In the Asian culture added respect is given to the oldest children. Men are most revered, especially if they’re the oldest. My dad’s father started several businesses and was a big land owner in Vietnam. They were well off, and so was my mother’s family. I was born into a pretty wealthy family, since my father was the eldest son he was set to inherit the bulk of my grandfather’s estate.
In Vietnam women do all the manual labor work at home while the men often go drinking with their friends. In wealthy households you’ll have servants and help, but the women do most of the child rearing. Since I was a small child I don’t remember growing up there, but my older cousins remembered that we had the largest house with a lot of staff. Our family was the “oldest”(by birthright) the wealthiest and most envied.
When the communists came and we left we had lost everything. My father’s first job was cleaning toilets and doing janitorial duties at a retail store. He also had a side job being a gardener. My father struggled with that, going from being a rich man to working a manual labor that he previously paid servants to do. He still drank with his friends, often would get hung over and call in sick. He worked when he wanted, and partied just as much as though he was still rich.
There was a lot of money fights in our home, eventually my parents split up. Our family was the first to get divorced (not Asian divorce). Asian divorce is where they’re still married but live separate lives in different homes. Payback’s a bitch, we went from being the wealthiest family to being the poorest raised by a single mom. My relatives prospered while we struggled financially while living in government housing.
There was family drama with real and perceived remarks. I’ve had aunts asked why I always seemed dirty and offering us their kid’s secondhand clothing. At the beach while I was eating an aunt commented that I eat a lot, doesn’t my mom feed me at home. That led to some Hawaii Five O drama.
My sister hated being poor. When she got her first job she spent all her money on the latest fashion. All her money went to nice clothes, handbags and shoes because she didn’t want anyone to ever think that she was poor. She drove nice cars, took great vacations, had the nicest things. She wasn’t ever going to let anyone pigeonhole her as poor again.
In the Asian culture you would invite friends and family out to nice dinners and pay for everyone to show how prosperous and generous you are. Everyone thought of my sister as extremely generous, she must be doing well if she can afford it. Despite a dual income, living a low cost of living state and having an income double mine they had six figures of negative net worth. She spent 17K in six weeks in Vietnam, in a country where if you’re making $500 dollars a month you’re doing well. Think of entourage and you get the idea.
The saying that we pay for the sins of our parents rings very true. I get it. I did the same thing. Living above my means, buying the BMW, trying to show the world I wasn’t that dirty hungry kid with the hand me downs. Trying to show that I’m not poor was keeping me poor. It wasn’t until I got sick and tired of having negative net worth and realizing that I will never have enough. The world doesn’t care if I was rich or poor, only some relatives who looked down on us. My friends didn’t care, and neither did most of my cousins. When I stopped being ashamed of my past and embraced the life lessons, I was able to rapidly grow my net worth.
We can talk about budgets and emergency funds all day, but none of that matters if you don’t have the right mindset. Until my sister comes to terms with her past and changes her view about money, she will always struggle with it. I’ve seen people in debt declare a plan to pay it off, yet continue to fail because they haven’t come to terms with how they truly view their money. Pay your past, to save your future.
Do you agree that you need the right mindset before you can be successful with your money? Are money problems rooted by past issues?