Family Finance Manager

money

Dear Boys,

Call me gullible, but I learned from my friend Steven to let The Wife handle the finance. Back then I was just dating your mum, and very early during the relationship, I handed my bank account pass book to my then girlfriend, one evening at her parents’ place. She was surprised, I think pleasantly, it probably demonstrated to her that I am serious about the two of us getting together for the long haul.

Wife =  Finance Manager

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Steve let his wife, Kat handles all the money stuff. He said as long as there is $$$ in his wallet, he is okay. All his earnings, he hand to his wife, who does the numbers. From a very early age, I have never question that logic and took it wholeheartedly.

Perhaps it is because I don’t really have a template for family finances. I never understood how my parents does their finances, as my dad was a businessman and my mum, The Housewife. I suspect that my dad does everything, and to be honest, he is not the best person to handle money.

So when I see that Steve’s approach seem to keep him wealthy, in this case monetary sense, so it simply occur to me that perhaps letting the wife does the money is a really good idea.

Money = Trust

The logic for me back then, dating your mum, was also simple. I wasn’t earning that much, and she can see that she is really dating a poor bloke. There are 2 rationale;

  1. She will either see my pathetic bank account and leave for a richer boy.
  2. She will take all my money and leave for a richer boy

She didn’t, in fact trusting her with my finances serves as one of the bedrock for our relationship.

Your money = my money 

Back in those days where we were DINKies (Dual Income No Kids), there were never issues over who has who’s money, she gets her paycheck, I get mine, we all put it into a joint account and see all of our monies there.

We do not keep separate accounts as everything is put into one. I think it is a matter of the proverbial wife-husband joke “Your money is my money, my money is my money.”

But she has never put a limit on my spending, she has at times where finances were a little tight, told me to stinge, but this husband has never found himself short of cash.

Before I met your mum

My finances was basically hand to mouth, period. I have bills to pay, as well as school fees. So whatever I get, it will be used up pretty quickly. So it was certainly a good thing for me to hand my money over to your mum, as she has a better sense of things and that help me and of course the family, a lot.

The Guardian

Handling money is not something I would like to do, I can do I, but it is better to let the better person handle it; your mum.

Right now, as we are on a single income policy, I just focus on working to bring in the money, she focus on keeping and using the money I bring in.

There were some time in our past, where during my career transition, money was a bit short, and there was a deficit. I wasn’t earning enough to make ends meet. And over time, it eats into our savings and she kept all these from me. Part of our savings was a substantial severance package from her previous work, and most of that money, (her money to be specific) she put into the family. She kept all that from me, so that I don’t get stressed up and worried over the finances. I only learned about that recently, and I am forever indebted to her for keeping the family first. Using her money for the family.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I’m not too sure how you boys will handle your family finances when you start your own family. There are many models out there. There is really no science to it. The most important thing to remember is that in a marriage, it is the ‘marriage first’, not longer Husband and/or Wife, and certainly not a case of my money/ your money.

Even if you have a spouse who earns more than you, don’t let your ego get in the way, in a marriage, it is a team thing, and always let the best person handle the task, if it happens to be you handling the finance the first order of the day is to make sure the family has some savings, make an ‘Us account’, be fully transparent. Try not to hide secret funds, from each other, unless you are saving some money to buy her a nice surprise.

 

 

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Aikido can save your life

Dear Boys,

Your dad’s Aikido skills wasn’t meant for fighting, like what Harry sensei said recently, how often are we expected to get into a fight and actually use our skills?

And by the way, martial arts, is not fighting and fighting is certainly not martial arts.

So what is it good for?

Life saver scene one.

This happen when I was still quite new into Aikido, because I can remember it happened during my younger years riding mountain bikes. Back then I was still staying at Woodlands, and too poor to buy a helmet, and yet I want to go mountain biking.

picture taken off google, this is the exact Marin I had, same colour even!

I’m not sure what was the occasion, but it I was riding my Marin Bobcat Trail, and I was daring myself to ride as close to the pillars around the Woodlands MRT area. So as I pass each pillar, I try to go closer and closer, and true enough, I struck the second last pillar.

My right handle bar went too close to the pillar, and knock into it, knocking me off my bike.

Obviously I fell and thanks to my Aikido, I did a backward roll and got up immediately. There wasn’t any thought process made, it was instinctive and the body just took over. I rolled and got up, unscathed. I picked up the bike hopped on it and continue riding.

Life saver scene two.

