What does all three of the following bloggers have in common?

Well yeah, apart from being relatively established Singapore finance-related bloggers, that is.

Unless you have been following all three of them closely, I doubt you would have picked up this little tidbit of information that far less sexier than investment-related topics.

All three of them track their expenses and/or engage in some form of budgeting! Right, guys?

Don’t believe me? See here, here and here. While not necessarily a requirement for them to be doing so, I feel that it is an important factor that keeps all of them grounded as they continue to pursue their financial goals. This is definitely the case for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying anything here. Sometimes people assume that just because people track expenses and budget, it sort of indicates that they are kiam siap or stingy.

On the contrary, you will find that selective frugality is really the key idea here. When we are in control of our situation, we are actually more confident of making certain costly decisions without fear of consequences.

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Count me in as an expense tracker too. I pretty much enjoy the process and more importantly, the concept of budgeting. This is because I have yet another area I’m able to have control over in my life. This is a habit that I have continued to improve on along the years.

Now, what’s the point of this post, you may wonder?

If you are a regular reader, you can see that the local finance blogging circle has trending topics from time to time. Recently, one of the interesting topics that came up in the blogosphere has centred on the different takes regarding financial security, independence and freedom. For a more practical aspect to this (I call them “engineers”, which is also closer to how I write), see –

Unsurprisingly (to me), they were the first ones to compile and post their required expenses to ensure their survival / sustain their lifestyle. I know, because I budget and track my expenses too, and I can easily come up with my list in a couple of minutes.

In fact, I put the whole idea into practice when I quit my job three years ago without a full-time job in waiting. For four months, I went on basic survival mode while I took up a part-time gig to recharge and think about life. It is during times like these when you know for sure whether your survival expenses is for real or bullshit.

Since everyone likes stories, here is one of my favourites. I hosted travellers to Singapore at a hostel after I left my full-time job. Take a moment to imagine what a hostel in Singapore would be like. The people who come through the doors, looking for a bed & locker that costs SGD$16 a night.

Throw it out the virtual window now.

One of the richest man I have ever known passed through that very same door. An Indonesian Chinese who dressed humbly in t-shirts and shorts, one of his favourite past-times is visiting casinos in the region. Why the heck does he stay at a hostel then?

Back from one of his trips to a Cambodian casino, he told me that he is saving the free stays at Marina Bay Sands for his daughter when she visits Singapore for holidays. We chat over instant 3-in-1 Super coffee as he showed me cling-wrapped boxes of iPhones in a plastic bag that he is bringing back to Indonesia for his whole family. That’s personification of selective frugality to me.

And then, there are some hidden gems that you have to dig hard for. If the earlier blogs are like “engineers”, then these are perhaps “philosophers” to get you thinking more than the practical aspects. Kind of like a wake-up call to perspectives, if you ask me.

Bonus read :

Money is the root of more money. To grow your wealth, you need speed up the rate of –

  1. Gaining (increase income, lower expenses etc) money
  2. Growing money (investment etc)

Step (2) is the exciting and sexy one that everyone keeps paying attention to. Step (1) is like the poor step-sister who does all the housework that no one wants to be with, but everyone can’t do without.

Like my story? Maybe I’ll share more next time. Oh well, back to reading blogs while I lurk in the shadows! The blogs mentioned in this post are some that I follow on a regular basis – hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

More Than Index Investing

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