2019

Instead of striving to be on Forbes 30 under 30 or curate the sexiest Instagram feed, I strive to remind you that your life has more to it than validating your existence with likes, media coverage, and online stardom. I block motivational Twitter and Instagram accounts, if you don’t already know what kind of person I am.

Instead of a cheesy personal new year’s resolution we all know that you and I will never even remember after your second hangover this year, here are some practical tips to help you start your year on a better note:

  • Achieve your dreams, by dreaming small. Feel good about it.
  • Want a good relationship? Date yourself first.
  • Want to feel less anxious about your finances? Speak to someone who actually has control over their finances.
  • “Fake it till you make it” ain’t going to get you far. It won’t bring you inner peace. Strive to be real and accept that you are flawed.
  • Everyone has flaws – you’re not special. Get over yourself.
  • Drama is fun, but when you’re ready for reality, let yourself know by quitting it for good.
  • What doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger, but it can make you a better biatch / A hole against life’s torrential bullshit.

Life is short. We live, we die. If we’re lucky, we get some good shopping, good friends, and good times in between. Instead of wasting your time capturing these moments on Instagram, capture these memories with your mind and your heart. You don’t need to share these precious moments with your viewers. Immerse and indulge in these precious moments wholeheartedly.

Young women in tech are alarmingly ignorant of their finances

I trudged up the stairs and into the next conference room, with a panel of women set to speak about their tech founder experience and journey. I groaned inwardly, knowing exactly how the entire panel experience will be conducted like some sort of banal, insipid script for a play that by now seems trite and almost clichéd.

The entrance to the conference room was left wide open. Women of all walks of life filled the space with laughter and ebullience. The women founders in the room, women who’ve founded some sort of movement, charity, company, or their long-lost cat, were flushed with excitement, chattering away with eager attendees who’d stop at nothing to snap and upload wefies onto their Instagram stories and feed, and race their fingers across the screen of their smartphones, ferociously typing out captions and hashtags with such ardor.

“Cherieeeee,” screeched a familiar voice from behind. A slightly inebriated woman the host of this conference— teetered towards me with a microphone in her hands. She clearly was in need of assistance, also, flat shoes. As the host of the conference, she probably felt obligated to be decked out in an arresting outfit – the striking contrast between mandarin orange and ivory complimented her apparent zeal.  “You can’t imagine how glad I am to have you here. You need to be up on stage! You need to promise me that you will speak at my events again, especially since you’ve taken such a unique path in your work!”

The breathiness of her voice made it sightly difficult to discern the level of seriousness she had in her tone. I returned a quick nod and flashed a smile, knowing exactly how things would play out from here. It was like clockwork, with everything pre-planned to the minute: I got to speak with women who attended the conference, shared my work and purpose.

I talked to a lot of women under thirty who, when they found out I was a financial planner, said things like, “Oh, I should talk to you” or more alarmingly, “Oh, yes I know, I need to plan. I’m so bad finances. I’ll think about it”

Needless to say, I felt nauseated.

Now, of course, this is an observation that likely only I would have made at this conference, as I was the only financial planner there (that I know of), who rose from an intensive background in software and business. Perhaps my experience transitioning from a software business into the world of financial planning was the answer to addressing this alarming lack of financial knowledge in the world of tech, particularly so for women.

The specific questions I got from these women were about stock investments, or “investments”, and crypto. Which, frankly, scared me a bit. Surely these investments are interesting, but on the priority list of “What You Need to Focus on to Strengthen Your Financial Health and Wealth”, they’re so freakin’ far down they could almost fall off the bottom.

Here are these young, promising women who in just a couple of years were propelled into a career that was financially rewarding and purposeful, which could give them so much power and choice in their life in a mere 10 years down the line..and they’re too distracted and intimidated to see further than what media and society has painted out for them.

Imagine if all the women in tech, all the people in tech, started learning about personal finance: how they could control their finances, and taking full advantage of the financial opportunities they had going for them. What could happen if all of these women had the financial muscle to make decisions they needed to make, decisions they wanted to make, and not just decisions that were unfairly and disproportionally influenced by the likes of media and society? I have a good feeling it would change things for the better — for women, for the industry, for our society.

Who runs the world? Uh, clearly not girls. Yet.

Money and Marriage

(Using this time between appointments and meetings to pen my thoughts down on the relationship between money and marriage. Specifically how the third-party — in this case, Money — plays a crucial role in the make-or-break of every relationship, but not in the way I expected.)

While income had an impact on one’s well-being, it was the perceived financial security that leaves a significantly larger impact.

I got to know of a lady who was married to a rather eccentric fellow. No matter how much her ex-husband earned, no matter how grand the vacations they took together were, her anxiety was ever-present and strangely exacerbated whenever more money was spent. It took me a while to realize that it was the spending habits and personal beliefs around money that her ex-husband held on to that triggered her anxiety attacks. Long story short, this marriage didn’t last and ended up in an divorce.

A couple’s relationship with money is indeed much more nuanced than one might think. In many cases, more money doesn’t necessarily lead to more marital peace and contentment. The presence of financial security (or the lack there of) perceived by each partner can make-or-break relationships, and unfortunately it seems these problems only surface two to three years into a marriage. In comparison, successful couples have shown that they were capable of keeping the relationship together by addressing the topic about money as they would about each other’s terrible hygiene habits and morning breath — by talking about it openly and honestly. 

When a couple has shared financial beliefs to serve as a neutral ground for them to retreat to and discuss methods to face the financial problems together, it helps them focus on the problem than rip each other apart. (Marital arguments about money escalate pretty quickly!) When this common ground is lacking, either one or both partners can be easily tempted to take reckless measures (further and unnecessary borrowing) and actions (filing for a divorce).

For couples who’re newly weds or recently married, it would be good to allocate some time to discuss each other’s personal beliefs and internalised assumptions or rules about money. These assumptions and personal beliefs are what subconsciously drives our daily actions and decisions that we make with money from what we buy, how we live, how we save, and how we plan for our financial future. These assumptions and personal beliefs are also unfortunately commonly outside our conscious awareness, and takes a teensy bit more effort to become aware of and to be emotionally detached from, in order to prevent them from dominating our minds and taking control of our decision-making process in times of financial peril. Finding a common ground can be difficult, and most of the time, it’s not something that magically resolves overnight. Take time and effort to sort out the intricate relationship between money and your marriage, as this will help you and your spouse with larger life transitions expected in the future — a bundle of joy (or two!), family business succession planning, and retirement planning.