Tuesday 7 September 2021

Stable Consistent Income Versus Variable Volatile Income


One of the most underrated benefit of the Earn More path is Self Discovery.

Especially when we put real money on the line!

Once upon a time, I wrote this post to help newbies learn more about themselves:

First Things First - Invest In Yourself

There, I used the example of HOW you like to travel may give clues to which investing/trading vehicles or instruments you would be drawn to.

Today, I would like to draw attention to your day job.

Most of us, after several years in the corporate world, would probably know which we prefer:

1)  A stable consistent income month after month, year after year.

2)  Completely cool with a variable and highly volatile income. You know, some months like famines, some months bumper harvests!

Do you know anyone who earns $10K and more a month in a stable job, quit to become an insurance or property agent?

Or throw away their iron rice bowls to start their own businesses with an uncertain future?

If you have children, would you get a stroke if they come back home to share they would like to career switch to become a full time singer or actor?

How you respond can be interesting and revealing about yourself.

Would you be supportive?

"Sure! Go chase rainbows! We are only young once... I support you!"

Or would you with the best of intentions tell them the "odds"?

"Are you sure what you doing? Only a minority can make it. Majority just fail you know?"

Have you noticed to people that don't matter - casual colleagues or acquaintances - you almost always appear positive and all supportive?

Its because if they die its their own business, isn't it?

But to your love ones and people that matter, you are often conflicted...

On one side, if they fail, you really feel their pain. So you don't want them to get hurt.

On the other hand, you were young once too. You had your flames of passion snuffed out by well intentioned friends and family members... You don't want to repeat the sins of the father all over again...

Then again, if your love ones succeed, sure, you'll be happy for them! 

But that will also make you feel sorry for yourself... Sorry that you gave up before even trying so many years ago...

Can you now better understand why some retail investors are yield hogs? 

Why some even structure their dividend portfolios in such a way that they try to get dividends flowing in over as many months during the year, as opposed to one big or two dividend lump sums over the year?

Plus why some prefer the Save More path over the Earn More path?

That's not all!

I want to draw your attention that not everything is what it seems on the surface.

Context is important.

Your opinion of that ultra conservative "no bxlls" CPF voluntary contributor may totally flip, if you discover how volatile his day job pays... He probably got more guts than you!

And that fearless retail investor using leverage with abandonment wasn't as reckless as you thought... That's when you discovered he got tenure for his day job! That's not fair!

Bet you didn't see this coming!


Its never about 4 legs good; 2 legs bad... 

Know your own feet; choose the right shoes that fit.

That's all!

If you are a penguin, no amount of "If you think you can, you can!" will help you soar into the air. Wink.




  1. Smol,

    These are quite common for people who are more conservative and cautious in their thought. It is to their own.

    My take is that it is worthwhile to venture out and do the things of own interest regardless of others opinion. This is one's life and I believe that it should be one to be in control of his/her decision and be responsible of the own. I am disappointed to say that this is less prevalent and often frowned on by many in the Singapore context. The seeminingly "safe" iron rice bowl are preferred by most as it is the safe way. This is akin to "Growing up -> Get into a good educational institution -> Get a stable job -> Get married-> buy a property-> Children grow up -> Retire -> Up the Lorry. This is the usual and standard route for most people in this world.

    Any deviation from the above norms will be subject to criticism by the majority. I opine that such deviation is good and full of excitement. This makes life more interesting and fulfilling. Having said this remark, it is to each of one own.

    Food for thoughts.


    1. WTK,

      I see young shoots that youths of today are breaking away from the 10 year series mode - study hard, get into attas school, graduate with honours, get into MNCs, buy landed, rinse and repeat with their own children...

      Some parents now even send their kids to Dance and Drama schools!?

      Yup, if their kids can sing and dance on stage, when they grew up, they would have no problem making speeches or presentations in public ;)

      And in the off chance they can become the next Stephanie Sun or J.J. Lin, that's not to bad right?

      Its a good sign more youths are open to taking up the craft of being hawkers; using it as a lower entry stepping stone towards their F&B empire dreams.

