Importance for Personal Finance

Personal Finance — including saving, debt elimination, investing, insurance… All these topics have been reviewed and re-emphasized and drilled to death on PF blogsphere.

Now… why is it important?

Is it because it is good to have money? That we can afford luxury when we are rich? And that we are free to do as we want?

Well, it is good to have money. I cannot deny that. I can use more myself :) But, is money that important? That many people do just about anything they can to have more of it.

Most certainly, one cannot survive in today’s modern life without money, which was invented and evolved from thousands years ago to facilitate trading. Now, it is essential to our survival. So we have to be practical and take care of this aspect of our life. To say that we as a part of current system/society can do without money is simple arrogance.

On the other hand, as the so-self-claimed highest form of intelligence on earth, is money all we can ultimately think about? Is our life just about things that we can get with money, in order to be secure and to survive? So the smartest beings on earth is stuck worrying about survival like all the other organisms?

Setting aside all the details, that is exactly what we are doing. We fight and we quarrel with each other for money (power) to be able to obtain and impose in order to have resources to survive, hopefully in the company of family and a few friends. In between, we add luxury to make ourselves feel a little better. Even when we are talking about green and saving the planet now, we are merely striving for our own survival (The planet does not need us to save it).

That’s it to human life? Wow, mind blowing…

marlows_hierarchyBorrowing from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (not that I totally agree with the way he arranged things), I suggest that we manage our money so we can move beyond it. By that, I mean, once our basic needs are secured and that we have obtained a certain level of comfort and security through accumulation of “enough” money, it is only suitable for us to explore further about life. It’s time to ask yourself some [tough] questions. And there is so much to learn about yourself, your mind, your body, the world, the universe!

Additionally, we cannot counteract the absurdity that springs from money by managing our money better because that will only generate more absurdity. To break the chain of absurdity that which is driven by money-greed, we must move beyond thinking at the money level — the level where everything is evaluated by money.

We cannot fix the chaos of the world by doing things that will generate more chaos (which is exactly what we are doing) — in reference to entropy, which is the 2nd law of thermodynamics, with my humbly minimal understanding — so either we find a way to calm down or we let chaos increase to its maximum level at which it will plateau, and somehow the system will correct and reset itself over time.

Think of it like a video game, you cannot move to the next stage until you beat the current stage. Nobody talks about this because this is a road that is far less travelled by humans. Everyone is busy being comfortable or trying to be comfortable. It is a road without a map. It is an exciting journey yet scary at times. You have nothing to rely on except yourself… by learning and unlearning about many things and discovering yourself, you find your next step.

So the true importance of personal finance is not about personal finance.

That is, the importance of personal finance is to allow you to move beyond what the system preaches. It preaches the idea that we are to think and identify for ourselves all the things it preaches, mostly just superficial and material things. When you start to think about the greater whole, with wider perspective, you become free from your previous perspective because there is so much more now. You don’t have to try to be free. You are free. You no longer have to “deal with” all the desires to control your spending.

Take good care of your personal finance and realize at certain point that you CAN start looking further. If you do not realize, well, personal finance is personal finance. You are stuck thinking personally, mostly about yourself.

Last thing, has it ever crossed your mind that without humans, money and all the “precious metals” would be worthless? They are just what they are, a part of nature, beautiful but not worth anything. Thought I’d throw this related question out too.

Originally posted 2009-05-07 00:01:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

A Generation Gone Awry

In the latest issue of BusinessWeek, there is an article about students taking the extra effort to be competitive by participating in financial/investing clubs AFTER getting into prestigious school, Meet Your New Recruits, They Want to Eat Your Lunch. Here is an excerpt:

Once, merely graduating from an Ivy League college or similarly prestigious rival like Stanford or Swarthmore qualified students for a choice entry-level perch on Wall Stree. No longer. “The whole idea of smart people just falling into banking is becoming rarer,” says Lance LaVergne, a vice-president and global head of diversity recruiting at Goldman Sachs. “Clubs are essential to preparation, especially for students who are not majoring in traditional discipline like finance or accounting.”

Also in the article, a girl is described to gain admission to three prestigious clubs at Stanford, and it is AMAZING.

I understand the world is getting tougher out there. Therefore, it is great to be driven. It is great to prepare for the future. It is great to kick-start learning about investing because that’s what I am doing now. But despite all that, I can’t help but contemplate if these students are getting too mixed up in the money-means-success culture at a very young age. I can’t help but worry that these students would grow up with the only ability to handle money, finance, and investing and narrow vision due to being a money-purist. Is that what life is all about?