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I rode a bike like this in my younger days the plate as Y7339X!

This was a little more serious, than the first, as I was on my motorcycle. I remembered riding down down Stamford Road one evening and the right lane, for whatever reason, was clear, I wasn’t travelling fast, as it was city riding, there is no way to go fast.

So one car, seeing that the right lane is free, decided to turn, perhaps he checked his blind spot or he didn’t, he hit me, from the left.

Things happened so fast, all I did when I saw was to beep my feeble horn, and it was already too late. Since the impact came from the left, I was thrown to the right. I did a roll, not one of those forward Aikido rolls, it was a sausage roll, and I got up.

The driver, a Japanese man got out, he was stunned, shocked beyond words. His face was drained white, hands shaking, speechless. Instead of him asking me, I asked him: “Are you alright?” Twice.

The lady in the car, was more composed. Seeing that there is nothing with me, except for my broken clutch handle, there was really no need for any police to be involve, I was unscathed (so I thought) I took a S$50 (can’t remembered if I asked for it or he gave to me) so that I can repair the little damage he did to my bike.

We parted ways, he drove off. I had a hard time operating my bike as the clutch handle was broken, but I could still manage.

Applied aikido

So every time I go to class, I am qualified to say that the best technique in Aikido to learn is rolling. Learn to roll properly, and protect the most important jewel of the human anatomy, the head, not that head but the one that sits between your shoulders!

Regardless of Race, Language or Religion

Dear boys,

We are going to have an unprecedented Presidential Election this year, and without going into too much details on the politics, we will have only Malay candidates for presidency.

Why it matters to us as Singaporeans

It never mattered to me in the past who becomes President, since the level is so far detached from where I stand. Now that I am older, and I’ve seen how the President discharges the duty to represent Singapore, I realised that who we pick, is important.

This is more significant, as in the last President Election, we have 4 Tans and all but one, comes with their own level of stupidity. It is ridiculous to have anyone else but Mr Tony Tan as our president.

The ‘reserved’ election

So when this time around, the government has decided that the election will only be open to the Malays; as it has been a long time since we have a Malay as the President of Singapore. The last Malay president was also Singapore’s first President, Yusof Ishak. More than 50 years ago!

Without going into too much details, I wasn’t comfortable with this concept, I mean, if our Head of State has to be democratically elected, why must it be only reserved for one specific race?

It is not about being racist here, the topic might become to sensitive when we don’t think through carefully. I was toying with ‘meritocracy’, and this usually means “may the best person get the seat, irrespective of race, language or religion.” This is in line with our pledge, and I thought what the government did, contravene the Singapore Pledge we say and hold so dear.

I was wrong

I voice this out with my friends and they argued the realities of the ‘reserved President Election’. It is a necessary evil, and despite of being ‘undemocratic’ in appearance, it is most equitable in practice.

We need to understand, boys, that Singapore, while being touted as a multi-racial society, living in peace and harmony, is not always like this and will not continue to be like this, if we are not careful in making our executive decision, today.

Yes, we are multi-racial, BUT, the population is predominantly Chinese. It will always be the case in any society; there will be a major group, and other minor sub group(s). While we want to practice democracy, and meritocracy; statistics is against those who are in the minor group. It is the same, when we compare our talent pool to that of China, we have a population of 6 million, at best, they have 1.3 BILLION, who will have more genius? No prize for guessing the right answer!

So statistically, we have to acknowledge that it might probably be a long time coming before we have a  Malay, or Indian Presidential candidate who will come forward and put in his/her best foot to become a President of Singapore. It is a big hat to wear and it must not only be given to those who have a statistical advantage.

That said, being race specific for this presidential election is important. The role of our President, must be above all, one that unites the country. That goes beyond meritocracy as a mere lip service. Every race has to have a chance to become a President, and since the past few Presidents has been non-Malays, this time around, we need to make sure someone from our Malay community, gets a chance. This is being fair, in our Singapore context.

Regardless of Race, Language or Religion

Like many, I hijacked this phrase from our Singapore pledge, and argued that this reserved election is not ‘right”. Actually it is, in its true spirit, acted in the best interest of the Singapore, regardless of race, language and religion.

How shall I argue this?

It is a profound and deep thought process. We have this Malay-only Election precisely for the fact that we are deeply embedded in this ethos. We cannot let the Presidency becomes dictated by only one race. We need to look at the presidency as a position to give all race a fair chance of representation and voice. If we look at the now, of course, this election appears to run against the grain of our pledge. If we look at the future, in a longitudinal sense, we are walking the talk, of being a multi-racial society, and my boys, nation building is not just about talking, it is about a very, very long walk.

