(This column was first published on Value Research India.)

Idioms are confusing. They’re probably the toughest part about a language to learn, along with figures of speech. When I was in school, idioms really messed with my head. I couldn’t make head or tail of them. There was this one particular idiom that bemused me the most – ‘Save for a rainy day’.

I could never really figure out what we were supposed to save for a rainy day. An umbrella? A windcheater? Maybe it was gum boots or some special kind of clothes. I had no clue. And I wondered why these items were to be saved for a rainy day; we didn’t use them when it didn’t rain anyway. Why did they warrant saving? As you can imagine, I had a childhood with troubles over grave issues. But as is almost always the case, we grow up wiser. I did too, learning exactly what “saving for a rainy day” meant, in my late teens.

During those days, my parents used to give me a monthly allowance for my entertainment-related activities. I usually spent that pocket money on movies and outings with friends. Needless to say, most of it was spent in the first couple of weeks of the month. The second half of the month was spent doing activities that required little or no cash. Saving some part of my pocket money never even crossed my mind. Until one fine day when I heard about the concert of a happening band to be held in my city. By the time concert tickets went on sale, I had run out of my pocket money for the month. I didn’t have any money left to buy the tickets. I did eventually emotionally blackmail my mom into giving me an advance on my next month’s allowance, but had I been saving, I wouldn’t have needed to do that.

Thankfully, that incident got me into the habit of saving. It wasn’t even much – it began with 5 per cent of my pocket money and graduated to 10 per cent of my salary when I started working. Even that much is enough, because as the saying goes – something is better than nothing.

The habit has stayed with me over the years. I invest a definite part of what I earn every month. This, after I have accumulated an adequate amount in a separate bank account to take care of emergencies. I also have a fixed amount earmarked for my insurance premiums.

This habit of saving has allowed me to be prepared for all sorts of rainy days. Be it slight rains or flood situations, I have my umbrellas, wind-cheaters and gum boots ready. After all, it’s better to stay dry than to try and get dry after getting wet. Or in the words of another idiom – better to be safe than sorry.