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No longer dependent on monthly wages. (To be a happy "peasant".)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When I was in primary school, I enjoyed reading Aesop's Fables. 

One I remember is the story of the grasshopper and the ant.

The fable concerns a grasshopper that has spent the warm months singing while the ant (or ants in some versions) worked to store up food for winter. 

When that season arrives, the grasshopper finds itself dying of hunger and begs the ant for food. 

To its reply when asked that it had sung all summer, it is rebuked for its idleness and advised to dance during the winter.

The story has been used to teach the virtues of hard work and the perils of improvidence. 

Some versions state a moral at the end along the lines of "Idleness brings want", "To work today is to eat tomorrow", "Beware of winter before it comes". (Source: Wikipedia).

It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when everything seems to be going our way. 

We must always save and make contingency plans for when things go wrong. 

When things go wrong, they often do without much warning.

This is one way I like to approach the topic of savings and investment whenever I get to talk to anyone about the importance of financial planning. 

Unfortunately, there will always be some who say that life is short and they should enjoy it while they can. 

If things go really bad and they have no options left, they could always end their lives. 

Really, I have been given such a response before not by one person but by a few people.

In a recent study, it was found that suicide rates often spike during economic downturns, and recent studies of rates in Greece, Spain and Italy have found similar trends.

Every rise of 1% in unemployment was accompanied by an increase in suicide rate of roughly 1%. (Source: The Business Times, Nov 6, 2012.)

We should all be ants instead of grasshoppers. 

Work and plan for the future.

Related to this, I just found out that I have been labelled a person with a "peasant mentality" when it comes to wealth building. 

A peasant "is a member of a traditional class of farmers, either laborers or owners of small farms... The majority of the people in the Middle Ages were peasants." (Source: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. 

Well, I could have had a silver spoon in my mouth but two generations ago, that spoon went to another branch of the tree. 

So, I am definitely of the masses and I can only do what I can with my limited resources to move upwards.

For me, to move from a time when I was dependent on my monthly wages to meet my living expenses to now when I no longer have to is an achievement. 

It could be a modest one in the eyes of "noblemen" and "aristocrats" but I will be happy enough to own a fully paid apartment, a fully paid car and to be free of all debt.

So, to the people who called me a "peasant", you are probably right in your description. 

I am a "peasant" and will probably remain a peasant but I hope to be a happy "peasant".

Related post:
Wage slaves should be fearful.


EC said...

Hi AK,

Another good post to remind everyone of the need to be prepared.

Haha but you aren't any ordinary peasant, but a 'free' one. It's what many people yearn for but have not achieved.

I guess a 知足 mentality helps in a large way.

Best wishes,

AK71 said...

Hi Eugene,

Wow, you are fast! :)

Apparently, there are three classes of peasants in Medieval Europe: slaves, serfs and freemen. Freemen are the top peasants. I guess that is not too bad. ;p

You are right about being contented with what we have. If we are always trying to keep up appearances to have what the rich have, we might never be rich...

I have friends who earn twice or thrice as much as I do but their expenses are also many times more than mine. They live good lives.

EC said...

Hi AK,

Haha I use a RSS reader so it auto-updates.

Freeman sounds good - free of troubles too hopefully.

To each his own, everybody has his notion of what is a good life, though some are more superior than others.


AK71 said...

Hi Eugene,

Ah, so des ne. :)

Indeed, to be free of trouble must be the the greatest freedom of all! There are families with lots of money but saddled with trouble in one form or another. :(

What is a good life depends on the individual, for sure. To the bushmen of the Kalahari, to have water, shelter and food is already a good life. :)

EY said...

Hi AK,

Some grasshoppers thought the ants should provide them with food, like the praying mantises in 'Antz'!

