Money Not Enough..

In our lives, we all face anxiety one way or another. One of the most challenging is on money related issues.

Money Not enough.

In a cosmopolitan country like Singapore, it can be a stressful experience when you are the family’s sore bread winner and you are short of money in managing your family expenses. It affects your thought life, your relationship with those around you and even with our Lord.

It can be nightmare for you support a family if you do not have a good income. One of the most challenging issues facing Singaporeans is the ever rising costs of living in our country. For example, the basic wage of an office worker is SGD 2,000. When the employees first receives his salary, 7.5% of his salary will be deducted from his salary and set aside under the CPF (Central Provision Board).He has to pay his home utility bill (which have already increased twice), insurance bills, hospitalization bills,

The CPF is a Government mandatory scheme where both the employee and the employer contributes to member’s fund, so that the the employee retires at the age of 63, he can withdraw the entire sum of money saved during his years of working. However, the government have been extended the age of retirement a few times now. There is also a minimum sum of money in the CPF before the member can withdraw them.

Job Challenges

It is a daunting challenge for a middle age Singaporean to look for a job that pays well now as there is a such a big influx of “foreign talents” coming from other parts of the world to work in our island state. Many of them stayed on in our country and became PR (Permanent residents) and eventually a citizen. A number of jobs have been taken over by these new migrants Many Singaporeans were replaced and without a job. Some have become Grab drivers (local version of Uber). Some even became security officers and cleaners. There is resentment between the local citizens and the new citizens over this issue.

How should we as believers in our Lord Jesus, respond to these challenges?

The Bible said “Be careful for nothing;but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:5-6

As Christians, it is so blessed to know that we have a God who neither slumbers nor sleeps because His eye is always on us. He yearns to listen to us when we communicate to Him in prayer. We can complain and talk about our worries, fears and challenges to Him because He loves us so much that He died for us all.

Hari Raya Haji

Today is a public holiday in Singapore, Hari Raya Haji. It is one of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year.

Eid al_Adha an Islamic festival commemorating the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham in the Old Testament) willingness to sacrifice his son, Issac on the altar. On this day, there would be prayer calls in the mosques and Muslim community would be slaughtering cows and sheep and distributing the meat and foodstuff to the less fortunate of the society.

In the Bible, (Genesis 22:1-14), God asked Abraham to offer Him his son as a burnt offering on one of the mountains. Can you imagine the fear and anxiety that Abraham faces? He must be so distraught and desperate. In his mind, he must be questioning the Lord. “God, are you joking? You have given me a son, Issac after such a long time. You have also promised to make me the “father of many nations”. How is it possible if Issac is slaughtered?

However, Abraham was willing to obey God’s call. He prepared the wood and his son for the offering at the altar. It must have been a painful journey for Abraham when he brings his son to the offering altar. Just as he was about to kill his son on the altar, an angel of the Lord stopped him. It would be tragic if he was not sensitive to the voice of the angel and killed his son. As he looked up, he saw a ram in a distance and he offered it as an offering instead of his son on the altar. He named the place Jehovah Jirah (Hebrew: God is my provider).

Indeed, God is our provider, He owns everything. We are merely his managers to manage the things that He has provided us with. We need to learn to be sensitive to His voice, walk by faith and not by sight, knowing that He will provide all of our needs.not our wants…

Money & Currency

Money and Currency, are they the same?

Most people think that they are the same. When someone gives you some cash, you will think that it is money. It is not !! Cash is simply a medium of exchange for you to buy something that have value. Currency does not have any store value in itself, it is just a medium of exchange.

Money on the other hand, has value in itself. It is also a currency as it can be used to purchase other items that have value. Do you think that the $100 dollar note that we hold is really worth $100? No, the paper dollar note represents the value that is stored somewhere else. Governments around the world has the ability to create money at will without anything to back it up at all. They call it Fiscal policy or QE (Quantitative Easing aka Printing money). The dollar note it is known as Fiat currency.

Where there is an inflation, everything becomes more valuable except currency. Even the price of a cup of coffee increases from 80 cents to $1 in a couple of months…sigh.

History of Money

When human first walked on the surface of the earth, they used barter trade in exchange for food and goods. Then,they used precious stones, gold and silver as a means of exchange. With the introduction of paper money later in history, people use it because it is more convenient and lighter to carry around.

