Travel does give you perspective on economics on different cultures. No, a lot of cultures are not shit poor, in fact, a lot of them are wealthy nations. However, you do get a bird eye’s perspective on economics from standard of living, to the day to day lives of people in the myriad cultures.
Singapore is rated as one of the highest GDP per capita. In other words, you can say that we’re pretty well off. Economically, Singapore also has a high gini coefficient amongst developed countries in the world. That also means the gap between the wealthy and poor is big.
In one of Lee Kuan Yew speech, he lamented that youths do not know what it’s like to be poor. I always had a shelter over my head, and food on the table. He’s right about that. However, I know what it’s like to feel the possibility of being poor.
When I was younger, my family faced financial troubles. However, in some way or another, we managed to get by. I feel like I have the authority to speak in this area because my family has gone from the possibility of getting a public house seized by the bank, to moving into a condominium. The majority of Singaporeans stay in public housing estate flats. That also means that I went from the lowest 20% in social economic class in Singapore, to the top 20% of social economic class in Singapore.
I also didn’t come from an elitist family background. My Mum worked her way up from a administrative clerk in the same company for 30 years to a managerial position. My Dad, who’s blue collar, worked in various jobs from a gas coolie, to a chicken rice stall seller to a fishmonger. They are both non University graduates. Of course, my parents didn’t do it overnight, they did it through multiple decades. You could argue that they are the perfect example of the working class hero.
So growing up, I hated that Singapore was structured and geared solely for economical gain. There seems to be little leeway a compassionate society. If you failed at school, that meant that you sucked and you’re out. Good grades meant economical success down the line. Bad grades mean otherwise. Our metrics of success are mainly academically and economical.
Through the years, I’ve had friends and family who are able send their children to elite schools through donations, and I’ve had friends and family people who weren’t from so fortunate family backgrounds. You can argue all you want, but if you’re Singaporean, there’s a notion of elitism in Singapore.
Economics and Culture
Through jumping around continents, I got to see how economics have an impact on architecture, infrastructure and different disparities of living standards. For example, Singapore has close to no homeless, whilst wealthy cultures such as the States have homeless strewn all over their cities. Our country is almost perfect and perfect.
However, you can argue that these economically less perfect cultures found out a way of life without being perfect. They are okay with the imperfections, and Singapore isn’t.
Okay, this is a personal finance article in a dating advice blog. However, who cares? If you’re well off, it allows you to invest in coaching, go out on dates, buy better clothes and allocate more time to better your dating life. So why not? I also enjoy writing about money, and perhaps I’ll write more about finance and economics in the near future. I’m also writing this partly because in my last article, I made an argument of passion VS practicality, and how I made a decision to be practical.
So, should one pursue money for the sake of money?
Cultures with better economics also tend to have lesser rates of crime. Less murder, less rape and less bad guys. So, why not? Sufficient wealth is good for everyone. The people who I meet a long my way who are educated also tend to have a good family financial background.
Hence, the common adage of how the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer.
Here are some of the invisible scripts I grew up with:
I once lamented that if you’re born into a wealthy family, you’re going to automatically learn the habits of the rich. I wasn’t rich. Throw in a couple of mishaps in my family and the system, I grew up with a couple of negative beliefs about money:
- To be rich goes against good and moral values
- Rich people are inherently arrogant and bad
- You SHOULD be happy with what you have, and not desire for too much or more
- Money can’t buy happiness, hence you should not pursue wealth
Yes, you do get that rich daughter or son who’s secretly annoying from time to time. However, other than those spoilt brats, I’ve came round full circle and feel that there’s value in being financially secure and driven.
If you’re a parent, you can provide for your kids a stable upbringing and environment. If you’re a student, it gives you leeway and mental capacity to perform in academics. I know this for sure. Since 12 years of age, almost everything in academia was pointless to me. I wasn’t going to be financially secure solving DY/DX in A Math class. If you’re a young working adult, you get to get a round of drinks of your friends, spend on your girlfriend/ boyfriend and secure your parents financial future.
Wealth and Problems
However, being rich itself doesn’t solve a lot of fundamental problems.
I’ve watched family and friends splurge their money mindlessly, instead of solving the root of their problems. I had a friend buy a Mercedes within his couple of months of paycheck, and not able to pay it off after he lost his job. I’ve watched family and friends grasp and cling on desperately to their bank account despite educating them that holding cash is one of the worst forms of investments.
I’ve similar problems pop up in my own family life despite being a more financially secure position.
I’m not exempt from negative beliefs with my money. I tend of scrimp and get as much value as I can when I travel. For example, I didn’t purchase Wi-Fi for my whole trip in Europe, which is stupid. The value that I can get out of purchasing Wi-Fi instead of saving a couple of dollars is probably worth the price.
Hence, the famous investment quote: price is what you pay and value is what you get.
Wealth can also Solve Problems
I think there’s nothing wrong about desiring to be rich, being rich solves many problems. You can’t buy direct happiness with a million dollars, but you sure can solve problems that would bring misery. I’m all for the pursuit of wealth for the sake of financial security. I think being financially well off can solve a lot of problems, and here are some:
- Medical bills
When you’re sick and out, you get access to medical care. This is non negotiable.
For someone who has a huge problem following rules in school, I do spend a huge part of my money on education, both formal and informal.
- Quality of food
I noticed a huge difference when I travel. So in Western European countries, where the price of one meal is three times of Singapore’s, I gave up a bit of quality for a price. My body feels different after ingesting an unhealthy meal of Kebab and Coca Cola.
I hate transport. There’s research also stating people who commute are unhappier than people who work near their work places. I’ll use money to rent a place near to the central area of anywhere I’m living.
- Travel and experiences
Anyone who tells you that travel is cheap is lying through the roof. Travel IS expensive. I got the shock of my life when I got to Europe. Even in Eastern Europe, the cost of the meal is multiple times of that as compared to Singapore’s because of the exchange rate. One meal is around 6 Euros in cheaper parts of Europe, that’s around 9 Singapore dollars. You can get a full meal in Singapore for 4-5 Singapore dollars. You do the Math.
- Basic fashionable clothes
Everyone wants to look good for their partner and amongst their peers. So yes.
The Pursuit of Wealth
Ultimately, it’s also what you do with that money. Some people use it to create more problems for themselves, and some people use it to solve problems in their lives.
So, if you a million dollars in your bank account today, what will you do with it? (Let me know in the comment section below.)
If I had a million dollars in cash. I’ll put 90% of it a low cost index fund, use the rest of it in business to generate cash flow. I won’t splurge it on luxury goods or un necessary material. I’ve never traded wealth for attention from the opposite sex and never will.
Let me know what you think in the comments section. I read everything. You check out our the new site here.