Sunday, November 27, 2005

Money matters

I just saw INXS' new video with JD. Can't remember the song title.. "After The Show"?
anyways. I hate to admit that I am begining to like that damn song.


I just realized that I may have complained a wee bit too much about my husband's frugal financial pratices in the previous post. And I think I do complain about it often. But please don't get me wrong. Even though his unwillingness to part with money for no good reason (according to his reasoning) sounds like a fault, i actually think it's a virtue. If it were not for his tightening our purses very early in our relationship, I don't think we'd be as financially comfortable as we are today.

I myself was not used to having money to spend. I remember only getting 30cents for school everyday and I always had to forgo buying them chikadees if I wanted to be full enough to last me the rest of the day. As I got older my mom gave me 50cents, and that was enough for a bowl of prawn noodles (the best I have ever tasted) and a glass of very thin air sirap (but that's okay, I brought a water bottle).
When I was in boarding school, my dad kept to the school's guideline of $20 per month, which meant that if I wanted to have the packet of nasi lemak that the makcik comes to sell at our dorms on saturdays (instead of the two pieces of bread, margerine and a spoonful of sugar that they serve at the mess hall), I would have to abstain from having any instant noodles for supper (instead of the two pieces of bread and a cup of very think nescafe with condensed milk that we'd have to line up for at the mess hall).
This experience thought me that "Money is limited, to enjoy one thing, you might have to sacrifice not enjoying another thing"

Though my parents might not agree, I don't think I asked for money from my parents that often. Even when I was studying in the U.S., everything I spent on, phone bills, car rents, clothes, food, books, were all from my scholarship. I would be that girl you see piling it on at the salad bar at the UIUC Student Union. Or the one that takes 2 packets of saltines instead of one with her bowl of soup. Or the one who buys notepads in bulk at Sam's that'll last her the whole year. After graduating, I worked for a while as a research assistant at Tulsa University's Drilling Research facility in Catoosa, Oklahoma and a turkey sandwich was my breakfast and lunch.
Hm.. come to think of it, maybe that is why I sometimes think I have the divine right to enjoy good food when I now can afford it. (Though I don't always get to, thanx to my husband).
But I digress..

If I had to tell you what my husband's financial motto is, I could probably suggest "if you don't need it, don't buy it". or "Why pay when you can get it free or cheaper".or "If it's all-you-can-eat, eat all you can, or don't go at all". or even "Kat mana makan murah, sedap dan banyak?". Something along those lines. Whenever I am asked if I ever worry about my husband's fidelity (especially when he started doing sales and are expected to bring clients out for 'entertainment', I would always say "He thinks too much about his wallet to think about his d*ck".

Ha ha. I'm kidding.

The truth is, Taufik used to be very focused on earning money and earning as much as he can while he can. He used to work on the oil rigs and would relish getting his assignments because it meant extra money on top of his basic pay. It really didnt matter to him then that he had to be away from me. But when I was pregnant with Ilham, I told him that it wouldnt be a healthy environment for our son to grow up with an absent father. I told him that I would rather we be poor and living in a shack than we be a rich but dysfunctional family. He mulled over this for a while. Two months before I was due, he decided to tender his resignation letter. He was willing to leave it all. Alhamdulillah, his boss offered Taufik his own position, coz he was planning to leave the country and spend more time with his own family as well. It was then I learnt that "All the money in world won't mean a thing without your loved one to enjoy it with". Since then, Taufik had never compromised this family's happiness for the extra buck. He always made sure that we stick together.

Another lesson I learnt from my husband is that "To be rich is not to make money, it is to not spend it". We have always lived beneath our means. My husband always expects us to save at least 25% of our monthly salary. When I just started working, I remember taking out half of my pay on the very day that it is banked in, to buy BSN's Sijil Simpanan Premium. With the money I saved, we managed to pay off the custom's tax for the CBR600F2 that my husband bought home from the US, and also pay partly for my wedding.
As long as I can remember, we only ate out at the local mapleys (stalls), no Modesto's or Picollo Mondo's or Starbucks for us. No Pasta primaveras and crepes and strawberries, only nasi goreng kampung and roti canai. I only shop for work clothes during Isetan or Metrojaya Sales. We wore our shoes till they split open. I bought a humble (and cheap) Proton Wira instead of eyeing that sleek Honda Civic.

