Life is finite. No one can escape the fact that while we live right now, we will all die some day. There is another inevitable fact of life- there are intelligent people and there are stupid people. I don’t mean people who have low IQ but rather there are people in life who will be stupid in that they choose the wrong values to ascribe to. In fact, it happens to a lot of high IQ people because sometimes they think that by virtue of the possession of their intelligence they must know it all. However, this often leads to the Dunning-Kruger effect or in cruder terms, being too stupid to know that you don’t know.

In case you’re still wondering what kind of people I’m referring to, let me give you an example. I have a relative whose idea of keeping score on how well one does in life is how big one’s house is and also mind you, not just the number, but what type of car you drive (Korean, Japanese or Continental). This particular person also never fails to put down the achievements of others. Case in point- when asked her opinion of my recent employment, she attributed it to the desperation of my employers rather than any positive attributes of mine.

Honestly, I sense some desperation on this person’s part to salvage what’s left of her self-esteem since her own kids struggled through school relative to my brothers and I (well at least, compared to my older and younger brother) when she must have considered herself to be of superior intelligence. That desperation to salvage some self-esteem has also developed into what I call ‘the quest for meaningless expensive things- expensive cars (made even more so by Government taxes) and an apartment. I suspect the next to-do thing on that list will be to ensure that her son gets a home that’s more expensive than mine.

Now, for the benefit of those trying to build wealth, let me illustrate how the above is the perfect negative demonstration:

Cars: Even if you pay for them in full, Cars are a depreciating asset which means you (almost always) lose money the moment you buy one. This is especially so if you paid a high price for the COE which is nothing more than a piece of paper giving you the license to own a car.

Apartment: Property is not inherently a bad asset class to own. The problem is when you pay for it in full (which means zero leverage) and get only a  miserable 2.6% gross (not net!) yield when a 10 year Singapore Government Bond is yielding 1.57%, it just shows that it’s a lousy investment.

Now, if she ‘encourages’ her son to buy an apartment that he can ill-afford to sustain by himself, it will be the feather in the cap because if she pays some part of it for him, he’ll not know how to generate that level of  income or wealth to afford things of that level. If she does not and he takes on the property on his own volition, he will be encumbered with loans that, even if he may be able to sustain, will impede his ability to accumulate wealth in what will possibly be the best years of his life to do so.

The trick I’ve learnt is to shut these people off emotionally because, after all, they are entitled to their opinion and they have a right to live their life the way they want to. Another way of looking at it (which I think is valid) is that I must be doing something right because I possess something for someone to be jealous about.

Anyhow, I won’t let it affect my life and my results so far speak for themself- I graduated in the top 50 of my cohort, currently built a personal wealth that most people twice my age would only dream of and my adult life is barely beginning! There are so many things left that I want to do and yet there’s only so much time and energy that I have, much less wasting it on people who don’t matter.

PS: For those that still think that money is meant to be spent anyway so why not on material wealth, please remember there are much better uses of money. For example, this.