I have arrived in the USA about fifteen years ago from a grim society, which is now called “the former Soviet Union rdquo;. One of the most pleasant surprises for me was the fact that people looked very friendly and always smiled to me. Yes, Sir (Sorry, I “m not a Sir, I just came from behind the iron curtain hellip;). Excuse me, Sir hellip;Even though I “m not knighted (after all these years of surviving, achievements, et al), it’s still much better when people call you Sir and smile to you on any occasion . It did not take me long time to figure out that people are the same everywhere: the amount of brainwashing differs slightly, but people are THE SAME. So why people in the USA smile to you in the offices, in the stores, and everywhere else? The answer is simple: mortgage. Yes, they smile to you not because they like the fact that during the last 15 minutes you keep asking these stupid questions about your insurance policy or this little item that lays on the very top shelf, “What is this for? Is this powerful? Noisy? Can it process any food? rdquo; This salesman will smile to you no matter what, because s/he has mortgage to pay, the car loan is due in two weeks and, thanks God, the older daughter was accepted to a $50K a year ivy league school. On top of this, an average American has $9300 unpaid balance on his/her credit cards. So they “d better smile to you, or else hellip; Two months out of job will put half of the USA population into deep depression: the bills are piling up so fast hellip;
Life was simple in the former Soviet Union: you do not have the money (and I mean the full payment), you do not a car. You do have the money (and I mean the full payment), you still do not have a car, because the cars were deficit. By the end of your life you might have been able to afford an apartment. Was this bad? Yes it was. But is it better when a 25-year old kid says, “I bought a house rdquo;. Excuse me, this is not your house. You put $5K down and live in a $200K house hellip;Keep dreaming hellip;This is the bank “s house, and because of this you will smile to me no matter what I say. Some of the USA newcomers are embarrassed to enter expensive looking stores here in Manhattan. Don “t be! Remember, their fancy looking salesmen have mortgages, and they will smile to you! When a $60K-a-year salesmen drives a $70K Mercedes, s/he “d better smile to you!
The worst part is that the majority of the population are getting on the hook so easily hellip; They are building credit history, apply for credit cards, and charge it like crazy. When a young guy with a $2K monthly income proposes to a girl he gives her a $10K engagement ring. Just to be cool, like everyone else. The credit card bills will come later, and he will make minimal payments while taking her to Hawaii for a honeymoon. The comes the bankruptcy. Chapter 11. Chapter 7. No worries, friendly and smiley lawyers are sitting right here in the bushes. They will calm and comfort you: “It’s not your fault, these bad guys from filthy rich banks have sent you all these attractive credit card offers. It’s their fault “. No, it’s YOUR fault. Do not borrow more than you can afford to pay back. Do not pay the minimum balance, do not make yourself poorer. Do not be a loser!
One of my colleagues recently said to me, ” I do not really need much money. I “m very happy to have a very small income, but work on the stuff I like rdquo;. Fine, I can respect this as long as your expenses match your income. Next day this guy tells me that he “s got an $180 traffic ticket because he lost his driver “s license and did not have time to renew it last week. After that, he plans a vacation that s/he can “t afford hellip; WTF is this? You do not want to work hard? Get rid of all your credit cards, stop smoking (it “s $5 a day), do not go to Starbucks that charges you $2 for something they call Tall Coffee. Do not buy this glass of blue slushy ice foam for $4 every day.
Have you been to Thailand? They have monks there. The monks do not have any income, but they live appropriate lifestyles. They wake up at five in the morning and walk on the streets taking food offerings from people, if any. The last food at noon. One orange robe. Is this fair? It’s their choice and their books are perfectly balanced: zero in, zero out. You do not need money? Fine, but be disciplined and strong! Otherwise, smile to me baby hellip;wider hellip;.wider hellip;and bend hellip;lower hellip;lower hellip;