The subject at hand can be as simple or as complicated as one wishes to make it. While the factors beyond our control are putting pressure on our personal expenses, there is still much under control which is mostly overlooked. What is it that is driving the ever expanding gap between the “have” and “have nots”? Personal interactions with individuals within the circle of family and friends, discussions, etc., reveal there is hardly any income group content with the correlation between income and expenses. Savings is a concept which has become as strange as aliens from Mars.
A simple search on Google can reveal various techniques that may help manage finances at the home front. Starting from planning, budgeting and documenting to savings, etc., all has been proposed. However, in order to propose a resolution, the problem itself must not only be understood but must also be owned.
The monumental upsurge in cost of living and the disproportional increase in incomes cannot possibly be denied. While we cannot control various externalities, there is much that can be done at the personal front which may not resolve financial issues completely but can most certainly provide us with an opportunity to stabilize and move forward as a responsible society. We, at large, have failed to distinguish between our “needs” and “wants”. The following few statements may reflect on what has just been said. Imagine the following true situations of individuals belonging to different groups:
- A person living in the posh DHA-Karachi complains about electricity bill which has increased from Rs.16,000/- per month to Rs. 27,000/-. This person makes at least 4 to 5 international trips a year because of weather, meeting friends and family or at times just for vacation to a new international destination.
- A family living in North Nazimabad-Karachi, comprising of 5 to 6 family members and a monthly income of less than Rs.25,000/- to Rs. 30,000/- is planning a wedding. The wedding MUST HAVE all at least 5 functions (Mehndi, Mayoun, Barat, Valima and Chauthi).
- A man working as a driver, making Rs. 12,000/- per month wishes to have a cell phone worth Rs. 35,000/-
Over time, we ourselves have become confused. While financial pressures build up around us, our inability to draw a line between our requirements and wishes push us further into a never ending downward spiral. As a result, we are not able to progress in personal capacity and on the whole, as a nation. We have all become a part of a rat race and “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” – Lily Tomlin.
There is no one on earth who can give a complete plan to manage personal finances and bring stability. However, checking own expenses, putting them down on a piece of paper and assessing which one of them is required and which isn’t may be a good start. Necessities will remain necessities and seldom have room for adjustment, while “unnecessary” wish lists can always be adjusted considering the current household income.
Society on the whole needs to pay extra attention towards this monster which is growing to monumental proportions. The feeling of deprivation among those who are less fortunate is driven by the treatment of those who have more than them. Those who are lesser fortunate need not be looked down upon or made to feel out of place. It is a thought process, start of which may bring long-term benefits to the society as one unit and in turn, release a bit of financial pressure across all segments of the society. More importantly, re-routing of luxurious expenses incurred by the fortunate towards those deprived of food and clothing may assist in reducing the ever-widening gap between the two groups. A sense of community uplifting rests with those who can while those who can’t must also continuously put in their best to alleviate by contributing to the society as best as they can.
While we need to adopt a certain bit of discipline and ensure that we are not forced or pressured into being what we are not, the relatively upper class also need to be responsible and ensure that those not as fortunate are not forced to adopt a lifestyle or reflect on one which is not sustainable.
I should not be forced to drive a bigger car just because my boss will not come with me to meetings. I need not sell my soul to get my daughter married in a grand way just because of the negative reaction by the society if I don’t. I need not be carrying an expensive phone while I have a difficult time paying my electricity bill.
We, as individuals, face many problems. Some beyond our reach to fix while most within. We fail to realize that we, ourselves, may be a source of many of them. Life is indeed complicated but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it.
It is all about graduating from a lifestyle of assuming nothing exists beyond our noses to a lifestyles which is socially responsible.