It has been a very long time since my last post. I have gone through some difficult issues which are inexplicable in words. However, things work out miraculously. Sometimes divine intervention is necessary when my own human effort is futile.
Our lives are getting more complicated as Science and technology advances. But we have the freedom and prerogative of making our own life choices. The world around us may be complicated and confusing at times, but we need to be clear of what we want in life and stay focus; as we move towards it. Either you flow with the crowd and adopt the herd mentality, or you be uniquely different and do things the way which you think is wise. You don’t need public recognition in order to feel important. What you need is self-confident and be the person you what to be. Life can be simple if only we learn to enjoy the little pleasure we have daily by consciously take time to appreciate the people and things around us.
My Oxford dictionary explains that simplify means make simple; make easy to do or understand. To make your life easy, you need to have a simplified lifestyle. What is a simplified lifestyle? As for me, a simplified lifestyle would be: (1) one that does not have unsecured loan on consumption goods, for example, the car; unless you have passive income to finance your car loan; (2) one that does not have huge mortgage installment to pay; (3) one that does not get too stress up by work and harm our health; (4) one that is not caught up with materialism. Since we are all different, you may have your own definition of a simplified lifestyle. Nevertheless, it does not matter how you simplify your lifestyle.
What you desire to do with your money, how you earn and invest your money grossly affect how you live. Do you work hard to earn lots of money in order to support your lifestyle? Or you work hard because your work provides food for your family? If it is the formal, then you need to take stock and reflect upon your lifestyle. Having an imbalance lifestyle is unhealthy to your body, mind and soul. With a high maintenance lifestyle, it does not only causing hurt to your pocket, but it is going to sabotage your retirement plan. I believe we can live simply if we are willing to do away with some non-essential things.
One day, a contractor brought two foreign workers to do some repair works in my apartment. Before he left for another site, I saw him answering a call with a very old model mobile phone. It has only the basic features: calling/receiving and sending short messages. As a metal and steel contractor firm owner, I was surprised that he did not have a smart mobile phone. When he saw me staring at his mobile phone, he commented with a smile: ‘As long as I can make calls to get my job done, this old mobile is good enough for me. I don’t need so many complicated features. It’s unnecessary.’ As I observed him, I noticed he was wearing an inexpensive watch; and wore smart casual shirt and Bermuda pants. He did not look like a rich ‘towkay’ (businessman) who lives in landed property. I respect his practical views and simplicity. He is well-to-do, but he chooses to have just the essential and live simply.
To simplify your life, first look at your financial health. If you have six credit cards, keep two and terminate the rest. It is unlikely for you to use all the six credit cards in one day. To make accounting for expenses easy, reduce the number of credit card to the minimum or use debit card if you lack the discipline to control your spending. Monitor your monthly credit card payment to avoid late payment charges. Alternatively, instruct your bank to deduct from your saving account when payment is due. Always pay your credit card bill in full. Never let the bill to roll over months after months and incur unnecessary debt. You are going to complicate your life if you have mountain of debts to settle.
Never get into debt, especially consumer debt to provide yourself with things which you cannot afford to pay in full. Clear all your consumer debts as fast as you can, if there is any. Renovation loan, cash line, and overdraft are short-term loans which should be cleared expeditiously without any delay. The longer you delay payment, the higher is the interest payable. Never borrow money to trade in the stock market, it is perilous. When the market crash suddenly, the worst thing can happen to you is bankruptcy or heavily in debt for a very long time. The bible said: ‘…., the borrower is servant to the lender.’(Proverbs 22:7 NKJV) Don’t be a ‘servant’ to the bank and pay for its year-end bonus.
If your work place is easily accessible by train or buses, there is no need for a car. Sell your car and use the public transport instead. Your monthly expenses will drop tremendously once you give up your car. Put this saving aside for future investment. Remember to earn, save and eventually invest to make your money works hard for you. If you leave your money idle in the bank, inflation will erode its value.
Take a good look at your wardrobe. Give away or donate to charity if you have clothes which you have not worn for a long time; and it is unlikely that you are going to wear them in future. If you have ten pairs of shoes which you seldom wear, give away or donate to charity. Do the same for accessories which you do not want. Don’t keep things for keeping sake. Be discipline and curb your urge to buy more things to fill your wardrobe.
Stop buying popular branded products, instead go for good quality unknown brand. Instead of buying five branded fashionable watches, buy one good quality watch with classic design that last for ages. Don’t forget you have to change the batteries of all your five watches whenever they are flat so as to prevent the mechanism in it from being damaged. Life is much simpler if you have lesser things to attend to.
Buy groceries when there is discount as it is slightly cheaper than usual. Choose to buy the supermarket house brand instead of some popular brand. It is crucial that you know the prices of the common items which you normally buy before you shop at the hypermarket. Remember, it is more economical to buy household items in large quantity and items that are at special discounted price.
Take care of your household appliances and it will last for a longer period. It saves you money on repair and replacement. I have a juice extractor and an iron that have been with me for the last 24 years. And I am still using them today. Be willing to take over second-hand things from friends or buy from the thrift shops if you are serious about saving. My friends had given me nice clothes, curtains and brand new running shoes which I gladly accepted. I usually buy my clothes from the thrift shop or make-shift day market where the prices are really below market price. Occasionally, my neighbors (whom I don’t know) would discard some items by placing them next to a common trash bin at the life lobby. So far, I had salvaged a hair dryer, a writing desk, a scientific calculator, an iron, a branded handbag and a flower vase that are of good working condition. Till this day, I am still puzzled why people throw away things that are still in good working condition. They should donate these items to the Salvation Army or some charitable organizations instead of throwing them away.
As you can see, there are many ways you can save and stretch your dollars. Instead of buying coffee from Starbucks, make your own coffee in your office’s pantry or at home. Pack your own lunch to work a few times a week instead of eating at the cafe. Quit smoking cigarettes if you really want to save on future medical bills and cut down your current monthly expenses. Remember to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle things in your house to cut down on your monthly expenses and helps to save the earth simultaneously.
When you learn to live simply, life can be happy when you have the freedom to choose to work or not to work. You are not forced to stay in a job which you hated or cause you to stress intensely. You are not forced to stay in a job just to earn lots of money to support your lavish lifestyle. You have the freedom to quit your job when you have enough savings to last you for at least a year. Whatever you want to do with your life, always think and act wisely with responsibility.