Thursday, 10 December 2015

Why Many Young People are Having Financial Stress

The Asian Institute of Finance recently conducted a study and discovered that the Gen Y in Malaysia are experiencing significant financial stress early in their life. Many of them are living beyond their means and are trapped in emotional spending.

I got to witness this 'financial stress' at a sale recently.

I had attended a Valiram sale in October that was held  at The Westin, Kuala Lumpur. Some of the brands that were on sale include Canali, Tumi and Michael Kors.

For those of you who are familiar with these brands, you would know that most of the items are generally not in a price range that's affordable to most people. Just to give you an idea, the Kate Spade leather handbag that I bought for my mum at that sale costs RM652 after discount. The usual retail price was RM1,630.

Christmas present for my mum.

While standing in queue for almost 30 minutes to pay at the counter, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation that was going on behind me.

A young lady who looked like in her 20s was talking to someone over the phone. She sounded annoyed and suddenly blurted out, "Mana nak cari duit?!" (Translation: "Where to find the money?!"). My ears pricked up when she said that.

From her conversation I could tell that she wanted to purchase some of the items at the sale but she didn't have the means. The person at the other end of the line (whom I presume is her fiance) had asked her to consider using the RM1,000 that she had saved up for their wedding. But she was reluctant.

Then she was discussing something about wanting to buy a certain item but will only do so after the wedding when she has more money.

After she put down the phone, she asked an elderly lady (I presume is her mum) to stand in queue while she went back into the sale to pick up more items. She returned to the queue with a few handbags and started modelling them so that the elderly lady could tell her which one suits her best.

I didn't stay long enough to see how many handbags she eventually bought. Or how much they costs. But I did listen and watch the whole spectacle in disbelief.

This young lady has a strong desire for branded items. But she was certainly not earning enough to be at the sale, let alone purchase the items. This is exactly what the survey by the Asian Institute of Finance had revealed, i.e. young people are living beyond their means.

I call it MATERIALISM. That's the main cause of financial stress amongst young people these days.

A RM100 handbag does not offer the exclusivity and class of a RM1,000 leather handbag. That's why young people desire the expensive stuff.

Buying expensive, branded items is certainly not a crime, provided one can afford it. But if one does not have the means but still wants to own these items, then it becomes a problem.

The desire may become so deep that they may even resort to theft, fraud, prostitution, loan sharks, etc. to get more money. And when one starts getting involved in these type of activities, one starts nurturing a life of chaos and it becomes a a spiral that never ends.

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