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Money Lessons from our Freedom Fighters

On the 15th of every August, patriotism comes alive in India. We see tiny flags in car dash-boards and flag badges being worn as an accessory. We wear tri-coloured clothes to show our love for the country. If the 15th happens to be towards end of the week, as it is this time, it becomes a quick family get-away time, as our hectic lives don’t give us time to bond. For retailers it’s time to scream out about big discounts and deals so that we end up spending time in the mall, not minding the parking jams or the credit card bill rollovers that follow.

Isn’t it ironical then, that the most that we will remember of our father of our nation on this day, will be when we be digging into our wallets to hand over currency notes bearing his image, at the cash counter of some “Mega Independence Sale”? This is the only day we remember our freedom fighters for their sacrifices. I wondered if this is all that my son Vajra will remember of Independence day celebrations? The huge shopping queues and wearing tri-colour attire!

He certainly deserves to know better about our freedom fighters, their wisdom; including on matters of money!

Come on Gruhinis, there surely can’t be a better way to teach our kids about the value of money than from the life lessons of our fighters.

great, gruhiniMoney lesson 1: Account for each rupee you spend and earn

During his law study in England, Gandhiji was as flamboyant as other Indian boys around. He learnt to dance and play the violin, bought an expensive watch and got himself tailor-made expensive suits. But he would always keep an account of every penny that he spent. One day he realized that he can’t keep wasting his money on such pleasures and not study law. He took out his account book, marked the items which were unnecessary and made up his mind to stop spending on frivolous items. He moved into smaller accommodation, took public transport and cooked cheaper food. Years later, a public servant came to him for protection as he was asked to give an account of Rs 1000 he spent for the state welfare. He had no records and receipts. He found little help from Gandhi who told him “To me every such paisa unaccounted for is a paisa misappropriated”

great, gruhiniMoney lesson 2: Let your kids inherit something more than money

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known as Iron Man of India left his flourishing private law practice to work with people. When asked about the reasons for leaving he said “my practice is flourishing today…..but, my practice may or may not be there tomorrow. My money will be blown tomorrow, those who inherit my money will blow it .Let me leave them a better legacy than money”. We all would want our kids to remember us for our cooking skills or money saving skills. Isn’t it?

Money lesson 3: Everybody should have just enough for his or her needs

Gandhiji once stated “The World has enough for every one’s needs, but not enough for one man’s greed”Such a profound statement! Surely haven’t most of us fallen into the “hoarding” trap at one day or the other? We often fall for “buy 2 get one free” kind of offers and buy more than what we need whether it is clothes or in groceries. Let your children understand it too. It’s too tempting for my son to pick up a chocolate bar or a juice can in a grocery store, but he knows that mama is not going to give into his demand.

Money lesson 4: Spend the money for the purpose it is meant for

Gandhiji once got a donation of Rs 40,000 from a businessman named Somlalbhai for building a school in his ashram. The school couldn’t be built as a mass epidemic broke out in the city. He wanted the money to be returned. He said to one of his fellow workers “We would better send the money back…The purpose for which he has given the money is not going to be served in near future” So If you demarcate funds for child’s education, resist the temptation to “blow” it up elsewhere. If your teenager asks for money to buy books or DVD, ensure that he spends it for the purpose it was meant to be.

indiapost-shashtriMoney lesson 5: Buy what you can afford, not what your “status” can afford

Lal Bahadur Shastri, our second prime minister once visited a textile mill. In his gesture to please his guest, the mill owner showed him sarees worth Rs 1,000 as a gift. The prime ministers said “These are too expensive. I cannot afford to buy expensive saree for my wife. Please show me some cheap sarees” That’s probably the reason he is remembered today as a politician who made no money!

 So, there you have it fellow Gruhinis, may this year free us from the shackles of monetary misconceptions. Happy Independence day! JAI HIND!

References for anecdotes

1. http://www.mkgandhi.org/

2. http://balsanskar.com/english/lekh/581.html

3. http://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/revisiting-the-political-values-of-sardar-patel/article6002134.ece

About Rachna Monga Koppikar

Rachna aka your Great Gruhini is a finance writer with over a decade's experience in writing about personal finance matters with leading financial publications of India. As she studies to be a certified financial planner, she is also on a mission to make every woman a money savvy individual. So shed your inhibitions. Get over your money worries with The Great Gruhini. Write to her at thegreatgruhini@gmail.com

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2 comments

  1. Interesting analogy! 🙂

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