It is now in the open. My students know I am leaving. And that I blog.
2 of them have left comments. And some are still searching for my blog addy.
I am running my last lectures now. I have been getting wonderful responses for these lessons from the students. The experience deserves a blog post of its own, which I will write in due time.
I get so many questions about the “how?” and “why?”. Most of my students are no more than 16 years old. Even if I explain in detail, it will take many years from now before they will truly understand. Some things just can’t be rushed.
So I will teach them through my blog posts.
You guys love stories. I am going to offer 2 stories here, of real life people who have taken the less traveled path. Someday, you can be like them too. I know many of you are rebels at heart, and not yet chained by modern slavery. You have the hope to be rich and free. I want to open your eyes and mind, to show you this other way of life.
The question is, how hungry and determined are you?
I stumbled across the idea of FIRE in 2002. This was shortly after the dot-com bust and employers were treating employees like slaves. I needed a dream, something that would carry me through the drudgery of 10+ hour working days full of unpleasant people, problems, and situations.
I am not the only one to retire young. There have been many before me, and more will come after me. Some retire with a lot of resources, but some are like me, retiring with enough. If you follow the trails, you will find many inspiring examples of young retirees who are free to live the lives that they really want.
If you want to explore this path in your life, read my old blog posts and my future ones. Through my writing, you will understand better my thoughts and why I am doing what I am doing. I can still be a teacher to all of you even when I am absent in school. We will meet again some day, and I wish that you will be successful and free then.
Excellence, Respect, Friendship.
This is part of the Departure Chronicles, that writes of this stage of my life when I retire, after 18 years of employment, to live my life free. The other posts in this series are:
I seldom publish a new blog post so soon after my last one yesterday. But today is a special day.
It is Singapore’s birthday! It is also my first time going to the Parade at the new indoor stadium on the actual National Day.
It is my “last” in several ways too. My last month as a school teacher, my last time enjoying 2 days of paid holidays (10/8 is a school holiday, yay!), likely my last time as a full time, highly paid employee.
If the median household income in Singapore is $8500 (including CPF), as a single person, I am earning more than that. I have tendered my notice and starting from September, will have zero active income.
I am transiting from upper middle income to a 平凡人. Hearing this song on the radio resonates with me strongly today.
In the last few years, I have learned to live simply and well below my means. I take pleasure in taking the public transport, eating at hawker centers, practicing minimalism and having little clutter in my life.
In school, I am an ordinary teacher. But I am special to my students. They look forward to my lessons and some even run for my classes in the field or the courts, so that they can be early. I may not make policies and affect school ranking results, but to these kids, I bring enough light to the classrooms of their life.
To say I do not care about being rich or famous is probably untrue. But Providence’s plans for me may not be a 大人物. I am happy now being who I am, simply because I am learning to be contented. I may not have any active income soon but my time will be my own.
There is another song playing on the radio now. It is a familiar song to many Singaporeans.
Whenever I am feeling low I look around me and I know There’s a place that will stay within me Wherever I may choose to go I will always recall the city Know every street and shore Sail down the river which brings us life Winding through my Singapore
This is home truly, where I know I must be Where my dreams wait for me, where the river always flows This is home surely, as my senses tell me This is where I won’t be alone, for this is where I know it’s home
When there are troubles to go through We’ll find a way to start anew There is comfort in the knowledge That home’s about its people too So we’ll build our dreams together Just like we’ve done before Just like the river which brings us life There’ll always be Singapore
It’s good to be home. Have a good National Day holiday!
This is a post reflecting my journey as a Teacher. It is part of The Departure Chronicles. The first post is here.
I joined MOE in 2003, stayed in NIE (aka Teachers’College) for 2 years, and was posted to my first school in 2005. I joined my second (and current) school in 2012.
Time really flew when I looked back. All of a sudden, it has been 13 years.
My 3 attempts to quit
In 2008, after 3 years of service in school, my teaching bond ended. I wanted to leave service at that time as I had a bitchy boss* that I couldn’t work with. But it was the start of the GFC and the economy was bad. I had too little money and too little guts. In a bid to escape, I applied to study my Master degree overseas in Perth, Australia. This was my 1st attempt.
