common for many of us to have some form of money fears while growing
up. These could include worries over having enough money to raise
your own family, buy a home, take care of your elderly parents or
whether you can ever save enough for your retirement.
could even be something as simple as saving enough money so that we
can renovate and furnish our new home, as the video below shows.
get some perspective of the common money fears that young
Singaporeans have, we spoke to three finance influencers to find out
what their biggest money fear was growing up, and what they did about
it as adults.
1 Can I Afford A Home In Singapore?
Dayani, 30, Co-Founder Of DollarsAndSense.sg
Money Fear: Not Being Able To Own A Home
his younger days, Dinesh was already familiar with the housing market
in Singapore as his family shifted homes quite a few times. This
allowed him to understand the cost of homes in Singapore. Dinesh’s
biggest financial worry while growing up was not being able to afford
his own home.
did you cope with your financial fear?
As I grew up, I realised that homes in Singapore were well within
people’s reach and that it was just a matter of our expectations.
Among HDB flats, there are 2-room or 3-room flats for those who want
to start out small. There are also 4 and 5-room flats for those who
want a bigger space.
knew then that even if I didn’t manage to be as successful as I
hoped to be, I could still afford a home. More so, as there
are grants available for Singaporeans to tap on to reduce the
cost of getting our first home.
course, this also means being financially responsible as an adult –
holding a job, saving more by questioning the usefulness and need of
each expense, whether it’s a $2 coffee or a $2,000 laptop.
National Service, I began to realise that while saving is important,
being able to invest and grow my money in the long-term is equally
important. By the time I graduated from university, I had save enough
to start investing. More importantly, I have gain sufficient
knowledge to be confident enough to start investing in the stock
you started taking these little steps, what were some other valuable
lessons you picked up?
important lesson I learnt was not to buy and sell stocks based on
personal emotions. I also learnt that, due to my age, long-term index
investing makes a lot of sense – it’s a good place for people
around my age who want to start out on their investing journey.
I started working full-time, I began to understand the usefulness of
CPF a little more, especially in terms of how it could help me save
and work towards owning my first home. At the same time, I’ve
remained mindful of the fact that CPF is also meant for my retirement
strategy I’ve implemented is to top up my CPF Special Account (SA)
each year. I use cash instead of transferring monies from my CPF
Ordinary Account (OA) because I have not bought a home yet. This way,
when I do buy a home, I can use monies from my OA to pay for my
downpayment in full (when using an HDB loan) or partially (when using
a bank loan). While I wait for that day to arrive, my OA savings earn
an attractive interest of 2.5% - 3.5% per annum*.
is a good strategy to top up SA with cash because SA savings earn an
interest of up to 5% per annum*, while cash in the bank earns me
close to nothing unless I am willing to risk investing my money. In
addition, this helps me save on taxes^.
also learnt that we should look at personal finance areas as
interlinked to one another, rather than to view them as standalone
matters. The financial plans I have made in the past would go a long
way in helping me prepare for my future.
saving and investing early. One misconception that young people have
is that they should set fixed financial goals before saving and
investing towards them. That’s not totally true. It’s perfectly
fine to start saving and investing even without having fixed goals
I first started, I wasn’t thinking about buying a home or planning
for my retirement. I just decided to start knowing that the money
invested would come in handy for me in the future when I have
financial commitments as an adult.
me, this is likely to be in the form of buying my first HDB flat.
When the time comes, I will be using the money I have saved and
invested, as well as my OA savings to fund my purchase. At the same
time, I will be leveraging on grants available as well.
1% interest is paid on the first $60,000 of combined balances in all
3 CPF accounts, of which
up to $20,000 comes from your Ordinary Account (OA).
can enjoy tax relief of up
to $7,000 per calendar year when topping up your SA, capped at the
current Full Retirement Sum (FRS). Cash top-ups beyond the current
FRS will not be eligible for tax relief. Find out more here.
Fresh Graduate’s Guide To Health Insurance In Singapore
2 How Much Money Do I Need?
Ng (35), Founder Of Investment
Money Fear: Ensuring I Have Enough Savings To Fall Back On During
his website Investment Moats,
Kyith has been sharing his investment journey and experiences with
fellow Singaporeans since 2005.
up in a lower middle-income family, Kyith first learnt the importance
of financial planning when money became a challenge for his family
during the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s.
did you feel about that and how did you deal with the challenging
Ng (KN): It was not so much
fear. But the anxiety of not knowing whether there would be enough
money for the family.
thought the best way to manage the situation was to scrimp and save
more. I didn’t try to invest my money because I was afraid of
losing it in my investments.
were some steps that you took to address the financial worries that
I was about to enter the army. I made a decision not to take money
from my parents anymore. Back then, a recruit’s pay was about $240
each month. A corporal’s pay was $385 each month. I managed to live
with that and to also save some of it.
my last year in university, I was looking for something that was
safe, yet provided better returns than fixed deposits. I found
Fundsupermart.com, which had just started then.
became a very good place for me to interact with like-minded
individuals. It also provided me with good materials to kick-start my
investment journey. I was introduced to books such as The
Four Pillars of Investing,
Random Walk Down Wall Street
and Common Sense on Mutual Funds.
that time, I prioritised the goal of building a pot of money. My
reasoning was that with this sum of money backing me up, it would
allow me the opportunity to do what I want in life without having to
worry about money.
worked out a sum of $135,000 to achieve by age 35 (11 years later). I
calculated that if I put away $800 a month consistently, this target
would be reached.
were some other valuable lessons that you learnt along the way in
your investment journey?
One takeaway was that saving entails tradeoff. This also means
getting used to the fact that those around you may not fully
appreciate why you are “sacrificing” your lifestyle to work
towards the financial goals you have set for yourself.
the end of the day, it’s your money and your choice on how you want
to use it. You can spend it, save it or invest it. So you have to
decide what your financial goals are, and to be comfortable in
prioritising it over other lifestyle needs.
an emergency fund of at least 6 to 9 months of your monthly expenses.
At the same time, if you want to explore doing things you like for a
period of time, you should also accumulate more savings. One way to
do so is to put your savings into investments, which would enable you
to continue earning returns. This helps you to grow your savings even
during periods of time when you are not working and do not have a
3 Would I Be Able To Provide For My Family?
Vanessa Haotanto, 32, Founder Of The
Money Fear: Getting Caught Up In Debts And Not Having Enough To
Provide For My Family
young, Anna had always been
interested in the intricacies of money – for some people it was so
easy but for others, so difficult. The idea of making her money work
harder for her fascinated her. It felt like a much better way
compared to living from pay cheque to pay cheque, and having to feel
stressed about money.
her days in Junior College, Anna did some volunteer work and noticed
how some women were stuck in unhappy situations or marriages as they
were not working or did not have any earning capabilities. This
motivated her to protect herself and her family financially.
did you do to tackle the financial worry of not having enough to
provide for yourself and your family?
Vanessa (Anna): I saved most of
my money, especially in the earlier part of my career. At this stage
of our lives as working adults, there are a lot of distractions that
could make you spend more than you need to. It’s important to
differentiate between needs and wants. For me, I didn’t splurge on
knew what I wanted to achieve. I had a definite goal and I worked
backwards on how I could reach it. For example, I knew I wanted to
buy my first property before I was 30, a goal which I managed to
achieve when I was 28.
from buying a property, I also invested in stocks and bonds. I have
grown my wealth and gained passive income with the returns from these
addition to investing, I also bought life, health and personal
accident insurance to ensure that my family would be financially
protected should anything happen to me. I think being an “adult”
means being responsible in ensuring that my family is well taken care
lot of financial goals can be daunting at first. The trick is to
always divide it into smaller milestones. Have a step-by-step plan
and make sure you are on track. Be conscientious and accountable to
yourself, but don't forget to celebrate your wins.
You Should Care About Your Parents Health Insurance Plans
there schemes that you were able to utilise to help you achieve your
As you get older, you may need to allocate more money for your
healthcare. It only takes one major illness to wipe out your savings.
It is important to know exactly what your insurance covers you for.
example, MediShield Life provides coverage that is sized for
subsidised treatment in a Class B2 or C ward in public hospitals. If
you intend to seek medical care in Class A/B1/B2+ wards of public
hospitals or at private hospitals, you can consider getting
additional coverage in the form of an Integrated Shield Plan.
I recommend putting 15-20% of your monthly pay cheque
It is tough to meet this savings goal if you don’t budget properly.
If you take your pay cheque,
cover your expenses and then spend the rest, how much do you have
left on average to allocate to savings?
make sure you do not miss the 15-20% savings goal, write up a budget
and itemise your income and expenses. If you want a new pair of shoes
and a new smartphone in the same month, be disciplined and delay
buying one item until the following month.
Up And Making Adult Decisions With Our Money
Uncle Ben once said to Spiderman, “With
great power comes great responsibility”.
same message applies to our financial management habits when we
become adults. After we start working, how we spend our money is at
our own discretion. This can be a great feeling, but it comes with
its own sets of responsibilities.
fears such as not having enough money to retire, buy a home or take
care of our family members are very real. However, as our three
financially-savvy Singaporean friends can testify, they can be
conquered as long as we diligently take the right steps towards
managing our money wisely.
article was written in collaboration with the CPF Board. All views
expressed in the article are the independent opinion of the interviewees and