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Happiness and slavery: A story about a lady in my life.

Thursday, June 18, 2015



In replying to a comment here in my blog, I was inspired to share this story about someone I know. I know I have not been very good when it comes to giving protagonists in my stories a name. It is either no name or just a letter from the alphabet.

OK, for this blog post, let's see. What about "Posh"? I don't think I know anyone who has that name and it seems appropriate for the story I am going to tell.

Right, "Posh" it is.

I knew Posh for maybe a year or two but we have not been in touch for a while now. I remember she told me before that friends who don't bother to keep in touch will become strangers to her after a while. So, I could be in her list of "strangers to be" by now.

Anyway, Posh had a good career and made very good money. She knew how to have the good life too or so she said. A meal at a posh Japanese restaurant could cost $500 for two and she wouldn't bat an eyelid. An overseas holiday must be to countries where she could shop for branded goods at the same time. So, spending $20,000 on a 2 weeks trip to Italy? That was not extravagant to her.


So, it is not hard to imagine that for a person like AK who thinks that posh Japanese restaurants are the likes of Ichiban Boshi (and I recently paid $140 for dinner with 4 friends at one of their outlets) and that overseas holidays are meaningful if they are spent appreciating nature, trying street food, visiting cultural sites and museums, to feel very differently.

Posh eagerly anticipated social events, especially those which would allow her to rub shoulders with members of the high society. I was told that she built her contacts and made quite a bit of money because of the rich people she got to know. I actually appreciate that but not everyone is good at that. I felt like a fish out of water.

I still remember one incident when a wealthy gentleman told me, "If you help me to do this, I will let you drive my Jaguar." I wanted to ask, "Why would I want to drive your Jaguar?" Something stopped me and I managed a smile. The very rich are just different, maybe.

Whenever Posh closed a deal, she would go shopping and she would be happy. It could be LV, Gucci, Prada, Aigner or Salvatore. For the record, it took me a while to remember these names and if many of my grey cells died in the process, I wouldn't be surprised.

Now, don't get me wrong, I know what retail therapy is about. However, for AK, if he needs retail therapy, he goes to a supermarket. I could end up buying some atas grocery. I might buy strawberries instead of apples, for example. Actually, yesterday, I bought some dried figs which cost about $7.00 for 200 grams. Atas!


What led to the ice age in my friendship with Posh was when I told her that she was a slave. She was offended. The more I talked, the more offended she was.

Posh made good money, like I said. She was happy when she spent money on expensive goods and services. Was there a problem? The problem, to me, was that the happiness was bought with money and that it was temporal. Could there come a day when she ran out of money and she couldn't buy happiness anymore?

Running out of money? Posh couldn't imagine that. I felt that it was more likely that she could not accept that. Posh was no bimbo. She was very intelligent. She knew.

We might understand something but for reasons only known to us, we might or might not accept it.

Specifically, I told Posh she was a slave to materialism. She said slaves were unhappy people but she was happy. It was wrong to call her a slave. It was a matter of perspective. I couldn't disagree with that.

So, I said she was a happy slave and that I was sure there were many other happy slaves like her in the world.

Rather abruptly, Posh left the conversation.

Alamak, I forgot to mention how much money she regularly spent on atas cosmetics and facial sessions too. Oh, never mind.

Related posts:
1. Wage slaves should be fearful.
2. Buy a $500,000 watch.
3. How to retire comfortably?

37 comments:

victorlsl1 said...

not so right to impose your views on others. tsk tsk. bad Ak!

AK71 said...

Hi Victor,

Bad AK! Bad AK! -.-"

I should consider taking a sabbatical to do some reflection. ;p

BfGf Money Blog said...

I still remember one incident when a wealthy gentleman told me, "If you help me to do this, I will let you drive my Jaguar."


Who the hell do they think they are?

E H said...

"What led to the ice age in my friendship with Posh was when I told her that she was a slave. She was offended. The more I talked, the more offended she was."

Why you keep poking her lah? Now she don't friend you liao.

Frugal_Daddy said...

Why you go and poke fun of her? Not your style. Haha

la papillion said...

Hi AK,

I think you shouldn't say that to Posh too, unless she is a good friend of yours or you don't care to be friends with her. Good friends will be offended, but then they will remember that you are saying this for their own good. Afterall, it's always easier to keep mum and be nice and just talk about the weather. Why risk it with this kind of 'serious' conversation?

Don't pour tea when the tea cup is filled. You might scald yourself :)

pansy t said...

very off topic, but the first thing that popped to my mind while reading the article was... how much does Posh earn annually to be able to spend like that?!? that was quickly followed by the thought that perhaps she isn't a wage earner but has lots of assets working furiously for her.

