Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Moolah rues

It never ends. Just when you thought that you had your life sorted—got your wardrobe organized, renewed your gym membership, trained the cook how not to cook, spayed and trained the cats to the extent that cats can be trained, learnt to agree to disagree with the beau, figured out that he is indeed the man for you, got your parents to finally understand what you do for a living, eliminated extraneous people from your life— along comes a bummer.

Yes, who else, but from your HR department. The subject on the mail says ‘Important –Income tax declaration by Jan 15’

The point of submitting the declaration being—how not to allow the company or the government to swallow the money you think you are making—in short, how to have your money and eat it too.

Now I am pretty good with money, (at least I thought so) – I have separate files for car, credit card, X bank, Y bank, Form 16, bonds and investments, insurance policies..phew! I pay my bills on time and I have no debts. But even someone like me has kittens when I get a mail like this.

I spent my entire weekly off-day trying to find an insurance policy and a PPF challan that would get me that grand exemption. After I suitably psyched the mother and the CA, and was going through my carton of files (yes, my paperwork currently resides in a carton) I wondered: How much am I really worth? Try as I might, I didn’t arrive at an answer.

Does any one, any one out there know to the nearest thousand how much money you really have? Please send me an email, and I will worship you for the rest of my life.

Okay, there are some units which your mother bought for you when you were 14. There are some FDs somewhere. There are those frightening infrastructure bonds which you bought because someone said “Buy, buy…and keep…” There is an LIC policy you bought 15 years ago because your uncle’s brother-in-law’s niece was an agent. There are the mutual funds you bought just because it was cool at some point. And last, but not the least—there are your assorted salaries.

My point is, do you really know what it all adds up to? Who is computing all those figures? You stare at your crumbling PPF passbook and wonder if they are really compounding your interest. And if not, how will you know? You try to remember when exactly did you buy that National Saving Certificate and when will that exact moment be when your money will double. What if they forget to tell you that? And when you get a dividend cheque of Rs 1796, why do you jump up with joy as if you’ve won a lottery?

Can you ever tell from your bank statement whether your opening and closing balance are indeed correct? I can’t. Do you know how to decode your salary slip? I don’t even know what my actual salary is, as my salary slip, which comes protected with password etal leaves me befuddled every month by its alarming inconsistency.

Needless to say, I went to bed harried and woke up with a start. I am convinced I need a houseboy/girl who will tell me on a monthly basis just how much money I have, so I can plan my retirement.

But I have a pre-condition: he/she should not ask me for a single piece of paper after they have taken over my portfolio and my carton of files. All I will deign to do is sign. Interested candidates may please send me your resumes.

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