I love travelling overseas! It’s awesome to be able to experience other cultures and see the way other people live. Take my recent trip to Japan and Korea. Aside from the fascinating history, incredible food and gorgeous scenery, I was really intrigued by the Japanese people. It never ceases to amaze me how different people can be, depending on where they grew up or the society that they live in.
One statistic I heard while in Japan attending a work conference was that nearly 90% of Japanese adults have some form of life insurance. In comparison, only about one-third of Aussies have life insurance and about one in five have trauma, income protection or TPD insurance. Why the massive difference?
It turns out that it’s nothing to do with legislation or the health care system. It’s because of the value that Japanese people place on family. The Japanese do not want to be a burden on their family, in the event of death, disability or illness. They believe strongly in personal responsibility and because of this they don’t need to be talked into getting life insurance – for most people it is a ‘must-have’.
Australians have a completely different attitude. You’ve probably heard the phrase “She’ll be right”, and this very much sums up how Aussies feel about what they would do if something bad happened. Instead of making plans to give themselves a safety net, most Aussies say that if they were sick or injured and unable to work, they would rely on their family for help.
It’s nice that here in Australia we have such a positive view of our families and that we know they’d be ready to help out, but is this really fair? Have you ever stopped to think what it would actually be like having to move back in with your parents? What about if you had to work three jobs just so you could pay the mortgage and keep the kids in school while your partner is recovering in hospital?
I’ve talked before about how much I dislike the idea of crowd-funding medical bills. The same goes for relying on the family for help. As a wealth protection expert, I believe it is critical to be adequately protected and I feel we should take a leaf out of the Japanese book of personal responsibility.
Another thing I learnt – expect the unexpected! We knew we were going to be in Japan during cherry blossom season, marking the start of spring, and we couldn’t wait to check this off our bucket-list. What we didn’t expect was that it would actually be snowing at the same time! Apparently this is incredibly rare and all the locals were commenting on how strange it was for there still to be snow falling in spring.
For us, it was just another reminder that life often throws us curve balls. That doesn’t mean that the unexpected is always bad. In this case, it was a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experience and we embraced it with open arms (in our snow jackets)! If you approach changes to your plans with the right attitude, they can turn out to be something even better than you expected.
Maybe it’s time to change “She’ll be right” for “I’m ready for anything”.