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The big three-oh -- then and now.

Summary: We question, we advise, we come up with all kinds of savings targets that our children should achieve by the time they are 30

By Fadi Esber, Special to Gulf News,Thinker Cheryl RaoSpecial to Gulf News

With half of India's population below 25, reaching the landmark of 30 is a big deal.

Your carefree years are behind you, you are more or less well-adjusted in your career and personal life and you are now treated to all manner of investment advice by forward-thinking peers, the financial pages of newspapers and magazines, and of course, parents and well-meaning relatives.

Looking back, I am not sure whether, at 30, we had read or heard a word of advice on money matters. A large part of this was because we had no money, and nothing to invest. Imagine telling us - when we could barely make two ends meet - that by 30 we should have made a down payment on a house, we should have a four-wheeler for the family, we should have a well-researched annuity scheme and adequate insurance in place!

Salaries being what they were, despite two incomes at that time, we hovered on the verge of bankruptcy each month - and we were not in the least fazed by it. Rather, we were happily (and rather stupidly, we now realise) proud of our empty pocket books.

How we teetered near zero bank balance, we didn't know then - and we don't understand now. We didn't eat out (there was no place to go in our little cantonment), we didn't have all kinds of attractive consumer goods available to make us splurge, but yes, we did have a laden table and anyone who stopped by was welcome to partake.

We had a friendly local shopkeeper who would allow us to buy what we needed and pay later, so we didn't worry when we reached rock bottom around the last week of the month. We also never questioned the amount we had to clear with him the next month. We were just grateful that we didn't need to make a formal application for a personal loan ...

And thus we lived 'in the moment', oblivious of the fact that there was actually a long road ahead.

When we got together with friends, no one discussed money - and so, while our contemporaries were being circumspect and putting away a little (or even a lot), they presumed that we were doing the same. It was not possible that anyone could be so financially foolish as to not save a penny, was it?

But it was - and we were living proof of it.

Thus, our landmark year of 30 found us almost in the red, still not in the least inclined towards saving for the future - and still, amazingly, no one read us the Riot Act at home.

Our parents had been as hard-up as we were: In fact, even more so, because they had larger families. But since they didn't believe in preaching what they had not practised, they didn't urge us to be careful and save before we spent; they didn't send us articles on savings and annuity schemes; they didn't ask if we had sufficient insurance. They just let us fumble and find our way - as they had.

We, however, do not have our parents' calm acceptance of individual choices and a strictly hands-off policy with adult children.

We question, we advise, we come up with all kinds of savings targets that our children should achieve by the time they are 30! We pontificate about household budgets and saving for a rainy day and about the best funds to invest in for assured returns. It doesn't matter that we couldn't do it in an entire lifetime. We want our children to somehow get it done today - now - definitely by the time they are 30.

I guess, for present-day 30-year-olds, parental pressure doesn't end even when they have completed college, left home, 'settled' down in their careers ...

Cheryl Rao is a journalist based in India.

Abdul Kareem - Fadi Esber - Francis Matthew - Vivek Wadhwa

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 19, 2016
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