Every so often, we will hear of people who say that we don't make enough money. Then, we might also hear of people who say we should have free education, free healthcare and the best is not have to pay for anything in Singapore.
Now, don't get me wrong, who wouldn't want to have free everything? In an imaginary and perfect world, perhaps, this dream would come true but until such a world is created, it would remain a dream.
Why would it remain a dream?
After all, there are people who are saying that it is possible to have free this and that. Once every few years like now, their voices are louder than usual.
When the Creator made this world, he made it so that we could live off the land. So, things should be free, right?
However, if we had wanted food, we would have had to hunt and gather. If we had wanted more, we would have had to work harder. Free? Free from having to pay with money, perhaps, but we would still have had to pay with time and effort.
Free? I hardly think so.
In an imaginary and perfect world, everyone would get everything for free and no one would have to pay for anything. In this real and imperfect world of ours, if someone is getting something for free, someone else is probably paying for it.
Things cannot be free?
So, how like that?
What to do?
Well, if we have to pay for the things we want in life and if we want to have a better life, we have to work harder and smarter. Our ancestors progressed from being hunters and gatherers to becoming sedentary farmers, for example. They spent long hours in the fields. They worked harder and smarter too. Things haven't really changed.
Of course, we can talk about how some progressed to become landowners but that is the next step. For people who are not even contemplating working harder and smarter, that next step will remain elusive, as they remain where they are.
I understand that there are some people who genuinely have difficulties in making ends meet despite their best efforts. They could be physically or mentally handicapped. They could have issues at home that hampered their efforts. If we are a caring society, we will help these people. They might need monetary help and help should be offered.
If we are physically and mentally whole, if we do not have insurmountable problems at home, I do not think we have any good reason to complain that we don't have enough money. Why? If we want some money, go make some.
Such people don't need monetary help. They want monetary help. If monetary help is given to these people, they immediately become a burden to society.
A friend who was from a poor background asked if I could lend him about $800 to pay for his fees at a local polytechnic many years ago. Even though I wasn't making a lot of money back then, I lent him the money. He promptly paid me when he received his monthly salary. He is doing very well now.
Another friend who is also from a poor background asked if I could lend him $500 because he wanted to go to Hong Kong for a vacation with some friends. I was financially more comfortable by then and he knew I was. I rejected him. We are no longer friends, it seems.
I share these two examples to show how we have choices in life.
Being in Singapore, we are more fortunate than many in the world. Overworked and underpaid? Then, make a change.
I know a lady who was very well paid working in one of the big audit firms. She felt she was overworked and underpaid. I asked if conditions might be better in the other firms. She said they were all the same. Then, she wasn't overworked and underpaid. It was the industry norm. Her salary was easily thrice as much as mine back then!
I know another lady who was relatively well paid working in one of the big law firms. She wanted shorter working hours. So, she took a pay cut and moved to a government statutory board. It was a trade and one she was happy with. If she had gone to another big law firm, conditions wouldn't have changed.
I share these two examples to show that, for most of us, if we want something, we have to give something. We cannot just take and not give.
At one time, I was holding two jobs. In fact, if I were to include a job in the informal sector of the economy, I had three jobs at one time. For a few years, I was working seven days a week. I am not very smart. So, I worked harder. I didn't have much of a social life and, I guess, I still don't. Mind you, I am not complaining.
Before we complain, before we ask for help, before we even ask for our CPF money to be returned to us at age 55 (which is another topic), stop and think if we are doing anything to improve our lives first. If we are doing something, ask if it is enough.
1. Do you want to be richer?
2. The very first step to becoming richer.
3. How to have a comfortable retirement?
4. How to tell if you are rich?
5. The Millionaire Next Door.