When I got confirmed as a permanent employee at my workplace end of last year, I decided to splurge on an Achievement Unlocked reward for myself and purchase the stupendous brown leather satchel I had been eyeing for months on end with the sort of longing only consumerism can invoke. It was a heavy blow to the wallet, but I got it, and have steadily been battering it with constant usage since.
I love this bag. It looks great, it’s roomy (I can fit in a cat, if I were so inclined), and I get a kick out of seeing the quality with which it was made. But on top of that, I think I love it because it was something I found expensive and didn’t need, yet wanted, and eventually got with money I honest-to-goodness worked for. High-five to all my financially independent people.
But if I were to be perfectly honest, there are aspects about having this bag that don’t sit well with me either. It would be easy to target the extravagant nature of the purchase (a male friend couldn’t quite comprehend the logic of spending a large amount of money on something that wasn’t electronic/a holiday/skill-related), but it’s also other things – like how I tend to wear it over my forearm, even though I had once told my friends if I ever started carrying bags “like a Datin”, they had the license to slap me hard. Or the fact that it is a reflection of how I’m getting used to a lifestyle that is less prudent than the one my parents brought me up on, and my worry that I’ll get so used to it, I’ll put up with shit at work and not realize if or when I’m unhappy because I can’t go without the paycheck.
This whole rambling anecdote is just my way of trying to say that money, and how we interact with it, is complicated. Regardless of whether we’re at that stage of first tasting financial independence, or whether life seems constrained by a budget, money and the need for it is ever-present, and drives a lot of what we do.
I think our conversation with Shao Min and Li-Ann for our podcast this month revolved a lot around this. Shao Min runs her own business – Maxsure Trading – which specializes in locks, safes and fire-safety equipment, while Li-Ann works in the team behind upcoming app Sejester. Both started off as fresh grads with corporate jobs, before moving on and out of the office to pursue start-ups and the entrepreneurial world.
Al, Lutfi, Syar and I were happy to pick their brains and bounce the conversation through their time in university, how they molded their career paths, their relationship with money and how it has impacted their understanding of what they want in life and on what terms they want to achieve it.
Podcast aside, the different facets of how money affects us are endless, and I hope you guys appreciate going through the ones captured by our contributors this month as much as I did.
Poster design by Lutfi Hakim and Syar S. Alia