Money and friendship

I recently travelled to Bali with a fellow camp attendee. I thought the way money was handled was ideal.

If we look around us, we notice so many friendships; marriages; business and parent-child relationships all get destroyed by disagreements about money.

I decided to document this experience so that I can remember the principles behind it.

That way I can replicate the success for future experiences and in my personal relationships.

During our recent trip, my friend took on the role of paying for everything upfront first.

When settling expenses, here were three good principles which guided everything.


Both of us did not ask about line item breakdown or even for receipts. He simply calculated the total and divided it by two. I was quite sure that I had selected for some more expensive items during the course of the journey.


On the last day, he had to do an important call in the airport. Hence, I was handling the payment at the cafe as I did not want the waiter to interrupt him. I decided to treat him out of good will. In return, I was also pleasantly surprised when he waived the GoJek/Grab fees for the entire trip.


He transferred me $51 as he forgot to factor in that I had paid for White Water Rafting. If he did not tell me, I would not even know since I did not have the line item breakdown. I really do not take integrity for granted.

The way people handle money, can tell you a lot about their values and principles. I am glad we share a similar set of values in this instance.

This experience also validated my hypothesis that traveling with someone can help you find out so much about a person from the way they communicate and handle disagreements; how well organized they are and how they manage money.

I recall also becoming much closer to another friend after we went to Turkey together earlier this year.

Felt like I left the trip with more respect for both of them and 10/10 will travel together again.

Lessons from Anthony Bourdain Biography ‘Down and out in Paradise’

Anthony Michael Bourdain was a popular American celebrity chef, author, and travel documentarian.

He seemed to have it all: charisma and poise; a dream job where he could travel the world; a beautiful family, and international fame.

The reality, though, was more complicated than it seemed.

In 2018, he committed suicide by hanging using a belt from his hotel bathrobe to end his life. He was 61 years old.

My long time friend, Jeremy Au, recently summarised some of his key learnings from his biography.

Some key takeaways

1. Relationships are not optional

"The big factor for why he lost it was because of his success that required him to be in the public eye, but to also travel a lot, not be able to have the same rooting in the local community, to be able to spend personal, in person time with the people that he loved,” Jeremy summarizes.

As a result, due to loneliness, he returned to old habits: prostitution, alcohol and drugs to fill the void.

“What I took away from this is that relationships matter, family matters, investing in friends who like you and want the best for you and that you like them and that you want the best for them. It's not a luxury. It's not optional. It's the daily moment of our lives. ,” Jeremy explains.

This is really true. It reminds me of a piece of life advice that Warren Buffett shared as well

“When you’re nearing your end of life, your only measure of success should be the number of “people you want to have love you actually do love you,”

Warren Buffett

2. Avoid being a public success but private failure

"The second thing I learned was about the dynamic of being a public success and a private failure. This is a phrase that's always resonated with me from my mentors about not being somebody so caught up in a public exterior, but making sure that you also take care of your private world as well…

And so, this makes me reflect a lot on my own dynamics, which is how do I focus not just on my career and my public orientation, but also on my private life to make sure that I'm focusing and investing in the right things, because I would rather be a public failure and a private success rather than a public success and a private failure."

3. Success takes time

“I found it inspiring to hear somebody who wasn't succeeding for many years, but obviously having a decent lifestyle and career by having all those skills that were all in bits and pieces and all the ingredients were there, but reassembled in a different way, a different recipe and allowing him to finally crack and be successful at 43, and then snowball that and have that hockey shape in terms of success.

That's inspiring for people who in their twenties or in their thirties like me because it gives us hope that no matter what age you are, it's a function of self-discovery and exploration and experimentation until something works.”


Does detachment mean you are less happy?

My friend recently asked me for some dating advice: “Jeraldine, you talk about detachment. If you remain detached in relationships, wouldn’t you feel less joy as a result?”

Taoism acknowledges the impermanent nature of all things. We recognize that life is a cycle of birth, growth, decay, and death. We are encouraged to be soft and yielding when it comes to changes in life.

Similarly, in Buddhism, they also believe everything is impermanent, including every relationship in our life. Hence, we should avoid being overly attached to anybody.

Here is my answer:

“Many people mistake the concept of detachment as being distant, putting up barriers and not giving too much. However, that is not true.

In fact, recognizing that things are impermanent, makes us treasure them even more while we have them. We can savour and fully experience moments of joy.

If we know that things are not permanent or what we are entitled to have forever, we value them more and see them as gifts.

For example: We’d be less likely to use our phone when with the people we love since we know the moment is fleeting.

This means we are present, even more mindful and able to experience even more joy in every single moment.

This understanding can also help you come to terms with the inevitability of loss and change.

When we accept that change is part of life, we can turn grief into gratitude.

This is why in my email to my customers when I got let go, I wrote this line “How lucky were we to be able to share and learn from each other for as long as we did.”

If this is a topic of interest to you, you can watch this video on Taoism: How to get drunk on life and Attachment isn’t love

I am a a tech worker and Millennial content creator who shares ideas on how we can accelerate our growth while staying balanced.

Topics I cover include work; money; relationships and balance.

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