Money, Self-Improvement

Bounce Back After Overspending On Christmas – Vanessa Tai

Like many people, December is typically the most expensive month for me. Apart from spending on gifts for friends and family, there are usually more parties and gatherings to attend (i.e additional spending on dining out, cabbing, and party outfits). Plus, all the stores will be having massive sales, which just adds to everybody’s “spend, spend, spend” frenzy.

New Year’s Eve isn’t even here yet, and I’m already beginning to feel the pinch in my bank balance. A financial intervention is definitely in order. It won’t be fun, but at least it’ll ensure we won’t start 2014 with a dark financial cloud hanging over our heads. Here are some tips on how to recover from a season of overspending:

Step 1: Figure out what went wrong

After the hullabaloo of festivities have died down, find a quiet moment where you can sit down to closely examine your expenses for the month. Look through your receipts – did you buy expensive gifts for friends just so you won’t “look cheap”, or perhaps you went a little crazy at the post-season sales? Whatever it is, identifying your weak spots will help you not make the same mistake in future.

Looking through your receipts can be harrowing, but it's a necessary pain.

Looking through your receipts can be harrowing, but it’s a necessary pain.

Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Step 2: Implement a spending freeze

A drastic measure would be to lock all your credit cards in a drawer, and hand the key to a trusted friend or family member. That way, you can only work with the cash you have on-hand, and won’t rack up any additional debt. If that’s too difficult, you’ll need to work out what are the non-essential items you can cut out from your expenditure – for example, dining out or taking cabs everywhere you go. Come up with ways on how you can cut back over the next three to six months, and channel these extra cash to paying off Christmas debt. (Bonus: if you stick to this frugal behaviour, it may very well translate to a long-term behaviour pattern!)

Step 3: Find ways to earn some cash, quickly

Do you have barely-worn clothes and shoes lying around the house, simply collecting dust? Dig them out, gather a group of girlfriends, and hold a mini flea market at your place. You probably won’t earn much, but at least it’ll give you some extra liquidity. Alternatively, if it’s feasible, you can also consider taking on a temporary weekend job – just a few hours every weekend can be helpful in easing your financial burden.

Don't put off thinking seriously about your finances any longer.

Don’t put off thinking seriously about your finances any longer.

Step 4: Prevent future overspending

This ties in with the first step. A lot of us over-spenders tend to be in denial when it comes to our spending habits. In fact, this denial exacerbates during the holiday season. According to an ongoing study done by researchers at the University of Sheffield, people tend to put thoughts of losing weight or saving money at the back of their minds during the holiday season. In an interview, the lead researcher on the project, Dr Thomas Webb said, “Avoiding monitoring may allow people to escape from negative feelings associated with an accurate appraisal of progress. For example, people might not want to know how much money they have spent or what their partner thinks of their social skills. We call this motivated inattention.”

However, it’s important that we get real with ourselves, and not remain in this state of denial. Apart from identifying our financial weak spots (and avoiding them), it’s also prudent to work out a simple budget that we can stick to. In upcoming posts, I will be touching on how we can break out of our dysfunctional relationships with money. Do keep a lookout for those!

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Money, Self-Improvement

Are You Making These Money Mistakes? – Vanessa Tai

Andrea Kennedy, independent wealth consultant & financial coach

Andrea Kennedy, independent wealth consultant & financial coach

Whether you’re 25 or 45, money matters are probably one of the top concerns constantly at the back of your mind. But the path to financial freedom doesn’t have to be so complicated. Andrea Kennedy is a Certified Financial Planner who’s lived in Asia for over 20 years, consulting couples, families, and professional women in wealth management. Kennedy recently wrote a book, “Own Your Financial Freedom (Money, Women & Divorce)”, which was published in November 2013.

Here, she shares with us some of the common mistakes women (especially women in Asia) make, and how to rectify them.

Mistake 1: Many young women still tie marriage to financial security.

Andrea says, “It differs with age groups, but I think young women still believe they will be married and taken care of. To them, marriage is a form of financial security. While it’s good that they see money as a means to security, but women need to understand that they very likely will need to be providing that security themselves!

From now into the future, there are massive demographic changes in front of us. For one, there are increasingly more university-educated women than men, and changes in industry that need ‘female’ skills will be the new paradigm of the 21st century. 20 to 30 years from now, marriage may well become a luxury. So put away the credit cards and start taking your career and your investments seriously!”

