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Tag Archives: Life
Edit: This post was written before my other one where I asked if anyone felt guilty for their success.
Some great points & comments came up in the post, and I realized I wasn’t clear enough regarding my position (blame it on amateur writing!!).
Hopefully this post helps clarify a bit.
This BBC World News – Changing Fortunes (New Patterns of Wealth), had a great Episode #4 on Feminine Power.
You can see clips from the episode, but I wasn’t able to get the full episode, although I watched it on TV on February 23rd 2013.
STATS FROM THE VIDEO:
- The #1 vector for global growth for the past 10 years has been women
- Globally, $20 trillion is now controlled by women, which will rise by 40% over the next 5 years to $28 trillion
- The richest women in the world are by virtue rich from inheriting or marrying into it, but the number of self-made women, is on the rise
The video profiles 3 amazing women with their incredible rise from poverty:
- Zhang Lan – South Beauty Restaurant Chain Founder and Owner
- Natalia Vodianova – Top supermodel
- Kalpana Saroj – Real Estate magnate owner
ZHANG LAN (CHINESE)
She used to be part of the Imperial Family but during Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”, her entire family (she was a baby), were banished to the mountains.
They had nothing to eat, no milk for her as a baby, and she got rickets at the age of 3 from malnutrition.
She ended up picking and eating mushrooms that grew on people’s graves after the rain.
The family was eventually allowed to return to Beijing, and in 1989 she moved to Canada to live with her uncle. She made in one hour, the equivalent of one month’s salary in China.
She saved $20,000 2 years later, and moved back home to Beijing to follow her dream.
NATALIA VODIANOVA (RUSSIAN)
She lived in an 18 square foot room with 4 others in her family in Russia and if they had something to eat the next day, living day to day, that would be great.
For instance, they 1 box of apples and 1 box of bananas to sell on the street – they had to manage the Russian mafia, police, and pay everyone off.
Then they got into debt, and faced eviction, and at 16, she got a lucky break from an international modeling scout and went to an audition, and 6 months later she was in Paris.
After landing a Calvin Klein contract, she knew she had made it.
KALPANA SAROJ (INDIAN)
She now owns about $270 million in real estate in India, but in the 1990s she grew up with nothing in the slums, and her daughter still remembers the days when they had nothing.
She had her parents, her 2 sisters, and her brother, for a total of 6 people living in an area of 400 square feet, which included a counter for the “kitchen” and a wall in the corner to indicate it was a bathroom.
She wanted to be educated but the society she was in, it wasn’t important to educate girls, especially in India.
In the 7th grade she got married at the age of 12; her in-laws swore and beat her. Her father took her back 6 months later, and she tried to commit suicide by taking poison. She was saved by a doctor, and decided to change her life by starting a small sewing business and saving enough money ($5000) for a downpayment on a building that was overrun with gangs in the area, which later grew to $100,000 in value.
In a meeting, 4-6 men wanted to assassinate her, but one well-wisher went to her home, and told her to get out before she got hurt. She refused and bought a revolver (gun), which is why people call her “The Iron Lady”.
MANY WOMEN GROW UP WITHOUT NARY A CHANCE TO SUCCEED
I am very, VERY lucky to live in a country, and to have grown up in a society that allows women to work and climb the ranks if they choose to.
$0.78 to a $1.00 or not, I am happy that there is a chance to make anything, considering that many countries don’t even acknowledge women as citizens.
It was even in the most recent times that we were allowed to work, and I think sometimes we forget that.
They’re in the background, covered, and/or non-existent in terms of economic power.
From what I’ve observed in reading about them, and watching documentaries, women in Africa, tend to do 90% of the work. They cook, clean, raise the kids, grow food, harvest it, and try to make a living selling what they’ve grown.
The men? They seem to sit around doing jack squat under the trees most of the time, blabbing to each other about their situation while their wives work their butts off.
Of course, this differs from country to country in Africa, but the main message I get from African women is:
In Africa, it is better to have been born a boy than a girl.
That’s just heart-breaking that something like whether you have reproductive organs or not, and something so natural and not at all decided by anyone, determines and colours the rest of your life.
Then you look at the Middle East where young girls are being beaten, raped and harassed for wanting to go to school and get an education, being called ‘sluts’ for showing their ankles, and you are ever more grateful for what you have, no matter how little it may seem to you.
Finally, you look at India.
In the video above of Kalpana Saroj who rose from devastating poverty, even she admits that they’re misogynists as a culture there. Women aren’t allowed to rise above their station, so to speak.
It’s tough to be poor, it’s even tougher to be poor in a country like India.
LOOKING AT MY OWN MOTHER, THE ROLE MODEL
She’s not a millionaire by any means, and doesn’t even think she’s that lucky, but she grew up very much like those women, living hand-to-mouth, in the same kind of country with that kind of mentality of women being subpar to men.
There were many hungry days, she said, and I think her rather matter-of-fact stories stuck with me when I was a kid, growing up, and listening to how she lived.
There’s no posturing, there’s no whining, just .. matter-of-fact re-telling.
I couldn’t fathom not having anything to eat, and I would prod her and prod her to tell me what they REALLY ate, because having grown up with a full belly pretty much my entire life, it boggled my mind to think that someone could go hungry and not have the cash to even buy a banana to eat.
She could just look at me, shrug, laugh and say:
Whatever we could find, whatever we could steal from the neighbour’s trees, and what was given to us by the church and countries bringing food rations for the poor.
It only struck me just recently that I can’t even go 12-hours without eating to take a blood test, and she went days without food. I think I would have had to make do and accept the fate while trying as hard as possible, as most people in poverty end up doing, but just to imagine no food at all, is painful enough.
This is the reason why I am a bit soft-hearted to those who grow up in poverty (believe it or not).
They don’t have the same life opportunities to be with people who are all going to go to college too, and the groupthink is so different at that level. You aren’t thinking about going to college, you’re thinking about what you’re going to eat tomorrow, if your brother will be able to make some money, if you can sell those vegetables you grew for more money to be able to help feed your family.
When you take all of the above into account, it is a stellar accomplishment of my mother to have made it out of such dire, horrible poverty to a middle-class kind of life.
She made it, and I tell her how amazing that is each day that she did.
Her leap out of poverty is far greater than if I, a middle-class-reared kid, will reach the echelons of the upper-middle-class, even the 1% in Canada.
It is nothing for me to move from middle-class to upper-class, because the hard work has already been done by my mother moving from dead-end poverty to middle-class.
That is attainable, which is also why I am so hard on fellow middle-class folks who whine and bitch about their situation, and how they’ll NEVER become rich, without really knowing that it could be a lot worse (and it is, for a lot of women).
They don’t even need to think about where to even earn an income to buy food, and if they don’t want to sacrifice their little luxuries like driving a car instead of walking to the corner store, then they don’t get to bitch about it, if the solution has already presented itself.
All they have to do is save by sacrificing the unnecessary to reach their goals.
All of the above, makes me even more grateful for what I have.
Someone recently asked me if I felt guilty that I could charge so much money per hour as a consultant, and I could basically making in a month or two what some people make in a year on minimum wage.
I paused, and said: “No, why should I? I worked hard for it.”
This kind of answer surprised them I think, because I was being honest (a little too honest?), seemingly arrogant (I like ‘confident’ instead), and it was a rather harsh answer for a society that tends to try and put the guilt trip on those who make good money, and to not be so selfish with it.
(For the record, I don’t think I’m selfish with it. There are plenty of people who make the same amount of money but don’t donate any of it. I have some inkling of a conscience.)
