Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is your financial goal your Procrustean bed?

It's interesting that these days, there are more and more young bloggers who are financially enlightened. They started having the idea that retiring early is a worthy goal of their life, hence the way to achieve it is to increase savings, tighten expenses and work on their investment skills to increase their passive income. The funny thing is that I've been there (but can't say that "I've done that!" though) and I no longer am actively seeking to be there. Strangely, I don't think I've ever said that I wanted to retire early in my blog post (someone prove me wrong pls?), but I did mention a few times that I wanted to achieve a level of passive income to offset my expenses. And I'm a strong advocate of having a strong savings discipline as soon as you start getting money.

A few people (notably a blogger I affectionately called PG) also blogged about the same issues. Started off wanting to retire early and before long, life caught up and he's no longer so actively seeking that goal. I believe he has the same thinking as me. It's not that it's no longer importantly, it's just that it's no longer the sole purpose of living. These days, I dare to say that if I can't achieve financial independence before the self defined retirement age (usually 35?), I'm going to be okay. I'm not a failure and I hope I can sincerely say that I'm not jealous of others who can do so too.

So what happened to diminish this worthy goal? I'm not so sure I can say it's this reason or that. I've a feeling that it's more like a straw of this and a straw of that and soon, the straws become a substantive enough mass to proverbially break the camel's back. Let's see if I can identify a few straws:

1. The realisation that I can lead my life in different ways

2. The realisation that retiring early at an early age has a cost that I do not want to burden myself with

3. The confidence that I'll be okay even if I can't retire early and have xyz passive income flowing in monthly

I reserve the right to change my opinion at a later point in life, once information changes, as I had done in the past. Haha, life is complicated and I'm certainly not simple too.

I want to point out that not having a goal of wanting to retire early and having xyz passive income does not mean that I act irresponsibly towards my own financial situation. After tracking my expenses and understanding how I treat money, I have the confidence to say that even if I were to turn my financial tap looser and let the cash flow out, I still wouldn't be a spendthrift. It just isn't me. Neither am I saying that people should follow my ways.

You're free to lead the life you want, and ultimately you're the person responsible for it. I'm just saying you shouldn't take a goal that seems so fashionable nowadays and try to mould yourself towards it. Don't be like Procrustes, the Greek who cuts off people's hands and legs so as to fit into a iron bed that he had. Ask yourself if this is really what you want.

You know, in my line, not everyone wants an A for exam.


B said...

Hi Lp

I would generally agree with you that the goal towards financial freedom is worth fighting for but not a rock and stone that one would hv to grind out for victories. I think ultimately whether you succeed in your end goal or not you would learned a lot of things in your journey financially, and that would be the ones that would be with you for life.

Like you said, a person can suddenly found a job that he likes and suddenly the world seems brighter. Or a person can have a family and suddenly the priorities in life has changed. But for me, im the type that simply wants to get the best fkr my family but willing to settle for a B in my current classes ;)

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Ha ha! You have the same feeling too? Like mushrooms after rain hor?

I envy the blogger with the little daughter. Life is about relationships and experiences.

Sometimes, dogged fixation on a single goal can lead to misery. It's another form of "attachment".

By the way, saw Patty's Facebook story of the young girl who became a hawker's assistant. She beat us to it!

Hey! During school holidays, if you will still want to work at Mcdonald's, call me? I am game for 1 month of part-time looking at life from behind the counter.

I mid-life already, so many life experiences not yet tried!

Better late than never ;)

momoeagle said...

hey LP,

I am no longer seeking to have passive income (is it really that passive) from dividends to offset my expenses. Though most of my day to day expenses are covered already at the moment by the minimal dividends I received....

Right now, I'm seeking to help as many students as I can, not just through tuition, but also through apps, and soon, through books and probably the Internet too. While revenue is necessary to offset the costs of helping, the main aim is still to reach out to as many students as I can with what I know.

With that aim and goal... seriously... what is the idea of early retirement for? I guess... for the aimless? :p
*no offence to any young happy retirees*

Mr 15 HWW said...

Hi LP,

Very interesting post that got me thinking for some time. Guess I am one of those young bloggers you are talking about?

