Yesterday while waiting for the lift to head into the office, I asked my colleague to confirm what day of the week it was: “Is it Thursday today?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “Why?”
“It felt like Thursday on Tuesday,” I explained.
My colleague nodded vigorously. “It’s felt like that for the past 2 weeks!”
We’re more than halfway through the first month of 2024. If you still don’t feel ready for the year ahead or if you’ve just been having an awful week, you’re not alone. From the depths of Reddit, here are 3 real stories of people feeling empty or lost in their investments, finances, or just life in general. We hear them out and share our picks for the best advice on what you can do if you feel the same.
What Reddit taught us about wealth, investment, and happiness
- “Will I ever make it in life or is it over for me?”
- “I am earning well but still feel so empty.”
- “I traded $54,000 and lost $27,000—What do I do next?”
“Will I ever make it in life or is it over for me?”
Shucks…@truthhurtsal, you can only afford to eat once a day? That is not okay!
But wait, how can someone who earns $150,000 a year be living pay check to pay check like this? Let’s unpack the situation. The original poster (OP) broke down his expenses more further down the thread:
Unfortunately, most of the OP’s major expenses are non-negotiables. Assuming he and his ex-wife went through the Court to determine the child support each party would need to provide, this is legally binding. He could try to appeal the amount formally but would need to show the Court that his material circumstances have changed. Judging from the $150,000 annual income he’s still taking home, this isn’t a viable option. Besides, it’s still his flesh and blood, and it’s still a child. Bailing on his child support would be irresponsible as a parent.
A quarter of the OP’s salary goes to DMP—that stands for Debt Management Programme. Under this programme, Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) will come up with a debt repayment schedule for you to pay off your debt with monthly instalments you can afford. CCS communicates with major banks and can help you get a reduced interest rate on your debt. Seeing as the OP has accumulated a whopping $120,000 in debt, the DMP is good for him. He needs to fulfil these payments over the next 3-4 years to clear it.
As many other Redditors commented, the most viable expense @truthhurtsal can reduce is his rent. He’s currently forking out about $3,000+ for rent, or 24% of his income. While you’d think a single man earning $150,000 a year should be able to afford $3,000+ in rent for a whole apartment to himself, that changes when you consider the $120,000 he owes.
This comment below from @samopinny is my top pick for the OP. In short: Rent someplace cheaper, pay debt ASAP (or according to the DMP), eat better, and stay employable to secure your income. As this Redditor said, even if the OP has to declare bankruptcy in the worst-case scenario, it’s not the end of the world. You got this, OP!
“I am earning well but still feel so empty.”
Here we have another Redditor in a very different financial situation, and yet who sounds just as down. @oieric spent their days working hard in the pursuit of financial freedom but somehow lost their happiness along the way. Now, they “feel so empty” despite “earning well enough”. The OP mentions gold medal syndrome—this refers to the range of complex emotions top athletes experience after clinching first place. They may feel anxious, lose motivation, have an identity crisis, or even (somewhat paradoxically) feel they have to prove themselves again and again. I know, it’s complicated.
But I’m not so sure that what the OP is describing here is similar to the gold medal syndrome at all. As this Redditor puts it, it feels like he’s already identified the underlying issue—money inherently does not equate with joy. To expect that it does will only bring you disappointment.
Money buys material goods and services to make you comfortable, but money in and of itself can’t bring you joy. As @abscity writes above, it’s time for the OP to do things that make them happy—which admittedly is easier said than done.
I like the way another Redditor (@ObsidianGanthet) phrased it: “Happiness is a process, not a state.” It’s created with time, not bought or traded with money. Yes, we can say “I’m in a happy state”, but the key thing to note here is that being in this state takes ongoing effort and not just a single pump of money.
The 2 Redditors above both spoke about “choosing your own happiness”. I think Redditor @firepathlion said it best: Personal finance is just that—personal.
