My Dad’s Financial Advice Was So Hard I Buried It

But, I learned a better method than minimalism from his habits

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

I felt the importance of money when I farted my first salary in thin air.

I clearly remember the monkey mind spanking me, “You save all the money you want, but what about the expenses, boy? Plan it or ban it. There is no mid-way?”

Expense is more in our control than the salary in a conventional desk job

Opening the wallet is pretty much in our hands. Driving the salary depends on the kind of job — fixed or variable monthly salary.

My first job provided a fixed salary no matter how hard I sucked up to my boss or how workaholic I was.

Along with this job, I had another gig ( now it is my primary job ) as a Udacity mentor. Here I could earn as much as I can depending on how long I work. There is no fixed upper cap. Instead, there is a range that slowly increased and reached the amount equal to the desk job salary, ultimately overtaking it. The plus side is the Udacity job is fully remote.

Initially, the mentor role's salary was half that of the desk job, so I had to keep up with the latter one until the online job started paying the value an ideal primary job should pay.

The salary-overtake happened after I quit the desk job in 7 months. It was because the Udacity mentor job was paying more along with higher job satisfaction and less working hours — the typical description of my dream job. But before it happened, all I could think was “expense” reverberating in my head.

Meeting with dad

In the second month ( of the desk job ), I returned my dad’s debit card without explaining while he was at home. I could’ve cut it too. But then he would’ve done the same to me.

Before I made this snap decision, I had other options, which were about controlling impulsive desire for purchasing non-essential items. Control the desire? I ain’t no Buddha?

My dad wanted me to follow the path of controlling expenses. His not-to-buy universe was [ and still is ] so gigantic, the only e-commerce app I could even think about kissing was BigBasket ( kind of Instacart for India ). No Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon. Nothing. Zilch.

My dad was indirectly teaching me essentialism

I did not get his ideology back then. But a few months later, while reading an article about minimalism in personal finance, I understood what he meant. I was obsessed with minimalism. He was bleeding hints for essentialism — the mother of minimalism.

Minimalism and essentialism are, definition-wise, nearly the same, but essentialism is more frugal when implemented in personal finance. Put extra constraint on minimalism, and you have essentialism.

For example, I had my dad’s debit card for 6 years — the last 2 years of school and 4 years of college. Minimalism is managing my finance so that my budget for a normal month stays the same.

It wasn’t all candy and cookies because I had to control my instinct of impulse shopping, and my history with money was ROFL-ing at me! I couldn’t do it because impulse buying was a learned habit from years of parental conditioning.

Since I am the youngest one in the family who is good in academics, I enjoyed many perks — one of them was spending unlimited money once I went to college. I was living the movie life.

This uninformed move from dad made my college life luxurious. But the four years of money showers in college affected my personal finances when I started my desk job. I had to switch to essentialism because minimalism couldn’t cut it.

Final words

The essentialism here is returning the debit card. If I don’t have access to his bank account, I will be forced to use mine.

The line between essentialism and minimalism is the penalty faced for making a mistake. Any extra expense in the essentialism case means a burning hole in my wallet. There is no backup like the one I had with dad as my bank.

Now that I have learned essentialism I strictly cut-off specific items ( sometimes even the usual ones ) from my shopping list to see how the month goes. If nothing happens, I slowly leave the item out of habit. Otherwise, I purchase it in advance and use it judiciously.

I followed the same process when shopping for fashion, electronics, home decor, or anything that could wait a few weeks.

If you know minimalism and cut some of its tentacles, you get essentialism. And just like minimalism, you need long enough time to see the benefits of essentialism too.

Sanjeev is a mentor at Udacity who writes about mental health, productivity, lifestyle, and mindfulness in his off-work time. When he is not clearing students’ doubts or grading projects, he is sweating either in a workout or playing badminton.

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Sanjeev Yadav

Sanjeev Yadav

Writer • Mentor • Recovering Shopaholic • IITR 2019 • ✍🏼 Personal Growth, Positive Psychology & Lifelong Learning• IG: sanjeevai • List: sanjeevai.ck.page