Earning money: When is it enough?
I am reminded of Socrates who said, He is the richest who is content with the least
Earlier this week at the 15th Outlook Money Awards celebration, I overheard the CEO of a large financial company make note with one of his colleagues on how much more a rival CEO was paid, despite the rival being a smaller sized company than his. I started earning, relatively early in life; there was the odd scholarship in school, which meant the school fee was waived partially if not fully. Then I went to win a national scholarship when pursuing music, which only added to my income in early teenage. I was very content with the Rs 400 a month that entered my bank account in the mid 1980s.
I had hardly any needs; I hardly spent the money but always desired of saving to buy another instrument for myself. I was lucky and was soon a performing musician, who made some good by my standards. While my folks were not very particular of what I did with the money, it was clear that I could not access the money on my own. Some of my aspirations and desires started to shoot up with the increase in money that I made, somewhere the desire for more set in. But, thankfully, the desire also ebbed very soon after my father admonished me for getting into an area which I should not be getting into, especially when still studying.
In search of enough
I was reminded of this incident when I heard this conversation and smiled at how some things never change, especially when it comes to money. In the profession that I am in now, so many people leave their jobs everyday because they feel they are not being paid enough. Some feel others are paid more for what they do. Some want a change for no valid reasons, but are looking for something without much clarity.
There was a point at the awards ceremony made by the Chief Guest Honourable Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Member of Parliament, who was conferred the Padma Vibhsuan, a day after our awards. He mentioned how the desire to own more has resulted in imbalances in the society and cited some very interesting examples, which reminded me of how greed and desires result in several frivolous activities that we can get into in our lives.
So, how much wealth do we need and how much is enough? There is no easy answer to this question. I have friends who wished to retire at 40 once they had a crore with them. Once they had a crore, the desire escalated to Rs 2 crore and so on. Going by current inflation, longevity and expenses – a crore won’t last a city dweller for too long. Yet, the Indian fixation for crore and crorepatis was well demonstrated with KBC and several other prize-linked events.
The concept of constant growth has its share of flaws, something Dr. Joshi highlighted in his speech. The concept of constant growth turns your goals into a moving target that moves further and further away from you with every step you take. So, the moment you approach a goal that is achieved, you move up the barrier, simply because it is not enough anymore for you. So, when is it enough? The answer may vary from person to person and their mental makeup. For me, it is enough when you realise it’s not worth chasing and what you have is actually enough. On a realistic note – you should also be able to realise that if posed with the need for more – you should be able to reinvent yourself and have the new enough.