Sunday, November 4, 2018

"Poor Singaporeans can lead lives of quiet desperation and not really experience what living is"

A friend of mine posted this in response to a link being shared around facebook:

tldr; the article is about supporting minimum wages and Singaporeans were sharing it around as a basis that we should actually enact minimum wage in Singapore.

I will admit that perhaps I am not equipped adequately to comment fully on the impact of a minimum wage, I can say that based on what I know that this seems to make sense in the argument for equity in Singaporeans.

On a more personal anecdote, I remember my younger days when my father was retrenched and we had to tighten our belts significantly. My father has always been a person that spent money carelessly; there were many quarrels in my family involving financial issues, what with my mother being the exact opposite.

Shortly after he was retrenched, he started working as a taxi driver. During the time when I was young, I remembered him as the taxi driver, not the engineer he was for a good part of his life.

I remembered my mother's constant reminder to save and to be frugal, and that we were not a well-to-do family, and that it was important not to compare. 

I kept this mindset throughout my childhood all the way to university. It was during university that I actually got curious about how much my family was earning in comparison to the Singaporean average. This was after my sister graduated from university and my brother was working as well, alongside my father finding another engineering related job after a hiatus of nearly 5 years.

We were now considered a middle-income family, to my surprise. I didn't feel like that. We rarely traveled; a tze char meal was considered a luxury that we rarely went. I was not jealous nor envious of my friends that drove cars and had the latest phones. I remembered being one of the last in my class to even get a working broadband internet. 

Only when in university did our family really start "living" and not just struggling to survive. I will admit I never was poor to the point of having to worry about food on the table. I am grateful for that. I would just want other families to be like that too. 

On a side note, that tough period in my life shaped my mindset on finance and investing. I realized that my father was not wise with his money, and that led to tough times when it was not necessary to be so.  He swiped the credit card for paying the house to giving me my allowance for school. It was a financial trap brought about by bad financial literacy. I am grateful for what he has done to bring me up, nevertheless.

I guess that's the point of my post. I cannot blame my father for not knowing enough about financial literacy; he did not have the luxury of a father to teach him that (my grandfather passed away when he was 17, and my grandmother was a gambler). Yet, being born in this time and age allowed me to have access to so many ways to educate myself on finance which my father did not, and I would want others to learn as well.

The whole point of wanting to retire young for me is to never be a slave to money, or the lack thereof. I would want to truly experience what life is, and in that same thought, I would want less well-to-do Singaporeans to have that opportunity too (Go minimum wage!) For many others stuck in between poverty and truly living, I would like to think that this blog helps a bit in educating my readers just a little bit more on the true essence of saving, investing and to never be indebted to consumerism, yet still being able to live a good life.
Musing over. Cheers!

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