What did I do? I allocated 0% of my efforts to cost-cutting and devoted 400% of my energy into improving my earned & investment income. I embarked on the following initiatives:
- I dedicated my time to improve the technical skills for my career in banking. I read manuals, memos and bugged my seniors to help me improve my job knowledge. As such, I found myself wanting to take the LRT to work early to get a head start in the day, as I wanted to avoid the horrendous traffic. I didn’t mind starting early and leaving office late too. I was motivated to do so. The next thing I knew, my commuting and travel costs dropped significantly.
- My bosses encouraged me to take a Professional Accounting qualification as I was in the Finance department during that stage of my career. I spent the next 2.5 years without any social life. I was glad to spend most weekends at home because I needed to study and prepare for my exams. The next thing I knew, my expenses on food and entertainment dropped dramatically. I was happy to eat simple & healthy meals at home because I wanted to maximise my study time.
- I built good relationships with my bosses who eventually became my treasured mentors. I went to them regularly for feedback and advice, and they were vested in my success. That year, I was humbled to be rated as the top performer in the division. I received a promotion while my salary increased from RM3,000 to RM4,500 in a single year.
- My Bonus that year was about RM20,000; which was pretty decent considering my original salary of RM3,000. Whilst I do appreciate savings as a virtue, it would have taken me close to 3.5 years to save that same amount via regular monthly savings. I used my bonus as a down payment for a cash flow generating apartment and was able to build my portfolio more efficiently.
Moral of the story? Sometimes, being ‘realistic’ is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity. Sometimes, it pays to be unconventional if you want to be better. In other words, the ‘realistic’ approach to both Adam’s and my predicament would be to attack and cut costs diligently.
Lastly, don’t be intimidated by people’s opinions, mine included. Only mediocrity is sure of its self, so take risks and do something unconventional. Don’t be afraid of being different; of doing things in a different way. Rather, we should be afraid of being the same as everyone else.