By | Dr Pavan Soni | IIM-B Innovation Evangelist
One of the gravest plagues that we are living with is easy affordability. Or at least a sense of easy affordability. The whole culture of easy access and purchase, swiping cards, and (for heaven sake) 0% EMI is killing not only people’s morality, but also intellect. Think about it for a moment the damage that such attractions (or addictions) do to our youth. Here’s a guy who gets reasonably good education, mostly on a loan, and then keeps thinking about getting a job. The moment a job is on, here come another series of loans. A loan for a bike, perhaps even a high-end cell phone on 0% EMI, may be a home loan in a few months, and not to forget the EMIs for the outstanding education loan. Often the person might not mind slipping into taking personal loans, at disastrous interest rates.
The unfortunate part is not about taking a loan, but spending the entire life paying it back. And mostly the purchase is made out of the skin, in the sense that desirability is rated over deservability. And thanks to incessant promotions on the Net, radio, print media and TV, people are brainwashed into thinking that the purpose of life is possessing material wealth. I am not so much against possession of material wealth, but certainly not at the cost of your future. The only way we can sustain is by not sacrificing our future for our present. And frankly how much difference does a phone make in our life, when we can’t really afford one. I am again impressing upon the point that the EMI and easy loan culture is killing us morally and intellectually. Let me explain each in detail.
Shaking our moral grounds
One of the virtues that wiseman have fed us with is that of deferring gratification. It’s about postponing the pleasure to future, and taking the pain first, for only once you experience the pain you would enjoy the pleasure. I might sound a little ‘outdated’, but every falling generation had the same complaint! Look at the demand- supply equation. The planned obsolescence is pushing products out of the market faster than they deserve or you desire. So the supply of products is getting refreshed and enriched incessantly. Nice example is that with cell- phones coming in, we started talking more! On the demand side again, for long, people were held back by what they really need and what they can afford. The affordability part is take off equation by offering easy finance, even for things which aren’t capital intensive. Even the media ensures that desirability is artificially cultivated, and the chasm between needs and desires further widens. What happens to morality then? It goes out of window. You get tempted to buy something and even get paid for for you to ‘possess’ it without ‘owning’ it.
Killing our intellect
If the moral damage was not sufficient, there is also an assault on our intellect. Continuing on the example from the previous passage. The guy now buried under EMIs and loans will have to continue working even if the work is damn frustrating, or even if the person is capable of other adventures in life. The person is ‘stuck’ with a certain job just to pay back to legally own the stuff he possesses. If living to your fullest capacity calls for taking risk, EMI kills risk taking propensity, and hence EMI kills creativity. I know of so many people who wish to pursue higher studies or even kick the job and start on own, but are held back for lack of financial assurance. They have to pay for their possessions, and by the time they are done with paying, the life is over. The intellect of a 27 year old without any pressure of paying back is far greater and dangerous than one with an EMI pressure.
Here’s my proposal:
Case 1: Take a home loan for INR 75 lakh at an age of 27 and keep paying the EMIs till you turn 47. Of course by then you would have owned it up, but how about the 20 prime years of your life spend in paying back the loan? Have you not missed on something keen and irreversible? Also, what if you die at 48? What did you really make? A home or a life?
Case 2: Don’t take a loan. Just whatever money you have, invest in yourself. In studying, travelling places, meeting new people, or starting on your own. While living on a rented accommodation, make enough money that you can buy the damn house at a 100% down payment, when you really know where you wish to settle in life. Maybe you don’t want to live in a city where you own your apartment in case- 1, as the whole place in unlivable. But here in case- 2 you have a greater latitude. Again if you die at 48, you at least are assured that your have lived your life.
Also remember that if you kill yourself all this while to make a property for your children, what’s the assurance that they would like to live there? If you yourself didn’t live life, what message are your passing on to them? Life is about living and not accumulating. Unfortunately, easy loans and EMIs are helping us accumulate more, and live less.
So try living debt free!