Marriage is not a surefire route to financial security.

Marriage is not a surefire route to financial security.

Mistake 2: Not diversifying one’s financial portfolio

“Too many women believe that it is enough to hold on to cash and property only, which generate little income (particularly these days), then do not understand when inflation eventually destroys their cash pile. More women need to get accustomed to ‘making money off their money’, which often means dabbling in either investment property or assets like stocks and bonds.  Or possibly, even starting a business with their money. Almost anything is better than just holding cash, because you have to hold an awful lot of it to keep up with inflation.”

Mistake 3: “I need a lot of money to invest.”  

“This is less true today than it’s been in the past.  It is imperative that people start young, even it if means starting small.  Let’s put property aside for a moment, and just focus on financial assets – stocks and bonds.  You can open an account offshore if you want to buy into overseas companies, for example Apple or Shell Gas. 

Alternatively, you can stay onshore and buy into a local fund that holds mostly Temasek-linked companies.  You can also buy a local Singapore Government Security (a type of bond) for $1,000.  I know women who spend S$1000 on eating out and buying clothes so it is not really a question of ‘needing a lot of money to invest’. More often than not, it’s a case of whether you’re willing to sacrifice instant gratification to make a small investment.” 

Mistake 4: “If I don’t buy on credit, I will never have anything.”  

Are you living beyond your means?

Are you living beyond your means?

“If people do not learn to live within their means – i.e. only buying what they can afford with the money they earn – they will have a lot of things … including a lot of debt.  Credit card debt is insidious – it snowballs each time it is not paid off. You need to exercise the practice of saving and investing first. Then you need to learn how to live on what you have left over.  If there’s something you really want, learn how to set aside savings for that item.

I use credit cards, but I pay my bill off every month, and I recommend everyone to do the same. I assure you there are very, very few things that are worth going into long, strangulating debt for.”

To pre-order Andrea Kennedy’s book, click here. If you have any finance-related questions you’ll like Kennedy to address in upcoming articles, drop me a line at

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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Character & Soul, Entrepreneurship, Money, Self-Improvement

What Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know: Terms Of Payment – Deborah Tan

"Dear Sir, I'm writing to inform you that our invoice dated ...

“Dear Sir, I’m writing to inform you that our invoice dated …

I bet I made a number of enemies last week.

You see, while at home nursing a bad bout of bronchitis, I decided to take the time to get some financial housecleaning done for the company. While going through our invoices and checking up with my business partners on stuff like outstanding payments, I found out that we were owed quite a fair bit of money.

Some of my friends have told me this is something every freelancer has to put up with. One of my friends – I heard – has been owed money since last year and is now unable to get that money paid out to him because the “budget” has been “used up”. Some friends tell me I’m crazy for sending out Letters Of Demand to some of my clients because I shouldn’t be “ruining relationships” so early in my business.

Well, here’s my stand on the nature of business:

You required a service. You came to me. I delivered it. I think it is fair for me to expect to be paid on time for it.

Simple and straightforward. But, silly me, it seems businesses aren’t run like this at all.

Before I proceed, allow me to present this scenario:

I needed a drink and so I walked into a little cafe. The waitress asked me what I would like and I told her I would like to have a Coke. She said, “We have many different types of Coke here – regular, Coke Light, Coke Zero, Coke with Lime, Vanilla Coke – which Coke do you want?” 

“I want a regular Coke, please,” I replied. Off she went to the bar. Within 5 minutes, she was back with a refreshing glass of Coke. It wasn’t flat, it was icy-cold, the glass was chilled, and she even took the trouble to throw in a slice of lemon for me. She was polite, professional and I had a very enjoyable time drinking this glass of Coke.

When I was done and ready to go, she came up to the table with the bill. I took a look at it and asked, “Thank you for the very nice glass of Coke. My terms of payment are 30 days. Can I send you a cheque 30 days from today?”

As you can see, it is pretty ridiculous and if you were the waitress (or even the restaurant owner), I’m sure you would call the police immediately.

mortgage_debt_collectionBut the world of business functions exactly like the scenario above. “Terms of payment” is something business owners throw at each other on a daily basis. When I send a client an invoice, I have to put on the invoice that my terms of payment are 30 days from the date of invoice. What this means is that if I issued an invoice on 1 November, I should be paid within 30 days from that date. And, if I don’t see my money before 1 December, I have the right to take action against the client.

