Personal financial stability is not something easy to resolved. If you were ever in an economy classroom, either during high school or as part of your college or university degree, no matter how much you understand the concept of 'want' and 'need', believe me, you will never get to feel the 'forcefield' pulling you to spend on the unnecessary thing in life, until you have 'disposable income'.
Whoever invented modern credit is evil. Financial institutions, be it banks or cooperative or finance companies, is always on the prowl for you to take whatever they can give you in the form of credit cards and personal loans before you have even step out into the real world and become part of the 'workforce'.
However, how else can you afford the basic thing in life if not for credit? It is a Catch-22 situation as most of the basic needs like food, a place to live and transportation cost money. Coupled that with the self-appointed financial guru who propagates the need to own your own place and transport (though this now seems to have been losing steam), you will feel left out if you don't own a house or a car by a certain age. Then to make matter worse, you live in a world where everywhere you turn, you are bombarded by advertisement promoting so many things like a brand handphone, a computer, a tablet, the need to travel to see new places and more expensive version of your need.
That was what happened to me.
In my years of living, I have bought more than one house, sell a few, kept a few; bought a few cars, sold a few, had two cars at one time, one car at another time, owned cheap cars, owned expensive cars; bought more than one personal computer for my house, left it dusty before buying a newer version; owned a tablet; a few smart phones. All this thanks to the supposedly disposable income I have which I increased to more than 10-fold thanks to the easy approval of credit cards and personal loans. Some are obtained through 100% loans which allow me to buy cars and houses (it doesn't exist for awhile in Malaysia but it is making a comeback through various affordable housing scheme)
When 2012 arrived, I am more than a few hundred thousand Ringgit Malaysia in debt. One thing I have always made sure is to never have any arrears in any of my installments. My business helped me to make sure of this but it is not a perfect personal financial stability that I aspire to have. So, I started to get my personal finance in order.
I listed out my debts which include a car, a house, an Amanah Saham Bumiputra (ASB) loan, a personal loan and a few credit cards which when tabulated comes up to more than RM100,000-00 disposable income but are mostly maxed out. Some of the credit cards are there as I have taken a balance-transfer credit card to lower down the interest charged on my other credit card debt. I was surprised that more than half of my drawing from my businesses goes to paying the credit card debt. And yes, the first thing to a cure from an addiction is to admit that you have a problem. Then, look for a solution.
Another myth in this modern age is to make sure you have savings for your old days. Yes, that is not bad advice. However, how about living your old age without debt and having a stream of cash supplementing you? That is equally important right? Without delay, I listed my assets and see whether I can match my liabilities.
My assets seem to be part of the problem too. A house still under a mortgage. An ASB certificate which is not mine. A few unit trusts. The car is never an asset as it is always a liability. After calculating all this, I find that it is easier for me to cancel a few loans such as the ASB loan and the few credit card, especially those which have high interest charged to it every month. Then I decided to sell my car which was already 6 years old this coming May and bought a cheaper car. I then did one of the most surprising decision ever, even to me. I put the current house I am living in on the market. At a very steep price. Canceling the loans allow me to be liquid as dividends are paid for the ASB for 2011, unit trusts are sold with cash as payment and the car was sold at a good price.
The journey is not over yet. I have only cleared 30% of the debt I have. I still have to see whether I can get the price I want for my house. What I do after will require another entry. As I cleared a few of the credit card debt, banks which always on the look-out for someone who has more than he can spend is already calling more offering me new loans. Then, my feet, knowing me, starts to itch to travel somewhere far.
Let us see how much of the 'want' I can resist so I can totally clear up the debt.