There are two parts to this blog post. The first part was written a few weeks ago before I decided to take a break from blogging. The second part was written a few days ago.
Readers who have written to AK to ask for a private meeting would know that they are likely to have a reply in the negative. This is mainly because AK is a very private person. Well, it also has to do with the fact that he is very lazy and finds it a bother to meet people.
Recently, I received an email from a couple who were introduced to my blog by a mutual friend. Yes, it was signed off by both of them, two names. Later, they told me it was to be doubly sincere. Does it work that way?
Anyway, they read a few of my blog posts which our mutual friend suggested and found them mind boggling! They found them so mind boggling, in fact, that they picked up the courage to write and requested for a private meeting with me, explaining to me their current situation and how they were worried about their financial future. As usual, I wrote them a short reply, politely declining the request.
The next day, I received a call from my friend. He was roped in to help persuade me. He said that the couple were very private people just like me and they did not trust advisers in the banks or even insurance agents. They would prefer to talk to someone who has no vested interest like me.
When I told my friend that they could wait for the next "Evening with AK and friends", he said they were genuinely worried about their ability to achieve financial freedom and did not want to wait.
They had a whole gamut of questions and would prefer to have me to themselves for a few hours and were, in fact, willing to pay me for my time.
It was a HDB flat but it felt like the hotel suite I stayed in Hong Kong once upon a time (and I blogged about it in my travel blog before: here). It was really very nicely renovated. It was obvious that they spared no expense.
When I remarked at the relative opulence of the interior deco, they told me they loved travelling and always stayed at 5 star hotels. Coming back from their travels, they didn't want the feeling of luxury to go away.
I could not resist asking how much the renovation cost. The most expensive HDB 3 room flat renovation I knew up till then was $60,000. They wouldn't tell me how much their renovation cost exactly but they told me it was a 6 figure sum!
I felt like the church mouse there and then. Now, something like that was mind boggling to me.
When our mutual friend told me the couple were "metrosexuals", it probably didn't register but when I saw the couple, I understood.
I first came across that word when the newspapers used it to describe an MP of ours, Mr. Teo Ser Luck, years ago. It sounded posh and it sounded expensive.
"A metrosexual is especially meticulous about his grooming and appearance, typically spending a significant amount of time and money on shopping as part of this."
They were both well groomed and well dressed. I was dressed in my Uniqlo best but I probably looked a bit shabby. Shabby chic, maybe?
I won't be sharing the details but, in the next few hours, I answered all their questions and made quite a few suggestions to help them achieve financial freedom. Big adjustments would have to be made.
As we chatted, to them, the topic wasn't mind boggling anymore, it was almost depressing.
They have probably enjoyed their lives to the fullest but now find it difficult to envision an enjoyable life in their golden years.
As they are in their 40s, I told them that they would have to work doubly hard now to achieve financial freedom not by 55 years of age (which is what they want) but possibly by age 65 (when CPF Life starts paying them a monthly income for life).
Obviously, they were not thrilled by the idea.
Realistically, however, without making any adjustments, they might never be able to retire (even with CPF Life's monthly payments) if they want to maintain their current lifestyles.
They still looked somewhat depressed when they shook my hand as I was leaving their home (and I am quite sure it wasn't because they had to give me a red packet as promised) but there was determination in their voices when they told me they would take all my suggestions to heart.
They said they wished they had done all that I did in the last 20 years. I could only smile and wish them the very best on their new metaphorical journey. All of us could do with a bit of luck, after all.
So, why did these metrosexuals seek help from AK? Definitely not because AK has good fashion sense.
Remember, we have choices in life. While we still have time on our side, choose wisely.
1. Work hard and plan early.
2. Too late to plan at age 57?
3. Retiring before 60 is possible.
4. Wife on retirement adequacy.
5. To be a happy peasant.