Though CBSE has introduced stock markets in its curriculum, most of the India is financially illiterate. People have all the money lying in their accounts, but still they seldom know how to make that money work for them. Taking advantage of this disadvantaged population are the marketing guys ready to offer hassle free loans to help you buy your dream holiday home overlooking the vale, or that SUV which you always hankered to buy.
Mehrab Irani's Mad Money Journey should be welcomed for it speaks about financial literacy. In the Indian literary scene very few books have been written on the topic of money, that too in a language which even a common man can understand. On this count alone Mad Money Journey should receive all the adulation.
Mad Money Journey is a financial adventure. A successful orthopedic surgeon by name John Pinto is in neck deep financial crisis. His unsuccessful suicide bid reintroduces him to his childhood friend Vijay Desai. Vijay arranges for his financially ailing friend a 30 days around the world trip, which will offer him the wisdom to get well soon. On this journey he will meet mentors who too have faced a financial disaster, owing to some reason or the other, at various points of their lives and have emerged as winners after a little help from Vijay. So John's financial adventure will take him to Thailand, Afghanistan, China, Australia, Kenya, South Africa, USA, England and Deolali and Haridwar in India. He will meet people from all walks of life – a prostitute, a terrorist, a mystic, a runner, a gracious daughter, a happy family man, a divorced man managing his two daughters on his own, a widow of a gold retailer, an army man and a sage. Each of them has a special lesson to impart to him regarding money.
The book speaks of what is an asset and what is a liability. It tells us what is positive leverage and negative leverage. It reiterates that insurance should not be mixed up with investments. It explains how exposure to equity markets will help to cope up with inflation. It steals the sheen away from gold as a lucrative investment option. It introduces us to the concepts of running income and asset income. The book also answers the questions as to whether you should buy a house, if yes whether you should borrow money from a financial institution and whether you should opt for fixed or floating interest rates. In keeping with the age old adage, don't keep all your eggs in the same basket says the book while talking about asset allocation.
The writing is simple, crispy and soothing. Mehrab's characters are of different nationalities with their peculiar traits. In a very little space, he breathes life into them by making them human with their own sets of tragedies and never say die attitudes. Their pasts justify the lessons which they impart. The book is as much about these people and their lives as it is about money. The same can be said about travel. While imparting lessons about finance, the book takes us on a world tour making us taste all the international cuisine in the homes of locales and arranges a visit to the tourists attractions as well.
The book emphasizes on strong moral values. Mehrab tells us that you can not be financially successful in the real sense unless you have loving relations, good character, respect for the law and a generous heart. This is an eyeopener for many people who are ever ready to do anything for money. To double your net worth, first double your self-worth, he says. He also makes a revelation by saying that happiness come free i.e money can not buy happiness. About change he says, change is the hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle and best at the end. For those who claim to get tips from the insiders, he says that tips are for waiters not for investors. An investor chases value while a speculator chases price. The book is abound with such one liners and is bound to make the reader financially literate while relating the same to incidents, some of which are humorous and some poignant.
The book says that the protagonist was a prisoner of money. The basic premise of the book is don't work for money, let money work for you. So the book compares financial advisors with pimps. The book opines about education in a manner which may be unacceptable for the majority. One wonders how and why do all the financially successful people who impart lessons to the protagonist have flawless skins and look younger than their age.
Yet, the book is an interesting read. Once you start reading the book you will not keep it down until you have finished. Incorporating travel, food, morality, friendship, real men and women along with the financial wisdom, Mehrab has ensured that book will turn out to be a block buster. Given the financial illiteracy rampant in our country, the book is a must read.
If you are avid reader, you would agree with me when I say that Mad Money Journey can be mathematically expressed as
Rich Dad Poor Dad + The Monk who sold his Ferrari = Mad Money Journey
Nevertheless this book should be embraced as till date many, including both rich and poor, have not even heard the word financial literacy.