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Panzer's Guide to Financial Freedom: It's Your Money and It's Your Life

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Old 23-08-2012, 02:46 PM   #526
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Living Within Your Means and Happiness
Published 24 July 2012


A large part of living within one’s means is to understanding happiness. If one is happy with whichever level of income, it is much easier to live within your means because you don’t need to rely on external things that money can buy to make you happy.

This youtube video on a TED talk by Shawn Achor (which I saw from Jared Seah’s “Singapore Man of Leisure” blog talks about happiness and success which I thought was useful to this whole idea of chasing financial freedom to be happy.


Similarly, I found that that financial freedom – which is a form of “success” in life, becomes elusive if we need our happiness to be derived form achieving it. We can be happy on the journey towards achieving it even as we have not achieved it as yet.

I am happy because I’ve found a way to moderate my own expectations about life and to be happy that I am able to work towards my target of being financially free. Simple things like watching humourous content on Youtube, having a nice food court meal and the occasional ice blended coffee drink or spending quality time playing and laughing with my daughter make me happy.

Just yesterday, I learnt that someone I’ve met professionally in a volunteer capacity had passed away from illness. He was in his late 50s or early 60s. Time and tide really does wait for no man. Procrastination on one’s bucket list gets more risky as each day passes. There is a balance between the quality of memories that we want to create and cherish versus the quality of our investible net worth.

Value for money. The ability to understand the trade-off between time and money as well as between living life and saving for the future is one that I will continue to manage even as more grey hairs sprout on my head.

Does living within your means make you happy?

Be well and prosper.
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Last edited by panzergrenadier; 23-08-2012 at 02:50 PM..
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Old 06-09-2012, 01:25 PM   #527
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Cleaning up Clutter Towards Financial Freedom
Published 2 Aug 2012

I just did some cleaning up of old office files and documents that were accumulated before I joined the department. Some of the files go back more than 10 years. A lot of the documents filed in those old files were overtaken by events or were no longer relevant to our day-to-day operations and had little archival value.


De-Cluttering Your Own Life

There were some useful nuggets here and there that could be retained in terms of bits and bytes, so I scanned the documents that had some use as a reference for historical practices involving the organisation that could be useful. The other out-dated documents that went beyond the 5 years (generally accepted archival requirement) and were no longer useful for legal or regulatory purposes were sent to the confidential disposal bin for security shredding later.

This de-cluttering helps free up space in my office for our existing day-to-day documents and files which are mostly electronic. We only print out critical documents or file those we receive in hardcopy that is required in our day-to-day business. Most new documents are now created and stored electronically, which helps reduce paper use as well as storage space use.

The longer we live, the more clutter we accumulate. Clutter doesn’t have to be the physical doodads (reference used by “Rich Dad Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki) or useless material stuff we collect in life. Clutter can come in the form of old fashioned views or thoughts that do not stand up to the scrutiny of time in terms of values and practicality.

Accumulating Experiences Vs. Accumulating “Stuff”

The more grey hairs that sprout on the sides of my head, the more I realise keeping clutter to a minimum allows me to live a better quality of life because I waste less time, energy and money in accumulating the doodads that do not fundamentally enhance my quality of life.

Less is indeed more in the road towards financial freedom. I now cherish the quality of relationships with my family and good friends rather than the thrill of having bought a new watch or pair of shoes.

I appreciate more learning new skills such as taking up a self-defence class for fitness and to know how to react in a life-threatening situation than looking at a new watch. Broadening the depth and breadth of human experiences gets more fun and joy that accumulating “stuff”.

How has managing the “clutter” and “stuff” in your own lives hindered or helped you in your own journey towards financial freedom?

Share with Panzer in the comments section.

