Richard from Richer and Better just sent me an amazing story from Calcutta (Kolkata), India. Sixty-year-old Laxmi Das began begging on a street corner in 1964, when she was only sixteen years old. Crippled by polio, she’s spent her life begging for change. But she didn’t spend it all. She saved what she could. In buckets. From the article:

I saved for the days when I cannot beg,” she told the BBC. “I knew one day I would grow old and have diseases, so I was prudent and saved for my pension.” Now the fruits of her labour from a busy traffic intersection in north Calcutta have been realised.

“She can be projected as a role model to encourage people to begin saving,” said TK Haldar, manager of the Central Bank of India‘s Maniktola branch. “Her efforts show that you can save even if you earn a pittance.”

Das deposited over 200 pounds (91kg) of coins, which officials believe will amount to around 30,000 rupees ($692). I tried to figure out how much money that is compared to Das’ cost of living, but I don’t have the skills to find out. I suspect the answer is “not very much”, even for 44 years of saving, and even for a beggar. (30,000 rupees would get you a decent apartment for a year, from what I can tell.)

The good news is the bank is helping Das. They’ve established a bank account in her name where other people can donate money. (I’ve been unable to find info on how to contribute, though I intend to continue searching.) The bad news is, they’ve told Das that she qualifies for a credit card.

Regardless, I find this story inspiring: “I saved for the days when I cannot beg.” Indeed!

[BBC News: Indian beggar gets bank account and India beggar amasses coin fortune, photo copyright BBC News]