For any creative person, money is usually not the most important factor to be in the profession. The same is true for Shalakha Rai, an award-winning Odissi dancer who has performed in a slew of events worldwide.
In an interview with MintGenie, she talks about the importance of money to her. She also speaks about the significance of a regular source of income, her ignorance towards investments, and importantly — the role a regular job plays in her life.
She also tells us what does she do with her money, and the financial lesson she learnt during the two years of pandemic.
What does money mean to you? Is this among the key factors that help you take your life decisions such as your career?
I understand that money is important. In any creative profession, income increases during certain months and falls in the others. The fixed income I get is in the form of salary I draw from the dance school.
Having said this, if I happen to receive plenty of money, then I can devote a lot more time to my students and do things my own way.
For any good performance, we have to spend a lot of money on musicians and the venue. If I have good money, I can demonstrate my work and creativity in a better way.
What do you spend your money on every month? Can you share a rough breakup e.g., 10 percent on travel?
A major chunk of my income is spent in running the household including the routine items of kitchen, internet bills, power bills and other miscellaneous expenses, etc.
Just like any other middle-class family, I have to spend money on family expenses, travel and also save some for the future.
What are the things you love to spend money on?
I do not have many indulgences barring a few, which include Indian handicrafts, Rajasthani fabric. I go to exhibitions and places like Dilli Haat to hang around with my friends where I like to spend money.
What percentage of your income goes into saving? What do you do with this money?
Savings are not fixed during any month. Since my income fluctuates every month, so do the quantum of savings. But I tend to save a part of my income each month. During the pandemic, we all realised its importance of having an emergency fund. The saved money helped us a lot in sailing through the pandemic.
As a matter of fact, my father was a business man — so in our family, we all are accustomed to the fluctuating income.
However, I do not deny that one should make an effort to save as much as possible. If someone falls ill, for instance, then you can rely on your savings instead of borrowing the money from friends.
What does the job mean to you in terms of providing you with a stable source of income?
My association with Gandharva Mahavidyalaya is more than just a job. I first came to this place more than two decades ago. This is not an office or an institute for me. It is part of my life. If I do not come here for some days, I feel there is amiss.
Coming here is like having food every day. I try to train students here with the same purity and sincerity with which I learnt as a disciple myself. More than a job, this is a responsibility.
If I were looking for a typical job, I would have done something else since I am a postgraduate in political science from University of Delhi.
Even we participate in the dance events for the reasons other than just money alone, unless it is a proper corporate event.
What do you think about investing your money? If you have a certain amount of money set aside, will you want to invest it in the stock market, mutual funds, or do you just keep it in your bank savings account?
I can invest if I get a proper guidance. Currently my focus is not on investing my savings. I am clueless about these things. As of now, I rely on bank savings only.
Do you think you have an understanding on how to save and invest? If yes, how did you learn? If not, are you trying to learn?
I do not have any understanding as such, so I am trying to learn these things by discussing with my friends. As a matter of fact, most of my friends belong to the field of dance and music. So, I do not have a friend who is a financial expert.
Do you follow social media influencers and follow their investment advice?
I am not too glued to the social media so I don’t follow any influencer. I use social media only to keep tab on music, dance, but not anything related to money or finance.
Do you discuss money-related matters with your mother?
Yes, I do discuss these things with my mother and even follow her advice and guidance. She is a big support for me and without her guidance, I would not have saved whatever little bit I have.
Otherwise, I would have splurged most of my income (laughs).