A friend of mine is currently in the process of getting an engagement ring for his girlfriend. She’s someone who has an idea of what kind of ring she would like and what kind of ring she wouldn’t, so he was asking her for her input. “Don’t worry about the cost,” he assured her. “Money is never a real problem at the end of the day.” My friend didn’t say that because he’s rich. He said it because he understood that happiness is priceless, and he wanted to do everything in his financial power to give her the most joyful proposal ever—the first step on their journey into married life.
As the Redditor @firepathlion said, “Find the life you want to live and figure out how to fund it”. If the life you want to live requires that you work less, do that. Fund your happiness with time—which is far more priceless than money.
“I traded $54,000 and lost $27,000—What do I do next?”
At first, you’d think Redditor @lost_sheep0 isn’t as lost a sheep as her username makes her out to be. She’s got no debt and has $100,000 sitting in an OCBC 360 savings account. Though she’s lacking on the CPF front and could do with a credit card to make the most of her spending, she’s otherwise in pretty good stead.
Then you get to the next paragraph—she’s traded $54,000 in the Singapore Exchange (SGX), of which she’s lost half. $15,000 is realised loss, and $12,000 is unrealised loss. What does that mean? A realised loss is when you sell an asset for less than its purchase price. Comparatively, an unrealised loss happens when the value of an asset you own drops below its purchase price, but you haven’t sold it yet. So, it’s “realised” when you sell, and “unrealised” if you hold. For our purposes, it’s as good as considering $27,000 lost out of the $54,000 sum she traded.
Losing money is scary. I know we just talked about how money isn’t everything in the previous Redditor’s thread, but money does get you goods and services. It buys you convenience and comfort, and is an essential tool for pretty much anything in life. What more when you’ve got a dream of owning a home one day, as this OP does.
However, losing money isn’t the end of the world. Money can be earned back, slowly but surely. From the sounds of it, the OP was trading to try and make quick profits, but made some poor decisions and lost money. Losing money isn’t unusual for traders. But as Redditor @preatoris commented, you’ve got to know what you want to do with your money and the risks involved.
Risks are generally higher for trading than investing. But what’s the difference? Trading is like sprinting. Traders buy and sell quickly, trying to make money fast from changes in prices. It’s fast-paced and needs a lot of attention. On the other hand, investing is more like a marathon. Investors buy and keep their assets for a long time, hoping their value will go up slowly over the years. It’s slower and doesn’t need constant watching.
Let’s not forget that the OP also still has $100,000 stashed away safely in her OCBC 360 account. There’s a lot you can do with $100,000! In fact, you can even start making your money work for you with just $1,000. This lost sheep definitely has the means to bounce back if she formulates a well-researched plan, understands her risks, and learns from her experience. This could mean trading again but with more knowledge and wisdom, or investing in safer things like ETFs, T-bills, and fixed deposits.
The top-voted reply on this thread advised the OP to understand the difference between gambling and investing and to ultimately avoid the former. I don’t quite agree with their assessment; gambling is not the same as trading. Trading (done with proper consideration) involves buying and selling assets based on trends, data and analysis. Knowledge and strategy are involved. Gambling relies almost entirely on luck; while there are strategies, you still have a high risk of losing the bet. You can get better at trading over time, but you can’t make yourself luckier at gambling.
Ultimately, @lost_sheep0 has just veered off course for a little but is far from devastatingly, irreversibly lost. If you’re reading this and thinking about your financial blunders, I would say the same thing to you: You’ll find your way. Just keep at it! It’s only January. You’ve got the whole year—no, your whole life ahead of you.
I hope this article’s made your week better! Share it with your family and friends who could use a boost.
About the author
Vanessa Nah is a personal finance content writer who pens articles on the ins and outs of personal loans, the T&Cs of credit cards, and the ups and downs of alternative investments. She’s a researcher at heart and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to breaking down complex finance concepts and making them easy to understand for the everyday Singaporean. When Vanessa’s not debunking finance myths, you’ll find her attending dance classes, fingerpicking a guitar, or (most impawtently) fulfilling her life mission to make her one-eyed cat the most spoiled and loved kitty in the world.