Our financial independence today is because of our parent’s sweat and toil

Published: July 5, 2023 at 6:00 am

Last Updated on July 5, 2023 at 8:20 am

Many of us think of how to build wealth across generations when we think of a rich family business. The truth is, the writer and everyone reading this are building wealth across generations. Allow me to explain.

What we are today is only because of the sweat, toil and sacrifice of our parents and their parents (and their parents). They have slowly but surely helped us live better lives. Allowed us to get educated more, earn more and invest more. When explicitly stated, it is obvious, but often we forget this crucial fact: We are standing on the shoulders of our parents.

My father and mother had the foresight to appreciate the importance of a double income, and they both worked most of their adult lives. They still did not have enough to save substantially, but it allowed me to live a comfortable life as a kid and teenager.

My mom worked through severe neck pain and dizziness, which gave me the freedom to spend 14 years studying and becoming an academic after school. She did not have such freedom and was forced to work only when she was 19, but she and my dad made sure I had this freedom. Every aspect of my life today, every single bit, has its foundation in this freedom.

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My father retired soon after I started my PhD. Things were tight, but my parents never complained. Never once urged me to think of an alternate path. Even a year before I secured a tenured position, my entire scholarship was spent on travel, and I was not contributing anything to the household. Whenever I felt guilty, my parents told me not to worry and that we were doing fine.

My biggest regret is I was never able to spend money on my parents – buy them gifts or take them out. My father fell sick days after I received my first tenured paycheck and soon succumbed to cancer. More on that story here: O Captain! My Captain!

Before my father died, my mother started showing symptoms of Parkinson’s. Other obligations crept in, and soon her health worsened (she is 75 now and doing ‘okay” considering her worsening Parkinson’s and multiple fractures due to falls). Before we knew it, my window to celebrate my parents were shut.

So I make it a point to tell young earners who seek my counsel today – to spend on their parents when they are young. Take them out to see the world. Provide them with tools to share their wisdom with others. One inspiring example is the website – bankonviju –  created by Ramesh for his father, Shri R Vijayaraghavan, a retired Senior Banker from Indian Overseas Bank, to share his experience in money management. Both father and son have contributed to freefincal. Here is an article by Shri Vijayaraghavan: Ten lesser-known facts about PPF accounts!

My parents sacrificed so much to give me the freedom to pursue my passion. Because of their sacrifices, my wife and I can comfortably afford to offer the same to our son. Our financial independence today is because of our parent’s sweat and toil. Also, see: What if our children never had to work!

It is quite possible that many of us may not be financially independent even at the age of normal retirement. If we manage the little money we have as prudently as possible, our children will have a smoother ride and their children an even smoother ride. It takes generations for a family to get wealthy and stay that way. Let us do our part.

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About The Author

Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter(X), Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We made bad decisions and money mistakes when we started earning and spent years undoing these mistakes. Why should our children go through the same pain? What is this book about? As parents, what would it be if we had to groom one ability in our children that is key not only to money management and investing but to any aspect of life? My answer: Sound Decision Making. So, in this book, we meet Chinchu, who is about to turn 10. What he wants for his birthday and how his parents plan for it, as well as teaching him several key ideas of decision-making and money management, is the narrative. What readers say!
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