Tuesday, November 30, 2021

On the loose: His and Hers experiences in love and money

Beyond a point, we, the credit card swiping and cheque book toting lot, cannot possibly understand the trauma of the withdrawal of high denomination notes for vast swathes of India’s population

Written by Leher Kala |
February 13, 2017 12:05:38 am
demonetisation-759 The toll free number of the crisis centre received 1,200 calls in November, when it usually receives only 500 a month.

In the week after demonetisation there was a sudden spike in incidents of domestic violence, an analysis of complaints received at Bhopal’s One Stop Crisis Centre has revealed (The Indian Express, February 7, 2017). Life, overnight, became all the more wretched in unforeseeable ways for many of India’s women: it turns out discovering their spouses had the temerity to save money without their knowledge enrages wife-beaters. As the husbands’ employment opportunities withered away in the chaos, sheer helplessness and lack of control over an already untenable future provoked even more domestic violence. The toll free number of the crisis centre received 1,200 calls in November, when it usually receives only 500 a month.

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Beyond a point, we, the credit card swiping and cheque book toting lot, cannot possibly understand the trauma of the withdrawal of high denomination notes for vast swathes of India’s population. It will take decades for the collective discord demonetisation has wrought on the nation’s psyche to fully emerge. The nest egg that those women got beaten up over is, however, an old tradition. It’s something squirrels know from birth and women know by instinct, especially those whose incomes are uncertain. You have to stash away nuts in times of plenty, to tide over days of scarcity. That doesn’t apply only to women for whom savings mean their children get dinner but for anyone who wants some control over their future.

Is it wrong for a wife to have a secret stash away from the family kitty? Most of the time women bear more responsibility for the children at home and live longer. There is a wage gap between genders and a far greater likelihood women will drop out of the workforce for family-related issues. That nest egg is crucial. And if popular culture is any indication, for hundreds of years, women have been putting money away in cookie jars, in gold, and under mattresses. In the very watchable Life’s A Breeze, family members toss out their mother’s old mattress which had 50 years of savings and the film is about their mad scramble to recover it. The cynical may call it an escape fund: but hiding petty cash is unfortunately never enough to start a new life. There’s no getting away from the fact that men or women interested in keeping their options open require an enhanced awareness of financial matters and a thorough ability to gauge the difference between mutual funds and the value of compounded interest.

Though all adults have a fair idea of the importance of money, nobody really tells you what a huge and difficult role it’ll play in your life. As if earning it wasn’t hard enough, managing money is an entirely different skill; one that had no textbook and wasn’t a subject anyone was advised to pay attention to. And then, to top it all, it is so hideously boring. Personally, it takes me three days to open a bank statement and a week to return my accountant’s phone call. I have, in fact, seriously considered un-friending him on Facebook, for he is the one person who knows for sure what an irresponsible procrastinator I actually am. In my experience, even the smartest, most hard-working women find money issues terribly intimidating and are very relieved to have the men in their life handle it for them. So much for feminism. But as marriages become less secure and divorce more common, there is no question that women need to up their financial game. In one of his rare, sentimental tracks Money don’t matter 2 night, Prince paints money as the root of all problems, with lyrics that suggest spiritual growth matters more. He was not a wise man.

 

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