I don’t mean “how to be financially free” – that topic is better reserved for life coaches, finance gurus and motivational speakers. I’d like to talk about how to have more confidence in your financial status.
Modern living causes money to become as necessary and as basic a life support as food, water and wifi. So it is normal people worry a lot about money. I do too.
Sometimes, we are so enslaved to money that we do things we are not comfortable with. Sometimes we do things we are very unhappy with.
The idea is this: build yourself safety nets, lots of them. Here are a few ideas.
Be proficient in a second skill
Many a times, people worry about being retrenched or terminated. I say, build up enough skills, be valuable – that is the best buffer against being shown the door (and to negotiate for better salary). Even if you have to leave your job, your skills are one of the most valuable assets the next employer will want to pay for.
Build a skill by doing something you really love. Don’t be concerned with learning something that “pays”. Let money follow the skill, not the other way around. Be a professional, volunteer your skills – invest your time and money now to build this for long term gains.
Capitalise on your skills now?
In Singapore, employers frown upon secondary freelance work and call it “moonlighting”. I’d like to say that this does not have to be so. Already this country is facing a labour crunch, companies could source for skills from people who are in employment.
If one can manage his/her time responsibly, I feel that it should be encouraged.
If there is a new income source, it helps to alleviate financial worries of an employee. It also helps sharpen entrepreunal skills, a skill so desperately needed in any company wishing to grow.
Don’t fall into the “victim mentality” trap
If you have decided that you are victimised, cornered and restricted from doing something, then yours will be a very difficult life to live. Even before going ahead to start a project, you’ve already built mental barriers for yourself: no time, no money, past failures, government hates me, everything is difficult. How to proceed?
“Blame” and the victim mentality is a dangerous disease that can entrap you into living a mediocre life for as long as you will live. It dashes hope and kills projects even before you proceed.
If there is something you want to do, don’t seek excuses, begin it.
Read, learn and don’t wait for a “purpose” to progress in your skills. Schools and certificates are good, but not entirely necessary. Pick up a book, fire up google – learn something new even if this something new does not seem like it is relevant to anything you do in your life.
Progress in your work and then you will progress in your wages.
Invest, insure and live inexpensively
Put your money into good investments as early as you can. Make buying property a savings goal. Buy insurance to provide you some assurance of an unknown future. And how will you fund all these? Live modestly. (But don’t spend like a scrooge, you’re still human and need to live like one)
Understand that CPF will not be sufficient
The money deducted from your salary each month is yours and is not going anywhere. So you don’t have to worry about it disappearing. It is there to fund your hospital bills, it is there to fund basic retirement living. It is there as a buffer against the worst of scenarios in your life.
What you do need to think about, is that even though interest is paid by the CPF Board, it does not keep up with the rate of inflation (which normally is about 4% a year).
But you can use your CPF money for investments (stocks, funds, property) so consider putting it to work.
Make lots of friends
Your networks are an important source of opportunities and security. New jobs, new prospects, new businesses flow in from the people around you. However, don’t see your friends as cashcows – meet people without agenda and know people for the sake of making friends. Life is more fun to live with people around you.
Don’t make a fool of yourself on the internet
…and after you make lots of friends, the best way to lose them is with drama on Facebook. Also, did you know that employers and business partners are likely to search for you on the internet and find out who you are and what you do?
Say yes to opportunities
Have you read the book “Yes Man”? The book written by Danny Wallace, not the movie by Jim Carrey. The story is all about a BBC journalist who went on the extreme and made a little pact with himself to say “yes” to everything comes his way. The point is, the more you do not shut doors to opportunity, no matter how small or irrelevant they may be, the more unknown doors you open!
Yes, calm down. The labour market in Singapore is very tight. If you lose a job today, you’ll quite likely be hired again pretty soon – that is assuming your attitude and skills are in the right place.
This is also why I believe the economics of a country has to be strong. With money and business in a country, we are in a better position to help the various other slices of society, whichever percentile it may be.
Take your time, build your investments, don’t spend like a maniac and acquire a few more skills. With safety nets like this deployed in your life, you can go about living with more confidence in your financial well being.