      We need more stories of youths in their 30s buying Good Class Bungalows flushed with cash after their tiny local local startups grew into global brands :)

      If from day 1 we have our eyes on being relevant globally, we will have less need to utter Singapore born and breed...

      What has that got to do with anything?

      Have we forgotten most of Singapore's founding fathers were not even born in Singapore!?

      Two decades of MOE reforms (nightmare for teachers and parents who can't keep up) are starting to bear fruits.

      We now focus on competences; less on paper qualifications.

      That good.

      Once we know our core competences, be it in our day job, or which path to pursue when it comes to Earn More or Save More, I believe we'll be happier.


    2. Hi Smol.

      There is nothing to lose when one has enough. Go and pursue the prevailing interest without no hesistation. Tired? Move on another interest la.

      This is the way of life as per my perspective.


  2. Earn more?

    By mid life, most of us should be able to know whether we can still pursue earn more and MORE path! So how? Some may take up side hustles or investing to open up a second path to "earn" more!

    1. CW,

      That's the beauty of uncertainties in life!

      Imagine how boring life would be if everything turned out EXACTLY as we have planned!!!

      One door closes; another opens.

      You are right! It need not have to be investing or starting big businesses.

      I have an ex-colleague who got retrenched, found she could make cupcakes and desserts from home to sell on Facebook.

      Can't stand her. She now spends most of her free time doing aerobics during the day. For someone in her 40s, she got a great bod!

      She makes enough can already ;)

      Earn More is not work when we are doing what we enjoy!

  3. Hi SMOL,

    I think I am nuts. I left a decently paid job to........start up a venture with one of our friends. Still feeling a bit disembodied from the experience. What? I need to do marketing and business development now? Alright, have to got to try!

    1. Hi UN,

      All the best to you! I'm being supportive not because I don't care, you die your own business ...

      If fail, just find another job. Won't die one. Good luck!!

    2. Hi UN

      Kudos to you! In life, you need a little "crazed or cranky" inorder to execute things you wouldn't expect or others expect you of.

      That's how growth is attained!

      Hyom is right, the best time is always now!(with margin of safety)

    3. Unintelligent Nerd.

      Have fun!

      What's the worst that can happen?

      The venture failed and you go back to where you were previously - working to fulfill other people's dreams.

      But you don't return empty handed ;)

      Your experience as an insider (business owner) would expand your horizon wider than taking a MBA course!

      1. Leverage your psychology background and apply it in practice - be it Consumer Behaviour when it comes to Marketing, or Group Dynamics/Organisational Theory when it comes to HR Management ;)

      2. Don't just stick to your Marketing and Business Development silos. Pay attention to HOW your business friends handle Business Finance - especially when it comes to Cash Flow management and FUNDING! And the various financial engineering tricks employed...

      This will come mighty handy when reading annual reports as investor ;)

      3) And most beneficial of all, you'll condense 40 years of corporate experience into the next few years.

      In good times, business partners will behave one way. In bad times, spot who will jump ship first? Who will backstab who, etc...

      Its all part of personal growth and self discovery!

      Remember, if your business venture took off, and you need a snake oil, don't forget me!

      I'm cheap!

      I'll do anything for a drink!

  4. Before a person takes on huge risks like switching from stable to volatile income, build a safety net first. This is so that if he fails, he won't burden other people and can still recover.

    This is what I will do if I want to do risky stuff.

    1. hyom,

      I once read that drivers would be drive more carefully if we had a metal spike in front of the driving wheel instead of airbags!?

      It reminded me of 破斧沉舟 (have our backs against the sea)...

      I'm with Tharman (too bad he not interested to be PM).

      It can get "too comfortable" when we fall into our safety nets.

      Its better to have trampolines ;)

    2. Smol,

      Don't mind me poking.

      "Use metal spike in front of the driving wheel instead of airbags." Who does that in real practice?

      "破斧沉舟". Why self-inflict with unnecessary risks? Hope there are better ways to motivate people. The General in the famous 破斧沉舟 story had a sad ending.

      I thought you don't trade with scared money?

