Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Father's Death and Legacy - Part 4 of 6

My Father's Death and Legacy - Part 4 of 6

Hi. For those who may not know, my father, Daniel Alagaretnam Devadason, died at 1 am on Friday April 4th 2008. I've decided to celebrate his life by sharing six enrichment lessons I learnt from him.

The first was 'Pay for High Quality', which you can read more about at:

The second lesson was 'Focus on Professionalism', which you can read more about at:

The third lesson was 'Respect Books', which you can read more about at:

My father lived a long, full life. One marked by joy, wartime travails, success, controversy, disappointment, fresh starts, and great love for all of his 10 children. I hope you enjoy reading this...

Here's the fourth of six lessons derived from my observations of his life:

Record Expenses.

In my home country of Malaysia, my work - as a financial planner, with a major eccentricity! - has brought me some level of notoriety. You see, one of the foundational principles of my practice is Delayed Gratification. In a recent series of radio interviews on BFM 89.9 (in the Klang Valley, Negeri Sembilan and some parts of Malacca), a station that may also be listened to online at, more specifically at, the excellent presenter Norina Yahya often made reference to that phrase, saying it was what I was 'famous for'. The context of Norina's assertion is my high personal savings and investment rate of 50%; my ongoing work with financial planning clients to help them gradually ratchet up to a 40% to 50% net savings rate, if that's what they want; and my reputation as a cheapskate who drives an old car.

Although my father did not plan for me to turn out like this, the formative lesson was his admonition for me to Record Expenses.

Note: My father did not die financially wealthy. In fact, I remember during my secondary school years, he would often talk to me, as we drove back from my extracurricular school activities at Malacca High School (MHS), about how he was admittedly a good lawyer but a bad businessman. He was also an unapologetic Anglophile.

So, when I won a scholarship from a London-based A-Level college, I remember my father sending his driver to MHS to find me and bring me back to his law office, behind Christ Church in the heart of historic Malacca, to read the letter awarding me that life-changing scholarship!

Before I left Malaysia for the UK in 1982, he took me aside to show me several of his ‘555’ notebooks in which he’d recorded his daily expenses while studying in London in the late 1950s. It was his way of tracking the utilisation of limited resources.

I followed his advice during my initial months in the UK, but soon tired of the exercise. That lapse contributed to my making a shambles of my finances during my eventual 7-year stint of living, studying and later working in England.

It took me several years after returning to Malaysia to repay every one of my UK credit card bills, but clear each one I did! I also repaid every single friend I borrowed money from back then to tide me over when I came up short of cash - which was often! (Every friend that is except my excellent housemate Vivek Mahendru who lent me 50 pounds before he returned to India. I've been trying to contact him for years, thus far unsuccessfully. Sigh!)

Both my parents made it clear that obligations must be met and all debts repaid.

In the ensuing years, one of the books I've written is on debt eradication. It's entitled Liberty! From Debt-Slave to Money Master, which you may learn more about here.

Ironically, given my troublesome history with debt, I have in recent years been hired by the Malaysian Central Bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, to train its debt counsellors!

Furthermore, today one of the hallmarks of my initial meeting with new fee-paying life planning, financial planning or retirement planning clients is my giving a little notebook to each one with instructions to record all expenses for at least one month. Some clients have found it a powerful pattern-breaking exercise that begins the process of turning their financial lives around. They have my father to thank for that idea.

You might want to try the idea out for yourself by heeding D.A. Devadason's Principle Number 4: Record Expenses.

I hope to write on my father's fifth lesson soon, so return here to The Cool Time and Money Blog ; you might also want to bookmark its URL,

Also, if you live in Malaysia, preferably in or close to Seremban and the Klang Valley, and if you would like to use my services in helping clients attain long-term goals, you may learn about my life planning, financial planning or retirement planning consulting services by reading my bio. Thank you for reading. Take care.

Warmest regards,


PS. I'm on extended year-end leave, so please use the comment facility, via the 'COMMENTS' link below, should you wish to leave a message for me or even a thought to share with others about what I've written today. Thank you, once again.

Rajen Devadason is CEO of RD Book Projects and its sister company RD WealthCreation Sdn Bhd. He lives in sunny, peaceful Malaysia with his gorgeous wife Rachel. He's a Malaysian Securities Commission-licensed financial planner, a life planning consultant, a professional speaker and a serial author... which probably explains why he's so exhausted! Some of his books are available here, and, if you're interested, here are some quotations he reckons are accurate, bold or cool.

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