Thursday, December 10, 2009

MATERIAL WEALTH vs HAPPINESS

Singapore self-made millionaire, best-selling author and top peak performance coach, Adam Khoo, has certainly come a long way since I first heard him speak at a preview in 2004.

What better time than the school holidays for parents and their school-going children to pick up some sound advice on spending from Adam Khoo. Come to think of it, our adult children should read this too. We can all do with less extravagance and wasteful spending, especially with Christmas, traditionally the season of giving, just around the corner.

Some of you may already know that I travel around the region pretty frequently, having to visit and conduct seminars at my offices in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and China. I am in the airport almost every other week so I get to bump into many people who have attended my seminars or have read my books.

Recently, someone came up to me on a plane to KL and looked rather shocked. He asked, 'How come a millionaire like you is travelling economy?' My reply was, 'That's why I am a millionaire.' He still looked pretty confused.


This again confirms that greatest lie ever told about wealth (which I wrote about in my latest book 'Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires'). Note: Adam has since written more books, the latest one on generating wealth is "Profit from the Panic". It was launched in January 2009.


Many people have been brainwashed to think that millionaires have to wear Gucci, Hugo Boss, Rolex, and sit on first class in air travel. This is why so many people never become rich because the moment that they earn more money, they think that it is only natural that they spend more, putting them back to square one.

The truth is that most self-made millionaires are frugal and only spend on what is necessary and of value. That is why they are able to accumulate and multiply their wealth so much faster.

Over the last 7 years, I have saved about 80% of my income while today I save only about 60% (because I have my wife, mother in law, 2 maids, 2 kids, etc.. to support).. Still, it is way above most people who save 10% of their income (if they are lucky).

I refuse to buy a first class ticket or to buy a $300 shirt because I think that it is a complete waste of money. However, I happily pay $1,300 to send my 2-year old daughter to Julia Gabriel Speech and Drama without thinking twice.

When I joined the YEO (Young Entrepreneur's Organization) a few years back (YEO is an exclusive club open to those who are under 40 and make over $1m a year in their own business) I discovered that those who were self-made thought like me. Many of them with net worth well over $5m, travelled economy class and some even drove Toyota's and Nissans, not Audis, Mercs, BMWs.

I noticed that it was only those who never had to work hard to build their own wealth (there were also a few ministers' and tycoons' sons in the club) who spent like there was no tomorrow. Somehow, when you did not have to build everything from scratch, you do not really value money. This is precisely the reason why a family's wealth (no matter how much) rarely lasts past the third generation.

Thank God my rich dad foresaw this terrible possibility and refused to give me a cent to start my business.

Then some people ask me, 'What is the point in making so much money if you don't enjoy it?' The thing is that I don't really find happiness in buying branded clothes, jewellery or sitting first class. Even if buying something makes me happy it is only for a while, it does not last.

Material happiness never lasts, it just gives you a quick fix. After a while you feel lousy again and have to buy the next thing which you think will make you happy. I always think that if you need material things to make you happy, then you live a pretty sad and unfulfilled life.

Instead, what makes me happy is when I see my children laughing and playing and learning so fast. What makes me happy is when I see my companies and trainers reaching more and more people every year in so many more countries.

What makes me really happy is when I read all the emails about how my books and seminars have touched and inspired someone's life.

What makes me really happy is reading all your wonderful posts about how this blog is inspiring you. This happiness makes me feel really good for a long time, much, much more than what a Rolex would do for me.

I think the point I want to put across is that happiness must come from doing your life's work (be it teaching, building homes, designing, trading, winning tournaments etc) and the money that comes is only a by-product. If you hate what you are doing and rely on the money you earn to make you happy by buying stuff, then I think that you are living a life of meaninglessness."

At that 2004 preview I bought a copy of Adam Khoo's fourth book "Master Your Mind, Design Your Destiny". He wrote this in the inside cover - LILY, LIVE YOUR DREAMS. I'm glad to report that I've been doing just that, Adam. Thanks!

3 comments:

CheaHS@n said...

Received this book as a present in 2005 "Master Your Mind, Design Your Destiny" with two words written inside "Happy Birthday" of course not by Adam..but my better half. haha. It's a great book!

el-f said...

Hope you are living your dream too, HS!

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting point of view. However, most Rich people I find are not happy because they take more than they give. For instance, at too many finance seminars you see presenters showing pictures of their families blended in with the information they are going to use to trap unaware seminar attendees to give up their cash. "And don't be slow about it I'd like to see you make a quick 3 second decision", after they bore you for a couple of hours. What a Joke!

Seniors Beware. Always have your Lawyer review any contractual agreement to see what you benefits really are AND what is your downside risk?

Joe