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Thursday, 20 September 2018

Taxi driver who drives because he wants to

Nowadays, I often chit-chat with taxi drivers.

Just the other week, I had the pleasure of meeting this 60 plus taxi uncle who had a cheerful outlook on life. And it showed in his body language and voice!

I hate to take taxis around 5-6 pm in the evenings. A lot of taxis will be changing shifts.

Was telling this taxi uncle how lucky I am to have flagged his taxi. No shift change sign on the windscreen!

He laughed. 

Turned out, he don't have to change shift; he has no need for a relief driver to share the rental costs of the taxi. 

Curious, I asked can survive like that meh? 

I told him most other taxi drivers I met were always complaining how hard it is to make a living... Costs high, and competition from Grab not helping...

What I've learned from this encounter is another real life example where we don't need to take up "investing" to be financially free in Singapore.

This taxi uncle told me he had "enough". 

Children all grown up with their own families.

His HDB flat fully paid for. 

No debts.

By driving 14 hours a day (instead of the normal 12 hours shift if he had a relief driver), what he makes is more than enough to cover his daily expenses.

He is happy.

I know some of you reading here may "feel sorry" for his 14-hour work day. Not so fast!

This taxi uncle loves to drive. He enjoys it so much that he drives 6 days a week; 52 weeks a year!

He revealed he can't sit at home and do nothing; or watch TV. 

Don't like to travel either. He can't stand those vacations he had taken in the past. To him, any vacation more than 3 days long will be a "torture". 

Driving a taxi gives him purpose.

I sat there nodding with a knowing smile on my face.


  1. Hi smol

    taxi uncle 知足常乐 :)

    1. sy sy,

      There's a "spiritual" path towards financial freedom too ;)

      Took me quite a while to square the circle...

      My desire for money, happiness, love, recognition; etc; while learning from my cultivation its precisely my desire that's the root cause of my disappointment, pain, and despair...

      Then I discovered "enough" ;)

    2. Taxi drivers have to drive first few hours for free to cover overheads. Like it or not. Like my neighbour taxi driver said : cannot suka suka even as self employed.

    3. CW,

      That's why the taxi driver I met drives 14 hours a day - from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm.

      That's the price he has to "pay" for not having a relief driver to split the rental costs.

      Earn less, but he don't have to deal with "problematic" relief drivers.

      Or rush to change shifts daily. He has greater control over his time.

      Some may say driving 14 hours a day is back-breaking... But we remember when we were doing an activity we liked, 14 hours just blew by easily ;)

      Just like the taxi driver would probably think anyone who "retires" with nothing to do must be so poor thing...


      This post is not about taxi driving per se ;)

      If we are doing what we love, and we get paid for it, how cool is that?

      And if we have "enough", as in no debts or money obligations like schooling for kids, aren't we "financially free" too?

      Financially free as in no worries about money?

  2. I love chatting with taxi drivers, they can hold a conversation anything ranging from politics, economics, entertainment, even family planning!

    Was chatting with another one who drove a cab because he was retrenched. And I love his take on it - Such is life. What can I do? Just drive and keep moving foward lor...

    It's not despondent. It is not so much as resignation of fate. He took his situation in his stride and make do with it.

    The courage to do that - respect.

    1. Kate,

      Yes, there are some very memorable taxi drivers that I've met:

      1) One was ex-business owner of a constuction company who lost a fortune "playing" shares. He was proudly pointing to me this building he built, that building he built as we continue our ride...

      2) The ex-colonel who was slightly bitter that he wasn't "taken care" of like those generals once they reached the mandatory military retirement age...

      (Of course big daddy did; not everyone can make the transition to civilian life though. Those of you working in MOE can verify. Wink)

      3) Then there was this ex-MD who was in Myanmar until he got retrenched when the business there did not do well. He couldn't get back his MD job once back in Singapore...

      Life is not a straight line exptrapolation. Its like the markets with its up and down cycles...

      I remember my down cycle phase in my early 20s; I kept knocking on so many doors until I lost count! LOL!