I’ve already talked a bit about those who inherited their wealth rather than having worked for it here: Imagine if you were Born Rich (documentary) of heirs and heiresses, and Nietzsche had it right when he said ‘guilt is a useless emotion’.
MAKING GOOD MONEY IS ALL RELATIVE TO OTHERS
There’s always going to be someone else making more money (or less) than I, so it’s relative to my perception of how much I make.
That’s great news to me, because I can control what I feel and think, which lets me have a rosy, shiny attitude on my life, rather than a dark, grumpy grey one.
See, beside someone like Beyonce, who pulls in double my average salary in a day ($140K), I’d feel downright poor if I chose to feel poor.
(And she looks .. incredible to boot, with perfect hair and symmetrical features. Of course she does.)
It’s easy to think: It’s not fair. She has more than I do.
..until you realize what she did to get to that fame and stardom.
Example: I can’t imagine going on a crazy fad diet of just drinking cayenne-laced water with lemon and maple syrup just to lose weight — that is some serious dedication to your craft, albeit unrealistic and unhealthy.
If I was told to do that diet to keep my job, I’d find another job.
That’s the lazy and rather ridiculous way out, saying how people with more, should share it freely with people who haven’t done jack squat to earn any of it.
It also depends on who you end up socializing with that colours how you look at money.
I’ve never really felt guilty about making a lot of money, although I can understand (somewhat) the people who do feel like they don’t deserve it.
I MAKE MORE MONEY BECAUSE I TOOK THE RISKS WITHOUT A GUARANTEED REWARD
I started making that kind of cash at 26, because I did a few major things that no one else in my profession did at my age:
- Took the risk of not having a steady paycheque to become a freelancer
- Quit a very solid company only after having been there for a year or two
- Learned very quickly how to budget my irregular income as to not let it go to my head
Can others say the same? If you don’t take the risk, you can’t get the potential reward.
(Please don’t liken this to buying a lottery ticket so you can be in it to win it.
That’s not even close to what I’m referring to.)
A bit of luck was on my side because I quit at the right time, but luck is what you create for yourself, by putting yourself in front of a wide range of opportunities, and seeing what sticks.
I could have just as spectacularly failed with my little strategy, but that’s the whole point of risk versus reward.
WORKING HARD IS ALSO RELATIVE TO WHAT YOU DO
If I worked hard for it, I deserve it.
Maybe your idea of working hard, is that you have to be there at 5 a.m., work with only a short 10-minute break every hour or so (as dictated by your union), and then punch out at 3 p.m., free to go home, put your feet up and eat a can of beans, forgetting and putting aside the entire day you just had.
It’s more physical than mental.
You absolutely deserve every penny of that paycheque you got.
(Assuming it’s fair wages…)
Mine, is that I have to (as part of my job) basically put up with people for long hours, who don’t care about their jobs enough to do a good one.
I have to step in to fix it, cajole them into working properly and make sure that they can’t do weird (or illegal) things to sidestep putting in the effort, and screwing their colleagues around them who are expecting Result A, but get Result X2471 and end up creating a company snowball of crap that spreads everywhere like a disease.
It’s more mental than physical.
I have to try and convince everyone to do their jobs correctly for the sake of their colleagues, but I can’t be there, babysitting them for every minute of the day.
I always tell them I WILL be leaving at the end of the project, which means they can’t just say: Oops, sorry. I need you to come and fix this. Again.
I may not seem like I’m “working hard” because I’m not getting down and dirty in the furnaces and come out with a sore, aching back, covered in soot, but I am equally as (perhaps more) exhausted at the end of the day.
On top of it all, I am unable to switch my brain off after work because I’m trying to figure out how to solve the 10 problems I ran into this morning in an efficient manner without costing more money in the long-run, or making people’s workload heavier for no reason.
The physical job is in some ways, a lot easier, and dare I say that most people wouldn’t be able to handle the mental part of it, or would choose NOT to?
(Yeah, I said it.)
So I too, absolutely deserve EVERY penny of the paycheque I got.
SOME PEOPLE FEEL GUILTY BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS MADE FAR LESS
Another way that people choose to let themselves feel guilty is because they don’t know anyone else around them who makes that kind of money.
It’s a limiting world view.
My parents made near to nothing for most of their lives, working mostly at minimum wage, half the time.
They accepted that they weren’t good enough at that point in their lives to make more money (or were just downright lazy and delusional about winning the lottery.)
I too, have accepted that I have less of a net worth from the past 2 years because I didn’t work.
I’m not mad about the situation because I chose it for myself. The key is to choose these things, rather than have them chosen for you.
I am not my parents, and they are not me.
It’d be like comparing a raspberry to an orange. They’re two different things.
They couldn’t imagine quitting a steady job just to give something a shot, with a 50% chance that it would stick.
My mom almost cried and pleaded heavily upon hearing that I wanted to quit, but now she’s just mollified and proud that it worked out so well in the end, because I took the risk to do it.
She freely admits that the whole idea of quitting one’s steady job is the antithesis to how she has been raised to think about life and work. She didn’t get it then, but she does now.
Instead of being jealous, she’s thrilled.
OPPORTUNITIES ARE MISSED EVERYDAY
It’s also a question of opportunities you come across, and I don’t feel guilty because I tried to take every chance I had presented to me.
I took on some strange jobs for a kid, but as Steve Jobs would say, I connected the dots in hindsight:
- Paper route as a kid (then I corralled other kids into working as a group while I took a small cut)
- Selling virtual items for real cash on eBay (story coming up on this)
- Selling thrifted clothing but putting in the hours to present it well on eBay
- Freelanced in high school on weekends while working a minimum wage job flipping burgers
- Worked as an assistant superintendent of a building to get subsidized rent & deal with cranky college students…..while attending the same college as these tenants
All of the above (to some extent) let me see clearly, and craft an opportunity out of what I was given once I started working.
I saw that jobs were not black and white, neatly typed titles in companies that came with “roles” and “responsibilities”. They were what you made them out to be, if you chose to work differently.
Even today, some people have the best job in the world (mine, obviously), and can’t see the forest for the trees because it is a job they are not meant to do, but they can’t quit because the money is holding them into a job they hate.
I’ve always thought: “What an awful way to live your life, chained to your job only because of salary.”
If you don’t love your job, it is an awful way to live, just to work for the money.
Why would you do something you aren’t meant to do?
You are meant to do it, if you love to do it, would do it for free and most importantly: are good at it.
We always gloss over the last part of being good at something we love to do.
I can understand that not everyone can become a singer, songwriter, dancer, actor, chef or fashion designer, but they aren’t meant to do those jobs either.
I love playing the piano, but I am not as good as people who are naturally talented. I got to where I am just from hard work, but it’s not enough, and my passion is not there.
Those are hobbies, not careers, if you don’t have any recognizable talent. It means you haven’t searched deep down inside yourself and honestly said: I suck at this. Maybe I should do something else.
(Yeah I said it again.)
You’d be surprised watching reality shows how many people think they have talent.
The ones who do have any scrap of talent, don’t understand that they don’t have AS MUCH talent, relative to others, and should stick to it as a hobby and find something else to do as a career.
They are mediocre in the face of those who are simply better than they are at their chosen field.
Even the ones who win those singing competitions — do we know who they are?
Are they as famous or more famous than singers like Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Rhianna, and other solidly A-or-B-List vocal powerhouses?
I think not.
(And those are the ones who “made” it, and won the singing competitions or other talent competitions!)
They’re good, but they weren’t meant to sing for their bread. (Literally.)
REALLY LET’S JUST CALL IT WHAT IT IS — LAZINESS & DENIAL
I chalk that up to sheer laziness and denial, actually.
