How I’m earning less, spending less but at the happiest point of my life


When I left Netccentric last year, Shorty and I had a discussion in planning our finances in the coming years. I was going to be leaving a position that gave me a good income. The new venture we were going to start was unlikely to be able to replace that income entirely at least for the first few years. So we decided that we had to prioritize (in what we both refer to as our “austerity drive”). We won’t take a cut in lifestyle for the things that we really valued like the kids education, having helpers and a driver and a nice van to send the kids around in.

But we will take a cut in the non-essential things.

  1. We decided that we’ve been for enough overseas holidays in US, Europe or Japan and we could replace those with holidays in Phuket or Bali instead.
  2. We cut down on eating out and ate more at home. When we did go out to eat (for our lunches) we went for hawker food or used discount vouchers from Entertainer or the Maxis app or stuff like that.
  3. We shopped less. A lot less. Shorty used to go out often to buy things she liked but she read this article about how to turn her wardrobe into a minimal set of pieces that could be used to create a wide variety and combination of outfits. I on the other hand used to shop a lot but I’ve cut down everything. We no longer buy anything designer unless it’s with a discount and most of my clothes now are from Topman, Uniqlo and the likes. Not H&M because H&M stuff really don’t last long to me.
  4. We focus our spending instead on experiences or things that could really help us capture our experiences like the drone I bought.
  5. Triggered by our moving into a new place we’re renovating, we decided to pack up and sell a lot of our old stuff. So we’ve been selling stuff we no longer need on Carousell or things like that. Wow the amount of money we raised from all these things that would have otherwise been thrown away surprised us.

It’s been almost 6 months since we’ve made these cuts and here’s what I feel about life right now.

  1. I don’t seem to have anymore interest in designer things or nice watches or even nice cars unless I can get any one of those for a really really good deal. I’m a sucker for deals that way.
  2. I finally know what really makes me happy. Spending time with the kids, badminton on my weeknights, meeting people and working on my new venture. That’s it. Life suddenly feel a lot less complicated. It’s like I used to have to find a stimulus somewhere whenever I was restless. I felt the need to go for a holiday, or to buy something or to just do something. I no longer feel that and it’s liberating. When I have nothing to do, I just enjoy the moment of doing nothing rather than pressure myself to do something.
  3. When I see my friends go for luxurious holidays or buy expensive cars or watches I’ve learned to admire them rather than the tinge of envy I used to feel.
  4. When good things happen to my friends I genuinely feel very very very happy for them. When bad things happen to them I feel angry for them too.
  5. I talked about how meeting new people was one of the things that made me happy earlier. Because of my new venture I’ve been meeting a lot of new people lately and that has brought me so much fulfillment.
I’ve also been reading a lot of self-improvement books and I’ve learned so much about myself. So many things wrong with me in the past and so many mistakes I’ve made. I’ve embraced these changes and even my wife now says I’m a very very different person now.

I used to:

i) Be hot tempered – Now I’ve learned to really temper it all down. I haven’t lost my temper once in the past 6 months.

ii) A chronic worrier – I used to worry about everything and overthink things – Now I’ve learned to compartmentalize my worries and make my thoughts “day-tight”. I only worry about what I’m doing on a day to day basis. I still plan for the future, but I make it a point to only worry about things on the date itself.
iii) Take a lot of things personally and be very emotional about them – I’ve learned the secret of not being like that. I now take nothing personally except myself. I hold no grudges.
iv) I used to be harsh sometimes in the things I say when talking to people – I’ve learned to communicate much better with people. To never criticize and to always listen to people entirely before saying anything.
As a result of all the above things, I feel like my life has changed. The quality of my life has improved very significantly. It’s strange but even though I’m earning and spending less than before, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life now.
One of the books I read had a quote “Happiness is a state of mind”. I’m proud now to say that happiness is a state of mine.

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