Why Bother With “Terms Of Payment”?
Well, first of all, business people deal with amounts larger than the price of a glass of Coke. If they are expected to pay every vendor they hire on the spot, it could lead to liquidity problems. Fair enough. So “terms of payment” is instituted so that business people can have some lead-time to prepare the amount of money needed to pay off vendors and service-providers.

What Are The Usual “Terms Of Payment”?
Most businesses adopt a 30-day terms of payment. This means the customer has 30 days to pay up. Before any service provider is engaged by a business, usually both parties would agree on the “terms of payment”. We have a client whose terms of payment are 60 days. Before she engaged us to help with the copywriting of a project, she was very clear with that and we accepted the job on her company’s terms. So, when we issued her the invoice after the job was completed, instead of “30 days”, we stated “60 days” on our invoice.

Also, when an invoice says, “Terms of payment: 30 days from date of invoice” … it doesn’t mean you send our invoice through to Accounts on the 30th day. It means you have this time to put that invoice through to Accounts so that your colleagues in that department can get our money to us by the 30th day.

Whose terms of payment should businesses follow?
When nothing has been said about whose terms of payment should take precedent, the service provider’s terms of payment should then be followed.

A while ago, we emailed a company (let’s call it Company F) about a payment that has been owed to us since July. The manager apologised for the delay but promised she would pay us by end of October. End of October came and still we did not see our cheque. When we emailed her again, she said, “Our terms of payment are 30 days. So when I said ‘end of October’, I meant 30 days from the end of October.”

She was wrong. First, it should not be her terms of payment we should be following. Second, since we already stated that our terms of payment are 30 days from the date of invoice, she should have rightfully paid us by August. In short, Company F owed us money for close to 120 days.

In another instance, we had agreed to take on a job where the terms of payment were 30 days after the magazine hits the newsstand. The license to run this magazine was given, later on, to another company. When we wrote to the editor who commissioned us for the outstanding payment, we were told that the new company’s terms of payment are now 60 days after the magazine hits the newsstand. Should we follow the new company’s rule? The answer is a No. We took on the job and did it based on the first agreement. As such we should be paid according to what was originally agreed upon.

Now you may think that I’m being pedantic and inflexible here. After all, surely I’m not the only business owner who is owed money. But, I prefer to look at this issue from the angle of best practices.

You said your job was urgent, so can we now say our bills are in urgent need of payment?

You said your job was urgent, so can we now say our bills are in urgent need of payment?

1. Why Delay Payment At All?
A service was needed. My company delivered what you needed on time and according to the brief. If service providers are expected to deliver on time, why is it that we cannot expect to be paid on time?

Many salaried employees think they are doing their companies a favour by withholding invoices and delaying payments. I would just like everyone who draws a regular paycheque to know this: While you can expect a fixed sum of money to be deposited into your bank account every month, a business owner’s income is dependent on the cheques he gets in the mail from his clients. Every delay, every invoice not paid ON TIME means he has to dip into his personal savings to pay his bills.

You may think, “Oh, then when the money comes, he can just put it back?” No. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t work this way. A guaranteed salary ensures that I can schedule my payments in a predictable fashion. If money is put into my account on an as-and-when basis, I’m forced to make ends meet. And even when a payment finally comes through, the accumulated dent this has made on my personal savings cannot be repaired because I now have yet more bills to pay.

2. Why Make A Service Provider Beg Or Chase For His Money?
The thing about chasing for payment is that we often feel frustrated and yet we are expected to NOT show it. Many clients would think it rude for a service provider to call and chase because we should be “grateful” that we got their business in the first place.

This happened to me last week. Frustrated that we were repeatedly told that “the cheque is on its way” (when it became obvious that Singpost would not be so inefficient as to take 2 weeks to deliver a mail), I decided to write to the CEO of Company F. Five minutes after the mail was sent, the finance person emailed to say we can pick up our cheque at the office the next day. When my business partners showed up, they were told that I shouldn’t have sent the CEO such a “rude” email.

