To cover day-to-day expenses, yes. We need money to pay rent, installments, groceries, and other bills. To pay back money that you owe your friends- that’s very important because if you don’t, it may cause you the friendship or hard feelings.
Today, money means much more than to cover the necessities. Many people define their worth by how much and how expensive the material possessions that they have. In other words, we measure our worth using lifeless objects like expensive handbags, big cars, designer clothes and furniture, expensive locations. And in order to be able to afford all this, we need lots and lots of money. And in order to achieve lots of money, people will be willing to take up loans and demanding careers. Some, sadly are even willing to trade in their souls.
Yesterday, I was watching E! Channel on the show, Forbes 30 Riches Stars under 25. Many child stars like the Olsen twins and the 3 actors/actress who acted in Harry Potter are so rich that it is quoted that they need not need to work a day in life. Yes, one may envy them, the glamour, fame and stuff that they could afford. But deep down inside, I wonder how happy they can be.
For me, I value truthfulness and sincerity. My friends need not have a lot of money, they only need to have a kind, honest and good heart.
When I was young, I had suffered a lot of prejudice and was accustomed to being looked down because I did not grow up in a rich family, could not afford lots of things and never wore anything branded (except a Diadora Tshirt that my friends bought for me) and yes, was scoring below average in school. Yet, despite it all, starting from secondary school, I came to know a handful of friends who accepted me just the way I am.
Now, I could have chosen to lead the kind of life I could not afford when young. But I have decided not to. Because even though I was not rich as a child, I was given lots of freedom. Unlike my peers, who have to go to tuition, ballet classes, swimming, piano classes, etc from Monday- Sunday, I never went to tuition till Form 5. The form 5 tuition was only towards the exam (express class). So I learnt to study and figured out on my own how to pass exams, and spent the rest of the time watching TV, and cycled all around with a mountain bike that I brought with the salary of my first job. Now, when I see my friends sending their kids to extra classes, I secretly feel sorry for their kids (sorry friends, if you are reading this) because they do not have so much time to themselves like what I once had. I always believe childhood should be enjoyed because the time and innocence is only once in a lifetime.
Who gives a %$! about how many As your kid scored in school or if he/she made it to the Dean’s list- what’s most important is that the child must have enough EQ when he/she comes out to earn a living the real world. Memorizing texts and formulas, then vomiting them out for exams only work to earn an academic qualification. In the real world, it does not work that way. Heck, I’ve earn a Applied Chemistry degree but now went into the financial industry. No one, including my boss bothers about how many As or what type of degree I’ve earned. Similarly, I’ve known many people who never excel in studies are now doing very well in their careers.
If you want your kid to succeed in life, let him/her learn to solve problems on their own. Be supportive and give them lots of self-esteem boosters because peer pressure in school can be very nasty and is a terrible period for your kid to transition to. Learn to be their friend and build a bond with them- to do that, you have to invest relatively a lot of your time on them- because kids take a while to open up and trust their parents enough to share their secrets, partially due to generation gap. My mom had told me when I was a teenager dealing with peer pressure that she will not trade me for all the beautiful, top scorer and popular daughters in the world. And that she will be happy with whatever results I achieve in my exams for as long as she knew I have tried my best. She always said, “Do your best and God will do the rest.” That kind of support means a lot.
So now in my career, I’ve chosen not to climb the corporate ladder even though my kind bosses have offered me lots of opportunities and requested me to take up more challenging roles time and time again. I wanted the kind of life that I could venture into areas that I felt strong and interested in, such as blogging (like what I am doing now ), health, learning to improve my fitness and travel. But most important thing of all, I wanted the kind of life whereby I can come home and spend time with my family and simply just relax doing things like watching TVs or MTVs. I do not want to be having a team to manage, whom I have to constantly worry about- coz I know I am a worry wart when I feel that I am directly responsible for others’ rice bowls. Furthermore, I am doing what I like, as my current job is also related to internet, training and writing and my role is able to help and benefit more people than the higher roles that were being offered to me. So that means that I am earning less $$. I can live with that.
I buy what I can afford, but still able to indulge in a couple of Lattes in a month. I drive a car that is 8 years old, but still functional- even though there are a few obvious dents on the car that I’ve never got round to repair. How did I got the dents? The left dent- years ago, I parked the car in a carpark. When I came back to claim the car, it was dented, probably by some clumsy driver. The right dent- when I was making an illegal U-Turn, a motorcyclist who is riding at high speed on the double line (in an attempt to impress his girlfriend) banged into the side of my car- I’ve paid a lot of compensation to the motorcyclist (who I knew rode without a license) because I was so grateful that both he and his girlfriend were not hurt. So I kept the dent in the car to remind me to drive carefully and always be on the lookout, especially for motorcyclists. Often, I noticed with amusement that folks with bigger cars will let me cut -in because they are so worried (judging from the dents in my car) that I am going to bang their car. So I had a definite advantage at the road- well, I only have to live with people’s perception that I am very poor and a lousy driver. Also, no one is interested in stealing my car or the contents inside because repairing the dents alone would not be worth it.
I wear and buy clothes that I love, which most of the time, are not that expensive. For instance, I do not really like to wear the clothes in the current fashion, so I still wear clothes that were few years old. I love the clothes by Sommerset Bay (light pastel floral with English country like designs) that were sold about 12 years ago more than those that are being sold now- too bad that time I could not afford them- these are clothes that you can never find now.
I don’t like to carry handbags (the type that you sling on your shoulders) but I love the ladies bag that come in a miniature schoolbag style (the bag is on your back and you just walk with your hands fre
e). I could not find any store that sells them anymore but luckily, I am able to spot an inexpensive one from Carrefour that I am using to go to office. I have problem buying shoes because even expensive shoes from Clarks, Hush Puppies or Scholl gets spoil after I wore them for a few months- so when I am able to find a pair of really comfortable shoes, I will wear them all the time to everywhere, including to the office, even though they are so worn out or tattered.
That’s just me. I have been referred to as a non-conformist, which I take it as a compliment
But if looks could deceive, then by being who and how I am, I sieve out lots of superficial people from my life. The friends I have are real people, people with good hearts, sincerity, honesty, kindness, compassion and each one of them are so exceptional. Often I feel fortunate and blessed with their presence in my life. I imagine if I am one of those rich young stars in the Forbes list, I will never know who are my real friends and who are after my money. Rehab would probably be my second home, instead of the gym.
I am just not talking theories. These are conscious life choices I’ve made for years now and I am happily living in them.
If at all in your life you are feeling very down because you felt you are being judged for not having enough dough, then perhaps, you may want to seriously consider changing the circle of friends that you are mixing with. Most of the time, we fall into the trap of trying to gain acceptance by showing others how much of stuff we could afford. But let me assure you, if you are willing to take the harder route and learn to know people with your heart and get pass all the superficialities, I guarantee you, your life will be a much happier one.