Singaporeans didn’t let COVID-19 stop them from fulfilling their 2021 financial goals. We checked in with six of them to find out how their year went, financially speaking.
Real stories about money from real people. Money Confessions, a SingSaver series, will excite you, inspire you, and leave you wishing to get financially woke.
It seems that Singaporeans are pushing forward with their financial goals even while facing down one of the most disruptive pandemics in recent history.
A survey by OCBC released in November this year uncovered some interesting key findings.
The bank found that using digital tools can help in meeting financial goals; younger millennials are investing more, both financially and in variety; women are growing wealth for themselves; and Singaporeans are scoring better in retirement, opting for simpler lifestyles in their golden years.
Inspired, we picked six friends at random to ask how they did in 2021, financially speaking.
Here’s what we learned.
Property seems to be a top concern
Among our respondents, saving up for a house seems to be the priority.
Grace, 28, a UI/UX Designer, is aiming to buy her own property by 32. To achieve this goal, she started saving heavily this year, managing to put aside as much as 60% of her salary.
When asked how she managed such an impressive feat, she said, “Because of the COVID-19 situation and not being able to travel, I think that helped me save more money.
“I’m also able to cut down on expenses because I’m currently living with my parents.”
Chris, 27, a PR Consultant, also has his sights set firmly on his own flat. He will be marrying his girlfriend next year, and they will be moving out on their own.
Unlike most young couples, Chris and his girlfriend decided they will skip BTOs and look for a resale flat instead. But wouldn’t the higher prices pose a challenge? “Well, I’ll need more money,” he quipped.
In order to achieve his goal, Chris has started a savings account and become more conscious with his budgeting. According to him, this habit has helped him “become more confident about handling my money better, and affirmed my commitment to being more prudent”.
Committing to saving for your future is a sentiment shared by Sam, 43, who works in customer service. “You have to save up for the future, and cannot just live in the moment.”
Sam moved here from the Philippines for work purposes, and has been living in Singapore for more than five years. His money goal is to pay off his mortgage and build up his savings.
Sam is learning that finding a balance is the key to succeeding in his financial goals.
“I’m trying to focus more on the things I need, and less on the things I want,” he replied, when asked how he is going about this task. “Maybe learning how to achieve my financial goal has impacted me in a good way.”
Clearing debt, covering expenses and building up savings are common goals
For Hannah, 42, Vet Technician, the main challenge is to save up money, and set aside extra funds for her pets’ medical bills. She is a proud mama of two dogs and three cats, and four of her five furkids are rescued. “I’m trying to get a raise at work,” she revealed.
To cover expenses, Hannah takes on extra work, including baking cakes and pastries for sale from home. She works hard, but also recognises there is a limit to how far her efforts can take her. “You can only do your best and only so much. I have to live within my means, otherwise money will never be enough.”
Tien Hee, a 42-year-old editor, aims to be debt-free, and establish a stream of passive income. He is tantalisingly close – he has fully paid up the mortgage on his property, leaving only a car loan as the sole debt on his balance sheet.
For Tien Hee, one success leads to another. He plans to rent out his property for passive income, which will, in turn, allow him to increase his savings. “Once there is sufficient liquidity, I aim to do a bit of investing via robo-advisors,” he added.
We aren’t afraid to try new things
Robo-advisors only came on the scene around 2017 (that’s a mere five years prior), but Singaporeans are taking to them like ducks to water.
Somehow, trusting your hard-earned money to lines of code, instead of thinking, experienced humans, should go against instinct, but yet here we are.
But for some, robo advisers aren’t the final frontier. Cryptocurrency is.
Morgan, 44, Writer, wants to accrue better savings and invest his money. But instead of treading the conventional path of banks and stock markets, he entrusts his goals to the frothy world of crypto.
While cryptocurrency can pose dangers to the uninitiated, Morgan’s experience has been largely positive and hopeful. “(Investing in crypto) has given me a better outlook on my financial future and the possibilities that come with it,” he said.
There are also plenty of gems to uncover. “There are many financial products in the crypto field (that one can use) to strategise one’s earnings.”
The key to achieving your money goals is to work at them
Six different people, six different stories. But there’s a common thread running through all this.
It sounds obvious to the point of being patronising, but the simple truth is, the key to achieving your money goals is to work at them.
This means taking action, no matter how big or small. “It’s a good habit to always save money. You don’t have to save a big amount every time, but at least save a little as a start,” Grace advises.
According to Chris, making a change is only scary, until you actually do it. “Being conscious of your budget is easier than it sounds. It can seem scary and overwhelming from the outside and before you do it, but once you commit to it, it’s very doable.”
And Tien Hee reminds us that steady effort wins the day. “Reaching a financial goal is not the end of the journey, it’s only the beginning for the next one.
“The most important thing is to work towards your goals within your means, and not look for shortcuts.”
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By Alevin Chan
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.