*There is always a silver lining in every crappy situation. In hindsight, I pursued FI as I was seeking a solution to the shit I was in. In a twisted way, I can stop work now because she made me dislike working under her so much.
My 2nd attempt was in 2011. I worked 2 full years after coming back from Perth. The same nasty boss was killing my spirit for teaching. It was so bad that I typed out my resignation letter and showed it to a colleague. But due to the Euro crisis, the market was lousy and I was down too much. Desperate, I decided to change my working environment by posting out to somewhere, anywhere. I failed at the Open Posting^ and applied for the Closed Posting^. I was transferred to my current school.
^Open Posting: you can choose the place you want. You apply and see if they want you as well. Closed Posting: you throw yourself into the unknown and get posted to where there are vacancies*
The new school was disappointing at first. Many colleagues were semi-motivated (2 of them quit 6 months later) and the system was “do as you please”. The game changer was when my current boss was posted in. He wanted to make things better for the students. We worked well together and tried changing the department for the better.
The opportunity for sabbatical leave came up and I decided to take a year off to try early retirement. So I left in 2013. I traveled, sold my car, cut down on expenses, simplified my life and focused on being happy. At the end of the one year, I was seriously considering quitting work to live life on my own terms. But I still had love for teaching and felt an urge to return to contribute. I returned to school in mid 2014. This was my 3rd try at leaving.
2 years later, on 5th August 2016, I finally tendered my resignation formally. A thousand miles away, the Rio Olympics begins on the same day. For me, it was the start of a new chapter of my life.
So why quit now? I am not rich, the economy is lousy, and I don’t have a job waiting.
I wrote an earlier post of the straws on my back. It writes of why I am looking for change.
Even now, when things are cast in stone, I still have lingering doubts. Some friends are also questioning my sanity. See some of their comments:
“You resign for these? Brave. Especially in this climate.”
“No need to work?”
“What happened?? Why resign now!!!”
I always have a restless spirit. I can’t be chained to anything for too long. I dislike following instructions cos of seniority, or doing things the same way cos it was the old way. I like order, but I prefer to bend the rules when I can.
I looked at my boss who is always trying hard for the department. He is discouraged but I hope he will never give up. He is a wonderful fellow, but I know I don’t want his job, or the job of his boss. If I can’t be inspired, how do I grow as a person? How can I convince myself to stay and do meaningful work for the rest of my life?
My mum passed away in her 50s, my dad in his 70s. Taking the average of their lifespans, I probably have a good 20-30 years to go. I want to live, not merely exist, so I need to find work that makes me excited every day. I may not have a lot of money, but I have even less time.
I now have the freedom to do whatever I want. It makes me excited but also apprehensive. I am seldom religious but recently, I find myself praying more often for courage, conviction and faith.
The path less traveled
I have worked at 3 full time jobs in my life. This is likely the last one that I will work for money.
In my mind, I see a crossroad. If I continue down the current way, the road is clear with few obstacles. I can even see the end, for there are many who had walked down the same road and I know their stories. But not many are smiling at the end. It is like what you see every morning on the train and buses. People’s faces are long, as they force themselves to go to work for money.
The other path is sheltered with trees and shrubs. The way is not so visible and seems mysterious. Yet it looks inviting. There is a sense of anticipation in the air. I can hear animal sounds in the distance and the rays of sunlight shine through the foliage. I can even see in the distance, curious eyes looking at me. The way looks exciting and adventurous, but there is no clear path. I will need to tread carefully for it is unfamiliar. This is the path less traveled. This is the new journey I have now chosen to walk.
At MOE, there are many good teachers still passionate at their craft. But there are also many who are there cos they can’t be anywhere else and get similar pay. Some of them become resentful, uncooperative and develop attitude issues. They avoid duties, do the minimum and just live for the salaries and holidays.
I do feel pity for these teachers, for being alive yet not truly living. Being around them drains me and I avoid that. Unfortunately, the students have no choice of their teachers. I feel sad for the students when they get such unmotivated teachers who are lousy role models for them.
I want to be surrounded by positive and happy people who are passionate and purposeful about what they do. Now I am not. So there must be change. Only when I am brave enough to change, can I achieve what I am dreaming of.
So now I am leaving on 5th August, the same day the Rio Olympics starts. I am always teaching my students to live the Olympian values: Excellence, Friendship, Respect. I only hope I have taught them well enough, so that in later years when I meet them again, they will recognize that I am still, their teacher.
