Greed or need?

A few days back I wrote about “Am I saving enough?” Thank you for all your comments.  I am just afraid that those people with their benchmark savings ratios are not really representative of the regular guys.

Could it be that those who do save much less right now did not dare to comment at all?

And would you consider those with more than 50% savings as “greedy for retirement”?

The harsh truth is that the most important drivers in the growth of your assets are how much you save and – above all else – time.  And saving requires discipline over a long time.

If you want a get-rich-quick investment strategy, consult the snake oil salesman.  But be aware the side-effect might be that you get poor quicker.

The single most important thing you can do to achieve financial security is to begin a regular savings program; to start it as early as possible and let the compound interest perform its magic.

Because the only reliable route to a comfortable retirement is to build up your nest egg slowly and steadily.

I wanna grow

Like growing up, which takes its time as well and cannot really be accelerated with “get-tall-quick-potions”.

As I have written earlier, the best bet to grow your nest egg faster than the inflation is in the securities market.

Watch out though: The securities markets is like a large restaurant with a variety of menu choices suitable for different tastes and needs.  There is no one single investment that is best for everyone.  Every investor must make a trade-off between eating well and sleeping well.

Higher investment rewards can be achieved only at the cost of substantial risk-taking.  So what’s your sleeping point?  Finding the answer is one of the most important steps you must take.

With the risk of repeating myself, do look into ETFs on broad-based market indexes for your long-term investment horizons.  Statistically, they beat the majority of the Mutual Funds or Unit Trusts and they are way cheaper.

When it comes to betting on a sure thing, greed trumps common sense and makes the bet irresistible.  That’s why scams still  survive.  But hopefully in future without your participation.

Keeping your money safe for the long run has gone from being a luxury to being an absolute necessity.

“The true key to becoming rich is patient saving starting today and an understanding that wealth accumulation happens over the course of a lifetime.” — Warren Buffett

“You can’t have everything.  Where would you put it?” — Stephen Wright

“There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” – Frank Buchman


  1. To get a sense of the saving rate, we will likely have to rely on a survey. (

    From our comments in your previous blog post, it could be close to impossible to know general saving rates. People who are more financially concerned are reading your blog post. Others who are living pay check to pay check may have little incentives to understand more about financial literacy. A sampling problem.

    The percentage saved needs to be correlated with a person’s annual income too. I have friends who are accreditated investors. They could be saving only 10%-20% of their income, but their 10%-20% expenses could be a another family’s monthly household income. People could be not commenting after seeing crazy saving percentages.

    Very few people I know are saving in excess of 50%. The motivation is not greedy for retirement. I speculate that the reason why we save in excess of 50%, is the same reason why people don’t save enough.

    The reason some people I know don’t save enough is becuase of subjective probability bias. You might die tomorrow. Recently a friend saw his football buddy in the mid 30s drop dead in front of him. Penny pinching and depriving yourself of the material comfort is a silly thing to do. Eat, drink and make merry.

    Interestingly, my motivation to save is also from subjective probability bias, not sure if I will have a job next year. I survived a lot of lay offs. One of my friends’ company is undergoing M&A now. I also dodged a downsizing recently. I joked with my friend about involuntary retirement quite a bit.

    Same subjective probability cognitive bias, but different outcome.

    Another bias that I picked up is hyperbolic discounting by people who don’t save. Money matters are too difficult.

    In defence of my penny pinching habit is that I am at my earning peak. It is unlikely that it will go up by a lot , and it is more likely that I suffer a drop in income from restructuring. I should save more while I still can. How do I know? No feedback from my job applications.

    Having a financial buffer buys me freedom to pursue things I like without worrying about my bills. During the recent great financial crisis, my wife and I agreed that if we are both retrenched, we will travel for a while. Financially, we can don’t work for quite a while.

    • Thank you, Khong Beng, for sharing that enlightening link.

      When it comes to that probability bias people are way too subjective and are looking too much for statistics or information that fits to their belief (confirmation bias). Well, Singapore ranks quite high in life expectancy. Has it crossed the 80-mark yet? I don’t know, but I do know that it continues to go up and as such the probability to live longer continues to increase despite the occasional exception / tragedy.

      Great prospects you have there in case of retrenchment. Just a thought: Could it be that due to your “after retrenchment plans” you are actually quite relaxed (vs tense) at work and as such are doing a great job for your employer with the result that you will never be among those identified for retrenchment?

  2. Greed or need is at times not so easily clear cut.
    The last 2008/9 market melt down, a billionaire or multi millionaire in Germany got short squeezed until he took his own life.
    What about Jesse Livermore?
    The most famous shortist.
    Greed or need?
    He was a multi-millionaire many times by shorting the market.
    Yet he was also a broke more than once irc.
    So greed or need for him?

    i think (to me only) greed is you take more risk then necessary in financial undertakings.
    Or in fact in any matters.
    If you succeed you are hero, if you fail you are zero.

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