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Monday, October 08, 2007

Feeling wealthy

I've never felt wealthy. Not when I paid cash for my first car back in 1999 (near the height of the internet bubble). The benefit of that was that when the bubble burst in 2001, I didn't feel poor either.

I didn't feel wealthy when I wrote Google a check to exercise my stock options, a month after I started at the company, wiping out a couple of years worth of savings. (Yes, some loved ones did raise an eyebrow, but it was a safe investment, as safe as any such investment can be)

I didn't feel wealthy at Google's IPO. I did write a check to pay off my mom's mortgage, which was a rather smart move I was making the monthly payments anyway, and the mortgage was at 8% or so and refinancing was impossible since nobody wanted to refinance for so little money.

I didn't even feel wealthy when I started shopping for a custom frame. For someone who rides much more than he drives, even a new custom bike every year doesn't come close to the cost of a car.

But a few weeks ago Lisa and I decided to engage a cleaning service --- we were just overwhelmed by all the housework that we had to do that we just didn't enjoy doing. We weren't good at it, and we weren't good about it. And I looked at my assets and thought: "Ok, let's find out how much a cleaning service is, and throw money at the problem to make it go away." We asked the concierge at work for a recommendation, called him up, and he showed up to give us a quote last week, and they came by today and cleaned up the house.

Lisa's reaction at the results when she came home was one of amazement. She got on the phone with the housecleaning service and raved at the owner with praise for a good 20 minutes. I was pretty impressed. It felt like coming to a B&B, everything all laid out, the sinks polished, etc. So for the first time in our lives, at least, we felt wealthy.

The thing is, we live in a small Silicon Valley apartment. The quote for the service was embarrassingly small. We could have afforded it ages ago, but it always felt like a luxury, and indeed it is one. This little luxury, more than any object we've ever purchased, wasn't just an object, it was time away from doing things we didn't enjoy doing, yet done with amazing professionalism. So if you want to feel wealthy, treat yourself to a really good cleaning service.


Gary's Blog said...

Thanks, for sharing; will share the idea with my son in nashville as they both work, spend more time with their dogs than riding, but do love to ride; both work, and just might consider 'treating themselves to a really good cleaning service. gary in cleveland. p.s. Like the method you used to find the cleaning service: asking. cool.

charles said...

Your next life upgrade: wash and fold.

Piaw Na said...

Haha. I already have free laundry access at work, thank you. :-)

md said...

So if you want to feel wealthy, treat yourself to a really good cleaning service.

Ah, who wants to feel wealthy, anyway? FWIW I already feel wealthy, without the cleaning service. However, on the wealth scale, I rank "being wealthy" as less than "being financially independent".

And obviously some people think they need more money to be financially independent than others. Ted Turner said he couldn't give away much more money now because he needs his current fortune for his retirement.

Piaw Na said...

Well, the feeling of wealth isn't at all related to feeling financially independent. Not one whit. Shuffling lots of money around in my portfolio portfolio, however, seems to pale in comparison to realizing that this thing that you dislike doing (house cleaning) is something you never have to do again. And for me, at least, that's a new experience. I don't use my wealth to buy objects. But buying an experience, be it a nice vacation, a clean house, or a weekend getaway, is nothing like buying an object, and that was the point of this post.

We Are Wealthy - Tips To Become Rich said...

Loved this blog actually. I've never had someone come clean my house, but really would love the time away from doing it myself. I am in the process of teaching people how to become wealthy and give them some tips, and it's ironic that you've never felt wealthy until someone gave you time off from doing something you didn't like.