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Tea with TheMinimalist: Financial planning? Start with why!

Friday, September 19, 2014

This is a guest blog by a mysterious and wise man with the codename: TheMinimalist.

Many of us reading financial blogs such as ASSI understand the importance of planning our finances. The maxims of “Spend less than you earn”, “Invest in ETFs/Index Funds” and “Protect ourselves with insurance” immediately come to mind.
We KNOW it is critical to do all the above yet we DO NOTHING about it. Why?

It wasn’t until I met a university friend that I finally got my answer.

Recently, I was looking through my FB news feed and saw that one of my university friends changed his job recently. I didn’t really talk much to him back in school but was curious about how he is doing. It has been about 3 – 4 years since I last saw him. I decided to arrange a nice dinner with him after work.

While I was waiting for him at Raffles City Starbucks, I saw a guy that somewhat resembled him but he looked “bigger” so I looked away. Then, that guy started messaging on his iPhone. “Ok, I think that’s him” and I was spot on when I received the whatsapp on my phone. “Oh wow, you look more prosperous since I last saw you huh…” I commented. “Yeah, I have gained 6-7 kg since I started work, haven’t exercised much you see…” he explained.

My Body Mass Index (BMI) is 21.7 and falls within the normal range. However, the fear of becoming a “fattie” motivated me to take steps to lead a healthier lifestyle by:

  • Exercising more frequently after work
  • Opting to eat fruits and nuts for my dinner
  • Controlling the amount of food intake for each meal

The ongoing efforts of such a healthy lifestyle have paid dividends and I am currently feeling “lighter” and better.

So what is the lesson here?  
“Humans are VISUAL creatures, we ACT by EMOTIONS, not so much with reason.”

We can read millions of books on investing, read every single blog post by AK71 and, yet, NOT be motivated to do anything about our money. However, when we SEE our peers doing much better than us during the class reunion, do we not feel something stirring in our hearts? Yes, that feeling that we are not good enough and that there’s so much more we can do in our lives. 

Now, if you are currently struggling with motivations in personal finances, I think I might just have the solution for you.

Here are two simple things you can do immediately to start turning your financial life around:

1.     Find someone who is more successful than you financially (Psst…AK71). Ask him out. Buy him a nice dinner at Tim Ho Wan. Learn as much as you can from him about budgeting, investing and insurance. Most successful people will happily oblige. After all, people LOVE to talk about themselves. Fact of life. 

2.     Find someone who is doing not so well in his or her finances and ask them out for coffee. They can be knee-deep in debt, spending more than they earn, invested in “scams” etc. Your intention is neither to mock them nor to sympathise with them.  Instead, be curious and figure out what got them into such trouble in the first place. Most of the time, it’s due to bad decisions and not by circumstances.

Ask yourself and decide (out of the two) who you want to be like in 3 years' time.  

Next, take out a piece of A5 paper and write down ONE specific thing you will DO from today onwards to better manage your finances. Then DO it.

If you need some inspiration on actionable items, here are some resources you can turn to:

Achieving level one financial security for Singaporeans.

Save 100% of your take home pay! What?

If we are not rich, don't act rich! 

Every single time you find yourself faltering, think back to the two people you have just met. Who do you want to be like in three years’ time? The answer (to your future) is in your hands.

Go try it and share your experience in the comment box below or FB. I look forward to your response to my debut guest blog! J 

AK's note:
I think I have been blogging too hard lately. I might take a long trip overseas to take a break. I should be un-contactable by all modern communication devices then. So, unless courier pigeons are available, invitations to have dinner at the atas tim sum restaurant might not reach this fatty.  -.-"


Anonymous said...

Hi AK,

May I ask you out for a Tim Ho Wan?



AK71 said...

Hi Tree,

Aiyoh, you ignored the last bit of the blog post on purpose, right? -.-"

Maybe, in my retirement, I will organise an auction to have dinner with AK. ;p

pf said...

Funny. So many ppl like to follow others.

Not for me, conviction is personal. There must be a reason (emotional or otherwise) that is from deep down inside.

AK71 said...

Hi pf,

Yes, not a good idea to follow people blindly. Follow AK, will become a fatty. -.-"

Having said this, I believe that all of us will find our own way to financial security if we follow some conventional wisdom in personal finance.

Financial freedom? That one, we can achieve in many ways. Some legal and some illegal. Ooops, did I say that?

OK. A bit of frivolity for the weekend but I think I have made a point that all can agree with. ;p

Solace said...


I don't think you classify as "Fatty" based on what we see during the Invest X congress.


AK71 said...

Hi Solace,

I look at my tummy and it is getting bigger by the day! I am getting fatter. It is time to do something about it! Liposuction? LOL! ;p

Your guest blog on MGCCT is good stuff! I am going to put in the finishing touches and publish it this evening. Thank you. :)

SMK said...

Have a good rest and come back refreshed! :)

AK71 said...


Er... OK, I shall give it serious consideration. ;)

SGYI said...

Long trip overseas. I also want. :p

Unknown said...

Hi AK,

Enjoy your hols, get re-charged and be on your way again. 休息为了走更远的路!

WTK said...


You can try sit-up to reduce your fat. It helps for me.


AK71 said...

Hi dorshii,

I think I might just stop blogging for a while or maybe blog less for a start. I don't think I want to spend money on a trip at the moment. ;p

Thanks for the well wishes. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Ben,

Sit ups? Sounds so strenuous. Hahaha... But it is free. So, that is a strong point in favour of doing sit ups. ;p

Unknown said...

My recipe is to eat like a panda - half portion of veg, a quarter of carbo + a quarter of protein. Pandas in captivity live longer than in the wild because of their controlled diet. Furthermore, they live a less physically demanding lifestyle………..laughing……..

AK71 said...

Hi dorshii,

Ah! Thanks for explaining the story behind your choice of a personal photo. ;p

OK, a physically less demanding lifestyle for a longer life? I have no problem with that one. ;p

A controlled diet that is vegetables half the time? That one is going to be a serious challenge. -.-"

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