Once, Ilham boldly asked his father, "Are we poor?" (perhaps because we didnt want to buy him a toy he wanted or we said KFC was expensive), and Taufik's response was "We are not poor, but we'd rather spend our money on something else, something more worthwhile".
I'm not saying wanting the things that I mentioned above is wrong. I'm just saying that our priorities are different. And because of that, we have managed to save up money to buy things that we think is important, like real-estate, or a plot of land where we can grow durians and mangosteens on, and now that we're expatriates, maybe even travel a bit. So, "When you have money to spend, spend it on something worth your while", coz the returns are much sweeter.

I don't think we're financially rich. I'd say the appropriate word would be financially 'comfortable'. Or maybe even financially 'secure'.
We don't have to worry that if one of us falls sick, we wouldn't be able to afford the medical bills. Or, Na'uzubillah, if one of us were to pass on, the one left behind would be left living in the streets.
I think this freedom has made us able to enjoy our lives better.
We're not at our target financial goal yet though.. even as I type this, Taufik is calculating how much more he has to save up before he can fully retire.
*rolls eyes*
Well I guess I have no choice but to just enjoy the lessons that I will soon learn ahead..


  1. this comment will also sums up your previous post :)

    elisa, I think we are ALL aware of our financial situation and as human beings it is impossible not to 'not wanting' material things..

    Whenever I went to other friends' house - rumah depa MasyaAllah, with latest fashion in serba-serbi, furniture cantik2 and SURE mahal2..I telan ayaq liuq jelah, my house yang ada the very basic, itupun dah macam belacan :) kena 'nyek' sokmo, nak ajak member datang pun segan, dinding penuh dgn mural..sometimes I wonder, banyak betul duit depa ni?

    But then, as for me we are still not financially comfortable as you put it, still a loooong way to go..syukurlah Taufik pandai berjimat..

    Each families has diferent long as you are 'comfortable' with that, apa salahnya..kalau rasa tak comfortable, work-it outlah kan..and I am working things out sebab belum comfortable lagi :D

    Enjoy while you still can, many envies what you have now!


  2. betul tu sis.

    i think my main goal now is to work and safe as much as i can, and spend it later :D .. hahaha masa muda bersusah, masa tua kita bersenang lenang.

    didnt all these pepatah melayu lead to that, in one way or another ?

    btw, kapan mau pulang ke mesia ?? insyaallah 18 jadik (ahad) ajak mokciknab skali deh.

  3. ondeonde knows how i feel about these things, kan?? ;)

    i would be lying if i say i don't teringin material things... and even worse (or as pathetic as it sounds) for me, more often than not, shopping is therapy, apart from blogging that is. sebab tu lah sometimes jadi depressed sebab tak dapat/tak boleh afford nak shop! LOL

    but i believe in rezeki, and that murah rezeki does not necessarily equates having lots of money. and i still have a looooong way to go before i can really say that i am financially comfortable.

    so, tak kisah lah... whatever financial 'practise' pun, so long as it makes you and your family happy and content... that's what's most important.

  4. aik? how come my comments jadik invisible?

  5. I have Jay to thank for, for making me think before I buy/spend. Cuma selalunya he is not there to control my purchases. I soo need to get my priorities right. *Note to self: Must drink less Starbucks*

  6. We all need to show something for the "time" we've been here. Some chose to spend it now, while others like you guys choose to spend it later.

    But whats the point of slogging it out here if we have nothing to show for it later kan?

  7. whatever way we choose our financial practise, i hope we are all happy in the end and to me family always comes first.

    i pun harap our 'plan' will menjadik, insyallah.

  8. I'm glad I have a hubby just like your Mr Taufik. Or else, I wouldn't know the meaning of saving...asyik shopping, shopping, shopping je..

