The Early Years Cen­tre Satur­day 11 March 2017, 8.00am -12.00pm th ad­mis­ +603 6280 8880

Expatriate Lifestyle - - March -

Jo Parfitt has ac­com­pa­nied her oily hus­band to six coun­tries over 29 years. Now empty-nesters, she hopes KL is not their last post­ing I write this as Chi­nese New Year dawns and I get the chance to en­joy a fish-topped yee sang once more. Fish are a sym­bol of pros­per­ity and re­mind us that we dream not just of hav­ing enough, but of hav­ing a lit­tle left over too. As a se­rial ex­pat, there is just one place I have lived that has not al­lowed me to con­sider my­self to be a big fish in a small pond. More on that later. Be­ing a big fish has much to do with the ex­pat bub­ble, the third culture many of us tend to in­habit over­seas. It’s an en­vi­ron­ment amongst other peo­ple like us and where we are con­sid­ered nor­mal; nor­mal de­spite our Third Culture Kids, our love of durian and the way we al­ways re­move our shoes when en­ter­ing a house.

There is some­thing sooth­ing about liv­ing and work­ing in a small com­mu­nity. Like when we look back at old school pho­tos and can still name ev­ery­one in our year thirty years later. Like liv­ing in a vil­lage where ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­one.

When we live away from im­me­di­ate fam­ily, fa­mil­iar faces from our home town and our sup­port net­work are no longer a few min­utes’ drive away. We ex­pats need to cre­ate new sup­port groups, al­beit tran­sient, short-term ones. And we do. We do it fast from ne­ces­sity. New­com­ers have ques­tions to ask and get plugged into the com­mu­nity faster than ever, thanks to the in­ter­net.

Where would we be with­out the KL Ex­pats Buy and Sell group on Face­book? With­out mag­a­zines like Ex­pa­tri­ate Life­style so we can find out what’s on, where to go and what mat­ters? Where would we women be with­out clubs like the As­so­ci­a­tion of Bri­tish Women in Malaysia or Ib­u­fam­ily, the re­source for young fam­i­lies? It does not take long, in an ex­pat com­mu­nity, to start bump­ing into peo­ple you know in the su­per­mar­ket or in the parks. Soon you start to feel at home and to be­long.

Be­ing a big fish in a small pond has huge ad­van­tages for peo­ple like me who main­tain a por­ta­ble ca­reer. I was liv­ing in Dubai when I was a brand new jour­nal­ist. With no ex­pe­ri­ence I ap­proached the lo­cal What’s On magazine with a piece based on a week­end in Hong Kong I’d just en­joyed. They ac­cepted on the spot. Had I been back home in Eng­land, I’d have been one of hun­dreds of writ­ing hope­fuls chas­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Over the years I have taught word pro­cess­ing, writ­ing and en­trepreneur­ship from my home to other ex­pa­tri­ate women. Fill­ing places has been so much eas­ier in the ex­pat com­mu­nity be­cause word of mouth is more pow­er­ful than it ever was in Eng­land.

But it hasn’t al­ways been plain sail­ing. After ten years in the Mid­dle East where, as a blonde with pale skin, I stood out from the lo­cals and many peo­ple knew my name and recog­nised me, when we moved to Nor­way it was a dif­fer­ent story. There, I looked the same as ev­ery­one else and peo­ple as­sumed I was Nor­we­gian. Cashiers al­most made me cry when they tried to talk to me in su­per­mar­kets and few peo­ple knew or no­ticed me. I felt in­vis­i­ble – just another lone­some pine in the for­est.

