the coming days. Once we plan this and act accordingly we will have a peaceful life.