I handle my finances conservatively. I spend very little for someone my age and my profile. In fact, I impose a sort of limit on my spending. I am conscious of it and get mildly nervous if my total spending grows too fast even when I can more than afford it.

I probably do buy too much insurance and I do save or invest a large part of my earnings. My credit card service provider probably hates me for having to finance me without getting the chance to charge me interest too often too much.

I can afford to save a lot partly because I do not have too many financial responsibilities.

The other factor behind my saving habit has a lot to do with my upbringing and education.

As a very young school kid, I never really needed to spend too much. Canteen food was clearly subsidized. I rarely asked my parents for expensive items.

The more important thing was that my parents did not give me a generous allowance when I was in primary school. My pocket money was very little. Not that I needed too much anyway but at that age, the limited pocket money effectively curbed any spending impulse I might have then. I was always mindful of my limits. It trained me to be financially prudent.

The same was true as I attended a boarding school in Kuala Kangsar; I rarely had expensive lunches or dinners. Meals were again subsidized and there was rarely a need to spend lavishly in a small rural royal town in Perak. While my allowance did increase, it was definitely less than that of my more well-off peers. I lived spartanly then. This continued during my undergraduate years in America. Formal lessons in economics further solidified my attitude towards personal finance.

During my time living abroad, I did learn to enjoy the finer things in life, but I rarely, if ever, overspent. I rarely overspend still.

So, I can say with certainty that I live by the morality of a financial conservative very strictly.

I think I can say without too much pretension that I am an economist. I understand the various reasons for fiscal deficits. Some of the causes for deficit are justifiable, and some are not. I do understand how the government is not a household in a way that the government can do certain things beyond typical household economics, the point which many defenders of the roles of government in society rush to in deflecting criticism against many facets of government spending. After six years of education in economics, I do not think I need too much schooling in that matter excessively.

Rather, put the economics aside and understand the psychology instead. Understand the worldview of a financially conservative taxpayer.

The state of federal government finance does not impress a person like me. Deep inside, I do feel something along the lines of ”if I can do it, why can’t Putrajaya?” It is a dismissive attitude towards the federal government. It is a damning judgment against a failure to adhere to certain brands of secular morality.

It is a kind of sentiment that is almost always in the background. It is the ever-present demand for financial discipline. Putrajaya violates this conservative morality so blatantly. Each violation accumulates further moral condemnation.

What further justifies the dismissive attitude is the inevitability that the indiscipline — add in the irresponsible economic populism that has happened throughout the year and earlier — will one day, one way or another, result in higher tax on the conservative, and everybody else, sooner or later. Whether I like it or not, I, will have to finance the fiscal indiscipline of Putrajaya.

That fuels my bitterness towards Putrajaya.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved
First published in The Malaysian Insider on July 26 2012.

2 Responses to “[2572] The bitterness of a financial conservative”

  1. on 27 Jul 2012 at 19:23 moo_t

    Imagine, if your children come from a family that having RM500 “pocket money” daily, spending RM200 per meals is nothing, NEVER works daily wage earner during college period, do you think you can make them spend prudently? And this mentality is found in all incumbent families and clans.

  2. on 29 Jul 2012 at 17:02 Bobby

    First of all, AHA, I knew it.
    You seemed pretty carefree and I could see that you’re “relatively” worry-free (well, at least less than the normal Malaysian). Which makes your career/life decisions a whole lot easier.

    Anyway, have you seen how Putrajaya eats RM12 roti canai in PJ/KL Hilton?
    Or drink a RM30 beer at the lobbies?
    As long as their taps doesn’t dry out, what makes you think they know what financial prudence is?

    And they have the cheek to tell the rakyat to tighten belts.

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