Before the First World War (1914 to 1918),the developed world operated under what is referred to as the Gold Standard. Most of the world’s currencies were pegged to gold and to each other currencies. Business people can predict and forecast plans for the future because they knew exactly what the exchange rate would be in a year time. Gold is the equalizer. It was used to pay for imported goods to a country. As the supply of gold flows out of the country, it causes the country’s economy to slow down and a drop in import demands. As it slows, prices fell and make its goods more attractive to foreign buyers. Gold flows back to the country as foreign demands increases.

In 1933, US President Roosevelt signed Executive order 6260 outlawing the rights of US citizens to owe any gold. The following year, in 1934, President Roosevelt signed another executive order effectively devaluing the dollar. It used to take USD20.67 to buy a 1 ounce of gold. It now takes USD38.00 to buy the same amounts of gold.

On Aug 15 1971, US President Nixon took the United States of America off the gold standard by insisting that he is a staunch believer of free market and started price controls and wages for ninety days.

The Federal Reserve

In 1907, there was a banking and stock market panic in the United States. It was widely believed to be the fault of big New York banks trying to capitalize the stocks by buying the up and selling to the investors during the panic. In 1913, the Federal Reserve Act was passed to the Congress and the Central Bank (Federal Reserve) was created. It creates all the currency, not to the US government but lends it to the government with interest.

The Fed is not managed by the US Government but by bankers, creating fiat currency out of the thin air, without any backing at all. In 2013, the US national debt was $13 trillion dollars, there was a painful history from the past we can learn from.

Weinmar Republic & Hyper-inflation

At the beginning of the First World War, Germany went off the gold standard and stopped its citizens from redeeming their currency (Deutsche mark) for gold or silver. Before the war, the exchange rate was 100 marks to per 1 ounce of gold. However, by 1920, it was 1000 to 2000 marks to an ounce of gold. Germany lost the war and had to pay huge amounts of war reparation payment to France with its gold.

The German government tried to pump tons of currency into the financial system but no one was spending it. The German mark devalued as people lost confidence in the currency and the country went into a hyper inflation. Prices of essential products like bread and food skyrocketed. There was a cartoon drawn about a man pushing a wheelbarrow with stack of German mark to a bakery. When he went to the shop, a robber came and snatched the wheelbarrow and left the stacks of German marks on the street.

It would be wise to save some of our money in tangible assets like precious metals (Gold & silver), because when there is an economic crisis like the Global economic crisis of 2008, the prices of stock and shares will go down, Bonds and precious metals will go up. Precious metals like Gold and silver are tangible and can be stored in the safety of your home.

Four Seasons of Life


Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

A friend of mine shared with me and a group of Christian friends about the “Four Seasons of Life”. I thought it is powerful and worth sharing to you. Some concepts were adapted from Robert Kiyosaki’s ESBI quadrant. We go through life at various stages and seasons. We are thankful that our Lord is always with us whether we are walking on the peak of the mountain or the bottom of a valley in our lives.

SPRING – 0 to 20 years old

When we were first came to this world, we were helpless as babies. We cry for help whenever we are hungry or not feeling comfortable. Our parents will run to our rescue and give us what we need. As we start to go to school, we learn new knowledge and skills. We begin to learn to swim, how to cycle a bicycle. Some of us start to attend church and Sunday school where we are grounded in the word of God, the Bible.

By the time when we reached life as a young adult at 20, we have our own clique of buddies. Some of us would have completed our education and started to look for jobs. We start to generate income from the job that we are working. We may spend some money that we have earned but our financial resources is limited as we still depend on a lot from our parents for money. Most of us are Employees (when we work, there is income, If we quit, there is no income).

Summer – 20 to 40 years old

When we reached 20 years old, we are full of energy and excitement that we wanted to run for the star !! Most of us would be graduating from our school life to our working life. We strive hard to climb the corporate ladder.

It is also a time to settle down, get married and start a family. Financially, we are more independent as we started to have own savings. We may has the resources to support a missionary or the church rebuilding fund. Cash flow might be an issue as we need money to support the family in the utility bills, education for the family, medical bills, etc. Some more risk taking ones might venture into their own business and be Self-Employed (If they work, there is income, If they do not work, there is no income).

Autumn – 40 to 60 years old

When we reached 40 years old, our energy level begins to drop. We may still be fit physically but things start to slow down. For the guys, (who does their National Service in Singapore), they will be exempted from their annual IPPT (Individual Physical Propheicy Test).We might start to be more vulnerable to health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. Jobs employment will also be an issue as employers tend to employ younger staff. At this age, we are also prone to job retrenchments. Hopefully, by this stage, we have built enough money to start our own business or investments to generate passive income for our next life stage – Winter Season

Winter – 60 to 80 years old

By the time when we reached 60 years old, we are at the retirement age. For example, my country, Singapore, the retirement age is 62. At Age 62, the CPF (Central Provident Board) will release all the funds to the member provided he has the minimum amount of money in his CPF account.

