I wish I was rich

betty ming liu Inspiration, Money 28 Comments

Over the last few months of subscribing to The Wall Street Journal, I’ve been reading the increasingly gloomy stories about the economy — and feeling increasingly rebellious. There’s gotta be a way out!

The news has been just awful. And since the Journal articles tend to be quite well-written, I read them from beginning to end.

The scariest point these pieces make is that the problems are not just in the U.S. The whole world is in trouble. And our troubles are here to stay.

I mull over these stories as a single working mom with a college-bound daughter. After seven years of teaching journalism at the university level, I am very much aware of how expensive tuition will be. But I try not to worry about juggling this huge new nut, paying the mortgage and saving for the future.  

By the way, I’m turning 56 this summer. Getting on the other side of 5-5 means the big 6-0 is around the corner. Suddenly, financial planning stories interest me as I contemplate old age issues. On that front, the Journal also offers plenty of downers. Check out this one:

The other day, I felt in need of some serious inspiration. So I bought an all-purpose pair of high heels. They will work with just about any dress, any occasion.  Plus, they’re really comfortable…if you don’t have to walk in them.

Price: $675. Yes, you read right. I still can’t believe I just bought my first and probably last pair of Christian Loutoutins, complete with the signature red soles. Don’t they look good sitting in my bathroom?

While this is a sick amount of money for footwear, I insist on tottering into the economic downturn looking really good. Besides, these high heels are a quality investment that will see me through many important events. 

But now I’m wondering why I am doing all this explaining about a pair of shoes. Did I need a reason to buy them?

I guess we’re getting to the real question: Is it really possible to do what I want, just because I feel like it? That’s not the way I was raised to behave!

Still, never too late to learn. Your thoughts?    :)  


Comments 28

  1. You ARE rich, Betty. So am I and probably most of those who are part of your blog world. “Rich” after all, is a subjective concept. On much of this planet, one is middle class if you have two goats and a cooking pot. Me? Why, I have pots of all shapes and sizes by the score and as for goats!!! I could buy goats in batches, were I so inclined and if the Zoning Code permitted it. That is wealth beyond the wildest dreams of – say – the entire population of Somalia. I’m quite certain that you too could still afford the odd goat or two, even after paying off those shoes.

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    Toby, of course you’re right. So on some level, this post is me whining and worrying. At the moment, I know that I am truly blessed because if I couldn’t work for some reason, I could live off my savings for a while and still pay for my daughter’s college. But after that, I’d be in my late 50s and totally tapped out.

    Then what? As a single woman with no pension to speak of and limited Social Security benefits, what of my retirement years? It’s scary to know that in these times, missing a few mortgage payments is all it takes for life to spiral out of control. At least now I can contemplate that prospect wobbling around in a pair of great shoes and maybe a goat or two.

  3. Interesting article… actually, my mom has kept telling me my epoch is going to be gloomy… my ex added I should be happy with what I have in my plate NOW, “cause in 20 years, you’ll be eating cat biscuits for the price of caviar”.
    However, I can’t help being optimistic, whatever the newspaper say, because I believe in people from my generation. I think your thoughts about tuition fees are right: they get more and more expensive, it’s kind of worrying… So I don’t think you’re planning just because you’re turning 56. I don’t like money, I think it really corrupts people, but what can we do against that, instead of exiling oneself into the wild to “not be corrupt”, thinking about how to deal healthily with money is a good pathway to follow…

    Though I’m only 23 and pretty much consider myself as a retarded teenager, I already plan for my future kids’ gap year/MA/Any other studies that’ll make them happy (not going to properly think of having kids before my thirties). I don’t want them to worry as I have to because I might not be accepted in a grad school right after my BA, or because I want to go for an internship (here in Europe, they’re mostly unpaid, and you get absolutely no scholarship for them).

    I think your planning and your way of thinking around money is healthy, you ask yourself the right questions, and I guess, as “a single mom on budget”, you’re doing pretty fine :) I would never want to be one of those Tiger moms talking about cash on everything.

    And hurray for the Louboutin! Sometimes, we need to have more screws lose about fashion. And, moreover, they’re not only an investment for you, they’re also for Gaby if she wears the same size :) I don’t really think you have to worry about that. After all, you work hard, you’re passionate in what you do, you earn that money honestly, you deserved them :)

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    Dora, I don’t even know about the Bergdorf sale! I probably never will, either.

    And Anna, Gabi and I were just lamenting the other day about our differing shoe sizes. She still steals some of my clothes and now I get her hand-me-downs (no Mom jeans for me!). But sadly, we can’t share shoes.

    I believe in your generation too. The Journal also had another great headlined story recently. Something like: “Forget B-School, D-School is hot.” In other words, industry doesn’t want number crunchers. It’s the inventors, the designers — these are the ones who will save us.

    In this new world, we are all entrepreneurs. And I want to take my meetings dressed-for-success. It’s just that sometimes, I feel nostalgic for those days when I could spend like it was 1998. :)

  5. You had to know this would move me, after a long silence, to comment. This is far worse than the eyebrows. And you are rich, at least at the moment: You have a fulltime job!

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    You won’t let me forget about those $75 eyebrow tweezings in the Meatpacking District! I only did it a few times; do my own ‘brows now.
    And MJ, you hit on one key point — having my first full-time job in more than 16 years gave me the confidence to buy the shoes. Getting a steady paycheck is really a remarkable feeling. “Rich at the moment” is the key phrase here because it can all evaporate so quickly…

  7. Love the shoes, Betty! Christian Louboutins are my shoe-heaven… one day I’ll go there :P

    On a side note, I miss you! Will send you an email soon.

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  9. You are richer than many of us. If the shoes makes you happy for little while, that is a good thing. My daughter is in private college for last few years, and two more years of suffering for me. I know that well about financial difficulty. Many asked, how can you do that all by your self? I said, I do not even know, really. We are going on the trip for few weeks, try not to worry so much about future. I feel I need to get out of here for while. “Worry does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.”
    Best wishes from Honolulu,

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