Children and Money

I was recently at a conference for students – and was addressing about ‘ABC of Money’. ABC of Money is a program which is meant to introduce you to Goal setting, Quantifying Goals, Mathematics of Investing, Compounding, Annuity, Risk Profiling, Mutual Funds, Life Insurance, Retirement Planning and Record Keeping. It is a comprehensive program and lasts more than a full day. If it does start at 9 a.m it lasts till 6.30 pm. However, since corporates can afford only one day on such a program we do it as a One day program. Ideally it should be a 2-day program.

This conference was at Shimla and 450 students had gathered from all over the country (and a few outside the country too)- and during the day they were to have parallel sessions – on environment, education, financial literacy, …etc..

What I saw was disturbing. The program which was supposed to start at 9.30 am started at 11.30 am – because the previous night was a ‘scullying’ party – the biggest drinker wins! The program was organised in the canteen – so the lunch break was from 1.30pm to 3.15pm. Obviously on the fly, most topics were dropped!

So here were 450 students (tomorrows businessmen and political leaders) who could not stick to a time-table. It is just that simple lack of discipline.

Many students were smoking – I have nothing against it – (as a shareholder of ITC, I actually benefit commercially) but was shocked that there were parents who were throwing so much money at kids that a 20 year old could afford to spend Rs. 200 a day (repeat Rs. 200 a day) on cigarettes – for self and friends. I hate extrapolation, but surely you can add. The smoking and drinking was there to see – and the lack of discipline was visible in how the hotel was abused. The common toilets were not usable. And these were rich kids – it takes money to reach and stay in Shimla especially if you are coming from Bangalore and Chennai!

Though most students wanted to do their higher studies with borrowed funds, most would be funded by an ATM called ‘DAD’ or “MUM”. It is time parents told their kids “You will get admission in a college for which you have the marks and not a college which MY money can buy”. Somwhere parents tell children “I will buy you admission”. I guess either it is too much money which the parents have or the children’s ability to squeeze every bit from their parents that allows children have so much money. Children from less affluent households seem to behave much better.

Obviously because I have not said anything nice about the event (some other things were unprintable) I will not reveal the umbrella under which they had gathered. If my daughter mentions that name to me, I will faint. Parents who want to know the name of the organisation will have to send me their cell phone numbers, surely will whisper in their ears.

By the way did they ‘hear’ me out? Yes. 1 kid was working for Max New York Life Insurance and one was pursuing CFP. 2-3 girls paid attention to what I said and about 12 boys took notes understood, asked questions, asked for my blog, email id, cell number, etc. and promised to keep in touch. They may or may not. However there were 50 people in the class. 30% attention after a scullying night is not bad. Only if I had known it in Mumbai that this was the crowd I would have pretended that I was busy and would have avoided the arduous Chandigarh – Shimla drive for a 1- night trip. That is all!

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20 Responses to “Children and Money”

  1. There are a number of students who have commented very angrily here, but the fact is that this is the impression of themselves that they have made available for consumption. It’s no point talking about how they are “otherwise” diligent during other times.

    In any case, being using to spending Rs 200 per day on cigarettes can set certain expectations in the mind about how much to earn, and the person may not be able to cope up during hard times. I’m not being holier-than-thou here, it’s just that I once had to survive on just Rs 78 per month for about four months during 1994-95. Today, I’ve to interact with bachelor colleagues who need Rs 50K per month for just themselves (Rs. 300/day for cigarettes, Rs. 1000/day for alcohol, Rs 600/day for cab to expensive restaurants everyday, Rs. 800/night for food at these expensive restaurants). They sometimes share the expenses with other like minded individuals, but are sometimes strapped for cash by the end of the month.

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