Saturday, April 7, 2012

Some observations about money

I am thinking about why we judge others on how they use their money. If they spend too much money, we think they are reckless. If they don't want to spend money, we think they are stingy.

I fall into the latter category, just in case you are wondering. I'd like to think I am careful with my money, but I bet my top dollars that a lot people think I am stingy. It's fine. I have a thick skin.

I judge my friends too on how they spend, I just don't tell them about my judgements. I am judgemental, so it takes more effort for me not to judge. It takes less effort not to share my judgement. That's why I take this path.

I am pretty open about how careful I am in managing my money. People around me generally accept that I am stingy because I am so honest about it. I am not trying to portray anything different. In my case, honesty is the best policy.

There are things that I just can't stand.

1. At times during catch up with friends, we split the bills. And when this happens, there is always that one person who needs to drink crazy amount of wine/cocktails and have entree, main and dessert. When this happens, I just want to puke at his/her face (usually her). If you'd like to consume so much food, please, fund it yourself. It is rude to ask other people to pay for your consumption. And you should also be the person who tips the most, thank you very much. But chance is that you are not going to tip because you are so stingy like that.

2. A "surprise" birthday celebration! And the person who is celebrating his/her birthday is a stranger to me, as in I have only met him/her that one time and I am being robbed to buy him/her dinner. In the past I swallow my pride and paid my share. These days, I just said, sorry, this is not in my budget, here is the part for my share. By the way, a friend of mine came up with that line, so all credit goes to her.

3. A "mandatory" collection - you know, a colleague is leaving, bla bla bla, so we have to give him/her a farewell gift. I really don't know the logic for this one, because I don't really get the notion of farewell gifts ever. If I am leaving a particular place, then I'd like to have as little possession as possible. But then again, that's probably me. I swear that the economy is supported by irrational things like this.

4. "This is for charity!" This is perhaps one of the worst offenders there is, especially those who rock up to your face with pictures of some village in some remote part of the world, etc etc etc. I usually ask for some paperwork. No paperwork, no money from me. Most of the time, there is no paperwork. Go figure. If I'd like to donate money, I will donate it to reputable organisations like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. But honestly, I prefer to just give it to someone I love so that I can make his/her life better.

5. "You have a duty to share!" This sort of follows from the above. I get this because I happen to live in a first world country, or because I am fortunate enough to travel to other parts of the world. Newsflash: not all travellers are rich. I don't think I have a duty to share. I share if I can sincerely share. I don't have to be forced to share. I don't think that counts, really.

6. "I don't have any cash with me, I will pay you later." When this happens, you either (1) not consume, or (2) go to the nearest ATM and withdraw money, or (3) use your credit card and everyone can pay you their share. Your friends are not your personal ATM. And it is rude for them to have to ask you to pay repeatedly. A more offensive form of this is the person who always pays short of their share - like if the split equals $18, then she would pay $15. Once or twice, it is fine. But repeat offenders offend me, so I just stopped hanging out with them.

I don't mind paying for my friends, especially if I happen to like them and I have enough money in my bank account. In fact, I do so sometimes. The people that I treat usually return the favour without being asked. I think that goes to prove that I prefer to hang out with people who show gratitude. Those who take advantage of me, one way or another, are going to loose me as a friend, and they don't even care because they are always too busy to ask me to catch up.

The way we handle money and our attitude towards spending it, and also our attitude towards spending other people's money are generally extensions to our character. Maybe I come to this observation because I work with money, or because I watch my money, or both; money does have the power to make people do irrational things. And this makes the world goes around. Corruption anyone?

On that note, if you are in a serious relationship with a woman (and yes, most of the time, you have to be a man), then by default you should be footing all of the bill when you are on dates. Yes, she may offer to pay every so now and then, but really, be a man and foot the bill. In case it is not clear, yes, you have to decline the offer. But she can buy you coffee and/or dessert later on.

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