Sunday, October 3, 2010
Thought Question #2
I spend the majority of MY money (as opposed to what my parents spend on me)-- on traveling and it adds up very quickly. If you were to take a look at my traveling habits, you'd realize that I seldom scrimp on traveling expenses, because I usually prefer the most comfortable option. For health reasons, I've cut down on the number of cab rides in the city, but when given the option, I'd choose that any day over the metro. My longest cab ride was when I "stupidly" took a cab from Boston to Newark International Airport (because I didn't realize that there was a thing called Amtrak train which can directly take me there). My most expensive cab ride though was when I took a cab from London to a very small town 2.5 hours away, called Cromer--maybe the cab driver had X-Ray vision and saw the newly exchanged pounds in my pocketbook. When I was in Beijing, I took cabs everywhere...it was so cheap comparatively, and as a result, never rode in the subway which I heard from various people that it's wonderful.
When traveling by train, especially over long distance, I like to travel by 软卧, soft beds for sleeping. In the morning, there are also "room service" available, serving fresh fruits and omelets. Actually this summer when I went to Xi'An, it was my first time traveling by 硬座, hard seats (it was pretty awful)-- 12 hours ride just sitting in one place, surrounded by people who didn't even have seats, yep it was a first time experience. When I was in Mexico City and traveled to a small town (was it 6 hours away?), I took a bus--except this was a super cool bus, it had only 8 passengers and the entire experience felt like a spa treatment because in addition to someone on the bus serving fresh food, there were also masseuses. I got a nice cucumber facial which promptly gave me a rash that lasted two days. :(
I guess I'm supposed to be thoughtful here... so let me take a step back and think about the essence of this question. Now, how one person spends money is indicative and can provide a vast amount of information about that person's personality, values and habits. I think if I were an outsider looking into my personal life, that person (if he does not know me) might think that I am spoiled or has lived a life in luxury. One can say that, perhaps, though that statement is not entirely true. To understand my money spending preferences, I think we should take a look at my mindset.
To be honest, it's a little bit strange analyzing how I think, but when I take a step back and think about finances and money in general, I admit that my thoughts are a little bit different from that of the average person. For instance, I strongly adhere to the personal finance advice learned long time ago: pay yourself first. To pay yourself first means simply this: Before you pay your bills, before you buy groceries, before you do anything else, set aside a portion of your income to yourself. The first bill you pay each month should be to yourself. I may have mistook this rule a bit out of context since the goal is to save money, not find creative ways to spend money, but I'm a strong believer of giving oneself the best treatment (before paying anyone else, especially the IRS--more on this later).
The second principal that I abide by is that I am always time conscious. If there's one thing I hate in life, then it's I hate wasting time. I'm always thinking about opportunity costs and efficiency. If it's a choice between something more expensive but more efficient, I'd go with that option over something cheaper but less efficient. Perhaps, this is the training I received in college (the whole idea that we must produce A LOT under a short amount of time). Though over the last few months, I've been trying to tamper this spirit and force myself to be more observant of the present and take time to smell the roses (even though that's an inefficient time to spend 2 minutes!)
I admit that I probably don't have the best grasp on my finances as I should, especially given my finance background. So, in thinking about and writing this post, I've decided to track my personal spending a little bit more and start developing a strong personal financial habits. Apparently, Mint.com is a good site to look into.
Now, it's your turn, don't just read my posts and leave! Leave me your thoughts and questions! How do you spend the majority of YOUR money? And what life principals do you live by?