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Friday, 24 September 2010


Dear readers,

Thank you for your comments. I had no idea that there were readers following this blog. It had become a place for me to release the tension that I had felt for these few weeks. You are right, what we put on the Internet should be carefully filtered. We never know when the past will come back to remind us.

This week I began my masters course. I realised that with added burdens things begin to look in perspective. Life is too short to worry about whether I will get dumped. If I'm going to get dumped, then so be it. In the end, we can't live lives where we will be unhappy for the most part. I think that the first priority in life should be to honour our parents. If our spouse can honour our parents, then there will be peace in the home. At the same time, parents should be kind in their dealings with their children's spouse. It is a reality of life that we do not live in isolation, and our family members will feel unhappy if they have to continually sacrifice to accommodate our spouse. On the other hand deliberately ignoring your parents and other family members simply to make your spouse is also not the solution. It is a sad situation but nevertheless a reality that I have seen in real life conflicts.

The basic definition of "economics" is "the study of the use of limited resources to achieve unlimited ends". This means that with finite (or limited) resources, how do we achieve our endless wants and desires? As Gandhi has said, "The world has enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed." When is a desire a bona fide necessity, and when is a desire a luxury? When does continual upgrading (for example) stop being justified as necessity and become characterised as wastage? For example, a person who walks may occasionally take the bus. After some time, he buys a bicycle. He is happy with the bicycle, but sooner or later he finds that it is tedious, so he purchases a motorcycle. He is happy with the motorcycle thanks to its low fuel consumption, but hates travelling when it rains, or hates the rain when he is travelling (depending on the circumstance). Safety is also an issue. So he upgrades to a car, and is soon happily travelling on his four wheels, frequently ferrying friends to their destinations. Then he begins to get upset that there are bigger cars. So he plans his upgrade to a BMW... Now, at which point does he upgrade out of a genuine need? I would think that if his daily travelling patterns show that the places he goes to are within walking distance, the bicycle and/or motorcycle are sufficient -- the rest are just luxuries. But when he has become a family man and has three kids, then perhaps a car is a necessity. Perhaps after the kids start to grow up, the car feels crowded and he needs a van. I think that necessity and luxuries are not easily defined, especially when different definitions for the same things can happen from person to person. It's just that the frugal person (or person who would be frugal) should ask himself, whether what he wants is a necessity or a luxury?

I had a conversation with a friend. In life, we can only appreciate the present with the benefit of hindsight. The present, with all its glory and all its flaws as well. On the other hand, we tend to anticipate and welcome the future with hope and fear, never knowing what it brings. We tend to remember the past with fondness, for good memories, and regret, for sad memories. My friend had asked me, "Why are you resigned to your fate when you have the luxury of choice? You can make your own fate!" "My friend," I told him, "in life there are things that we can choose and then there are things that we do not want to choose. Of course life is unpredictable, and for that reason some of us are more aggressive in trying to get what we want. Others just make do with whatever happens, trying to find their place in the grand scheme of things."

My car tyre was punctured today, while I was driving. I was driving merrily along, when I suddenly heard "pap-pap-pap" from the back portion of the car. I drove to the nearby petrol station and stopped next to the air pump. My car tyre had been punctured and there was a need to change the tyre. Unfortunately, after a long process of trying to remove the tyre, we found that the rim of the spare tyre did not fit onto the car axle! It meant that we could not use the spare tyre. It's a little like finding out, your umbrella was meant for kindergarten kids. Or perhaps you suddenly discover that your computer back-ups were only for one portion of the whole. This led me to believe that we need contingency plans in life. We need a margin of safety to ensure that when disasters strike, we are prepared. How certain are we that the contingency plans we have are sufficient to deal with the problems we face? A contingency plan is like insurance, it provides a degree of safety for things that don't go according to plan, or things that happen to upset our plans. For example, if I were to buy a car worth about RM35,000/= perhaps I should also prepare RM3,000/= for paperwork, runners, etc. But the question then becomes, how much should I allocate in a contingency plan? This is because we do not know what we need, or how much we will need. If we allocate too much to the contingency plan, then perhaps we are setting up ourselves for frustration: Our resources would be locked up in contingency plans. On the other hand, it is better to be prepared than not to prepare at all!

I am still resigned to my fate, and I vow to write more about frugalism in the future.


Chloe said...

Nice blog entry.., thanks for sharing your thoughts on life and frugalism.

The word 'frugal' has never been in my vocabulary...however, I understand the need to use one's limited resources to maximise results or returns. Does being frugal involves investing one's resources to generate passive income? Is there a difference between being frugal and being 'kiam' ?

Being resigned to something is akin going down without a fight. It is the perogative of an individual to make that choice of being is neither good nor bad! Sometimes, it is good to adopt the wait and see developments or a change of heart can often lead to a positive and unexpected outcome!

Would love to read more about ideas on multiplying one's limited resources...and on frugalism! :-)


Rossi said...

Hey Kevin,

Glad you're back on track. Way to go !!

Rossi said...

Oh.. and I totally agree with your view point of greed. With our current economic model of capitalism, there are bound to be new models of BMWs or iPhones to generate sales and maximizing profit.

Sure it's good for big companies but what about the consumer who is really spending their hard earned cash on things that they "think" they need.

Yes, you can argue that at the end of the day, it is a matter of choice whether to succumb to peer pressure on whether to buy it or not. But do we really have true freedom of choice now? With advertising hidden in movies, TV program , internet and other social events , it's hard not making a bad decision.

Being frugal sometimes is considered old fashion or unacceptable in today's society.

In the eyes of big business corporations ,a frugal society doesn't generate much sale at all ..

Just my 2 cents