This article was going to be about something completely different than what you are reading. I was halfway through writing about the price of whiskey and investing in things that you love, but then I received a phone call from my mother in the UK and all that changed. She was phoning to tell me that my father is in hospital after having a suspected stroke. Not great, and I’m still waiting to hear more information, but I know, if my family in the UK need me, I am on the first available plane out of Saigon.
How can I be sure of that? Well, for anyone that knows me or has read these articles over a period of time, you know how much of an importance I place on emergency funds – an amount of money that you can get your hands on directly. You do not need to liquidate anything or wait for transfers to happen. It is just there. This is the first time that I may need to use it, but I know it is there.
Now, this is a message for the long-term expats here. If you do not have enough emergency funds, you need to have a hard and cold look at what you are doing in your life. The only way to build up your emergency pot is by saving some money. If you have been here a long time and the month still lasts longer than your pay packet, there are only two possible reasons for this. Firstly, you are spending too much or secondly you do not earn enough.
If you are in this position, you are the only one who can correct this situation. Spend less or earn more. If possible, do both. This is the only way that this will work. So get your head out of the sand as it will take a wholescale change to your lifestyle, but hey, you are not a tourist or short timer here anymore. You may even have children and family here to look after. In other words, grow up and think of your family instead of where you can get your lunchtime beer on Bui Vien.
You may live thousands of miles from your parents or children, but that does not mean that they will not need to rely on you once in a while. Stop thinking all about yourself and make sure that you can be there for them when you are needed. If you need help doing this, speak to a financial advisor. It is not just investing they should have been trained in, but also debt counselling. You may not like what we say, but we honestly want to put you on the right course. People that we council through the hard times, will come back to us and be clients through the good times.
Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at