It would be quite sad if we do not have enough money for your daily life when you have stopped working at this age. We might need more attention as our health may not be as good before. Hopefully, you have built enough cash (passive income) so that you cane live peacefully the days our Lord has given to us. With the money that is in our hands, we can be a blessing to the body of Christ and those around us.

.

National Day

Today, we celebrate my country, Singapore’s 53rd National Day. On 9th Aug 1965, Singapore gain its independence from Malaysia after joining the Malaysian Federation in 1963.

Singapore, an island country state,located on the extreme south of the Malaysian Pennisula. was a sleepy fishing village back in the 1800s. It was known as Temasek in the 15th century when it was discovered by the Sumatran prince, Sangnila Utama.

It was a triving trading port but it was destroyed when war broke out between the Indonesian kingdoms. However in 1819, it became a British colony and outpost when Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East India company founded the city. The British built the infrastructure and developed Singapore into a major seaport in the Far East.

On 9th Aug 1965, Singapore became an independent state when it broke off from the Malaysian Federation. Mr Lee Kuan Yew became our first prime minister. Under the leadership of Mr Lee and his team of cabinet ministers, Singapore grew from an improvish state to a world class cosmopolitan city state. May the Lord bless our country in the many years to come…

Debt- good or bad?

To most of us, debt is a major problem because it not only affects our society and it is also a leading cause of divorce, fraud and depression. To others, debt is good because they can leverage on the borrowed money and invest in a business or buying a property. If the business grows, they can profit a good income from it but what does the Bible have to say about debt?

What is Debt?

The Webster dictionary defines debt as something owed, an obligation to pay. It includes all the credit card balances, bank and finance company loans, home mortgages, past due obligations for medical bills.

In the financial world, when a public listed company goes into debt due to business expansion or in a financial crisis, it issues bonds to the public, hoping that investors will park their money with the company. When a country goes into debt, it borrows money from international organizations like the IMF or the World Bank. It is obligated to follow the policies imposed by the organization that borrowed the money. The issue arises when other investors loses confidence in the country that is in debt and withdraws their investments in the country.

One of the countries that owes a lot of money from other countries is the United States of America. Its sovereign debt is about 21 trillion now. The cost of maintaining a huge armed forces overseas is taking a toll of the country’s revenue.

Before the subprime crisis of 2008, the US government decided to relax it policy of lending for the public to create an economic boom in the country. Anyone wants to buy a house can just walk in to the bank and borrow any amount of money without any obligations to repay them if they were to default. When the subprime crisis hits, it affected a lot of real estate investments and there were a many foreclosures because the borrowers were unable to repay the money which they have borrowed.

The Rich rule over the poor.

The Bible says that “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the leader (Proverbs 22:7).We need to be careful when borrowing. We may think that we understand the costs but there are many hidden costs that affects our lives.

Credit cards and installment purchases may sound convenient. Hidden behind the easy phrase; “Charge it I! I are much harder words “Ï Owe…I owe…!!” The use of credit cards has become a nightmare for a lot of families because they were unable to repay the debt that were charges to their credit cards.

God does not want us to be enslaved by anything or anyone. He wants us to be free to worship and serve Him. Maybe we should consider the following before charging a purchase to our credit card the next time when we walk into a mall.

a) Never use credit cards to buy something that is not in your budget.

b) Make is a habit to pay the total balance each month for your credit card (not just the required amount) I

c) The first month that you are unable to pay the total balance for your credit card, please destroy the card.

It is wise to consider a conservative approach. We should consider all of our expenses before deciding how much mortgage payment we can afford. Our list of expenses should include an emergency fund of 6 months if we needed it during times of need.We need to consider the final costs of the interest in the purchase when we made a credit purchases. For example, a 30-year mortgage with an interest rate of 12 percent will result in paying more than the item that you are purchasing after 30 years.

It is important to make good calculations to check the total projections especially when the loan packages looks affordable and too good to be true. The Bible says,”The prudent sees’ danger and takes refuge but the simple keeps going and suffer for it (Proverbs 22:3)

To be debt free…

Debt becomes an issue if we do not know how to handle it. We need to pray and seek the Lord for directions to be debt free so that we can be free to serve Him. A spending plan gives us the peace to plan and control our monthly expenses knowing what we are spending so that they fit within our income.