Friday, August 20, 2004

New Day in Singapore!

First, some pretty generic news about Singapore, for those of you who don't live here (ok as of today that is all of you). But we have a new prime minister. This is a really big deal. Singapore is 39 years old and we have had only three prime ministers. The first, Lee Kuan Yew, the second Goh Chook Tong.... and the third, the first prime ministers son, Lee Hsien Loong. The effect of the exchange of power has yet to be seen, but it is anticipated that the young Mr. Lee will be more inclusive (having women on his cabinet, a first for Singapore and recognizing the handicapped population in a speech only days after he took office). We enjoy living in Singapore because of the fierce national pride, among other reasons, and the joy that most Singaporean’s exhibit by per chance of birth (in many cases) that they live in a growing, vibrant, safe and clean and successful city in Asia.

So, Simplicity... what does it mean and why are we doing this funny-hokey-hippy thing. Doesn't the simplicity movement mean moving out in the woods and homesteading... curing your own ham and churning your own butter? Sure, for some that may be what it means- for others it is slowing down and de-cluttering. Again, then for others, ourselves included, Living Simply means, setting down, figuring out what are life values are and living deliberately to try to meet those values.

Frugality is a part, environmentalism is a part, decluttering (mind, body and soul...not to mention the house) and finally living peacefully. As the war in Iraq continues, I really am thinking more about the peaceful part, but more on that later.

OK, so critics out there, my own family included... who says "Look, Kristy, you have never done well with the frugal part, Ms. World Traveler". You are correct. But, living frugally can mean, and it will mean, that if we chose to travel, we will simply need to cut back on other expenses. How can we be frugal, peaceful, and deliberate when we have a live in maid/nanny? Well, here is how. We pay our Nanny a pittance. In many ways I feel guilty about the minor amount we pay her. We already made the conscious decision to pay her about $50 US dollars over the market rate in Singapore for a new nanny. Why... because again, part of the living deliberately is knowing that Nancy is a single mom, supporting her son in the Philippines. The market rate is abysmally low, but an example of how far her salary will go in the Philippines follows:

When we first started speaking to Nancy about hiring her, we asked her to Fed Ex a copy of her passport to us so we could begin processing paperwork for her work permit in Singapore. After a few hems and haws... she said she could not afford it. For those of you who know, a Fed Ex letter or similar service may be between $15-20. Nancy told us that is more than a weeks worth of groceries.

Living simply means, for me anyway, knowing that every thing I do, positive and negative has consequences. If I have an ice blended chai this morning- I do not follow my diet, and I may not lose that pound. If I have an ice blended chai this morning-a $6.50 Singapore treat (roughly 3.25 in US Dollar), it means that on my daily tally of expenses, it shows as a negative. I used up a certain portion of my life's energy for that drink. Was it worth it? For me, this morning, yes. Was it within my long term goals, ideals and principles, not to mention my budget? No. So, what do I do? Recognize that this is a step by step process.

Ok, finally, not that you all care to know... and I think I will keep the actual dollar figures private for now (cause this is public internet after all). Jeff and I are on a debt reduction plan. Does this mean we will be coming home? Don't know. Does it mean we will get new jobs? Don't know. Does it mean we will really get this debt out of our lives? Yes. So the debt reduction counter has begun. If, assuming we get no raises.... and assuming we have no unforeseen REALLY bad things happen to us. We will be out of debt December 14, 2010. The only debt that will exist at that time will be our mortgage on the house. SO, in 6 years and roughly 5 and a half months... or for those math wiz’s... I calculate that to be 77.5 months and 2291 days!

Now, for your regularly scheduled family update.

Jeff and I have been borrowing a car for a few days. Driving in Singapore illegally. Which overall, is not a good thing. If we got caught, we would probably forfeit the right to drive here forever. But, it has opened up parts of the city for us that we have not yet seen. We (the kids and I) have been to the east coast Singlap area for playgroup before, but driving there is MUCH quicker. Saturday, we plan on going to the beach, and tonight Jeff and I might go to the night safari. Cars are PRICEY here though, so it will be a major decision to get one. For those who don't know, a Honda Odyssey mini van runs around 120,000 Sing Dollars, or... again roughly 69,000 US. If we can get a car without paying those fees we would do it. If we have to pay that, it may be a long while. Cause that is a lot of dough.



1 comment:

Blythe said...

Oooh, this is exciting. Not only a blog by one of my favorite people, but about one of my favorite subjects! I look forward to the ensuing discussions. We miss you lots.

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