WE all know that financial planning prepares us for the chunky expenses of tomorrow, but might we also harness its power to make the world better today?
Whether we happen to feel rich or poor right now, chances are high that most English proficient Malaysians are better off financially than the average Malaysian whose grasp of the global lingua franca is, at best, shaky and, at worst, non-existent. Therefore, if you’re reading this without the aid of that astonishing invention, Google Translate (https://translate.google.com/), count yourself fortunate possessing the first prerequisite of a genuine 21st century global citizen.
In my opinion, with that good fortune of knowing English or of at least being financially comfortable, comes a degree of responsibility to extend help to others who are less fortunate than we are!
On an intellectual level, such assistance might be extended each time we decide to buy a well selected book for someone who isn’t able to do so because of economic constraints or who’s unwilling to do so because of a severe lack of reading role models. That’s the key reason I often go out of my way to buy books for the young children of some of my financial planning clients.
On a financial level, however, since English speakers are more sought after than others in higher paying jobs, both in Malaysia and abroad, a fraction of our healthy discretionary income might be put to good use in well-chosen charities and social concerns.
Thankfully, our world with its 7.7 billion people (www.worldometers.info/world-population/) is awash today with many avenues to do good and to help our fellow sojourners on this road called LIFE, which we all traverse from entrance to exit, from A-Z, from birth to death.
IMPORTANCE OF GENEROSITY
I believe we have all encountered great examples of generosity that we can emulate, should we choose to do so. In my case, for instance, while my father did a less than sterling job managing the millions of ringgit that flowed like gushing water through his hands over the almost half a century he ran his law practice in Melaka, before his passing on April 4, 2008, he did teach his children — by example — the importance of generosity and specifically donating to carefully chosen charities.
To give you context for what I’m writing here, do note that an old definition of financial planning from a now defunct version of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ website stated that:
“Financial planning is the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your finances.”
Toward that end, most of us share three big life goals:
1. Funding our eventual retirement (which is the primary focus of my financial planning practice);
2. Paying for our children’s tertiary education (for those of us who have been blessed to be stewards of the next generation, meaning we have kids); and
3. Building a general wealth accumulation fund to permit us to live well and, to some extent, to live large (beyond the constraints of a merely adequate lifestyle).
In my father’s case, an integral part of living well was being generous. For decades he ran his sole practitioner Melaka law practice from 14, Church Lane (Lorong Gereja), a short walk from the famous red Dutch 17th century administrative Stadthuys building, and a longer but still manageable walk from my alma mater, Melaka High School.
Every time someone would come in off the street requesting a donation for a bona fide charity, my father gave… freely. I remember he told me on numerous occasions that his favourite charity was the St. Nicholas’ Home for the Blind in Penang (https://snh.org.my).
Although my father and I disagreed about many things in life, his philanthropic focus must have rubbed off on me more than I realised. Recently when I was approached by the cash-constrained Society of the Blind in Malaysia (https://sbm.org.my), I offered to conduct a three-hour financial planning workshop for free on August 17 this year to help the society raise awareness and funds at a charity event. (If you’d like to know more or perhaps attend, visit https://tinyurl.com/RajenForTheBlind).
HAPPIER, BRIGHTER WORLD
In this current environment of global trade tensions and decelerating economic growth, it is natural for people and companies to slash their budgets for charity. Tragically, this has the knock-on effect of reducing support for worthy charities that alleviate human suffering.
Might I, therefore, audaciously suggest that if you are among the many of us who are still living comfortably with consistent monthly cash flow surpluses, that you then inject into your budget (or planned cash flow statement) a line item for charity?
It doesn’t need to be a huge fraction of your income. Even allocating one or two percentage points of your monthly income and channelling it to a worthy cause you care about can help enormously.
When we read the news everyday we’re reminded of the disturbing ugliness of human nature. But that’s NOT all humanity stands for! There is another, better, side to us all.
So, from the perspective of proactive financial planning, let’s allow structured, budgeted generosity to flow forth from our economic bounty to lighten at least one other person’s burden this week.
If enough of us join forces, then this globe we inhabit will become a tad kinder, happier and brighter.
© 2019 Rajen Devadason
Rajen Devadason, CFP, is a Licensed Financial Planner, professional speaker and author. Read his free articles at www.FreeCoolArticles.com; he may be connected with on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/rajendevadason, or via rajen@RajenDevadason.com You may follow him on Twitter @RajenDevadason.