When you’re young and have many goals competing for your attention, it can be hard to see the importance of financial planning – but this writer explains how he realised the value of having a sustainable plan in place.
Have you heard of the term “impatience-za”? This is an affliction commonly seen in millennials – when our YouTube video takes more than 10 seconds to load, we grumble as though we were back to the Middle Ages. GrabCar taking nine minutes to arrive? Time to snag a new driver.
When it comes to personal finance, “impatience-za” can take on the form of a rabid race to achieve FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). Proponents of the FIRE Movement want their financial independence, and they want it now. This can look like anything from saving over 90% of their income to baking their own bread in a bid to save a few extra dollars.
While we can debate the merits and drawbacks of such an outlook, I think it’s more worthwhile to examine some of the reasons behind this impatience.
Reason 1: The “nurture” argument
Since our childhood days, technological and Internet advances have made things feel very instantaneous. No snail mail, only email or WhatsApp. No window shopping, but online shopping. All these have led the millennial to being nurtured to a certain set of expectations. Instant gratification was an inevitable by-product of Technology’s mission statement to make the world go faster.
Reason 2: Endless options
Feeling hungry? Fire up any of your many food delivery apps and have a tantalising buffet of options waiting for you. Want to invest? Here are 12 different robo-advisories to choose from, all touting different benefits and unique selling points. This non-stop parade of options makes it seem like we have limitless choice, which often leaves us with decision paralysis. If a better deal is seemingly just one click or swipe away, it’s hard for millennials to slow down and commit to just one option.
Reason 3: Being less exposed to world calamities
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Man will search for more enlightened things once basic needs are fulfilled. Millennials were born a good time after the long period of struggle following World War Two and the decades of rebuilding that ensued. In Japan, for example, the need to rebuild from scratch post-War led to the workaholic being lauded. Those were dark days and as a community, they knew that they had to focus on the collective effort and postpone philosophical musings such as “Why am I doing this at all?”
However, these days, with most of our basic needs met, millennials are increasingly searching for deeper fulfilment, for experiences that resonate with us – rather than just a means to an end.
So what does all of this have to do with personal finance?
As much as I consider myself a typical impatient millennial, I have come to realise that there are certain things in life where patience and playing the long game are more important than getting immediate results. This is especially pertinent when it comes to financial planning.
In my mid-twenties, I used to stress about the demands of adulthood – work, relationships and planning for my future. I would compare myself to my peers and measure all the different ways I wasn’t hitting the mark. It was around this time that I discovered the “fun” of fooling around with Compound Interest Calculators on Microsoft Excel, which instantly tabulates how much a sum of money can turn into when compounded annually and combined with regular top-ups.
However, the fun quickly morphed into a myriad of emotions when I saw some projections reflecting the dreaded “Error!”, telling me that the momentous milestones in life couldn’t be reached without an improvement in the plan.
This made me realise that I needed to get serious about planning for my financial goals. Poor preparation when younger would mean poor living when older. I started thinking about all the plans that would be delayed – wedding, house, starting a family, retirement – and it spurred me into action.
It was slow going at the start – I spent many long hours scouring forums for ways to jumpstart my progress and give an adrenaline shot to my financial plans. I even started dabbling in investing, which came with its own hard-won lessons. It was difficult to map out a comprehensive financial plan as there were blind spots that I couldn’t see i.e. things I didn’t even know I didn’t know.
Over time, I came to realise that financial planning is a marathon that takes time, effort and patience. Coming from a generation so used to instant gratification, it was hard for me initially to see the long-term rewards of careful financial planning. However, having seen and heard from others who have gone before me, I decided to take the plunge with MoneyOwl’s Comprehensive Financial Planning.
I am now more confident about meeting my goals of buying a home, starting a family and retiring with ease. I no longer have to muddle through conflicting opinions on fin-fluencer blogs or feel worried about not meeting certain life milestones. More importantly, I’ve learned to manage the symptoms of “impatience-za” and bask in the sanguinity of having a robust and sustainable financial plan in place.
Comprehensive Financial Planning (CFP) with MoneyOwl
At MoneyOwl, we believe that financial freedom doesn’t happen by accident. It starts with a plan, and with MoneyOwl’s Comprehensive Financial Planning service, you get a personalised plan specially tailored for you by client advisers who are fully salaried. They do not earn on commission so you can rest assured that there will be no hard-selling or pushing of unnecessary products.
As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step… and a good compass. Let MoneyOwl’s CFP guide you by establishing your current financial situation, identifying the gaps you have in your protection plan, and getting you on track to meet life goals.
Remember, it is better to be walking slowly in the right direction, than sprinting in the wrong one.
About the writer: Young Millennial’s POV is a three-part series that examines the world of personal finance from a non-professional’s perspective. The writer, Kevin Ng, is a Digital Marketing Executive with MoneyOwl who describes himself as a self-proclaimed optimist who chooses to see the glass half-full. He stubbornly (and perhaps mistakenly) believes the stock market isn’t a zero-sum game and that there is more than enough pizza to go around the table.