Life lessons in personal finance
I was once told that in a past life I was Indian and very poor, living along the edges of the Ganges River. There is no way to know if this is true of course, but perhaps it explains my enduring fascination with ancient Indian philosophies and my quest in this lifetime to positively impact others’ in their finances via my career in Wealth Management.
Imagine how of proud I felt when my daughter, now in her early twenties, asked me what she could invest in that would provide her compound interest. It was her curiosity and desire to take action for her financial future that welled up a deep sense of pride in me. I was well past my early twenties when I learned and implemented investment strategies to create compound interest. So somehow the significance of compound interest had landed in her lifetime. Hopefully it was me and not TikTok.
As I reflected on her financial enquiry, the edges of my mouth curling up in pride, sitting in an outdoor restaurant in a stylish London neighbourhood, a young(ish) woman came up to me, rotten upper teeth and unkempt hair, showing me her poetry on childlike tattered cardboard, asking for £26 so that she could stay in a homeless shelter for a week.
Naturally cautious, I asked her for details. What had happened to her home? She had been in council housing taking care of her mum who was ill and died aged 47. She wasn’t a registered tenant and so was kicked out when her mum died. Her mum had been a hairdresser but there was no income after she became ill. The shelter is helping her apply for council housing again. She was just 25 years old.
She sounded plausible. I decided that even if she wasn’t, I was fine to take a £26 bet on compassion and agreed to transfer her £26 as I did not have cash. Who carries cash these days?
She must have been asking many people as my bank immediately flashed up a fraud risk and would not allow me to transfer to her. If I had had tiny doubts earlier, they were quickly erased as I felt her heartbreak as she ran away swiftly holding back tears. Her story was clearly real. I chastised myself for not figuring out where a cash point was. I know it and have lived it: People with full stomachs rarely know what it feels like to go hungry. Where did she run to? How can I find her again?
Personal finances mean so many different things to different people, if only we can tune in with our hearts. For her, that £26 meant a roof over her head and a shower, dignity for a whole week. The very bottom of Maslow's needs.
So perhaps before we enter into any personal finances discussions at all, we could get to cultivate our own awareness of what and who is above us and below us. With that experience, we will surEly nurture our gratitude. Thank you for what I have. Thank you for the career, money, security and life that I experience in this lifetime.
Should this in fact be lesson no.1 in personal finances?