So as a member of the dominant race here in Singapore, it is easy for me to promote meritocracy, without taking into consideration the hopes and aspirations of our Malay, Indian and Eurasian countrymen, they have been waiting in line patiently for their turn to be represented, and when the system works against them, due to a statistical disadvantage,  we need to tweak the system, so that we can be fair to everyone, that is the true spirit of our Singapore Pledge.

Shared Presidency

So let’s not look at it like it is only reserved for the Malays, granted that for what ever freak results, that we end up not having a Chinese president, for the next 50 years, the presidential election will then be reserved, for the Chinese. Well, I don’t think I’d be around to see that happens, so remember this writing, long after I am gone. Everything in Singapore is not an entitlement, especially those of State property and position, while there is meritocracy in the way the government works, the policy has to consider a criteria of ‘internal equity’, for Singapore to prosper. Therefore, think of our presidency as a ‘Shared Presidency’, no one race will dominate that position forever, every race will get a share in taking that seat, and become the President of Singapore, a figure all Singaporeans look up to and endear.

Links:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/pe-2017-three-potential-candidates-what-happens-next-9102626

http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/giving-back-to-society-seasoned-business-owner-no-stranger-to-failure

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/nomination-day-presidential-election-sept-13-polls-be-held-10-days-later

Hanging out with Friends

Hanging out with Friends

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Dear Boys,

I have a chance of taking a break recently and used that time to meet up with my friends. In Singapore we are usually so busy with work, we seldom have time to do a decent catch up, the best we can do was a quick meet up over lunch and everyone has to run back to work.

So when there is an opportunity as such, I grabbed the chance and called these friends up for a chit chat.

Some have really tight schedule so I didn’t managed to meet everyone on my list, but some things cannot be forced, I’m still a good believer in fate, and until a better time, I will have to put a rain check on a couple of them.

My friends, are a mixed bunch, but that is what makes life interesting, we need to good dose of diversity in the people we meet, and learn from. Some are from my Aikido practice, some from my banking, and others from my recruitment work, and there are some, I can’t really ‘compartmentalize’ properly.

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Anyway, having a good mix helps me break away from my mindset. The dangerous thing about a mindset, is that you don’t know what you don’t know; catching up with these friends gives me a different perspective, and challenge my current thinking. Many of them have since moved on and joined other industry and gained some other life experience. In such exchange, we learn a little about each other, catch up with our lives, and also renew a friendship, making it stronger.

Eating at different places

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These friends brought me to different place to dine, and I ate some stuff I don’t usually eat. I learned that there is a yummy vegan joint called nomVnom at Central, Clark Quay, all thanks to Edna. She is a cheery, spirited young lady who is making a name for herself in a very challenging industry. While she is the youngest friend I met, I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and we talked a lot about other things, other than Aikido.

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Some of my friends brought me to very nice Japanese food, Yew Wah brought me to eat at Hifumi, selling very affordable Japanese food. I ate ramen at Santouka with Cherie and Karen. These are places I usually won’t go to, if I am out alone, or with you boys. It’s just not our usual go-to places.

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Catching up is good

Nowadays, people think of a catch up as a status over Social Media, It is not just about sending each other a text message or two, which we are all so inclined to do. We can all just pick up our friends’ number from the phone list and call. These people are friends, and they will also cherish a catch up. There are many trials and tribunals in life and they are best tackled when they are shared.

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Please call them

Don’t sit around waiting for friends to call you. Don’t wait to link up with people. Life is scarce and time even more scarce. In our fragile life, we need to call people and tell them we are around and we care for them. Don’t hold back, show people you love them for who they are and let them know they have a friend here.

In the past, I have this persona of waiting for people to call me. It is simply an ego-play, and no one win from such a “high-crass act”. Always reach out to people first, and if you do matter to them, they will make time for you. Then such people are best to catch up with again and again. They will enrich your life, and you, in turn, enrich theirs. In this exchange, everyone becomes a better person, and we become more connected than just a Facebook friend.

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Do the difficult things first

 

Dear boys,

We are human beings, and as an organic instruments of nature, we need to make sure we master the more difficult humanistic skills first. Simply put it, be a decent person of character and values.

