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UPDATED: "I have no career aspirations, only financial aspirations." (Scolded by wife for thinking about financial freedom.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Reader says:

I am 31 this year. Been working for 7 years and married for 2. 

I have been feeling unhappy at work and discovering your blog a few weeks ago gave me hope. 

I want to get out of the rat race.

My wife is a career woman and we usually have very little time to spend together. 

I am feeling unhappy about this too.

I love my wife and I would like to be able to spend more time together and achieving financial freedom like you would be ideal.

So, a few nights ago, I told my wife about you and how we should do what you did. 

She said that I should try my best to build a successful career and stop thinking about not having to work. 

She said a few other things which I found hurtful.

I should not be surprised by the response. 

She is doing well in her job and I think she is more successful than I am. 

Still, being scolded hurts...

(AK left out most of the reader's email as it got very personal.)

AK says:
I know it is not easy but try not to dwell too much on your current situation or you might end up visiting IMH.

I understand what you are going through and, if it is any consolation, it wasn't easy for me too. 

Some people were derisive and talked down to me over the years.

Scrooge. Stupid. Delusional. 

These were some words that were thrown my way before.

More recently this year in early March, I shared on my FB wall that someone called me a "quack". 

I am sharing the screen capture of that FB post here:


JohnTan said above:

"This investment guru (i.e. AK) sounds like a quack. Is that why he goes around wearing a mask all the time? Or he's Batman?

"If this guy is as talented as you claim, he shouldn't only be earning $5-7k per month for the past twenty years. 

"He should have been promoted to some high-flying director or started his own business by now. I hope you did not lose your shirt following his advice."

AK says:
Alamak. How like that?

See how the message is that a person is only considered successful if he is a high flyer in his career or if he starts his own business?

Like it or not, such ideas are quite pervasive in our society.

There is nothing wrong with career minded people who want a successful career. 

There is nothing wrong with having an entrepreneurial spirit. 

Honestly, we need such people.

However, I don't think there is anything wrong with people who would like nothing better than to achieve financial freedom and to stop working either. 

We are all made differently.

"I wanted the independence. 
I desperately wanted it."
- Charlie Munger.

What about AK? Me? 

I borrowed a phrase from EY:

"I have no career aspirations, only financial aspirations."

You have a responsibility to yourself to be happy.

To be happy, live your dream and not someone else's.

"Not even my wife's?"

Oh, no. AK is not going there! ;p

Related post:
To retire by age 45, start with a plan.


owq said...

I suppose a married man will want to share his dream with his wife. Or does he? All the best to him.

Potatoish said...

How much you earn don't hold water if you are living paycheck to paycheck be it you are earning 50k or 5k or 1k. its all in the mentality and lifestyle. Its never too late to start.

Hope the fellow reader takes the first bold step to start saving and grow your savings


Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Careful now...

Your reader wrote:

"I love my wife and I would like to be able to spend more time together and achieving financial freedom like you would be ideal."

You seemed to focus only on the financial freedom bit... And yourself... (Have you noticed you are also using money to "get back" at your distractors? )

I guess your reader has to figure for himself how much he loves his wife and what weight he prioritise his marriage.

Or he puts his personal financial freedom first above all else...

To be financially free and alone is not the same as financially free and have someone to share it with.

OK, I better shut-up. I'm single too :(


Anonymous said...

Most people will do relatively OK as an employee and have moderate success as one. A few will do spectacularly well and ascend the corporate ladder fast and have a spectacular career. A large part of it is due to luck. And then there are some of us, like myself, who are simply not good at staying as an employee, or do very poorly as one, despite trying very hard for years and decades. It is like banging your head against the wall. At some point we have to be honest with ourselves and realise our own weakness and strength. I think the writer should still continue to try as hard as he can in his career and not quit. But in the mean time perhaps can start to explore other options that can lead to his goal of financial freedom.

Solace said...

I never read the whole email, not able to understand the whole context. Is the wife totally against the idea of buying stocks as an investment?

I try to understand the wife view point.

In a way, that's is logic behind what the wife think. A successful career provides higher income which helps to build your investment base much faster. A 10% dividend based on 50K and 500K investment capital contrast greatly.

