My personal finance and discipline, during those early years

First of all, I am still not as disciplined with my finances as my good friend, Suraya. She knows in full details of the 4Ws and 1H of her monthly spendings. This helps a lot in reducing the unnecessary. Want to learn from her? Here’s her insightful blog. However, I can safely say that from that day that I started working which was way back in July 1998, I have never asked for money from my parents. Not even that few times when I REALLY ran out of money and was barely scraping through with lesser than RM50 with a week more before salary day. I dare not imagine what would have happened if the salary was delayed! Haha. What did I eat during those days? For lunch, I had no choice but to eat at ‘restoran’ with my colleagues. For dinners, it was really just Gardenia bread plus margarine and kaya. (Yes, still a luxury and still tasty!)  Occasionally, it’s nasi lemak biasa tambah nasi and lots of kuah sambal ikan bilis. I also did not drive back to Ipoh because the toll itself would have ‘killed’ me.
Moving back slightly further, when I was still in college and I needed money to keep in touch with my girlfriend in Ipoh. I must call her right. At that time, phone bills were exorbitant because there were no WhatsApp or even MIRC ( if you know what this is. 😛 ). Phone bills typically come to a few hundred per month. You see, there were so much to chat about then because there were no Facebook or Google. Haha. I do not have unlimited allowance. Thus, I worked part-time. TWO JOBS! One, as a student helper in the college. That one would happen during weekdays, after my classes. I also do one more during the weekends. As a promoter for a brand called Body Master. When I left, my supervisor gave me two T-shirts for free! Haha. Yes, two jobs to make sure I have enough money to pay for my phone bills as well as those birthday gifts, valentine’s day’s gifts etc. Not easy but I have to just do it. (My girl friend then is NOT my current wife. Shhh….)
After I started working, I knew that my parents sacrificed a lot for my studies. I was the ONLY one who went overseas. My brother got into an Engineering matriculation programme (local Uni) and my sister completed her IT Degree within Malaysia. (UK University) I gave my parents allowance monthly, from then till today. 1998 until 2017. Yes, this is also a discipline and it helped tremendously because I already know that if I have those extra $$$ every month, it will go into new gadgets and whatever ‘useless’ stuffs I could think of. After a few years’ of working, I ‘forced’ myself to save. Whether those LEGITIMATE savings plans or unit trusts, I forget all these funds and just let it run. This made me even more ‘poorer’ every month. This was then followed by some investments into stocks and then every few years, a property. My most expensive watch ever? A Tissot. The watch I am wearing currently? An Alba because the Tissot needs a new battery which I have yet to change.
When I look back, I think my parents influenced me a lot. Plus the fact that I am from Gen-X helped a bit too. Hopefully, I can also teach my kids to have some personal finance discipline too. I will save enough for their education and that’s about it. I think my wife and I deserve more holidays as I am working so hard everyday and she is ‘going crazy’ looking after both of them everyday. Haha. if you are also a Gen-X like me, do share. I think the world may be a safer place (no financial crisis) if there are more of us around. Okay, okay, plus also those fast learning super Gen-Ys too. Personal finance is thus knowledge plus lots of discipline to stay the course because money does not fall down from the sky. Stay away when something gives us returns which are way too high and way too fast. After 19 years in the working world, I can safely tell you that it is NOT REAL. Happy investing.
written on 7 May 2017
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