(A day of being your teacher, always will be like your father)
I have given notice to the school. It’s now official. But in a way, my notice was forced from me. I hate being forced, and this “twisting of my arms” just affirms my decision to leave the teaching service.
The Departure Chronicles has a nice ring to it. Since young, I have always been a fan of fantasy literature. It allows me to escape to a different world of heroes and villains, good and evil, black and white. Things are clearer and we always know who the bad guys are. In fantasy, it is possible for a normal commoner to be a prince in disguise, or a hero in the making. Immersing myself in such a world allowed me to escape my harsh childhood for a while.
My Departure Chronicles will detail my journey of leaving my current employment. It will serve as a diary for me, so that I may re-read how I was, how I felt and how my last attempt at paid employment went.
I was called to the P’s office on the first day of the June holidays. I had nothing on in school, so I had to make a trip down to see him. I was on time, but he was busy with a parent, so our meeting was delayed for 30 mins. I managed to enter his office at 3:30 pm.
He asked me for my plans. Last he heard, he thinks I am leaving end of July to attend the Olympics. He wants to know my plans so that he can fix the manpower deployment for the rest of the year.
I told him my plans had changed. I am not going for the Olympics in August and will work for the whole of Term 3 till the end of August. I said that I had already informed my RO (reporting officer) that things will be as per normal until I give notice. My RO had texted me for my status while attending a deployment meeting 2 weeks ago. Then, I had already informed him I was not leaving.
So, not yet, till I was ready to give notice.
My P’s face turned darker. He started to make accusations of why I didn’t inform or update him on my new status. He said that by not informing the school of my new plans, I was causing disruptions and inconvenience to my colleagues! Imagine that! Being an ordinary teacher in school, I didn’t expect that my departure will affect the staff deployment so drastically that I have to keep P updated about my very latest plans.
I wanted to leave service amicably. So I spoke to P nicely and informed that barring unforeseen scenarios, my last day in school will be 12 Sept. That is the last day of the Sept school holidays. I will not start Term 4 of school.
Officially, I have given notice. 3 months ahead.
So now P has a date. In my opinion, he seems to feel better knowing an exact date, so that he can plan with certainty*.
The conversation turned to more general matters. I asked if this was an exit interview, and he says it can be part of the exit procedures. We started chatting about my work performance and unexpectedly, accusations started to fly again.
He said that he noticed a drop in my recent performance and asked if it was because I am leaving and therefore not putting effort into my work. He mentioned matters like evading official duties, wayang-ing (working only when management is around), not pulling my weight in CCA duties. He even mentioned a lesson that he observed me doing, asking me why I didn’t follow the lesson plan. I was astounded by what he asked. I explained myself on the matters, but it was plain that he didn’t really buy my perspectives.
So I was in a lousy situation. I am leaving service, and management is not pleased with my performance.
The “exit interview”lasted longer than I wanted. I had planned to stay for a hour at most. I guessed it was the explanations I had to do. I always thought that I am an above average, sometimes even good, performer in school. My PB has always hovered around that range. So I wanted to explain myself to my P on the matters he bought up.
But what for? I am leaving, and people’s opinions are hard to change. When I left P’s office, I told him 2 things:
the opinions of other people doesn’t matter to me, if that person doesn’t matter
the truth will always surface. It may be a while later, but truth will prevail
So I shook his hand and left his office. Surprisingly, or maybe not, I didn’t feel disturbed or affected too much. A few years ago, if I had gotten a negative review, my hackles will be up. But not this time round. It is really time to leave this job, when what people say about how I perform at the job no longer affects me.
Time: 5pm. Giving notice took me 2 hours.
I went for my usual game after the meeting. I was late, but didn’t feel too disturbed about it. I was more bemused at my own sense of indiffernce about the meeting with P.
In the evening, I texted my 2 ROs about my notice. I have put down my final departure date. I will not be starting the new school term on 13 Sept. This is it. I am leaving.
* I have observed my P’s need to maintain control in many events I worked in school. It doesn’t matter what the event managers decide, in the end, as long as P says it’s approved, then it’s ok. You can plan all you want, but he must know and he must agree.
