Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Lessons on Frugality and Extravagance
One of the lessons my mother, Paz Balleza Barrido Katague, taught me was frugality. During her life-time she and my father saved at least 10% of the family's income every month. By the time they were in their late forties, they have enough savings to purchase a commercial lot and building in Iloilo City-they called the Katague Building. The purchase was backed up with my father's back pay since he served as the Dental Officer of the American-Guerilla forces in Panay and Romblon Islands during the Japanese-American War in the Philippines. Both my father and Mother were able to send me and my six other siblings to college. When my father received his back pay, he wanted to buy a car- a luxury item at that time. My mother convinced him to save it. This help in the purchase of the commercial lot in Iloilo City in the late 1940's.
My mother also taught me not to waste food. Your plate must be cleaned. If she saw you not cleaning your plates she would lecture you that millions of other children in the world are starving. This will make you feel guilty and finished your food even though you are no longer hungry. The trait of frugality I think I have passed to all of my four children. However, one of my children, I sometime wonder if the word frugality is carried to an extreme, to the point of him and his family not enjoying the current joy in living. Thus to be frugal is good but if carried to the extreme that you lose the enjoyment of life and daily living is not good. This reminded me of saying of Johnson, that without Frugality, there will be no rich people, but if you are miserable it is not worth it.
One of the many frugal things I did when I was still employed was to bring my own lunch( Macrine's left-over cooking) 4 times every week. On Fridays I treat myself and members of my team by eating in the local restaurants near our office. I calculated that the saving I made by doing it for 22 years was enough to build our beach house Chateau Du Mer in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. Another item that gave me savings was on my utility bills-by turning off lights when no one is in the house and turning down the thermostat in our house when we are out of the house. I calculated I saved about 5% on my electric bill monthly.
Today, our practicing frugality during our younger years are bearing fruits and now being harvested. We are living in comfort even after our retirement even though our social security benefits are not enough. I can afford to pay an extra $60 per day for Macrine's rehabilitation -an upgrade to a single room- which is not covered by Medicare and my BCBS medical insurances. We can afford to hire cleaning ladies twice a month, have a monthly one hour whole body massage, order gourmet meals, go the Casino once a month and eat in a restaurant whenever we feel like doing.
Although Macrine and I were frugal in our younger years, we did splurge on a few extravagances. We have visited 14 countries outside the US and stayed in 4 to 5 Stars resorts. We have visited 40 places in the US both small and big metropolitan areas, eat in 5 Star restaurants, drank a $100 bottle of wine and went to Las Vegas five times enjoying the night life( shows) and the Slot machines. One other extravagance that Macrine had enjoyed was her purchased from a famous couturier in Manila of a fully beaded/embroidered Terno that cost us $1000 about 15 years ago. At that time $1000 dollars( not pesos) was a lot of money for just an evening dress.
Another luxurious item that Macrine had enjoyed was a mink jacket in Chicago during my graduate school years at the University of Illinois. Macrine won this mink jacket( First Prize worth $500 at that time) at a lottery sponsored by our local Catholic church. After wearing it for a month, she decided to sell it for a washer and dryer- more practical items and much needed with our two kids still using diapers ( disposable diapers was still not available in the early 1960's).
One last extravagance of Macrine was our purchase of her Red Toyota Celica Convertible in the mid 1990's. This convertible was used in the Parade during the Filipino-American Centennial Celebration in Washington, DC. when Macrine was over all Chairperson of this Annual Event sponsored by Fil-Am residents of the tristate area of metropolitan Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.
We have certainly enjoyed a few extravagances in our younger years. If you are in the mature stage of life and have some money, do not be afraid to spend it. When you die all the money you saved will just be a source of problems/envy to all your children or to your living relatives. Spend it while you can and enjoy your aging years.
The reason why I am writing this blog is to remind everyone ( friends and relatives), to save and live a frugal life, but not to the extent of depriving yourself and family the enjoyment of daily activities. Again be frugal and be rich, but not too frugal to live a miserable life.
What is frugality? Wikipedia defines frugality as the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance. For more article on frugality read the following: