The Hard Truth of Financial Freedom

The Hard Truth of Financial Freedom: Are We Willing to Pay the Price?

Many of us want to be rich, but most of us are not willing to pay the price of being rich Mr. Loo Cheng Chuan, founder of the 1M65 (1 Million by 65) movement, shared this hard truth at the Seedly Personal Finance Festival 2019. His message is also my key take away for my journey towards financial freedom.

Achieving financial freedom requires hard work and sacrifices

Mr. Loo Cheng Chuan shared his origin story about how he strived and worked hard to make his mark despite the setbacks from the financial crisis. It is an inspiring story because so much of today’s news is about how successful individuals make money from quick wins: starting and selling profitable businesses or investing in high risks instruments like cryptocurrency. We tend to forget that these are rare and exceptional cases and most of the time, to achieve financial freedom, hard work and sacrifice are required to pave the way.

Mr Loo asked us a poignant question:

“Are you willing to pay the price to be a Millionaire?”

– Sleep less?

– Work two job?

– Forgot Annual Holiday?

– Take risks

– Rent out your rooms?

– Minimal house renovation?

It got me thinking about my current lifestyle. I am guilty of wanting to be rich but yet, I am not willing to pay the price of being rich. I want to see my bank account growing but I still splurge on frivolous daily things like ordering food delivery when I am lazy to cook, eating out at restaurants/cafes when I get bored with eating the same meals and indulging myself when I am feeling down with “innocent” purchases like an expensive coffee or snack.

Life experiences do not have to come at a cost

It is humbling to know that Mr Loo built his wealth by being thrifty and working hard (he worked 2 jobs!) He shared how life experiences can be obtained without spending lots of money. For example, his family does not indulge in luxury holidays; instead, they have fun going on road trips around Malaysia. He mentioned his friend, Mr. Dennis Goh, one of the founders of HungryGoWhere who despite his wealth, leads a frugal life. The question Mr. Loo posed was, do you want to look wealthy, or be wealthy?

What are we doing to get us closer to being financially free?

Reflecting on my personal habits, I spend my free time idling around and doing nothing much in particular. I could have invested this time working on another job or working on projects that built my wealth. Instead, I was lying around in bed watching Netflix and ordering food in instead of cooking my own meals. Yikes, this is not going to take me very far.

Even though my current lifestyle is not extravagant, I see areas where the fats can be trimmed. Like lunchtime, instead of eating whatever I want depending on my mood (some times $7 for a bowl of soup, yikes), I can choose a cheaper option and keeping the spending cap to $5. Mr. Loo shared a piece of sobering advice that puts being thrifty into perspective, the $1 he saved now will make him $10 in the future.

I was building up quite a decent saving but got derailed when the wedding came along. I told myself that it is just once in a lifetime experience so I was more liberal with my purchases and spent more than I should have. Even though the wedding and honeymoon were relatively low budget, all the spendings do add up, and I see the damage in the savings.

“The things you own end up owning you” – Fight Club

Many times I fall into the trap of spending money to try to impress others, or buying into a certain lifestyle to feel good. I bought branded bags and items because I want others to perceive me to be cool and I wanted to fit into society.

This can be seen especially during office lunches. Previously at my ex workplace, my lunch buddies were willing to spend more than $7 a meal. So to fit in, I too decided upgraded my lunch budget when deep inside I mourn for the waste of money. But at my current work place, my lunch buddies are more thrifty and we would complain about how expensive $6 a meal really is.

When all your friends seem to be living a certain lifestyle (holidays in Europe and Japan, trying out new restaurants all the time and constantly shopping online), it is challenging not to try and match up.

Recently, I finished reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F* (Misleading but clever book title really) in which the author Mark Manson wrote:

“Not giving a f* does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.”

“We all have a limited number of f* to give; pay attention to where and who you give them to.”

It is an excellent reminder to myself that it is ok to be different and I should choose my battles wisely. Instead of being bothered by what I think people will think of me, I should be concerned about what I want for myself.

