By Liz Anoushka
You work very hard, are extremely loyal, get paid quite reasonably but for some strange reason you never know where your money goes. For all the years you have worked for this Indian boss, you have nothing to show for it. So during a conversation with a friend you share how much you hate Indians and how no one should ever work for them. When your friend asks what the matter is, you explain that you know for a fact that Indians secretly report to work way sooner than everyone else, they go into a room to pray and relentlessly curse their employees’ salaries. You emphasise that they hate to see their employees (especially those of other races) grow and prosper. You swear on your life that others in your position have testified to this.
Sadly, while this mindset seemed common in the 90’s among servants, househelps, and factory workers in certain parts of Africa, the same thinking continues to cripple the minds of highly educated and widely travelled young and older corporates working in banking and finance, hospitality and travel, universities, healthcare, manufacturing, and other sectors.
But how true is this, really? Well, it’s not!
The average worker and self-employed person almost anywhere in the world, struggles daily to understand where all their hard earned money disappears to every month. Some blame it on their governments, on inflation, on taxes, on ‘unfair’ competitors, on the ‘so-many’ dependants they have, piles of ‘responsibility’, on bad luck, the envy of enemies, foul play and even sorcery.
But, there are people who go on to succeed in the same societies and workplaces even when faced with the same economic, political, social, cultural and other challenges and opportunities. When you lack financial discipline, you are bound to lose money as soon as you get it or before you get it. You are most likely your own problem and no one else is to blame. Some people earn little and yet they can sustain themselves for much longer than many who earn more.
One should learn to reflect and self-evaluate, set realistic goals, create and stick to a reasonbale budget, save, invest wisely, learn from those who are better than them, delay gratification, avoid spending on what they don’t need or what doesn’t add significant long-term value to them, and cultivate a reasonable lifestyle they can easily sustain with or without a paycheck.
Higher Pay vs Financial Success
If you subscribe to the thinking that “I will be richer if only I am paid a little more”, or “I will be in business if only customers pay me a little more” then you already know that every time you demand for more, you are back where you started or worse. Because of an absence of financial literacy and discipline, you always increase your spending immediately you get extra money in your pocket. So the more money you make, the bigger you drill the holes in your wallet, pocket, purse, account, and safe.
While ambition is great, it’s wise to learn contentment and to embrace scarcity as a daily motivation to push you to perform even better and accomplish more for yourself. When you teach yourself (it takes great self-discipline, time and sacrifice) to get by with less, when you learn over time to properly manage less finances, then you are bound to constantly grow, succeed, and prosper should opportunity bring higher pay and better paying customers your way.
When you embrace the reality that your job won’t always be there, that customers may not come around this season, or that due to the pandemic and other circumstances you might be laid off and remain uncertain about whether anyone else would like to hire you, then you learn to hold onto your earnings and income a little longer.
Of course you should enjoy the fruits of your labor, but do so wisely always making sure you have extra to cover you when periods of uncertainty come knocking as they always do.
Back to Our Indian Boss
While not every Indian employer may fit this description (some are extremely wealthy and live luxurious lives), we’ll consider the average employer for purposes of this article.
An ordinary Indian businessman or woman lives closer to their business, packs their home-made lunch or makes lunch at work. He or she wears good quality but almost basic clothes in and out of season. Doesn’t own a car (why own one when you can walk the 10 minutes distance from home to work and back?). Your employer still carries around proudly their smart phone from a few years ago. If he or she drives, the car is more for function and purpose as compared to status or trying to appear successful. Your Indian boss definitely has the means to live larger than they have been since you knew them but they prefer not to.
On the other hand, an employee earning a basic salary has already incurred debt before their first day at work. Every one of their corporate friends lives a fancy lifestyle and they are bent on fitting in or beating their “competition” and making an awesome first impression when they walk in.
One colleague parks their second hand car outside and the new employee determines they must get an even trendier car on loan, a newer more expensive model perhaps. As one good friend, John Musinguzi recently put it, they embark on a journey where they are always “one paycheck away from poverty“. Should their pay delay even for a few days, they go into panic mode. They either choose to live so far away from their workplace (because they have a car anyway) or go for more expensive and luxurious houses they can’t afford. They order in their lunches from KFC or opt for fancy restaurants on a daily. They will do whatever it takes to fake it even though their lifestyle warns they might never make it.
So, it’s not true that your boss, regardless of race, curses your money before they pay it to you. Some people are naturally mean and we encounter them in all walks of life. But this is about you, your choices and mindset. Should you choose to go about your finances more wisely, you will realise success, growth and prosperity were always on the other side of the door alongside financial discipline and literacy.
So rather than cultivate unhealthy attitudes, toxic mindsets, and unhelpful prejudices, how about you pick a leaf or two from your boss? It pays handsomely to learn from those who are better than you as compared to hating them or spreading empty rumours.
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