Totally agree that we should be self-sufficient and prepare for rainy days. And we need to ensure our food stores don't become mouldy resulting from people salivating at them! Hahaha. That's a metaphor for the greed of others spoiling our wealth. :P

On a more serious note, this is also a suggestion that you shouldn't do an update on your investment returns for 2012. Not many people might be sincerely happy for you, I feel. You have shown the way and shared so unreservedly so far. Good enough. :)

Eh, if you were a peasant, what crops would you be growing? Oil palm ah? Haha.


AK71 said...

Hi Endrene,

I had a good laugh reading your comment. You should really think of restarting a blog! I will visit regularly. Witty! Of course, the guest blogging offer still stands here. :)

You don't think I should share my results for 2012? You are the first vote in the "against" camp. The "for" camp has 8 votes so far at last count. Do you think it will create trouble for me if I do share?

Peasants usually grow crops for subsistence. Growing cash crops could be dangerous. Hahaha.. Perhaps, a mixture. That is more my style. ;p

Anonymous said...

Ha! Ha! HUH!
The greatest joke i have heard. Of course we the masses belong to the peasants. Who in the masses can called himself "Wang CHUK". Born of the "Royal Blood". Even if you are born in a more then 3-generation still rich family, it doesn't mean you are not from the peasant's family tree if you originated from the masses.
Ha! Ha! what's the joke again? Peasant or what?
Hey, i am not even a peasant. The HAKKA are landless war refugees. Go and check the Hakka history. Why then they are called "HAKKA".
And i am proud i am a HAKKA. I think SUN YAT SEN and Deng Siao Peng are HAKKA. Not to mention LKY. (but i think he is too much and too "greedy")

AK71 said...

Hi Temperament,

I was quite surprised to read that there are people who think I have a "peasant mentality". It took me a while to digest it and blog a response. Haha... Well, they are right, I guess. :)

Er, factual remarks about LKY is OK but any judgement as to his character is walking on thin ice hor. Don't get ASSI gazetted hor. ;p

EY said...

Hi AK, are just too kind. My thwarted sense of humour is simply a demonstration that I'm indeed an educated Ah Lian! Hahaha.

Thanks again for offering your previous virtual space as my writing canvas. I'll give it some serious thought and see if I can conjure up something that fits one of your themes here. I'm by no means a prolific writer. So, maybe you have to wait long long?!?! :P Let's see if I get some inspiration soon since my birthday is drawing near. Good time to set a new resolution!

About publishing your investment returns. Guess your intention is to inspire and perhaps educate. Just concerned that it might be misconstrued as you trying to flaunt and/or out to prove the nay-sayers wrong. But then again, you have an army of supporters here who can drown the anti-ASSI commenters with their spit! So no worries. :P

Honestly, I wouldn't talk about the returns in dollars and cents. There's probably more educational value in perhaps, sharing your portfolio allocation and the overall performance in the year. This, I'm considering that you can also use to draw higher readership but of course with the usual disclaimer! :D

Just my 2 rupees. Majority wins, okay? :)


Anonymous said...

LKY can be anybody right?
Never mind if i am a nobody and persecuted then it proves what i say must have some substances lol.
Better be careful, yes better becareful.

Unknown said...

Hi AK,

We all are free to choose the life we want to live unfortunately there are people who like to judge others. They don't understand that some people have simple needs. I certainly want to be a free peasant like you, unfortunately I started investing late in live and still have long way to go.
Please share your 2012 results as it was your previous results of dividend income that inspired me to set targets for my own portfolio. Just ignore the jealous people that Endrene is concerned about.


AK71 said...

Hi Endrene,

Your comments are little gems and I always enjoy reading them. I don't know why but they make me smile. :)

Good things are worth waiting for. So, no pressure. Take your time to write and I look foward to publishing your first article here in my blog. ;)

You know, we think along the same lines as to how to inspire people to think about investing for income. In fact, I did not share my results in dollar terms despite receiving many requests from readers until last year in September when I gave in after much deliberation. In fact, I told LP, the blogmaster of Bully the Bear, that I almost did not publish the blog post as I had second thoughts.

