Monday, May 11, 2015

Of course, most folks do not care about personal financial planning !

The financial blogosphere is suddenly abuzz when Cheerful Egg wrote about the indifferent attitude to personal finance.  Upon reading the article. I wanted to throw my hat into the ring as the article may become quite viral over the next few days.

I have only one real point to make.

Why is this a bad thing ?

Almost all value and yield investors know that the profits they extract come either from collecting rentals or exploiting inefficiencies of the market. The reason why we have a comfortable lifestyle without needing to report to a horrible boss or defer to a tyrant is because our investment profits provide that kind of lifestyle for us, and that we spent years honing our investment abilities to provide that level of security for our loved ones.

Of course, if we do not give a damn about the investing public, the existence of financial bloggers who share their insights for free would be paradoxical and a contradiction in terms.

So why do I care ?

It's simple.

I grew up as a geek.

Many of the rich kids in my landed estate and even my secondary school used to bully me because I was socially awkward, rode imitation BMX bikes, and played Dungeons and Dragons. I probably wasn't hip right until graduation.

The fear we geeks have is this - If society does not find a way to reward knowledge and skilled application of theories, we geeks will find our adulthood as unwelcoming as our childhood.  

My blog and the books I publish is not easy to read because I believe that knowledge is power.

Financial independence should not be bought from private bankers simply because somebody comes from a dynastic line of billionaires. I certainly know my childhood bullies will be using their wealth to gain an edge and make the rich-poor gap wider. That idea makes me absolutely furious and I need to find ways to fight back.

For financial independence, from a geek perspective, you must pay the iron price.

You pick up the arcane equations, set up your own brokerage accounts and risk your capital. In the meantime, you learn about the world around you and what kinds of loopholes exist in this universe.

If we apply this geek vision to the rest of the world, not everyone deserves finance independence.

Some deserve to max out their credit cards so that the folks who invest in the banks can have a shot at early retirement. At the end of the day, the conscientious and hardworking folks should rightfully triumph over the lazy poseurs who lack the willpower to save.

It is these folks that us pro-bono financial bloggers want to share our ideas with. For me, I don't care what rich kid snob school you come from - save 50% of your income and invest it and odds are good you'll be a free man before you hit 45. Along the way, we bloggers will provide you guidance from social sciences, the humanities to make your transition to wealth as smooth as possible.

And to the rest of the blogosphere, I have one piece of advice.

People do care - When you succeed, it generates so much cognitive dissonance that they want to know why you won the money game when they haven't.

When I got featured in the Straits Times for becoming financially independent in my thirties, you should have seen the kind of hate that was directed at me in the local message forums. Many of these guys don't even know me as person. But I know that ultimately, as a geek, I knew that I succeeded in getting under their skin by using my rigorous engineering skills in developing my personal finances.

So don't say that people do not care about financial planning.

People do care and they will hate you when you finally reach the point where you don't have to work voluntarily for anyone anymore.

So my final message to financial bloggers is this :

Be a Troll !

Misappropriate the cultural norm of your audience. Find a way to subvert their morality on what is success and happiness.

A cultural norm is that a man in his thirties and forties should be struggling under the heels of a tyrannical boss and paying mortgages.

Now subvert that.

Become financial independent yourself.

Be no one's slave.

Next, you challenge their very notions of hard work and offer them a means to be exactly like you.

Rich is karma neutral.

The whole world will have no choice but to listen to what you have to say.


  1. It's like living in a pride of caveman. Your fellow caveman (colleague) wouldn't want to hear you constantly beating the financially independent drum or even worse, succeed in building a f you stash.

    Because of a 'whyyy you think you're better than me?' mentality?

    The main reason why the general public feels indifferent towards personal finance, be it in the topics of financial independence and early retirement, or in the concepts of value investing, is that the road to this requires decision making that involves 'sacrifice' and delayed gratification, that is hard to find in such a society plagued by consumerism.

    But hey we need some folks to buy shit so they can generate our passive income no? :)

  2. Thank you for coming by my blog !

    Yes, I think my fellow bloggers should not be too discouraged by the indifference of our fellow citizens.

    They are already on the right track. One day when they finally have the courage to declare their retirement, a lot of "well-wishers" would be contacting quietly for help.

  3. I want to read the report on you. where is the link?

  4. hi christopher,

    i think this phenomenon is only natural.

    the wealth of most singaporeans is determined greatly by the value of his house, his human capital (job) and kids (which behave like annuities).

    thus, with the limited time these are the items he focuses his effort on. after that, its probably time to sleep.

  5. Ahhh John,

    But our lives are made colorful not by the average Singaporean, but by the average archetypes that we encounter on social media.

    The "basic bitch" wants to tell everyone she is doing yoga and eating Eggs Benedict, but we are all curious about her complicated relationship status.

    The "basic bro" wants to espouse the philosophy that alcoholism is normality, Manchester United is a religion, and also loves showing off their line of designer brand watches.

    We finance-types find it really economical to reduce our fellow citizens into a statistic but ultimately the folks who are shopping for new ideas want things which they can relate to on a daily basis.

    So when we troll our audience, make sure we talk about the "basic bitch" or the "blowfish bro".

    Chances are someone would have a friend like that on FB.