Update 22/6: I checked my email after 3 weeks of school hols. Not surprisingly, I saw an email from P, detailing his version of what happened in the meeting. Guess I now have a version of his perspective.
I shall keep it to amuse myself in years to come, of my last attempt at gainful employment🙂
I have just heard something ridiculous. It seems that medical fees have gone up cos of medical subsidies!
A friend went to see a doctor for flu. It normally cost about $20-$30 for consultation and simple medicine. But this time the fees amount to >$50!
After some probing, it seems that medical consultation fees at many clinics have gone up. Doctors are charging more. And it seems that the recent subsidies for PG and CHAS may be the reason why.
From what I understand, PG seniors pay a small fee (about $5) to see a doctor. And they can return for free medicine thereafter. CHAS card holders get a heavy subsidy for medical fees. The clinics provide treatment and claim the fees from the government for the subsidies.
So are the clinics increasing their fees cos the PG and CHAS holders are price insensitive? Regardless of how much the doctors charge them, they won’t mind cos in the end, they pay the same token amount. The government picks up the rest of the tab.
This raises several issues:
1. Will medical inflation go through the roof, the same way private hospitalization insurance premiums have gone up over the years, cos patients are price insensitive? If patients don’t care how much the fees are, what will happen?
2. The government picks up the bill. But in the end, the costs will be passed down to who? Even now, if I go to see the doctor, I will have to pay the increased fees cos I am neither PG nor CHAS. I am in a way, subsidizing these PG/CHAS patients.
3. Is this a loophole that clinics are unethically taking advantage of? When the PIC grant was introduced, companies took advantage and made fraudulent claims. When patients under private hospitalization insurance do not have to pay a cent, some took advantage by getting more treatments than they need at the hospitals, driving up the costs. Now if clinics and doctors increase their fees because there is the PG/CHAS claims they can make, what does it say about medical moral values?
Recently, I heard about a nurse working at a clinic making a complaint about the doctor for making fraudulent PG/CHAS claims to boost his income. The same doctor also used expired medicine for patients. While the case is pending, it gives me a chill to think that such doctors exist. These are the first line medical staff that common people see. If they are greedy, then can we really trust them?
I am soon to be unemployed. I will not have company medical benefits. Seeing a doctor will mean that I will have to foot the entire bill myself. I can only hope that the situation will improve when procedures are refined and tightened. The government has good intentions to help the PG and the poor, but greedy people are…being greedy.
I should also take good care of my own health so that I will not have to see a doctor anytime soon. But when I really have to, and it’s a matter of time, then I hope I will not be shocked by the medical bill.
“If you see the world accurately, it is bound to be humorous, because it is ridiculous.” Charlie Munger
I wish this post is about colorful drinking straws that make people (and me) happy (think sweet drinks and parties), but it is not. Instead It is about straws that had piled on the camel’s back and broke it. I am the camel. The cumulative effect of many small events (straws) at school have finally lead me to make the decision:
In an email, I gave notice to my P that I will be leaving service. My last month of teaching to my students will be in August (but no one in school knows this yet).
This long post will be about straws.
2015: I have haboured thoughts of changing careers for a while (since 2008!). Teaching is meaningful, but doing the same routines for a decade and knowing that the next 10 years will be the same, has made me restless. While I did contemplate leaving, it was not an urgent task. I thought I could hold on for a few more years, save more cash and see if anything changes.
But straws started piling up. The first heavy straw came at the end of last year. In a department meeting, I was tasked to head a few projects that no one volunteered for, cos I was the most free from marking papers. I was not asked if I was willing, but assigned. Suddenly, I felt helpless that I had no say in choosing what I wanted to do. Others were bypassing me, making choices for me, expecting me to obey.
Another straw came a week later, at the last staff meeting before the holidays. Each officer received their assigned duties for the next year. I got mine, but the work was not what I asked for. There had been an earlier survey on our preferred duties. I did the survey, but it seemed pointless, for I was given other duties. I was just expected to follow orders. Again I felt deeply the sense of loss of control of my life.
I know I am a work drone on the assembly line, a rat running the wheel, a chess piece on the board moving at the whims of management. I used to be ok about it, but now I am not ok. I am getting more frustrated with how helpless I can be. The small stuff adds up and it starts to irritate a lot.