      I've no clue what I wanted to do, so I did the Thomas Edison's crash got sound way of finally stumbling into IKEA ;)


    2. Hi SMOL,

      My sympathies go to the ex-business owner, ex-colonel and ex-MD taxi drivers. Even when ordinary people lose jobs, the humiliation can be quite unbearable. The humiliation is even worse for these people who were in high appointments before. It will be embarrassing when these fallen taxi drivers meet ex-colleagues and subordinates when picking up passengers.

      人生有大起大落。 Lucky are those like you who have their 大落 when young and 大起 when older. Unlucky are those who have it reversed - 大起 when young and 大落 when old. This is why I hope our young people in Singapore and my children when they grow up will dare to take risks when they are young. Experience their 大落 while they are young so that they can have their 大起 when they are older hopefully. Don't be so risk-averse and overly focused on saving money when young, then when old, suddenly catch the risk-taking bug and lose their hard-earned savings in the financial markets or some too-good-to-be-true scams. Too late to recover from any 大落 when one is old.

      All these emphasis on saving money, playing it safe among financial bloggers today make me uncomfortable because they are still so young. Better to dream, try and fail than to worry about early retirement before even daring to dream and try.

    3. Conventional logic or thinking is always conventional and logical.

      In this Singapore Investment Bloggers, there are many who started quite late and still around.

      i thought i started quite late but has been surprised by many who are even later than me.

      The saying that "It's better late than never" is F&Sq.

      Succeed or failure is better than never and regret on your death bed?

    4. hyom hyom,

      Its kiasu and kiasi masquerading as "financial prudence".

      Miserly behaviour using the cover of "financial freedom" as a comb-over to camouflage their baldness with relationships...

      Investing is most meritocratic; not everyone have the stomach to face the stark truths about themselves.

      Saving is "safer" as we can't lose; at least in nominal terms. We never have to face failure or defeat. Self-esteem and ego more priority than anything else. "

      I feel more energised speaking to those young founders of startups
      who have appeared as my "sponsors".

      Of course not everyone of them will succeed. But hey! What interesting stories they will tell their grandchildren!

      At least on their death-beds, they won't regret never trying or wished they had grasped the opportunities that appeared before them ;)

    5. temperament,

      Those old fogeys that started late you see in our community are the ones doing well - survivorship bias (learnt from Andy).

      Those that lost more money the more they invest... Do you think they will continue to read blogs or chase "gurus" again?

      They will probably tell their children never to touch the stock market... And their children once they became adults themselves, make a wild guess what would they do? Voluntary CPF contributions anyone?

      Then they are youths who started their journeys after 2009 and have never experienced a -50% drawdown in their portfolios.

      Mix these 2 groups together, any bei kambing reader can be excused to assume "investing" is so easy!

      Look! No one ever lost money!

      I must "jio" my friends and family members to invest too!!!

      What can go wrong?

    6. Hi SMOL,

      Hmm.. "Jio" friends and family members to invest?

      This could be complicated if the investment loses money. The "blame" arrow starts to shoot around. Difficult to duck.


    7. Ben,

      That's why only bei kambings will do so. They honestly have good intentions!

      But then, its with the same good intentions that big daddy introduced CPFIS so that CPF members can "earn more" with their retirement nest eggs.

      Someone must have thought the "puny" CPF intersts cannot be enough for a good retirement. If they were good enough, why introduce CPFIS then?

      Veterans who have lost serious money ourselves will never jio our friends or family members to invest.

      Its too damn difficult!!!

  3. Hi SMOL,

    When I was younger, I am very eager to give advice. You should save this or you shouldn't do this. I tell that to my students as well. But as I get older, I find it harder and harder to tell anyone anything. I realised that often, we are projecting our wants, our needs and our goals onto others and that is super toxic. Firstly, it deprives the other person from finding out on his own. Secondly, it also shows our own insecurity. It's like the more people joining us in our ways, the more assured we can be. Basically giving advice is not to help others but to help ourselves.

    Once the heart is in the right place when giving advice, things are a lot clearer.