Denial is a strong, effective drug that most of us are happy to drink in, and coupled with laziness, it’s a perfect cocktail for doing nothing.
They’re too lazy to get up off their asses, go back to school, find another job, quit, start a side business or do anything that could potentially change their life for the better.
Do that singing, designing bit as a hobby.
If it takes off, it takes off and you were just an undiscovered diamond in the rough, but don’t bet your whole life on something that probably won’t pay your basic bills, and then moan about how you are SOOOO freakin’ talented but no one sees it.
If you can’t do the job (sing, dance, write, cook, design, etc), then you should be the one trying to teach and help others achieve greatness.
Be the agent, the broker, the coach, or the in-betweener.
All the hard work in the world will not make up for the lack of natural talent, especially up against someone who has natural talent in spades and who works hard. They’re wasting their precious energy and time on something that is not meant for them.
You will reach a level of competence from hard, HARD work, but you’ll never surpass those who are simply better than you are.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE EXCUSES I HEAR:
Other people, can’t even see the opportunities in front of them because of a number of reasons:
- “That’s beneath me and I deserve a better job than that”
- “I have no clue what I’m doing in that field”
- “It sounds so hard / I don’t have the money” (Read: I’m lazy and I don’t want to change)
For those who think a job is beneath them, maybe the hard truth is that it isn’t.
It’s exactly the job that you deserve.
There are people who start out at fry cooks at McDonald’s, and after 30 years, have worked their way up to Director at a company.
It was exactly the job they deserved, and they saw the opportunity in rising in ranks, doing something they enjoyed and were good at.
But if they started as a fry cook with the mentality moaning about how they don’t deserve to flip burgers, they’ll never see the missed opportunities in front of them, and will work there for the rest of their lives as a fry cook.
Or maybe that’s just what they deserve for all that whining and lack of action.
I can understand people who freak out because they have no idea what they’re doing in that particular field and think they need years and years of experience to do it right, but the reality is that NO ONE knew what they were doing before they started.
Are you smart enough to learn and figure it out in a short amount of time?
I’ll let you in on a secret — about 50% of the time, I encounter things I can’t remember or have never done before. I make lots of notes, obviously… but still.
I can’t remember everything all the time.
Instead of freaking out or saying: I dunno, I dive right into learning all I can about it, in the shortest amount of time possible, and I usually come out of the situation to realize that I know more about that subject than someone who has been doing it for 25 years.
I have a lot of confidence (obviously) in my ability to figure things out, and to deal with unknown circumstances.
The last group of folks that don’t want to change, can just refer back up to my paragraph about being lazy.
So as this long-winded answer comes to the same end I started with at the top of this post:
No. I don’t ever feel guilty for what I make as an income.
Why should I? I worked for it and I’m good at it.
(Incidentally, women are always the ones who feel guiltier and less deserving than men.
Stop thinking that, it’s a stupid way to limit your income-making potential. You are no less deserving than anyone else.)
DO YOU EVER FEEL GUILTY? WHY?
(I AM GENUINELY CURIOUS, NOT TRYING TO BE CONDESCENDING)
I was reading through my Harry Potter books the other day, and it started a train of thought about death, our mortality and how it shapes the decisions we make, especially in regards to spending money.
I promise this won’t be a depressing post. At least, it wasn’t to me. It frees you up to think about what you should be doing today.
WE WILL EVENTUALLY PASS ON, ONE DAY OR ANOTHER
Some sooner than others, but eventually everyone dies. Hopefully it’s in a bed, where your body gives out gently with no pain or any diseases to speak of.
But eventually, we will all die.
Death and taxes, these are both certainties and facts of life.
I see this as a rather good thing because it gives us a flexible and also inflexible view on what we should choose to do with our time and our life.
We know our time is limited, so we plan accordingly by saving for retirement for when we are too old and creaky to get up at 6 a.m. to go to work.
WHAT IF EVERYONE LIVED FOREVER?
I couldn’t think of a more horrible idea than living forever.
At first glance, it sounds great.
You, your friends, family, everyone living forever and having a grand old time.
(Despicable Me screenshot. I love this film!)
Not only would this put a serious strain on our planet’s resources, but aside from practical reasons, you’d all get bored eventually.
Maybe not with your friends or family (or maybe WITH them?), but you’d get bored of life because it has no finite time period attached to it.
You’d hear about, read about and talk to the same people for the next infinite number of years, and there wouldn’t be anyone new or interesting to change it up, and anyone who grew up in a world of immortals, would be seen as too young to know anything – they’d more than likely not be allowed to rule a country.
THAT’S SICK, I MISS MY GRANDPARENTS!
I miss my elderly neighbour and my one grandmother too!
(Never really interacted with the rest of my grandparents as a kid or had much extended family.)
But while there are plenty of people whom I wish were still alive today, but I cherish them and their memories even more by the fact that I wish desperately to be more like them — less impulsive, calmer, more rational — these are all things I have to work on, and am finding it very hard to do without a role model to guide my thoughts, either dead or alive.
Sometimes my memories of them are rosier than what the reality was like, and I think I’d prefer it that way.
TIME WOULD BECOME A LESS VALUABLE RESOURCE
Would we even bother caring about saving for retirement?
We’d never retire!
We’d work just to stave off boredom.
That great trip around the world you wanted to take?
You could do it, or put it off for the next 100 years out of sheer procrastination or laziness.
Photograph I took of Lisbon, Portugal
Time becomes less valuable rather than being the finite resource it is today.
Want to learn about a specific subject in detail? Why bother studying for it today? You can just do it sometime in the future, like say in 1000 years.
IT FREES YOU UP TO REALIZE THAT LIFE IS LIMITED SO DON’T WASTE IT
Rather than being a depressing chestnut being tossed around of:
What a life.
You work, you owe money/taxes, and by the time you get to actually enjoy your life and the fruits of your labour, you’re ready to die.
You realize that your time is limited.
This in and of itself, freed me up to ask 3 questions that basically made me realize what kind of life I want to live:
- Is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?
- Is what I am doing able to sustain me for when I don’t want to work in retirement?
- Are the people I am meeting and spending my precious time with, the people I want to see?
Sounds a bit harsh, maybe elitist to some, but I really do choose where to spend or not spend my time and money.
It’s mine to spend, after all.
FOR WHO I WANT TO SEE:
I am not in the slightest bit interested in talking or meeting with some people I have met over my life.
They’re perfectly lovely, nice people, but they’re not who I want to see for whatever the reason may be.
That’s absolutely fine, because I too, am someone whom another person doesn’t want to meet with either, and I’m thrilled that such choices exist in polite society.
This lets me RSVP to things I want to say like:
No thank you, I don’t want to accept that invitation to go to your baby shower, because you were someone I really didn’t get along with in business school, and we both know it.
I’m pretty sure you’re just doing it because you want all the attention (AGAIN) and I’d even have to fork over an expensive registered gift to boot, for your child whom I have no desire of ever visiting once he or she is born.
Thank you for your invite, desperately fishing for gifts, but I’d rather keep my money for people I actually love and care for, because they were there for me even when I didn’t want to become a ruthless investment banker like you, and as a result, backhanded our mutual friends for marks.
In reality, I write a nice brush-off that is accepted as good social etiquette everywhere:
Please accept my thanks in having been invited to your baby shower, but unfortunately, I will not be able to attend.
Some of you might ask: “But who will go to YOUR baby shower!? FREE GIFTS!”
Who says I’m even having one when I have kids?
For one thing, there’s nothing that I want to buy that I can’t buy for my own future kids.
