I can’t remember the last time I bought a pair of new clothes for New Year celebrations. Hell, I didn’t even buy a new shirt for my own wedding, let alone a suit. I hope I have apologized to my wife for that, but I doubt it because she is too didn’t buy a new dress for our wedding.
We did make some money out of our wedding receptions, though, we are Chinese after all, you know? It wasn’t a large amount, but it was a very respectable ROI (Return on Investment) nonetheless. We spent about RM30 per guest on a party none of them would likely ever forget, and in return they each gifted us about RM100.
Had we set up a PA system to announce the content of our guests’ angpaos and gift-boxes, like the Foo Chows community in New York City does, we would have made a lot more money. But we are classy people, so we didn’t do that. Even though we are Chinese.
Looking back, we are happy to have made the right decision to provide our guests with a little carnival where different groups of friends from different phases of our lives could find and know each other. I think ours was one of the rare wedding receptions where the bride and groom took a backseat, though truth be told, I did that by getting wasted real early.
My wife believes in creating values, not price tags. But that is not the easiest worldview to live by in our society. Typically in a developing nation one tends to place more importance on tangible achievements: houses, cars, handbags, etc.; while progress means moving on up from living in a flat to a single-story linked house to a double-story linked house to the coveted corner lot and then the bungalow.
We all want to be George and Louise Jefferson and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re not skipping lunches in order to afford the BMW. I have heard friends trading childhood stories, rich and poor, and more often than not they are happy stories, rich or poor. It is not the expensive feast you served during Ramadan, it is the feelings flowing across the dinner table that matters.
Hopefully as we grow richer we also learn to see the value in spending money on improving the intangible quality of our lives, and of those around us.
Making money is hard; spending money is an art.
The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Kopitiam Ekonomi.