Why not? Considering that the sum of money involved was less than $500, I think it was ruder of the company to have had taken more than 100 days to give us the cheque. Considering that we had had to put up with so many “the cheque is on its way” even when it became clear that it wasn’t, I think it was ruder of the company to be angry with me for asking for what is rightfully our money. A job was done, an invoice was issued, you ignored us until a Letter Of Demand had to be sent. And yet, we still had to “chase” you for a good two months before we finally saw our money. Who’s the rude one here?

3. Should Small Companies Just Learn To Put Up With It?   
What gets to me most is when people tell me I should grin and bear it.

At the end of the day, we are running a business that provides a professional service. We may not be a listed company, and we may not be a company that employs hundreds of people. But we put in effort and time into each and every job we take on, regardless of the client’s name, job position, or company. That’s because we respect what you do, and in turn we hope you too respect what we do.

A small company may not have the financial might or the legal muscle to take a big corporation to court, but it doesn’t mean we should get paid only when you remember to do so, or when it suits your schedule.

Chasing for payment doesn’t make me an ungrateful business person. As the owner of a business, my duty is to ensure that my company has the liquidity it needs to continue operating. Then, I owe it to the other service providers I work with to ensure they get paid so they would continue to work with me to deliver the good work we do. To my clients, my duty to you is to make sure that whatever work you give me, I do them to the best of my abilities, with the resources you can provide.

Yes, you can take your business elsewhere because you are angry with my insistence on being treated right. But here’s what I would like you to think about: if a business person isn’t willing to fight for her own company, do you think she would care about yours, including whatever work you do with her?

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She believes that learning to treat people right is the first step to greatness in business. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Character & Soul, Deborah Tan, Opinions, Self-Improvement

Stop Telling Me To Unplug! – Deborah Tan

I'm only bright when I'm plugged in!

I’m only bright when I’m plugged in!

I don’t know about you but with every article I read about “unplugging”, about “not working so hard”, about “being mindful of your free time” … I get more and more offended. Excuse me, successful people, but I believe once upon a time, you were all probably chained to your desk and buried in work! How is it possible to be as successful as you are if I were to work only 4 hours a day (yep, I’m not a fan of “The 4-Hour Workweek” as you can see)?

Perhaps with luck and sheer ingenuity, it is possible to work very little and still be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Perhaps with angel investors and rich relatives, it is possible to hire an army to help you look after your budding business so you can “unplug”.

I think it is hypocritical of successful people to go about dishing out advice, telling people that they take life easy, that they enjoy their Sundays by not checking Facebook, that they make it a point to not do anything work-related while on vacation. I think it is insulting my intelligence when a rich person say working hard is not the be all and end all of great entrepreneurial success. I think it is rude for those who have made it to say, “Success is not defined by money and power.”

Let’s Be Brutally Honest, Shall We?

The reason why we all work so hard is because we want to get promoted. We want to get promoted because we want the bigger paycheque that comes with it. While we may not be happy, while we may not be healthy, we are rewarded with something tangible. For most of us mere mortals, possessing spending power is one way of seeing success. Shallow? Yes. But you cannot deny it is the TRUTH. Don’t tell me footballers don’t give a shit about their insane paycheques. If so, why don’t they just donate ALL their money to charities instead of buying gorgeous houses and expensive sportscars? Don’t tell me that CEOs don’t give a shit about profits and bonuses. If so, why don’t CEOs just take home a $5,000 paycheque?

Money is important and, having a lot of it does not give you the right to tell the rest of us that “there’s more to life than money.”

How We Make Our Money

Why, by working, of course! In this day and age, work is omnipresent. It’s an undeniable fact. It doesn’t mean I live to work. It just means work is unavoidable. When you are a boss running a company of 1,000, of course it’s okay for you to “unplug” and fly off to the Bahamas for a holiday. When you are one of the 1,000 minions employed to keep the boss’ company running, DO YOU THINK YOU CAN “UNPLUG”? Of course not! Let’s be real. Let’s face it. “Unplugging” is a luxury not many of us can afford! When I was an editor, I checked my magazine’s Facebook Page at 3am to make sure people don’t leave spammy messages on my Wall. Now that I’m running my own business, I check my Facebook Page every six and half minutes to ensure people are continuously giving a damn about what’s going on at my website. It is NOT possible to unplug unless you have someone else plugged in on your behalf. I’m sorry but to ask me to unplug is to ask me to NOT give a shit about my business … and … HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BE SUCCESSFUL IF MY BUSINESS WERE TO LOSE TOUCH WITH MY CUSTOMERS?