Money is nice, but I don’t need it either. Maybe the person giving it, can’t afford it and should very well keep that money for their bills.
I don’t even particularly think that people enjoy giving basic essentials at a baby shower, which is what I thought the whole point of a baby shower was.
It’s always something cutesy, or impractical that they’ll grow out of in 2 minutes.
The last baby shower I went to, I gave the most practical things on her list — all those nipple cover things, diapers, receiving blankets, soothers, everything that I could think of that would help a new mother.
Others went bonkers off the registry, and instead of buying diapers, bought fun, exciting, pretty toys that I can predict, will go unused for the most part (hope she got a gift receipt to return it all).
I’m also fairly sure that I too, will end up with junk I and the kid will never use, with more to come once the kid actually comes out and has regular, annual birthday celebrations.
“But the social interaction to celebrate his/her new life and how big you got”, you cry..!
Then the whole thing of trying to guess how fat I became while being 8 months pregnant?
I can do without that, thanks.
Or trying to wrap toilet paper around me to guess how big I got?
Again, no thanks.
I do like the idea of getting together to celebrate a new life, but my instinct tells me this will be happening regardless of a planned baby shower.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be cooed over, petted, asked to sit down a million times, and have overeager strangers come up and excitedly rub my belly for good luck.
All of that is tolerable for me, because it’s nice to see how a baby can bring such joy to strangers who don’t even know what kind of person you can be sometimes, but mostly because it’s what I’ve been doing to my friends who have been pregnant
(sans the belly rubbing thing; I already know that it’s impolite to do so without asking, especially as some creepy stranger who doesn’t look like a grandparent)
The attention will already be there, I can do without the rest of it.
FOR WHERE I GO:
As a traveler, I have no interest in the slightest in visiting Africa, Russia, or the Middle East.
I know plenty of adventurers who are thrilled at the chance to visit such untouched, beautiful landscapes, to interact with cultures so very unlike their own, and to live on the edge of danger in some cases, but I am not one of them.
Photograph I took in Portugal of a very old stone home — this is as untouched as it gets for me.
I also don’t go to events that are a waste of my time.
I avoid parties and get-togethers with people I don’t enjoy talking to because I’ve already met them once, twice, even thrice, and they were insufferable each time.
I don’t need (or want) to go out of my way to be mean to anyone, but why should I force myself to interact with people I don’t like, when my time is already limited?
Life really is too short.
Although I must admit that I enjoy going to events to meet new people, such as meeting readers, blogger meet-ups, or anything where I think I might meet an interesting stranger to talk to and share ideas with.
You never know.
Even if I don’t meet anyone for a long period of time, I’m okay with that too.
I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert (I don’t thrive off the energy of others), and I’m content with being by myself and having fewer, but higher quality interactions.
FOR WHAT I DO:
I also don’t spend my money on hobbies and activities that I don’t want to do.
Playing the piano?
Yes please. I’ll put in a few thousand for a nice digital piano that can travel around with me.
(I really want this Roland 700NX some day. It plays like a dream.)
Playing the violin?
Put that thing away, I was never a fabulous student at it even after 5 years. I can play it, but I don’t enjoy it as much as listening to the real virtuoso who can make my heart sing like Joshua Bell.
It just made me think of a tortured cat, and I was doing it to myself.
But only to countries and areas I actually want to visit and take an interest in, and am able to explore and live like a local for a temporary period of time.
Photograph I took in Port Stanley, Canada
Don’t ask me to go to the Caribbean with you to sit on a beach, get skin cancer, feel down right covered up in my one-piece bathing suit, and have to politely refuse cocktails every half hour because I don’t like to drink.
That is more stressful than relaxing for me, especially if you think about all the armed guards with machine guns patrolling the borders of the resort.
LIVING FOREVER IS NOT THE ANSWER
Living forever is not the answer. Making the most of your time today, and living in the Now, is.
Don’t waste your time in a career that you won’t enjoy.
Slash your budget, live on less, and open your possibilities up to doing WHAT you want rather than what you should, because you have a car payment on a vehicle you couldn’t afford in the first place.
Otherwise, find a career you enjoy that makes good money as well (right, I might as well tell you to go search for a black unicorn right?).
…but it’s really true that you just have to sometimes sit back and not force anything to happen.
Look for jobs, take on things you normally otherwise wouldn’t try, and you never know what you’ll end up in.
Most of all, choose the life you’re living, and do what you want to do, taking into account all the sacrifices you will have to make to live with your choices and values.
DO YOU WANT TO LIVE FOREVER? HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT?
It just makes me want to go out and do something randomly nice.
(Got these from The Meta Picture. They post a lot of nice random things)
There is definitely a MINIMUM for basic money smarts.
Say what you want, but it kind of goes like this:
- Don’t go into consumer debt for stupid, unnecessary items that you’ll inevitably forget about
- Save 10% of your income (whether you choose to read that as gross income or net, is up to you)
- Don’t spend more than what you make and live a lifestyle you can’t afford
- Make as much as you can (negotiation-wise, not necessarily taking on more jobs)
- Don’t be a parasite on others especially those who can’t afford it – pay your fair share, you weasel
That’s about it.
I know you’re thinking:
WAIT THERE IS MORE. You’re lying.
There is SO MUCH MORE than just those things for money smarts.
But that’s really it at the base of it all.
All the rest that I, and other PF bloggers talk about, are just variations on the theme.
Some want to save more than 10% of their income (I do, anyway) for instance.
However if you have been a PF blogger for a long time (for me, 6 years and counting, on my end!), you will start to realize we all fall into different, weird little camps.
Kind of like factions.
We rail against each other, have our own (sometimes) petty arguments, and communities within what is a larger community.
If you’re a first-time reader of PF blogs, none of this will be apparent.
You’ll just all think we’re #$*&#% weird because we’re arguing over whether or not to save 10% of our gross or net income, and what falls under “Housing/Shelter” in a budget.
All of the above are all just opinions of individuals, in the end.
The only facts will be what actually happens with the money.
WE’RE ALWAYS GIVING OPINIONS, AREN’T WE?
What WILL be apparent is we are always complaining about any one of the given topics:
- Bloggers are being stupid because they are not clearing their debt 100% (even student debt)
- Bloggers being stupid by going on vacations, or buying frivolous things without being debt-free
- Bloggers who are dumb because they WANT to upgrade their lifestyles & are against being frugal
- Bloggers are being cheap and ridiculous in an effort to save what are fractions of pennies
- Bloggers being short-sighted and focusing only on saving money but not on making more money
- Bloggers wanting to do fun stuff with their money, and getting judged by the PF community
- Bloggers who save, but then are berated for spending it (umm WTF Is money for anyway?)
- …and it goes on and on and on, about all the things that everyone else is doing wrong, with their own money!!!!
We’re all a bunch of petty, annoying, hotheaded bloggers sometimes.
(Myself, included. But not you. You’re probably a nice blogger and reader if you’re reading this.)
What I think we all fail to step back and recognize sometimes, is that priorities are what matters.
What you decide to do with your money, is where you have decided to put your priorities.
It’s as simple as that.
From that, we each have different limits and thresholds, and if we were all the same, it’d be a pretty boring world to live in.
THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE MISERS
Sure, I may not personally agree with spending $5000 on a vacation when someone is $50,000 in debt, but if they’ve decided that going to Hawaii is something that they want to save for, in lieu of clearing their debt and paying less interest, by all means GO FOR IT.
I am certainly not going to encourage them to go on that vacation over paying their debt, but that’s MY opinion, but I’m not going to barge into their home and start berating them for spending $5000 to go on a vacation when they are paying 18% interest or $9000 a year on their $50,000 debt.
