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Three point turn!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

This weekend, I am going to leave you with a very short blog post. Nothing original but sometimes, we need a few reminders, don't we?

Man is created in the image and likeness of God but there is nothing Godly about Man.

So, here are the three points which could turn our lives (for the better):

1.  We only need so much money in life. The rest is for showing off.

2.  Keep our needs simple and our wants few. We will have less money problems that way.

3.  Know what and who matter to us. Don't waste time and money on others.

True or not?

I hope we are all truly happier individuals over time. Have a good weekend, everybody.

"Every man is rich or poor according to the proportion between his desires and his enjoyments." (Samuel Johnson)


B said...

Point no 1 is absolutely true but I kinda disagree with point no 2.

I think we should be ambitious (yet of course at the same time happy). If we can keep up with that, then we'll be doing ourselves justice of what we are actually capable of. :)

Happy weekend.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


A toast to our happiness and good health!

Jared Seah aka SMOL

AK71 said...

Hi B,

I think being ambitious is not necessarily at loggerheads with being simple in our needs and few in our wants. Ask Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA. ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Jared,

Happiness and good health, indeed. I have to continue working towards these goals. ;p

I need to slim down a couple of inches in order to fit into my old pants!

la papillion said...

Ah, regarding pt keep the needs as simple as possible but not simpler and to keep the wants as few as possible but not fewer..the elusive point of balance, that unstable equilibrium, the middle path.

Not easy, but it's worth a try :)

Jay said...

Definitely agree with No 3, always good to remind myself of that (probably I'm only 50% compliant..)

I also agree with No 2. Seems to be true for money: as you earn more, do not adjust your lifestyle at the same speed.. and the less you 'need' the easier it is to satisfy those needs. Also true for relationships/marriages I believe.. To the point that you should be ambitious as well, I concur that there are plenty of exaamples of ambitious people to kept their needs 'simple' (doesnt mean they lived off 2000$ a month), like Steve Jobs, the Wahaha guy etc..

I'm not sure I agree with no 1: for me there's "so much" we need in terms of survival. But then there a (big) bucket of expenses that I would like to have, but not to show off. E.g. going for nice dinners, for travel etc..

Just my 2cents.. Happy weekend!

Garfield75 said...

Very well said. Mr AK71! So are u borned in 1971 or you think AK71 is a very cool gun....or maybe your name is Aik Keong and born in 1971;)

Anonymous said...

Hi AK71,

No. 3

"Zhu Gou Peng You"
"Chi He Wan Le"

Have to keep watch. Not to turn into a Philistine by default.

Don_Jerome said...


I'm wondering if one day I should have the capital/passive income you do, will I continue to monitor the market as you do?

I guess I'm wondering if you do what you do because of wanting more money(ie inflation means its not enough for later years) or has investing become a part of you life and you do it for fun(ie money is just a way of keeping score)?

I ask because I think you lead a very simple life and I think you have an understanding that money does not bring happiness(I hope I infer correctly from you writings :p.)

I hope this isn't offensive in any way, I'm honestly just curious. Can delete this post if its too personal. :)


AK71 said...

Hi LP,

I like how you put it. Yes, it is indeed an elusive balance. Of course, it is also subjective.

I wrote a piece on this before:
Money management: needs and wants.

As I grow older, I have become less concerned with finding a balance. I have become better at walking an unstable path. ;p

AK71 said...

Hi Jay,

The three points are without any strict parameters or numerical values. Indeed, they are open to interpretation. After all, we are all different people with different circumstances.

What is more important is to understand and embrace the spirit of these three points. How we put these in practice and at what pace would depend on our own will and ability. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Garfield75,

AK are my initials and I was born in the year 1971. So, is your name Garfield and were you born in the year 1975? ;p

AK71 said...

Hi Temperament,

Hahaha.. No, no. Philistine? Not us, I am sure. Symphony 92.4 anyone? It is free, you know? ;p

Steven said...

Singapore wouldnt be where it is today if we stick to the 3 points... We will be happier if we stick to them though^^;

AK71 said...

Hi Jere,

Radix malorum est cupiditas.

I do not love money but I know it is important to have enough money for what it can do. In a nutshell, having money gives me a sense of security.

I remember a professor in the uni told me once before that he was not successful in life because if he was, he would have had $5m by that point in time. That is a kind of self-imposed stress that I don't want.

I don't have $5m. I don't even have half of that. So, am I going to punish myself because of this?

However, I am a worrier by nature and I do worry about whether I really have enough to take care of people I care about in the event that I leave active employment. So, building a significant passive income stream is important.

More important than making money is making time. We have to make time for people we care about. We are not getting any younger.

So, I am not as watchful of the market as I once was. You can tell by the reduced frequency of my blog posts.

