J.J. Watt: “What Do Rich People Buy?”

I shared this on Twitter the other day but it was too good not to post on here too!

I’m not a big football fan but I keep up with sports. First, if you’re not familiar J.J. Watt, let me fill you in. Watt is a defensive end for the Houston Texans. This year, he signed a six year contract extension worth up to $100 million. He’s guaranteed about $52 million…yep, you read the right, $52 MILLION. That’s the most for any defensive player in the NFL (whether or not athletes get paid too much is a discussion for another time….).

I came across this video the other day of an on-the-field interview Watt did. In it, he talks about what he did after he signed his $100 million contract…

Yep, he googled “What do rich people buy?”. I got a nice chuckle from that. But whats even better, he said he didn’t like anything he saw and is going to stick to his humble lifestyle. Of course, we’ll see if that still sticks will him after some of his millions start rolling in. For the rest of us, we not going to get a ridiculous raise and start earning millions. But the moral of the story is – don’t over inflate your lifestyle just because you got a raise! (But J.J, if you do, we won’t judge!)

Yes, Money Can Buy You Happiness

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or does it?

I’ve probably said at one point or another that money cannot buy you happiness. Well, I take that back. Money can buy you happiness. But it depends on what you buy.

First off, I’m not going to lie. I’ve indulged in retail therapy on more than one occasion….actually, on more occasions that I can count with my fingers. I’ve admitted this before but I use to be a serial compulsive shopper. I definitely know what people mean when they talk about that ‘high’ they get from buying something. For a few minutes, it kind of feels awesome having something shiny and new to add to your collection of stuff or more aptly, your pile of junk. But then after some time, the newness wears off and you’re off wanting the next thing. The feeling is obviously short lived and maybe not real to begin with. I think a lot of people confuse this shopping high to happiness. Sure, there are things you can buy that help you do things that make you happier. But the stuff itself can’t really make you happy.

I’ve wrestled with this a lot before. Having money definitely makes me happy. For a while, I thought it was because I could take it and buy whatever I wanted with it (obviously not a sign of a responsible adult…oh to be young…). But then I realized it wasn’t that. What actually made me happy was the all the possibilities I had just because I had money.

So therefore, I don’t think money can directly buy you happiness. I’ve bought plenty of things and trust me, I not really any happier from them. They’ve taken my mind off the immaterial things I was worrying about and that certainly helped. But that sort of feeling can only last two long. I do think though that if you spend wisely, you can achieve happiness from what you spend it on. It’s definitely not the same for everyone but for me, I’ve come to the conclusion that spending money on these two things can make me happier:

  1. Spending selflessly on someone else
  2. Experiences…and by that I mean traveling or creating memories

I’ll address #1 first…spending selflessly on someone else. The obvious thing here is donating to a good cause or helping someone you don’t know in need. I probably don’t do that often enough but when I do…even if it’s 5 bucks….it feels a hell of a lot better than a latte I could’ve gotten at Starbucks. I also enjoy spending on gifts. I don’t mean gifts like birthday gifts, Christmas gifts or something lavish that no one needs. For me, it feels great when I see something I know someone will love. I get it for them and you immediately see the joy on their face just from getting something small and unexpected. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. For instance, my parents have been very frugal all their life and hardly ever buy anything frivolous. Now that I’m an adult, I get happiness out of buying them something I know they would never buy themselves but could totally use.

And secondly, experiences. Many people have told me that they don’t like to ‘waste’ money on experiences because it’s intangible. It happens and once it’s over, you’re left with nothing. Well, I use to think this way too. But not anymore. I would love to spend on nothing more than experiences. From the few times that I’ve traveled or done something outside of my comfort zone, I’ve learned or grown so much from it. And with that said, I’m looking forward to 2 weeks in Asia in October!

What can you buy that makes you happy?

Tipping: Do You Really Need To & How Much?

8439258705_1a61facd17_zNext month, I am going to be spending two weeks in Taipei and Tokyo (yay!). I’ve started to do my research on both cities – what to expect, what to do, how to get around, etc. One particularly interesting thing I found out is that tipping is not customary there. I guess I didn’t really realize this before but tipping just isn’t the norm in many Asian cities. In fact, many people find it offensive. They think that providing you good service should be expected and that they shouldn’t receive anything extra for just doing their job.

