From Excess to Austerity - a Self Help Guide

Courtesy of Notagainfarm

By now, almost everybody would have thought about the impact of the collapse in financial systems and how it would affect their lives. The wiping out of US$1 trillion in liquidity from American stock markets in one day - after the failure of the Bush's Administrations proposed US$700 billion bailout package in clearing Congress - was especially sobering. Apparently, this could just be the tip of the iceberg as the financial saga sparked off by loans made in bad faith unravels itself.

What could one do in a situation like this? Does it mean that one should immediately cut all expenses and live like a Spartan?

Well, here are some tips that could help ease the transition.

1) Eat less. Yes, you heard me. In fact, if you eat up to 70% or 80% of your usual bursting at the seams fullness, you could not only save money but live longer too. This is apparently the secret to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's long and productive life.

2) Drive less. As a regular commuter on board SBS buses, I will tell you that it isn't too bad to leave your car at home once in a while. You not only get to see life from a different perspective, you also save tremendously on parking, ERP charges and fuel. Even better if you don't own a car.

3) Watch less television (perhaps except for the news). I have lived without a television for six years in my home, and am loving the extra amount of free time that it has given me. This also puts you at less risk of falling prey to commercials touting an extravagant yuppified lifestyle.

4) Reduce, reuse and recycle. You will be amazed at how long fabrics can last. Some of my comfy T-shirts at home have been around since my junior college days and are still holding out well (sans a few threads here and there). Where possible, try to keep that old shoe serviceable and always have a set of clothes specially for grand occasions.

5) Embrace cheaper hobbies. I know that golf is a great place to discuss business and all, but it does also cost quite a bit to get the full set of gear plus membership at those posh clubs. If the wallet looks miserably empty, do what Forrest Gump - and I - enjoy best. Just put on those running shoes and hit the asphalt.

6) Spend more time outdoors. The less time you spend surrounded by material temptations in an artificial air-conditioned environment, the less likely you are to reach inside your purse. Plus some fresh air and exercise is good for you.

7) Visit museums and heritage sites. Many of them cost less than a cinema ticket (alot are free!) and they often provide much food for the soul and inspiration for the mind. By absorbing different cultures, artistic forms, and stories from the past, you are less likely to be troubled by the present.

8) Devote more time to your significant others. Dining at a hawker centre with your family and loved ones, or just spending an evening at home playing with the kids can be just as pleasurable. Be delighted with the simple things in life and put more emphasis on relationships.

9) Holiday in Uniquely Singapore. I am not kidding. Really. There is so much to do and see here in our tropical island nation. Go explore one of the fascinating lanes in Little India, embark on a nature trek from Macritchie Reservoir to Bukit Timah Hill, or indulge in colourful cuisine at Geylang.

10) Finally and most importantly, simplify your life. This is probably the most important message that I have. Do not get trapped by the temptations of hedonistic pleasures. Doing nothing can sometimes be more therapeutic than stressing oneself up just to keep up with the Joneses, Tans, Muthusamys, or Muhammads.

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