I love instant ramen. It has helped me during my tough childhood when my parents were so broke. It has helped feel full when I was in college. But after graduating, I promised myself I’ll eat less of that. I promised myself that I will afford eating steaks in a restaurant one day. And I did. But recently, I find myself eating instant ramen again.
I’m writing this to tell you about my journey from poverty, financial growth and then realizing what is really important.
Living on Instant Ramen and Overcoming Poverty
Being poor is no joke. You wake up and think if you will eat during that day. The thought of being homeless or not being able to go to school really filled my childhood. It was rough but it did help me become strong.
Lessons from Poverty:
1. Work hard and save – When I was a kid my dad used to spend money and really think about the rainy days. He did not create a backup plan.
Having savings will help you sleep easy at night. It does not matter even if it’s a small amount, the point is you need to create an emergency fund. You need to have something to fall back on in case something wrong happens.
You also need to work hard, hard work helps you appreciate the money that you earn. If you appreciate what you make you will be careful in spending your money.
2. People change when you don’t have money – You need to find people who will be there for you not because you’re cool and party with them. You need to find people who will still be your friends even if you’re broke.
3. Your family is the most important treasure you will ever have – Everything can come and go, but family is family. My mom made sure we went to school. She would go here and there to borrow money or ask for some food from our relatives even if she lost all her dignity but she did it because she really loved us.
Through those though times, we were each other’s source of strength.
4. You can change your life – There is nothing permanent in this world, even poverty is not forever. Working hard and being determined helped me change my life. I was resourceful and I was really longing for change so I did my best all the time. I knew that I was not a victim of fate but I can charter my own path.
5. Money can help you help others – Even if you are poor, help others. If you are financially capable, help others. Many people out there just need a little help to set up their dreams.
From Ramen to Steak
And so from being a penniless college graduate to a penniless employee. I lived in my parents house and I did not have enough savings. But I decided that I want to change that and so I did.
1. If you want to change your life, you have to choose to change your life – Change is not something you wait for, it is something you choose and commit yourself to. If you want to live better you have to choose what kind of life you want and work hard to achieve that.
2. There are no shortcuts to success – Many people want those get rich quick schemes, but honestly they don’t work! If you want to change your life, you have to be committed to it. It will be hard. You will sweat blood and tears. You will go through heartbreaks but in the end it would all be worth it.
My dad, being broken by all the misfortune he got started following get rich schemes, only to put us in a cycle of impermanent earnings. He joined all this clubs that tell you will make money here and there. He also tried some businesses that he thought would have super fast earnings. Yes they did earn in the beginning but none of them lasted.
You can’t rush success. And success is much sweeter if you work hard for it.
3. Find a job that you love – I used to work in an office. I made a decent amount of money. I really wanted to get promoted. But it was not the job I wanted. I wanted to do something creative. I wanted to cook or write. I have always thought about making art longingly but I never had the courage to pursue it since I was scared of not making any money.
One day, I had to leave my previous job because of office politics. I was devastated. But this lead me to look for writing jobs and the rest was history.
I love what I do and I get paid well for it. Money is just an add on. I measure my success in how happy I am, but of course now I can buy steak dinners.
4. Save and spend – OK, my mom always said to save, save, save. But if you only save and never get to enjoy what you work hard for then you will end up burned out and bitter. The key here is having a good budget. If you budget your money wisely then you can have money for saving and spending.
Back to Eating Instant Ramen
I went back to eating instant ramen not because I became poor, but because I realized that being simple made life better and easier. I wanted to not over complicate my life and I wanted to enjoy every single day that I have.
Ramen symbolized the fact that even how far I go, I choose to look back into my past with happiness and honor. I choose to embrace my roots and never forget where I came from.
Lessons of Simplicity
1. Zen Simplicity – There is a zen vibe to being simple. If you are simple you can do more things. If you don’t have a lot of contracts to here and there then you can be move more and have more freedom. If you buy so many things, your life will be too full of clutter both physically and mentally.
2. Less complications – Don’t put so much value on physical riches because nothing is permanent. If you only work and work just to buy a big house and have that fancy car, your life will be very complicated.
3. Buy experiences more rather than things – Experiences enrich you both mind and soul; material things get old and you will eventually get tired of them. If you want to be truly successful live a life that is full and vibrant.
So there are the lessons I learned from instant ramen, steak and ramen again.