In some of AK Blog of personal finance, he believe he has encouraged people to earn an income of what they are worth. Something along this line, correct AK?

Unless strike lottery or inheritance, most people build their investment base through their career first. I often skeptical of people who claims they want build their investment money say 10K to 100K through pure trading, forex, options or leverage. I hope they know what they are doing.

AK71 said...


I am only human. I see what I want to see. Emphasis is placed on what I feel is more important. My level of objectivity is handicapped by my level of subjectivity. I blur. -.-"

We choose the bias we are happy to live with in life. ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Solace,

I am not very smart and didn't have a very successful career. So, I try to make more money by holding 3 jobs at one time, working 7 days a week.

Also, having a successful career might or might not mean making more money. Some jobs simply don't pay very well, if you think about it.

This is why I can identify with EY's statement: "I don't have career aspirations. I only have financial aspirations." ;)

As for the reader, the wife is not interested in investing for income. Apparently, she feels that she doesn't need to. Her pay is probably quite high. I didn't want to share more of the email because whether to invest or not is probably a very subjective and personal issue for them.

The purpose of this blog post is simply to express my opinion on how everyone is different and I don't think there is one and only one way to becoming richer. I hope that the reader and his wife can come to an agreement on this and decide to live and let live. :)

Solace said...

Hi AK,

I see where the probs is now.

From the forum post, i don't think earning 5-7K is considered unsuccessful. I also do not think earning more than 100K per annum is classified as successful. I believe with a average 6K salary, one can live a rather comfortable life with surplus for investment.

I believe median salary is around 4K from official source.

Position at the top of corporate is few. The economy will collapse if everyone only wants to be directors and 'C' Level executive.

Pipping Cafe said...

Hi ak can share about your working 3 jobs at one time. Sounds like a story of grit

WTK said...

Hi All,

Everyone has his/her own opinions. The same also applies to couples. If a couple is aligned in their pursuit of the financial freedom, it will be much easier. However, life is not that perfect. There is bound to have conflicts among couple. I think that it will take time for the other party to accept the one party with aspiration for financial freedom. In my view, it can be done but it will take some time to convince the other party to accept and have common goal.


Anonymous said...

40s single dude... so view could b skewed.

I think depends on how you say/what you say but we r nt ur wife, only she matters ;)

u can also look up "Mr MMM" and "ERE"... ERE is a little more extreme, he has a guide on how to bring up the topic. they r overseas so nt so relevant but its interesting.

If you dont like ur job, why nt go look for a new job/role? "Change what you cant accept, accept what you cant change" or recognise that a job is a "fair trade of ur time for $, you dont have to like it."

dont just do what AK do... bcos he's AK, we r nt... our 31 yr old (back in 2002?) is very different from you (31 @ 2016). We see GFC and a pty boom... (I didnt manage to participate in both, see... tell u nt AK lor). You may even see lower returns in future, even GIC say so de...

Have ur own plan... pick some from AK that's easily achievable and takes little effort. like simple lifestyle choices like avoiding Starbucks(go local? or 3 in 1) etc. Read abt investing... Low effort ETF investing, buy term invest the rest.

"Be stingy to yourself, so you can be generous to others" (nah...i add one...)

This you can do now right? with or w/o ur wife's support.

others like txfer OA to SA may nt be so applicable to you bcos 31, married, u cld b using OA to pay for flat... but thats me, cpf 2.5% still higher than my fixed rate housing loan.

And little mentioned investment rule... it takes $ to make $... so work hard... build up ur capital... maybe 35 (when u have kids or done having kids), read enuff abt investing... put the plan into action...

gd luck!

fc (not tree)

Sillyinvestor said...

Hi AK,

My wife don't believe we can achieve FI too. But not against me investing in shares and also acting on my advice to buy some.

Nonetheless, she just recently go for insurance endowment at 2%? I can respect that.

