Thursday, December 17, 2015

Investing time and money in what's important

A friend's birthday came up recently and she showed off a piece of jewelry that her husband had bought her. The bling was blindingly impressive, and once, long ago, would have had me salivating in envy. But while I was happy for her, I no longer hanker after jewelry, designer bags, clothes … the list goes on. Perhaps my penchant for acquiring stuff has finally quietened down.

Don't get me wrong. I love shopping. Some of my happiest moments while traveling are spent in the stores, ogling at all that merchandise, trying on clothes and eyeing kitchen stuff. On my last trip to Spain, I  took my time to run my hands over the softest leather wallets and handbags which came in all sorts of tempting designs and colors. But what did I come home with? One blouse, a butter dish and loads of food.

Perhaps it's because I've quit the corporate world and now work from home, occasionally venturing out to meet a client. So I don't need to spend on work clothes with matching bags and shoes. I can make do with what I already have, pulling out an old jacket and proper shoes if I have to attend a formal meeting.

It's the same with formal wear or party clothes. I hardly go to fancy schmancy events anymore, and when I do, can pick and choose from what I already have in the closet. Perhaps I'll get something new for Chinese New Year because you're supposed to greet the new year in something brand new, but even new underwear will suffice.

If I think about it, I don't really need any more stuff in my life. My cupboards are full of it and I don't have space to accumulate any more clothes, shoes, bags or even homeware. If I am in a store and look at something that catches my eye, I have to ask myself, "Do I really need it?" That rule is why I returned from Europe with only a butter dish!

At my advancing age, and let's face it, at almost 60, I have way passed the halfway mark, what's important to me are experiences. It's time spent with people whom I genuinely like and lift me up instead of bringing me down. I'm old enough to say no and not feel bad about it. It's time spent  discovering the world around me, whether at home or elsewhere in the world. I've had so many experiences that are as fulfilling as they are enriching. Traveling to places I've always wanted to visit. Helping out at a children's home by tutoring some of the kids. Cooking and then sitting down to a great meal with friends and family.

Having no need for stuff, I tell everyone who wants to buy me presents to make sure that they can be either be eaten or drunk. That way, nothing will go to waste and I won't have to make room for more more stuff.

Recently, some old friends and I met up at a beach resort just to relax, eat and spend time together. We had gathered from different corners of the globe and it was wonderful that after knowing each other for more than 40 years, we could still click, laugh at the same jokes and enjoy one another's company.

It's experiences like these that I happily spend time and money on, knowing that I can look back on them and feel gratitude and joy. Once, I could look at the few pieces of bling that I have and gain a slight thrill from them, but they're only objects really. Just like the property, shares or gold that some people love to accumulate, you can't bring them with you. Sure, I need enough of a nest egg to live comfortably, but  I'd rather be rich in family, friends and wonderful experiences.

The video that I caught kind of sums it all up - the time we have left on this earth is finite, especially at the tail end. Spend it on the things that matter, especially at this time of the year.

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