Like all true Asian parents, mine drilled the work first, play later mentality into me.
(Though in fairness they were nowhere near Amy Chua tiger mother levels.)
And along with modelling delayed gratification, my Asian family also taught me a few things about money over the years that I’ve never forgotten.
Shop the sales
Apparently I once asked Mum, “why don’t you ever buy anything that’s not on special?”
She is the most frugal person I know. Never overpays for anything, and knows how to get the best price on everything.
Back when we were in primary school, I once went to the supermarket with my best friend in primary school to get snacks. We were so proud to find and buy bottles of Coke on special for 99c. Even my friend’s dad praised us for our bargain hunting ways!
Not my mum. At their lowest price, she informed us, you could get those bottles on special for even less than that.
She is the queen of thrift shopping and I didn’t really appreciate it until adulthood. Now I’m like, tell me all your secrets.
We spent a lot of time at garage sales when I was a kid and I watched the master bargainers in action. Whether it was a $2 doll or a $600 TV, they would always ask for a better deal (as it turns out, basically everything is negotiable).
Despite all that, I could barely bring myself to haggle at markets while travelling through Asia. And I think back on the times I didn’t negotiate salary and mentally kick myself.
I get the theory, but actually doing it is a different kettle of fish.
Needs vs wants
Wants never masqueraded as needs in our household, not even for a second. People bleat on about how extravagant parents are with presents for their kids, but we literally didn’t get gifts. I feel like we could have done with more wants, growing up.
(For years we didn’t have a TV – before broadband, before streaming, and so I never got to participate in conversations about last night’s TV shows at school. #firstworldproblems)
OTOH, sometimes needs can be disguised as wants…
Props to them for trying to pass off buying me a sleeping bag (you know, for school camp) as an early birthday present. (Spoiler: didn’t fall for it.) Even 10-year-old me knew better.
I’ve always stood by the belief that gifts are for things you want, not things you need. That will never change.