A financial goal provides us with a clearer target to aim at. If we manage to achieve it, it might give us additional confidence to face other tough challenges in life. But even if we fail, I don't think it makes us a lesser human too. Probably applies to all types of goals too.

I agree with you that if you love what you are doing, there's little point in speeding up financial independence at the expense of our well-being.

Guess my "extreme" thinking with regards to saving (to some) could be largely attributable to my unhappiness at work. Furthermore, I am also heavily influenced by the concept of voluntary simplicity nowadays.

I will keep the danger of becoming Procrustes in mind. Afterall, when I look back at my thinking or philosophy (that is if I had a coherent one then) 5 or 10 years ago, I would always smile sheepishly at some of the "immaturity".

There's a chance that 5 or 10 years from now, I might look back at now and feel the same way too.

SingaporeMemoryProject said...

Hi LP,

We tried to look for your email contact but it does not seem to be available on your blog. So we are contacting you via a comment.

On behalf of the National Library Board (NLB), we would like to invite you to pledge your blog to the Singapore Memory Project (SMP).

We find that your entries about the stock market would be a great addition to the Singapore Memory Project.

We think your blog would offer a different perspective. Whether your posts are an account of your daily life or an expression of your thoughts, our project hopes to find a home for these memories so that it can help build a ground-up understanding of Singapore.

If you believe memories are worth preserving, simply pledge your blog here:

The SMP is a national initiative started in 2011 to collect, preserve and provide access to stories, moments and memories related to Singapore. For more information about this initiative, you may wish to contact Mr Patrick Cher at or read the FAQ.

Yours sincerely,

[Simulation Software & Technologies (S2T) Pte Ltd. is the officially appointed vendor for SMP for the period Nov 2012 to Dec 2013.]

la papillion said...

Hi B,

As long as you realize what are the sacrifices that comes along with the goals, I think it should be fine :) Question is, do you think you'll adjust your goals when you're older? haha :)


Sure! I'm also thinking that there's a lot of experiences in life that I should have before I leave this place. These days my mentality is that I wouldn't mind spending money to have a great experience. Someone dear taught me or expensive doesn't matter, as long as the experience is worth having :)

Hi momoeagle,

Haha, you say until like that, scarli kena slammed :) But I know what you're talking about - creating value for others take priority over financial concerns. This is not to overlook the importance of money, but rather to place things in the right perspective. I believe that if you create value to more people, money will naturally come to you too.

This job can be too fun for early retirement lol

la papillion said...

Hi 15 HWW,

Oh trust me, I believe your viewpoint will change. Maybe not a 180 degrees change, but perhaps a 30 degrees change? As our energy dwindle and we realise that our time on earth is limited, our priorities will change and that's normal. We don't have to hold onto the hopes and dreams of our past. When I'm a teen, I wish I have the money and freedom to buy all the computer games I want, but hey look at me now, I have the means but no longer so interested in them.

Goals change, people change, and somehow that's okay. Will look forward to your thoughts when you realise that the things you've been holding too tight should be let loose. Perhaps in the future :)

la papillion said...

Hi Krishna,

I would very much like to pledge my blog. I think it's a worthwhile activity.

Your link, however, is broken. i'll contact the person and we'll take it from there. Thanks.

CreateWealth8888 said...

Goals/KPIs are set by our bosses in black and white is part of any employees' working life. If we want better annual bonus and pay increment, we better exceed goals/KPIs in black and white too.

Financial Goals are set by ourselves are for our life after employment. No black and white? No agreement?

Who care? Who is the boss?

How about self-employed?

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

I can't speak for everyone, but as a self employed, my KPI are set by myself. If anything, my KPI are more aligned to my life. This means that what I want to achieve in my work life depends on what i want to achieve in my life. There's no life after work, work is life and life is work, at least for me. This means that if there's a change in my life goals, my financial goals would change to better reflect it.

I've never worked for a company before and probably wouldn't understand how hard it is to reach the KPI set by others. It's always my goals, my target and my way of achieving them.

Maybe you can share how hard or easy it is to hit those KPI set by your boss? It'll be enlightening to know.