Due to my busy work schedule over the past few months, I haven’t had time to read much. However, a short break over the past few weeks gave me some respite from work, and I managed to spend some time reading some of the books I borrowed from the local library.
The Chinese Way to Wealth and Prosperity by Michael Justin Lee is a study of the financial habits and traits of the Chinese in achieving financial success. It espouses basic yet prudent financial concepts that I believe everyone should consider. Some of these include the importance of education, the value of guanxi, being frugal and start saving and investing early, deferring gratification, investing in real estate, and avoiding gambling which is a typical bad habit of the Chinese.
What caught my attention, however, were three topics that the author shared:
- Go Mobile
Being willing to uproot and reroot in another country is a character than many of the early Chinese business pioneers possessed. I believe that this valuable trait – the courage and ability to adapt well to their environment, paved their way to success. They left their home country in search of a better life elsewhere and many achieved great success in the countries where they settled in. This is largely evident in our neighbouring countries in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and even in Latin America where I stayed for 3 months. The author urges the younger generation to seek out and embrace opportunities far from our own backyard. For those who do not want to venture abroad, he suggests that we invest beyond our backyard in emerging economies beyond our comfort zones to obtain ideal investment returns.
2. Keeping Debt to an Absolute Minimum
I know this advice is very commonly preached, but the author managed to frame it in a new perspective. Unlike authors like Robert Kiyosaki who preaches that there is a difference between good and bad debt, Lee believes that there are only two types of debt: bad debt and regrettably necessary debt. In his words, “Debt can be appropriate. Debt can be necessary. Debt is always regrettable. But debt can never be truly good.” He views money spent paying down debt as an investment in oneself and a repurchase of one’s human capital. One is buying back his freedom in doing so. I feel this is true as a borrower is never “free”; he is always a “captive” of the lender. Proverbs 22:7 says that, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
3. The Power of Mindfulness
In deferring gratification, the author preaches about the being mindful in the process. He argues that deferring gratification need not be torturous, and joy may even arise out of it. It all depends on how one lives his life. “Those who work mindlessly are not being diligent. Those who study mindlessly are not concentrating. Those who live mindlessly are wasting their lives. Therefore, developing the skill of mindfulness is an attempt to become more fully alive in all areas.” One can still be happy deferring gratification and living simply. This is something I am working towards and have experienced more of in the past year, where I look forward to the simple joys of life.
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, as the concepts are logical and wise. They are applicable to anyone desiring an improvement in their finances.