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All of us have gone through a period in our lives where we have all kinds of wishes we can possibly imagine.
One thing I’ve realized about myself is that my wants and needs tend to change as I age.
At the age of 30, I want to have a happy family with a loving husband and healthy children, an established career, and a good financial status.
I have become more realistic in assessing and working towards what I want out of life instead of trying to reach for the moon.
However, when I was young (aged 1-17), I had gone through phases where my desires for certain things were so strong that they occupied my thoughts and drove my actions on a daily basis.
Today, I will share with you the five things I wished I had when I was little but no longer do at the present.
1. An unlimited supply of candy and snacks
I grew up in a low-income family in Vietnam and came to America at the age of 18 for college.
When I was living with my parents, their priority was to put real food, not snacks or desserts, on the table.
My mom just bought the basic foods such as rice, veggies, tofu, pork bones, and pork for our lunch and dinner.
The meat was usually marinated in a lot of salt so that it could last longer.
Sometimes my parents would buy a whole chicken for the family on special occasions. Even then, the chicken was supposed to last our family of four for at least four meals.
For me, having snacks at that time was such a luxury since my parents rarely bought them.
If American kids love Cheeze-it, chips, and cupcakes for snacks, my favorites at the time were beef jerky, dried plums, and seasoned instant noodles.
I remember a lot of those snacks were marked as made in China.
My best friend at the time was from a better-off family in the neighborhood and was willing to share her snacks with me.
I always told myself that one day I would buy beef jerky and all the fancy candy I wanted.
Now: As time went by, I realized that one reason why my parents didn’t buy a lot of snacks was because they are unhealthy (besides the lack of money).
When my parents started doing better financially later on in their lives, my dad still forbid me from eating beef jerky in Vietnam since it wasn’t sanitary.
Due to the lack of food safety regulations and enforcement in Vietnam, a lot of beef jerky is made in sordid condition and is often made from pork or other kinds of meat instead of beef.
As I educate myself about the health benefits of snacks, I have to agree with my dad. Although I can now afford to eat snacks every day, I just don’t. It is not a good use of my hard-earned money and is not a healthy food choice.
2. A toy house
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a toy house at our home.
It would have the basic features of a home such as a door, a window, a bed, a table, and a chair.
I would live in it while parents could continue living in our real house.
In the US, you can now find a used toy house at a garage sale for a few dollars.
However, Vietnam in the 1990s was still a poor country.
Toy houses were not even advertised on TV because they were so rare.
I would think about having my tiny toy house often and made do with a substitute: a toy house made from a big umbrella covered in a thin blanket and scarves. That was the symbol of my dream house before the age of 10.
Now: I have seen a lot of pretty toy houses for sale in the US. Whenever I see them, the childhood dream in me awakens and makes me wonder if I should buy it to make up for my poor childhood.
However, I need to think about the lack of space at our house and the fact that it is not a necessity in order not to make such purchase. If I have a daughter one day, she will get her own toy house (most likely from a yard sale). I want to give her what I didn’t have when I was her age.
At the age of 30, I realized the importance of investment and the value rental properties can add to my long-term wealth. And that is my next goal: buying a rental property after our primary residence is paid off.
Related: How We Bought Our First Home
3. Fancy toys
When I was little, I dreamed of having Barbie dolls, a toy kitchen, and lots of toy cooking utensils.
I used to have a 1-2 set of basic toy bowls, plates, and pots which I greatly enjoyed.
They were among the cheapest at the store. And it took a lot of convincing for my parents to agree to get them for me.
Whenever I went to the store, however, I would look at the more fancy toys and wished that one day they could be mine.
Now: I now have a whole full kitchen and all the real cooking utensils to myself.
But I do not enjoy cooking one bit. For me, it’s more of a chore than a passion. I cook because I don’t want myself and my family to starve.
Fancy toys for a grown adults nowadays are gadgets such as Iphone, Ipad, and fancy laptops. Those are necessary for many people. But I am fine with not owning them.
4. Lots of new clothes
I didn’t have a lot of clothes growing up. When I was in middle school, I remember having three t-shirts, two pairs of pants, a jacket, two sweaters, and a few pairs of socks with holes in them.
I got a lucky break in 8th grade when my was growing and could fit into my aunt’s old clothes. I was super happy whenever my aunt gave me her old clothes. It was old to her but brand-new to me.
I told myself that when I made money one day, I would go to a store and pick whatever I wanted without looking at the price. I would buy fancy dresses and cute tops that I could only dream of or saw in magazines and TV.
Now: I did go through some phases in my life where I bought clothes that were not particularly cheap. However, I realized that such purchases only made me happy for a couple of days.
After that, my life regained its balance. I either didn’t think much about those pretty dresses anymore or reverted to wearing the simple and cheap clothes that made me comfortable.
It was the lack of money that prevented me from having fancy clothes when I was little. Now it is the desire to save money and grow my wealth that tells me expensive clothes are not necessary.
Some of the outfits I wear the most are among the cheapest and oldest clothes that I have.
5. Rich parents
I went to high school with well-off kids in Vietnam and always felt out of place. My high school classmates had rich, powerful, and well-educated parents.
My parents, on the other hand, never went to college and had low-paying jobs. I had no privileged life to share with my classmates and couldn’t relate to their stories. I was different from them.
I never told my parents, but I used to wish that they were wealthy and better educated just like what my classmates’ parents were.
I could then fit in so much better and never had to hesitate whenever someone asked me what my parents did for a living and saw them glaze over once they heard the answer. I wanted so badly to fit in and change the reality I had to face.
Now: Although my parents are not wealthy, they have done their best their whole life to give me the best things they can ever afford: love, care, a good education, and so much more.
I was born to my parents. Nothing and no one can change that fact. What can change, however, is my attitude towards the reality.
I come from a poor family, but it shouldn’t be the reason why I should stop trying to have a better financial future for myself and my family.
Growing up poor has taught me the importance of money and frugality. Those are the valuable lessons that will benefit me for the rest of my life.
There are times when I think about what I wanted during my childhood and find it amusing that I no longer want them today. It might be because I’m older now so I no longer want a toy house or a toy kitchen.
It might be because the grass is always greener on the other side. I didn’t have money back then, but now I do and realized money is not as magical as I thought it was. It might be that our priorities, wants, and needs change with time depending on what stage we are in our life.
However, I am glad that I no longer feel sad for not owning or being able to afford something as I used to. I can now work hard, save up, invest, and put my hard-earned money towards something that will benefit not only me but also my family.