3: I’m at home because I’m cheap

I’ve sunk down to the level of a lazy home dweller within the past two weeks. The first few days I got here, I was spending the entire day exploring Zagreb’s museums and parks. Now when I get home from work, sometimes the most exciting part of the day after work is shopping at the nearby grocery store. My tourist bucket list for Zagreb is collecting dust. Part of the reason is because I just want to decompress at the end of the work day.

I think the other big reason why I don’t do anything is because of my social class attitudes. My parents are immigrants from the Vietnam war, and they’ve always been hoarding any money they can squeeze out from their low-paying labor jobs can get. Of course, their financial strategies have rubbed off of me. So in Zagreb, I’d rather buy groceries from the cheap market and cook at home rather than eat at restaurants and try new foods. One time I walked up to a museum and left when I learned that the admission was about $3. I’m writing this post at home because I didn’t want to go to the movies partially because of the fee (which is only $6). These are little purchasing decisions that probably don’t make a huge difference, and I don’t think it’s on other people’s minds. But it’s a constant thought on my mind.

I’m worried that being too cheap will keep me from great international experiences. But I’ve been pushing myself to be more risky with my budget. This weekend, I went to Slovenia with the other interns to explore the city and Lake Bled. And next weekend, we’ll be spending the long weekend in Budapest. But the amount of money I’m spending made me so nervous that I declined a trip to go to a beautiful coastal city in Croatia. Maybe it’s for the best? I don’t know. At best, I’ll just be losing out on a few nice pictures. The worst is knowing that I’m missing out on the connections I can make with the other interns.

I know that I have a lot more economic freedom than my parents thanks to my educational privilege and access to generous scholarships, but it’s hard to stray away from the financial habits I’ve learned since birth. I don’t want to get carried away and spend everything, but I also don’t want to be regret shutting myself away from experiences I could have had. I’m worried that I won’t learn that balance before this trip ends.

2 thoughts on “3: I’m at home because I’m cheap

  • June 14, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Kim!

    Growing up with immigrant parents as well, I can definitely relate to your financial techniques! By no means it is a bad thing to save money, and I think it takes a lot of maturity to have the self-awareness and responsibility to have a money-conscious mentality like you do.

    I’ve never been to Croatia, but from what I know about being abroad, I think there are still some ways for you to experience the culture without having to spend the money to travel. Since you’re working, you could ask your coworkers for any recipes for traditional food (you’d spend the money on food anyway!), or even if they would be willing to show you how to make it in person. Talking with locals is also a great way to learn about the culture, and I have no doubts you’d learn amazing things. Ultimately though, the trip is yours and it’s important to identify what will make this experience most fulfilling to you. Try to focus on those aspects, rather than trying to do everything, and I’m sure you will leave with no regrets. 🙂

  • June 15, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    It’s definitely not the worst thing to be good at saving money, and it seems like you have already set aside some time and money to explore and get to know the other interns. Perhaps you can give yourself some sort of allowance to spend on fun things on your trip? Or it may help to sit down and write what will make your international experience memorable and worthwhile for yourself, and then see how you can make that happen without breaking the bank. 🙂


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