I want to reclaim control of my life.
2016: I returned back to the work treadmill refreshed by 6 weeks of school holidays. Despite enjoying one of the biggest perk of teaching (long school vacations), I have not changed my mind about leaving.
My decision was soon reinforced, with more work straws affirming my choice to leave.
A senior colleague is being bullied at work. He has some prior issues with management (M). One thing led to another, and he’s now stressed by M’s extra “attention”. He is monitored for his lessons and has to watch his back. I look at him and see the future me. I am already being sidelined in high profile school projects and committees. I don’t like this feeling of being discounted.
I had an unpleasant run-in with an office idiot that I usually ignore. We sit in the same department but like in Avatar, I do not see him. We had several prior arguments but the latest one crossed my f**k you limit. I complained to M and the idiot tried to create distraction by naming all my perceived faults. In the end, he was given a verbal warning by M, but the episode left a bitter aftertaste. I detest office politics, and idiots.
I applied for 2 months leave to attend the Olympics in Brazil. I wanted to fulfill a dream of mine to visit the games (I am a teacher of sports). But it was rejected because “the organization cannot let the officer take leave to fufill personal dreams”. Enough said.
And then there were the irritable M issues. M is school authority, thinks their word is law, and forgets that teachers are humans with feelings. During a recent exam invigilation, M passes by, sees what M does not like, and sends me a not-so-nice text. In another incident, I received an unpleasant email from M after some backstabbing politics. It made me pissed for a while. Though I did get an apology later, the foundation of mutual respect has been shakened. No trust, difficult to work, time to move on.
An email was sent out to the entire office recently, informing us that Lady S has stage 4 cancer. S is a gracious and kind hearted soul, blessed with 3 kids. She is in her late 50s and still a full life ahead. My heart went out to S and I did what I could to help. This episode reminded me again of the fragility of life. I can’t wait forever to live my dreams, for I know not how much time I have left.
Credit: Straits Times Singapore
To be fair, there are also good things about my job that many will envy. I have a decent salary, no marking load, long vacations, the works. I have been at this for 13 years and if it was really unbearable, I will have left long ago.
So why now? I think it is cos I am now older and FI.
Older = Less Energy. Some days, I really feel tired chasing after the perpetually young students. I used to be able to teach sports lessons for 3 hours straight, now I feel the fatigue after 2. The students come to me enthusiastically, anticipating fun and games. I hardly disappoint, but it takes a physical toll on me.
And being FI means nonsense that I could tolerate in the past, I wouldn’t now. I look at my limited time on Earth differently, having less patience for pointless bullshit.
I have outgrown my job. Things were new and interesting a decade ago, then it became routine. I find myself not learning, and soon lost my motivation. I want to grow but feel constrained. Now I don’t even want my bosses’ jobs. I have little desire to do stuff to impress M, since being M no longer impresses me.
At work and in life, I dislike being dictated, talked down, sidelined and ignored. I detest performance reviews when someone tells me my potential (who are you anyway to tell me how good I am? Are you better than me?). Money doesn’t motivate me the way it used to. My pay has reached the ceiling (I am only worth that salary?) and I still have 20+ years more of productivity left in me.
I am becoming a bad worker. And it shows.
When I was a young student, the future was uncertain, and exciting. There were new stuff to learn in school each day; new modules to explore each semester, new experiences each year. I was working for myself, the dream of a bright future beckoning. Nothing was cast in stone, anything was possible! The world was to be my oyster.
But working real life was otherwise. I was often tired out, my passions cooled and my ambitions dimmed. There was still some learning on my job, but it is to make me better at my job. I became specialized, good only at my field. I was defined by my work title, judged by what I do to earn a living. To survive at work, I adapted and changed. Slowly, my hopes faded and my dreams became distant. Now I can only get this high salary in teaching. There are few other work options.
I have been reading blog posts of Livingafi (Dr Doom), my current blog hero. He retired last year at 38 yo. Doom is funny, talented with graphics and has documented his FI journey in detail. He blogs about how he feels pre-quit, quit and how he is now, post quit. Many of what he shared, I can identify with. I find his blog a useful guide to help me cope with the emotional upheaval of leaving a 13 year old career.