Their priority is to have that vacation, and continue paying their debt for a year longer.
What’s another 365 days anyway?
They should only know what that vacation is costing them in terms of lost time, a longer debt horizon, interest payments, and be aware of it if they aren’t already.
Other than that, it’s their money.
This is where the distinction comes in: IT IS NOT MY MONEY.
It’s your money, and for this reason, I don’t give a damn because I don’t have to give you anything.
THOSE WHO WANT TO LIVE LIKE MISERS TO BECOME RICH
I may not personally agree with living in a cardboard box under a bridge like a troll, just to save on rent, wearing some flour sack that I’m trying to belt to make it look chic while I try to make this trolling-for-tolls thing work, but hey, if you want to go ahead and do that.
GO FOR IT!
If you set your priorities to give up basic pleasures of shelter, warm showers and eating something other than ramen and the small fish that you are able to catch under the bridge, it’s your deal, not mine.
Then if you decide to blog about this as “HOW I TROLLED MY WAY UNDER A BRIDGE TO $1 MILLION IN UNDER 10 YEARS” and you end up making a ton of money off it, I couldn’t suddenly be envious and jealous that you became a millionaire.
I didn’t want to live that life, and I didn’t choose to.
You chose to do it, and in doing so, you worked for it, and I couldn’t be happier for you.
(Seriously. Troll hair and all.)
You set your priorities, and you made your own goals a success (and possibly getting gut rot and nutritional deficiencies), but I am sure as heck not going to try and replicate that life for myself.
(I enjoy warm showers, eating fancy food, and at least sleeping in a slightly heated room a little too much.)
I AM SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN THOSE EXTREMES
I am not one, nor the other. I am both, at different times.
THE MISER IN ME
I can’t believe when I was getting out of $60,000 of debt, just how cheap I became at the end.
Actually, not cheap. Super. Duper. Miserly Frugal.
I only spent money on train tickets, food, rent, and that was it.
Take for instance the fact that my pants were getting too big for me, so I just pinned them tighter and wore a belt.
I didn’t want to spend a single cent on anything.
I went pretty far, now that I think about it, but to me at the time, all I could see was clearing that debt to $0.
THE FRIVOLOUS SPENDER IN ME
I didn’t work for most of 2011 and 2012 because I didn’t really want to.
Everyone is screaming bloody murder at this point because HOW CAN YOU NOT WORK for 2 years!?
Well, my priorities were traveling (before kids is always best), figuring out where I wanted to permanently live, and taking the time that I never had as a kid.
(Me, chilling in Paris)
I hadn’t stopped working either part-time, full-time or doubly full-time since the age of 7 when I had my first paper route on the weekends.
2011 and 2012, were the first years I had taken it easy in terms of “work” for the first time in a long while.
Then I held 2 jobs — I created a consulting business at the age of 16, alongside working part-time in a fast food joint.
At 19, I continued my consulting business, moved out, and decided I had to live for cheap (I had no choice), so I took on taking care of a building to subsidize my rent in return.
I also decided I needed another job (because I wasn’t busy enough) and took on a third job part-time on campus, all while attending business school full-time, and graduating with honors.
I found my career at 22, had to give up the building job (I wasn’t around enough, as I was traveling for work), but continued freelancing on the side, because I could do it on weekends when I was back.
Then I quit that career, turned into a freelancer full-time and now I have my perfect work-life balance.
It makes me self-punish sometimes out of guilt in between contracts, but that’s my problem, not yours.
I can only be aware that I’m doing it to myself, and try not to freak out.
MY PRIORITIES CHANGED TO HAVING A BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Now I work when I can, live on less so I don’t have to worry or work so much, and chill out in the downtime.
It’s not that I can’t work hard or that I’m lazy. On the contrary, I work very hard when I am on a contract to be the best consultant they’ve ever had.
It’s just that I choose not to run on all cylinders all the time.
It was my choice, even though I pretty much gave up 2 years of making a lot of money (maybe I lost out on $200,000, who knows?), and took the time for myself instead.
Why? Because I could.
Why else? Because I wanted to. So STFU.
With my savings well over the 6-figure mark, at the age of 27, I decided that I could live a little, enjoy my life a bit more and stop trying to do everything and keep myself busy 24/7.
So I did.
I still have my whole life and my career ahead of me to work. I don’t need to work like crazy, and then die of a heart attack at 45, surrounded by a pile of money I didn’t even really plan on spending in the first place.
As a result, I definitely afford everyone else the same luxury and benefit to be able to do whatever the hell they want with their money and their lives.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, MONEY IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT
Money doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and it certainly doesn’t mean the world to me. I care about it, but not obsessively.
Isn’t it all kind of relative anyway?
Have we all forgotten that billionaires are jealous of other billionaires who have more than they do?
If you recall, there was a German billionaire who committed suicide during the downturn of markets because his net worth dropped. He still had millions, but the loss of that money on paper overnight, caused him to mentally snap and hang himself.
Money didn’t change a damn thing for him and his perspective. He dropped in status, and that made him suicidal.
PF BLOGGERS BLOG IN A MICROCOSM AND WE AREN’T “NORMAL”
It’s the same thing online, reading all these PF blogs, just with less 0′s tacked on at the end.
You have to understand that this PF world is a small, abnormal community. We are not the norm, we are the exception.
So what we do, is relative to each other.
Earning $100K in a small town where people earn $20K, makes you feel like a queen.
Earning $100K in a city like NYC where people earn that in a day, makes you feel like a pauper.
In reality, all I want, is for everyone to learn more about their money, and to not make stupid, easy-to-fix mistakes like being lazy and refusing to walk to your bank’s ATM, so you get slammed with a $1.50 fee to withdraw cash (or more!).
Once you’re fully out of debt, and saving on a regular basis, your net worth becomes a number, after a while, and it doesn’t change how you feel inside or how others see you.
If you’re already an unhappy, lonely person, with a million dollars in your bank account, you’d still be an unhappy, lonely,person but now you just have a million bucks more.
Some people don’t want to sacrifice everything to have lots of money, they’d rather sacrifice a little, and be in debt longer, and they feel good about that choice.
Others, want to sacrifice it all in the short-term to see the rewards in the long-term, and they feel good about their choice as well.
Either way you want to be or you want to act, I don’t really care.
How much you have as a net worth doesn’t affect me at all.
I’d definitely wish and encourage you to have a positive one, but otherwise, if you’re going to turn into a jackass because of it, I’d rather you stay poor and awesome.
YOUR money is YOUR responsibility, and I can’t claim to (honestly) care any more than that.
(Unless of course you pay me to care or have otherwise written me into your will.
For the record, I offer a wonderfully random Money Caring service at about $150/hour if you’re interested.)
So can we all just STFU and let everyone do what they want?
You can always tweak and do more to improve your situation, but with each tweak, comes a changing of priorities and sacrifices to some extent.
If you aren’t willing to prioritize your debt over your life, that’s your choice, not mine.
If you are willing to give up a lot of fun things in your life to save money, that’s also your choice, not mine.
To me, if you are out of debt, and/or on the way to being out of debt, aiming to retire with a decent chunk of money instead of a pathetic $100,000 (which comes from 40 years of saving less than 4%), and you aren’t on welfare and bitching about it, I’m happy for you.
If you are funemployed, and decided to take some time off to travel around the world while you’re young without going into debt, (and are able to accept almost any kind of living condition of hostels abroad), I’m happy for you.
