I recently returned from my university convocation in the UK, and resumed my job in India. While I was away, I got time to ponder over how drastically life has changed for me; from being a cushioned student to being a working professional in one of India’s busiest cities.

The switch was rapid and definitely affected how I thought about money. I now have to wonder how my spending habits have changed, from being a student and spending in Pound Sterling, to resuming earning in Indian Rupee.

The Savings Lifestyle

Firstly, when you are a student, your lifestyle is dependent on an allowance your parents decide for you. You live off of a lump sum savings amount, with a defined monthly budget and little room for expansion. In this phase, you sort of live on your savings.

As an employed individual, however, you have the certainty of getting a fresh inflow of money every month. You have room to be a little free with your cash then!

Money = Freedom (?)

For many, money equals freedom. As a professional, I enjoy every bit of the freedom that I can get, but I cannot ignore the sense of responsibility which comes with it.

As a student, however, money may not mean freedom. Banks do not provide you with a check book, let alone a credit card. But having a corporate designation makes all the difference.

This makes me wonder, does having money necessarily imply having freedom…?

The Question of Diverse Diversities

I also noticed, how diverse your group of friends can be in college. Some are always saving the last penny, while some would not mind an expensive lunch every other day of the week.

As a student, I was fairly impressionable and was very likely to beinfluenced by my friends. I recall buying some new MAC cosmetics, just because my make-up savvy friend sported it so well. On the other hand, it was embarrassing to see some conservative friends cook at home and live happily on a budget.

As a salaried individual, your social circle is confined to the same kind of financially responsible people at work. Your colleagues, though financially diverse, deal with a similar framework as you. Everyone receives a fixed monthly income, commutes to work, has a list of fixed expenses month after month.

I am not as impressionable as I used to be, I learned to plan my expenses and indulgences according to my salary and not due to peer pressure. A structured lifestyle, with fixed hours of working, work pressure, and limited necessary expenses have made me a much more disciplined spenderthan I used to be as a student.

Different stages, different equations with money

It is then safe to say that everyone has a unique relationship with money. But this equation changes in different stages of life.

Earlier, money represented all the things I could buy with it. Now, money is a means to an end, a brighter future, or even a planned lifestyle to say the least. And the drastic change in my perception of money fascinates me every day. For all I know, money may mean something entirely different in the years to come. I will just have to wait.