America couldn’t be more different. In fact, tipping is really rooted into the culture here. If you get any kind of service, you tip. Somehow, we got to the point where we’re expected to tip for even the slightest service. Yes, not should but expected. Now, before you call me cheap, hear me out:

  • What we consider a ‘good tip’ is now getting higher and higher. I use to tip 15% for great service and 10% for good service. Nowadays, I feel like I have to up that just to not seem like an a-hole…15% for any service and at least 20% for good service.
  • It really annoys me when I get really bad service but since my party is 6 or more, a 20% tip is automatically added to my bill. Seriously, can’t I get a say?
  • Tip jars are everywhere, evens on apps. When I go to Starbucks, I usually use their app to pay. Now, after I scan it, it asks me if I want to leave a tip. A tip…for a cup of coffee?
  • I’ve worked as a waitress before so I get it. Wages are low and tips are a big part of how people in the service industry make a living. However, it really use to be a sign of appreciation for great service. Now it just feels mandatory.

Don’t get me wrong though. I absolutely believe that, at least in this country, you need to tip when a tip is deserved. As a waiter, there’s nothing worse that spending 1+ hour catering to someone’s every request…only to be jipped in the end. If you can’t afford to tip, then you shouldn’t be dining out. It’s not fair to the person who has helped you. As long as the person has done something for you, even just bringing you your food, you should leave something for them. Generally, here is what I go by:

  • I generally tip anywhere from 15% – 20%. If I received really bad service, I would consider only leaving a 10% tip or no tip at all. Thankfully, I haven’t been in a situation where I felt like no tip was deserved…yet.
  • When I’m just grabbing drinks, I’ll tip about $1 per drink, especially if it takes the bartender a little longer to make my drink. I’ll still tip even if I’m just getting a beer and all he has to do it pull it out of the fridge.
  • I typically don’t tip when I’m grabbing a coffee….unless it’s at a nicer cafe-type place and I’m getting a fancy latte (not often of course…)
  • I also typically don’t tip when I’m getting takeout…unless I frequent the place often and routinely get great service. Then I might throw a buck or two in the tip jar.
  • If I have a deal or coupon, I will make sure to tip according to the full amount…not the promotional value. While I’m paying less for my meal, I’m still getting the same amount of service.

If you want a more detailed breakdown, here’s a handy chart I found on Wait But Why that breaks down how much you should tip in every situation (for the most part, I agree):

chart-tipping-statistics

When I get to Asia, it’s going to be super weird not leaving a tip!

How do you feel about tipping? How much do you typically tip?

How To Get Through College Without Eating Ramen

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a college student’s best friend

It’s the end of August…. which means the start of a new semester! I graduated college over 4 years ago but honestly, I still do miss those days. Dorming, staying up late, weekend outings….it was my first taste of freedom away from home and it was certainly a growing experience.

It’s funny how when you first start college, everyone tells you to be careful of the Freshmen 15 – no, not to study hard or network….but they tell you to watch out for your weight. It’s true though, eating healthy in college can be tough, especially when you’re a broke student. Microwavable meals, dining hall food, and of course, instant ramen tend to be the norm.

So if you’re a poor college student, can you still eat healthy and well on a budget…without a kitchen? Yes, you can! Sure, it’s a lot more different when all you have is a microwave and a fridge that can only hold a few cans of “soda”…but yes, it’s possible.

