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Thursday, 6 October 2016

What's your tulip mania?

We all have dreams.

Some dreams come true. Some dreams inspire us. And some dreams, they are nightmares.

My wife has a dream of migrating to a far-off country. She has asked me to look into the possibility of migrating for the better future.

But in the meantime, she has another dream of owning many designer baby bags. And it is easy for her to do so: She just asks me to pay for the bill using my credit cards. She picks me up and we drive to somewhere in Ampang, and I pay. She gives me the Paypal details of some lady, and I pay. 

Recently, she has a new dream. She wants to be slim and fit. We signed up for the gym membership because they had a special one-for-one package (12 months free membership). But right after that she declared that she wants to spend about RM5,000 for personal training. I did not protest much, and tried to look on the bright side. Maybe she will be happier when she is fitter. Maybe all the spending is just compensating for a sense of lack.

She has a dream of owning her own photo studio business, which I tried to indulge. We bought an office lot, and renovated it. We bought the equipment. The business is not moving as quickly as we hoped. It has become a place for friends to gather instead of taking photos. It was originally an effort to carve a career and earn her own income.

But all the dreams could tie up together nicely, if she only wanted to. She could become slim and fit. With newfound energy, she could expand her business. With newfound business, she could buy her own things. Bags, and everything else. And when she has enough, she can apply to migrate, for both of us.

You will need money where you go

If you are planning to apply to migrate, you should know that you will need money in that new place.

Money for food. Money for rent. Money for transportation. Money for school fees. Money for a job agency. Money for clothing. Money for a nanny. Money for lawyers' fees. 

Don't forget the recurring stuff like electricity, water, sewerage, insurance, and all that junk.

Buying things and indulging in Internet-based mummy groups fashion fetishes isn't going to get you there. That's where people parade their stuff and goad each other to higher highs of whatever game they play.

But I remember her saying that her bags have resale value. "My stash," she declared one day, "is convertible to cash."

I nodded my head numbly then. But just last week a friend told me about a friend in the UK. The guy had 5 pizza shops. He got married. The wife kept buying handbags. It was a real strain on the husband's finances. Eventually he had to sell three of his shops, and then he got divorced. But it was marvellous while it lasted. And guess what? The wife said the same thing: "My handbags can be sold for cash!"

You might have heard of tulipmania. It's also spelled "tulip mania". In the 17th century, Europe fell into a mania over tulip bulbs. At one point people sold their houses or lands to buy tulip bulbs. One house for one tulip bulb. I would have liked to stay in that age, and sell tulip bulbs. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that my wife would be the one goading me to sell the house to exchange it for the tulip bulb.

What's your tulip mania?

Lots of things can become your tulip mania. Clothes. Jewellery. Mobile phones. Tablets. Cameras. Even books. 

When you find yourself hunting down things because you are "building my collection" and "this thing is rare and hard to find", you may continue if you are trading it for profit. But if you are buying it for personal satisfaction, think again: Are you paying for it?

Because it's easy to become a maniac for some worthless thing, at someone else's expense. You're lucky if you are that one-of-a-kind that your significant other, maniac that he is, considers his most precious collectible. If he's nuts about you, you're fortunate too. 

But the day will come when people snap out of their mania. And you will always wonder, when the maniac who is obsessed over you will one day wake up from his stupor and find that, his mania has not been worth his time. 

Tulip manias are not worth your time, because you will, in the heat of the moment, exchange your most valuable possessions for something as fleeting as the song of a bird in the night. 

Tulip manias are that bane in every woman's life that comes disguised as a great act of solidarity and camaraderie with other women, while sucking out the cash from the insides of her bank account.

When everyone around you is yelling about the latest must-have, you need to look at what someone who is dirt poor is saying. Because that poor person cannot afford the must-have and will spend only on necessities.

Always remember that whatever you obsess over, and must buy at any cost, began in the convoluted mind of some genius business guru somewhere. And when you buy, they will make money.

A restaurant owner once wrote on a menu, "Sky Juice = RM5.00". A tourist came and ordered the sky juice. When the drink came, the tourist discovered that it was only plain water! Needless to say, the tourist hauled the restaurant owner to the consumers' tribunal and justice, however brittle, was meted out. 

Don't be like that tourist, who thought that ordering sky juice would give him the bragging rights at the next class reunion. Instead, just order whatever you usually have, and pay your usual price for it. Because sky juice is only plain water.

Stay frugal. Stay wise.

Thanks for reading

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