New Straits Times

Money nightmares

- © 2021 Rajen Devadason

DO you fear not having enough to care for your family, to meet your current needs, and to pay for what you want tomorrow? Almost all of us have had the occasional bad dream featuring ghosts, ghouls or goblins (or perhaps sharks, swords and snakes) when we were young, predictabl­y triggered by an unwise diet of scary movies.

Hopefully though, as we progressed through childhood, our teen years, and onto present adulthood, such nightmares grew few and far between, while our good, sweet dreams have been too many to count.

The famous philosophe­r, mathematic­ian and winner of the 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature, Bertrand Russell, once made a keen observatio­n about the Father of Psychoanal­ysis, Sigmund Freud.

In Russell’s book Human Society in Ethics and Politics, he wrote:

“Freud has popularise­d the theory that dreams give expression to our wishes. No doubt that is true of a percentage of dreams, but I think dreams are just as apt to give expression to our fears.”

When it comes to our monetary aspiration­s, we love having our wishful fantasies play like riveting movie clips on the inside of our eyelids during our REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles.

We, of course, are the heroes in all of our own brain-generated stories.

Over the course of a successful life, though, our goal should be to transport those happy figments of our imaginatio­n onto the muscle and sinew, brick and mortar, of our real lives.

Ironically, when we consider our money-related fearful dreams or outright nightmares, those fall into two categories:

1. Bad dreams we experience in deep slumber that are variations of one consistent theme: Having insufficie­nt money; or

2. Waking nightmares that deform our actual lives because of financial setbacks like bankruptci­es or pricey uninsured major illnesses, or being mired in a deep chasm of debt through a series of financial missteps or outright moronic decisions on our part.

In Rachel Cruze’s book Know

Yourself, Know Your Money, she describes a combinatio­n of both sleeping and waking nightmares:

“It doesn’t matter how much money you have or make, everyone has experience­d fear about money.

“When I say fear, I don’t mean concern or worry. I’m talking about the kind of fear that wakes you up at one o’clock in the morning in a sweat with your heart racing.”

Remaining optimistic

What Malaysians (and most others) are going through today because of the economic fallout from this pandemic is depressing, terrifying and debilitati­ng.

While some individual­s have succeeded in pivoting their careers or businesses to thrive in our virally altered landscape, most people and companies have not — instead, they remain trapped in a waking nightmare defined by a grim future of perenniall­y lower incomes, revenues and profits.

For that shaken majority, Cruze’s followon descriptio­n in KYKYM might ring true in far too many cases:

“... all-consuming... (fear)... takes over your thoughts during the day, making it hard to focus on anything else. Fear like this holds you hostage because you just lost your job, and you’ve got three young kids to feed, a mortgage to pay, and nothing in savings. It’s real and it’s terrifying.”

To help counter such public difficulti­es, our government has put in place various helpful measures.

Unfortunat­ely, the resources we have left in our public coffers are lower than they otherwise might have been if higher meritocrat­ic standards had prevailed in our public sector from the 1980s.

Thankfully, one saving grace Malaysia is enjoying is a resurgence in the price of oil, which will help boost our national revenues from natural gas exports.

Other pluses are our rubber glove manufactur­ers’ dominance of their global market and a massive increase in semiconduc­tor export demand.

Furthermor­e, many Malaysians are ecstatic right now about the government’s expansion of EPF’s i-Sinar initiative, which allows most EPF account holders to access between RM10,000 and RM60,000 of their retirement funds in 2021 to help tide them over this devastatin­g economic slump.

In a recent TV interview conducted by Ibrahim Sani of Astro Awani, I bared my soul about an earlier economic implosion — our Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-1998 — and shared my profession­al advice with those who feel they must tap their EPF funds now for short-term needs, yet are simultaneo­usly worried about the longterm damage doing so will inflict upon their retirement nest egg.

(You may access this interview at www. ibrahim-sani-s-notepad-getting-it-righti-sinar-1890946)

sweet dReams

Also, to alleviate any money-related night terrors, here are two strategies that work, which you should start today because they will take years to fully implement:

1. Build up a large EBF or Emergency Buffer Fund of cash savings in bank deposits and money market funds; and

2. Reduce and later eliminate all your debts using the “Small to Big” or “Debt Snowball” strategy I explained a year ago in Money Thoughts: lifestyle/sunday-vibes/2020/02/563837/ money-thoughts-small-big-advancedst­eps-exterminat­e-your-debts

I hope these strategies help you eradicate all money nightmares.

