Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The richest people in Hong Kong

Since I have been having time out from working, David and I have had no choice but to live a more frugal existence.  For someone like me who is adept at spending money and has been known to desire the finer things in life, I thought this was going to be a great challenge.  However, over the past couple of months I have quickly learned that 1) flaunting money is futile (not that I have ever had all that much to flaunt!) 2) I can live relatively cheaply without missing out and 3) I have wasted a LOT of money over the years.

When I first moved to Hong Kong I was a little taken in by the ever-present hunger to accumulate and display wealth through wearing the right clothes and jewellery, eating in the right restaurants and holidaying in the smartest resorts.  I wanted to earn enough so I could have the odd pair of designer shoes (preferably Louboutins), to dine occasionally at a Michelin starred restaurant and to relax in five star luxury once a year or so.  I wanted to fit in and feel a part of this affluent crowd.  Since I have been here I have achieved two of the three things on the list.  Owning a pair of Louboutins when you live on a practically vertical hill is asking for a broken ankle and even I see the frivolousness in owning a pair of shoes you can only look at.

Now that we have only one income supporting the household and we have had to cut-back on everything, it is becoming more and more apparent that we are far happier living a more basic existence.  Yes, posh restaurants are nice, but you are often seated within earshot of at least one table of w**kers.  Five star resorts are picture-postcard perfect, but you miss out on an authentic experience of the country you are visiting.  As for designer clothes, well, when you are a comfortable size 14 (UK), the thought of  being turned away by a stick-thin sniffy shop assistant for being too large, puts me off even passing through the entrance of such clothes shops.

So, as flashing the cash has been put on the back-burner for David and me, the changes we have had to make to live a more frugal existence have included:

1)  I have only bought one item of clothing (and it cost less than HK$250/£20) in the past three months.
2)  I have found a hairdresser that is half the price of the one I was visiting (only HK$860/£70 for cut and highlights).  NB I would have to be completely broke before I gave up getting my hair coloured!
3) I will never shop for more than a day in advance - this prevents us from having to throw away things we don't get round to eating.
4)  Meat is a treat.  Eggs, veg, rice, bread and pasta are our staples.
5)  I have reverted to my student style drinking - pints of lager and lime.... cheaper and lasts longer than anything else.  Not very lady-like but who's judging?
5)  If I crave a cocktail, I will find a Happy Hour serving a lychee martini for HK$30/£2.40
6)  If we eat out, we will choose a budget restaurant.
7)  We spend much more time at home together, playing cards and talking/fighting depending on who is winning cards.
8)  Sometimes we just have to say, "We're sorry but we can't afford to do that"

We have had to adjust our lives and I can hand on heart say that these changes have in no way detracted from our enjoyment.  In fact, right now, life in Hong Kong is the best it has ever been for us.
Each day, I become more and more convinced that this ever-present quest for wealth is futile - no matter how much you strive to earn, it is never enough. Life is far richer when you are surrounded by close friends and family who love you, care for you and don't judge you for what you have and don't have.  I guess that makes David and I the richest people in Hong Kong.

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