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"Compared to anger and fear, shame is 1,000 times worse."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

UPDATE (30 Dec 16):
If we are prepared, we need not fear the big bad letter "R".

"About 120 employees from Toyota agent Borneo Motors and Suzuki agent Champion Motors will be retrenched in the coming weeks, in one of the largest downsizing exercises to hit the local motor industry. 

Their parent company, vehicle distribution giant Inchcape, is restructuring its operations here. The cohort represents 12 per cent to 14 per cent of Inchcape's headcount in Singapore. 

The latest retrenchments come amid a gloomy economic outlook."
Source: The Straits Times.


This is a very touching letter from a new reader. I edited the letter before publishing it. 

However, I tried to keep the original tone and definitely the content:

Dear AK,

I am a father of 3. They are 16, 14 and 10 years old. I was retrenched last year and felt very bitter towards the company. Being retrenched at 48 and with a family to feed is no joke.

That bitterness became fear with passing time. How was I going to support my family? My wife tried to find work too in those months but having been out of the workforce for so many years, she was unable to find suitable employment.

Bills still had to be paid. Our savings were used up quickly and I had to borrow money from our families to meet expenses. It was shameful.

Compared to anger and fear, shame is a thousand times worse.

I was going crazy. I was about to break down. I thought of killing myself.

My children are the reason why I was able to continue living and I finally found employment two months ago. It pays one third less than my previous job but I am grateful that the months of not knowing how to provide for my family are over for now. 

When I visited my younger brother last month to return some of the money I borrowed from him, we had a long talk.

I told him I was angry and fearful. 

He asked if I was still angry. 

He asked if I was still fearful. 

I told him that I no energy to be angry anymore but I will always be fearful.

He gave me a few suggestions and he referred me to your blog. He has been following your blog.
AK, you opened up my eyes! 

I read all the blog posts I could find on personal finance in your blog. I did not waste time on the blog posts on investment because I am not ready for that.

I did save some money but I did not plan. Now, I know I have to save for:

1. An emergency fund - 24 mths of expenses.

2. Topping up my CPF - for my retirement.

My salary is lower now and I have to return money borrowed from families. 

I know I don't really have a choice and I am prepared to work till I am 65 when I have a monthly allowance from my CPF like you said in your blog. 

All my children should be independent then.

My retrenchment is probably a good lesson for my children. 

They saw how it got me badly. I hope they remember. 

My eldest is reading your blog too because he got interested when I explained to him.

By sharing my story, I hope that others will avoid the bad feelings I had when I was retrenched.



If we had an umbrella handy, we wouldn't have to fear the rain and we wouldn't be angry because we got drenched.

(If someone could help me decipher the Chinese phrase accurately, please do, because Google Translate isn't very helpful.)

Related posts:
1. Don't depend on wage increases...

2. Best insurance to have in life...
3. Emergency fund...
4. Too late to plan at age 57?
5. Retirement adequacy (CPF Life).


Unknown said...

my chinese and english equally bad. but i try . it means he look to u as example and learn from u

Siew Mun said...

When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine your own self. See if you will do the same things as the NOT SO GOOD guy.

inwe annare said...

见贤思齐焉: on seeing a man of virtue, learn to be the same as him(should be)

Passive Income Farmer said...

Let me try: When you see a worthy man, you think of becoming his equal.

Perhaps very difficult to becoming your equal. Haha.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Since I thick-skinned and not afraid to look foolish, here goes:


Its from Confucius.

见贤思齐焉 - Meet person of virtue aspire to be like him.

见不贤而内自省也 - If we not fortunate to meet such persons, do self-reflections.

Here's my Singlish translation. Don't spill your coffee!

See good people you copy him! No find then own self check own self!

AK71 said...

Wow! So fast! So many! Kamsiah to all of you. :)

OK, I am not a big fan of Confucius. I only know he said something about women are small people and difficult to feed... Something like that.

Ouch! Who threw a shoe at me? Who? Who? -.-"

STE said...

Hi AK, one more from Confucius ..三人行必有我师焉”.. Haha

AK71 said...


So, to increase the chances of learning, we should have 3 teachers per classroom at any one time? Don't laugh. I am trying hard here. -.-"

STE said...

HI AK, it roughly mean " in anytime , if there are 3 person walking together ...there will be one of them could be our teach " ..or means we always could learn from someone on something regardless of their background or experience ... Cheers !

AK71 said...


That makes a lot more sense than my interpretation. Kamsiah you plenty plenty. ;)

anon said...

Hi AK,
You know you are an influencer when readers are willing to pay to spend time with you .... when readers write in with heartfelt appreciation for your wise counsel through your blog.
Keep it up and thank you.

AK71 said...

Hi jojo,

Thank you so much for the very encouraging comment.

I appreciate it very much. :)

Sillyinvestor said...

Hi AK,

All the "negatives" that come with your "celebrity blogger" status is now worth it.

Giving one hope is the best gift one can possibly give


Candy188 said...

Would like to share similar phrases from 第子规 (Standard of being a good student and child):

见人善 即思齐
When you see others do GOOD deeds, think about FOLLOWING their example.

纵去远 以渐跻
Even though your own achievements are still far behind those of others, you are getting closer.

见人恶 即内省
When you see others do WRONG, immediately REFLECT upon yourself.

有则改 无加警
If you have made the same mistake, CORRECT it.
If not, be extra cautious NOT to make the same mistake.

victorlsl1 said...

this is a common scenario for many Singaporeans whose life can be thrown into chaos by an unfortunate combination of events. but 24 mths of emergency funds looks excessive

AK71 said...

Hi Mike,

I have a Chinese saying too!


OK, not as elegant or classical but still full of wisdom. ;)

But I am glad that something good has come out of me being 肥. I am a pig. ;p

AK71 said...

Hi Candy,

Is this similar to 三字经?

Thanks for sharing the words of wisdom here. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Victor,

As we grow older, unless we have other sources of income, having a bigger emergency fund is actually quite prudent. I have a blog post on this. :)

Sillyinvestor said...

Hmm... Thought u say u slim down?

Of u mean your dividends "figuratively" very fat? Hahaha ok just kidding

AK71 said...

Hi Mike,

I think my dividends are slimming down too. I will blog about this when I report 1H2016 income from my investments.

I think I am still 肥 but not as 肥 as before and in more ways than one. ;p

AK71 said...

redponza said...
Hi AK and other fellows,
I am in HK, maybe the situation is different but is retrenchment for middle aged really that common nowadays in Singapore?

Maybe I am just young (early 30s), sometimes naive and do not understand :)

By the way, I think as an employee, there are 2 ways to prevent retrenchment:
1. do so good of work and build so good of a reputation that you are the one who can pick employers etc because they need you more than you need them
2. consistently stay underpaid so that you are doing more work than pay

AK said...
Hi redponza,
Always good to have a plan. Sounds like you have one.
However, we should be prepared for the day our plan fails. ;)

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