The second aspect of personal finance I would like to talk about today is the idea of saving money. Saving money lacks the complexity of finding ways to earn more money because it is largely something which is within a person's control. The financial blogosphere is replete with ideas on how to save your money and I shall not repeat them here in this article.
Some bloggers have become successful by tracking their meticulous expenses either using a new-fangled app or an old fashioned note-book. Others blogs have great advice on cutting personal expenses but it all revolves around the concept of downgrading - finding a cheaper alternative to a goods purchase. And it can all be very effective. Downgrading from Starbucks coffee to Kopitiam Kopi-O kosong can save $5-$10 a day.
There are some hard truths that we bloggers have to personally confront when we talk about saving money :
a) Only conscientious people can save more.
The bulk of folks who benefit from savings advice are the folks who are already conscientious which covers the bulk of the readership of this blog. The question arises as to how to deal with unconscientious readers or folks who are likely to benefit the most from saving more money. Beyond getting a loved one to actually force them into an automated savings programs, most of us do not have a workable solution to this problem.
Sometimes it takes a huge personal setback to get a person to wake up their ideas and change their lifestyle.
For my generation, it may be too late.
b) People are fascinated with the YOLO philosophy
The lives of a financial blogger is, frankly, only inspiring to other financial bloggers.
We seldom put up exciting pictures of us posing next to a perfect sunset or eating exotic seafood or a mountain of roast beef. Even though I kinda like my current lifestyle, pictures of mountains of legal textbooks can be depressing to a large segment of the population.
I think cracking the savings puzzle is to find a way to defuse the YOLO philosophy. The idea that you only live once and you should enjoy your life while you can is very attractive compared to a philosophy of always delaying gratification.
My only advice is to get the younger folks to stop observing other younger folks and start observing the 40-something year olds like me. Study the folks in my generation like an anthropologist. Take notes and learn from the mistakes made by my generation. Because it is only in your 40s when the corporate world deems you too expensive for your obsolete skills.
When you study Gen-X :
- Who were the cool dudes and the attractive fly boys who always lead interesting lives that is full of variety ?
- Who is always "happening" and can be found in Zouk on Mambo Wednesdays ?
- Do these subjects have jobs today ?
- Are they slaving for their mortgages and become middle-aged uncles who are constantly being pushed around by other life priorities ?
- Are they struggling to support their kids and their parents ?
Ask them about the time when they were in 20s.
Get them to regale you with their tales of derring-do from their younger days of "Chionging" their watering holes.
Ask them about Fire Disco, China Black and Devil's Bar.
Ask them about BigO magazine, The Mighty Lemon Drops, Lizard's Convention
Ask them about Nirvana and the grunge movement.
Ask them about slacking at Newton hawker centre or the Esplanade.
For some, there are very fond memories.
For other's, they are the glory days which will never be repeated amidst the modern pressures of being the sandwiched generation.
In my generation, there will be winners and there will losers. Sometimes, winners can turn into losers. Other times, losers bloom into winners.
Study them carefully, then make a decision on how precious your YOLO philosophy is.