When I unplug, my life goes into a tangle.

When I unplug, my life goes into a tangle.

Don’t Tell Me These Don’t Matter

Success, money and power. The dream tripartite every entrepreneur wishes to achieve. The thing is … we want them FIRST before we do a Bill Gates and give it all away to the less fortunate. When a businessperson has success, money, and power, I think it is incredibly rude to go, “Look at me, I used to be rich, but I was soooo unhappy. Now, I am the chairperson of a humanitarian organisation … and my life is sooooooo much better.” Hey, I think you forgot to mention that your house is fully paid for, that you have a huge trust fund set up to give you a comfortable allowance every month for the rest of your life, and that your best-selling self-help book is still bringing in huge royalties. Yes. While I would love to go into world-changing philanthropy work in Africa for good, my bank manager isn’t being very supportive at the moment. So money and power do matter.

The Hard Life For Now

Until the day we achieve success, money and power, it is safe to say that we are in for the HARD LIFE. A life of working past 6pm, a life of working on weekends, a life of checking emails at night and on vacation, a life of doing business calls at family dinners, a life of Facebooking at 4am, and a life of telling clients, “No … you are not getting me at a bad time. How can I help you?”

It is not depressing – mind you. I love my work, I love what I do, and I cherish every minute of a life led fully and fruitfully. I am passionate about my work but it doesn’t mean my loved ones are being cast aside. I may work while I’m on vacation but it doesn’t mean I’m losing my sanity. Facebook may be the first thing I look at when I wake up in the morning but it doesn’t mean the quality of my sleep is any worse. I exercise, I hang out with friends, I watch TV, and I still do the things I love.

The only thing I don’t do is … UNPLUG. And I really don’t think I’m being shortchanged by life here or that my life is soooo tragic.

Until I make the kind of money I want to make, until I get to where I want in life … I am not UNPLUGGING.

And I refuse to let anyone (successful or not) guilt-trip me about it.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She updates two blogs, three Twitter accounts, three Facebook Pages, one Pinterest account and two Instagram accounts every day. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.


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Deborah Tan, Opinions

Because I’m Worth It – Deborah Tan

writing-first-blog-paragraphThe thing about leaving a salaried job to start your own business is that people assume you’ve somehow struck gold and therefore don’t need money. My dear readers, allow me to assure you that the truth cannot be further.

I gave up a six-figure annual salary to start a business dealing in something I am passionate about – quality content.

Two weeks into starting Material World a guy got in touch with me via LinkedIn and requested to meet up. When he asked what my “business model” was, I honestly had no answer for him. Not because I do not know what my business model is but because I knew my “business model” would not interest a mercenary businessman like him.

Business people want to trade in something tangible and to them, content is something people don’t pay for (because there are tonnes of people out there who can do it for next to nothing and because you can highlight what you want from some random webpage and copy and paste). Remember the line Miranda Tate (played by actress Marion Cotillard) delivered to Bruce Wayne’s business rival John Daggett?

I could try explaining that a ‘save the world’ project, vain or not, is worth investing in, Mr. Daggett. But you only understand money and the power you think it buys. So why waste my time indeed?”

Similarly, I could try explaining why good content is worth paying for. But IF the businessman was only concerned about money and profits, I’d be wasting my time explaining to him the story behind Material World.

One of the things I personally find offensive is when a potential client asks me why Material World charges what it charges. I think a quick browse around this website will tell you (1) that we aren’t just some freshly minted graduates with hopes to make it as freelance writers and (2) that we have the 3Es: Experience, Ethics, and Editorial Skills.

This short-sighted focus on numbers, on profit margins, on budgets, often leaves us freelancers wondering, “Do people not care for quality anymore?” While it’s often tempting to go, “Well, how much do you want to pay me?”, I am still holding my ground and insisting that my work be paid on my terms. Because … as one of the world’s biggest beauty companies has taught me … I’m worth it.

If you can pay over $7,000 for a Chanel bag, you should understand the value of The Craft True that there is a great number of people who queue outside the boutique to buy a bag because of the Brand but my idealistic self would like to think that beyond the brand is heritage, quality materials, and workmanship. More importantly, the fact that Chanel can charge this much for its bags is because they take pride in the Craft – the process of putting the bag together, one stitch at a time. While you may not be able to wear a story on your shoulder, a well-written one can enrich your mind and widen your horizons. The Craft of Writing therefore is one that should be paid for just as how many of us would pay for The Craft of a Bag.