I started my own departure process when I applied for leave to go for the Olympics. I knew it was a long shot, and I promised myself I will quit if I can’t get approval. For a while, things look hopeful. I thought I might get the 2 months off, though I wasn’t sure if that was really what I needed.
But I didn’t get the time off. I told M that I will go anyway if I get a volunteer post in Brazil (I applied to help in the Olympics). Indirectly, I was already telling M that regardless of the decision to let me go or not, I was leaving.
And now I am. Quitting for good. I have already purchased my air tics on 5 May. I am leaving home in September and will be away for a month. But I am not going for the Olympics. Instead I am flying to San Francisco. I have already committed myself to seeing this through, although the school doesn’t know of my impending departure yet.
It is so ironic. I wanted to leave cos of the Olympics, regardless of the leave approval. In the end I am still going, but not to the Olympics anymore. I guess the writing has always been on the wall. It was a matter of time before I leave. The Olympics was an excuse that didn’t work. In the end, I still quit.
Is this financial suicide? Leaving a good stable job in lousy economic conditions is crazy, when many are facing employment challenges. I don’t know if I can ever get back my high salary. What I do know is that I can’t be doing what I am doing now for the next 10 years. That will kill my spirit. So leaving now feels right, even though the future seems uncertain.
I just started recording a life calendar. Now, the ticking off of a checkbox after every week reminds me of my mortality. I am getting older each week. My dreams can’t wait indefinitely.
A while ago, I just got off the train. It was crowded and many people were inconsiderate (rushing for seats, crowding at the doors) and self absorbed in their phones. I really can’t understand this need to be constantly entertained. It must be this instant gratification monster again. I feel disgusted every time, when I see people surfing FB or watching some drama when walking, eyes glued to the screen. Zero respect totally.
I was glad to get away from the maddening crowd, getting some personal space walking the empty path back home. Work is like that for me now. I have been at it too long and feel stifled. It is time I walk a less travelled path.
6. Last straw: FREEDOM!
I just visited S at home. She has difficulties walking around the house, a shadow from the active and bubbly lady I remembered from work. It is yet another grim reminder to me that no one gets out of life alive. While I am healthy and able, I must treasure and use my freedom wisely.
I will need time to decompress and detox from my 18 years of working life, before I determine my next step. Life is going to be less sure, but I will feel more alive.
During the month of March, I took part in a financial competition. I was easily one of the older participant there, a bit paiseh (embarrassed) to win all the youngsters. But I made several new young friends, won a prize, taught my students, had lots of fun, and that’s really what matters🙂
The event is the National Cashflow Competition, where we play this board game called Asset Finesse (AF). In AF, the goal is to achieve a net worth of 200k inclusive of 1 property. The player starts off each turn with an income and expenses, and collects the net cash flow. The game simulate the real working life in Singapore, when workers work for wages, spend their money on stuff, build up their assets and attempt to achieve a set of financial goals.
What’s interesting for this board game, and different from the others that I had played like “Monopoly” and “Cashflow” (Rich Dad, Poor Dad), is that this is uniquely Singapore. It incorporates local financial elements like CPF & HDB, and even the stocks that we buy in the game are familiar e.g. SIA. The objective of the competition is to promote financial literacy in young adults, and that’s why I see many students taking part for their schools. I joined the Open category, where I pitted my wits against other adult players.
Since I am a prize winner, I guess I can share some lessons I gathered from the board game. So here it goes:
1. To win, I have to accumulate 200k and a property. This is similar to my real world financial life, when I buy a roof over my head and build up enough wealth to generate passive income to match my expenses. Once my expenses are totally covered by passive income, I am financially independent.
The sure way to achieve this in real world is simple: earn as much as you can, spend as little as possible, invest the savings in assets. With time, you are sure to be financially independent. But this simple way is not easy; there are too many distractions, naysayers, scams and unforeseen events that may sidetrack you. How disciplined and determined are you?
Tip: the winner is the one who achieve the financial goals first. To reach the goals asap, throw the dice fast and encourage the other players to do the same. The faster the tokens move around the board, the faster you can collect your income, make your investments and reach your goals. It also helps if you are lucky to have big dice throws.