If you decided to take on a minimum wage job or two to pay for your bills and debt, while you wait for something better to come along, I’m happy for you.
(And kind of proud too, if truth be told; your pride is a hard thing to swallow when you take a job you think is beneath you — it’s honest work and nothing to be ashamed of.)
Whatever it is, do it for you.
It’s your money and life, after all.
Do you ever wonder what the point of all this is? What the purpose of our lives are?
Personally, I believe we all have a purpose in life, and that’s to live.
Breathing in one breath and out, sleeping, eating, waking, and other bodily functions.
That’s living at its core if you think about it from a purely physical standpoint.
Ah but there’s more! The emotional.
Our purpose as human beings is really not to hoard money like some Scrooge, but end up all alone (perhaps divorced) and regretting all the moments you missed out in life because you were sitting on your great big pile of money.
I know, it sounds so strange with a PF blogger saying this, but it really isn’t the whole point or motivation of why I save money.
Our only purpose is to live in the Today, and in the Now.
I’ve already long accepted that I set my own little human-sized goals to reach $250,000 in net worth, and eventually a million before I retire, but ultimately, it is actually an insignificant accomplishment if I were to drop dead the day before I go to use that money.
But wait — it’s also not an excuse I can use to say:
Hey living in the Now means I get to go on a big shopping spree like the world is about to end tomorrow.
I still have to consider and plan carefully for the other very real possibility — that I will live beyond my retirement age, and perhaps well into my 90s.
IT’S NOT DEPRESSING IF YOU ALREADY DO WHAT YOU WANT
So is this depressing that you would have to save your whole life, but then imagine you die before you get to use that money?
It isn’t to me, because I’m already doing what I want to do today, and that includes saving enough for my (high) probability of living well into my 90s.
I couldn’t imagine a happier overall existence for myself, all things considered.
Sure, some days really suck and I wish things didn’t happen, but it’s just one day in the grand scheme of my life.
It’s like saying you’re angry for 3 seconds because you didn’t have any milk for your tea this morning, and it ruined your entire WEEK.
Now doesn’t that sound ridiculous?
PEOPLE SPEND THEIR WHOLE LIVES WAITING FOR THEIR LIVES TO BEGIN
The other day BF and I sat around talking about what happens after people win the lottery.
I won’t bore you with the details, but we came to the conclusion that many people probably spend their whole lives:
- going into debt
- dreaming of hitting it big in the lottery
…all so that they can finally start living their dream life.
Reality Check: You won’t get another life.
This is already YOUR DREAM LIFE that you have been dealt with, and the longer you put it off, the longer your Older Self will regret it.
The writing is on the wall. Photograph I took in the Beijing Museum of old Chinese characters.
Seeing as the odds of winning the lottery are extremely slim (it’s so slim, I can’t even see it), it’s sad to imagine that we’re all putting what we want to do on hold before we can start doing what we want.
All because of money? How ridiculous is that?
You can change your situation, because it’s YOUR life and you are in control.
Start budgeting, track your expenses, and get your ass into gear to do what it takes.
Or if you tell yourself: I’d love more free time so I can travel, and read books which is why I work so hard, so that I can have a secure financial future to do those things.
Are you kidding me right now? Go read a book NOW.
You’re probably wasting time reading this blog when you could be immersed in your dream activity, instead of waiting for the right or the best time to do it.
WHAT WOULD MORE MONEY CHANGE FOR ANYONE?
Then we turned it back onto ourselves as a self-reflection after we thought about people who win the lottery:
What would we do if we won the lottery?
BF said he’d have grand plans for that cash, and it would involve…… wait for it…. putting it into the bank and waiting for the best day to use it.
Not only is it extremely boring as a grand plan, but I realized that I would do exactly the same thing.
So then we asked:
What’s the best day then, to use the money?
For that, we had no answer.
Most people would quit, and find that to be the “dream of a lifetime”, but I can tell you that from my past 3 years, there’s no way I’d go back to just sitting around all day long, doing jack squat, and being bored out of my skull.
Quitting your job or having a job where you don’t need to work a lot, and doing NOTHING ALL DAY is not all it’s cracked up to be.
It really isn’t.
I for one, am extremely excited to go back to work, no matter how politically-incorrect that may sound.
I am excited to challenge my brain again, make money (yes, it gives me great satisfaction to make a lot of money), and to have something to fill the empty hours of the day of what I have as a life.
So then we talked about perhaps opening a business.
Or doing something that would occupy our time and our empty hours that we’d enjoy.
Open a restaurant. No, too much work, and it’s hot in there.
Okay, open a store.
A business. But selling what? What could we sell??
We sat that racking our brains for a good half hour of ideas before I said:
But if we wanted to do something other than what we’re doing now…
… shouldn’t we go and do it today so that we’re happy NOW?
And that ended the discussion because we realized that we are already doing what we want to do with our lives.
I ONLY HAVE ONE THING I WANT TO DO: VISIT JAPAN
I only have ONE thing on my list for the rest of my life, and it’s to visit Japan.
I know everyone tells me that the radiation is not a problem, and I even agree with reading the studies (rationally speaking). I KNOW I just have to stick to Tokyo and other areas far away from the radiation…
….but I’m a very young Worrying Wendy, I don’t want to screw my chances of living to a long ripe age just because I can’t wait 20 years or so to go see a country.
Nor do I want to screw my chances of not being able to have kids.
Or worse, passing anything toxic on to them.
In addition, I’ll be closer to death (theoretically speaking), and radiation won’t be that much of an issue for me by that time.
But it is something I get to look forward to when I get older. I almost can’t wait for 20 years to pass!
SO ASK YOURSELF:
ARE YOU LIVING THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE, TODAY?
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
Most books and PF authors will tell you the rule of thumb on budgeting is to take a percentage of your income and it looks something like this:
If you look at it on a monthly basis, it looks like this in your budgeting tool:
But that’s kind of useless if you don’t know what these vague categories contain.
Does “Housing” include utilities?
Does “Life” mean things for your pet as well as your own groceries?
The answer to both questions above: Yes.
The trickiest category is Housing for me because it can be hard to think about what goes into it, whereas the category of Life is the fattest one.
Here’s how I see it:
HOUSING is anything to do with SHELTER = 35%
- Utilities (Water, Gas, Heat, Electricity)
- Rent Insurance
- House Insurance
- Home Maintenance (not buying furniture, actual home repairs)
- Condo Fees
LIFE is pretty much everything else = 25%
- Eating Out
- Pet Stuff
- Furniture for the home
- Home renovations and maintenance
- Medical needs (medicine or doctor/dentist visits)
- Bank Fees
- Holiday Spending
TRANSPORTATION is how you get to where you’re going = 15%
- Public transportation
- Maintenance for the car
- Car insurance
- Driver’s License/Vehicle Registration Fees
- Parking costs
- Parking Tickets (you better not get any…!)
DEBT REPAYMENT means: Money you are using to clear your debt = 15%
- Pay down your debt with the the highest interest rate
- …then take that money after that debt is gone, and pay extra on the next debt
- …all the way until you are debt free!
SAVINGS means: Money you don’t touch on a daily basis! = 10%
- Retirement savings
- Emergency funds
- Short-Term savings like a Travel Fund
- Home Maintenance Fund (should be 3% of your home’s gross value in an account)
WHY DOESN’T THE TELEVISION, INTERNET, OR THE TELEPHONE GO UNDER “HOUSING”?
Because you don’t need either to have shelter.
Plenty of people live without any of those things.
I only have a cellphone, and even that plan is shared with BF, so we treat it like our portable home phone.
