YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE (on Dennis Tan and Joe Dominiguez). One of the favourite mantras of some Singaporeans is “Money No Enough (钱不够用).
True, there is a minority of Singaporeans who are barely surviving and do not even have a roof over their heads. For them, money is indeed not enough. And support from the state and others is much needed.
However, many other Singaporeans have an acceptable standard of living. They hold jobs and live in at least an HDB flat. Yet, “money-not- enough” remains a source of unhappiness to them.
From observing the lives of people in my life and learning from experts in financial freedom, I believe part of the answer lies in the need for us to build a healthier relationship with money.
DENNIS TAN KIM SENG is a friend of mine and is one of the happiest and most contented people I know.
Kim Seng worked his way from a Personnel Executive to become an excellent Head of an Enrichment Programme for special-needs youths.
Although he can well afford a much bigger home, he has decided that he is happy with his 4-room flat. His wife is a housewife and together they raised 2 children. One of the children is now a teacher-in-training.
As part of Kim Seng’s daily routine, he either rides a bicycle or he jogs to work.
In all the years I know him, Kim Seng has never complained about “money-not- enough”.
On the contrary, I know of people who enjoy a high standard of living but still feel they do not have enough. I once had a friend who vowed he will not stop earning till he buys one apartment for each of his 4 children. His life is highly stressed and he is constantly unhappy.
Looking at the examples, it appears true that, “the happiest man is not the one who has the most but the one who needs the least.”
Let me share with you some ideas I found useful in transforming our relationship with money.
1. Decide what is ‘Enough’
A very important word is the word, “enough”.
Wealth is a moving target even for some who are wealthy.
John D. Rockefeller, an American oil tycoon who founded Standard Oil, is considered to be the richest men in the world in the 20th century. It was reported that when he was asked, “How much money is enough?” Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more!”.
But ‘enough’ need not be linked to one’s income. Depending on each us determine what is ‘enough’, we can choose one of 3 lifestyles:
– To live above one’s means (or income)
– To live according to one’s means
– To live below one’s means
Kim Seng, my friend, has decided on his own definition of ‘enough’ and as a result, selected a lifestyle that allows him to live below his income.
No one can or should tell another what ‘enough’ should be.
I learn, however, that the lower ‘enough’ is, the faster we can reach the point of freedom when we do not have to make life choices based on money.
2. Develop a Mindset of ‘Contentment’
Contentment is not always good especially in instances when it is an excuse for low or unacceptable standards of work or service.
However, when it comes to money and other possessions, there is some merit to being contented.
The Christian Apostle Paul, for instance, shared this enviable mindset when he spoke about how he has learnt to be content in whatever life circumstances he was in.
Paul said he knew how to get along with humble means and also know how to live in prosperity.
Paul’s mindset is based on a set of values that does not equate contentment and happiness to the amount of worldly possessions he has.
He has successfully learnt to adopt the mindset of contentment, whether he has abundance or is suffering.
3. Take Action towards Liberty and Financial Freedom
The dream of liberty and financial freedom remains a dream unless action is taken to translate it to reality.
One guru whom I have learnt much from is Joe Dominguez. Together with Vicki Robin, Joe wrote the boo ,“Your Money or Your Life” which I read many years ago.
The ideas in the book transformed the way I view money and other possessions and gave me the tools to work towards contentment and financial liberty.
Joe was a financial analyst on Wall Street who after carefully managing his lifestyle and money, retired when he was 31. He carried on working and serving others but never again to take money for his labour.
Joe died in 1997 and today, his work and message in helping others achieve financial freedom, still lives on. He is my role model in taking action towards liberty and financial freedom.
Some of the steps Joe recommended involved:
– Observing and tracking one’s current spending habits
– How to set goals of what is ‘enough’
– Planning for one’s early retirement from working for the sake of money
– Deciding the ‘cross-over’ point at which you stop working for money and start working for your dream
Talking about taking action, one of the biggest fears Singaporeans have is not having enough to retire after they stop income-generating work.
However, under the new CPF Life Scheme, if action is taken to constantly top up one’s Minimum CPF Sum, many retirees canl receive a monthly retirement income of about $1,000/- for the rest of their lives.
This is one key action Singaporeans can easily take towards greater financial freedom.
Every one of us deserves to spend our limited life energy on life pursuits of our choice.
We should not have to live in the fear of ‘money-not-enough’.
Don’t wait till it is too late to develop the mindsets and take action to develop a healthy relationship with money!
财富是一个移动中的目标，即使是拥有最多财富的人，也认为自己还没有达到“足够”的目标。洛克菲勒（John D. Rockefeller）美国美孚石油公司（标准石油）的创办人，他堪称20世纪世界上最有钱的人之一。
华尔街投资理财专家乔•杜明戈斯（Joe Dominguez）在他工作的10年中，对金钱与自己的生活方式都经营得很好，在他31岁那年，存够了钱维持下半生后，他便辞去了华尔街的工作。从那时起, 虽然他继续工作，当义工，但他已不再接受薪水。他与薇琪•鲁宾（Vicki Robin）合著了一本书，叫《富足人生》（Your Money or Your Life）。
Denise Phua Lay Peng