But the point is, I think my wife and to a certain extend, women, need 2 things:

1) security
2) love

When I started, my wife is against me playing shares as she think I am gambling. You need to "show her the money" by building up track records and not just use the mouth. Of course, my track records is lousy and hence she still go for insurance endowment

Also, the rental money from our HDB goes into her account, hers only and I don't have access rights. When she felt even if we get it wrong in stock markets, we can still manage by, she is less resistant, of course, she appreciate the "sacifarce"

Back to the point about FI, it's not an easy journey. Try telling my wife that we don't go out for weekend meals and pack lunch to school, no need to buy anything for my son, and sell my car? Think I rather have mental and emotional freedom than financial freedom

On hindsight, talking about expenses is highly sensitive but I think we still
Need to do it. Took a while but my wife understand. She is ok with me renewing instead of buying new car and is holding off buying private ....

But... That's just the money side of the equation, which is the surface.

It's an issue, but not the problem, if I get a sense correctly.

There is some barking up the wrong tree if we focus SOLELY on money solutions.

I will reserve my comments on this part but I hope your 0nline friend continue to write to you and reread what he wrote and search deeper

Unknown said...

It's good to aspire for financial freedom and it should be the ultimate financial goal for many people. However, if you are pursuing this dream simply because if you not happy with your career / business, then it is quite sad. Life has more meaning when you are creating or building some value through providing a service to help make this planet a better place. And by that I mean doing some "work" to have a sense of contribution and/or achievement. Most successful people I know are great achiever in their work/business, and become rich as a result, but never want to retire. Charlie Munger is still "working" at the age of 92, despite achieving his financial independence decades ago.

I believe your wife also hope to have a husband who is successful in his career. Who doesn't?

victorlsl1 said...

The only interesting thing abt this post is that your reader is likely to have a failed marriage first. So he has best to think abt this issue than financial freedom.

AK71 said...

Hi Solace,

There are social norms and everyone in society are expected to subscribe to these norms. For those who deviate from the norm, there will be consequences which might not be bad thing. However, being different from the crowd is not an easy thing as most of us wish to be accepted by the crowd. Peer pressure is a very powerful thing.

AK71 said...

Hi PC,

I blogged about this recently:
What I did to monetise my free time and why?

I am quite pragmatic. :)

AK71 said...

Hi fc,

This is worth repeating:

"dont just do what AK do... bcos he's AK, we r nt... our 31 yr old (back in 2002?) is very different from you (31 @ 2016). We see GFC and a pty boom... (I didnt manage to participate in both, see... tell u nt AK lor). You may even see lower returns in future, even GIC say so de...

"Have ur own plan... pick some from AK that's easily achievable and takes little effort. like simple lifestyle choices like avoiding Starbucks(go local? or 3 in 1) etc."

Have a plan, your own plan. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Mike,

Very educational. Unlike SMOL and myself who on paper talk soldiers, you bring to the table experience!

"Try telling my wife that we don't go out for weekend meals and pack lunch to school, no need to buy anything for my son, and sell my car? Think I rather have mental and emotional freedom than financial freedom.."

I find the above statement especially enlightening. :)

I want to say that financial freedom is a goal but whether we achieve the goal is something else. More important is the progress we make towards the goal.

As long as we are moving in the right direction, we should be feeling financially more secure over time. That is progress and we should be happy. :)

We should ask:
Financial security: What good is the idea to us?

AK71 said...

Hi Siak Lim,

Thanks for the comment and I was struck by this:
"... wife also hope to have a husband who is successful in his career. Who doesn't?"

This is possibly one reason why I am still single. ;p

Your comment reminded me of a recent meeting with a friend and I blogged about it subsequently: Financially free AK should be ashamed!

Some soul searching required... -.-"

AK71 said...

Hi Victor,

There is a strong sense of unhappiness and even frustration in the reader's email. I am not a marriage counsellor and could only tell him to live and let live. Hopefully, his wife will reciprocate...

seefei said...

a lot of ppl associate financial freedom with not working and earning a passive income. but the detail is in building that mechanism that give you the passive income. for example, to earn an income of $5000 a month, you need a base of $1,200,000 based on an interest rate of 5%.

but to build that entity that can give a meaningful passive income, you need to work harder than your current job. in fact you have to work twice or triple hard, at least. beside earning an income to sustain your living, you need to save the same (or more) amount to invest. Investment is the only way to achieve that $1,200,000 within your lifetime.