I’d rather look dif­fer­ent and get no­ticed, but then I am an ex­tro­vert with a free­lance ca­reer and a need to lead. After more than 20 years abroad, be­ing a big fish has be­come my nor­mal. I am in­creas­ingly scared by the thought of go­ing ‘home’ to the UK and blend­ing into the back­ground as I watch my iden­tity slowly start to dis­ap­pear. EL

Tom Hen­son is a se­nior con­sul­tant with In­fin­ity Fi­nan­cial So­lu­tions and one of KL’S most sought after fi­nan­cial plan­ners. Mar­ried with a young son, Tom en­joys fam­ily life and is an ace on the golf course I can’t claim the words of wis­dom in the ti­tle as my own. They come from the fi­nan­cial com­men­ta­tor, busi­ness­man, au­thor and in­vestor, Robert Kiyosaki, whose worth is val­ued at $80m, a fact which prob­a­bly makes him worth lis­ten­ing to when it comes to fi­nan­cial ad­vice. The full quote is ac­tu­ally ‘It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many gen­er­a­tions you keep it for.’ While the words are not mine I whole­heart­edly agree with them.

Let me take you on a jour­ney to meet your fu­ture self. You’re 60 or 65 years old and on the cusp of re­tire­ment. You’re look­ing back on a suc­cess­ful ca­reer, a tidy fi­nal salary and a work­ing life dur­ing which you have bought and done pretty much what you want when you want. That’s all well and good but will you also be con­grat­u­lat­ing your­self on the size of the pen­sion pot you have been able to ac­cu­mu­late with your gen­er­ous earn­ings over the course of your ca­reer, or will you be won­der­ing just how to sus­tain that life­style for the next few decades be­cause you have spent all you earned?

Be­cause liv­ing lux­u­ri­ously and ac­quir­ing every­thing your heart de­sires is all well and good but it doesn’t guar­an­tee your fu­ture fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity. To do that you need to live on less than you make and com­mit to in­vest­ing the rest.

This is a mes­sage that is dif­fi­cult to get across to the young. The ben­e­fits of sav­ing are hard to see when you are fit and healthy and re­tire­ment is decades away but it is pre­cisely the young who can ben­e­fit the most from the magic that is com­pound­ing. Com­pound­ing is a highly de­pend­able way to make your sav­ings work for you. Here’s a very sim­ple ex­am­ple to show how.

You get a bonus of $15,000 and de­cide to in­vest it in a sav­ings plan. It earns an av­er­age 5% an­nual re­turn. At the end of year one your $15,000 has earned in­ter­est of $750. You rein­vest this so that by the end of year two, with in­ter­est re­main­ing at 5%, you have not only earned $750 on the ini­tial in­vest­ment but an ad­di­tional $37.50 on the in­ter­est from year one. That’s es­sen­tially free money. While this fig­ure is not in it­self life-chang­ing, over a forty year pe­riod your $15,000 will grow to just shy of $106,000. Now that is im­pres­sive – you’ve made $91,000 with no ef­fort on your part, bar re­sist­ing the temp­ta­tion to spend your ac­cu­mu­lat­ing pot of cash!

Of course your pot will grow far more if each month you ac­cu­mu­late ad­di­tional sav­ings. Even a rel­a­tively mod­est ad­di­tion of $200 each month will bump your pot to over $400,000 after 40 years. And that is ex­actly why Al­bert Ein­stein called com­pound­ing the eighth won­der of the world and why start­ing to save early is a no brainer.

Many clients claim that they can’t af­ford to save but you don’t need to start big and there are al­ways small ways that you can cut back on spend­ing in or­der to be able to save even a lit­tle. Cut the gym mem­ber­ship and do ex­er­cise that doesn’t cost you any­thing, have friends for din­ner once a month in­stead of go­ing out, take a packed lunch to work in­stead of shelling out for a Star­bucks sand­wich and cof­fee ev­ery day, limit al­co­hol to the week­ends. It’s all about get­ting into habits which be­come se­cond na­ture. Start sav­ing a lit­tle each month and build up the amount as your salary in­creases. Once you start to see your pot ac­cu­mu­lat­ing and the ben­e­fits of the sac­ri­fices you are mak­ing, you will want to save more.

And you can be sure that your fu­ture about-to-retire self will thank you for the lovely com­fort­able re­tire­ment that they have to look for­ward to, not to men­tion the grat­i­tude from your fu­ture gen­er­a­tions that Robert Kiyosaki talks about! EL

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