Here at MoneySmart, we like to believe that everyone has what it takes to have a bright financial future. Still, it has to be admitted that this is easier for some than it is for others.
Some people are just more easily addicted to the thrill of gambling or the rush that comes when you buy a purchase you can’t afford. Others are better able to resist the temptation to splurge, and to put in the hours to educate themselves on financial management. Here are four personal qualities that make for a brighter financial future.
1. Not Being a Follower
A quick look at mainstream society these days shows that what is now considered a “normal” way of life really isn’t that financially sound at all. In Singapore, mainstream society is one that unabashedly embraces consumerism. Even the government has long been appealing to citizens using dollars, cents and the fear of not being able to continue enjoying their existing consumption patterns in order to garner votes.
The average Singapore is actually experiencing rising household debt. Clearly, you do not want to be average. But it takes guts to go against what society tells you you should do. When you’ve reached a certain rung on the career ladder you get weird looks when people find out you refuse to buy a car. Your subordinates might raise their eyebrows when their own work attire costs three times what yours does. Your friends might balk when you suggest eating at a hawker centre instead of the chic restaurants they’re used to frequenting.
If you’re a lemming, don’t be surpised if you succumb to “normal” spending patterns and then find yourself regretting it years later when you realise you’ll never be able to retire.
2. Being Able to Think Out of the Box
Hacking your way to a cheaper existence in an expensive city takes a lot more than just determination. It takes an ability to think out of that darned box. Everyone tends to do things the same way here—whether it’s spending tons of money on tuition for the kids or taking 5-10 year loans to pay for their cars, there’s a ‘standard operating procedure’. And if you want to hack that, you’ll have to exercise your creativity.
Thinking a bit more broadly than the average person makes you realise there’s more than one way to get home after midnight, and it doesn’t have to mean taking a cab. There are other ways to get ripped off apart from joining Fitness First, and there are definitely other ways to earn money than working 12 hours a day in a job you despise. Don’t box yourself in. Follow MoneySmart on Facebook for more tips on how you can boost your income without finding a job that requires you to work 80-hour weeks.
Making smart financial decisions isn’t always easy. In fact, there are times when erring on the side of prudence is downright hard. It’s so much easier to just stretch out your hand and borrow money from a friend or family member, or to whip out your credit card when you know you don’t have enough money in the bank, than to simply go without.
A huge reason people get into consumer debt is simply a lack of self-control. In fact, some people are so out of control that MAS has had to step in to place new caps on the amount you can borrow, because it appears that many Singaporeans just can’t stop overspending.
This applies to people who are earning big bucks and addicted to luxury, but even more so to those with a modest salary, who might need to seriously cut back in ways that would faze “normal” people here. Forcing yourself to avoid eating out takes a lot of willpower, especially when you’re starving after a long day at the office and home is an hour away.
4. A Cool Head
We make stupid financial decisions when we’re not thinking straight. Whether it’s making a fatal move on the stock market or splurging on that bag that cost two months’ salary, a lot of our poor decisions are made thanks to stress and adrenaline.
Some people get swept up in the heat of the moment more easily, while others manage to maintain their composure in the most trying of circumstances—or at least to defer their decisions until they’re thinking straight.
There’s a reason traders need to have a clear head at all times—their rice bowl depends on it. We’re not suggesting you jump into the forex market to practise, but some awareness of how your emotions affect your financial decisions can go a long way towards helping you avoid disaster.
What other personal qualities do you think have a positive impact on one’s finances? Tell us in the comments!
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