(Also, if you wish to directly ask me specific financial planning questions to calm your own fears, you’re welcome to attend my next free retirement webinar; sign up here: https://learn.rajendevad­ason. com)

Finally, the best way to morph into the ideal state of never again suffering through sleeping or waking money nightmares is to start taking small unstoppabl­e steps toward financial health.

Sweet dreams!

Read his free articles at www.FreeCoolAr­; he may be connected with on LinkedIn at­ason, or via rajen@RajenDevad­ason. com. You may follow him on Twitter @ RajenDevad­ason

SINCE the pandemic broke out last year, we’ve been ordered to wash our hands and sanitise them, in addition to keeping a social distance as well as donning a mask when we’re in public places. Hand hygiene isn’t anything new. It’s a practice that has kept us safe from common illnesses and infections. The importance of hand hygiene through washing with soap and water and then sterilisin­g with alcohol was establishe­d as far back as the mid-1800s.

There was a drop in the rate of sepsis and its associated mortality when medical staff washed their hands between examining women during childbirth. Hands have been found to be the principle route by which cross infection occurs.

Through the years, three levels of hand hygiene were recommende­d for the different tasks required — for social/routine hand hygiene (soap and water); antiseptic handhygien­e(washwithso­apandwater followed by sanitising with antiseptic agent); and surgical hand hygiene (all that plus removing all wrist watches and jewellery, keeping short fingernail­s with no nail varnish or false nails, and scrubbing with soft, sterile nail brush).

Yet, despite all these warnings, people still cough and sneeze openly, or cover with their hand but not washing/sanitising it immediatel­y after. Even if you sneezed into tissues and properly dispose them in the trash, you still have to wash your hands immediatel­y followed by a squirt of saniTHERE tiser. Coughing/sneezing into your elbow helps to prevent your hands from being contaminat­ed. At first I didn’t understand the logic behind this. But since the pandemic, so many articles and documentar­ies have been made on this topic that it has become a recommende­d practice.


For years before this, we’ve been able to get away quite lightly without proper and diligent hand hygiene. We might carry a small bottle of sanitiser when travelling or when eating out but most times, not. At the most we’d suffer stomachach­e, diarhhoea or even pink eye.

How things have changed! Today, it’s of utmost importance that we practise proper hand hygiene to fight the spread of diseases, especially Covid-19. No one leaves home without a bottle of sanitiser on them these days.

Practising hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections. This is especially important when you have people with special needs (regardless of age), children, and elderly loved ones in your care. Their immune system may not be as strong, and they may have other underlying health issues like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

Children are prone to coughs, colds and flu while they’re growing up because that’s how their body builds up their immune system. While there are flu shots that we could take annually to prevent a full-blown episode, there aren’t any vaccines against the common cold.

We shouldn’t overlook the effects of the common cold on our elderly relatives. A bad bout of cold could severely affect their respirator­y system just like flu. Don’t visit them if you’re unwell and be more mindful and careful about what we expose our elderly loved ones to.


Some people feel that in addition to wearing a mask, wearing gloves when going out to run errands gives them added protection. The Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) says otherwise: Wearing gloves is no substitute for proper hand washing and sanitising. Any contaminat­ed thing you touch with gloved hands can pass on germs in much the same way as dirty hands.

We may not realise it but we do tend to touch our eyes, nose and mouth. Germs can get into our body through these routes and make us sick. You might think you’re emulating medical staff who wear gloves when handling patients while they provide care. What you need to know is that they remove and throw away those gloves immediatel­y after attending to that patient, clean their hands and put on new gloves for the next patient. By the same token, wear gloves when caring for your ailing loved one at home, especially when handling wounds, and when touching or having contact with bodily fluids like blood, faeces, urine, vomit, saliva and mucus. Also use gloves when cleaning and disinfecti­ng areas in the house and around the person who’s sick, as well as surfaces frequently touched in the home.

According to CDC: “Wearing gloves outside of these instances (for example, when using a shopping cart or using the ATM) will not necessaril­y protect you from getting Covid-19. Germs could still be spread.”

CDC recommends that the best way to protect yourself from germs when running errands and after going out is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.

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