Be well and prosper.
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Old 17-10-2012, 02:50 PM   #528
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eveloping Your Own Capacity towards Financial Freedom

Developing Your Own Capacity Towards Financial Freedom
Published 23 August 2012

When I reached 40 years of age and left the 30s behind, I realised that life was just beginning for me. My journey towards financial freedom made me realise that one of the key challenges of achieving financial freedom was my capacity to earn and to save.

How does one achieve financial freedom?

For me, it is to live within my means and to channel my savings from earned income into investible savings that will yield passive income sufficient to cover my living expenses. The key driver to saving besides spending less than one’s income is to increase one’s capacity to earn.

We live in a knowledge society that rewards the ability to solve business problems using our brains and to get things done with people. Besides our academic qualifications that grants us a passport start to our careers, our continued contributions to the organisation through our skills, experience and connections are what helps us in our careers.

Reading to Build Capacity

I am increasingly reading books to understand myself better and to be more effective in inter-personal skills. It is a challenge and I occasionally stumble in my dealings with people at work and in my personal life. One of the useful books I read recently was “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan, a Singaporean Google engineer whose book is about meditation and its applicability to work and personal life. The other good book I read was “Learned Optimism” by Dr. Martin E Seligman. Dr Seligman’s book was very useful in understanding how learned helplessness affects many of us at one point or another in our lives and how it increases our susceptibility to depression. Depression affects our lives adversely and could have serious health consequences if we do not treat it.

“Learned Optimism” gave me some tools to assess my own degree of optimism/pessimism and the ABCDE cognitive tool in recognising and disputing our negative self-talk was most useful.

By reading these books and internalising some of the lessons and techniques (“life hacks”), they help build my capacity to be a more effective person at work and at home and it helps create opportunities for growth and also career development.

Read to Deepen Your Own Professional Knowledge and Skills

Developing our own capacity also requires us to do periodic research and reading into our own areas of professional skills. In my work as an auditor, especially when it comes to investigation cases arising from complaints or from audits, the ability to establish the facts of the case are important.

The interviewees you speak to do not always tell you the truth. Hence, I realised from attending a course and reading a book “Lie Spotting” by Pamela Meyers is starting to help me build the basic blocks of understanding when lies occur and how to get to the truth using some of the techniques I picked up at the course and from continued reading.

The older I get, the more I realise my own limited knowledge and skills and the more new areas of learning await me. Attending useful and relevant courses can be energising if you are able to identify and select the courses that you want to take. Continuing to push the boundaries of my own skillsets by trying out new stuff is the way to avoid stagnation and complacency.

How do you build you own capacity in what you do?

Share with Panzer in the comments section.

Be well and prosper.
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Old 22-10-2012, 01:19 PM   #529
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Financial Freedom "Gangnam" Style

How to develop your own style towards financial freedom
Published on 4 Sep 2012

PSY’s “Gangnam Style” music video is an electro-beat heavy, satirical and comedic, visually laden work of popular art that has seen it closing in on 100 million views in 2 months or so.

This post is not about telling you how great “Gangnam Style” is as a music video but rather to draw some interesting lessons on what we can learn from the video in our journey towards financial freedom.

The key lesson is to be unconventional. Those of you who are into k-pop or the Hallyu wave will understand that the industry churns out kpop acts consisting mostly of gorgeous model-like tall, thin and beautiful boy and girl pop-acts sprinkled with the occasional power male or female solo singer. Of course, there are some bands who play instruments here and there but many of the popular groups belong to the idol category.

PSY doesn’t fit into the typical kpop group mould. He is a solo singer/rapper but is in his 30s (compared to youthful kpop boy/girl groups debuting in late teens/early 20s), is not pretty/handsome by kpop standards. Hence, he is not made from the conventional cookie cutter kpop group/solo mould and has blazed his own trail for 12 years until “Gangnam Style” exploded with Youtube and its viral impact on social networks.

In our own journey towards financial freedom, I’ve emphasised that its the principles that count, of living within your means, saving and investing as well as growing and protecting your means. How to achieve it largely depends on you.

