The Shanghai Supposition: Better Choices=More Choices=Better Experiences
I’m in Shanghai, China on a business trip right now, (read working vacation) and in my time away from working at the Jin Mao tower, which is nestled in the Lujiazui section of the Pudong district, an area that makes Manhattan look like Des Moines (No disrespect to Iowa), I again discovered the wonders of a favorable exchange rate.
When I visited a local tailor during a rare break, I bought three tailored dress shirts made of Egyptian and Sea Island cotton, designed by me, configured to my exact bodily dimensions and all for a paltry equivalent of $40 each. In Beverly Hills, or even Macy’s I’m paying maybe $500 each for such shirts if I’m lucky and catch a sale. I won’t even mention the criminal discounts I got on one-of-a-kind teas and items for the family.
But this isn’t about extravagance at the expense of a slightly weaker currency. Nor is it about my insatiable taste for fine haberdashery. I already went there in one of my past posts. This is about the $16, 30-mile train rides, the 28-cent round trip subway rides and the $10 five-star, three-course meals. It’s about discovering something new and about frugality and the ridiculous American mark-ups I experience at home.
So I got to thinking, what if I just shopped for my clothing and fine wines in China, or in Malaysia or in Hong Kong or in Prague? What if I saved my money on luxury items and entertainment expenses stateside and created a travel savings account? People have health savings accounts, money market savings accounts. Why not a life experience account? We all know that if I curbed unnecessary shopping here, made different choices about outings to the movies or fine dining or mark ups on exotic ingredients for dishes at home, that I could save a lot of money and gain a lot of goods, time, and experiences money can’t buy.
People I know always use the excuse that they can’t travel because they can’t afford it. Well, I’m here to tell you: with anything it just takes planning. If you plan it out, stretch your expenses, book passage and accommodations on the Pricelines, the TravelZoos, the Otel.com and the Cheapoair.com’s of the world, you too can buy Bordeaux Rouge for $6 or look upon the splendor of the Huangpu River and take a deep breath.
As I espouse in these posts again and again, it’s not about what you spend or don’t spend that helps you build wealth or create a quality and standard of living that you enjoy, it’s about choices. After this eye-opening trip, I may never again visit Nordstrom or any of the overpriced boutiques or wine shops. If I told you what I spent on these items you’d have to kill me. Savings are good, eating out is good. Going to Macy's isn't bad. But no one wants to die having never left the town they were reared in and nobody wants to live their lives through other people's travel anecdotes either.
I'm not saying come over here and go nuts or get rich by saving to fly 8,000 miles to shop; nor am I saying waste your money buying cheap goods in a foreign country. What I'm saying is that experience is something you can't buy!
BTW, General Tso is known over here as a war hero and not a spicy delicious chicken dish.