Category Archives: Career

My Work Life

I suppose it hasn’t really been kosher for me to have avoided talk about my work life thus far. Most of you probably don’t even know what I’m working as or where I’m working at.

Well, I’m currently working as a business analyst for an electronic components distributor. The job largely entails the generation of reports, the maintenance of point of sales (POS) and customer relationship management (CRM) data, and occasionally acting as the middleman between the marketing and IT functions.

Though, like most jobs, it has its really mundane tasks (some reports have so little structure and require so much flexibility as to make automation nearly impossible, requiring plenty of manual intervention), many parts of this job have had me thinking if perhaps I should be paying them to do it (I never knew I would ever learn, and actually enjoy, programming in Visual Basic).

But even then, I can’t say I see myself doing this for the next five years. I’ve always been keen to go into freelance work or starting entrepreneurial ventures, and finding and landing this job hasn’t quite changed that. Though I’m getting used to wearing business attire (especially with the beautiful ties LiShya got me from Australia), I still don’t quite see myself as a salaryman, chained to the rigid rules of the corporate world.

On Financial Independence

I was reminded of the concept of retiring young but not necessarily rich while reading the book Your Money or Your Life (by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, one of the best books on personal finance I have read so far), and thought some of you who are into personal finance may find it interesting.

You may have heard of the term “financial independence” before. It’s one of the current buzzwords in personal finance literature. But though used so often, its meaning is not entirely clear to most people. Unseasoned journalists, for example, tend to use the term synonymously as “rich” or “wealthy”. But financial independence does not mean being rich or wealthy.

Rather, financial independence refers to having enough income apart from that obtained from paid work to be able to cover all your living expenses. In other words, if your expenses are $900 a month, and your investment income (say, through fixed deposits, stocks, bonds, unit trusts or the like) is $900 a month, then technically you’re financially independent, even if your assets do not typically classify you as rich or wealthy.

This concept of achieving financial independence early in life therefore means:

  • You do not have to have be a high-income individual to achieve financial independence;
  • You do not even need to have high-value assets under your name to achieve financial independence;
  • What is important is how much you are generating from investment income; and
  • How low your expenses are.

Personally, financial independence is more important to me than becoming rich or wealthy. I’d like to choose how I make my money and how I spend my time, and not let money concerns dictate what I have to do, and when I do it.

The Workaholic

He had always been to me – to a certain extent – the epitome of success at work. But though excellent at what he did – often earning top honours – he never appeared satisfied or genuinely happy with what he had. A smart strategist, he always chose his environment carefully, opting for where competition was less intense. I think this allowed him to consistently perform above his peers wherever he went; even if he always claimed he didn’t care much for it, you could see it in his eyes that he did.

I recalled the times I’d occasionally see that he really wished he didn’t care for it so much. He’d tell me that “this was it”, that he was going to let go of his strivings and finally relax for once. I’d sense the jaded man in him disappear. His eyes would light up, and he’d have this infectious, sincere smile as if all was well and good with the world. And I’d smile and think “finally!” along with him. It was unfortunate, however, that these episodes didn’t last long. Like a baby’s need for love, without his striving for success at work he never looked comfortable. And before long he’d return to it, often with a renewed fervour, perhaps making up for lost time spent letting go.

Leaving Something on the Table

Today was a landmark day: today I sold my very first item on eBay — actually, it was my very first item sold anywhere. I had always wanted to know what it felt like to be on the merchant’s side of commerce; and today I had the chance to find out.

It was pretty unexpected stuff. I had only put up the listing for an hour before receiving a call from a potential buyer, who would after just three hours become the proud owner of what was my mom’s Sony Ericsson W902 mobile phone.

I had put considerable thought into my eBay listing. I researched what others were selling similar phones for (e.g. same phone model in a similar condition and with the same or similar accessories), figured out the minimum price it was being sold for, took $12 off this minimum and used that as my selling price. It was my way of “leaving something on the table“, something I learned from Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame.

With the $12 you save from buying from me instead of my closest competitors, I wrote, you may treat yourself and/or your loved one to a decent meal, donate the money to charity, or do whatever else you might want with it. The buyer thought it was funny; I certainly thought so too.

An IFA Career

A couple of posts back, I wrote about my foray into sales and how I was seriously considering a career as an IFA (or independent financial advisor) representative. The first few days after making the decision were great — I felt that I had at long last settled on what I had wanted to do; but the days after were terrible, as self-doubt crept in and I wondered if it had perhaps made the wrong decision.

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