    That taxi uncle is in a happy place. It might be a road different from us, but if he is happy, who are we to say that he's wrong? It'll be a totally different post if that uncle is very negative, keeps complaining and wants to get out. Then perhaps our usual advice from financial bloggers to reach FF status might be more useful.

    1. LP,

      Andy or Unintelligent Nerd probably know the proper scientific name for this psychological trait, but I've observed 2 behaviours when people lack confidence in what they believe:

      1) Like what you've observed, that's to "jio" others to follow them. Its the safety in numbers tribal herd instinct.

      2) Another is to "attack" anyone who do the opposite of what they do. Like those who suck at trading would indian chief admonish everyone if they trade, sure go to hell one! LOL!

      I'll put words into your mouth to smear you. What are friends for?

      Yup, most financial bloggers can only give advice on how to reach FF to "escape".

      I'll stop here to give "space" for other readers to fill in the blanks themselves ;)

    2. Hi LP,

      I agree with your view. Reaching FI is the way to go. In fact, I am of view that it is not necessary to reach 100% FI to have the option of retiring early. 50% FI is sufficient in my perspective. Having the option is great and peace of mind as per my perspective.

      My perspective is solely for my requirement and may not be applicable to others. I think that it is better for one to focus on what he/she really want. To some, FI is not what he/she wants. There is no need to impose one's view to others. Everyone is unique in their perspective and entitled to make his/her decision in accordance to their preference.


  4. Hi Smol,

    I choose neither of the both ways. I opt for the third one. I go alone in my chosen decision. I am responsible for the outcome of the decision which I made.

    This is evident in the decision which I made last month. The new journey heralds in about a week's time. In fact, there are five working days left in my full-time career of almost 18 years.

    Being a taxi-driver is one of the available option for me immediately. I am glad to have obtained the licence to embark on the journey. 1 October 2018 could be my taxi-driving endeavor immediately after my fledging full-time career.


    1. Hi Ben,

      i like your 1st //graph.

      U are responsble for whatever U choose to do or say even copycat or hookwinked by somebody.

      Anyone don't agree can try telling it in court.

    2. U should be sucessful in your stock market endeavour if U have such strong mental outlook or thinking.

    3. Hi Temperament,

      I adopt the long term dividend investment approach. The ups and downs in the market is not my concern. Regular monthly investment in stock is my ongoing scheduled routine. I buy and hold and compute the portfolio value on the last day of every month. My focus on is enjoying the present moment to the fullest by doing the things which I like at the prevailing circumstance. If I continue liking the things which I do, I will continue to doing so. When my interest cease to remain, I will stop doing the things and change to the next thing which I fancy. It's like the door which Smol mentioned. I will knock on the door which I like at the present moment. If there is no reciprocation in respect of my action, I will move on to the next endeavors akin to the door. It takes two to clap. If me or the door of endeavor do not see in line, the relationship ends. It's time for me to look for another adventure. The world is vast and there for exploration.


    4. Hi Ben,

      Since we're acquainted, let me poke at your comment :)

      You adopt the long term investment approach. Ups and downs in the market is not your concern. Yet, when you are doing things, the moment you lost interest, you will find the next door to knock at. That is not long term investment in life. Some of the best enjoyment comes from persisting in something, going through the ups and the downs, suffering through in order to enjoy the good that may come later. It seems like in life, you are cutting losses every time you lose interest. If this is not trend trending, I don't know what it is.

      What do you have to say about this seemingly different viewpoints between investing for the long term and yet 'trading' for the next high by doing the things you like at the moment?

    5. My experience of "long term investment approach" is my single US stock portfolio.

      From HP 73 shares after more then 25 years, it has become 7 companies due to spin-offs.

      Total portfolio value has reached crazy new peak price- because of Trump. Who knows?

      If i need money it is the best time to sell- maybe?

      The moral of investing is U have to find a style that suits your temperament.

      And the next thing is U should be able to choose when to sell.

      Don't worry or envy about people who hit and run and make a lot of money.

      Just worry if U have to force to sell because u will lose or make less money then.

      Usually lose money more one.