If you can pay for Cable TV subscription, for a movie ticket, you should understand the value of Creativity
It never ceases to amaze me how while we pay over $100 a month for movie channels, we stop short at paying for the one thing that makes it all possible: Words. Describing a picture, telling a story, planning a book, writing a proposal, selling an idea … all these would not be possible if a person does not possess the POWER OF CREATIVITY. The movie industry has been fighting, for so many years now, against piracy because the existence of pirated DVDs only leads to people thinking they don’t have to pay a just price for viewing that content. If we all – as a people – think it’s okay to pay poorly for content, we will truly come to a point where there will be no creativity at all because … why bother?

If you can pay for an expensive gadget, you should understand YOUR OWN NEED for Content Why pay close to $1,000 for tablets, smartphones, and ultrabooks if you don’t have stuff to put in them? Apps are never totally free – they have ads to support them. Digital magazines are not free because writers and editors have to be paid. Facebook is NOT free, it supports itself on ad revenue too. At the end of the day, CONTENT is not free. Some of us pay outright for it, some of us pay for it in terms of our “eyeballs”, some of us pay for it with our continued use of the platform. Human beings have proven that they have an insatiable appetite for content. It is just jaw-dropping that they think “free”, as a business model, will keep it going.

CONTENT and the process of CREATING IT are not free. Most importantly, there are those of us who believe that we should be paid a fair price for creating GOOD, QUALITY MATERIAL that supports consumerism, grow brand awareness, and help foster a general environment of creativity.

The biggest insult to a freelancer is therefore asking us why we charge what we charge for our work. Just because we don’t have an actual good to sell (like a pair of shoes or a dress), it doesn’t mean we have nothing to sell. Or, be upfront and tell us what you want to pay and we will tell you if we can accept the amount.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and believes one day, the world will come round to her idea … Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.


Deborah Tan, Money, Opinions, Self-Improvement

4 Reasons Why Not Being Rich May Depress You – Deborah Tan

I HEART cash!

I HEART cash!

You must have heard your friends whine a million times, “Oh god! Why am I not rich?!?”

Some times, these “lamentations” come up because someone wants to buy something but doesn’t have the money to do that. Some times, they come about because of staggering loans and credit card debts. But everyone wants to be rich for one very basic reason: We just don’t want to worry about Life and all its nitty-gritty that can be solved if we had money.

I hate worrying about money. And, I hate the person I am when I worry about money. Honestly, not a day goes by without me thinking about the day where I’ll be able to work for fun, for the love of it, and for the sake of it.

Do you want to be rich? I think there is no shame admitting you do. For many of us, I think the motive behind why we would all like to stop living from paycheque to paycheque is a lot less superficial than we often believe it to be. Here are four reasons why you – and I – would like to be rich:

1. So I don’t have to worry if I have enough to pay my bills 
Bills and loans are huge mojo-killers. To ensure I have enough money to pay my bills and my loans, I often have to give up on things like travel. I tell people I’m not a big travel-fan, but honestly, it’s usually because I don’t have the means to travel in style. You might say, “Why not backpack your way around?” Well, let’s agree that different people have different ways of making their journeys meaningful and fulfilling. Mine just does not involve holing up in hostels and eating cup noodles for 21 days. I’m in my 30s, let me travel comfortably, please.

2. So I can do a job I want, however I like, without worrying if I’ll get paid
If money wasn’t a problem, I’d create a business that I’ve always wanted to try and not worry about whether it’d be profitable, whether it’d be viable, whether it’d be feasible. I’ve heard how the kids of some rich folks never need to care about job titles, about how much they’re paid, or how their bosses see them … they are working because it’s “their hobby”. They want to be in fashion, so they just do an internship that pays $100 a month … for as long as they want. No worries, right? Cos happily enough, Dad & Mom don’t need their salaries to pay the bills.

Is there really nothing better you can buy with money?

Is there really nothing better you can buy with money?

