financial planning

I was channel surfing Astro the other day when I came across this programme which helps people with financial difficulties ‘reorganise’ their life. It’s kinda like a reality tv show, titled “Till Debt Do Us Part”. It was the first time I have come across it and seriously, I was highly amused by the need of it all.

The show started with a ‘story’ on the background of the couple, how much they earn per annum and them arguing about money. And then, when the expert steps in, she helped analyse their spending pattern. Went into their house, looked through and commented on stuff they bought. Some of the things she noted was the number of TVs they have — at least 5 (I think) and a fridge full of food. Then she worked out that they were spending a whopping $14k a month (inclusive of mortgages, bills, etc) while earning only about $75k per annum. They are, of course heavily in debt. Both husband and wife borrowed money from their respective families and the wife owed $60k to hers. So, this expert told them straight in the face: they are spending more than they earn and they have to get real and tighten their belts. Of course, the couple were shown being defensive and all, but the expert firmly repeated what she said: They are spending money like nobody’s business and too stupid to be able to understand that they cannot even manage money. (OK, OK, she didn’t exactly say that but it was me who is thinking — but I’m sure deep down inside the expert, she would have wanted so much to tell them so) And so, she recommended something and said that she will return in <insert timeframe> time to check on their progress.

Although I did not manage to watch the whole thing — thanks to mom who had conveniently sat down and changed the channel (again!) — I can’t help but wondering; why do these people even NEED an expert to tell them that they are spending more than they earn? I mean, if you are in debt, then look at your spending first. It’s not so hard to actually write down how much you earn and compare it against what you spend, right? It was just basic maths! And even if you do not know how to do math, it is pure common sense that if you don’t have enough money, then reduce spending!

And this couple are not young people – they have teenage children! Gosh! I guess ‘financial savvy’ people would never be able to understand those who have problems with their own money (and vice versa?). Many are taught to be prudent by their parents (I hope so) and nowadays there are so many information available on being financial savvy. So, how come people are still in debt? Is keeping up with the Joneses so important that very other thing are menial?

Come on, people! Wake up! Yes, you must be able to enjoy life, but, indulge in luxuries only if you have the extra dosh. Or, think of whether the stuff you buy is worth the price. I can afford a LV and Prada but I don’t think they are worth the price. It’s just the hyped up brand name. But, will I be happier when I’m carrying a LV? No, I think I will be happy when I see more zeros (behind a numeral which is not a zero, of course) in my bank account.

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