“Yet another day has passed, and I didn’t use algebra once” - this is quite a clichéd and popular line used to depict how the educational system globally does not teach you the right matters to deal with the real world out there.
Whether this has a tinge of truth can be a scrumptious topic to debate on. But one can say with absolute certainty, with zero predisposition and hidden bias against the educational system, that there is a lack of one basic phenomenon that we come to live with once we face the real world. This topic has a dash of bawdiness in it in the common eyes, money management.
This topic faces so much backlash owing to the years of carrying the burden of being a social stigma mixed with hidden taboos. Talking about money in any form or shape has always been shunned generations after generations as if it is an acidulous topic.
Proverbs like “Money is the root of all evil” or “Money can’t buy happiness” have been instilled in us from early childhood. But the irony is, ultimately, we all do something to earn money.
Then where does the problem lie?
First, we have savers and spenders if we want to classify people into two rough factions depending on spending habits. This is not concrete because the position is not fixed, and they can interchange within these two sides, so it is more of a rough estimate based on what they tend to do (like the limit tends to zero used in calculus).
We see they are on two opposite ends of the broad spectrum, but they have a strong commonality, both face struggles regarding money management in real life.
Well, say a student who has been bearing his/her expenses say within Tk 5,000 per month, once that person gets a job or starts a business, and earns say Tk 50,000 per month, in the space of a few months there is a whole new paradigm shift in him/her!
Suddenly earning 10 times more also increases the expenses by multiples. The same person who used to live off a boundary of Tk 5,000 might face struggles with Tk 50,000 because of the habit developed for years.
One who used to go for debts and spend it with 5k might still have debts when it is 50k. Why does that happen? Because not only do the numbers in the paycheck widen for that person, but his/her horizon for wants also widens. This phase is the ‘Mo’ money Mo’ problems’ state.
Because this spender who is not accustomed to saving, say, is a foodie and used to go for varieties of street food, will still go for street food maybe, but at the same time will definitely add the higher end food places to the list as well.
The commute might just shift from a rickshaw to an Uber. This is not always to keep up with the standard that the new job life demands, rather on some level, we somewhat give in to that feeling of instant gratification.
Even the one who saves and got the title of stingy Mr Scrooge, even he is at a loss, on how to utilise all this extra money, because he has been living off of a boundary of Tk 5,000 earlier and even after necessary expenses he knows he really does not need the full amount of the salary. So what does he do?
He might save some for the rainy days. Keeps come close at cash form for liquidity. But that still is not the full amount. Maybe he decides to invest, but since that idea of where to invest, how to invest and if investing is at all necessary or not, or what is his risk tolerance - all of these, cloud his judgment. Yet another case of lack of knowledge in money management.
Money management or personal finances whatever you call it, if you want to break it down, it is just that talking about money, thinking about money. Though we use it in our life on a regular basis and all of us are dependent on it on some level, we feel awkward addressing it as if it is odious on every level.
We get overwhelmed, confused, and conflicted. But no matter how we want to water it down, getting hold of your personal finance is important. Because whichever multiverse you choose to escape to, money will always be a part of you, and this can be a very powerful tool.
Educational institutions are supposed to provide you with the necessary knowledge for life, which you can use to learn new skills or extend the earned knowledge and apply it in life.
While we have been addressing so many social stigmas and breaking the taboos one by one, by including topics in our education, like population problems, early marriage, the necessity of education in changing lives, and topics like terrorism and AIDS, we haven’t yet become progressive enough to break the shackles of this particular one, managing the personal finance.
Then again, every change takes time. Wearing the garb of positive enthusiasm, it can be safely said, small changes snowball into a big one. So rather than dumping everything on all of our favourite punching bag for every issue out there, the government, we can start small, and start from our own family.
Family is the first education institution a child has, and the formal education coupled with it shapes and forms the mind of the tiny tots up to a certain level. Teach your little ones the basics of money maybe?
The writer is a finance and economics enthusiast, trying to break into the immensely interesting and hardcore world of finance.