But humans are lazy creatures, we often take short cut and find the easiest thing to do. We resisted that, and this shows in our digital policy. We are not introducing mobile phones, tablets and all those addictive things, because they are easy to pick up.

Mobile devices are easy to use.

This is the boon of the digital landscape, the diffusion of innovation is leaking into younger humans. Technology is getting easier and easier for us to adopt at an every younger age. It is in fact a bane for parenting.

This is so prevalent everywhere, we see last evening, at Manhatten Fish Market, a family eating dinner, 2 kids, each of them ate their meals, fed by a maid, both with a tablet in front of them, watching a cartoon while they eat.
Child as young as the age of 3 are able to use a mobile device, swipe left, to unlock it, find their favourite program on YouTube. It makes them sound and appear so smart, but it is the easiest things to do. The software tech guys made these devices so easy to use, simply because they want to make a lot of money out of their products, and they are winning, by a tonne loads of money.

Everyone is on it!

Pick up tech later, hit the beach first

It is never too late for the both of you to pick up tech at the later age, since it is so easy to use, we can leave this easy things to do till a later age. We want you to focus on ethics, values and treating people right. There is a lot of work to do in this department, and it is a constant never-ending struggle. But this is the challenge of parenting, making sure we raise good people.

Besides, we want you boys to be children, that means doing children things, play sand, enjoy the beach.

Do the tactile things, enjoy nature, understand the more humanistic problems. Understand that while we are at the beach, it rains, while we are in the water, there are temperature changes. (As we get deeper into the water, the water gets colder!)

It is an inconvenient thing to do, going to the beach, there will be grimy sand, salty water, dirt, germs and all. It is a heck a lot easier to play with a mobile phone, get on an online game, whatsapp your friends, chit chat on nothing. But who would we have raised?

Mini-mes

You see, as adult, your dad and mum, used mobile devices a lot, and Singapore has one of the highest numbers of smartphone users, do we want to see the both of you adopting our tech so at your youth? Why would we want to make you mini-me? Tech can wait, your childhood comes first.

Why would I want to turn the both of you into mini adults, and get you to adopt what adults use way before you boys need to?

 

Raising good adults

Being on the mobile phone, isolates you from human to human interaction. While you can make a conversation through messaging apps, nothing beats talking, person to person. Laughing and the usual banter. This is the best way to learn how to be a good person.

It also helps the both of you read body language, and develop effective emotional skills and relate to people. But one thing I can tell the both of you, the people you will be relating to in future, will not be a bunch of people friendly people, because everyone will be on their mobile phones!

 

 

Are you able to let go?

Does Aikido defines you? Gives you a sense of meaning? Purpose? Responsibility? Makes you a nicer person? Give you character? And all the other nice things? Does Aikido also provides you front and side air bags? If Aikido is really that good to you, like a cuddly teddy bear, then can you let it go?

I’ve not been attending class lately, perhaps it is simply a matter to reaching that ‘plateau’ again, where I don’t see myself ‘progressing’. The sense of plateauing has happened to me before, I’m not sure if it had happened to you, the last time I felt it was when I was in my 3rd kyu? Or later.

Right now I can look back and understand, again, the sensation of plateauing. It is a play of the ego, where the ego is not getting that adrenaline kick anymore. There is a sense of mental fatigue and no matter how hard I try, an irimi nage will always still be an irimi nage.

This time, it is not a sensation of the plateau. It is a sense of the self is telling me to give it a rest. Too much time and energy is spent on Aikido that other parts of your life is lacking. My presence in Aikido dojo, would means an absence at home as a father. It is a zero-sum game no matter how I look at it. I can only be at one place at a time, and sometimes I need to pull myself away from my regime to spend more time doing my other duties.

And this clinging, even to something as good as Aikido, is bad.

This is happening naturally, I don’t really miss Aikido, and frankly, when I’m in dojo, I don’t miss being a dad. There is sense of ease in the role and when there is an over-balance, the body, mind and spirit will automatically redress that, without any sense of angst or reluctance. Even though I said it is a zero sum game, I don’t feel a sense of scarcity, I just do more of this and less of that, and later time, more of that and less of this.

That gave me an epiphany, because we so often hear people say, that when they don’t get to train, they’ll feel uncomfortable. If they don’t go to the dojo and sweat it out, something don’t feel quite right. That means that deep in you, you hadn’t been able to let go. And this clinging, even to something as good as Aikido, is bad.

