Sometimes my friends lament to me how difficult it is to get a peer they cared about a lot, to get their money shit together.
The difficulty is that, it is difficult to motivate them, when they are doing very well.
My answer to them is that of course its difficult to motivate them because I don’t even know how to persuade them myself.
However, when I reflect upon this problem, I think its damn challenging to tell people to save up some emergency fund if they cannot understand how their beautiful life can become not so beautiful. How they could failed in their career with in demand skill set and energy. And why do we need to put away money and plan for an event that is 40 years away.
I think, more than a positive aspiration, we all have an inner insecurity about making massive missteps in our lives.
We do not know what we don’t know we need to know. We cannot see what is coming, until you start seeing the shit that starts happening to the people around you. And you better hope you are in a better situation where you can correct your situation.
So to me, one way to motivate them, is to tell them some of the shit show we are putting up with our lives right now, and ask them, would they suffer the same shit, or do they have a solution for it?
There are a few avatars that I could think of, but the closest one would be something that would befall them if they do not get their money shit together in 10 years.
The most common:
You start seeing the senior managers in your office that have this apathetic attitude towards their work. You look into their eyes and they seemed soul-less yet their body seemed to be still moving on its own. They plateau in their career but they couldn’t take the necessary steps because, they haven’t been interviewing for some time, or feel that they do not have valuable skills to offer in the market place. They get more demoralized by this, and if they wish to try something, they have a mortgage and a vehicle loan to contend with. They are also supporting partially their parents and fully their children.
They are very dependent on their next paycheck and it needs to come. If they got retrench they wonder what they could do. Inside, they really feel like after working for 12 and 15 years in this industry, it feels stale to stayed on. However, everything else just looked so high risk.
Their lives are starting to littered by people they know having health problems, particularly cancer and stroke and this makes them more depressed.
The thing you might not realize is that, a lot of us started off with the same vigor, curiousness, drive and dare I say, confidence you have right now.
And to keep this article short, I have not listed out some other variation, that you might find familiar.
If we get past 10 years in our late thirties, we may have seen relatives, parents of friends who are in a financial or life situation we empathize with. I saw this news of a men who stood outside one of the major bank in Singapore, in busy Raffles Place about his financial situation.
We did not get the full story but what he wrote was that he trusted his wife, who trusted the bank. Instead of his $250,000 growing, it was left with less than $11,200. That is a very crazy fall but the story is that not a lot of investments that are CPF Approved could have lost 95% of its value.
We do not know the full story here, but in my circle, I have heard of similar situations.
You would empathize with these situation and probably feel vulnerable whether one day, you would make a financial misjudgment that would result in something as drastic as this.
So what happen to us then?
Why can’t we be the happy people that appeared in Sunday Times Me and My Money Section?
Observing cases like this, is like looking through what you might go through, in a parallel universe.
I used to follow this show called 12 Monkeys in the US.
It follows the two protagonist James Cole and Dr. Cassandra “Cassie” Railly in their efforts to take advantage of time travel to stop the destructive plans of the enigmatic organization “Army of the 12 Monkeys”. A large part of the show revolves around them solving the mystery of this 12 Monkeys cult, going back into the future to try and stop something, only to come back and see things not changing, or changing for the worse.
Your situation is something like this.
Trying to give yourself a chance and not suffer the same fate as us.
So what are the answers so that you don’t end up being in the same situation?
I think you are in a better situation than Cole and gang because you are young, you see a possible fate for yourself, and frankly your task is not as monumental as stopping a cult and an epidemic.
However, I do think that you have 50% chance of being eventually in the same situation and 50% of averting some of these future fate. This is because some of us will hear what they have to say, and conclude with confidence they have all the ability to not suffer the same fate.
My early 20s as a young adult is driven by 2 very different opposing forces.
On one hand you tend to think that you are smarter than all these old farts that come before you. I thought that I could be more nimble, I am better educated. That I am much better prepared for the technical competencies that I was trained in. Whatever that my seniors warned, I always thought I could do things a little differently.
I won’t do things that were “behind the times”.
This applies to work, but it also applies to wealth management. After you read so much, you get rather big headed.
At the same time, there are those things that I was unsure about. Life starts throwing you some new challenges and suddenly that confident self starts developing some insecurities whether you have your shit together.
I think it is normal for you to have both sort of feeling.
We will be confident. Deep down our confidence gives way to growing insecurities.
Channel News Asia yesterday ran an article talking about inflation pressures in Singapore. In that article, we have some really good examples of money insecurities.
Despite making sure to save about S$1,500 a month, Ms Serynn Guay, 34, still feels a niggling worry that she’s not setting aside enough money for her family’s future needs.
The mother of one is a marketing manager, while her husband manages his own start-up. Together, they live in a five-room flat with her husband’s parents.
Expenses remain manageable and with appropriate budgeting, the family is able to afford a few small luxuries, like an overseas vacation. But further down the road, Ms Guay can’t help but wonder if she will have enough to last through retirement.
One of her worries is “unpredictable” healthcare bills.
“We don’t know how much we’ll need when we’re older … Will we be able to retire comfortably? Will our savings be enough?”
She added: “It’s likely that we’ll continue working for at least the next two decades. Even after my child completes university, we still need to continue saving for retirement and other living expenses.”
These insecurities manifest and thrive because we did not find an answer to them.
A part of the answer is solving the money stuff but a large part is more than that. This goes further than Investment Moats unfortunately.
Books and YouTube can be your mentors in preventing this cruel fate. But talking to your older working peers (instead of just relying on hearsay) would help understand what might have brought them to this point.
The money stuff, is not the be all, end all solution.
As I write this article, I got an emergency call to go back to work at 12 midnight. I got back at 3 AM to finish up this article. There are aspects of the job that will absolutely grind you down slowly, and we all struggled with. However, I can assure you, your future self will thank you for getting your money shit together, because you eliminate many of those problems, leaving only those problems that cannot be solved easily by money.
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