my parents immigrated to the US in 1977. i was six. my father joined the US army while in korea to learn english; he was unable to attend college in korea because of poverty. as fresh immigrants, we struggled mightily in many ways but my parents were a symbol of great fortitude and perseverence. while i was embarrassed of them during my teens, they have become my greatest mentors in life; they are not perfect but that’s exactly the kind of mentors i (we) need.
but there are couple aspects about my parents and particularly my father i wish i could just let go of in my life. one of those things is his inability to spend money and enjoy things. it’s common amongst many immigrants and particularly the first generation. they know hard work and sacrifice. but they do not know how to rest and enjoy.
i know. i know. from a christian perspective, this is a virtue in the quest for simplicity and downward mobility. but without going into too much detail, it has become sort of a quasi-disease in my life. i’ve always adhered to the goal of saving as much as i can for ‘the big stuff’ like providing a home and a safe car for the family and giving to the causes of conviction. i don’t have problems and issues with saving and investing for such matters as attested by the incredible home we currently reside in at ballard. but, as much as i’ve tried, i’ve realized i just can’t spend for myself. yes, there are areas of weaknesses such as the new used laptop i just purchased four weeks ago. but tonight, my wife and i went to macy’s to redeem a certificate someone gave me for xmas. i paced around the men’s section for about an hour wrestling with purchasing a ben sherman shirt for $30. it was reduced by 75% and i still couldn’t pull the trigger! my wife was so frustrated with me. the only way i get new clothes is if she purchases them for me and when she does, we fight because i ask her to return them.
so after the hour of pacing, we did what we both enjoy doing. we went to the local goodwill store. i purchased a great jacket, one sharp shirt, another casual shirt, and a pair of pants for $14.99. i love goodwill.
my advice to folks: earn as much as you can within your boundaries, save as much as you can especially for ‘the big picture stuff,’ and give away as much as you can. and for the small stuff, enjoy but enjoy it at goodwill. 🙂