I have taken a bit more time to craft this deceptively simple reply. I want to answer your questions and satisfy your curiosity but yet not reveal too much at the same time. I hope I have done it. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Steven,

Indeed, is it time for Singapore to learn the 3 point turn?

After all, we cannot pass a driving test if we cannot do a proper 3 point turn. ;p

Don_Jerome said...

thanks for the reply AK. I think we are quite similar in the fact that we are worrier by nature. Just want to have enough for a rainy day I guess.

AK71 said...

Hi Jere,

Rainy days indeed.

I just watched the movie "2012" for the 5th time. This time, I watched it with my niece and my mom.

With more frequent reports of extreme weather all around the world, I wonder sometimes if the world is really coming to an end. Now, that is THE worrier in me. ;p

Climate change.

Across the eastern United States, Americans scrambled Saturday to stock up on supplies and secure homes as Hurricane Sandy -- billed as a superstorm -- lumbered north after leaving dozens dead in the Caribbean.

The so-called Frankenstorm was expected to make landfall somewhere between Virginia and Massachusetts early Tuesday.

Taking the dire predictions to heart, residents were bracing for huge tidal surges, power outages, inland flooding and even heavy snowfall on high ground far from the coast.

Meteorologists have nicknamed the unusual confluence of weather patterns a "Frankenstorm," because it is due to hit just before Halloween on October 31 and is composed of parts from different sources, as was Frankenstein's monster.

Full story: Americans scramble to stay safe.

hyom said...

One of the better posts I read this week. Short and meaningful. Spent little time and yet gained much value.

Point 2 "Keep our needs simple and our wants few" has a direct relation to Point 1 "We only need so much money in life". How much money we need in life depends on our lifestyle. A person with a simple lifestyle will definitely need lesser. Someone who can say "I only need so much money in life. No need to work so hard for that extra $1m anymore" has probably reached financial freedom.

Much has been said about achieving financial freedom in financial blogosphere. Most focus on creating an extra income stream through investing. I think "Keeping our needs simple and our wants few" is a superior way to realizing financial freedom faster with lesser risk compared to investing. When a person has a simple lifestyle, he can reach financial freedom with much lesser money than someone who has a taste for fast cars, big properties or a global "family man" who keeps a family in different corners of the globe.

What helped me a lot when I became jobless last year was my simple lifestyle. It was much easier to get by with the loss of income as there was no need to downgrade my lifestyle. What was really difficult was when people ask basic questions like "Where are you working?" or "on leave today ah?" Still, because I am pretty accustomed to living life like a pauper, those days of unemployment were much easier for me(at least financially) compared to others who lived a high life before they lost their job.

AK71 said...

Hi hyom hyom,

Thank you. I was just responding to the government's call to increase productivity, to do more with less. ;p

You are absolutely right on how someone with a low maintenance lifestyle could achieve financial freedom sooner compared to someone with a taste for more expensive alternatives, all else being equal.

This is why, I suppose, some readers told me I could retire without worries while others told me $100k a year is really not enough.

Of course, what is "simple" and what is "few"? I am not one to be dogmatic. After all, I own a car and this is something which the late Dennis Ng eschewed. ;)

I have read your blog post on being unemployed. It must have come as a nasty shock. I really respect the way you approached the entire issue.

Could I hazard a guess that you have found a job since?

hyom said...

Hi AK71,

Thanks for your concern. My days of humiliation is over for quite some time already. Actually, it was not the first time I lost my job. When a person is situated at the wrong place at the wrong time (in an industry on the decline), it does not matter how hard he works. The free market does not care whether a person is deserving or not.

I am happy with my new job, although it is still insecure. In the meantime, I am preparing for forced retirement which will come when I lose my job the next time. When that happens, it will probably be at an awkward age - too young to retire and too old to be rehired.

AK71 said...

Hi hyom hyom,

I am happy that you have found a new job and it is one you enjoy too.

Your choice of words indicates that you are sure you would be retrenched in future and at an awkward age, no less. Isn't there something you could do to make it an "if" instead of "when"?

I am curious as to what you feel is an age that is too young to retire and too old to be rehired?

Steven said...

ya AK, maybe its time to do some re-balancing of our priorities. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Steven,

Indeed, sometimes I wonder if the headlong rush to continue growing our economy is really good for us. I am not an economist or politician and could be wrong but I wouldn't mind a few years of zero growth. :)

hyom said...

Your choice of words indicates that you are sure you would be retrenched in future and at an awkward age, no less. Isn't there something you could do to make it an "if" instead of "when"?

Sorry for the late reply. I KIV until I forgot about it. As salary workers, if the industry that we are working in is declining, then things are pretty out of control. Even if we work hard, market forces are too great. It is better to work less but smart in the right place than work hard in the wrong place.

