How much money would be enough
Chavrusa, Economic education of Jewish
Jeon Seong Su, Yang dong il
As I was growing up, I was barely taught of economic knowledges from my parents nor school. Of course, I was forced to do some basic budgeting when I was in elementary school, but other than that I cannot think of any other economic education that I got. It gave me questions of why Korean culture do not teach the importance of money, in other words, the importance of financial freedom from the young age. Is it a taboo? Why parents avoid teaching money to their children?
To get an answer, firstly, I had to think of my relationships with money. In my teenage years, I used to hear a lot from my parents that all I have to do is just studying, getting good grades, and going to “good” university. They teach me do not ever worry about money but focus on school because they thought my university label will follow me for the rest of my life and it will always bring me more doors to make my life easier. So, for the most of my life, my goal was getting a label of prestigious university because I believed that is the value of myself.
Even during the time of my university in Korea, I remember my mom was not happy with me having a part time job at the café, because she wanted me to focus on study rather than wasting my time and energy working in “shitty jobs”. Although experiencing customer service and making small amount of money for myself was valuable and brought me understanding of money, it was considered not as important as studying for my parents. There is a strong atmosphere and prejudice in Korean society that working in the industry where it requires brain work is something very noble and honorable, whereas physical jobs are not preferred or simply considered as “Shitty Jobs”.
Because of such cultural reason, most of Korean students want to go to high ranked universities and focus on getting high credits to become white-collar workers. Like my parents did to me, it is very common for Korean parents to pay their kids’ tuition fees and living costs. In other words, people are likely to be financially dependent on their parents even after the graduation before they get jobs, continuously in their adulthood. Although they can get student loan from the government, it is so called “the last option” to do if their parents cannot financially support them. As long as they graduate one of “good” universities with high scored GPA and get a white-collar job, it is success.For this reason, financial support from parents is widely acceptable compared to western society.
In my opinion, above is one of the examples why Koreans are not taught of money. Then, what are the other cultural factors that impact Koreans be lack of economic education? A book “Chavrusa, Economic education of Jewish” published by two Korean authors talk about Jewish economic education in comparison to the one in Korea. The author claims that Korean parents are not only lack of economic knowledge but also, they avoid teaching money because of widespread custom in Korea that you can’t educate money to children from the very young age. It is also because of the cultural trait “Chae-myun or face saving” which translated as keeping one’s reputation. For example, we all long for money strongly from the deep inside of our minds, but we can’t be seen as greedy people who always follows money from others because we believe rich people are all evil for some reason. Moreover, we want to be looked as “whiter than white” from others, because what other people think of me is important more than anything.
On the other hand, the author says that it is the opposite for Jewish. Jewish people see the money as something very positive. They want their children to be an owner of money, not a slave of money. From childhood, children are taught the importance and power of money, and how it can be used wisely. Talmud says, “If there’s money in households, there is peace as well” and “People who say money is not everything in life will never get enough money”. Likewise, it seems like Jewish parents have different perspectives on money than Korean parents, and in my opinion that is where the major difference starts “How do we see money?”. However, would it be because of the lessons that I got from my parents from my childhood? When I was reading this Talmud lessons from the book, I found out myself feeling against for it and cannot help but asking to myself “So, are you saying that money should be the most important part of my life?”.
I used to question a lot to myself the role of money in my life. I was very confused of it because it seems like the more I have it, the more I am likely to want it, and this strong desire will eventually lead me to miserable life. Even in TV shows, there has been always rich characters but what they have is only money and nothing else. On the other hand, like a recent huge hit TV show “squid game”, there are characters who are devastated because of debt. As unemployment rate has been skyrocketing after the pandemic, there is a growing fear of making as much money as possible. Around 64% of adults in America report that finances are “a significant source of stress” in their lives, according to recent findings by the American Psychological Association (Nova 2020).
Now, I need to ask if there is a right answer for how much money is enough for me, because it depends on how I use it and how my relationship it is with. Before I read this book, if someone had asked me how I see the money, my answer would have been money is not what I want to follow, there are far more important and meaningful things that I want to pursue. But I know from the bottom of my heart that what I really want is financial independence, so that I don’t have to be dependent on anyone and make my own life. Therefore, from this point, defining the role of money in my life and how I can use it wisely seems like a priority.
First of all, I have to think what the role of money is to me and what it means to have enough of it throughout my life journey. It is obvious that money gives you more freedom, but real question here is “what kinds of freedom do I want to get?”. To make it clearer, I got to consider what are the things that are important and meaningful to me, because that is something what I want to pursue for the rest of my life. For me money is a great tool to make responsible and conscious consumption, possibly as conveying messages to big corporations. Likewise, I believe I can make the world better through my consumption. But most of the time sustainable and vegan lifestyle is more expensive than the ones which aren’t. Hence, having enough money for me means that being able to afford making more sustaible choices that are align with my values.
Secondly, how I can use money wisely. It is mostly related to reasonable consumption behavior, but on top of that, it is about how I make a donation. When it comes to donation, I learned that it doesn’t have to be a big amount of money. For example, last year I held a flea market with old clothes which were supposed to go to the bin, and I could sell clothes in a very cheap price to people who might need them. I was able to make 100 euros and donated profit to an organization named “Seoul Animal Save”. Even though it was small amount of money, I felt achieved and empowered from this experience. It shows using money wisely means feel the power of money, and in this case, it was supporting this organization which will help bringing more awareness of Veganism to more people.
In conclusion, after reading this book, the point of view how I see and think of money has changed a lot. Reminding my past relationships with money was beneficial, and it made me able to realize how I should see this tool “money” in my life. It became clearer what I want to do with my money and how I can use it more wisely from now on. It can be a great, but actually indispensable tool to pursue the life that I want.
-Annie Nova 2020. It’s a scary time financially.
-Jeon Seong Su, Yang dong il. 2012. Chavrusa, Economic education of Jewish