My Stories

Money Talk

Growing up third world Asian, money is always a taboo topic for me during childhood. I remember seeing my parents flighting over money, my relatives making fuss over dinner table about money. So I became guarded from those dramas, telling myself not to let money giving me any headaches or have to see any fights about it. I got very sensitive when people asking about money or tried my best to avoid such topic, because I was scared it would end up with conflicts.

I wasn’t educated enough about it, clearly. I had 0 knowledge about personal tax or interest. I spent more than I earned and I didn’t think about retirement plan. I used to think small money doesn’t matter, if you only have $100 to invest, what’s the point? What difference it’s gonna make? I thought insurance is a scam. I wanted to focus on my corporate ladder and get higher pay every year. I thought the only way for me to earn money is to get a raise. Financial freedom was always in my checklist but I have no idea what’s the figure of my financial freedom.

After avoiding those topics for years, I finally took the courage to open up and equip myself with the knowledge I should’ve had. I always felt wrong and burden without talking money to anyone. I picked up a book called Tony Robin – Master The Game. It’s probably the first personal finance book I’ve read but it’s also a high recommended tittle for the matter. I enjoyed reading it and I decided to write this post.

There are a lot of topic covered in Master The Game, but here are some points that really hit me and motivate me to make changes.

1. “No 1. Fear of baby bloomer is outlive their savings. Yet not many of them willing to discuss money” – it’s a “Me Too” moment. I guess it’s been always my biggest stress and fear. Outlive my money. For first time business owner like me, there are many things I gave up to get the business up and running, and one of them is the stable corporate income I used to have. So yes I’m scared.

2. How much is financial security/ independence/freedom? Are they the same? What’s the figure?

Is it $1,000,000 or is it $20,000,000. I started to list out all expenses, to know the exact amount I need to cover my basic needs. Then I went ahead and list out the things I’d like to have when I have more money – that’s to be financially independent. Then add in any luxurious item/ vacation/ property or any dreams I would have, and that’s the freedom I was always dreaming about. Let me get this straight, this sounds simple but not many people get their figures on top of their mind. Everyone dreams about financial freedom but not many people but a price tag on it. To my surprise, my current idea of financial freedom only cost me only less than $500,000 per year. I used to think I need a million to achieve it.

3. What’s your safety net? Retirement plan + insurance + rainy days funds

The question finally kicked in, do I have safety nets? The idea of being “safe” is pretty blur for me when I’m in my 20s. Retirement is something in the Faraway Land. But with a snap of fingers, I’ve entered my 30s, the last 10 years gone like a blink of an eye, probably left you with no more than some debts and I only have 30 years left to fix my 20s mistakes and get ready for life commitments and retirement. The next 10 years probably I’ll be drowned with diapers and milk if I’m to settle down, the next 10 years I’d be worried about kids college funds, housing loans. If I don’t start planning for retirement now, I only have the last 10 years to think about it. When my health won’t be as good as it is now. To be honest, it did scare the hell out of me thinking about it.

4. What do you earn money for? Whats driving you to earn money?

First is to feel secured, second is to have diversified choices, and the last is to be significant. Knowing what drives you and put it in order will help a lot with financial decisions, for eg: I won’t spend money to be significant unless I feel secured. 

5. Compounding interest – start early!

I used to think small money won’t make big difference. But I was totally wrong! Small amount of money every month with small interest rate will make a huge different over time! And the longer you put, the better it turns out.

6. “There is a difference between being broke and being poor. Being broke is a temporary economic situation, but being poor is disabling frame of mind”

I used to consider myself being poor, but in fact, I realized I was just being broke. Being able to cover my basic needs, having a small side business, I don’t have much disposable income. That’s being broke, when I have no money to spend. But I’m not poor, I have paper assets – I just can’t liquify it yet, I have stable income monthly, I just didn’t find ways to maximize it yet. I try my best not to be super positive about it, but enough to change point of view, see the truth in it eyes and overcome.

I’ve seen changes for me since, I talk about money with my close ones, be open and transparent on any expenses and income – I felt so much better after that, and I was surprised, I didn’t thought I would be able to do it a few years back. No shame, no ego, it is what it is. 

I researched and studied about tax, I even went to Expat Tax Department to discuss about my personal tax – as I’m an expat so it can get a bit complicated at times. I just want to make sure I know what I should be knowing. I learnt how to ask money questions, well not always, but when the situation comes. 

I learn to see things by its value, but i give future potentials a value too. I started investing small amount monthly, to ETF funds via StashAway app. 10% of my income goes there monthly, no question asked. And I committed to add 3% every time i got a raise, that’s for my retirement. Slowly and surely, I plan out on my insurance and rainy days funds. 

Everything we do today, no matter now small it is, will bear tomorrow fruits. And never underestimate the power of compounding! No amount is a small amount! 

I still have a long way to go, and of course life won’t go as planned – but I’m glad my point of view has changed, for the better.

Onwards and Upwards,



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