EMOTION, IDENTITY A BIG PART OF FIRE
To that end, understanding one’s emotions around money is an important part of the FIRE journey. Having a financial plan alone might not be enough, a financial advisor told CNA.
Finexis Advisory Associate Director Ms. Ten Huiyu emphasized that there are financial coaches whose job it is to deepen their clients’ relationship with money.
“They talk to their clients about emotional triggers when it comes to money. Is it to see your parents? Is it because of something traumatic that happened early in your life? … They walk their clients through the reaction emotional or money connection to try to understand their current behavior,” he said.
Ms Ten believes it would be “very meaningful for each individual to explore their emotional triggers with money”, as she has observed through her work that “a lot of (how they manage their finances) comes from their own emotional triggers or experiences when it comes to money”.
“I feel that while doing my work with my clients, I can implement or suggest a system to help you achieve your goals, but many decisions are emotional. It is not rational. And that derails people from their original goal,” he shared.
“It seems like when the client and I are trying to work on something and an emotional trigger goes off, it distracts the client and then we have to start from scratch.”
Those who spoke to CNA also acknowledged that money goes beyond dollars and cents, as someone’s relationship with money can be influenced by other aspects of their identity. They noted the notable lack of women speaking openly about FIRE in Singapore.
“For men, their identities are very much tied to what they do and the money they earn. So maybe the pressure is on them … to see how much they can make, how fast they can make it, and if not, they’re a failure,” said Esther David, 26, who runs her own business Enrolment.
“I don’t even hear many women talking about money to begin with, let alone different concepts of money. And that’s something they maybe only discuss in small circles of friends.”
Ex-serviceman Kit, who also has an Instagram account @centsofindependence documenting his FIRE journey, has noticed that men outnumber women in the FIRE space in Singapore. In her experience, she estimates a ratio of five men to one woman, adding that women working toward FIRE “could be more discreet.”
He suggested that entrenched traditional gender norms could be another reason behind gender deviance. For example, once women have children, many may choose to leave most of the financial planning to their husbands, since caring for their children would be a full-time job in itself.
Honey Money SG host Mr Chong has noticed a similar trend: around 80 per cent of his YouTube channel’s demographic is male.
Echoing Kit’s sentiment that this could be due to the “social norm” for men to be the breadwinner, he defended the need to move away from this “very traditional mindset”.
“More women (are realizing) that they no longer have to depend on men, they can secure their financial independence with their own means. And even if they are mothers, it doesn’t mean they can’t still go out to work and secure more income for the family,” he said.
Above all, Mr. Chong believes that FIRE can teach people to be self-reliant.
“I think we have to realize that we can’t always depend on other people. You should always be self-sufficient, be it in money, in careers, in life, in anything. I think that in order to escape the sandwich generation, people have to learn to take care of themselves first, and that doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman,” he said.
“Once you learn to take care of yourself, you won’t leave a burden on your next generation, whether it’s your children or other dependents.”