English teachers can make a lot of money in China. Especially if you work in an international school or within primary schools. That’s where the money is. You need to get ‘em while their young. Yep. So naturally I decided to specialise in teaching Academic English to Engineering undergraduates and earn a much lower university salary. My brother earns like… 3 times as much as me. Him and his fiance. They can probably regularly afford good cheese (imported and expensive). But I’m not bitter.
You see, by not drinking alcohol or leaving the house, by getting aroused every time there is a sale and generally laughing maniacally at ye olde bargain, I feel I have saved a tidy sum. All while my brother chose instead to spend his wealth on an iPad and higher level teaching qualifications. No, you’re crying!
But now I am returning to the UK. And I have my own further teaching qualification to do. And a place to rent and groceries to buy and places to go out to. I did become a wee bit of a hermit in China, admittedly, but only because I work a busy schedule and hate people. But in the UK I have family who expect my presence and attention and I need to tend to that. I have responsibilities. Also there is much more affordable cheese to buy repeatedly and scoff down my gullet whilst crying tears of gratitude. God, I miss extra mature cheddar cheese.
Anyway, I envisage myself becoming quite a wee bit… Scroogey.
Own brand products. Walking and cycling. Washing jeans once a month. Pinching food from parents. It will all be mine!!
I know frugality is kind of the thing now among young, financially conscious millennials. But personally, I prefer the term Scroogey.
You might think that due to my current hoard of gold, I would be quite happy to relax when I’m back in the UK. Treat myself. Buy a phone that can hold more than 10 apps.
But you see Scroogeyness is a way of life, whatever the weather. During my teaching course I will not be working. I also intend to buy a house soon and possibly start raising chickens, maybe get a dog, go to Pakistan to visit family …
You see, when one is Scroogey, as you level up in wealth, you level up in things you want to do with your life. Money gives options. And this is where I deviate from the Scrooge metaphor because I am not an aimless miser. I have aims. Ever-expanding, fantastic aims. I want to do the odd weekend in Europe and spend my money on things that add value to my life. Otherwise the ol’ lifestyle creep gets to you.
For example, just the other day my beloved partner discovered an iced tea place near us that delivers. It’s called BeStrong but could justifiably be rebranded BeDiabetic or BeSugared. It will get its own post in due course. But we started getting iced teas from this place because they were amazing. This became a regular thing within days. So this past week, whilst slurping away on our oversized straws, we turned to each other and asked the obvious, “What the Hell just happened?” Because actually, we had been comfortably having a BeStrong over 3 times a week for 2 straight weeks. Apart from kicking my health goals in the arse, we had spent money that was meant for the Gold Hoard (totally abandoning the Scrooge metaphor here) on stuff that really doesn’t give us long-term benefit.
That’s generally how I differentiate lifestyle creep from purchases worth making – their long-term value. So I think I will be a bit intolerable when I return to the UK. My family might notice I have changed and think I’m a bit stingy. They’ll worry I’m buying unhealthy, cheap food or that I am making daily life a misery for myself. And whilst these might all be partially true – my parents are big on fancy organic brands that I have little time for – I think I can sit on my Golden Hoard happy in the knowledge that things are falling into place.