Life can be complicated if we choose to make it so. As adults, we should know what makes us happy. Yet, most of us adults have fewer happy moments now compared to when we were younger. After years of working experience, I’ve come to realise that the easiest way for us to achieve Financial Happiness is by going back to basics.
Most of us started our experience in dealing with numbers during our kindergarten years. We learnt about numbers, how to count and perform mathematical operations, geometry, and other math concepts from young till high school and beyond. Due to not regularly practicing these equations in everyday life, it’s not surprising that most adults develop misconceptions with the order of operations to be performed while solving a mathematical expression (BODMAS – acronym for Bracket, Order, Division, Multiplication, Addition, and Subtraction).
How to reach financial happiness?
It is normal for us to begin practicing Addition from young, and by the time we joined the workforce, we would’ve become experts at this. Our environment trains us to view the Addition of new “wants” or “needs” positively; as something to be desired. However, it’s rare for young adults to be taught how to differentiate between wants versus needs. The perception that “more is better than less” leads us towards the trappings of the proverbial rat race. We fail to leverage on our understanding of BODMAS in our financial life and furthermore, we aren’t aware how it plays a vital role in our effort to pursue Financial Happiness.
BODMAS is the golden rule for solving equations and guides us on how to solve mathematical problems by following the correct sequence, otherwise our answers may be wrong if we fail to follow the rules. When we apply the BODMAS rule to solve equations, we must first solve the Bracket. Subsequently we solve the Order (that mean powers, roots, etc), then we continue with Division, Multiplication, Addition, and Subtraction. The key point to note is that Division and Multiplication rank equally, and in fact take precedence over Addition and Subtraction.
Applying DMAS to life
Taking a leaf out of the BODMAS system, I’d like to suggest that DMAS (Division, Multiplication, Addition and Subtraction) can be the core approach to solve our personal financial matters. Let’s go through an example to see how we can achieve Financial Happiness by applying DMAS in our daily life.
By following the proper arrangement, we always start with either Division or Multiplication.
Division is the action of separating or process of splitting things into equal parts. This action and process is so much more meaningful when we apply it to determine our life priorities, for example in areas such as health, relationships, career or how we deal with money. Obviously, we all understand that these priorities are equally important and deserve equal attention throughout our lifetime.
In fact, changes in life stages and socio-culture environments might lead or force us to make disproportionate choices. Common life problems such as financial or health, marriage and family, or career pressures often occur due to mistakes and failure to maintain the balance while fulfilling our needs. Hence, a proper and systematic rebalancing strategy (also an important strategy in investment management) will enable us to review our situation and ensure we reposition ourselves at the appropriate ratio.
Multiplication gives the results of combining groups of equal sizes whereby we can consider it as repeated addition, creating a larger whole. Multiplication in finance is always related to the rule of compounding, and it amplifies our financial condition, either positively or negatively. If we start off on the wrong foot, we’ll most likely end up with a bigger mistake. This can be clearly seen in the increasing number of Malaysians declared bankrupt or affected by overwhelming debts, especially credit card debts. We should recognise that the rule of Multiplication is not limited to money but also other scarce resources such as our networks and knowledge. As long as we’re able to identify the appropriate resources we want to grow, by putting enough time and effort, we will reap what we sow.
After applying both Division and Multiplication, you may now continue with Addition and Subtraction.
Addition of two whole numbers results in the total amount. In life, we tend to add new compartments by fate or chance. Given the same 24 hours a day or 365 days a year, we never tire of being attracted to new things and adding them to our bucket list. All of us have a different threshold and we should know better the tipping point of fulfilling our own desires as we become older and more experienced. Always take into consideration the results you will likely get from Division and Multiplication mentioned above. When the time is right, consider adding a new skill to grow your career, a new asset class into your investment horizon, or a good hobby or habit that helps you to excel in life.
Subtraction is the operation of removing objects from a collection. It’s not an easy task for us to practice even though more people are now attracted to the KonMari Method. With respect to financial matters, you may want to consider the two subtractions below:
- Get rid of negative financial thoughts
- Eliminate unwanted financial habits
There are no shortcuts to Financial Happiness. It only seems impossible if we don’t act at all. Apply the basic rules of DMAS patiently and wisely, and you will have an easier journey to achieve Financial Happiness.
About the author
Jess Hon is a Licensed Financial Planner and would like to help millennials take control of their own finances and achieve financial happiness. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org