IS FINANCIAL FREEDOM THE KEY TO HAPPINESS?

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Lakshmi loved her home. A simple two-bedroom house where she led a modest but comfortable life with her family. Her husband was a retired government official with a decent pension. Their daughter, Nina, had recently joined college and her parents hoped she would soon find a good job, marry a winsome groom, and live happily after.

 

But Nina had different plans. Tall, fair, and blessed with a perfect figure and the most charming face, Nina had big dreams for her future. Having spent her life in a middle class family, where she was taught to prioritise needs over wants, that often amounted to a book needed in class over a gorgeous dress on her birthday, Nina was all set to break the shackles of money in her life. She was stunning and she knew it. And, with her confidence and looks, modelling offers were easy to come by.

 

So, while her parents urged Nina to complete her graduation and take up a job, Nina decided to drop out of college even before completing the first year to foray into the glitzy world of Mumbai. Despite her parents’ protests, she left the nest they had so lovingly created, and reached Mumbai to try her luck, like hundreds of others who regularly come to the city for a shot at fame.

 

The initial days were a struggle. But soon Nina was able to charm people with her looks and landed some modelling assignments. Slowly but surely, her dream started to get real. She began getting invited to swanky parties in Mumbai, rubbing shoulders with popular models and actors. She also started earning a good sum of money that she splurged on designer clothes, shoes and jewellery.

 

Nina had built the life of her dreams and there was so no space for middle class ideals taught to her by her family – needs before wants, save for a rainy day…. It was all malarkey.

 

Three year later, she got an offer to anchor a popular TV show. Soon, Nina was a superstar in her own right. People loved her on the tele but she wasn’t satisfied. She wanted to be a movie star ruling the hearts of every Indian. A couple of years later, she managed to get a lead role in a film but it didn’t go too well with the audience. Resolute, she bade farewell to her life on the small screen and devoted herself to Bollywood. Sadly, luck did not smile on her this time. At the young age of 25, Nina had failed. Her beauty was fading as was her fame. Her fortunes had dwindled a long time back. Broke and broken, she did not know whom to turn to when her mother requested her to return home.

 

Reluctantly, Nina returned to her hometown, Bareilly. People recognised her, and often asked for autographs that pained Nina even further. She had let everyone, including herself, down. At 25, she felt she was a burden on her parents. But that was not true…

 

Ever since Nina had started working, she regularly transferred some money to her mother each month on one or the other pretext. It was Nina’s way of ridding herself of the guilt of leaving her parents all alone. However, Lakshmi never spent this money.

 

Years ago, Lakshmi had met a wise financial advisor who had opened her eyes to the world of smart investments. Lakshmi did not work but she had learned how to make her money work for herself. She had learned that by investing small amounts of money, as low as Rs. 500, regularly into mutual funds through a systematic investment plan (SIP), it was possible to build a self-replenishing pool of money over time, thanks to the power of compounding and the cyclic nature of the market.

 

For the past seven years, Lakshmi had been investing every single penny sent by Nina into mutual funds through various SIPs recommended by her financial advisor. Today, she had built a large portfolio of money that Nina could use to start a new life.

 

As she shared this truth with Nina, her eyes welled with tears. Nina hugged her mom and placed her head in her lap. Lovingly, Lakshmi stroked her daughter’s head and told her:

 

“Sweetheart, do you know that the richest people in the world rose from abject poverty by being financially disciplined and making smart investments?”

 

“I am sorry, Mom.”

 

“Don’t be sorry, Nina, but learn from your mistakes. It is good to enjoy your wealth but it is equally important to save for the future!”

 

“I understand, Mom.”

 

“Now  get up and smile. It is time for a new start. Do you remember how much you loved cooking? Why don’t you start a cookery program on the small screen? I am sure you have enough contacts to kickstart the project and we have ample money to fund it. What do you think?”

 

“I would love that, Mom. But I need a promise.”

 

“What?”

 

“That you would co-host the show with me.”

 

***

 

At 8 pm, Sheena ran to switch on the tele. The family, like several other families across India, quickly gathered to watch their favourite show – Nina Cooks!

 

In two years, Nina and Lakshmi had become the much-loved co-hosts of the very popular cookery show that most Indians adored.

 

Meanwhile, Lakshmi arranged a meeting between her financial advisor and Nina. Impressed by the magic of compounding that makes small amounts swell into large sums of money over time, Nina started saving regularly.

 

She aims to be a crorepati before she turns 40 and is well on her way of achieving that dream.

 

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