    3. hyom,

      Bring it on! LOL!

      That's why you're not a cheerleader ;)

      If this Chinese idiom is "useless", it would not have survived till today.

      I thought we live with metal spikes in front of our faces all the time?

      1) Big daddy tried the airbags method for clearing trays. Results dismal. Now with metal spikes... Eh? Instant success! LOL!

      2) You think majority of Singaporeans so disciplined and obedient to put on masks? Why you think those fines (small spikes) and jail time (big spikes) are for?

      Yes, I don't trade with scared money.

      Was being transparent that I had the edge over others when it comes to trading. I don't have the need to withdraw money out from trading account for living expenses ;)

      Then again, I'm working 16 hour work week. I could have easily moved the goal posts by working a few more years fulltime, you know.

      Better be safe! Save another few $$$ before taking sabbatical from fulltime work...

      We can never be too safe!

  5. Smol,

    When I was working, I'd be the wet blanket whenever a friend would be thinking about "going independent". Even more so if it's someone whom I had been working for a while.

    No, it's not about potentially losing a good colleague that I could share or arrow work load (although that's *one* of the factors LOL). It was more about gut feel whether he/she is of an "entrepreneurial nature" or X Factor.

    A person can be the most gung-ho, self-driven, self-starter employee who drives & executes profit-making initiatives for lunch, and yet unable to *thrive* in running a biz. Doesn't mean the biz will go bust ... but in terms of payoff ($$$ and family time), they would have been better off remaining as an employee.

    Of course, no pain no gain (and no self-discovery).

    For the younger colleagues, after my wet blanketing, I'd usually just say go for it, with a Plan B for when things go balls up.

    Plan B doesn't just mean becoming an employee again. It means ensuring your home, family, closest personal relationships, and basic personal finances remain intact.

    Apart from angel & PE investors, the other more common group of people with good insights into the odds of entrepreneurship will be our local bankers dealing with SMEs. They will have first hand experience interacting directly with small biz owners, going thru their biz plans & models viz-a-viz competitors, balance sheets, revenues & profits, debt & equity structures etc.

    They will also have first hand knowledge of likelihood of bad loans, biz failures, which sectors have higher failure rates, which are the up & coming sectors etc.

    It's also pretty telling that 99.99% of bankers dealing with entrepreneurs from all levels from Ah Seng to Ian Ang or Anthony Tan will still rather remain employees in big banks. ;)

    1. Oh forgot to add:

      One way to test out is to do the venture as a side or weekend job, on top of your day job.

      Too much effort & time spent?

      Think you've got your answer there! ;)

    2. Spur,

      Who we are today is the sum of our past experiences.

      I'm glad I've had gone through my "loser" and "failure" years during my early 20s. Those years in the wilderness where I couldn't settle down in a proper job.

      Don't like? Not happy? Quit! (Go figure I have no problem using stop-orders today!)

      The opportunity costs were much lower then. I wasn't earning much, single, can still parasite on parents, I'm "thrifty"; etc.

      I can imagine if I'm in my late 40s or 50s with family of my own, I would never dared doing what I did during my early 20s...

      Never mind not happy, quit... I'll be more worried about being retrenched or being replaced by foreign competition like so many others!

      That's where snake oils have a field day selling "investing/trading to escape" dreams to those who have holes in their hearts...

      Hence, I will always be the cheerleader for youths do what you always wanted early! (I never say sure win or "bao jiak!")

      Youths, your strength is you don't know what cannot be done!

      "Mai tu" or procrastinate.

      When you become older, you don't need well meaning friends or family members to snuff out your passions...

      You'll ownself psycho your ownself with all the "valid" reasons why you shouldn't listen to your heart!

      Safety net this, backup plans that...

      And how can let family suffer if we fail?

      OK. Stop dreaming.

      Back to the grind...

    3. Spur,

      When I returned from overseas, I did evaluate whether to "buy" a job by being a franchisee for 7-eleven or Subway.

      You are right. I'm too lazy. That would take too much time and effort!!!

      Being my own 1 man family office is a lot easier!

