Era writes about personal finance on her blog @ and the following is her insightful article on managing personal finance in Brunei:

So I learnt recently about the four generations that are in the workplace.  So for those who do not know this, there are four generations in the workplace known as :

  1. Veterans (1922-1943) – 71 until 92 yrs
  2. Baby Boomers (1943-1960) – 54 until 71 yrs
  3. Gen X (1960-1980) – 34 until 54 years
  4. Millennials (1980-2000) – 14 until 34 years

I am surprised to know that I am actually a Millennial, all this while I thought I was Gen X.  The lecturer said something quite interesting, that Baby Boomers usually encounter friction with the Millennials because the motto of Baby Boomers is ‘Live to Work’, while the motto for Millennials is ‘Work to Live’.  This motto suggests that Baby Boomers put more emphasis on working rather than living, while Millennials emphasise Living over working.  However, I do not blame Baby Boomers as they lived in the era of the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Because of this, they have become competitive and therefore work hard in their jobs, whereas Millennials live in the era of high technology.  Usually friction happens with regards to promotion where Millennials can get disappointed especially in government jobs where seniority is promoted over merit.  Millennials feel because they are tech savvy and thus finish the job quickly, they are better than the Baby Boomers who take a longer time to finish the job but are more thorough.  Gen X are in the middle, they work well with both Baby Boomers and Millennials and thus are considered as the bridge between the two.

So you may be thinking, but what does this have to do with being financially independent?

Well, I realized that the motto ‘Work to Live’ for Millennials was exactly what I was feeling.  In the US, there is a growing movement towards this motto and I hope this will also be the case in Brunei.  No longer are we hoping to retire at age 55 or 60 but more likely age 40 or dare I say 35.  This is what I hope to spread in Brunei, the idea of working to live.  To think of the future and work towards the goals of being financially independent in which you are able to live free; to do what you want to do when you want to do it.  At the same time we would save the world by living on less resources, sharing resources and building more binding relationships.

Why do I want to be financially independent?

My personal goal is to be financially independent, so that me and my husband can both be stay-at-home parents to our two and possibly four children.  I feel my children would be better persons if we spent more time with them and raised them ourselves without other outside influences.  This is why I am a big fan of Mr Money Mustache who is famous for retiring at age 32 so that he and his wife could be stay-at-home parents of their one son.  Another person I am a big fan of is Afford Anything.  Paula who is the owner of the blog earns passive income from her rental houses and uses her financial independence to travel wherever she wants whenever she wants.  Mix these two together and it describes perfectly what my goals are and how I hope to achieve it.

How I hope to be financially independent

Imagine how it would feel if you just stayed at home doing nothing and money still kept coming in.  This is what is known as passive income. Even if you do not work or are sick money still comes in.  This is why I have purchased 2 rental houses: one in November 2009 in Kg. Beribi and one in November 2010 in Kg. Mata-Mata.  This was done by saving up for the deposit – 20% down payments for each house and having one house under my name and another under my husband’s name.  This is also why we have tried living on one income only – to try to live on a lower standard of living, so that we can transfer from a two income family to one income, and finally to passive income.

Things you can do to be financially independent

So if you are thinking of being financially independent…

Firstly, educate yourself on personal finance by reading blogs (as mentioned above) and books, for example, by authors such as Dave Ramsey, David Bach and Ramit Sethi and titles such as ‘Your Money or Your Life’, ‘Millionaire Next Door’ and ‘The Wealthiest Man in Babylon’.

Secondly, think of your future self rather than your current self, by this I mean, for example, when you buy a car: do not think of the current monthly payments but of the future total payments you eventually pay including the interest.

Thirdly, set up a budget to find out what is that magic number you need per month to live.  For example, for me it could be as low as $1,500 if I chose not to send my children to an international school but a private school, have no help (maid) and only one car.

Fourthly, buy real estate or investment with dividends that provides you passive income, amounting to that magic number you need per month to live.

Fifthly, have an emergency fund just in case something needs to be repaired or there is vacancy for your real estate to tide you over.

What it means to be financially independent…

You Get to Do the Job you love cause, let’s face it, you will probably get bored after one month of doing nothing.  If that job is taking care of your own children then that is still a job but at least it is your choice.

You Will Be More Happier cause you have no worries about money.  You have an emergency fund for emergencies and you have passive income that pays your monthly expenses.

Hopefully, this has been enlightening for you readers. If it has been useful to you and you would like to know more, I hope you will visit my blog so that together we can go on a journey towards financial independence.

What do you think?

  • Does your ‘generation’ match your attitude towards your personal finances?
  • What measures have you taken towards financial independence?
  • What does financial independence mean to you?

Or any other thoughts on the topic? Share your thoughts below!

About Era

Era writes about personal finance on her blog @ She is a Bruneian civil servant and also the first Bruneian to go to the South Pole!

Categories: Culture, Economics


  1. Non Permanent Resident

    Your post was surprising. In our experience young Bruneians don’t save, don’t invest – just buy the latest gadget while still living with their Mum and Dad and blow all their money on trips overseas.

    While I am not sure I agree with whatever lecturer made up those gross generalisations about the ‘Generations’, its certainly true that without a solid work ethic – usually given by your parents – young people tend to fritter away their earnings on pointless frivolities.

    The oil in Brunei will run out – this is absolutely certain. What isn’t certain is when – 15 years, 25 years, 50 years? The general thinking among the geologists is 15-25 years.

    What will you do then? Who will rent your houses when there is no income in the country – because there is no industry, no manufacturing. The two main types of employment are government work and retail/food. The only manufacturing is making things like roof trusses for local buildings or processed food.

    If you want to be economically independent then you need to do one of two things – invest your money overseas, where it won’t be affected by the economic downturn that is going to hit Brunei, or invest your money in a competitive manufacturing business in Brunei that exports their products.

    As in the second case you are going to have to compete with either the industrial might of China and Malaysia, the educational might of India, China and Japan, the low wages of Cambodia, Thailand, China and Indonesia, the chances of finding a niche are going to be low – unless you have some lucky combination of talents that allows you to leverage something no-one else has.

    So, while buying houses in Brunei is an attractive short-term option, be careful that all your eggs aren’t in one basket.

    When the oil runs out, unless the country has done a lot more to create an actual export economy, you are going to be left with two houses in a place no-one wants (or has money to) pay for. That could see you being asset-rich in an economy with no money.

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