Recently, I came across the news of a retiree who lives in an HDB rental flat but has more than S$1 million in savings. On the flip side, there’s also the story of a woman who earns S$7k a month but spends it all on shopping sprees, extravagant vacations and other indulgences.
This had me thinking:
Should we be chasing money? Or should we just say “f**k it”, spend it all and be done with it since you might just die tomorrow anyways?
On one hand, I see people who take hustling and saving to the extreme to reach their financial goals such as Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE). On the other, there are those who really couldn’t care less about saving at all since they have the mentality that “money is earned to be spent”.
One might argue that money can’t buy happiness. But we all know that money can lessen your worries and in turn “buy” happiness.
Be it in the form of cash savings or insurance, having a financial safety net gives us financial and emotional security. Should things take a turn for the worse, we won’t have to worry all too much since we still have the financial resources to move on with life.
However, there are those who take savings to the extreme and/or hustle like mad in order to achieve their financial goals such as FIRE. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with doing so, but along with it come sacrifices that have to be made.
From my interactions, some of my friends have been constantly complaining about the stresses they face at work and the insane overtime hours that they put in.
I’ll then pose the question:
“Why not just quit? Since it’s affecting your mental health and you’re always so stressed out. Plus, it’s not like you don’t have savings to tide you over as you search for a new job.”
Oftentimes, they’ll say that the pay is good and that they want to earn and save more money now so that they can live a better life in the future. A noble reason indeed.
Then again, there’s the argument that one should live in the moment and carpe diem. Especially if we are in your youth. Having all the money in the world wouldn’t mean a thing anyway if we’re lying on our deathbed or led a miserable life without treating ourselves.
This leads us to the other extreme end of the You Only Live Once (YOLO) mentality. Those with this mentality reason that tomorrow is shrouded in uncertainty, so live to your fullest now. After all, what’s the use of money if it is not meant to be spent (now) right?
Extreme examples include those who spend the entirety of their salaries on luxury goods, experiences, expensive vacations and what have you.
Naturally, spending on our wants will give us instant gratification. However, living the YOLO life also means that we are taking huge financial risks. Without a financial safety net, one accident or mishap could land us in deep financial trouble. And while we can always earn money back, it is going to be a long and painful process for most, depending on how severe the debt is.
How Would You Like To Live Your Life?
As a Zillennial (caught between Gen Z and millennials), I see people from both camps, with older folks generally leaning towards financial stability or FIRE while the younger ones have a more YOLO attitude to both money and life.
Again, I would like to stress that neither extreme is inherently wrong. Some people find fulfilment in the FIRE lifestyle while others find it in spending money.
Personally, I believe that we should find a balance between the two. I love spending money on experiences and having fun. But I also understand the importance of saving, investing and preparing for retirement.
To those (and my inner self) who jokingly say “Aiya, sekali tomorrow you also die. What’s the point?” Here’s the probability of death by age in Singapore:
As you can see, the probability of dying is extremely low in Singapore and only goes up exponentially past 40.
And to those (and my other inner self) who say “Better work hard and save so you can enjoy your retirement”, I’d say that there are some things that you simply cannot replace with money:
Time, health and relationships
It’s sad to squander our youth on things that don’t bring us fulfilment. And if that happens to be your job, perhaps finding your ikigai might help.
Moreover, having more money does not necessarily mean that you will be happier.
With a balanced mindset, we can get the best of both worlds: financial security and fulfilment in life.
At the end of the day, personal finance is entirely personal. So, it is up to you to choose how you want to live your life.
What is your perspective when it comes to the personal finance journey? Share your thoughts in the comments below!