Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers out there!

It’s Father’s day down here in the Southern Hemisphere and this is as good a time as any for me to write about something close to my heart: My Father!

If there was one man who’s financial acumen I truly admire – it’s my Good ‘Ol dad. He wasn’t a fancy financier, investment banker or hotshot derivatives trade. No. He was a good, simple, down to earth computer programmer (real old-school type, like FORTRAN and COBOL). But yet, he taught me the most important lesson in life when it comes to finances and that lesson is:

“There is nothing wrong with getting rich slowly,”

Let me explain:

You see, my Ayah (that’s dad in Malay BTW) was born into a poor family. He’d often tell me tales of how a meal of plain rice with fried fish was a luxury (I might be embellishing here – but you get the point). Money was hard to come by while growing up but through a combination of hard work and the Government’s affirmative action policies he managed to wrangle a scholarship to the USA to study computer sciences.

Fast forward a couple of decades and he’s back in Malaysia, working in IT, married to a University Lecturer (my Ma) with little me! Life in 90’s era Malaysia was good (the golden age of the Southeast Asian Tiger economies – as the economists like to call it). Then the 1998 southeast asian financial crisis happened and many people, including my dad lost their job. 

Losing your job is always a big deal – this was true back then as it is now. 

But my dad didn’t give up. He persevered, started a company with his mates and pushed on. Things were dicey for a couple of years until he got re-hired at his old workplace (in a managerial position). Crucially though – the lessons learned by my Ayah during the financial crisis made him think more about the importance of having financial security and independence in the future, so unbeknownst to me, he started planning our financial future.

Now in the 2000’s, as a teenager I fell in with the MLM crowd – you know those guys – the Amways, Cosways and various other outfits promising easy passive income and financial independence. I went to all their trainings, learned how to sell, how to push emotional hot buttons, how to get more recruits to the business (hence guaranteeing my future income). So being the dumb teenager I was I decided to try my sales tactics on my Ayah.

Ayah wouldn’t have any of it. He wasn’t angry – he was supportive. But nothing I did worked on him. I was in absolute tears at my failure to even convince my Ayah that joining up with an MLM was the path to financial success. It was at that point that he said to me:

“There’s nothing wrong with getting rich slowly,”

“You can still get rich by working hard in employment, Sam. You don’t need to start a business or do MLM to become rich. You just need to be smart with what you do with the money you have,”

Being the dumb teenager I was – this advice didn’t take hold immediately. Not even after my dad enjoyed an early retirement in his early 50s (much to the chagrin of my mum who was still working) after making some smart investments in properties. 

It wasn’t until I was exposed to the FIRE movement that my Ayah’s advice began to make sense. I began reading about regular, average individuals who don’t have a flash business still being able to retire early and comfortably just because they made the right decisions with the money that they had. The main difference between people who struggle with money and those who don’t (apart from ease of access to opportunities – which is a different topic) is the level of financial literacy they have.

Ayah encouraged me to study accounting and increase my financial knowledge. He would discuss with me his investment plans and in doing so, help me build up my own financial confidence. The more confident I became, the more I felt the need to share this knowledge with others.

Hence this blog is the culmination of years of personal financial education and growth that I have experienced, thanks to the simple advice that my Ayah gave me:

“There is nothing wrong with getting rich slowly,”

To all the Fathers (and Mothers too!) out there – financial literacy is one of the most valuable lessons you can teach your children. Take a cue from my Ayah, teach them that persistence and determination are key to financial confidence.

Thank you Ayah for making me the financially confident man I am today and for setting a good example of what I can aspire to be one day.

I love you Ayah.

Your ‘big guy’,


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