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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Can Financial Literacy Be Taught? Yes and No

Thanks for the comments and your feedback to my previous post:  

Can Financial Literacy Be Taught?

You know what? This exercise is already an answer by itself. Sort of.

How many of you who commented had attended a "proper" Financial Literacy class?

I'll bet none.

But that didn't stop you from knowing what you know now. Wink.

Preaching to the choir boys or pagans?

There are some frustrated "investors" who wished schools had prepared them better, thinking their lives may be better if they had gone through a "proper" Financial Literacy class...

Anyone done Civic Classes in school? How about Home Economics? Technical workshops?

Are we practicing what we have been "taught"? You don't return trays at fast food outlets and hawker centres, do you?

Me? I worked for IKEA and got do technical workshops during my junior secondary school days; yet when it comes to assembly of furniture, I'll gladly pay someone to do it for me!

The only technical thing I can do is to change a light bulb. And if the sink is choked, I'll scream: "Ma! The sink is overflowing. Call the plumber!"

Saving more

Everything we need to know about basic Financial Literacy is already taught during the first 10 years of our school life.

You got learn about simple and compound interests during math class right? Can count right?

The virtue of savings and waste not. You never read fairy tales or attend Sunday spiritual classes?

At best, a basic Financial Literacy class is simply an aggregation and amalgamation of things we already know into one nice cookie-cutter "recommended" textbook. 

You know, for those too lazy to do mental exercises on their own. Have to be told what to do, where to go. Some need to be herded; yet at the same time complain big daddy interfering too much into their lives!?

So yes,  the low level skills of Financial Literacy can be "taught". Especially if its under the category of "Saving more".

But it's effectiveness is probably as good as Morality classes...

Earning more

When most people speak about Financial Literacy, what they are really after is: "How do I make more money?" 

And that is up to the individual whether these higher level skills can be taught - depending whether you are faith based or evidence based in your reasoning skills.

This is right up the same alley as:

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Are super salespersons the result of nature or nurture?

Can everyone make good investors?

I mean there's really no harm to attend a fiery seminar and get all fired up with "If you think you can, you can!" kind of preaching. Pocket a little lighter that's all.

But after the adrenalin rush is over and come Friday afternoon, I'll bet you would have forgotten your new goals and resolutions made during the weekends...

Do read the comments in my previous post by readers. It seems most are of the opinion you have to be your own cheerleader.



  1. Hi SMOL,

    There's a English phrase which says, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink".

    Not that I am comparing humans to horses, but doesn't human nature behaves in the same way?

    I also recall a Chinese phrase which states that "water will always find the path of least resistance".

    Again, i feel that the same applies to humans. Those that "swim against the tide" are really only few in numbers.

    1. S-Reit System Investor,


      Our philosophy is similar ;)

  2. i'll put it this way, if you are born with certain talent, can be trading/investing, doing business bla bla bla, it can be dig out and train (not learn).

    if you are not, you are not. don't swim against the tide. better to spend time finding where or what your true passion is.

    1. coconut,

      Fish should never aspire to climb trees ;)

  3. Don't worry. Come on 17 Jan 2015 and get fired up.

    Your pocket is still as heavy as before. LOL!

    1. 17 jan 2015? got bonus? chinese new year? what what??

    2. coconut,


      I doing the warm up act for this seminar ;)

    3. no wonder you spoke so sensably nowadays!

      congrate liao.

  4. Between book smart and street smart, which is better?
    Lacking either one of these then you are half baked.
    I am lacking both ... haha ...

    1. Money Honey,

      If you trust our 5,000 years of Chinese wisdom:


      What good is knowledge if it does not move us into action?

  5. coconut you can always make people laugh.
    Please lah SMOL always speaks sensibly. Only at times you (me, CW, etc...) don't agree with him lah.

    1. Of course at times he tries his best to sell some snake oil to us. Old habits die hard lah. But he is not forcing anyone to buy leh.

    2. temperament,

      And I thought I am the funny man...

      This coconut is a natural! And he probably not aware of it and clueless.

      Lelong lelong!

      Boss not around so we anyhow sell!

    3. i'm still clueless, SGX had been freeze for a while already, at first i thought it was my platform....

    4. coconut,

      Same here. Simsci frozen too...

      The rest of the CME currency futures and S&P futures working.

      Sigh... In my previous job, I always sell:

      Cannot deliver product; deliver information.

      We can't SGX issue a statement? I guess the lessons of SMRT breakdowns not learned.

      Silo mentality.

