Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

Zen Lessons for Investing Wisely

Published

on

What is “zen personal finance”? Is it a new-age thing? Is it a type of meditation? Is it a new way of looking at our personal finances?

It might be none of those things, or it might be all of those things and more!

Now that I’ve been out on my own for a while, I’ve had some more time to think and reflect on what I want out of life, and on what personal finance means to me. This post reflects my own personal thoughts and approach, and reflects some of the lessons that I’ve learned over time.

What does it mean to “invest it wisely”?


When I first started writing, I was originally interested in learning more about the technical and investment side of finance; the sort of stuff that a CFA might be interested in. I had done well in finance in school, I enjoyed having some of these discussions with my good friend Mich @ Beating The Index, and I was a little bored with my job as a software developer at the time.

Over time, I tried to whet my appetite for learning more about the intricacies of investing in options and futures, or analyzing the balance sheets of a company, but I wasn’t able to do it. There was always a question in the back of my mind, and it was asking me “What does this do for me?” Technical knowledge on its own wasn’t going to put me on the road toward financial independence, or increase my happiness in life.

It turns out that there were some serious questions that I needed to address, long before I worried about the small details. How was I going to reduce my debt and increase my savings? How was I going to advance in my career and move toward financial independence? How was I going to move toward self-actualization?

I now believe that the most important investments we make in our lives are those that we make in ourselves. Before we can move toward self-actualization, we need to be fulfilling our life purpose. We need to be happy in our station in life. Moving toward financial independence isn’t just about money: it also means being secure in one’s own beliefs and being in an internal state of peace. We can take important steps, such as ensuring that we reduce our investment costs by investing in index funds, and lowering our debt load by not buying more house than we can afford, but these are all ancillary to the true goal: mental satisfaction and contentment with oneself and the world.

We are all born with a given amount of mental and physical capacity, and everything that we achieve in this world is achieved through the focal point of our mind and body. Our minds can become a trap, imprisoning ourselves inside of an inpenetrable fortress; our minds can also be the greatest enabler of our highest aspirations and dreams. Our minds are the ultimate resource, and we must learn to invest this resource wisely.

Why do we sometimes feel jealousy, envy, and greed?

Some of the main sources of the unease we feel can be traced to the primal emotions of jealousy, envy, and greed. Underpinning these emotions is often a base feeling of fear: fear that we’re not keeping up with our colleagues, fear that we won’t have enough saved for retirement, and fear that we won’t live life as fully as we want to.

I believe that it’s perfectly normal and healthy to feel some amount of jealousy, envy, and greed.  We are social animals, and we evolved in an environment where these emotions could have increased our chances of survival. In today’s world, these emotions don’t necessarily make as much sense. I grew up in a fatherless home with a mother who remarried, had another child, and pushed me out of her life. I spent much of my life being angry at the world.  For the longest time in my life, I was held back greatly by my own personal feelings of envy for others and the lives they lived, and fear that I couldn’t achieve the same. Why did they have good homes? Why did they have normal parents? Why were they wealthier? How come they didn’t have money problems? The world had wronged me, and it wasn’t fair!

I now believe that as humans, we can overcome any adversity. One of the main reasons that I was so unhappy was because of all of the unease I was creating for myself! A little bit of envy was good to motivate myself to change things, but letting myself be overcome by these emotions was becoming destructive. There is beauty in the world, but we must choose to see it. If we don’t see it, then we can’t achieve self-actualization; our minds will always be hungry and starving for more. How can we achieve anything in our lives if we can’t see past our own noses?

The four noble truths

There’s a concept in Buddhism known as the “Four Noble Truths“; I believe that we can learn a lot from these truths by applying the concepts to our own lives. I’ve written my paraphrase of the truths below; however, to learn more, I recommend going straight to the source.

  1. The noble truth of uneasiness: Life is filled with uneasiness from the moment we’re born. Many things in life cause uneasiness, and we don’t always get what we want.
  2. The noble truth of the source of uneasiness: We have desires, beginning with the sensual desires and pleasures, and moving up to self-actualization and contentment. We all want some degree of freedom, security, fortune, power, and success. There’s always something to go after.
  3. The noble truth of the cessation of uneasiness: It is the relinquishing of our uneasiness, and of achieving freedom from it.
  4. The noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of uneasiness: As humans, we are always acting toward reducing and eliminating the uneasiness with our lives. Some ways of acting will be more successful than others. The Noble Eightfold Path is about acting with the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

I really believe that it comes down to that: how can we act to reduce the uneasiness in our lives? Isn’t that what financial freedom, paying down debt, and saving money is all about? The money is just a means to an end.

We can all take small, incremental actions, such as reducing the fees we pay on our investments, and eliminating high-interest debt such as a rolling credit-card balance. However, we must change the way in which we operate internally so that we can move toward reducing the unease that we feel, and move closer to that state of pure contentment. If we are always creating unease for ourselves by entering into debt to buy a bigger home than we can afford, or if we are feeling unease because someone is “luckier” than we are, richer, more attractive, and what have you, we are going to make ourselves miserable. We are doing it to ourselves.

With every action that we take, we can ask ourselves: “Does this maximize my long-term happiness and satisfaction?” Since other people are usually more willing to be nice to you if you’re nice to them, first, this is a path that leads to greater social cooperation and harmony. Since we’re focusing on the impact on our overall lives, we avoid falling into the trap of living only for the present, or worse, living only for the future when we might give up all that we can enjoy in the present, and we might even be too old to enjoy our savings.

Through the power of our minds and by following the right path, we really can overcome adversity and move closer toward happiness and peace.

Follow your own path

I haven’t always been successful at practicing what I believe in, and I won’t pretend that I’m any wiser than anyone else or even that my way is better than anyone else’s. In fact, I see this as a continuous learning experience.

Everyone has to find their own path, but I hope we can take the journey together. Your goals and dreams belong to you, and nobody can ever take them away from you.

_____

About The Author

This article was written and produced by Kevin of Invest Wisely, a fantastic resource dedicated to educating the common investor. see more.

Callum Connects

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

Published

on

Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

Published

on

Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Trending