  • Your microwave will be your best friend. Believe it or not, you can cook a lot more in a microwave, aside from gross, packaged frozen meals. I’m talking rice, eggs, oatmeal…even protein. It took me awhile but I definitely perfected the art of microwaved steamed eggs in college. Here is a great list of 40 delicious (and unexpected things) you can cook in a microwave.
  • If you have a dining hall plan, consider yourself lucky. You don’t have to cook for yourself. Dining hall food can get a bad rep but it’s really not that bad since there are so many options. You can still eat healthy, as long as you make good choices. For instance, stay away from the grill – hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza- or any fried food, including those chicken fingers you love. Stick to the salad bar and sandwiches and wraps. Also, be sure to drink water, not all that sugary stuff. Just because there is an endless supply of soda doesn’t mean you should drink with every meal.
  • Learn to shop better. College may be the first time you’re grocery shopping on your own and you’ll probably be tempted to stock up on nothing but chips and cookies….but control yourself. For a snack, stick to veggies and fruits you can easily grab and go with, such as carrots, apples and bananas. For lunch or dinner, get canned or frozen veggies and meats, such as tuna, broccoli, and peas. They’re not as healthy as the fresh kind but it’s better than nothing!
  • If you’re living on campus, your dorm probably has a communal kitchen somewhere, equipped with pots, pan and everything you need. You probably don’t have time to be cooking every night but do it once in awhile. Make it into a fun social gathering with you friends – it can be your first dinner party…right in your dorm room!
  • College is college…and having a drink is almost like a right of passage. At the same time, limit your alcohol consumption. After all, it doesn’t do any good to your body. Ever heard the term ‘beer belly’?
  • However, if you still want to eat ramen (and I don’t blame you because it’s damn tasty), here are some idea on how to get creative. I’m talking ramen-pizza-type-of-creative.

If your college days are a thing of the past, how did you eat healthy on a budget?

Dating Etiquette: Who Pays For What?

5336352580_8180627d48_zTo be quite honest, I haven’t been on a first date in a very, very long time. My boyfriend and I have been together since college, so my last first date was over 7 years ago. Plus, first dates back then were very different (and cheaper) – something like dinner at TGI Friday’s and maybe a movie. So no, I’m probably not the best person to be talking about dating etiquette but what the heck, here I go.

I’m 25 and many of my friends are dating. I’m always hearing about how expensive it is to go on a date, especially for a guy in New York City. See, a date can easily cost over a 100 bucks – dinner and drinks for 2 ($100) + 2 movie tickets ($30) + popcorn & soda ($30). I don’t envy the male population at all since some ladies expect to paid for. So if you’re a guy and you really like a girl, going on a few dates can easily cost you your entire paycheck in NYC.

So is there any real dating etiquette to follow? Who pays for what? I’m of two minds when it comes to this but here is my ‘rulebook’ when it comes to dating and money:

  • For a first date, the guy will probably take the check. If this happens, I think the girl should suggest going dutch and splitting the bill. You’re still getting to know each other. So I think this is the fairest thing to do.
  • If no one reaches for the bill and things get slightly awkward, someone should pipe up and suggest to split it. Obviously in this situation, no one wants to pay for the whole thing.
  • From what I’ve experienced as a girl, I think most guys feel obligated to pay for the first date, at least. If the other person offers to pay the entire bill, say no at least twice. If he/she is insisting that they cover the bill, let them. You don’t want to make a big scene out of it. Thank them. I’m always appreciative when someones pays for me. It’s definitely a nice gesture but not something a girl should automatically expect.
  • I would also consider who asked out who – if the guy asked the girl out and he’s insisting that he pays for the bill, let him. The next one can be on you.
  • Similarly, if you are doing multiple things that night such as dinner and a movie, suggest splitting the cost by activity. For instance, he pays for dinner and she pays for the movie. While it’s not an even split, no one gets stuck paying for the whole date.
  • If things are going well and you go on more dates, take turns paying. Again, it’s not an even split but still fair and will probably even out in the end.
  • Lastly, avoid getting into the ‘extreme cheapskate’ mindset when it comes to dating. You’re going to have to spend some money – it’s about meeting people, not saving money. And once you’re in a steady relationship, ‘etiquette’ will go out the door and splitting will become second nature.

I think in the past, men were always expected to pay for dates – it was a sign that they have a job, are stable, and can provide for the woman. But in this day and age, women are primary breadwinners too so that notion is slowing dying. At the same time, it’s a very gentlemanly thing to do – so men, yes ladies do appreciate it. But at the same time, men shouldn’t get stuck paying all the time. It’s a two way relationship so treat it like one!

How do you feel about splitting the bill when it comes to date? Who pays for what?