Housing is a roof over your head. What does it take to run a place like that? Insurance, Utilities and the Rent or Mortgage payment.
Therefore, stuff you pay for that you use to entertain yourself or communicate with others as part of your Lifestyle goes under Life.
WHAT DOES YOUR GENERAL BUDGET LOOK LIKE?
As we all live in different parts of the world, in different areas of the country, and have different incomes, this will definitely NOT be personalized to you.
For instance, you may have a pet, whereas I don’t, and you need to budget for that.
Or you live in the U.S. and you need to budget for healthcare, whereas I don’t in Canada.
Here’s what a typical budget would be if I made one for myself for a month, living in a hotel with a car.
I don’t have a car right now, but I would get one secondhand in cash if I had to use it for work and I couldn’t take the bus.
MY IRREGULAR INCOME AT ~$70K AND WHY I CHOOSE A BUDGET AT ~$40K
Since my income is so irregular, I gave myself a generous ~$40,000 gross income a year as a budget because I assume I can always get a job that pays at least that per year if times get rough.
Basically, the less I spend, the less money I need to earn per year (gross).
Since I can always spend less than ~$40,000, but that’s the right gross income to maintain my current lifestyle.
As I’ve really only been working full-time 2 out of the 5 years or less than 50% of the time, if I am being honest.
So my income to date has been on average $70,000 gross per year as a freelancer for 5 years.
That is about $54,700 net per year as an income in Ontario.
As I’ve amassed around $200,000 in my net worth to date, I’ve saved $40,000 net a year.
Actually, it’s $60,000 more than that because that’s how much my debt cost when I started working, and cleared it in 18 months with my budgeting tool, but I digress.
All this really means I’ve been spending a lot less than $40,000 gross a year, even with all my traveling, and dipping into savings when I want to buy things, and that’s partly due to being a consultant and having your life subsidized because you’re always traveling.
Therefore ~$40K is my maximum budget because I account for if I have a car, pay for gas, insurance, license plate renewals and so on, which I haven’t had to in about 2 years.
I also always max out every retirement fund you can think of which helps my taxable income, and save a lot of money because I share the costs 50/50 with BF.
Click to biggify and read my notes, hopes and dreams…
DEBT = I don’t owe anyone, anything, which helps a lot.
SAVINGS = All the rest of my money. See above about saving everything else.
You will notice that I spend a lot of money on Food, Clothes & Electronics for instance, but barely anything on Cellphone, nor on anything like Furniture or Household stuff.
This is in line with my minimalist philosophy to spend on what you care about, but not on things you don’t.
I have less things in terms of quantity, but each item costs more money because of I am willing to shell out for quality because it lasts longer.
There you have it, my general household budget that I’ve been entering in my budgeting and expense tracking tool.
I also plan on lowering this spending for 2013.
My new Ideal Household 2013 budget is coming up next week.
Enough is enough.
Back to you!
WAIT, THAT 15% DEBT REPAYMENT AMOUNT IS TOO LOW FOR MY DEBT
Where you start to get a problem, is where you realize that your debt repayment minimums may be bigger than 15% a month, maybe even double.
In which case, you need to do two very important things:
- Make more money
- Start cutting back on other parts in your budget
You can’t put more money on your debt if you don’t have it to spare.
There is also no other choice, and no other way.
Pick #1 or #2.
If #2 is not an option and you can’t cut back, make more money.
WHAT DO I DO IF I DON’T HAVE ANY DEBT?
People say that the 15% of the Debt Repayment should be absorbed into other areas of your spending so you can have a nice life, but I am a big proponent of sticking it all (or at least the bulk of it) into savings, and saving a hefty 25% of your net income per month if you can.
If you’ve already lived without that 15%, what’s it to you?
I’ve always felt that 10% of your net income is far too low of a number to be saving in general for short-term funds, retirement and anything in between.
I like 15% – 20% instead as a rule of thumb, although my personal rule of thumb is: as much as is reasonably possible.
What’s your household budget? Do you use the same categories?
I’m not just talking about strangers giving lip like: “PATIENCE”*, when I am struggling with bags and trying to get off the bus in a graceful manner.
*Some ghetto girl on the bus who could not have been more than 10 years younger than me, tried to give me attitude in a ghetto area of Toronto by shoving past me and saying: “Patience!“, as if she was the Queen of Sheba.
This is not the first time that the generation below me (born after 1985) has been indescribably rude for no reason.
I can only smile at the knowledge that one day, her big mouth will deservedly get her ass kicked by someone who won’t give a damn.
In general as a society, we’re angry at people we don’t know, for something that makes no sense to be angry about.
WAIT, DON’T YOU GO ON RANTS ABOUT PEOPLE ALMOST EVERY OTHER WEEK?
Yes, I do.
But I get angry at people (for instance) who go into debt for stupid reasons, because I care that they don’t set themselves up for 5-10 years of hurt.
It SUCKS as a life.
Yes, it was for my education and not for pretty shoes, but it still hurt to be putting so much of my paycheque into my debt when I could have been saving it (or spending it, as my brain thought).
It is not fun, and if you think that flashy new car loan will magically disappear without hard work, you’re delusional.
If you think your retirement will magically appear on the day you turn 65, you are also dreaming.
SO WHAT ARE YOU REFERRING TO?
I am referring to anti-gay protests and activists happening in France right now.
(Among other protests that have been happening in recent times)
I just don’t get it. What is the big deal?
In France, there’s a big protest going on about a law that may go into effect next year allowing gay marriages (quick warning: explicit nudity).
Two (very chic, I might add) lesbians kiss in front of anti-gay protestors in France Via
Why can’t we just let people do what they want with their lives as long as they aren’t hurting anybody?
Loving someone else, whether they are of the same sex or not, is human nature.
In ancient times, Greeks openly embraced being gay* (it was even accepted), and it is clearly not a recent phenomenon.
*Although I must note I’ve never heard of being a lesbian in Greek culture, but women weren’t really allowed to have lives, let alone have their lives be recorded down in history for anything other than how great of an obedient wife she was.
You can’t make someone be someone they are not.
No one can “make the gay or lesbian” disappear from someone by prayer or any other kind of “treatment”.
If they could change and be so-called “normal”, don’t you think they’ve already wished for it when they were young when they realized they weren’t the same?
Or maybe they didn’t wish for it and don’t want to change it, but they know it’s something that makes their acceptance into life and society a lot harder, which is even more painful.
People don’t choose their hair, eye or skin colour, their height or their parents any more than they choose to be straight, gay, lesbian or anything in between.
HOMOPHOBIA DOES NOT EXIST
You come into contact with plenty of gay and lesbian people all the time.
You don’t scream and run away when a gay or lesbian person comes into the room, do you?
It’s not like you seize up, can’t breathe and are otherwise upset in the presence of them (even on TV).
You probably don’t even know that they’re gay or lesbian unless they tell you, and if they are kind, generous people, why do you even care?
SOMEONE ELSE BEING GAY DOES NOT THREATEN YOUR FAMILY
Saying things like a family is sacred, and there can only be ONE father and ONE mother in a family with children is just ludicrous.
Have you SEEN how many people divorce these days? 50% is the statistic that gets thrown around!!
Blended and divorced families have one father and one mother, who have children mixed with other fathers and mothers, all living under the same roof.
In a family, should we also say that grandparents are not included because they aren’t the mother and father in that nuclear family?
How about widowers who remarry? You can have stepparents and stepchildren as well.
Or adopted children — their mothers and fathers aren’t biologically related to them!
How about single mothers and fathers? Are they not families either, with their kids?
What should we call them? Perhaps they should protest against them too, following this line of logic.
