Michael on July 20th, 2007
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After a presentation I gave yesterday, a sixty-something gentleman came up to me and told me how the Chinese-American members of his family have completely different attitudes about savings than the American family members do. He said the Chinese Americans save 25% of their pay with no hesitation.

I wasn’t surprised.

You: Major in Chinese studies in addition to accounting?

No, not quite. However, at one point I did know how to say “My pencil is yellow” in Mandarin thanks to a particularly long van-ride through the midwest during college.

Truth is I’m far from an expert on the monetary habits of Chinese-Americans. However, I’m fully aware that various cultures emphasize and, for that matter, de-emphasize certain aspects of their lives. But having a different ethnicity is not the sole cause of being part of a different culture.

You: What does that mean?

In other words, you don’t have to look different be brought up different. Read the business section of a newspaper often enough and you’ll hear people talk about the culture of their company, for example. Heck, even a family can have it’s own culture.

You: Mine sure does.

See? A lot of your current monetary habits and attitudes about money result from how you were raised.

You: Uh-oh.

Ah, but not to worry. Even if your parents or peers don’t have the best monetary habits, all is not lost. Just take a quick look at this article about the Women in Red Savers, for example. They’re creating their own virtual circle of saving. The group has it’s own culture, and it looks like it’s been quite successful for many of the members so far.

You’re not stuck with a bad monetary habits as a result of a lack of a proper financial education or fiscal role model any more than you must be overweight because no one taught you about basic nutrition or because your parents are heavy.

You: You’re not going to turn this into a discussion about how cutting fast food out of your diet will also save you money, are you?

Not at all, but there clearly would be two good benefits from just that one action. Remember, it’s all about balance. I had a combo value meal myself yesterday. While it’s not a frequent occasion for me to do so anymore, I certainly ate a lot of fast food when I was younger.

You: Your attitude changed.

Yes. I guess you could say I live a life Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck from both a financial and nutritional sense. It’s part of my culture, my attitude.

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