I am not saying one should not focus on academic work because I did that and graduated with a 3.8+ GPA majoring in Computer Science and Japanse, and here I am working in the computer industry. One must need pragmatism to survive in this society.

However, from when I was an undergraduate, a huge part of what makes me the person today is being a part of the fencing team for 4 years, where focus, discipline, hard-work, comradeship, travelling, and fun happened, and then other things like social dancing, Japanese cultural events, a few music classes, misc. physical exercise, or just having some plain(dumb) fun with my friends. Perhaps that is why I am not rich, in today’s commen sense at least, but I am perfectly content with how I am and what I have, which are not just things and money.

On top of that, these investment clubs may have an unintended consequence of promoting short-term trading because the students are driven for immediate results to show recruiters and they have an investment time horizon of at most 4 years.

I only wish the students can still take their sweet time, in spite of those clubs, and participate in other cultural, character cultivating, or simply fun events. Because I would hate to see a bunch of physically-dwarfed, money-mongering, rich, yet utterly unhappy people to be grown out of this generation.

Your thoughts?

Originally posted 2008-05-18 11:01:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Doing Hobbies and Simple Things to Save Money and Be Happy

I’ve talked about the concept “keeping it simple” in a few posts before. I want to re-iterate the power of the concept of simplicity, in terms of things we can do everyday.

First of all, I truly believe simplicity is where happiness lies in life.
Now, let’s think about basic things that ourselves love to do.

For me –
I like to listen to music. I like singing. I like playing the piano. I like playing basketball. I like having a good conversation or “quality-chililng-time” with friends. I like reading a good book. I like surfing the web and learning about what others think and more stuffs in general. I like taking a walk on a good day. On and on…

I have spoken about my own interests and hobbies, but I’m sure you have a list of your own. Usually, these are all very basic simple things. And when you look at these things, they may have some fundamental cost but on the long term, it costs a lot less compared to the incessant chasing of trends and purchasing of materials.

Instead of going to the mall, wasting time and money on impulse purchase (maybe to keep up with neighbors, people you know, or other “Jones”), you can develop your skills on these simple things, these interests, these hobbies. This will not only save you money on the long run (in most cases), but you will be happier and feel better about yourself because you are doing what you actually want to do. It’s double the benefits! Isn’t this so much more wonderful?

For myself I know I won’t be happier by spending money and time at the mall or going on crazy outtings with whoever, and instead, I can spend time listening to music, or reading a book with soothing background music, or practicing piano, or any of the other things I mentioned. What do you think I will do?

Make no mistake, I still enjoy outtings with good friends and great companies, but never do I do it to fit in or because I have nothing to do.

So make a list of things you are interested in doing or would like to make hobbies of. Every time you want to fill the void of your time by doing things that’ll make you splurge money for the sake of gaining an instantaneous pleasure only for splurging, refer to the list and do one of the things on the list instead.

Even if you don’t save money, you’ll be doing something that will benefit yourself mentally and maker you happier in the long run. Much better than buying random things for no good reason or that you’ll deem useless and dismiss quickly.

Originally posted 2007-09-01 01:19:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Business Agenda — Make Consumers Spend!

Sometimes we get too caught up by media and TV about all these things we should purchase and own and to upgrade our life-style to be happier. What they want to do is to brainwash us so we inherently make purchases without hesitation and any deep second thoughts.

How do we defend ourselves? To defend ourselves, we must first understand what we’re facing, so let’s understand these people’s agenda…

The people sellling these “things” are business people. They have their agenda. What is the agenda? It’s none other than – making as much money as possible, under the postulation of a capitalistic society, and guess from whom they want to make the money? Us! We the consumers. We have to understand that they are driven by profit, by business. They need to make their numbers, their quotas because it’s their jobs and we are living in this wonderful society of capitalism. That’s why we must think for ourselves if those things really make me happy.

Now I’m not saying it’s their fault since they are just doing their jobs, but we need to defend ourselves here.
Since the best defense is the best offense…
Let’s take offense in that they are trying to take our money from us!
Let’s be stubborn, stay frugal, and fight against these people who are trying to take money away from us!

Each time you want to buy something, think about if it’s really useful and add values to your life, and make sure you are not buying because they told you so.

Peace~~

Originally posted 2007-09-16 11:54:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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