3. So I can eat where I want, what I want without worrying if I’m busting my budget
One of the arguments my boyfriend and I have most often is about organic produce and good restaurants. Sounds ridiculous to you? I know! BUT on a less than generous monthly budget, I really don’t see why we should be paying $2 for ONE apple, or $10 for a salad. He reasons it’s fine because he doesn’t’ splurge on anything else but on healthy food. He’s right. But a part of me do wonder if we – as a couple – couldn’t save more money buying non-organic produce from the wet market or the supermarket. He thinks health is something worth investing in … I do think that too … but unfortunately, my bank doesn’t. And it sucks.

4. So I can use my money to help other people
Sometimes I read about how super-rich people spend their money (like filling up a swimming pool with Champagne because they were bored), and it makes me cry out, “God, why are you so unfair?!” People who do not know what to do with such wealth don’t deserve to have it. Whereas the rest of us know of someone who could do so much more with their lives if they were given just $20,000. Some people spend $15,000 buying a bag. Do you have any idea what $15,000 could do for the average person? 10 months of mortgage, 15 months of car loan, set up a business, pay for medical treatments … SO MUCH MORE. It upsets me that I’m not rich because I want to show these wastrels that they can do more with their money other than paying for a cocktail with a diamond in it.

Oh … and I have one more reason why not being rich depresses me …

I don’t want to worry about what I am going to depend on when I’m old and decrepit. I want to be able to retire with a decent sum in my bank account so I can grow old and die with respect and integrity.

What is your reason for not wanting to worry about money?

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and really would like to have $50,000 given to her right now. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

Friends, Money, Relationships, Self-Improvement

Awkward Money Situations – Vanessa Tai

Human relationships are already complicated, but throw money into the fray and it could potentially be nightmarish. That’s because everybody has different beliefs and values when it comes to money, so when you’re among people you don’t know very well, it could lead to some potentially awkward scenarios. This is probably why the Chinese have a saying about how “discussions about money sour relations.” Here, some common money conundrums, and the graceful way to tackle them.

Scenario 1: Someone you don’t know very well asks how much you earn.

The first time this happened to me, I was absolutely stunned. It’s long been drilled into me that asking another person about their salary is a big no-no. I hemmed and hawed, before finally saying something evasive like, “Oh, just the average graduate’s pay.” For some reason, the person didn’t get the hint and kept pressing for an exact figure.

How to deal: Put on a big smile, and say something like, “Enough to pay my bills. How about you?” When you throw the question back at the person, they’ll probably be caught up with talking about themselves and forget they asked you a question.

An interesting thing to note though, there are some people who believe disclosing one’s salary shouldn’t be taboo. They believe that knowledge is power – if you know your salary doesn’t quite stack up to the rest of your peers, you can use this information when negotiating for a higher pay.

Of course, if any talk about salary makes you feel uncomfortable, feel free to use the above tip to gently deflect the question.

Scenario 2: You’re at a restaurant having dinner with a group of friends, but you only ordered an appetiser. When the bill arrives, the group agrees to split the bill equally (instead of taking into account what each person had.)

It's all fun and games ... until the bill arrives.

It’s all fun and games … until the bill arrives.

If you’re among close friends, it’s probably easy to voice up and say you only had a small dish. However, if you’re among people you don’t know well, you may feel a bit uncomfortable voicing up because the last thing you want is to look stingy.

How to deal: There’s usually one person in the group who’ll be busy collating the cash from everybody. Go up to him/her discreetly and ask, “So how much was my appetiser?” More likely than not, they will get the hint and call for a re-calculation.

Scenario 3: Your friend owes you money, and has yet to pay up.

Some people hate chasing their friends for money because they feel their friend “should take the initiative.” However, sitting around with all these expectations of what people should or should not do will not get your money back.

How to deal: Start by texting your friend once every two to three days for about a week. If they still fail to return your money, find a way to meet them face-to-face and tell them, “It’s not that I’m being calculative, but I have bills to pay too. I hope you understand.” In all your communication, remember to be assertive, not aggressive.

Being demanding isn't the best way to get back your money.

Being demanding is not the best way to get back your money.

Using intimidating words may put your friend on the defensive. Most people are reasonable, and would return you the money as soon as they can. However, if for some reason your friend is unable to return your money even after months of chasing, you might have to resign yourself to writing it off as a bad debt. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but bad debts help us remember to be more prudent about who we lend our money to in future.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

[If you like this story, you might also like]

1. [Infographic] The Number 1 Thing Couples Fight About

2. What Your Financial Consultant Isn’t Telling You 

3. Well-Protected … At Any Income Level