AK, have you considered the possibility that you are also a slave...

Siew Mun said...

I am a slave to being frugalist and investor too! Different lens different perception. Look at the minions they are happy.

Sanye ◎ 三页 said...

You are not Posh and Posh not you.

You don't understand Posh, neither does she understand you.

You think she is a slave to materialism; Maybe she thinks that you are a slave to you money, or your frugal life. Don't you feel happy able to save more or generate more income?

It's a diverse world. Live and let live. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Bfgf,

Haha... Yes, I heard you the first time. Shocking, isn't it? :o

AK71 said...

Hi EH,

Well, I think only true friends will point out the errors in our ways. If we cannot appreciate such friends, I think it is our loss. :)

AK71 said...

Hi FD,

Oh, it is very much my style. I nag all the time in my blog, I am sure you know. ;p

I can be very long winded especially when it comes to family and people I consider my friends. :)

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

I can always count on you to appreciate my efforts. :)

Posh was, I believe, a close enough friend for me to feel comfortable to share with her my thoughts regarding her habits. She shared openly with me what she thought of my little ideas too and she didn't mince her words. ;p

She knows very well that what I said was for her own good. She's stubborn and proud. I think she knows that too. Well, what will be will be. :)

AK71 said...

Hi pansy,

I know for a fact that she is a wage earner but most of her income is commission based. I think she isn't doing as well as before now from what I heard from mutual friends.

She doesn't own any income generating assets. She has an inventory of branded goods which are assets but not income generating. I half jokingly suggested that she could start a branded goods rental business so that she could rightfully call them "investments". ;)

As for whether I am also a slave, this is a very deep question and has many levels of interpretation. I think you are probably referring to my frugal habits versus Posh's spending habits, right? Well, I like to think that I am more balanced than she is. I have a car. ;p

AK71 said...

Hi Siew Mun,

Different perspectives, indeed. I cannot argue with that, especially when it becomes a discussion in semantics. LOL. ;p

I will say, however, that unless we are obsessed with investments, I don't think we are slaves to investments. If we are frugal to the point of being a Scrooge, then, that is slavery. ;)

Minions? You win liao lor. :D

AK71 said...

Hi Sanye,

I wouldn't be so concerned about Posh's financial health if I didn't think of her as an important friend to me.

Once, when I put an idea to her to invest in an income producing asset, she said she didn't have the money for it. I didn't believe her because she was so successful in her career. She sheepishly told me she barely had $5,000 in savings. I got very worried after that. -.-"

Live and let live. I do that all the time with people I don't care about.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

AK,

It took 3 different readers to point out my mandarin was wrong before I finally saw my mistake... Talk about me being stubborn and a dumb ass!

I am humbled and so very grateful that there are people out there who "cared enough" to take the time and trouble to straighten me up.

There's one blogger out there who has completely missed the plot on his Life insurance posts. But no one stood forward to point out his mistakes. That's when I realised I've received so much from blogging :)


We can only control our actions; we can't control the reactions of others.

Oh well...

笑看风云

AK71 said...

Hi SMOL,

Well, don't forget that I am the one who has a heroic ability to turn deaf or so I was told by a fellow archer. What a euphemism for being plain "stubborn". ;p

风云笑我. -.-"

EY said...

Hi AK,

Truth
'I love you and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.' Pietro Aretino

A quote that sums up your intent? LOL.

AK71 said...

Hi EY,

You have hit the nail on the head. :)

The truth hurts. Well, maybe, not all the time but often enough. ;)

pansy t said...

Hi AK,

Yes, i was referring to your frugal habits and your hot passion for investments and seeing your passive income grow :p
You can't deny that watching your money grow brings you happiness =)

Until the day we have no emotional attachment, we are still slaves in our own way. Think the others have also beaten this topic to death, so I will stop here.

Personally, I am still trying to figure out what is the "right" way/amount to spend. See! I should come for your August session except it is fully sold out >.<

William said...

Hi AK,

I think you meant well with your comments to POSH. I gathered too, you used the term 'slave' to jolt her out of her spending habits and lifestyle, hoping she might take it seriously and make some changes for her future good.

I too have friends like POSH, but at the end of the day I opt to bite my tongue instead of dispensing with my advice. That said, I don't think I am their true friend. A true friend should be blunt and honest, right?

bk said...

年少的时候,有点讨厌那些直来直往,说话超坦白的朋友。
年纪越大,反而很喜欢很珍惜这些朋友,坦白其实是一件奢侈的事。

AK71 said...