Well, that blog post was followed by another in December. The response from readers was overwhelming. Many really appreciate the revelation in dollars and cents.

Personally, I felt that the two blog posts created a lot more impact than they would have had if I were to talk about my passive income as a proportion of my earned income again (which was what I was doing before). So, they served the purpose.

After the second blog post, I decided that it would be quite meaningless to blog about my total passive income from S-REITs in 2013. Then, last month, it started. It was an email from a reader asking me whether I was going to blog about it. He was inspired to invest for income by my blog. Apparently, sharing my results in dollar and cents gives my blog more credibility. I have received more requests since.

Anyway, I am still of two minds as to whether to do a blog post on my total passive income from S-REITs in 2013 and there are three weeks or so before the year ends. So, I have started a poll in my left sidebar to see what readers want. :)

AK71 said...

Hi temperament,

Er.. well, in the context of your comment, I think LKY could only have referred to one person... ;p

Big brother is watching...

AK71 said...

Hi Daniel,

Thank you very much for telling me that sharing my results for 2011 inspired you to set your own target. This is valuable feedback to show that I did the right thing. :)

Please, don't think that you have started too late in life. It is better than not having started at all.

I would say that starting later probably just means you have to work a bit harder. This assumption is weakened if you have a higher than average monthly earned income, of course. If you have a low maintenance kind of lifestyle, then, you could catch up rapidly too. Stay the course and you will see results. Believe it.

I will now wait to see what is the outcome of the poll. :)

mark said...

"If things go really bad and they have no options left, they could always end their lives."

Wah... u saying me ah.

AK71 said...

Hi Mark,

You said that as well? I don't remember wor. You must be pulling my leg. ;p

Anonymous said...

Hi AK,

+1 to showing your 2012 results; I always found it inspiring to have a positive example showing that it's possible!

Yes, I'm a peasant too! A happy one and always enjoyed your blog. Glad u didn't stop. :)))


AK71 said...

Hi Tree,

I guess you have taken part in the poll? ;)

I am still working towards being a happy peasant. Haha.. You are one step ahead of me here. :)

LCF said...

AK, profound inspirations with substance indeed! I'd never have thought such an example applies to investing 20 years after we learn this analogy back in school.

Have a safe and blessed X'mas!

LCF Personal Finance

EC said...

Hi AK,

A related article to your post.


Patrick T. said...

AK71 said...


Good values and wisdom are passed from generation to generation through story telling in the old days. In some societies, it is still the way today. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Eugene,

Thanks for sharing the link. Yes, planning for retirement is important. We don't want to be old and destitute...

Millionaire or not, plan for retirement.

AK71 said...

Hi Pat,

Thanks for sharing the video clip. It is most entertaining!

"You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.." Wahahahaha...

Best present. :)

Dividend Tech Warrior said...

Hi AK,

Thanks for the tale. I remember reading this in school. We must always be prepared for a rainy day. Simple lesson but difficult to follow in this age of excess and consumerism.

I also support revealing your 2012 passive income. I already voted for it. However, you might wanna focus more on the methods you used to choose certain REITs and not others. Just a suggestion though. Also, you can maybe point out potential risks for REITs, so that the readers will have a balanced view. Anyway, your blog, your call. You can write whatever you pleases. ^^

Btw, I just added more AIMS today at $1.42. It is now my top holding! I can't wait for the rental income from 20 Gul Way to stream in. :)


AK71 said...

Hi DW,

We are in an age of conspicuous consumption, no doubt.

You have good suggestions although it would mean quite a bit for me to do in a single blog post. I am a lazy fellow. Hahaha.. ;p

I will see what I can include without making the blog too ponderous. I want to keep it light and casual. After all, I believe I have done all the things you have talked about before. Readers just have to look to my right sidebar to start reading. :)

AIMS AMP Capital Industrial REIT is probably my largest investment in S-REITs. Maybe, second largest. It is hard to say because my investment in Sabana REIT is almost the same size. Definitely a good investment for income.

