Friday, March 12, 2010

Builders and destroyers

I'm always a big fan of this site : Wulffmorgenthaler. The humor is not slapstick but it slowly grows on you. I like the site's style of tragicomedy.

A few days ago, I came upon this strip from the same site, which I've cut and paste liberally. It looked like this:

How apt, isn't it? I always believed that in this world, there are two types of people - builders and destroyers. Builders have the harder life of starting things from scratch, so that other people can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Destroyers are those people who enjoy the fruits grown by others. But these are just extreme stereotypes - most people fall in between these.

I've seen parents who are on the left, shown in the picture. These parents give their kids a good head start in life, so that they can see further by standing on the shoulders of giants that came before them. Good for the kids, bad for the parents, financially. I will strive to be this kind of parents, though not entirely so. I'm willing to take the shit needed to put the kids in a good head start, but they must also be willing to take shit themselves. There is value in doing shit work - and thus the kid have to learn the lessons themselves.

I've also seen parents who are on the right. My limited life experience tells me that there are more such parents than those on the left. I'll share one example here.

J has a elder sister, so her parents have two kids in total. Since the elder sister already married 'out', while J is still single, she is 'more' responsible for taking care of her parents' financial needs. (I quote certain words because I can never agree to them!!) J's dad stopped work as soon as the youngest child, J, started work after her graduation in a local university. They do not have much savings, much less insurance, and they demand a good amount of pocket money from her kids. Since J's elder sister has a family, J, being single, has to shoulder a heavier burden. This is quite unfair isn't it? J cannot save up for herself because she has to support two irresponsible parents (sorry, but I simply cannot find a better term), and she don't even dare to get married because the financial burden is just too much for her to handle.

When I saw the comic strip above, I immediately thought of J's situation.

It's one thing not to take care of yourself, but another if you are a liability to others, especially your own kids. It's extremely frustrating to cover 3 generations of people and take care of their needs. Which are the 3 generations?

1. Cover your parents' needs
2. Cover yourself and your spouse's retirement needs
3. Cover your kids' needs

Money is a limited resource, so which one is the priority? Most likely for me, it's 2, 1, then 3, in that particular order of importance. What to do, I'm a builder. Thus I'll have to work harder in my time for others to enjoy.

Just bring a bottle of wine next time I whine.


dream said...

good post. one of the better ones.

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

I count my blessings every day of my life and one is how fortunate I am to have financially independent parents.

All parents and parents to be should read this post. :)

Anonymous said...

Notice the parent on the left is happy and the parent on the right is, happy as well.

My wife's father stopped working even before she graduate. She has to service their HDB loan, give them an allowances etc.

She is smiling too. (Only I am growling)

The reason ? I'm too calculative. The pain is self-inflicted.

la papillion said...

Hi Dream,

Thanks for your comments :)

la papillion said...

Hi AK,

I think you should be happy indeed :) I believe it's everyone's responsibility to take care of themselves.

Easy to say, hard to do.

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

Pain or painless, the same pool of money still had to be divided into 3 portions (in my case). I agree smiling makes it easier...but still, there are mouths to be fed, whether you find it painful or not.

It gets frustrating thinking about it sometimes. Like how you have to take care of someone else's problems. Interesting thing is that I choose it myself.

financialfreedom said...

Parents should never make their children bear their financial problems. That is my opinion.

If they cannot afford to pay for a house, then why did they stop working? They should continue working unless ill health takes over.

But that is me in my idealistic world. I am very fortunate to have financially independent parents too. I know of many who are still paying back their university loans.

Anonymous said...

Hi LP,

"A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children"

That's my dad. :)

Like AK71,I am thankful that my parents are not only financially independent but generous in giving us all that they can.


Createwealth8888 said...

If I can make it, you too.

PanzerGrenadier said...


Your post resonated quite strongly. I am blessed because my parents are those who worked long and hard for 30+ years until retirement and pension. Because of their choices, their retirement funding is 100% covered by pension and more importantly, their healthcare is 100% funded by their pension benefits.

Unfortunately, the civil service has stopped pensionable service except for Admin Officer and other specialised schemes.

I would not be in my current position in life if my parents didn't sacrifice and work hard to provide for themselves so that I can now concentrate mostly on providing for my spouse (who works part-time) and 2 year old daughter.

So my daughter has her grandparents to thank that daddy can afford to send her to enrichment and playgroup.

Be well and prosper.

la papillion said...

Hi FF,

Such is the world. Some people are builders, some are destroyers.

Nothing to say. Either whine and do nothing, or get back down to work :)

la papillion said...

Hi HH,

I'm happy for you too :) If I can't be such a parent, I'll rather not have kids. I think that is only responsible.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Thanks for your encouragement :) I read it, and I'm inspired. I'm sure I can do it too, though nobody says it's going to be an easy journey.

la papillion said...

Hi PG,

I'm glad that your money can be divided into 2 slices instead of 3. It's impt to know why you're in the current situation that you are in, so it shows that you do reflect and grateful for the people that fought before you.

Be like your parents next time :)

wealthyhabits said...

Just discover your blog and am loving it!

I agree so much with this post. But If your partner has such parents, I guess you'll just need to compromise and work it out between yourselves. Can't possibility expect the other party to leave them in a lurch. Sigh...

la papillion said...

Hi wealthyhabits,

Thanks for visiting :) Nice blog that you had too :)

Of course can't leave them in the lurch, I'm just saying that once you classify them into builders/destroyers, you can do the right action to protect yourself :)