You can live within your means even with a luxurious lifestyle so long as you earn more than what you spend and still set aside something for a rainy day. No one says you must live on instant noodles and plain water to scrimp and save.

Taking the road less travelled

The challenge in walking the road towards financial freedom is that we get side-tracked in learning exactly how person A achieved his and person B achieved his. The reality is that there is no one best way. Financial freedom can be achieved through different ways. Some of us work towards being thrifty and having a high savings while spending on things that are meaningful to us. Some of us work towards taking calculated risks in investing in an asset class such as property or equities or even other more risky speculative ventures.

There is no right or wrong, you have to figure out what works for you and how you want to achieve financial freedom on your own terms and with your own rules.

I think part of the attraction of PSY’s video is that it is so unconventional and unlike any of the conventional kpop songs that it caught the imagination of Korea and the world. The upward spiral of popularity kept increasing as its online popularity translated into news media such as CNN featuring his video which made even mainstream tv news viewers interested in his video.

Have you watched PSY’s “Gangnam Style” video?

What do you think you can pick up from the video in your journey towards financial freedom?

Share with Panzer in the comments section.

Be well and prosper.
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:23 PM   #530
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Life is More than Bread and Water

Life is More than Bread and Water
Published 14 Sep 2012

I had an epiphany whilst walking along this journey towards financial freedom. It happened when I recalled my old Junior College schoolmate who used to sit next to me along with another friend during Mathematics C lectures. We used to be the “good” boys sitting at the front row of the lecture.

After we had completed our “A”-level examinations, we were enlisted in the Singapore Armed Forces for our mandatory two and a half years of military service. I still remember clearly the time I met him after Junior College was on Pulau Tekong, at Camp III near the cookhouse. He was doing some work and I happened to bump into him and say a quick, “hi”.

That was the last time I ever saw him.

I learnt whist in University that he had gone overseas to study in an overseas UK university on a scholarship. He later committed suicide whilst in the UK.


Black Swans and Unpredictability in Life

I have flipped through obituary pages on occasion and chanced upon a old classmate or schoolmate I’d known. Another person I recall seeing was at age 30+. During my NS experience, there was a regular death that I encountered during my full-time NS service in my early twenties and another during my thirties in one of the reservist in-camp training.

Whilst the life expectancy on average in Singapore based on 2011 Singstats data is currently is 79.6 for men and 84.3 for women, each individual’s life expectancy could be longer or shorter.

I have encountered those whose lives were snuffed out way before 25. I have relatives who at 91 are still lucid and with us. The epiphany strikes me when I recall these lives snuffed out. It reminds me of the Black Swans that are lurking, low probability events that if they happen would be catastrophic and devastating.

I was driving my daughter to her class one day and was speeding along a long stretch of road because I was running late. A car came out of minor road without checking and I had to step on the brakes hard to make an emergency stop or I would have surely collided with that car.

That made me angry at the driver but it made me more angry with myself for speeding and putting my daughter and myself at risk. As my father says, “it is better to be late, than dead on time!”

Smell the Roses

These occasional reminders of our own mortality make me realise that taking time-out to smell the roses along our journey towards financial freedom is also critical. We cannot predict when the next Black Swan event can hit, nor can we know if our lives can be near to the average life expectancies.

Now that I am in my early 40s, I realise that I can start to use some of the income from that networth to savour more experiences in life. Providing enriching experiences for my daughter by doing things together and to give myself the occasional pampering.

There is much beauty and joy in the simple things of life. As I am writing this post, I am playing the soundtrack to the film, “The Secret” (2007) by Jay Chou. The instrumental arrangements in the soundtrack is both calming at for some pieces, melancholy. The film itself is quite watchable.

I find it useful to remind myself now and then that life is more than just about bread and water. The basic necessities let me live. But am I alive to this world beyond the pursuit of financial freedom?

Be well and prosper.
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Old 19-06-2014, 01:59 PM   #531
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