Aug 05, 2016

    Money no enough? Here's some advice

    MONEY no enough! This 1998 made-in-Singapore comedy movie expresses the common gripe of the natives of this cash-infatuated island.

    Singaporeans are constantly stressed, whether they're Jack Neo looking for funds to shoot yet another movie or Jackie Neoh needing cash for bling in Orchard Road.

    In an economic slowdown, when even banks don't have enough money, you need to manage stress by taking charge of your spending and the way you handle financial obligations and debts.

    My father used to say that without money, everything else is hypothetical.

    Hence, to ease the harsh demands of life, you must first manage your money.

    Some don'ts when you're going broke:

    Don't indulge in "retail therapy". You can't shop and spend your way to happiness.

    And it's stressful to buy on credit and have to fork out 20 per cent interest payments because you can't repay the full sum to the bank.

    Don't kill time in the mall.

    It only makes you restless, depressed and even kleptomaniac when you look at all the glitter that you crave but are unable to get your paws on.

    Don't hang out with people who stress you.

    You can hear these idle (usually jobless) fellows in the kopitiam or foodcourt, complaining loudly about friends, relatives, the Government and taxi drivers. The real issue for them is a shortage of spending cash.

    Don't ruin your health via smoking and drinking alcohol.

    All alcohol is bad for you, including wine.

    And there's nothing "refreshing" in a pint of beer.

    Beer does not refresh - it makes the drinkers only querulous, gouty and diabetic, and strips them of their savings, self-respect and health.

    Don't lend money. People who need your money usually won't repay you. If they can repay, why do they need to borrow in the first place?

    Don't always meet friends for lunch or dinner in cafes or restaurants. There's nothing wrong sharing a yummy, inexpensive meal in a kopitiam.

    Don't start a business because it is fashionable, unless you have conducted thorough market research and spoken to five owners of the kind of business you have in mind.

    Better still, spend three months working for someone else in that particular business, to get an insider's perspective on the daily grind and slow sales.


    As I'm usually short on cash, I have devised a to-do list of things I can do (and have done) that won't cost a dime:

    Chill out in an air-conditioned environment, such as in one of the many public libraries, where practically everything is free except the latte and muffins.

    Browse, borrow and read a book or magazine, and expand your mind. But don't read anything on travel until you save some cash.

    Chill out with old folk. Join a charity that organises activities for old people who are poor and living alone.

    Such charities are always in need of volunteers to befriend the old. If you're cash-poor, donate your time and energy.

    The vibes and passion of the volunteers will energise you.

    Challenge yourself to walk or run over the next six months until you can complete, say, 10km at an expansive park.

    This is an accomplishment you can gloat to friends with floppy limbs and tofu torso.

    Play with your cat (or dog or tortoise). But if you don't already have a pet, don't buy one.

    Enrol in an online course at Coursera.org, which offers thousands of free study programmes conducted by top universities worldwide.

    From quantum physics to ancient mythologies, there is a course to enrich your mind and satisfy your curiosity.

    If you're gainfully employed, work hard in your job for a change, instead of updating your social media in the office.

    Go on, get involved in an enriching life, even if you're broke.