At $1.42, you are looking at a distribution yield of 7%. Of course, everything remaining constant, this could increase to 8% by end of 2013. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi AK,

My farm is quite small but a result of years of hard work and toil, just happy that there are sufficient harvests that can feed my family!

Erm, I'm afraid I didn't see any poll as you mentioned... could you direct me to it so that I can offically cast my vote? 8P (A lot of voting nowadays eh? hehe)


AK71 said...

Hi Tree,

To know contentment is to know happiness. Those who are never contented can never be happy. True? ;)

The poll is at the top of my blog's left sidebar. Powered by Nuffnang. :)

SnOOpy168 said...

The poll was blocked by my Adblock plus. But got around it, anyway.

My input is obviously positively the majority leh. ^-^

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

Aiyoh, you have an app that is blocking all my ads har? So sad that you cannot help me make some pocket money. ;p

Thanks for casting your vote. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi AK,

Wowses, remember I posted before that you reply to postings super fast a year plus ago? You know what? You still do!

Yup, I've voted. (My Adblocker has inadvertedly blocked it, oops! Thx Snoopy for pointing that out!)


AK71 said...

Hi Tree,

Yes, I think you did. Well, I try my best to provide timely response. It is the courteous thing to do. ;)

You have an adblocker too? No wonder my ad income is reducing. I wonder how many readers have this app. ;p

Anonymous said...

Hi AK,

If it's any consolation, I'm using, for the ease use of a proper keyboard, my laptop, which is now loaded with anti-virus, firewall, adblockers, popup blockers, etc etc 8P

Most of the time I surf on my android tablet which is quite stock, so your ads should be quite safe 80% of the time 8P. Maybe I missed the sidebar cos the screen is too small!


AK71 said...

Hi Tree,

Hahaha.. No worries. I am only kidding although it is true that advertising income has been rather pale. Anyway, extra pocket money if I have it. Otherwise, no skin off my nose. :)

Thanks for letting me know how you surf the net. I am a dinosaur when it comes to stuff like this. ;p

SnOOpy168 said...

Ad blocker - it's a freebie with Firefox.

If it is an advert posting, I will right-click on it "Open in new tab" and close it later. While I have no need for most offers, I still pay my "dues" by clicking. The lease I can do to thank you for running this blog.

ASSI is mobile friendly webpage, so some ads were stripped off to make way for contents. Helps a lot in viewing the pages on my tiny little screen while on the move.

Hopefully AK would disable this function, in the name of ad revenue. ^-*

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

I cannot remember if it was you who asked for a mobile friendly version of my blog. Anyway, I obliged. That was many moons ago.

Do you mean to say that by obliging to that request, my ad revenue is suffering? ;p

I appreciate readers visiting my sponsors but don't do it repeatedly hor. Has to be a genuine interest. Thank you. ;)

SnOOpy168 said...

Yes AK. It was me who asked for it. Looking the Galaxy S2 small screen with reading glasses while in the MRT, isn't cool lah.

My typo, I meant that the mobile version shows less ads, hoped that this won't cause you to disable this function.

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

I am 41 years old and I am lucky that I do not yet need reading glasses.

I always thought reading glasses make one look wise and learned. Not cool meh? Hahaha... ;p

Don't worry. I won't disable the mobile version of my blog. Like I said, ad revenue is pocket money. Good to have but it is not the primary reason for me blogging. :)

SnOOpy168 said...

AK, I am turning 42 in a few days time. Already had the reading glasses for over a year. :-( 1st noticed the problem when I had a hard time watch movie on the in-flight personal video screen

Looks cool ? Hmmm.... Yes, the fun of not wearing glasses, after the lasik, is running out soon. Doc warned me about that years ago. But I think I long broke even that cost with the savings on not having new glasses re-made yearly.

