Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Relative Wealth

In Palembang, we often feel "wealthy" and find ourselves so much luckier than the people around us. The gap between the rich and poor in Indonesia is huge and we're definitely not part of the rich crowd. The people we mix with are "everyday" people and many don't earn enough for their monthly expenses. I don't like calling them "poor" because even they feel luckier than some other people. So anyway, over there, we don't worry about rent or mortgages, our groceries are cheap and there is really nowhere for us to spend any money. So, that's why so we end up feeling "wealthy".

The story here in Brisbane is something else. We have places to go every day and that means temptations to spend money. A snack here, a drink there, something on sale...y'know what I mean? I've put myself on a strict budget and have stuck to it so far. The problems is that I find myself constantly tallying up how much I have spent so far to see if there is any room left to be frivolous. I'm also always looking for the best price to get the most out of my money. (In Palembang, I usually just pay whatever is asked for even if its a little "over priced". Its my way of doing some charity for that vendor without obviously doing it.)

Its just a very different feeling and today, I actually felt a little disappointed because I had to hold off buying somethings until Friday (start of the financial week for me). I must add that I felt relatively poor.

Living here is definitely costly and I worry about the future when I will eventually have to move here. At least I know that for fruits and vegetables, there is the bulk buy market.

On top of all that, there is of course the worry of how safe my money is in the bank. Here I am, budgeting away so that I don't over spend but WHAT IF the Australian banks go the way of the US? Oh where, oh where, do I put the money that I am stopping myself from spending?

8 comments:

Bilbo said...

This is a very interesting and perceptive post! I've felt much the same way when I've traveled and lived overseas...once upon a time I was a "rich American" and didn't think too much about prices and exchange rates because the dollar was always high against everything else. Not any more! Thanks for putting a human face on the economic issues. And buy yourself a treat once in a while while you can afford it.

John said...

And I thought relative wealth was having a rich uncle!

Nap Warden said...

I think everyone has money on the brain these days...no fun:(

Jennifer H said...

The uncertainty right now is making everyone jumpy, and it's so interesting to hear your take on it. I've been cutting back on even small impulse buys...there are many groceries that seem like impulse buys now!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Wealth has different levels in each country.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

I find this interesting (as always) and I so know what you mean. When we lived out of the city (different, but the same), I spent so much less because it was so much more - less attainable. Now with Target right down the street - OY!

Anonymous said...

I think John is implying that you should get some hand-me-down-cash from your parents....ha ha!

egan said...

So it sounds like Brisbane is way more expensive. If you do have to move there eventually, wouldn't Aaron's job give a standard of living adjustment? Many American companies do that for different cities in the U.S. Just curious.

I hope the Australian banks don't falter like ours. We know several people that worked at one of the failed banks, Washington Mutual. Not a good time I tell you.