何毓琦的个人博客分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/何毓琦 哈佛(1961-2001) 清华(2001-date)

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The Refugee Mentality

已有 3979 次阅读 2018-1-27 22:22 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察


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I have talked about the “Refugee Mentality” in the past.  Basically if you  arrive in a new country alone and at a young age (I was 16 in 1950 and my wife was 19 in1955) with no resources and no family to fall back on, then you develop a habit of living very frugally for fear of running out of money or life support. Later on even if you have a stable and secure job, you still try to save for college education for your children, your retirement, and possible emergencies. This does not mean we are misers. We donate our share for charity and volunteer for community service. But when it comes to buying/spending on ourselves you try to aim for good deals  and seldom splurge. Besides, both my wife and I are optimizers by nature (In fact optimization is my life long research endeavor be it control systems  or ordinal optimization). We always try to do better on planning and spending. Such habit of course was very useful; when we are trying to establish ourselves, educating our children, and saving for a comfortable retirement. But such old habits and mentality also die hard. We still blame ourselves and feel bad whenever we over-spend on something. The other day,  it suddenly dawned on me that this refugee mentality is no longer a healthy attitude in our old age. For example, our 11 year old family truck is finally dying of old age and we need to replace it. So I started a large effort trying to research car makes and car prices so as to get the best deal. This consume large amount of time, effort, and anxiety. But then I realized that giving our finite life span forward (I am 84 and my wife 82), We are talking about a vehicle to last at most for the next few years. Since it is our second car and  infrequently used nowadays, so what if I purchase the wrong make and overpaid it by one thousand dollars.  The only net effect is that we will have one thousand  dollars less in our estate when we die. In our will, half of our estate goes  to charity to help new immigrants, the other half will be equally divided  among our three children all of them are financially independent and  successful.  They will each receive about $160 less as inheritance,  an amount they couldn’t care less. So why should I worry about getting a  good deal?

You should not sweat the small stuff and should be good  to yourself in  your old age!




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