Ever since I graduated from my bachelor’s degree, the issue of money has been creeping up slowly in my life.

Even though we don’t talk much about it, we graduates realise that playing time is over. Our next goal is to become financially independent.

And it’s just the first step.

So let’s talk about money.

As a Gen Y-er, I believe in the notion of living your passion instead of working blindly for the pursuit of money. Steve Jobs said so. So did Biz Stone, Jeff Goins and Jon Acuff. So did everyone  who quitted their jobs and found both wealth and fulfillment. I have always wanted to be one of them. Like, for the longest time, my dream is to become an author whose first book got read like Harry Potter. Then I’ll sip my expensive wine while signing books. Not likely.

J.K. Rowling book sign

Then I came into the workforce, and I realised one simple truth: not everyone has the luxury to exercise their passion. We all have different priorities.

And this thing about following your dreams? Doing something that makes you eager to jump out of bed in the morning? Something that you would gladly do for free? It will take a long, long journey to complete. What if you’ve got mouths to feed?

Over eighteen months after my graduation, I’m still relying on my parents. I live at their apartment (hence, no rent). My sister pays the bills. I basically just use my money for myself. Yes, I go out there and earn my own income, which also makes me envy those who do a degree full time without a job (I’m current studying master’s). Still, even with a Bachelor’s degree, I’m still not financially independent.

We talk about this a lot, my girlfriends and I. We deduce that there are two types of Gen Y-er: one who believes in following your passion as living a fulfilled life, no matter what your bank account looks like, and another as those who believe in financial security, sucking up to jobs they like but not love to first build their empire. After succeeding financially, they will then think about doing what they love. (Of course, there is a third type who prioritises wealth above all others, but let’s not talk about that.)

We all want to be the first type, and we always believe in luck and that somehow, the doors to riches will be opened at that same time. But I constantly witness the opposite.

If we are living paycheck to paycheck on doing what we love, what about buying our first house? What about our future children and their education? What about holidays and those travel trips that our wealthy friends seem to always go?

It’s not all about passion. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s about getting your head above water too.

At 22, I realise that money is a complex issue. You don’t want it to be your boss, but you can’t ignore the problem. I guess I’m not the so-called idealistic girl who just goes for passion like I once was. I still pursue my passion and dreams, but perhaps this time, I’m more responsible in handling my income, and more realistic as opposed to dreamy.


Photo by Barry Solow