      Maybe I should come back as a Supply Chain consultant preaching to organisations how to handle PR?

    5. SGX under attack?

      yap, the other stock markets are trading fine, only SGX.

    6. you are ok, can just walk away, i got tons of order in the market and the order books also freezes.

    7. airn't believable! extend trading hours til 5:45pm??

      WTF! i got some of my f**k orders filled but i can't react at all!

    8. coconut,

      Yup, went for my dental appointment at 4:00 pm.

      It seems those who shorted today may be in trouble, The final result for the Senate mid-term elections in US is bullish for stocks.

    9. smol you wouldn't believe it, those orders i got filled yesterday closing, i close them at the open, guess what, 1.5k in the pocket!


      but i'm not happy thought, cos it can also goes the other way round. dum SGX can come out with something unexpected rules or regulation.

    10. not so fast!

      they will force the stupid fed to raise interest rate sooner. it can go anyway. expect the unexpected or don't expect anything.

    11. coconut,

      Good for you! Ah! You went long too?

      I went long the Simsci last night at 369.5 just after the good ADP numbers. Was scratching my head on the lack of reaction last night in the Simsci... I suspect some traders were thrown off by the SGX halt....

      This morning sold at 371.5 at 9:10 am. Tiny 2 point kopi money ;)

      Guess what? Simsci now at 372.3... Oh well...

      I am happy. Took advantaged of the small window of miss-pricing.

      I am more of a Trend Follower; but no harm in increasing my flexibility as a trader by incorporating different plays into my playbook :)

  6. Only those who are willing to be learn can be taught. Or some other kungfu shit like that.

    Everyone wants a shortcut. Disappointment awaits those fools.

    1. ladykiller,

      I don't know whether it's testosterone or what, but I find the "in-your-face" straight talking from traders very refreshing!

    2. hi ladykiller, are you trading on your own or are you trading for an institution, introduce yourself le!

      you wrote a piece about evolution on trading, very good piece.

    3. Hahaha. Maybe we are jaded. Also influenced from too much WWF on tv when I was a kid.

      Coconut, I'm not trading my own money. I'm trading client money in a hedge fund now. I trade interest rate futures such as bonds and interbank bills. Thanks for your support, from one trader to another trader

  7. Hi SMOL,

    As I mentioned in my blog post (http://simplyjesme.blogspot.sg/2014/11/book-review-7-habits-of-highly.html) we need to be proactive to be effective. Anyway, it's our own money, if want more need to do more :)

    1. Jes,

      I am glad you wrote the book review to one of my favourite management books. (Older readers in the corporate world would have known by my frequent use of "sharpening my saw" quotes.)

      I heard it's been updated to 8 habits but who is counting? LOL!

      Younger readers who have yet to read this classic I recommend you to take a look at Jes' blog post. And if you like it, read the book ;)

      And yes, it's the damn book that made it fashionable for everyone adding the "proactive" word for everything - without true understanding of its meaning.

      It's as hackneyed as the "if you fail to plan; you plan to fail" phrase. Many parrot it; most still as clueless.

    2. Hi SMOL,

      Thanks for recommending my book review. They will keep on adding habits if they can earn more money.. haha!

      Proactivity can start from small steps like reading your blog instead of facebook... =P

    3. Jes,

      My face now redder than "ang ku kueh".

      讨厌! (I do my coy convent girl impersonation)


  8. Desmond says

    November 7, 2014 at 9:25 am


    an interesting blog post :)
    IMO, i think acquiring this sets of knowledge pose less of a challenge compares to learning about oneself. Self conception – what makes one tick? There are no lack of books, courses ,tapes that get excited participants to spend thousands of dollars to “fortell” one’s future , potential , etc and only a handful of people are clear what they want in life.

    Many of us are like sheeps being led by the shepherd – social media, press, TV, peers influence, etc. Skills like self- reliance (a great book by Ralph Waldo Emerson) talks about the ability to stand on your own views, being objective in assessing your circumstance and not allowing waves of influence surrounding to sway you is an important but often neglected skills.

    Change your thinking, you change your facts of life.

    Nice article !


    1. Hello Desmond,

      Thanks for your kind words to my blog post at Finance.sg!

      There's a bug there that prevents me from making a reply to your comment.

      So I reposted your comment here.

      Hey! You're a Relationship Coach! How interesting!

      And so coincidence too!

      I just had dinner with a Career Coach whom I met through blogging last week.

      I hope you can come here next time so other readers can click on your name and be introduced to your website and what you do ;)


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