Yesterday, when I posted my monthly favourites, the second item on my list was a podcast that has opened my mind to things I was oblivious to up until this point.
Podcast - Bad With Money With Gaby Dunn
This podcast has made me think a lot over the past few weeks. And a result, Shane and I have been having quite a lot of discussions about our finances.
Bad With Money is a podcast that is hosted by the hilarious and charming Gaby Dunn from Just Between Us. She starts the initial episodes by interviewing her parents who themselves were so bad with money that they gave her the wrong idea about it altogether. She shares how she struggled with money from the time it started making sense to her, and how there's a possibility that there are many people like her out there. Many people who don't even realise it. People like me.
I'm bad with money. And it's only at the age of 25 that I've started thinking about it. I'd like to write an entire blog post about this show and explain why you desperately need to listen to it. But for now, please take my word for it and start listening anyway. And as I've mentioned there, I wasn't quite done explaining why everyone should listen to this show. Hence, as promised, this blog post.
First of all, growing up in India, I've noticed that most kids from my generation had a very negative attitude towards money irrespective of the financial situation at home. It's a very Indian thing where on the one hand we worship Goddess Lakshmi and everything she signifies and on the other, we don't know how to deal with the abundance or lack of money. And my generation definitely grew up having all kinds of weird notions about this touchy topic, thanks to our parents.
If your parents were rich, you mostly never cared about money and could be heard saying things like, "But it only costs ₹600 so what's the big deal?". Especially if you're a girl child born into a wealthy Indian family, sometimes, no one thinks it's important to sit you down and have a proper conversation about where this money came from and where it was being stored, multiplied etc.
If you were from a middle-class background like me, your parents were either worried that they'd lose all their money some day or that you'd grow up taking everything for granted. This would result in constant reminders that money never grew on trees and that only stupid people spent without thinking. The idea of having to work hard and spend as little as possible, and to accumulate and save every single penny you make the way ants save for hibernation, is driven into our psyches from the time we're asked to think about whether or not we really needed to buy that toy. My dad still asks me to categorize my expenditure into "Needs, Wants, and Desires".
And if unfortunately, you came from a home that struggled to make and keep money, you could end up having the worst attitude towards it. Not always, but a lot of the time. Because in many such families, children sometimes get told that the ones who accumulate a lot of money do so through dishonest means and by cheating the poor; that money is a bad thing that turns honest men into greedy cheats; that one should strive to earn just enough to keep a roof over one's head and eat three meals a day. Anything more could corrupt the soul.
But despite all these attitudes that we imbibed from the adults in our lives, neither were we Indian kids ever encouraged to bring up the topic of money and discuss it with adults nor were we taught anything about it in our schools. An Indian (especially an Indian woman) who has savings sitting in a bank thinks that he/she is very good with money. An Indian who doesn't give in to impulse shopping and plans his/her expenditure thinks that he/she is good with money.
But what do we know about investments?
What do we know about mortgages?
What do we know about taxes?
This is where this show Bad With Money has helped me. It's not one of those boring shows where you get financial advice because the host, Gaby, herself is bad with money. But through her episodes, you will see that she's learning. She's thinking about her financial situation and thankfully for us, she's thinking out loud. With every sentence this woman speaks, I say to myself, "Oh my God. This is me. I don't know anything about that either".
And especially as someone who, much like her, works in the creative field, I've been relating more than ever! A thing that this podcast often brings to light is the disparity in pay based on gender and also just from person to person, especially in creative fields. The number of times people on the show have talked about discovering that someone else at their workplace was getting paid a hell of a lot more for doing the exact same job, simply because they asked for more is crazy. Again, especially in the creative field, it's all very subjective and can definitely vary from person to person. Taking advice from the show recently, when I was asked to quote payment for a writing assignment, I quoted above the average pay just because I thought I deserved it. And guess what? I got paid. How many times have people in the creative fields shied away from doing exactly that just because we have serious doubts about our worth?
She brings in guests who explain very basic things like how much more of a percentage increase you will see in your savings if only you educated yourself or sought help about investing your money. They answer questions about the resources you can refer to while making these decisions and how to actually go about it. Hell, there's even an episode that will make you think ahead about the expenses that come with the death of a loved one, so that by thinking about them and tackling them in advance, you can at least get the chance to mourn your loss when the time comes as opposed to having to run around managing unforeseen expenditures.
I'm 25 years old. And I've been earning for three years of my life. It's only now that I've started asking myself these questions and become aware of the options I have. Thankfully for me though, I'm married to someone who grew up being actively involved in all aspects of his parents' business. Someone who's seen and helped with handling the finances from a very young age. Someone who grew up in a home that was very different from a typical Indian home, in that, he was constantly involved in discussions about money. Which is why, when I had the sudden revelation that we should probably be investing our savings, I could have a proper conversation with him, and even come up with plans that would suit our needs.
I believe that every kid from my generation who either grew up with a negative attitude towards money or never had the opportunity to even ask themselves (or others) questions about money, needs to listen to this podcast. Not only is it helpful, but it's also going to encourage you to think about taking steps towards improving your financial situation. If you, like me, ever thought that you were really good with your money because your savings were sitting there in a bank, be prepared to be brought back into the real world.