So starting this week, the journey to financial freedom begins again. it is back to being thrifty again and time to kick start a No Spend Challenge!

Are you on a journey to financial freedom? Please do share your tips 🙂

Note: Mr. Loo Cheng Chuan’s answers to financial questions can be found here.

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The Hard Truth of Financial Freedom

Hidden Gems in Woodlands, www.everydaychooselove.com

Hidden Gems in Woodlands: Admiralty Park & Woodlands Waterfront

Sometimes all it takes is a little adventure to discover a different side of the city. Beyond the popularity of Hort Park and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, there are two hidden gems in the highly urbanised estate of Woodlands.

Mention Woodlands, and the typical reaction you get is “Wah! So near Malaysia!” Besides the usual association with traffic jams at the Causeway, most would also think of industrial buildings and HDB flats.

Seldom would one think of a view like this:

Admiralty Park Mangrove, everydaychooselove.com

Just 10 minutes walk from Woodlands MRT, next to Republic Polytechnic, is the South Entrance of Admiralty Park, the largest park in the north. Besides being home to a massive kids playground with lots of slides, there is also a nature trail to explore a secondary forest and mangrove. Do not be surprised if you find yourself face-to-face with special visitors! (Signs that you are an urban dweller: You panic when you noticed a monkey further up your path and your first instinct is to run away.)

Monkey Admiralty Park, www.everydaychooselove.com

The nature trail (Admiralty Park West Connector) leads to Woodlands Waterfront Park, a sleepy and peaceful park with a splendid view of the Straits of Johor.

Woodlands Waterfront Entrance, everydaychooselove.com

Walk towards the jetty where fishing enthusiast line their fishing rods and you will be rewarded with this view. It never fails to amaze me how Malaysia is just across us. It feels like an alternate universe: drive 15 minutes and you arrive at another country with a similar yet different lifestyle and landscape.

Straits of Johor View, everydaychooselove.com

Woodlands Waterfront Cloudy Day, everydaychooselove.com

Thinking of places to go for your no spend challenge? Why not check out Admiralty Park and Woodlands Waterfront Park especially if you live in the North? It is a serene and easy walk that will take you to the lesser known parts of Singapore. (Plus, it is a good way to hit your 10,000 steps and earn more HPB vouchers! 😬)

Tips for your visit to Admiralty Park and Woodlands Waterfront:

💧Bring water as water points can be difficult to find. There are vending machines around and two eateries. There is also a convenience shop (Cheers) in Republic Polytechnic.

 🚗 Carpark lots near the parks are limited, so parking may be challenging during peak period. Although for Admiralty Park, more parking lots are available at Republic Polytechnic.

🐵 Beware of monkeys in the nature trail, keep your food hidden and  bags zipped.

🔦 There are no street lamps in the nature trail, so if you are using the Admiralty West Park Connector to head towards Republic Polytechnic and Woodlands MRT, make sure to buffer enough time before the sun sets.

🌂Bring an umbrella in case of heavy downpour.

👣 Starting and ending at Woodlands MRT, the walk to Woodlands Waterfront Park through Admiralty Park takes about 2 hours at a leisurely pace.

Share your hidden gems because Singapore may be small, but there are still places that surprise us! 🇸🇬

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no prep kale chips recipe

No Prep Kale Chips in 12 Minutes!

Kale chips – the perfect guilt free snack: salty, crunchy and a REAL VEGETABLE! (Looking at all you bogus vegetable chips that are marketed as being made from “vegetables” 😛) The down side is store bought kale chips are crazy expensive. $6 for a handful, gulp! Not really guilt free for the wallet. 😭 A fresh bunch of kale thought cost about $5, and that makes about 3 – 4 serving of kale chips. Here’s an easy kale chips recipe that is guilt free, wallet friendly and best of all, no preparation required! No reason to reach for that unhealthy snack because making a healthy snack takes time. Get your kale chips in 12 minutes with this recipe.

