If needs get subsumed by greed more often, then recalibration is in order
I could not believe my credit card bill when I clicked it open a few days ago. The card that pays for petrol was zero. Zero. The other one was down to 20% of earlier spends. And I consider myself frugal—spending on what I need and not what I greed—and yet the difference a lockdown made to my own spends left me quite amazed. My age cohort and I grew up in an India of very limited means, choices and options. Basics like milk, water and electricity were in short supply. Less than five homes in 100 had a phone in most middle-class metro colonies and if you owned a car, you had either inherited it or were up to no good in that business of yours. But our generation was also on the ground floor when India opened up and was able to ride the wave of growth that lifted a lot of boats. Things began to change, but slowly. By the time the 1990s kids were born, small luxuries were becoming commonplace—eating out was not that budget breaking exercise that it used to be. The ’90s kids still remember a money-careful approach and some built money habits that usually last a lifetime. It is the parent and kids cohort of the 2000s and above that probably is really struggling with the new tight-money reality of the pandemic.