Friday, January 11, 2013


In all my imperfections--as evidenced by this--I'm still reminded of our dedication...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Transparent living

Recently I read an article about ways to be debt-free, and not surprisingly, at the bottom of the page is a reference to my generation’s dependence on credit rather than on their own savings to invest in an asset. This short paragraph is of great interest to me because it has been troubling me for a long time too. Maybe relying less on credit is not the best financial advice out there (after all I am not a financier), but all I have ever cared about is to not be steeped in debt before my children even take their first steps.

The main problem I have with my generation, specifically with young Malaysians, is our feeling of entitlement to most things, including to owning a house by taking an extravagant loan. As a liberal, I am a staunch believer in the right of every human being to have a roof over their head; that does not, nevertheless, mean that every person in their twenties should suddenly own a house. A house is an asset, an investment that you make once you have the means. If you cannot own a home, you rent. A lot of families never own a home until their children are well in their teens, and I have nothing but respect for these people because their purchase is based on their hard-earn cash. Naturally, I am not suggesting that one should have a quarter of a million dollars before starting the process of buying a home, but at least make sure you could keep up with your monthly payment without burning a hole in your pocket.

If I start talking about race, people would say that I am not color blind as everything I write about seems to have a racial framework. But honestly, I am tired of listening to people from a certain racial group complaining about how the government should keep prices of homes low so that young adults could close their eyes, do an eenie-meenie, and point to a house they are going to buy. What most people do not realize is that their call for the government to help them—again—actually increases the price of houses without increasing their real value. At the end of the day, someone has to pick up the tab for the difference. As more people are able to buy a house, its price increases superficially while quality stays at the same decades-old level. It is basic supply and demand. But if we were to take the government out of the equation, prices of home would stabilize at market price, reducing the cost for a better home.

The reason I am passionate about this topic is because I have always held firm to my plan of renting a home as I raise my family until we are able to afford a house without having to sacrifice much else. A lot of people have tried to talk me out of it. They say it would be a waste to pay every month to a landlord on something that I do not own. But a monthly rent on a modest home is much cheaper than the cost of keeping a dream home while receiving a modest pay check. While paying my rent I could save up enough to make a home purchase that would fit my future lifestyle. At the end of the day, what differentiates me is that I do not feel entitled to own a house for I believe in reaping the benefits of my hard work—the same way I feel about education.

I am entitled to a home, not a house. I just wish more people would realize that taking credit to their grave is just not worth it.