Lessons in financial independence by a mother

The clock struck 3 in the morning, but sleep was miles away from Lilly’s eyes. The reason for her anxiety was the phone call she had received from her daughter, her only child, late in the night.

“Mom, I need your help. Could you please come to visit me?” Eleanor had pleaded between sobs. Lilly patiently listened to her daughter and resolved to fix the problem soon.

Strong and practical, Lilly had been a rock for Eleanor after Tom, her husband and Eleanor’s father, died when the latter was still in high school. Lilly ensured that Eleanor never felt the absence of a parent, even while she pivoted from being a home-maker to an entrepreneur, starting small with a tiffin service in her neighbourhood. Lilly was truly gifted in culinary skills, and her business soon blossomed. Always enterprising and creative, she expanded her tiffin service to a larger part of the city by hiring a few more kitchens and cooks in no time. Even before the concept had become popular, Lilly was successfully managing cloud kitchens. A year ago, with the help of Eleanor, she had started her own cookery channel on YouTube, which had garnered an overwhelming subscription base in a very little time.

For years, Lilly worked hard to give Eleanor a decent education and a convenient lifestyle. Only a year ago, Eleanor had completed her Master’s degree in business administration and taken up a well-paying job in another city. Both mother and daughter were quite happy until the pandemic arrived. Eleanor had to take a 70% cut in the salary, which made it very hard for her to pay her living expenses. Finding herself entangled in financial troubles, Eleanor had called her mother for help.

Taking the first flight, Lilly arrived at Eleanor’s apartment that stood in a plush neighbourhood.

“Mom!” Eleanor couldn’t believe that her mother would come to her aid so soon.

“I’m here now, my darling, I will make everything alright.” Lilly’s kind words soothed Eleanor, and she knew that her mother would rescue her from her financial crisis.

“But first, I need a cup of coffee. Mummy needs her magic potion before she could start helping you,” Lilly said with a wink. Elanor giggled and went to the kitchen to make two steaming cups of coffee.

Eleanor took an off from work the next day, and the mother-daughter duo talked for hours. Later in the day, Lilly pored over Eleanor’s credit card bills and bank statements. She was astounded to find that her daughter was under a huge credit card debt. With a reduced salary, it was impossible for Eleanor to pay the pending bills, which were getting fatter each passing month on a staple diet of obscenely high interest rates.

By evening, Lilly had a plan. She sat Eleanor down and explained her strategy.

“Eleanor, you have been living quite lavishly. Your monthly rent is very high, and so are your shopping bills. You hardly cook and order several meals from restaurants in a week. While you could have afforded this with your original salary, it is near impossible with your current income. Had you curbed your expenses to match your salary cut, you’d have been in a much better financial position.”

Eleanor looked down at the floor, realizing how foolishly she had continued her spending spree even after a massive cut in her pay.

“Nonetheless, we can still make a change,” Lilly said with a bright smile. She hated to see her beloved daughter grim and glum, “Starting with your living arrangement. Since you have to work indefinitely from home, there is no point living in the city. You can save a great deal of money by leaving this apartment. Also, to augment your income, you can help me manage my business. Although I won’t be able to match your fancy corporate salary, I will pay you a decent amount. And last but not least, I will pay all your pending bills to give you a clean financial slate.”

Eleanor was ecstatic to hear that. She hugged her mother and cried with relief.

“Wait, there is a condition,” Lilly said with a smile as Eleanor gave a confused look.

“Half of the salary I intend to pay you would be invested on your behalf in mutual funds via SIPs each month.”

Eleanor knew about mutual funds, but never cared to invest. After hearing her mother, she could see the wisdom in regular investing.

“When your father passed away, I felt very lost and scared; although, I always kept a brave face in front of you. It was then that a friend had suggested that I visit a renowned financial advisor,” Lilly continued with a forlorn expression on her face. “The gentleman not only motivated me to start my tiffin and catering business, but he also made me invest regularly. In the beginning, I found it difficult to part with the precious little that I earned. I also thought that it was impossible to accumulate wealth by making such small investments.

“But with time, the tidings changed. My business did well, and I kept increasing the monthly investment amount. And today, I am financially free. My portfolio keeps growing each month; and even if I stop investing today, it will keep growing at a handsome rate. I want you to be financially free, too!” Lilly said with a lot of sincerity.

Eleanor realized how important it was to be free, and she was glad that her mother and her trusted mentor were around to help her achieve financial independence.

“You are my superhero, Mommy. You won’t ever let anything bad happen to me,” Eleanor said with glee as she hugged her mother, while tears of joy streamed down Lilly’s face.

“No dear, I will never let anything bad happen to you. I promise.”

Dr. Celso Fernandes, along with his team at Nave Marg, work tirelessly towards the cause of spreading financial literacy among the people of Goa. Dr. Fernandes gladly gives his time for free consultations on achieving financial independence. He can be reached at +91 9422058741.

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