      And I won't fire myself! LOL!

      P.S. Oh! Must poke your loans banker example!

      Loans officers are in those bread-and-butter banking jobs because they are already who they are! (I hope they don't punch me!)

      I mean those bankers with more animal spirits would be coming up with structured products like those in French banks, or concocting up new exotic derivatives to market to institutions!

      "Look boys! We have a new toy to make money in!"

      "Psst! You want to know a new hottest investing vehicle? SPACs..."

      And who are most likely to jump from "stable" banking jobs to start their own hedge funds?

      Why star prop traders at banks' trading desks of course!

    4. Smol,

      I agree with Spur about having a Plan B when things go balls up.

      I view the purpose of trampoline + safety net(built by ownself without help from other taxpayers) as enabling one to take risks responsibly, particularly when he has dependents.

      Should not simply follow the heart and neglect the head.

    5. Smol,

      My bro used to be a quant banker. You'd be surprised. Those quant bankers that come up with exotic derivatives or structured products? They mostly favour stability & rarely invest in things they come up with.

      Even if they have permission to do so with for-staff-only products which they structure with much better risk/reward trade off. 80% of their money is in broad vanilla ETFs & properties. :P

      Those "loan officers" dealing with corporates actually are semi-sales roles with monthly/quarterly targets to meet. They have to call on & meet up with various companies to sell loans or other financial engineering products. And work out the pricing (interest rate & fees) and duration risk etc.

      And their necks are (kinda) on the line if their corporate clients default. I remember a friend who had panic attack when S'pore locked down last April. Turned out Covid was a boost for his electronics manufacturing clients!

      What bank careerists aim for is to go into the big league investment banking which is similar but dealing with MNCs & decacorns, with potential additional fat fees from IPOs, debt structuring and M&A activities.

      Yes, snake oil skills are required!

    6. hyom,

      Opps! I think I struck a nerve...

      Just teasing that safety nets and plan Bs can be convenient excuses to ownself make ownself feel "good".

      But if we are retrenched or fired from our day jobs, all of sudden, these backup plans magically went "poof"!

      With no opportunity costs to consider (zero income), bills to pay, and hungry mouths to feed, one has no qualms taking up job offers to be an insurance or property agent (逼虎跳墙)!?

      There are 3 kinds of entrepreneurs:

      1) Those from young already knew they want to be their own boss.

      2) Those who stumbled into it.

      Can be friends "jio" like Unintelligent Nerd, or like my night class classmate who bought over the Myanmar subsidiary he working in when the parent company decided to pull out as during that time, United Nations started an embargo on the Burmese Military Junta.

      Never planned; it just happens!

      3) Then they are entrepreneurs FORCED by circumstances to do so.

      Try sales? Fail. Try reskill, retrain? Not happy in new industry. Feel under-utilised...

      Only option left is to ownself work for ownself?

      What safety nets or backup plans???

      Just do it!

      Ar ber then?

    7. Spur,

      Thanks for your better illustrations!

      Its like those engineers working in the backrooms coming out with innovative products - yet its the sales and marketing that gets the limelight and lion share of the spoils of victories!

      Everyone knew sales and marketing people make more, but how many will make that career switch and abandon their stable and consistent paychecks?

      Yes, banking loan officers are sales people, but on a lower pecking order. Its those bankers whispering into SGX ears to bring SPACs into Singapore that have most to gain in their pockets ;)

      Its always the movers and shakers that will pause after a while.

      "I'm doing all the work. Why should I share my spoils of war with those land owners above me?"

      That's when the seed of "Merdeka" is planted ;)

    8. Smol,

      Don't worry about hitting a nerve. This is your blog. Say what you like, say what you want. Unwritten rule is guests on your blog should get used to your style. You set the rules here.

      When entrepreneurs succeed, they create value to economy/society and enormous wealth to themselves. Economic/social progress owes much to successful entrepreneurs. It is a healthy economic development when we see more young people trying out entrepreneurship. I hope these people have Plan B or some form of safety net when they fail.