Or perhaps couples who choose to (or maybe cannot) have kids, are not families either!
A “family” consisting of ONE father and ONE mother, is crazy. Yes, it is how we procreate as a human race, but without even considering gay or lesbian couples, it is not what makes up a family these days.
CONSIDER THE IMPLICATIONS OF GAY/LESBIAN MARRIAGES ON THE ECONOMY
Straight people who are able to get married, may not even want to get married and may stay common-law forever, but if someone else wants to get married and pump an average of $30,000 per wedding into the economy, what’s the big deal?
I am all for more money being spent by those who want to spend it (reasonably and out of debt), if it helps the economy.
YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS GAY
Frankly, you probably have a connection to someone who is gay in your life, and you may not even know it. 6 degrees of separation and all.
My family has one gay family member, and it has never bothered me or the rest of my family to learn that.
Perhaps I have even more gay folks in our circle, but I have no idea, as 90% of my entire extended family (20+ aunts and uncles) have been out of contact with both of my parents for over 40 years now.
I also went to school with openly gay guys and girls, who tried very hard to hide their sexual orientation at first, but we all knew that when they were ready, they would say something (eventually they did).
I never treated them differently or freaked out, in fact, they were some of the most generous, open, and smartest friendliest students I knew. A lot nicer than some.
I was not scared (or even remotely worried) about “catching the gay disease”. That’s just ridiculous.
Being gay is not a disease and it is not something to be ashamed of.
And so what? It doesn’t change the way I feel about them if I knew them, or the way that I feel about myself.
I’m really just sick and tired of bashing people for something they can’t change.
What’s the point? Leave them alone, and let them be happy.
We all have habits.
Mine, is to wake up, check on my iPod Touch what I have to get done for that day, all while still lying in bed.
A new habit I saw forming, was wanting to buy a drink — hot or cold — any time I went out. If I left the house, I felt like I deserved a drink of some sort.
I’ve sort of broken myself of it (it was so hard in the summer, sweating like a pig!), and I am now aware of this urge that almost became habit-forming.
Not all habits are bad however, some can be good, such as getting into the habit of going to yoga every week.
It all became clearer when I read: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
It’s a fast read, and a great book.
How to recognize and change a habit
All habits start in the same way.
There is a CUE, a ROUTINE to address the CUE and the REWARD.
- CUE = Cookie craving at 4 p.m.
- ROUTINE = Walk to cafeteria at 4 p.m. to eat cookie
- REWARD = Cookie
- SIDE EFFECT = Bad for your wallet and waistline
If you notice yourself receiving a cue, such as in my case, going out of the house and seeing a Starbucks, my routine would be stop by the Starbucks so I can grab a green tea latte to hold in my hands while I walk around downtown, and my reward is the drink itself, although the side effect of this bad habit was it was starting to cost a lot of money.
To change this habit, you have to recognize the cue and change the routine to obtain a different reward.
Give yourself another reward.
In my case, when I went out and DIDN’T buy a drink, my routine changed and my reward was to allow myself to feel good about not buying the drink.
I would open my budgeting and expense tracking spreadsheet, feel good that I didn’t spend $3 on a drink (I like expensive organic stuff), and feel much better about my net worth staying stable.
It worked even better if I had a goal, like a dinner coming up I’d have to pay for. I’d calculate that in 10 times I didn’t buy a $3 drink, I more than paid for that dinner.
I also mentally felt better (less sugar in my body), and had money for other more useful things.
A treat is best left as a treat, not as a routine.
Where to learn more about this
If you want a preview (or maybe don’t want to buy or borrow the book), here are some videos you can watch instead.
This video by Mr. Duhigg is 40 minutes long.
….but a shorter version (4 minutes) is here:
As a kid, I used to think being an adult happened once you turned the age of majority, which in my case, was 19. Or when I reached my final height and stopped growing
Now, I’m thinking becoming an adult in a social context is much more complex than that, mostly because we have different rites of passage for adults these days than we did before.
All this talk about young people (my generation) and this new cultural, Western phenomenon of ‘arrested development’ where no one wants to grow up and become an adult has made me wonder WTF happened.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST?
Two generations ago, my grandparents became adults the day they got married, moved out of their parents’ homes, got jobs and worked to pay for their bills while raising a family. No college degrees.
One generation ago, my parents followed the same path, although before they moved out of their parents’ homes after they got married, my mother got a college degree (but my father went straight into the workforce with just a high school education).
Photograph I took while walking along New York City’s High Line Railroad Park
We Millennials don’t even get married until we’re in our late 20s, even mid-30s.. or perhaps, not at all, so being an adult doesn’t come after being married any more.
Plus, we are being herded and nagged to go to college, even if we don’t have a clue about what we want to do with that degree (if it’s worth anything..).
We each follow different paths to become adults (before or after college), but the most striking commonality among those whom I consider to be adults, are that they are all financially independent, even having lost their jobs.
I know at least 5 people who don’t have jobs right now, but they’re still living on their own with drastically slashed budgets, living off their emergency funds, searching hard for a new job, and NOT moving back in with Mommy and Daddy.
One girl even took on waitressing and catering jobs in the meantime (with an MBA!) because she had to make ends meet while job hunting.
They are all determined to find a new career and/or job, go back to school and do something else.
Sometimes you have a boomerang adult-child who ends up coming back to the nest right after being unemployed to mooch, but I only know of one person like that.
So when I come across newly minted college grads such as this one, who say things like:
“..it’s time for me to become an adult and start paying my bills“
…yet she has never moved out on her own, and her parents are letting her live rent-free, grocery-free, with goodness knows what else, you wonder if they even know what being a real adult, let alone being financially independent means.
(Curtsey to Money after Graduation for the link)
Being an adult to me, means being able to support yourself without help of others like your parents or siblings.
Then what you choose to do, is your own business.
Look, you can be an adult and still live with your parents or grandparents — here’s one case in point:
I have a friend who told us after college he would move in with his grandmother to live with her, mostly to take care of her but also to pay ‘rent’ to her which would cover the rest of her mortgage and household bills which would secure her needs.
When his grandmother passed away, he sold the house, split the amounts with his siblings, and bought his own condo.
THAT, is an adult, my friends.
Photograph I took of artwork in an NYC subway
SO YOU CAN’T FIND A JOB, HUH?
There seems to be a (sad) trend happening where no one wants to really take the leap into true adulthood — this is being mirrored on TV such as in HBO’s “Girls” where a heroine who has been supported by her parents for years after college is cut off by her parents because they were sick of her not fully becoming independent any time soon.
While I absolutely understand not being able to find a job you love especially in today’s economy, here are some ground rules to true adulthood if you have no choice but to be at home with your parents:
- get a full-time job, ANY job that you work at, for 40 hours a week
- cover your own personal bills (cellphone, gas, car, car insurance) without whining
- pay some form of rent to cover your shelter and household bills there
- help out around the house without grumbling
- continue to look for a job
And you know what? That’s exactly what I do with my parents.
I don’t see the point in signing a lease for a year when I may only be in their city for a few months (or traveling a lot), so when I am with my parents, I:
- pay rent and my share of the household bills
- pay my own bills (cellphone, gas, .. everything)
- buy my own groceries and theirs, and cook for them
- buy them things I think they need around the house
- …even pay for necessary repairs sometimes
- help out around the house — I set a weekly schedule to clean each part of the house
I do it because I should, especially since they’re letting me stay there and invade their lives from time to time.
I know my parents not-so-secretly love having me there (they get lonely), but that doesn’t mean I should take advantage of them, especially if I want to call myself an adult.