AK blog is on investment. investment is only one part of your overall plan. you still need to earn double or triple your current income to have that extra money to invest. astute investment sense and working hard is one of the ways to gain financial independent. another method is to listen to your wife. this is an old chinese saying and i have to say it work for me. LOL

Last bit, financial independent is not about stop working but working on projects that you are passionate about.

seefei said...

more on the wife bit...

i have married for 12 years. in the early years of my marriage (first 5 years), i always felt my wife was anti-me. whatever i say she was full of negativity of my opinions. that was when i chance upon this old Chinese saying of listening to your wife and you will be successful.

i started to listen. i started by reviewing habits that she hoped i could kick. like watching too much TV and staying up late. i started sleeping earlier and reading my company stuff that i always brought back but never read. over time, i found that my health improved and i picked up aerobic games like tennis. my work performance also improved and my boss started to give me projects of higher importance. i finally built up enough confidence of my capabilities and i quit. to start my own business.

like the reader, i started with the objective of wanting to be financially independant (= no need to work). But the funny thing is after achieving financial independent, i never think of quitting my work or business. in fact i wanted more as you get the hang of achieving your objectives, your want more.

Like AK, i am also not a marriage counsellor. Just sharing my life journey.

monster said...

That's very true. Most people who are financially independent is because they are good in what they do and enjoy what they do. People who don't enjoy their work and hope to be financially free usually will not achieve this goal. You are putting the cart before the horse.

If you are currently not inspired by what you do, quit and work on something you like ! Life is too short

MK - don't know much, want to learn more said...

How can his wife be a high flyer in the corporate world if her IQ & EQ level is so low?

IQ issues:
1. Having aspirations of financial freedom tends to create a "hunger"/need to be better, know more, do more. Isn't that a successful formula for corporate ladder climbing?

2. When one is financially literate (while on the path to financial freedom), one is usually picks up literacy in holistic & contingency planning, risk management, statistical and financials. Aren't these the skills & knowledge sought after by corporations?

EQ issues:
3. all i can say is.. if my better half scolds me for planning ahead for our family's future, "cut loss" is great possibility.

Bigcatblue said...

As an investor, I need people to believe in working and spending. Do it as much as possible. In put it crudely, greed is good.

Imagine if the companies that I have invested in found out that most people, if not all people are financially secured. They don't need to slave over a mortgage, put good food on the table, upgrade their car and condo, and enjoy all the trappings life can offer. Employees will revolt! Who then will work for me while I collect dividend and enjoy a slower pace in life?

Masses of people thinking of financial independence -- that I am afraid. Please labour on for our sake.

Girish Seshagiri said...


ones simplicity is greatly misunderstood by many...
please keep kicking your wits with pen and we are
here to adapt your methods..


AK71 said...

Hi Girish,

I am just a frog in a well croaking away.

I cannot assume that everyone is happy to be in a well. ;)

SMK said...

my personal opinion is both sides (only investing/career matters) are equally extreme.
though to be equally focused on both is an art in itself.
nothing wrong to have aspirations on both fronts.

but the more important thing I would ask myself is: are my reasons behind investing more aspirational or more of an escape?

and very often, for a lot of people, they find it to be the latter.

if we find that to be the case that we are looking to escape, then we need to question our mentality.

i find it important to find the courage not to back away from challenges.

AK71 said...

From my FB wall.

Shi Tan:
I was planning to retire a few years ago. But my wife disagree with this idea. She afraid of quarreling with me from morning to night.

AK71 said...

From my FB wall.

Nigel Lim:
I am reminded Warren Buffett earns $100k per year. Just look at his net worth.

AK71 said...

Reader says...
I also want F.I.R.E.
But my wife says if I no more fire, she will fire me.
So, I will settle for F.I.
R.L. instead of R.E.
Wife has final say. :(

AK says...
Lucky I have no wife.
I have final say! ;p

(For those who don't know F.I.R.E. = Financial Independence and Retiring Early.)

AK71 said...

Harvey Huang says...
Heng my wife has same financial sense like AK, must get her F.I.R.E, or she fire me!

AK says...
Moral of the story:
Find a lazy wife! :p

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