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When a YOLO Lifestyle Should be Encouraged in Singapore

The term YOLO gives older folks the worst kind of ideas about young people nowadays. (YOLO stands for You only lived once, which is a philosophy to live that time is precious and you should live every moment as if it is your last)

But then again, older folks will do a lot of YOLO things in their lives such as sleeping with someone other than their wives or husbands. That is not the most responsible thing to do, but… they still do it.

If you have someone in your age group doing that, you have less power to criticize the younger folks.

Why YOLO and F.I.R.E Can Both be Desirable Goals to Pursue in Singapore

In my boss’s seminar or webinar, he would mention that YOLO and FIRE are extreme ends of a spectrum. Being near both ends is not good. Most of us should be encouraged to be somewhere not at the tail ends.

I do agree with what he says mostly, but I think if you have someone who worked extremely hard for 10 years in a consultant job or as a mergers and acquisition investment banker, spending the next 5 years decompressing in a FIRE sense would not be irresponsible.

It would bring some sanity to your life.

What about YOLO?

Are there grounds that YOLO is a responsible pursuit?

I think there could be.

Those that YOLO values their time over money. The time you have now with people, your experiences cannot be bought back, no matter how much money you have in the future.

Joshua Sheats of Radical Personal Finance has this philosophy that you should live a financially independent life before you have the money to be financially independent.

I think this is close to what I would term a responsible form of YOLO.

The sound way to live life is to live one where whether you have money or not, you go through life in a comfortable, satisfied manner.

You would spend on what your family really value. Both your wife and yourself pursue careers that are progressive, pays enough for your efforts, and challenges both of you enough.

When you have excess money, you would allocate them to the areas in life that you value the most. This could be your children, one or two hobbies, family vacations, donation to charity or your faith.

You can let me know if that is a fantasy, but I think if you are able to find such careers, which gives you a balance between work and family, you might be living that financially independent life before you have the money for financial independence.

A Responsible Evolution of YOLO is called Slow-FI in Singapore

There is another name for this kind of lifestyle. Some people called this Slow-FI.

Slow-FI is described as when someone utilizes the incremental financial freedom they gain along the journey to financial independence to live happier and healthier lives, do better work, and build strong relationships.

A slow-fi couple pursues financial independence but they may wish to retire at traditional retirement age or even later. The key for them is to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Some of us chiong all the way to get to a position where our wealth enables us to be financially independent. When we get there, we have no idea what is that ideal life we wish to live.

So I can see the appeal of enjoying the process while you are pursuing financial independence.

And I think Slow-FI is more sustainable for the spirit because, if your money does not build-up, you are already winning by living a good life!

There are many who criticize the F.I.R.E movement because no matter what they do, they cannot see themselves earning $200,000 in combined annual income and having a 50-70% savings rate.

It can get pretty dejecting if you realize that there is this F.I.R.E concept, know the formula to get there, try to execute that formula, and realize after some years of grinding, you are nowhere near.

The best advise that I can give you is to

  1. Work harder, climb higher, so that your wages go up
  2. Learn to live an intentional good life today

Sooner or later, we have to do #2. So maybe we should do it today than wait for when we have the money.

Slow-FI/YOLO in Singapore have 2 Main Problems That you need to take Note Of

The biggest problem with YOLO/Slow-FI is that

  1. People don’t do it in a responsible manner
  2. There are not much safety nets

I think the first one is a bigger problem.

How do you know the life you are living is a sound, responsible, intentional life? Who would you consult if you do not know the way you are living is… closer to more sound or unsound?

People criticise you because they think you are doing reckless, irresponsible things. The issue is that when you are young, you don’t think other people understand the situation you are in, or that you are afraid they will talk you out of it.

Most of us tend to overrate our decision making capabilities.

There are a few solutions to this:

  1. Get better at thinking about these decisions that you have to make. Learn to use what Daniel Kahneman calls System 2 or the slower mode of thought. Learn to look at your decisions as a spectrum of outcomes instead of black and white.
  2. Have a counsel of maybe 3 or 5 friends, mentors who you trust that can you know won’t be just “Yes” friends. They won’t be the type who would always be supportive of what you are doing or always be skeptical about things you do. It would be good that they make up of friends in your circumstances, mentors who are older and have seen more stuff, and since this is a money blog, preferably someone who has a sound financial brain.

