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Buying New Things

June 10, 2009

I don’t usually like to buy new things.  As children, we were frequently reminded how children of Africa and other poor countries (especially right after the second world war and during the time my grandparents were in China) have to starve.   It was a privilege even just to have meat to eat.


The picture above is a picture of my grandfather’s village in Fujian China TODAY.  (I’m using present tense) There is only one school on that island and this particular relative is so poor, they don’t even have money to patch leaks and sell what they could “harvest” on a newspaper on the street.  In fact, I was told by my aunt who took this picture that very little has changed since my grandfather was a kid!

But recent events of recession, depression, big losses due to cancellation of expensive trips made us re-focus, re-organize (re-ORG!)  and rethink what money is and how we should spend it.  We did not become more frugal.  In fact we kind of went the opposite direction.

Here is what we gathered:

  • that spending make us feel guilty is WRONG.
  • Saving a lot of money to the point of obsession is BAD. 
  • Not spending and waiting for the price to go down is SILLY.
  • Working harder/longer so you don’t have a life (or have time to smell the roses or hug your children) to make more money is downright STUPID.

So it seems like we do not embrace saving money anymore.  We do, but not to an obsession.  We switched to whole grain bread and brown rice which are 2 to 3 times more expensive.  We bought a lot of new thing which we postponed buying for a long time.  We made a list of what we want (making sure it’s not just unnecessary greed and instant gratifications) and go and buy them.  For example, my futon frame bought in 2001 was broken since 2003.

Since the entire futon cost us $500, I fixed, repaired  and re-repaired and we made do with a “dangerous” futon seat for up to 7 years.  So last week, I ordered another frame on the internet and fixed the problem immediately.  Here’s what the new futon frame looks like:

Altogether, we came up with a long list of things to buy and fix and get them all done!  Here’s the partial list:

  • new kitchen faucet
  • new bathroom door knob
  • new BBQ grille, an expensive one, not those cheap $100 or less Char-broil brand
  • new 2-shelf cabinet
  • new cell phone (albeit ordered from eBay and shipped from China)
  • new kid bicycle
  • new baseball mitten and softball for kids
  • new hoe
  • new pair of gloves for kid

All these can be found in my “Bought New” photo album if you CLICK HERE !  And we spent thousand over more dollars ordering a new set of mattress with bed cover and bed sheet from MACY’s which will be delivered new Tuesday! And we got new chicken fence and pickets and new vegetable plants, tilled the soil in the garden and started a new veggie garden!

But how are we going to balance the budget?  Well, it’s really just a simple act of balancing.    Here are a few:

  • Strike on opportunity to make easy money (for instant, the summer job pays a thousand a week for six weeks working only four days s week, two hours a day),
  • reduce unnecessary long trips to Cleveland and Buffalo (these trips cost a lot and the driving is tiring),
  • drink only water not pops or soda,
  • make my own gourmet coffee (instead of constantly buying from expensive over-roasted, bitter STARBUCK)
  • don’t buy lottery ticket or gamble (only poor people gamble and have high/false hopes of winning) — that will be the same as waiting under the Zhu tree for a rabbit ,守珠待兔.
  • spend more time exercising instead of shopping in the mall

In short, have a positive attitude that one only feel rich when one enjoy the cents they make, not by saving or having a big savings account.  (my blog on Rich Dad, Poor Dad.)  Our previous attitude that frugality is a virtue is flaw and very wrong.  Firstly we pay more with delayed buying because of inflation.  Just think of my futon for example, if I bought it five years earlier, we would have bought it cheaper and we would have enjoy it earlier and lived with five years of broken, dangerous furniture!  And what’s the point of a fat savings?  As the saying goes “A Fool And His Money Will Soon Part”.  A fatter saving is like preparing for that to happen!


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