CHENNAI: Money is a friend, provided we don’t take it for granted,” says Suresh Padmanabhan, speaker and author of I love Money. Suresh believes there’s a streetsmart way of managing money, which is not taught to us in school or college. “A young working professional who is new to managing earnings needs to know about savings and investing.
That’s where my journey began too — by incurring a huge loss because of making a small investment mistake,” he says. Suresh was in the city recently, to conduct a twoday workshop on wealth creation and management. Talking about designing the workshop for a Tamil audience, he says, “I can’t borrow ideas of investment from elsewhere, because people here relate to money very differently. For instance, a Gujarati might believe in making more money, and leading a luxurious life by investing more. Tamilians generally believe in ‘study hard, work hard policy’ which means more saving.” A detailed checklist of where and how to invest money is charted out.
“A person can go from being aware and conscious, to being completely mindless only because of money. So my research involves understanding both the behavioural and cultural aspect of a person,” he says. “In Tamil Nadu, people usually resort to either temporary and permanent solutions while making money-related choices. I help them find a balance — whether the person makes `50,000 a month, or `5 lakh, and the aim is to manage it consciously.” Suresh gives multiple examples of people who have incurred a loss because of poor management, or wrong choices.
He believes that credit card loans are the most tricky. “There are intelligent ways of paying a three per cent interest in investment, or a 6-7 per cent interest on FDs, but I see people pay up to 40 per cent interest on credit card loans. This is both unnecessary and very dangerous,” he says. His work includes understanding how to invest in the right places, and manage multiple income streams to run a family. “I always encourage families to attend this, so children as young as 12 years understand the risks related to money.
An important question they need to ask early in life: is it okay to borrow money? It depends on each person’s social context, and aspirations, but there’s a healthy way of doing it,” explains Suresh. But does this promote consumerism? Suresh believes otherwise. He says, “We are deluded by consumerism and the American market. We choose to eat unhealthy and live unhealthy in an advertising-driven world. Making wise investments, leading a happy life by identifying what it is we truly aspire to buy, and what is necessary for the future.”