Recently, I got an email from a reader who shared a heart-to-heart account with me about the financial troubles he was experiencing. He was feeling lost in Singapore, our first world country that is supposedly able to provide a comfortable life and opportunities for all. The pace of our country’s progress, however, is fast and unforgiving. Lag behind and get spit out of this highly-efficient wheel. Here’s the email that he shared with me:
Hi there I happen to chance upon your website when I was googling for
some advice. You see I am 25 this year worked 3 years as a security
due to having only N level and now back to square one Jobless and 0
savings. A mistake that I regretted alot. I also tried affiliates
marketting and ways to make income online such as invest in hyip and
clickbank. But I have failed them all. I found your web really
intresting to read and Maybe I could trouble u a little on how to get
my life back in order. I hope im not disturbing you in any ways.
From a Reader.
My Reply (edited for a more detailed blog post):
Sorry to hear about your situation, man. I was lost before I found my way too. But if I were in your situation, this is what I would do:
1. Eliminate unnecessary expenditure
Cut out all useless money-wasting activities in your life. That includes clubbing, pubbing, excessive drinking/smoking, buying of expensive clothes or other luxury items. When I was in Army, I was feeling very lost and I ended almost every weekend drunk and vomiting by a ditch. I felt purposeless, lost, not knowing what I was going to do in my life. Somehow, after so many years of studying, I forgot what my childhood dreams were and had resigned myself to live a pre-ordained, template life, determined by a society that I hated. Yes I was that angsty.
I will never forget the day I found Zen Buddhism.
I was reading a Zen Book under a tree during guard duty and when the wind blew, hundreds of flower petals descended upon me. I looked up and noticed that the evening sky was orange. My entire mind-set changed in that one moment. I learned how to appreciate the moment and stopped dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future. I also decided that my happiness will never be determined by external circumstances. I will never be a slave to materialistic desires. I will find joy in being alive. Everything changed after that. I became a happier person – even though everyone tells me I look otherwise, (I blame my resting bitch face.)
Sadly, I wished I discovered Zen philosophy earlier. I finished Army with ZERO savings. All my money had been invested in Zouk. Goddammit.
2. Get a job – Preferably in Sales
If I were you, I would take up a job in sales. That is one job vocation that pays you on your abilities, not your qualifications.
When I started my business, I couldn’t sell for nuts. I kept thinking my resting bitch face would scare people away. My Gf says she hated my face when she first met me. (Talk about destroying self-confidence!) Strangely, when you are forced to the ledge, you will do whatever it takes to not fall off and die. I chased sales relentlessly. Literally chased. I spent nights cold-calling hundreds of numbers, following up, persuading and begging. My favourite sale was when I stood by the streets giving out brochures and a lady tried to avoid me. I FREAKING RAN AFTER HER. And guess what? I closed her on the spot. Few weeks later she recommended more customers to me. I never felt afraid of sales anymore and resolved to hone my sales skills. What I thought was my weakness turned out to be my greatest strength. Ever since then, I never felt frightened anymore. If I ever lose everything, I know my sales-closing skills will bring back from the ledge again.
3. Save Money – Further studies? Or save to invest?
Once you get a job, save money relentlessly. 3 years of work and no savings is no joke. I felt that way after army too. But we can’t turn back time. Find all sorts of ways to save money now. Live cheaply.
Here’s the part where I can’t really give a good advice. Should you use the money to further studies? Furthering studies comes with additional costs and debt, which may not be what you need. However, our society still values paper qualifications. So a paper qualification might get you a better job.
Save to invest – not just in stocks/bonds/ but invest in yourself to develop more useful skills to get better in your job.
4. Learn new skills
Learning and growing constantly is the best way to grow your income. A lot of people have the misconception that learning stops after school. Bullshit. After the end of formal education, you still get to learn other skills of your interest, at your own pace. Which skills should you learn? Start by learning those related to your job first. Then learn those related to your strengths. Harness and leverage on your strengths. Every skill learnt will help you grow and will indirectly contribute to your income. (Sales, marketing, social media marketing / advertising, content marketing, management, coding, web development… all these skills have added to my income and helped me progress in life and business.
5. Learn how to Invest
Investing is truly passive income. Sure, you may need to monitor it from time to time, but honestly, that does not take a lot of effort if you are investing in strong companies that give you a piece of mind in the first place. Investing is the true skill that will give the common man the chance to grow his net worth to the blue sky. Manage your risks and don’t over commit to investing. You will lose money at times. Think of it like riding a bicycle. You will definitely fall the first few times. But once you get the hang of it, you will be happily cruising your way to a comfy retirement. However, don’t bank your financial freedom on just investing… it is a slow and steady method. You are young! Remember point 4!
6. Expand your network
Make new friends. Constantly widen your social circle. I count my blessings whenever I make new friends and forge new relationships. Every contact added into your network expands opportunities in your career, business and you may be exposed to new knowledge. Help everyone graciously and treat everyone with respect. Every time I expand my network, new paths open to me and strangely, I see my finances improve.
That being said, reach out to successful people if possible. If you are stuck in a shithole, stop hanging out with people in the same shithole as you! You are all dragging each other down unknowingly! I have seen many people who let their ‘friends’ drag them down and all of them wallow knee deep in shit together thinking that this is called ‘friendship’. Distinguish ‘fun’ friends from Real Friends. Real friends support you and bring you up!
7. Make yourself useful
Last time, when I wanted to make money, I only thought about how I much I could make if I did this, how much I could make if I did that. In the end, I made jack shit! I failed because I was self-serving and not serving society. To make money in your job or your business, make yourself useful to society. Nobody will pay you if your products or services don’t solve their problems! Some people are good at communications. Some are good at analysis. Some are good at problem-solving. Some are good at customer service. Some are good at design. Find out your strengths, then leverage your strengths to serve a market demand. You will be surprised by the results you see.
It’s Now or Never
Finally, I just want to add that you have to take my advice with a pinch of salt. I am not successful yet. When I had a job, I worked 6 days a week. Now I run a business and I am trying to start another, I work 7 days a week. We must take advantage of our able bodies and the opportunities provided by our efficient country to build a fulfilling life. Turn your dreams into reality! I shall end this post with a quote by a Rapper who got shot 9 times, and an awesome song by the Roots titled “Now or Never”.
Do not miss one of the biggest Investing Congress in Singapore!
Happening on 17th October, Invest X features a gathering of investing professionals who will share their knowledge on how they succeeded in investing. This is a private session available to only 600 people and I will be one of those attending. Click on the image below to find out more!