The irresponsible YOLO are really the folks who consistently use System 1 modes of thought.

The second problem, the lack of safety net comes up because one of the constant in life is uncertainty.

If you valued time much more over money, and you spend almost every cent that you make, things can turned out OK if there are no hiccups.

But if there are some big hiccups, then you might not have the financial buffers then you might be in some big trouble. Am I being too extreme here? Personally, I do not think so.

During this period, many people are finding out that you can be living your life intentionally and yet overnight, you don’t have projects coming in, your whole industry has collapsed. Even if you would like to hustle, you cannot hustle!

However, I would like to caveat that if you really attained that level of responsible slow-FI life, you would not be in such a situation:

  1. Your conscientiousness to deliver good work have allowed you to earn a good income, and even if after you spend on living a good life, you would have adequate surpluses
  2. As you are good at your work, and people know you do good work, are quite OK to work with, you stand a higher chance to be re-employed again

In other words, YOLO does not mean irresponsible living.

Your surplus and wealth may not mean you could stop work, but for most, you could build up enough financial buffers to get you back on your feet.

If your philosophy is that time cannot be bought back with money, then the way to go is to really find the job you are good at and like to do, be really good at it so that you earn very well.

But I would caution that it is better that good life that you live not climb as fast as your income. If your annual expenses reaches a terminal state, whatever that you have left can be effectively channel to investments to build a longer runway to financial sustainability.

Totally non-related: Yohei Aoki could not connect with his job. So he moved into an abandoned school high up in the mountain area of Japan. He lived in the school alone, spending his time brewing coffee and playing music. The whole surrounding is very picturesque.

Personally, it will creep me out living in such a large, abandon compound on top of the mountain.

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Monday 14th of September 2020

I think Slow-FI is more appealing to me. First of all I already have a family with kids and that limits to what can be realistically cut back to lead a frugal life and how fast I can achieve FIRE. Then the point less talk about is what kind of lifestyle to lead after FIRE. Not everybody is interested pursuing many hobbies or higher calling in life. I for one found it hard to spend all the extra time if I quit my job now. There is also the social fabric in work environment which cant be easily replaced. The Slow-FI on the other hand should provide the option to take career break or switch to part time when needed. One of the trend I am seeing is more parents take turns on career break to spend time with their kids.


Sunday 13th of September 2020

The Japanese guy looks so blessed living in the school on that mountain! I suppose rental is free...He has a roof over his head and gets to run a cafe, a music studio, and a hostel.

It's his ikigai right now.


Monday 14th of September 2020

Hi Sharon, most likely it is free haha. I dunno, I am one who is scared of ghost more than anything.


Sunday 13th of September 2020

Lots of people have been applying for civil service jobs. I think that's where many think will be a good job for Slow-FI. And it can actually be Quick-FI, depending on which ministry/stat board you end up in, as well as performance of course.


Sunday 13th of September 2020

Hi Sinkie, you seem to be an insider to know that. I thought there was a lot of hiring freeze and all haha. I think these jobs might not be what you would term as slow-fi. you have got to enjoy the environment and the culture to call it slow-fi. if you find it bureaucratic then that is not really something sustainable in the long run.


Sunday 13th of September 2020

Some will argue the very act of Retiring Early after achieving Financial Independence is also very YOLO so you have a convergence of two ends of the spectrum.

On the point of living an intentionally good life and enjoying the journey as much as the destination, the Japanese came out with the concept of ikigai. Even after reaching the destination, there are plenty of attractions to visit and enjoy there, so the individual can continue to live his/her intentionally good life and seek their ikigai.


Sunday 13th of September 2020

Hi retirewithfi, thanks for your comments. You are right. Actually both of them are pretty close together. Here is the nuance explanation.

If you focus on your career or your business, and either ends up successful, you might be able to retire early and yet lived a good intentional life. At times, it might be very stressful for yourself but with the money, you could be financially independent early. However, for some others, they start off having this idea that there is a virtual ceiling how much income they could earn. No matter how they try, their income can only be this much. With that in mind, if you would want them to save 50% of their income, it is exceeding difficult if they would like to have two children.

Income is a very important determinant here.

So suppose you cannot save 50% of your income, what could you do? You have to make sure that the life you lived today is really that good life you want and not regret it so much.

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