From Excess to Austerity – a Self Help Guide

October 1, 2008 Blog 8 comments

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.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Wow! I’m impressed. Thanks for the tips. Agree with you totally. Some of the points you’ve listed here, I’m already doing. Some, especially point 10, I hope to do more.

  2. Fully agree with you there the rate things are going..and given that our pay (dunno about yours..ahem ahem) not going anywhere up..our only choice is a change in lifestyle eh? 😉

  3. A lovely post. I particularly love points number 7 and 9. I have a lot of fun and memorable time simply visiting museums, heritage sites and sight-seeing Singapore. Sometimes I wonder if I could find a job that could allow me to devote 100% this love of mine and my set of skills.

    I like number 3 too. I know I could give up on TV, except for the news. 🙂

    The other points are worth my consideration too. 🙂 Thanks.

    By the way, here’s sharing good luck with you. I have had some good luck today, and I thought sharing it would help it spread around. 🙂

  4. I totally agree with you on leading a simple life!

    I have been doing it all my life, taught by my grandmother and parents, who have gone through the Japanese Occupation.

    People who know me have said I’m a miser but I’m not bothered. I’m like the guy who throws starfish into the sea, as long as I do my part for society, I’m sure people will follow.

    Recycle, reuse, reduce to cut down wastage and to save for our future generations. Raw materials are dwindling. Food will become scarce if governments think of making great profits from turning crops into energy.

    I get lots of sponsored products and services from advertisers nowadays, and those I don’t need, I’m giving them away! 🙂

  5. Hi Walter, I love this entry of yours…speak so strongly to me 🙂

    1) Eat less.
    Indeed, in fact by eating 50-70% full seriously allows us to feel less sleepy at work, lose some extra weight as well as to allow us to feel more comfortable compared to a FULLY filled stomach. Loose Jeans, pants and skirts definitely makes one happy 🙂

    2) Drive less
    HAHA. Tt’s the reason why i still refuse to buy a car till now 🙂
    I love especially in the night and evening to take a bus home. To spend some time reflecting upon my day and my life too.

    3) Watch less television
    SADLY, i cant live without this. 🙁
    shocked to find tt you have been living without TV for the past 6yrs. I salute you!

    4) Reduce, reuse and recycle
    HMMM…think i just gotta learn to use my fan rather than my Air-Con so frequently at home… 🙁

    5) Embrace cheaper hobbies
    Yaps yaps! I have been hitting the gym more regularly lately 🙂
    And staying at home or just a simple cup of coffee and chat for hours with some friends!

    6) Spend more time outdoors
    Yaps, should go down to a beach someday to enjoy the lovely nature that the Lord has created.
    And maybe should go for a swim and also s good suntan too! 🙂
    Too fair for my own good!
    A walk by the reservior seems a good idea too..haha.

    7) Visit museums and heritage sites
    Very guilty. I have never done tt before 🙁 Apologies! Will definitely make an effort to follow your good advise!

    8) Devote more time to your significant others
    Yaps yaps, been spending more time with my colleagues, friends and some church friends.
    Think should start spending more time with my family…quality time especially.

    9) Holiday in Uniquely Singapore
    HMMMM. very guilty of this too……should start exploring this little city that i live in…instead of always looking forward to visit the US, Europe, Aussie etc etc…

    10) Finally and most importantly, simplify your life
    Yaps. I think only when we learn to accept simplicity in our live, then we will understand and embrace contentment.
    Being significant and secured in who we truly are – self identity, helps us to be secure in this race on earth. Not easily done, but definitely worthed the effort in striving…
    Life is like a 42km Marathron, never a sprint.
    Here and there, we have some pit-stops…we stumble and fall, and then we pick ourself up again.
    And it’s often those deep PITS…that we found it hard to get out…and tt’s when the support of the community comes in 🙂

    Hope you enjoyed your holiday Walter. God bless!

  6. Hey Walter! Nice tips! I think point number 1 might be quite hard for some people because if their body is used to eating a lot, eating less might cause some harm and might be hard. Hence, an alternative would be to COOK! Yup, cooking your own meals can save you a whole lot of money, plus you can eat more for the same price! (or in this case, eat the same for less).

  7. Hi walter,

    totally agree with 1: eat less. Doctors have told me that one should only eat till 70% full, for if we eat too much, the organs in our body would go into overdrive and overwork trying to break down and digest the food. this would result in faster aging and more illnesses due to the wear and tear of our organs.

    this is a great post, very applicable to my daily life. thanks!

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