Nothing last forever, not even Aikido training. We must be able to let things go without attachment, only when we are able to do that, then we can take our skills, our life skills to the next level. Our Aikido existence is not a be all, and end all. Well if Aikido really matters that much to you, then you have to look somewhere else and see what other good stuff in your life you have been missing, doing your Aikido thing.

Getting Educated on Education

Getting Educated on Education
Your dad’s Bachelor of Arts in English with Psychology

Dear Boys,

Studying is hard. Education is hard. Sometimes what we study is seemingly irrelevant to what we do in daily our daily lives. We study math, we study algebra, we study history, some of these subjects we take, or are forced to take; keeps us up all night, all day. And if we don’t do well, we will encounter the dreaded ‘F’ word. F-A-I-L.

And things gets worse when we step into the working world only to realise that much of what we have learned are practically useless! So we learn, painfully by hindsight that, there is something call the academia and there is something call the ‘applied‘. Sometimes they mix well, more often they don’t.

Take my experience in Aikido, being in it for such a long time, there must be a good reason why I do it. Much of it can be considered ‘academia’, as there is a discourse, there is a curriculum, even a pedagogy. Is it applicable to real life? The verdict is out there.

 You will become educated by education, only to hate the very education you were educated in.

Much of what I learned in Aikido, is ‘irrelevant’. The movement, the technique, those moves, I can get that through exercise, through jogging, or other sports and activity. And yet there is something in Aikido that keeps me going back. That is for me to know, for you boys to, find out.

You will come to this eventuality, what you learned in school is practically useless.

So when you come to that realisation, I hope you realise something else as well.

You can only get where you are through education.

That is the cruel irony. You get educated by education, only to detest the very education you were educated in.

You can let that the bitterness of realization waste more of your life away.

Go back to the books that you hated so much, those thick, thick textbooks.

  • They were written by people.
  • They were printed by someone.
  • Your parents bought them, paid your school fees.

Someone out there thought that education is a good idea, that it is one of the best ways to make our lives better.

It is.

Education is not perfect, it never was. But it gave us knowledge, and hopefully turns into wisdom.

Change the world, save the world

With education, knowledge and wisdom, can one hope to change the world. You parents and countless of people went through the strive of study, because we all harbour a secret hope that with knowledge we can change the world, make the world a better place, for you, for our children.

So we make you boys go through the same thing. Knowing that more often than not, you cannot see the ends, to justify the terrible means; the mundane, boring, words after words, exams upon exams means. And it all apparently come to nought.

People who studied more than your parents came out with those thick, thick textbooks, also secretly harboured the same hope that those books they written can change the world, through the hands of those students holding it. They wrote those books with the best intention of arming their readers a learned mind.

Transfer of knowledge is never easy

While learning, as the both of you already knows, is not easy. Being a teacher is many times harder, as the teacher tries the very best to impart knowledge to the student. I can understand this because I can see many times, the frustration Harry sensei has trying to make us understand what being ‘relaxed’ is. His best intention is often not best delivered, and of course, not best received.

And yet the teacher strives

So before you complain the irrelevance of knowledge, and justify that life can be pretty much lived without having to be put through lectures, classes, assessments, exams, homework, project, assignments and other dreaded torture tools they use in school; please see that everyone strives to put what you have, on your hands. The books and knowledge you held, is not perfect, and probably cannot put three meals on your table. You cannot buy things by ranting off a string of mathematical formula. You have to go out and work, and earn a living.

Schools and schooling are only as dead as you want them to die.

Or you can change the world

You can write a better textbook, you can be a teacher better than the ones who tried their best. Strive harder, strive better than your teachers, because, as your parents, we do want you to be better, smarter than me, richer than me, save the world better than your parents could, build a better world for yourself, and your children.

So with what you have learned, go out there, bring knowledge to life. Schools and schooling are only as dead as you want them to die. Lessons are only as relevant as their students deem them to be. Knowledge can become a bias, it can become a dogma, it can make you stupid, if you only see knowledge as relevant as the grades you get from answering the correct questions.

Disclaimer

I hope book makers, writers, authors, sribes and wordsmiths can put a disclaimer in their publications.

“Please be forewarned that the contents in these pages are meant to be taken in by a competent, open and receptive learner. Anyone who decides to read it and become a bitter person, the author(s), while is sadden by such an unfortunate turn of events, cannot be held responsible for the wanton stupidity, any irresponsible individual can potentially make. Long story short, Books does not make one clever, but it can potentially makes many, stupid.”