  9. I am always wary about writing posts like this, because I am always afraid if I come off as 'showing off' or 'preachy'. I'm glad you guys didnt take to it negatively ;)
    (If I did unintentonally hurt anyone's feelings, please forgive me.. raya sebulan ya...)
    The main reason I wrote this is because whenever I tell some people where we are and what my husband does, their first reaction would be "Phuyoo.. mesti banyak duit" and don't understand when I tell them I can't afford something.
    I just think that you can get all the money in the world, but if you do not know how to handle it, you'll still end up poor, either in the future, or poor in your soul.

    wani: that's what i meant to convey: Different people have different priorities. Some people are happy with having a lot of pretty things around them, so be it for them lah. I am not saying it's a bad decision. I am just trying to explain my priorities and why Taufik and I make certain choices (like not owning jewellery or a blender). You don't have to envy us.. We may have stuff that you dont have, but then we might also not have stuff that you do.. (A thriving business for instance.. *wink*)

    bertique: You memang enterprising dah.. tak payah lessons in money matters :)
    btw, mokciknab will not make it, sebab she will be in Jakarta.
    So what is the finalized menu? I'm starting to think that picnic food (mee/nasi goreng, nuggets, hotdogs etc) would be a good idea.. kurang leceh nak angkut.
    Can we restart the discussion on yr blog?

    famy: I think you're doing ok lah actually.. just need to cut down on Mrs. Fields and Hush Puppies.. kih kih kih. Biasalah the first ten years memang struggle sikit.. tapi you husband's bisnes (main and side) doing well, no?
    btw, i think kena refresh page baru keluar updated comments.

    nekbat sweetie: I think for you to be able to survive this long despite being yknow-what, already shows that you have excellent control of your finances. Pastu lagipun you don't have to worry abt kids ke apa.. bolehlah nak indulge in yourself all you want. ni bisnes baru start lagi.. boleh lah kumpul lagi duit.. Insya-Allah!

    Sunflora: But I do wish to be able to 'merasa' from time to time.. coz who knows.. I might not be around to enjoy it later? Actually I am bersyukur that at least we get to eat nutritious food every day, biarlah tak dapat pakai baju glamour2 pun.. janji kenyang.. :)

    Zan: Insya-Allah!! I think you've made very good financial decisions in the past, especially when buying properties. You have a knack for picking good locations. I think your hubby has always been financially savvy, and not a bad dresser too :)

    rafiqah: I think we are all blessed with the right partner :) Allah won't give us something that we can't handle, kan? Kita sebenarnya pandai nak save.. cuma nak kena ada motivation je.

  10. ish ish .. jgn ler begitu, saya pun masih belajar2 ttg cara2 save duit et all .. esok2 mungkin saya kena belajar err cara2 rumahtangga .. ahaks! gatalnyer aku.

    we still have loads to learn from each other kan .. we are all teachers in one way or another.

    ok yg 18 tuh kompom. nak decide berapa ramai and sapa leh datang. kita tunggu sampai 7 dec - let see whether modblog ok ke tat masa tu, kalau tak it'll be on my blogspot. then by 9/12 we will wrap everything up - sapa datang, menu and sapa bawak apa.

    sounds like a plan rite ?

    ps: i tujukan lagu berkobar2 nyanyian vince and yassin to u and family di al khobar >:) ...

  11. business baru jalan terkedek2..insyaAllah with everybody's doa, mudah2an it will grow much better soon..

    it's good to have a discussion like this..later-later kalo nak buat briyani kambing ke, kambing panggang ke..BBQ kambing ke, dah tau dah mana nak carik..patutnya kita semua ni buat bisness - network sesama kita..katalah, tak delah sibuk nak cari supply kat orang lain, ye tak?

  12. Whenever I read your post about your hubby frugal spending. It reminds me of my hubby too.
    It's better to hv a frugal and looks like 'kedekut' hubby dr yg buy anything you like but...erm...byk hutang kan..kan..

  13. Anonymous4:39 AM

    Elisa, when were you in Champaign? We were there 1996-2001. Stubled upon your blog by accident - very nice indeed.