We are just about 3 projects old within our family welfare initiative. But what we have seen, learnt, conquered has been beyond our anticipation. With 1 of those projects termed as a failure in our records, our success rate slides down to 66%. Experiences and lessons are what we take home and pledge to never make the same mistakes again. This particular blog post is penned down on purpose to remind us of where we went wrong and where we should have drawn the line. Its public, so that our well wishers may caution us, warn us and help us evade the pitfall.
Family welfare has always been particularly tricky because we don’t deal with one person, with a singular agenda, with a prime focus. Its about the entire family and their collective well-being. Such projects demand intimate involvement with family’s priorities when it comes to its income and expenses. Success is only guaranteed when our vision aligns perfectly with what the family wants to do, achieve and escalate to a position of financial security. There is an implicit expectation that ALL the family members are ready to rough it out and stick to a plan. A plan which comes with challenging financial decisions coupled with stringent deadlines, and most importantly, a guarantee to make money, if not profits, definitely no losses. It’s a given; we personally ensure and insure the plan.
Lesson – We are not family
No matter how deeply involved we may want to be with all family members and scrutinize the every penny they spend or earn, the bottom line stays. We are not one among them. What they talk between themselves, perceive, discuss, decide, is ultimately their prerogative. A family that stays together, has 3 meals together, sleeps together, is impermeable (in a good way). As a result, no matter how much we “think” we may have supervised, its never been enough.
Lesson – Skills do not guarantee professional success
In an ideal world, people with skills, God-gifted skills, should never have to be struggling financially. They can seek and reach out for help in order to market their skills, in order to commercialize what they can do and in turn earn their livelihood. What is not guaranteed is basic, fundamental acumen to understand what money goes out, what money comes in. If the floodgates cannot be controlled, savings from a business initiative will not accumulate. There is no better gift than common sense.
Lesson – They will cheat the plan
Print the plan, highlight the goals, stick it up on the walls of their living room. You might think that’s enough to instill a constant reminder of what they are working for. Wrong again. Festivals come by, Relatives visit, Birthdays celebrated. More cash in hand, is more money shelled out.
Lesson – Sacrifice is also a relative term
You were born in a family that eats chicken every day and meat on weekends. Cut to a lifestyle change. Can we switch to veggies on alternate days, stick to chicken on alternate days and not consume meat at all? That itself cuts down monthly expense by 25%. Supervising someone’e food is not our intent. But for this family with no savings, we repeat, with ZERO savings, spending on high-valued food items, for instance, even on chocolates and ice-creams, was not out of sight. When you have a financial target to achieve, a compromise in lifestyle is probably the first step in our advisory books. Money saved is money earned. But what seems like a small compromise to us, blows into a hurtful sacrifice for the family.
Lesson – Do they want to be rescued?
Given the repeated instances of cheating the plan, hiding the facts, faking the bills, we question ourselves, does the family really want to be rescued of their struggle and misery? If they don’t seem dedicated enough, why would someone else offer a helping hand?
Lesson – Our loss
A loss of time is a loss in crime. In the hindsight, we console ourselves that our lessons have made us even stronger. Our evaluation procedures need a revision. Our intimacy needs a back step. Our aggression to make all family members stick to the plan, for their own benefit, needs to simmer down.
Lesson – Their gain
For the last six months or so, they saw an increase in their income. They consumed all that they earned. Again, saved ZERO. They may not have escalated or come out of their struggling times, but they certainly had a merry run.
We mean no harm, no evil, and only wish them luck. God Bless Them!