I was enjoying a small party at my friend’s place when suddenly one of my friends asked me: Who has greatly influenced you in your life? Without thinking for a minute, I said, “My Mother, of course”. After all, she is the only one who always supports me and my dreams.
When I was in high school, my father passed away and suddenly, the entire responsibility fell on my mother’s shoulders. Though the sudden demise of my father left my mom in a difficult financial situation, still she succeeded in giving me a bright future. Her hardships and struggle not only brightened my future, but I also learnt some important lessons from watching her survive those years. Here are some of my best lessons:
1. No prince charming is waiting for you
Perhaps there may be a prince who is also charming, but you shouldn’t depend on him to fund your life or handle all money matters. As per my mother, it is important for me to understand financial matters and create a secure future. When I started earning, she encouraged me to save money and buy a house because, in her view, every woman should be financially independent, irrespective of her marital status.
2. Fight for yourself
After the death of my dad, my mother took up all the responsibilities. Being a single mother, it was not easy for her. Every day, she fought a battle, sometimes with the society and sometimes with herself. All these struggles made her tough and strong, and she taught the same thing to me also. When all children were learning to emulate Gandhiji’s lesson—turn the other cheek if someone slaps you— my mom taught me to raise voice against violence. Even now also, I hit back if someone tries to offend me.
3. Patience, patience, and patience
As mathematics was my weakness, my mom always missed her office during my tests and exams. She could’ve easily left me to my matters like other regular parents who have only one advice for their children— score hundred otherwise no pocket money or video games. However, my mom chose to sit with me and study herself so that she could help me in my studies. She could have also slapped me for my rebellious attitude towards baingan ki sabzi, but again, she picked patience.
4. Health is wealth
Like other mothers, she also wanted me to be healthy and hale. She never allowed me to eat outside. Even after working late at night, she woke up early in the morning to prepare breakfast and pack my lunch box. As a child, I always wanted her to sleep for some more hours so that I could get an excuse to eat at school canteen but it never happened!
My mom’s company offered corporate health insurance and my mother also covered me under the plan. Besides it, she also bought individual health insurance policies to get better coverage. Truly speaking, I never liked her idea of buying health insurance policies as we were young and healthy so I thought them as wastage of money and wanted her to use the amount towards buying gifts for me. However, when during one of the summer vacations, I got hospitalized due to typhoid; these insurance policies paid my hospital bills. At that time I realized how right my mom was!
5. Secure the life of your loved ones
Being a single parent, she understood that my life revolved around her. Once she started earning, she bought a life insurance policy to secure my life even in her absence.
6. Feelings are more important than gifts
As a naughty little girl, I often made cute faces to get whatever I wanted. I still remember the Barbie doll which my father gave me on my tenth birthday. I always thought my mother as a strict parent who never fulfilled my ‘wishes’. But guess what? She was right because I soon lost interest in dolls. After the death of my dad, my mom never had enough money to buy costly gifts for me, but she used to show her affection through little gifts like Dairy Milk chocolate that she would often leave on my desk.
Now, I have started loving all these small but sweet gestures of her because they have taught me a valuable lesson: See the feelings of the person, not the price tag.
7. Learn to say no to yourself
In today’s world, the temptation is everything. It is too easy to overspend on things we don’t need. However, my mom’s rule was always to ask this question, “Do I need it”. She makes me understand the difference between a ‘want’ and a ‘need’. It is perfectly fine to treat yourself once in a while, but it is important to focus your spending on things you need and put the extra money in your saving account.
8. Don’t get too comfortable and create an emergency fund
My mom left the job after my birth, and we both were dependent on my father’s salary, which was enough to give us a lavish lifestyle. When we got accustomed to a luxurious lifestyle, we lost him and gradually the affluent lifestyle also. To ensure I do not become comfortable in my life and again face a tough time, she prepares me to face life’s adversaries. It is she who instills the saving habit in me. Now, whatever I am earning today, I make sure to save a portion of it towards my emergency fund. I make it a habit to increase the saving proportion with a hike in my income.
9. Sometimes splurging is nice:
Once on a trip with my friends, I sent my mother picture of a beautiful black dress I was mulling over but hesitated to buy it. My mom called me to say, “It is a gorgeous dress, and you’ll be mad if you don’t buy it”. Listening to this from my conservative and money-conscious mother was a big surprise for me. Even though she greatly valued financial planning, there were times when she allowed me to spend some extra money. She always says, “One should not save on the cost of his/her happiness”.
“Life doesn’t come with a manual; It comes with a mother”
My mom always says. “Money doesn’t grow on trees”, and you should judiciously spend it. She has taught me all the valuable lessons for which I will always be thankful. Though I am trying hard to resist bragging, I must say I am lucky to have her in my life.
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