Sunday, November 30, 2014
On Friends and Saying NO
A young OFW, who works in Dubai, e-mailed me asking questions about personal finance, moving and how to be frugal when you are surrounded with friends who love to hang out in the mall. I already answered her e-mail and also asked her if I can 'steal' one of her questions and make it into a blog post (which she said 'yes').
The friends, the mall, and saying, "I can't go this time, girls."
"Girl, tara na sa mall. Sale ngayon. Sayang naman."
"Girl, it's so boring here ( sa apartment, etc.), let's go to the mall. Magpapalamig lang."
"Lakad lakad tayo sa mall. Window shopping lang. Tara na."
Ahhhh, homesick OFW needs a circle of friends as a support group. As they say, "misery loves company", but what if that 'company' you are yearning for makes you broke, is it worth it?
I mentioned in a Random Things About Me post that I used to be extrovert. Not the bar hopping-smoke-and-booze kind of extrovert but, you know, that kind where you aren't afraid to make friends or talk to people who aren't inside your circle of friends. I am afraid to admit that I'm now a full-blown introvert. Case in point, when the LBC guys picked up my two balikbayan boxes yesterday, one of the guys tried to engage me in small talks coz he was bisaya too. I was being friendly but inside, I was panicking. He even remarked: "oh, nag pa-panic ka." What. The. Heck. After they left, I walked to the library and just think, "Am I really a certified introvert that talking to people I don't personally know makes me anxious and panicky? I never had this kind of attitude before when I was back home! Dang."
Being an introvert, I found, helped me to get to know myself and, above all, it is easy to reinforce frugality in my life because I am mostly alone. "I don't need to hang out in the mall. I'd rather read because I want to. Library is my happy place." But do you need to be introvert just to save money? Do you need to give your social group up -your barkadas- in the name of putting extra money in your pocket?
I do have group of friends here. In the group, 2 are bisayas, including me, and most are Ilocanos. Having friends who speak your language in a foreign country is a must, if you want to keep your sanity intact. But why and how did I drifted away from them?
The "WHY": I was never absent when there was a party and all few years ago. I kind of like being in a group, eating Filipino food, endless talks about Philippines and homesickness. I was really blessed to have friends who support each other, but one thing I don't like was the gossip.
As I became super close to them, I noticed that we gossip more often. We'd form into circle and talked about this friend and that friend. As enjoyable as talking about other people is, I come to realize that that is not me. I don't like talking to people behind their back. Thoughts about: "when I am not here, are they talking behind my back too?" floated in my mind. I got sick of it and decided to try to curb listening to gossips. I started with "still hanging out with them but when gossip starts, I put on my earphone and listen to some podcasts/musics or just going out of the room to play with our friend's kid just to avoid listening to gossips". And then, the urged to be extremely frugal kicks in and I decided to experiment with frugal living. Most of my friends, I found, aren't really frugal. They love to watch movie, go to the mall and eat out.
The "HOW": These were the very words I said to them: "You guys, hindi muna ako makaka hang out often ha? Nag ti-tipid kasi ako,eh. I am saving for a house and lot at tapos para maka uwi na din." End of story.
My reasons were valid: to save money, though I never said to them about the gossip issues.
Hanging out with my friends was expensive: the fare, the food contribution, the movies, mall and all that. Luckily for me, they didn't give me a hard time when I told them that I won't be hanging out with them like before. I figured that either tell them or keep hanging out with them and go broke. I chose to tell them and it turns out to be one of the best decisions I've made. Library became my place to be. I became focused with personal finance and investing by reading tons of books about it. My time were spent sharpening my knowledge about anything finance.
Being alone most of the time really strengthen my "saying NO" muscle. In a culture of 'OFW ka, that means mayaman ka' mentality, by merely saying that "I can't go hang out with you guys more often" is a strength enough, I know. I don't care if they think I am broke, I know the truth. For when I 'm finally home, in a country where showing off is a norm among OFWs, learning how and knowing when to say NO for me is easy. I learned from experience and this has become my advantage. Thanks for that "I can't hang out with you guys more often because I am saving money" I once told my friends.
Going introvert may not work for everybody, and if going introvert is not your thing, but you still want to save money, here's hoping that you'd find a frugal-minded group of friends. If you can't find any, make yourself your friend. That's what I did. I hope it works for you.
Note: Not hanging out with my Filipino friends doesn't mean I cut all my ties with them. We still talk on the phone and we are still definitely friends.