The Wise Old Man and Me

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It's approaching the holiday season, and I thought I would write a heart-warming post (to me, anyway!)

BF and I were in Hawaii and went to eat the the food court in Honolulu (yes, Hawaii has inspired many posts for me).  The food court was packed.  I saw an open table and asked the elderly man sharing the table (the tables were all pressed together) if the seats were free.  He said yes, and asked me to sit down.  He looked lonely, eating at the food court by himself, so I started talking to him.

Little did I know, the elderly man was very chatty and I wanted to share with you what he shared with BF and I.  I was so touched by his financial wisdom and his no-nonsense attitude towards life.

He started off by showing us his business card.  He said he is in his 80′ and he immigrated to the United States as a surgeon.  He said back in those days, he was paid next to nothing (about $50 a month) and he saved every little penny of it to support his family.  He said he did not go on vacation for 20 years (which I disagree with but didn't say anything).  He then proceeded to try to sell me his watch a few times:

rolex Pictures, Images and Photos

Elderly Man: You want to buy my watch?

Me: Er… no, I already have a watch, thanks!  Your watch is nice though.

Elderly Man: You want to buy my watch? Only $9.99.  I don't know why some people spend so much money on fancy watches like a Rolex.  A watch like this works just fine.  I've had it for so many years and it tells time just great.  And when it stops working, I just buy another $10 watch. Simple!

Me: Yes, it's very nice sir!  I agree, I don't understand why people want to spend $8000-$10,000 on a watch.  I guess some people view it as a status symbol.

Elderly Man: My watch… same goes for my car!  I drive a Honda Accord, and have been driving it for over 10 years.  Who needs a Mercedes Benz or a BMW?

Me: I drive a Honda too!

Elderly Man: I don't even think it's necessary to even get the Acura.  I could get one if I wanted, I am wealthy, but I don't need an Acura for more money than a Honda.  It's the same company, you know, Honda and Acura.

Me: You're absolutely right 🙂

I suppose what I learned from him (other than him proving a point that his watch was very economical but still looked very nice) was that these material things that we have the option of spending money on (watches, cars, a nice house, fancy expensive Louis Vuitton bags) aren't the very last things you think about when you're elderly and approaching the end of your life.  You don't get to take these things with you to the afterlife, really.  So what is important in our lives?

To me, it's the memories shared with your loved ones and the relationships you have close to your heart that really matter.

He was a very wise old man indeed!

Happy Holidays, my dear readers, and hope your holiday season is full of love, life, and laughter with all your loved ones.

Readers, have you learned anything from our elders recently that you would like to share?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.


  1. Money Pincher on December 22, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I love Hawaii’s a beautiful & relaxing place.

    Great post on reminding us the important things in life.

    I went out for a drink with a friend last night and we had a similar conversation about memories with loved ones vs. saving money. My friend asked me a question:

    Would you go in debt to go on a vacation with your parents for one last time in your life with your brothers and sisters because one of your parents is terminally ill?

    Answer: Yes…because I still have time in my life to repay the debt, but I will never have another opportunity to go on a family vacation with everybody there. If I don’t go…I know I will regret it sometime later in life.

    Live without regrets…

  2. young on December 23, 2010 at 1:33 am

    @Money Pincher- Thanks for visiting! Excellent question and scenario. My answer would be yes too. My motto in life is: “live life without regrets” too! It’s so important that we seize the day and enjoy each day and appreciate each other as if it might be our last. You never know when it might be… might as well treat each other with compassion and do what your heart tells you to do.

  3. Financial Cents on December 23, 2010 at 8:25 am

    “To me, it

  4. retirebyforty on December 23, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I discovered the Chinatown food court in Honolulu the first time we went to Hawaii. The food was good and cheap! I can’t believe how much food cost in Hawaii that first trip.
    Haven’t had a chance to talk to elder about money lately, but mom always tell us her family’s struggle with money and it teaches us to save for the future.

  5. young on December 23, 2010 at 9:25 am

    @Financial Cents- Happy Holidays to you too Mark! 🙂

  6. krantcents on December 23, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Great article! It reminds us what is important. It is those experiences and memories with friends and family that I remember and those are free.

  7. Financial Samurai on December 24, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Neat story! However, he just hasn’t seen the new Audi R8 Spyder yet! SWEEET!

  8. young on December 24, 2010 at 8:50 am

    @retirebyforty- Hmm it was at the Ala Moana Mall food court I met him 🙂 The food there is so good (and cheap too!). Yeah, our parents/ grand parents really know a thing or two about money and savings and what matters in life- we should really listen to them sometimes! 🙂

  9. young on December 24, 2010 at 8:52 am

    @krantcents- yes! Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones 🙂

  10. young on December 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

    @Financial Samurai- LOL.. that IS one sweet ride… but let me ask you, if you were terminally ill and on your death bed (knock on wood) would you want to have your R8 Spyder with you in the room that you’re dying in? Would that be one of the last thoughts as you drift off into the after life? I guess it would be sweet to take it for one last ride! But still… 🙂

  11. Earl on December 27, 2010 at 5:57 am

    This a great story and I couldn’t agree with the message more. While at first the fancy new car might seem like something we must have, in the end, I can think of endless other things to spend my money on that will bring both myself and others more happiness.

    For example, using that money for a trip to visit family and friends, as we tend to allow some of those bonds to weaken amid our determined efforts to achieve ‘success’. And like you mentioned, when I reach my golden years, my life would feel more complete if I had a room full of family than a room full of money!

  12. young on December 27, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    @Earl- Thanks for visiting (all the way from Iran?)! Yes, here’s to a room full of family and loved ones rather than a room full of money from 2011 onwards 🙂 No point gaining all that money when there’s no one to visit you and spend time with you in your mansion.

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