➡️ Recipe: No Prep Kale Chips in 12 Minutes ⬅️

All you need is just fresh kale, olive oil and salt!

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Ingredients:

– Handful of fresh kale

– Olive oil Spinach

– Salt (I use pink Himalaya salt)

Method

1. Separate the kale leaves from the stem by roughly tearing it by hand. Wash the leaves and pat dry or shake the water off the leaves. Place the leaves in a baking tray.

2. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt. Don’t sprinkle too much salt as the leaves will shrivel up in the baking process and the salt gets concentrated on the leaves.

kale chips preparation

3. Bake the leaves in the oven at 180 degrees celcius for 12 minutes or until crispy.

Enjoy the kale chips while it pipping hot or it stays crunchy when cooled too. Tried this recipe? Let me know what you think of it or tag @everydaychooselove on instagram! 

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Save your wallet and time with this no prep 12 minutes kale chips recipe

 

What I Learnt From The No Spend Challenge, spending detox

What I learnt from a month of the no spend challenge

I constantly struggle with frivolous spending, so I am starting the new year with a no spend detox: no spend challenge for the month of January! Aside from the essential necessities like groceries and food, I am not to spend on anything else, including things like clothes, cooking accessories, tech toys, etc.

It’s now three weeks past January and here’s what I learnt:

1. I spend without thinking. I am so used to consuming and buying things that I don’t hesitate much to make a purchase if its less than $20 😱

– Bought a hand brushing pen set because one of my to-dos this year is to start practicing calligraphy.

– Signed up for 50gig of iCloud because I was lazy to synchronised content manually across my Apple devices.

– Bought the {The And} app because suddenly I remembered that I wanted to get it to play with The Husband.

– Bought tickets to a personal finance conference because my friend couldn’t attend thinking it would be a good opportunity to learn more about personal finance

2. On the occasions which I remembered I wasn’t supposed to buy anything, I actually have a solution for it without the need to spend:

– Wanted to buy an egg mould for frying cauliflower rice pancake, but when I went back home to dig through my cupboard, I realised I had a mini circular cake mould that would do the trick.

– Wanted to buy a measuring cup but didn’t get the chance to do so. Realised later that I had a measuring cup at home after all.

– Wanted to sign up for calligraphy classes, but wasn’t sure of which dates to pick. Found out that there are really good free calligraphy classes online! Here’s a list of 50 free tutorial and pro tips if you’re keen on calligraphy.

3. Most of the time I purchase things thinking it will make me feel good, but after the initial glow, the item is really pretty much forgotten.

– Here’s a research showing that we indulge in compensating consumerism – buying things unconsciously to boost our damaged self-worth.

– Case in point – do I really need 3 Bluetooth keyboards?! 😓🙈I bought each keyboard thinking it will make me more productive. It makes me feel like a savvy tech person when I imagine whipping out the keyboard to type at cafes. In reality, these keyboards are lying around in my cupboard.

Too much stuff

Although I definitely didn’t succeed in the no spend challenge, it is like a financial audit of my consumerism life. It made me realised how often I mindlessly buy and consume things, even non-physical things like apps! The Guardian released this poignant article with a hilarious and on the spot headline: Marie Kondo, you know what would spark joy? Buying less crap”

January’s not over yet and I’m not giving up on the challenge!💪🏻

Took up a no-spend challenge? Let me know what you thought of it and how you survived or not survived it! Looking for a tag team partner in this challenge? Hit me up!🙌🏻

 💡 Thinking of what to do during a no spend challenge? Why not check out Admiralty Park and Woodlands Waterfront for a spectacular view of the Straits of Johor.

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Lessons learnt from a no spend challenge

Speedy Healthy Noodles, instant noodles healthy hack

“Instant noodles” healthy hack

What?! Am I sharing a recipe for instant noodles on the first week of 2019 just as I declared that my #2019goals were to get healthier and eat better? No way!