Hi pansy,

I do not think we are slaves if, through our actions, we have a better outcome. If through our actions, our condition does not improve, but stays the same or worsens, I think we could be slaving for something or someone without improving our lot in life. Slavery to me is something negative.

Well, words and their meanings evolve. So, I do get what you are trying to say. :)

Yes, I was very surprised that the tickets were sold out in a day for the chit chat session on 1 Aug. It looks like I will have to organise another session. :)

AK71 said...

Hi William,

Yes, shock therapy. Perhaps, it was too shocking for Posh. ;p

I do share your belief that if the person was a friend who mattered enough to us, we would actually say something. It would be because we cared enough to do so. :)

AK71 said...

Hi bk,

Google Translate is a wonderful thing. So is your comment. Thank you for the words of wisdom. I agree with you. :)

E H said...

Maybe Posh liked you?

Unknown said...

Some call it retail therapy but be careful that it would end up as a addiction to spending money like taking drug or gambling. My younger brother in his fifty is like that. His whole life is about showing off his consumer goods, BMW, branded watches, holidays,etc. At one time, he has 8 branded guitars, and bought a organ and drum set for his children (even though none of his children has any interest in them) just to show others that he has a talented family. Unlike Posh, all his money come from my parent who indulge in him because he is not as successful as his brother and succumb to his threat of divorce (losing face for my parent) and bad for their grand-children, or committing suicide (again losing face). When my sister-in-law died, he inherited the insurance money and inheritance of his son (from my mother) blows $700k within 1.5 years. For him, life is for having a atas life. He called himself as not good in managing finance but in reality is is addicted to spending money and refuse to accept responsibility for that.

AK71 said...

Hi Unknown,

Thanks for sharing your brother's story. I could not helping feeling that he has led a wasteful life even though he probably doesn't feel it that way. I hope it is not a case of a wasted life. :(

Unknown said...

Hi AK71,

Thank you for sharing your financial management knowledge and educating a whole bunch of readers on financial literacy.

In the case of Unknown's brother, it is a case of "easy come, easy go". It is a sad story. If his brother has some financial literacy, the outcome could have been very different.

In this globalised world. it's more important if not imperative, to educate our children in financial literacy than to leave them a huge inheritance.

KK.

AK71 said...

Hi KK,

In our modern day society, to be financially illiterate is a great misfortune.

An elderly man I knew was left millions of dollars when his parents passed away. He didn't work a single day of his life. His final days were difficult as he was sick and penniless. It wasn't just sad. It was tragic.

I cannot share his story in detail because he is related to a very close friend of mine...

Unknown said...

Regarding my brother that I shared earlier, I would like to share 2 conclusions that I gathered after knowing him for most of my life.

1. When a person acquired a certain level of lifestyle over a long period, it is difficult for him or her to break the habit. It is an addiction like drug-taking, gambling, alcoholism etc. I don't expect my brother to change. How can you expect someone who would take away his children share of their mother and grandmother inheritance for himself to spend and scarified his children education. He recently received a 6 digits inheritance, I would expect it would last him 3 years at most before he begs for help again.

2. The failure of him is as much as my parent who indulge in him and give in to his threat of divorce, suicide, and violent against his family while they were still alive.

Someone here mentioned that financial education would help a person like him. But I assure you, no amount of education would help him. Spending money is an addiction that many fail to realized and unless there is cold turkey treatment and a person sincerely want to change, no education can change him.

Unknown said...

Hi AK,

There are many posts and articles that calculate how much he has to save in order to accumulate wealth to live a comfortable life when he retires.

Perhaps you would like to share a scenario if a person retires at a certain age and haveaccumulated $x amount, how much can he spend in a month (passive income plus capital withdrawal) and also provide a minimum sum or buffer either as legacy to his dependent or contingency sum in case he live longer than he plans.



AK71 said...

Hi Unknown,

How much do we need when we retire? It is very subjective. :)

Perhaps, this blog post will be useful:
What is $1 million at retirement?

And maybe this blog post:
To retire by age 45, start with a plan.

FFE said...

Hi Unknown,

What your brother needs is a trust fund set up which will only gives him a certain amount of funds and the trust fund still be setup with certain investment objectives to ensure that the funds are growing.

Regards,
FFE

Unknown said...

He don't need a trust fund. He needs to be kept away from money so that he realized that money grow from thin air and go up to be a productive person.


FFE said...

Hi Unknown,

I agree but the problem is that as loved ones, we will somehow to want to help out. So I felt that a trust fund (for parents who can afford it) is actually a tool which can still ensure a certain level of subsistence. In fact the trust fund can be set up in such a manner that funds are only released when he is gainfully employed.

Regards,
FFE

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