    6. Hi Temperament,

      Being able to hold on to a winning stock like HP for 25 years with all the ups and downs is an amazing feat.


      Look at the price fluctuation in percentages. Look at the down period from 2000-2002 and 2010-2012. The drawdown was deep and long. I doubt if I can ever accomplish what you did. What gave you the conviction to hold on to HP during the drawdown period?

    7. No one ask me this question but is a reasonable and good one.

      i have not really think about this, really.

      Maybe thank God i have not lived beyond my means.

      So not desperate to look for extra money. Maybe?

      Does that answer your question?

      But really now dollar value has increased to 3 times of original but taking inflation and devalue of US dollar for 25 years, i am not sure it is equitable. As U know my maths is plus, minus only.

    8. Hi Temperament,

      Thank you for your answer. Not desperate for money is a good explanation for having the patience to hold on to a good investment that is a high multi-bagger. It is similar to the edge that SMOL has mentioned before. He does not need the money from trading and can afford to wait if necessary.

      Was HP a concentrated position in your portfolio?

      Having the patience and stomach to hold on to a stock during the down period can be a double-edged sword. What if the stock turns out to be Enron? I was wondering if you have company-specific reasons like what do you see in HP that gave you the faith and patience of Job.

      Good for you that HP turns out so well for you and I hope you have many more similar stocks like HP in your portfolio.

    9. No, HP is only my "side kicks"

      i happen to have US portfolio because i had worked in HP.

      Today it is my US portfolio about 2.5 times of my Singapore portfolio in terms of dollar value.

      U are an engineer.

      It is easy for U to calculate what is my total portfolio dollar value from HP 73 for 25 years. That is U if really want to.

      But cash as perpetual options is more then 70% after reserve for about 2 years for living.

      i think i am letting too much cash rotting now.

      But i look at Singapore market everyday.

      Even for rights issues, IPO or disfavoured stocks, for opportunity to buy.

      That is my position right now.

      Just sleeping and waiting for durian to drop loh.

      Anyone copy me at your own risks.

      Ha! Ha!

      If everyone is the same, the World stops functioning already.

    10. Hi Temperament,

      You are a veteran with numerous gingers of accumulated experience over these years.



    11. Ben,

      Go with your heart!

      Have fun with this new chapter in your life, and enjoy the pitfalls too as no roads will be flat and smooth all the way ;)

      Its with a heavy heart to learn from the TV 8 news that our Xinyao pioneer 顏黎明 has passed away at age 55...

      Another part of my secondary school days memory is now gone...

      When we still have the health and energy now, its better to focus on the large rocks in our lives.

      Many spend their time accumulating sand and small pebbles into their buckets first (X amount in Y years), then wonder why they can't fit the large rocks in when they are finally "financially free"!?

      Life is more than making money. We are not machines.

    12. Hi Temperament,

      I not so kay-poh as to calculate how much is your HP worth. I know you're rich from HP, good enough. Since you worked in HP, I guess maybe it's your knowledge as an ex-employee/insider which gave you the conviction to hold on to HP for so long.

      I'm sure you are different from many people. Very very few people can hold a stock for 25 years despite a long and deep down period (double-digit percentage drops for consecutive years). I humbly admit I don't have your balls to hold a large position for so long.

      You're preparing war-chest to scoop up the durians when they crash down and hurt many people. Buy when there is blood caused by the durian dropping. Update us when you succeed!

    13. Hi Hyom Hyom.

      The most important thing is to be comfortable with your decision. When you feel that the intended decision gives you the jittery feeling, it could be the telltale sign of a warning.

      Having the peace of mind is the way to go.


    14. No lah i happened to work in HP.

      It was only 73 shares about 25 years ago.

      Now i just have too much cash rotting in the banks besides CPF's as reserve bond(wify's).

      U are right if there were Enron, WorldCom but there are also Apple, even IBM is better than HP off hand i think.

      i really don't know HP won't be a WorldCom or Enron.

      i just think i can afford to let HP be what it want to be.

      Even now, it has becomes 7 companies, i still wonder whether i should let it be and pass to the next generation?

