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“Are you regular with your SIPs? Have you increased these investments recently Dipi?”

This is not a typical conversation for the dinner table when families meet after a while. But a very normal one in mine, when my brother checks on me to make sure I’m on track with my finances and a part of our conversations are usually portfolio reviews.

It is an intrinsic part of our relationship where we look out for each other, and gifts especially for Raksha Bandhan or birthdays are never just symbolic or physical presents but money or its equivalent that is given to me to invest in my name. 

Knowing what we want

This is rooted intrinsically in our relationship where we grew up in challenging circumstances. My father passed away when I was 13 years old and my brother a few years younger than I. My father was an avid investor and the only magazines at our home back in the day were the “Dalal Street”.  Twenty years later, they serve as a reminder of his intent for us as they grow. I guess we imbibed some of our lessons from him. 

My mother bore the financial responsibilities in the best way she could in those circumstances. Starting her home-based business of selling fruit concoctions, cakes and other sweets of our Sindhi heritage that were most famous in the festive season and with some help from my large joint family that we lived with, which consisted of 40 members. An attitude that helped us pull through came from my mother, who wanted us to accept our situations to make the best of it. 

On top of our money matters

When I started earning, I used to splurge as anyone in their early twenties would, experiencing the freedom of my own money. But soon brought myself in check and adapted to my younger brother’s approach who planned for his goals. He planned to buy his dream luxury car at age 30, plans for which were in place by when he was 21 years old and one that he did achieve at the exact age.  He now heads operations at Truffles. (A chain of cafe’s in Bangalore.)

While he has aspirations and takes care of our mother too he still encourages her to be independent with whatever money she has. Whether it is learning how to grow her money or manage her taxes with a chartered accountant, these are tasks that my mother does by herself. To all the women in his life, be it his wife, mother or me, my brother actively nudges us to be in charge of money and our lives.

A physical gift makes for a good Instagram or social media image and gives pleasure for a while. However, money and taking charge of it enables our aspirations for a lifetime.

Prudence and love

Whether it is a festival or birthday, gifts are not always ones of instant gratification, but a combination of joy for today and safety for tomorrow. My brother insisted on spending some part of the money of my wedding fund to be put better use for a lifetime gift to the couple, but social pressures didn’t let that happen. My mother’s morning text messages tell me how best to spend my money on me and self – care or in some instances not spend it. 

Don’t get me wrong, we love celebrations and I love gifts and this evening my entire family gets together, yes over 30 people to celebrate this day. But my brother’s approach to discipline and planning helped me understand that prudence and love can go together, in fact, financial prudence is love. 

Happy Raksha Bandhan to you all!

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