Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breaking out of my comfort zone

These days, I haven't been really interested in finding out in detail about my personal financial statements. I mean I do record all my expenses in excel in my hp and track my cash in and out of my account but I do so out of habit and discipline. This is rather different in the past. Instead of feeling the passion and excitement whenever I tallied up the numbers at the end of the month, these days, I'm barely interested in even transferring the information in my hp to my computer. I wonder why there's this sudden disinterest in doing this...okay, maybe it isn't sudden at all. Afterall, I've been tracking it since 2008 - a total of 4 yrs - so it isn't exactly 'sudden'.

I can think of a few reasons why I'm no longer so excited about filling up my personal financial statements. I think the most important reason of all is that things don't move that fast in my life. I track my expenses every month but there isn't much changes from month to month. With the exception of a few months where I've to pay a lump sum (usually insurance payment, or some one-off items), my expenses are nearly the same. What about savings? I used to transfer any excess immediately whenever it drips into my account. However, I realised this is a waste of time, so when I have a bigger sum of money, then I'll transfer them over another account. I still remember me being so anal about meeting that monthly savings target (I broke up my yearly savings goal into monthly targets and since my income varies per month, the savings goal also varies per month) but I no longer do that. I also used to compare my monthly income with past years to see if I've been slacking but again, I no longer do that.

I stop being so obsessive about such things because I've never failed to achieve the monthly saving goals I set for myself. I may struggle over some months but I've never failed to achieve the target. So either my target are too low for me now or I'm getting comfortable with this level of 'tightness' in my belt. Or both. I stop being obsessive about meeting my monthly income targets and bench marking against my past 7 yrs of income (broken up into months) because I've never slacked. The income I get is either the same as the yr before or more. Thus, I think I've reached a level of comfort in my current level of work. Of course, I complain now and then about my harsh work schedule but overall, there's less complains about it now then before because I got used to it.

This is rather scary, even to myself. I know I'm a slavedriver and all, so working hard for extended periods of time can slowly become comfortable for me. I know I can handle that. I remember that when I started working, my hours are like 20+ hrs per week. Now? It's 40+ hrs per week, including sat and sun AND I'm getting comfortable with this?? Something needs to be done to get me out of this 'hardwork cycle'. Yes, I earn more now than before, and that's because I work longer and harder than others. That's nothing to be proud of.

It is possible to work less and earn more. I will have to believe and do it. I want to reduce my working hours to low 40 hrs per week, then 30+ and finally 20+. That would mean breaking out of my comfort zone, even though my comfort zone is actually more work. The big irony is that in order to break out of my comfort zone (which is doing more hours of work - remaining status-quo), I've to put some work now in order to reduce my working hours. Maybe then, I'll have more time to enjoy the excitement of tallying up my personal financial statements again.

I need to be challenged constantly to feel alive.


Createwealth8888 said...

It is not unusual for self-employed to put in long hours of work as it is self-rewarding.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Instead of being a Ranger, have you considered becoming a Necromancer instead?

You raise skeletons and golems to help you?

Of course you can remain as a Ranger if you prefer to dress in green. But adopt a pet beast to do the low level skirmishes. You focus on the Big Boss for more rewarding artifacts?

futures-explained said...

Keeping up with saving over a long period of time requires ultimate discipline. Not many people can stick to a saving habit like you. Keep this up, and invest the savings, and you will be ahead of many others.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

I think for me at least, it's a matter of survival. No work, no pay.


It's all part of the plan, though not to become a necromancer. I figured that if I am a high level ranger, there's this spell that can bind animals to me to do my bidding. So, that would be similar to raising skeletons and golems. However, it requires a high level ranger to do that, hence I must up my level first before doing that.

I figured until I am ready to clear my debts (house), I will not dare to take a big jump like that.

Hi futures-explained,

I thank you for your encouragement!

Chong Jun said...

Hey LP,

like you, instead of constantly challenged, I feel that I have to be stressed to keep my day going.

I think it's nothing bad as long as there is a positive impact in our lives. Like me, I feel that I'm investing more time and knowledge in myself instead of spending time to play games which I would do a couple of years ago.

Good luck! :)

la papillion said...

Hi CJ,

Hmm, I'm still playing games...die..

I think you'll reach a peak in these things, then you'll start to reverse . I mean now that you're exciting about learning and self improvement, but one day you'll come to a point that the extra bit of effort to learn about something doesn't bring as much returns as before. Law of diminishing returns? Once that happens, then you might be inclined to spend more time relaxing.