      Is this investing based on hope only or let Nature takes it's course, someone likes to say?

      Silly way of investing isn't it?

      i am just tikam, tikam only.

      That is if i don't need the money.

      Is it silly to tikam?

    15. Hi Smol,

      I follow my heartfelt sensation. It's a painful decision which I know that I have to do or else I will regret for non-decision in future.

      I know that there is bound to be pitfalls and problem during the course of my about-to-embark new journey. I take it like a pinch of salt and treat it as a life experience. It beats better than taking no action by remaining in my fledging career. Even if I fail in my decision, I will not regret it at all and am content to have taken this route which may appear "abnormal" to the general majority in Singapore. I do not bother with the perception of my friends on my decision (in future) and I also do not make an intent to inform them of my decision. In fact, none of my friends knows of my decision and purpose behind the decision. My colleagues in my current organisation asked me on my next organisation. I just inform them that it is not convenient for me to divulge at this junction. Hence, so far so good for me. I feel that there is no need to inform others of my decision with intent. This is my decision and it's best to remain low profile and embark on the journey which I set and prefer on my own terms and schedule.


    16. Smol,

      Having the peace of mind is the precious circumstance in which I look for. No worries and stress. Only happiness awaits me everyday. I encounter these two elements during my full-time employment. I can attest that these two elements are massive drain on my physical and mental well-beings. It's quite cool to discard these two element and I feel more lighter and happier in the current lifestyle.

      Your mention of knowing the "Enough is enough" is very simple and plain to understand and implementation of the appropriate action is very obvious. The relief of discarding the heavy weight which have been on my back (for almost past 18 years) is awesome!


    17. Ben,

      Your own decision; your own life!

      Welcome to taking ownership of your own happiness :)

  5. Hi LP,

    Take it easy. It's a life. We only live once. Why be so serious?

    Let me share with you more about myself. I also have the usual mindset of the usual style of Singaporean's own of living. Baby to Primary School to Secondary School to Tertiary to Work to Find Girlfriend to Get Married to Have Kids to Kids Grow Up to Retire to Take Care of Grandchildren. After many many years of life experience, I realised that this is not the must type of lifestyle. Sometimes, things may not turn up as per one's wish.

    The door approach is not what I applied to stock investment. I invest and keep for the dividend investment. That's simple. Therefore, up and down in the market is not my concern. They used to be so. However, such concern ceased to be so. You mentioned that some of the enjoyments comes from persistence and the good might come in the end. I assume that this may be your the way which you may have adopted in your lifestyle. I do not see it to be an issue as this may be your style of preference. I do not think that it is appropriate for me to comment on this. You may be in favour of trend trending. However, this is not my cup of my tea.

    I have adopted the approach of enjoying my life to the fullest. I have encountered many many instance in which people depart after completing the hard work. This is life which can be unpredictable for some. I do not want to leave it to fate by postponing the things which I desire to do at the later part of my life. There could be no later part if the inevitable occurs sooner than the expectation. You may not agree with my perspective. I understand. One thing for sure, different people have different viewpoint. It's hard for all to come to the full agreement on the discussed topics. There are so many things which one is involved in. It's hard to adopt the same mindset approach on the different things which one id doing.


  6. Hi Ben,

    The last time we communicated, you said you are going to take some momentous decision. I see you have taken it. I'm pretty sure at your age, you have good reasons and have weighed the pros and cons to take this life-changing decision concerning your career. I wish you all the best. Keep us updated on your latest fun activities in your new life, unless you prefer to keep it private.

    1. Hi Hyom Hyom,

      Thks for your well wishes. I have taken this decision after much detailed deliberation. This is not an easy decision. I know that I have chosen this option as I know that this is for my benefits. Life is short and I need to ensure that I lead a fulfilling life going forward. As I have mentioned before, the decision which I have made, might not be applicable for others who have different priorities. To each of our own. As long as we know what we want and make the decision accordingly, I think that this is in the best interest of ourselves. Looking forward is the way to go and make decision as accordance of own preference is right direction as per my perspective.


    2. Hi Ben,

      Have fun. Stay healthy.


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