I still missed having the print copy of the Harvard Business Review or World Executive Digest on hand to read, when I am in the subway. it looks much cooler - and those smiling stares in my direction. Priceless.

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

I don't know if lasik makes much sense for me. A pair of glasses cost some $200 to make and they usually last about 4 to 5 years. So, over a 20 years period, I would spend about $1,000 on glasses. How much would lasik cost? ;)

As for smiling stares, I don't get them at all. OK, maybe that is where lasik would make a difference. Hahahaha... ;p

AK71 said...

Shared on my FB wall:

Hi AK,
I want to tell you that I respect you for what you have achieved.
But I find your constant nagging to stop buying Starbucks coffee a bit irritating.
You might want to reel in the rhetoric a bit.
Why not have more blog posts to encourage readers to increase income instead?
I know you will share my email but I have been thinking of telling you for a long time.
A reader who means well.
AK says:

Ooops. A thousand apologies. Starbucks shareholder? ;p
I thought of how to reply to your email. It could be a very long reply or a short one.
OK, I am lazy. A short one.
I do encourage readers to increase their income (both earned and passive) in some of my blog posts. Really. smile emoticon
I am feeling a bit perverse today, a final poke:
Amos Law:
I, on the other hand, totally appreciate your "constant nagging" to cut costs, whether it's cutting down on starbucks or other unnecessary expenses (in my view)
If we do not know how to cut costs, increasing income may not be of any use, since people tend to spend more when they earn more.

AK71 said...

On ASSI FB page:

Yushun Hong:
Just wonder why people cannot filter out parts they do not want to hear. AK provides, FOC, his thinking for us to read benefits. Of course his way is not suitable for everyone and you should take the bits you are willing to absorb.
Seems to me he wants customised financial advice for free? Lol.
Just my own thoughts. Don't flame me OK?

Yap Tong Xiang:
开源节流... I think u advocate both, up to individual to adopt.


AK71 said...

Got standards to meet to be considered successful one har?

A reader told me she has no career aspirations, only financial aspirations. Me too.

Like that how? SB Forum.

WTK said...

Hi AK,

I am a simple peasant with no apartment and car. I am content to have the passive income to last the rest of my life.


AK71 said...

Hi Ben,

Many people are trapped by consumerism.

If our homes do not generate income, they are consumption items.

If our cars do not generate income, they are consumption items.

A paradigm shift is needed for those trapped in a spiral of consumption in order to achieve financial freedom.

This might be viewed as extreme by many but it is doable. :)

AK71 said...

Reader says...
I used to have a grasshopper as a housemate. I was the ant.

When I asked the grasshopper why he did not want to prepare for winter, he said that his family business will eventually go bankrupt, and they will take all his stuff, so no point accumulating grass stores.

I really don't know how to argue against this logic. Please teach me.

Anyway, I decided to evict the grasshopper from my anthill. I was finding it hard to provide resources for an economically unproductive grasshopper.

Shortly after, his family finances came crashing down.

Faced with no other options, he begged to allow to stay on. Otherwise, he said he will have no choice but to end his life.

AK says...
We can only bring the horse to the water...

AK71 said...

Don Lim says...
I am late too.
Grasshopper and ant story woke me up.
Many paths to rome, some started early, some late, some never tried.
Hope will get there someday.

Ivan said...

Dear AK,

My elder sister recommended me to read your blog.

I am age 45 years, hope it's not too late to learn to be a free peasant.

Thank you, Ivan Hoe

AK71 said...

Hi Ivan,

The best time to start is always now. ;)

WTK said...

It's not always late to start even if one is in his/her 80 or 90s. I learn an additional attribute which is essential for a peasant as per my perspective. It's the "low profile".

Be a free and low profile peasant. This will enable one to be free of all the noises and disturbance, thereby leading a carefree and relaxing lifestyle.

This may not apply for all. I am for such way of lifestyle and life approach.

My two cents of views


Ivan said...

AK,thank you 😀

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