The Real Investment
How to escape the vicious cycle of money and insecurity
Every time someone asks me what level of corpus they should amass so that they can retire, my answer is, "You will never be able to retire." This is because if he is seeking security in a number (an amount of money) he will never get it. There is nothing in the nature of money that can give us security in life.
One of the founding fathers of America, Benjamin Franklin, had very rightly said, "Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one."
In the above quote, instead of 'happiness' read 'security'. While it is true that we require money to meet our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, once those are satisfied money will not be able to solve any of our problems.
Recently, I came across the interesting case of Meenaben and Purshottambhai. This couple had been living in the USA for over 40 years. They had two sons who were well settled and living independently. Over the years, the couple had accumulated substantial wealth. They had a palatial house, four cars, properties in the USA as well as India and many other assets.
About five months ago, Meenaben got a severe paralysis attack. She is bedridden now. But they do not have enough social support in that country. Purshottambhai explained, "We always thought money would give us everything. We thought that with money, we would be able to purchase all the services we may need to live happily. Therefore, we did not pay attention to other aspects of life such as social connections or service to the community. We thought money would give us all the security needed for survival. We were wrong. Now we repent."
This is not an exceptional case. We often hear people say they do not like their job, profession or the business environment. However, they continue because they fear that if they stand up against the system, they will be thrown out of it and end up with no money. "What will we do without money?" is their feeling. While it is true that we need money for our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, beyond that money can't get us anything, leave aside security.
In fact, the higher our standard of living, the more money we will need to maintain it. Next, we get used to that standard of living and we feel concerned about not being able to improve it. We start feeling insecure and hence we chase more money. We then enter a vicious circle.
Insecurity sets in when we lack some-thing. It could be the lack of physical, social or emotional health even. But money will never be able to get us physical health-at best, it can help us purchase medicines. It cannot help us with our relationships or achieve mental peace.
If we lack any of these, we should focus on acquiring them instead of focusing on getting more and more money and trying to use it to fix our other deficiencies. Unfortunately, that never helps; money will never bring us security.
Gaurav Mashruwala is a Mumbai-based financial planner.
Excerpted from Gaurav Mashruwala's Yogic Wealth, Published by TV18 Broadcast Ltd. 2015.