Monday, May 19, 2008

Penny Pinching Old Ladies

My children used to ask me why some "aunties" were so frugal that they had only very limited clothes and ate only very simple food. It was very obvious they were saving every single cent of their money and they were not having a comfortable life.

I told them all those time, long ago, that these "aunties" had had a hard life and they had to save for the rainy day. "But they have a lot of money," they would say again.

One "aunty" was actually the proprietor of a sundry goods shop. She had only two or three blouses, made in the same style. We would see her every day when we stopped by to buy some ice cream or biscuits.We would exchange a few words and make her laugh. But if we gave her some mangoes when the season was on, she would quietly wrap the best icecream in her shop for us. Not much, but enough for the whole family. We were touched by this generosity, but again, we were worried that she was saving too much money for her old age. She did not really spend enough on her hair cut, her shoes,etc. "She was just too hard on herself." This was the opinion of my teenager.

Another person we knew also saved a lot of money. She was quite expressive about her ways of saving money. She would tell my children how she would save and save. In fact, she sold her fruits to us or anything else she could sell. Sometimes early in the morning she would approach us with some vegetables and asked us to buy, as she knew that we had not gone out to do our shopping yet. And we also noticed that she would walk all the way to the shops, and not taking the bus. All her life she did not own a car. Her daughter depended on a very old bicycle. Later in life, a grand child bought a car and she had much to say about that. She too lived a very simple life. And when she died she left a lot of money to her children, some of whom were in Australia and USA. But she remains in our mind a woman who worked very very hard and who never spent a single cent on herself.

She was one of those we know who wanted to save money for that trip to China, and never made it. She kept postponing the trip until she was too old to go.

We do admire women like these two. They have a heart of gold for others but on the other hand, because of their strict upbringing, they work hard and save every cent for old life. They derive comfort from watching their bank statement grow every year. And during the Chinese New Year, they could give out adequate "ang pow" without fear of losing face. Perhaps they are happy deep inside their heart. But they would never really allow us into their innermost feelings. In one friend's words, "in their old age, they want the comfort and security their money can bring them."

These are old ways. I am sure, the new generation has their own way of saving money through insurance, medical plans, house ownership and a good job. And there will be black sheep who have a carefree life too. Life goes on. Very much remain the same from one generation to the other.

Do you know any one like them?

(see also :

0 memories:


web statistics