I'm not saying that is all necessarily bad - just sharing my experiences :)

Noob-trader said...

Hello LP,

Your last sentence "need to be challenged constantly to feel alive" is cool~

I believe that you has stop recording expenses because you more or less know the range you has been spending weekly/monthly already and

the result of this activity do not reach your ultimate objective in accumulating wealth ba weakening the passion.

Money isn't everything, Time to look at other aspects of Life to challenge yourself and feel alive.

Createwealth8888 said...

Use Pareto's Law to track your discretionary expenses. Other fixed expenses, you can't really do much about it.

PanzerGrenadier said...


All of us get into habits (good or bad) over time. I also need to kick myself (metaphorically) on the butt at times to learn new stuff and get out of my own comfort zone.

I guess the important thing is to ask yourself if a particular process or habit is something that brings you closer or further from your own life goals and decide accordingly.

Be well and prosper!

financialray said...

You sounded as if you are burnt out. Take a break. Spend more time with your family. That is something money cannot buy and worth a lot more.

If you are thinking of working less but getting the same amount of pay or even better rewards, then passive incomes have to be generated.

Dividend Tech Warrior said...

Hi LP!

I dunno if u watched this classic old chinese movie. Jet Li acted Zhang Wuji and Sammo Hung was his teacher. There was this scene where Zhang Wuji started learning the "Tai Ji" moves from his teacher. At the end, his teacher asked, "can u remember the moves?" Zhang Wuji repiled, "I oredi forgotten everything!". The teacher then said, "Excellent! This means you oredi mastered it!".

I think u are similar to Zhang Wuji. You have mastered ur expenditure and savings habit. ^^

Jokes aside, I do agree that a person should pursue some challenges. But personally, I prefer taking small challenges at a time.

Anonymous said...

Hi LP,
The difference between self-employed and employed is you really get what you want.
As employees we have no choice but to accept or "frying sotong".
All self-employed are a special breed or class of its own.
I always admire self-employed people.
I only can employed myself as a passive business man in the stock market.
Which i think should not be counted.
Anyone can be one instantly.
Ha! Ha!
It is just to easy to self-employed in this way.
The question is how long can you stay self-employed in the market?
I hope as long as possible.

AK71 said...

Hi CJ and LP,

I recently started playing games on PSP again... cham. Each session would take 3 to 4 hours, sometimes more... cham x100... :(

Gaming is an inexpensive pastime. I enjoy it and it keeps me sane. Not so cham after all. ;)

la papillion said...

Hi noob trader,

Indeed..challenges need not be financially motivated. It can also be personal challenges too. I've a variety of them actually.

And you're right, I stop bothering about expenses (though you incorrectly mentioned that I stop recording them) because I do know the range that I can spend after doing it for a couple of yrs.

Hi bro8888,

Care to explain more about how to use pareto's law to track discretionary expenses?

Hi PG,

Indeed, that is what the book that you recommended me to read talked about. Things we spend time on and spent money on have to be aligned to our goals, so that we'll be fulfilled. Thanks for the reminder!

la papillion said...

Hi financial ray,

Yes indeed. You're sharp - I'm indeed burnt out by work. I need some time to rejuvenate, but it won't come anytime soon because my work is seasonal.

Regarding the second paragraph that you mentioned, hmm..not really. I can work less and earn more by leveraging on time. You do know what I work as right?

Hi dividend warrior,

You captured the meaning of my post perfectly :) I think I've mastered my expenses and savings by doing it consistently for a couple of years, so I dare to say that.

I like taking big challenges but of course, it had to be broken down into actionable (and achievable benchmarks). If a challenge is not challenging enough, it's not a worthy opinion only, of course.

la papillion said...

Hi temperament,

I think being a market participant, you can be 'employed' as long as you want or until your capital runs out. I think you can 'work' in the market till you depart from this world since nobody will fire you, haha

Hi AK,

Gaming keeps me sane..I love that line. I agree, because it keeps me sane too :)

Createwealth8888 said...

Pareto's Law:80/20 rule.

80% of our discretionary expeneses come from top 20% of the things that we spend our money on.

If we need to cut down expenses effectively, I only need to review these 20% items.

For example, we need to record our money spent for a good dinner at resturant and don't need to record daily unches and dinners at kopithiam or foodcourts.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I've recently started playing computer games again, cham also?

LP, like you, I previously had the habit of tracking quite closely my monthly expenses too, though not as detailed as keeping spreadsheets and all. I've since stopped as I realised it feels rather miserable to live a life having to watch over my every cent spent.