So What is the Secret ?

Cost of living in Thimphu is extremely high. No doubt about that. How do we ascertain it? When mid-level office-goers find it difficult to survive. But then it makes me wonder how those people who live on the daily national minimum wage of Nu 215 a day make their ends meet. Is this a serious mismatch between what we spend and earn?

Looks like, some of us need to meet these people and benefit from their knowledge of survival. Maybe that way some of us can even save a few hundreds. If these people can very well manage their families and exactly match their expenses with the incomes that they earn, why do we need to go far for MBAs while we can do that right here on our doorstep?

Of course, MBA is your qualification and does not necessarily reflect in the way you manage your everyday family affairs.

Being greedy and not eating enough is different from making ends meet and also being in a position to save some for bad weather days. I certainly marvel at the people who live on 100 plus ngultrum a day. Now that’s quite something else. On the other hand there are people who earn 20 times more and yet just manage to hold on until the end of the month.

One senior Bhutanese narrated the following story to me:

I was single and living in an apartment, but I could hardly afford to eat well [by that most Bhutanese mean to have delicious food which includes ‘meat’]. It was only once in a while that I could buy meat. Was I saving? No. Was I sending the money to my parents back home? Nah. But I was fascinated with our office driver who lived right below my apartment. Although he earned much less the driver›s family was doing well. Everyday as I walked past by their house I would see the driver›s wife drying plenty of meat out in the sun. This had me thinking for months.

So, what is the secret? Many institutions and organizations in Bhutan teach financial literacy in rural areas – to the people who are self-sufficient and grow their own food. But I think it is something that’s required in urban Bhutan. Shouldn’t we also teach it to our young children right now so that they are prepared to face their future?

By Nawang P. Phuntsho

The writer works for READ Bhutan, an NGO. A blogger and a social worker, he has also authored two books.

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