During my brief period of unemployment, I was working on my own idea and thinking of starting my own company. Then, the job came along and I took it. The real impediment to starting out now for me is finding the right partners to complement my many weaknesses. People who know me will think I am the last person in the world to start out on my own mainly because of my introvert and shy nature. I also agree with them.

AK71 said...

Hi hyom hyom,

We have many demands on our time which is never enough. So, thank you for remembering and for replying. :)

I suppose you could think of joining another industry unless your skill set is specifically geared towards one industry in which case you could consider retraining. Good idea?

As for becoming an entrepreneur, I believe that if you were to do something you truly enjoy, you could find yourself becoming more outgoing and, of course, happier. If this is something you feel that you want to do, you should start soon. :)

hyom said...

Hi AK71,

Thank you for your encouragement. I think to have a higher chance of success, it is better to do something suited for our natural abilities. Getting an introvert to take on a job role which requires an extrovert will certainly lower the chance of success. Sure we have people who succeed despite initial difficulties. But that is against the odds. Better to start with something with the odds on our side right from the start.

I am curious as to what you feel is an age that is too young to retire and too old to be rehired?

Missed out this question earlier. I think this depends a lot on the nature of work. A university professor can work well into the late 60s if his health permits. For an average engineer like me, probably mid-40s will be the danger point. I have been preparing for "forced retirement" since my late 20s :) This is why I like your posts on saving money:)

Singapore's past love of importing foreign labour has actually lowered the age of "forced retirement". When employers have a wide choice of young workers, age discrimination becomes more serious for the older workers. Not sure if this is a bad thing because it depends on how much of the foreign talents that come in are genuine talents. Based on personal experience, the foreigners who came before 2000 were really good. The ones that came after 2005 were quite mediocre. Just my personal observation based on a small sample size from my own experience.

AK71 said...

Hi hyom hyom,

I was told by my friends in engineering before that engineers have to strive to become managers as staying as engineers would not make them more money or give them more job security.

A cousin who was trained as an engineer is now in finance after being retrenched. He decided to make the switch as a career in finance is more promising, it would seem.

For any average person with a family and parents to care for, job security is probably paramount. So, perhaps, you could look into this aspect more actively. If it is difficult to secure in your current industry, a change could be the answer. :)

I hope you won't think of me as being kaypoh but I would feel somewhat anxious if I were in your shoes. Of course, if you already have something up your sleeves, please ignore me. ;)

hyom said...

Thanks very much for your concern. I certainly will not think of you as kaypoh. After all, it takes time for you to write your comment. I am already grateful that you took time to reply.

AK71 said...

Hi hyom hyom,

I am glad that you feel my response is not intrusive. I sincerely hope that you have contingency plans in place. :)

Richard Heng said...

Hi AK!

happened to see this blog post of yours from your facebook shared post.

just want to seek your opinion on this matter and i believe such situation had happened to you a lot before:

recently i traveled oversea for a business trip with a few colleagues of mine. they encouraged me regularly throughout the trip to buy branded goods(bag,clothes,shoes etc) or stuffs. This is because it is cheaper to buy there than in Singapore as there it is about 30 to 40 percent cheaper. Another reason is because annual bonus is coming.

The moment i said i do not need such stuffs or i explained my items are still in good condition, one of them actually said i should spend more money as i had already traveled so far away from home and is a waste if i dont buy such stuffs. Despite the huge discount available, each piece item still cost a few hundreds SGD while the items i usually bought is only less than 30 to 50 SGD which can last me at least a year or more.

how will you deal with such situation? thanks =)

apex property investment said...

Climate change fear is always there, so is the fear of bubble. Question is, does fear stop you?

AK71 said...

Hi Richard,

Well, I am usually more easy going with money when holidaying, whether locally or overseas, but I will still try to stay rational.

So, if I don't need or want that branded item that is available overseas at 40% cheaper compared to buying it in Singapore, chances are I won't buy it. However, if I don't need it but it is something I really want, I would probably buy it. I don't want to look back and regret not buying but I must want it. We have our weaknesses. ;p

Sensible consumption is also about seizing opportunities for good deals. So, I believe that if it is a good deal, it is OK to pamper ourselves as long as we don't overdo it. ;)

Richard Heng said...

Hi Ak,

thanks for your kind words :) i agree very much to your explanation of the sensible consumption with moderation and not overdoing it.

SgFire said...

Simple yet powerful !

AK71 said...


I try to keep things simple in life. :)

WTK said...

Hi AK,

These three points are simple and easy to implement as per my perspective. This is relevant and effective in my current circumstance (same as you in one aspect).

Thank you for selfless sharing on this aspect.


AK71 said...

Hi Ben,

A good reminder in the new year, definitely. :)

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