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Why Asians Don't Like Spending Money




I hate dirty floors. I hate the damn dust bunnies that wills itself into existence. I hate the dustpan line that lingers after I sweep. I get “swept” into an existential crisis every time I try to sweep that never ending dustpan line.


And as of this year, I will never have to deal with that again. Because I bought a Roomba. Spent about $300 for it. Essentially, I paid $300 to never have to sweep my floors again. But it was so much more.


I Went Against My Asian Immigrant Instincts


I’m sure you’re familiar with this. As Asian immigrants, we don’t spend money on frivolous things like a Roomba. I mean, $300?! My mom would have a fit!


As immigrants, we grow up learning that money is tight. And we spent inordinate amounts of our time making sure lights are turned off, hoarding old plastic containers and plastic bags, penny-pinching for the best grocery prices, and rushing to get gas when prices go down one cent.


Our family is fighting tooth and nail to save every penny, just to make ends meet. But even after our financial situations improved, we kept this mindset, because we have become emotionally attached to it. After all, we see these behaviours as survival.


I recall a time when I spent about $200 to get a poster framed by professionals. When my mom found out, she asked me, “How did you do that?”


How I did it was simple. I took the poster to the shop and paid them to frame it. But she wasn’t asking that. She was asking me how I was able to make the decision to spend $200 on it.


Well, I saved up for it. I also worked hard on my mindset to allow myself to be intentional, and purchase the things that I truly, truly wanted.


Being Intentional with Your Life


Being intentional with your life requires a mindset shift. But even deeper than that, is actually dealing with the emotions that comes up.


And it wasn’t easy for me. It took me YEARS to slowly learn to prioritize my needs and desires. It took slow, deliberate decision-making on small things. Then slowly making changes on bigger things.


It took all that practice and reflection, before I was able to say to myself, “Harry, you hate sweeping. But you want clean floors. So show up for yourself! Get a Roomba, to remove this pain from your life!”


And still, a whole lot of swirling thoughts came up. What if the Roomba didn’t work? Is it worth it if I don’t buy the top-of-the-line Roomba? Would I be able to keep my floors uncluttered to allow the Roomba to sweep? Can I even afford it?


All these thoughts were creating doubt and fear in me. But the doubt and fear were familiar…it comes up whenever I am deviating from my childhood-mindset-programming. And the doubt and fear were a good indication that I’m challenging that programming. And I’m due for a program update.


And when I really reflected on things, I still really hated sweeping with a fiery passion, and I still really wanted clean floors. So I did it. I bought it. And I waited eagerly for its delivery.


How the Roomba Changed My Life


First and foremost, the ease of mind. I was no longer beating myself up for not sweeping. I no longer had the constant nagging thoughts that I had this annoying task to do. It almost felt like a corner of my brain was freed up from my self-criticism, guilt, and annoyance. I never expected the Roomba to be cleaning my brain from these dust bunnies of thoughts!


The Roomba also improved my health in very strange ways. Cleaner floors meant I do yoga and stretches more often. I also felt more comfortable to stop wearing slippers at home. When I walk with slippers, I drag my feet. This screws up my walking posture, which contributes to my backpain. I replaced the slippers with house socks…more cozy, and better for my back.


I also named my Roomba, Levy Ackerman. This is a character from Attack on Titan who is always cleaning. I find that small things, like naming things around my house, makes me happy. All my plants and stuffs animals have names. Try it out yourself, it’s fun, and it helps you feel just a tad bit more connected!


Things Aren’t Perfect, But You Learn to Find Solutions


There is a glitch with these Roombas…it has network connection problems. When this happens, it wouldn’t clean on the days that I schedule it to clean.


I’ve kind of figured out the problem. The little corner that I put the charging dock is a tight space, and sometimes, the Roomba doesn’t dock properly. It charges, but for some reason, it screws up the network connection.


I spoke with customer support, and there’s not much I could do about it. I don’t really have another spot I can put the Roomba. So my solution? Manually press the “start” button on the Roomba before I leave my home, to have it clean while I am out. It’s not ideal, but it’s the easiest solution to the problem.


And this, again, is a mindset thing. If things don’t work out perfectly, you might be tempted to think to yourself, “See, nothing in life ever works out! That’s why I shouldn’t change how I do things!”


But instead, you can think of it as, “Things didn’t work out perfectly, but it’s still better than before. I’m making incremental change. And I can trust myself to find a solution when things don’t pan out the way I want it to.”



What is one thing in your life that annoys you to no end? Do a bit of brainstorming. And think to yourself, what is a childhood-mindset-programming that you have, that stops you from addressing this annoyance? Maybe you’re also due for a program update yourself!


Hopefully, this reflection spurs you to make a change, and resolve this problem!


Hey there, my name is Harry, and I’m an Asian therapist here to support your search for health and authenticity. If you are open to weekly self-care FUN-ctivities, subscribe to my “Happy Chemicals Club.” If you enjoy podcasts, you can check these out.



Harry Au

Therapy for Asians

MSW, RSW | he/him



I help Asians go from feeling trapped to becoming self-liberated.

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