Sometimes you just need a quick win in life, and also a gentle introduction to the rest of the family that healthy food ≠ death of all comfort food and joys of life. 😆

After a crazy day of running errands, I needed a fast meal to feed everyone. So the “instant noodles” used is not the usual chemical and addictive laden instant noodles that most of us grew up with. There are now various options in the grocery store for non-fried, no preservative noodles. 

With more consumers taking a stand for their health, manufacturers have tried to capitalise on this trend and started pushing out healthier alternatives to our comfort foods. (Although never believe what you see on the packaging, always read the nutrition label. Just because it says it is healthy, doesn’t mean it is healthy. 🤔)

➡️ Recipe: Speedy Healthy Noodles ⬅️

This dish makes use of what you have in your fridge, and it’s versatile enough to change up the flavours to suit the tastebuds of everyone in the family.

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

– Cubed chicken filet or protein of your choice

– Spinach, shiitake mushrooms, baby China wongbok or vegetables of your choice

– Non-fried, no preservative noodles. This time, I tried Koka Fat Free Plain Noodles as it cooks fast and the nutrition label seems pretty decent? (< 400mg per 100g of sodium and <5g per 100g of sugar.)

– Soy sauce, dark soy sauce, ginger paste, sesame oil, chilli (optional) 

Method

1. Stir fry chicken fillets (or protein of choice) with olive oil, soy sauce, sesame sauce.

2. Add some chilli sauce for a spicy kick. (I use Mekhala Organic Issan Thai Chilli Hot Sauce)

3. Remove the cooked chicken if you want to serve it separately and in the same pot, stir fry vegetables of your choice with olive oil, soy sauce and sesame oil. I use an easy to wash and chop mixture of spinach, shiitake mushroom and baby China wongbok.

4. In another pot (or the same pot if you like, but do remove the cooked ingredients first!) cook the noodles of your choice according to the directions on the packaging. If you’re good at multi-tasking you can cook your noodles concurrently while stir-frying the rest of the ingredients. Drain the water from the noodles when it is cooked.

5. For the dressing of the noodles, mix together soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger paste (and chili sauce if preferred) to give the sauce more flavour.

6. For a richer taste, stir fry the noodles with the dressing. Alternatively, pour the dressing over the noodles and mix well.

7. Serve with the stir-fry dishes.

Saved the day with your version of this dish? Tag @everydaychooselove on instagram and let me know how it went! 

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Busy day? No problem! Dish out a meal with this speedy healthy instant noodles recipe.

get awesome 2019, healthy, simple living, thrifty

Let’s get awesome this 2019 🙌🏻

As 2018 comes to an end, I found myself looking back on the year and wishing I did more with it – eating healthier, working out more often, being more thrifty and being more present when I am together with The Husband and people I love.

I’m making these wishes into my #2019goals. That being said, according to one study, 80% of New Year’s resolution fail by February. Not too much of a surprise there as I am a culprit of that too. To get my mindset right, I have been listening to Tony Robin’s audiobooks on the way to work in the mornings for the past few weeks. As a summary, this 4-step strategy to achieve any goal which he shared is useful to get things started.

Tony Robbins’ 4-step strategy to achieve any goal

1. ✏️Write down your goals. – “There’s something that happens when we write something down.”

2. 📝 Write down the details of why it’s important. – “By getting absolutely clear as to why you must achieve your goal, you will find your purpose.”

3. 🙆🏻Get into the right mindset. – “Even if it seems impossible to you now, you know in your core that you can pull it off”

4. 👍🏻 Repeat. “If you want to master anything, you have to ingrain it into your system”

This 2019, as we try to start our family, it is important that we keep ourselves healthy both physically and mentally. Something that is easy to neglect when we get caught up in the hecticness of daily life. So this 2019, it’s my goal to get all of us healthy and keep things simple💪🏻 Starting with:

– cooking low-carb, low-sodium, less sugar meals with minimally processed ingredients at least thrice a week.

– Working out twice a week

– Keeping our budget low because healthy ≠ expensive

What are your goals for 2019? Share them with me, (in private if you like) and let’s get awesome together!