      Talking about building a safety net. I think most people will not become entrepreneurs if they succeed in building a comfortable safety net unless becoming an entrepreneur is in their DNA, in which case they won't even bother about building a safety net in the first place.

      I know of someone who wanted to build a comfortable safety net through the financial markets in case he got retrenched at middle age. He succeeded and ended up retrenching himself at middle age and became a full-time market speculator. It is not what he wanted in life but he became who he is.

      The purpose of building a safety net is to enable us to take risks responsibly to become who we are.

    9. hyom,

      You regular and know my "bawu", so its gloves off!

      I shoot my mouth first, then beg for forgiveness...


      All in good fun :)

      For most people, a stable and consistent paying job IS already a safety net!

      When we are in our comfort zone, why take risks?

      Unless there's a "catalyst".

      Nothing motivates a man more to embrace risk taking than after getting dumped by his girlfriend for another richer man!!!

      To me, safety nets are hygiene factors, not motivating factors ;)

  6. Smol,

    People who dare to venture are those who are in perilous situation. An example is 昆陽之戰. It is through adverse situation which brings up the risk -taking acumen in the individual.


    1. WTK,

      We have many other examples from our 5,000 year history.

      Like 韩信's 背水一战?

      Or 乱世出英雄?

      Why do 80,000 British, Indian, and Australian troops surrender to the 30.000 Japanese invading force during WW2?

      Bad cheerleading leadership.

      Percival ignored orders and capitulated. He probably was thinking of plan B...

      Surrender first, stay alive, live to fight another day?

      Contrast this to Churchill's famous "WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER" speech...

      Cheerleading and motivating the British people they will fight on the seas, in the air, on the beaches, in the fields, in the streets...

  7. Wow, quite a lengthy discourse on this subject matter -- stable income versus variable income, with many interesting views.

    Let me add my views ("experience") to the discourse. I am in rather stable job. Like many of my colleagues, this would be our only job in our lifetime. Boring right? It is what it is. The longest serving record went to a 45 year veteran. She retired at 70. Myself? I have just completed 35.5 years of service. Our earned income was (very) low in the early years in exchange for job stability? But things have become (much) better in recent years. You simply cannot sell "job stability" to the young ones. Unlike us old goats, the young ones are not enamoured with job stability / security. They want action and the money as quickly as possible.

    I started investing (in stocks) seriously when I was 50! Before that, I invested in properties. Investing in properties was what people in stable jobs do back then. While my seniors bought landed, I could only afford apartment and condos. It is what it is. You do you.

    For most of us (I am really speculating what my colleagues are thinking here), we invest NOT because we wanted out of jobs, but because of the "success" stories we hear and read of "snake oil" marketing. We wanted that Merz, that carefree and "paid for" vacations that dont touch our savings, that opportunity to retire early.....the list goes on.

    And I am glad I started that investment journey albeit late. The many readings that I "forced" myself to do to invest have broadened my mind. I learnt the benefits of creating and having multiple streams of income (I now have 5), the many investment options out there, risk management, passive versus active investment, ownself invest versus professional funds, etc...

    For all the "troubles", at least now I feel more secure and confident (financially) to face retirement.

    1. mysecretinvestment,

      This watering hole interesting or what?

      Its where dragons and snakes mingle (龙蛇混杂).

      I'm the snake.

      Thanks for sharing more of your Johari Window with us!

      Who we are today is the sum of our experiences in the past.

      I've guessed pretty much of your background from your past sharing here and at CW's fishing pond. No prizes to figure out who you worked for in your day job!

      Your seniors bought landed, you apartments and condos, while I HDB.

      That's where the different perspectives arise ;)

      People like me can't afford to wait to build up a comfortable safety net in CPF before I've earned the right to take on more risks with equities, options, futures, cryptos, or what not...

      I'll be in 60s to buy my first stock then!? LOL!

      Just like the acceptance and tolerance of different faiths (or no faiths) and cultures in our daily lives, I must say my thanks to you and everyone who have tolerated me for my irreverent views...

      I mean, I like to argue with the STOP sign!

      P.S. Never invest or trade with "scared" money ;)


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