2. In the game, we collect our nett pay once we passed “Paycheck”. The amount we collect depends on how much we can earn from the fixed pay, investments the players made in stocks, business and property, and how much we spend on expenses like insurance and children. The more you can invest in assets, the more cash flow you will get when you collect your pay. With more cash, you can make bigger investments and buy larger businesses. It is a recurring cycle, no wonder the rich gets richer, faster.
In life, the fastest way to wealth may be to inherit it, the surest way is to earn your own. I always teach my students to do well in their studies, be disciplined in their manners and have dreams of their future.
Good grades may lead to a good life or it may be a prison for employment. But I am definite that a better education offers more choices in life. It is difficult for most of my students (in a neighborhood school), cos the fun that they can have now sure beats studying hard for that next exam. But I will persist in teaching them properly, so that they will start to dream someday.
Tip: you will get bigger and better cash flows from businesses than from stocks. Aim to buy good businesses (there are some that are not so good) rather than stocks, so that you will generate more cash to buy that game-winning property. Buying a property in the game, just like in life, is likely the largest purchase and you will take a while to build up your cash assets before you are able to buy.
3. We have to draw “Domestic”, “Commercial” or “Capital” cards after each turn of the dice. Some cards allow the player to buy assets, others are events that happens to you or allows you to make attacks on other players. Which board game square you land in matters, especially in the later stages of the game, as it will allow you to buy your assets to reach your goals or to stop another player from finishing ahead of you. So part of your success in this game depends on the throw of the dice, and this is just like life. To succeed in life, we need luck, and when we land in the right square and opportunity presents itself, we better be prepared to use it fully, or watch with regret as we pass the dice to the next player in turn.
There are many opportunities in life, but most come disguised. Only the prepared and courageous are able to use these opportunities to improve their lives. I have a strong feeling the next big one is around the corner. Now the path looks dark, but who knows if the light will appear just around that next corner. So I prepare myself: saving more, reading more, talking to people more.
Tip: Buy insurances to cover against “domestic” disasters, make use of your “commercial” cards to attack and defend (recognize which are the good cards in the pack), and always try to be prepared for when you land in a “capital” square to be able to buy assets. Depending on what cards you draw, play the game to your favor e.g. if you draw a good attacking card, prepare for an opportunity to attack the right player, take his assets and win the game!
4. Cash doesn’t count in the final tally of the game. The game last for an hour, or ends earlier if any player can reach the 200k goal. At the end of the game, the 200k includes all assets like stocks, bonds, businesses, property and cpf. But cash is excluded as an asset. In real life, this obviously is not true. Cash is low yielding and depreciates with inflation but in crisis time, cash is still king.
Just look at the recent January stock tumble, investors flocked to safe havens like US$, gold, yen and cash, all low to zero yielding instruments. But in this game of AF, cash has no value. Of cos, you will still need to accumulate cash to buy assets to win the game, thus the name of the competition says it all: cash flow, and not cash, is what counts.
Tip: near to the end of the game of one hour, it is crucial to convert all your cash to assets, even if you have to buy them at a high price. Better that, than to stay in cash and not be counted as your score. I recommend to start converting all cash to assets 10 mins before the game ends, cos you need time and luck to land on the right square to allow you to buy.
Before I went to the competition, I was trying to find any game tips online, but there were none. So this may be the first AF game guide! Hopefully, my experience will help another novice AF player some day in the next competition, or even in life’s financial game.
On that weekend, I was really pleased to meet some of my current and ex students at the game. One of them also won a prize in the end, and he credits his win to my coaching. But what was really pleasing to me that day was that I met 2 ex students (one of them had his father join the competition too) and when I spoke to them, they told me they were inspired by my financial lessons in school. And when I had a chance to speak to my student’s dad, he told me his boy had spoken of me highly, and even encouraged the father to join the competition this year so that they can learn financial literacy together!
When I taught the boys in school about financial and life lessons, little did I expect to have such impact on them, and now even of their family. I was very happy (more happy than when I won the prize at the game) that my teachings were meaningful to the boys. Like what a teaching advertisement says, you never know when a teacher’s influence starts and ends.
And the smile on the faces of my students, both current and ex, when one of them won a prize or when they clapped hard for me when I went up to receive my prize, was truly my reward for the National Cashflow Competition 2016. I am not sure if I will play again next year, but I will remember this year fondly, because of my students.