Recent YOLO experience with my son Asher, whereby we embarked on a father and son only trip to Bali
I signed up for the YOLO run recently. Runners are encouraged to run shirtless to show support and raise awareness for breast cancer. This is about the most YOLO I would go in life. Mostly on experiential stuff.
Tandem skydiving? Sure. Done that cos YOLO.
If anyone asks me about trying out new things and seeing the world, I would probably ask you to go for it cos YOLO.
YOLO doesn't apply to me when it comes to financial planning. In fact, YOLO is the worst advice you can give to anyone when it comes to finances. As a father, I definitely would not advise my son to YOLO with his savings next time. My father did not bring me up that way. That's not how my family handled finances.
Recent family dinner with my parents, my wife and son
My parents are very prudent with their money. Although they are not highly educated, they managed to save enough to reach the CPF minimum sum, retired early and are financially independent. My sister and I still send them monthly allowances of course, but they have the discipline to build a sustainable nest to last them through, without support from us.
They passed on the same values to my sister and I.
While many PMETs prefer to YOLO away their earnings, I have always been very prudent with my money. It is the one thing I don't YOLO about. At least not until I have built up a sizeable nest for retirement that can support me, my wife and my son through any emergencies.
I will be turning 36 years old this year in October. I am quite proud to say that I am loan free, with my HDB flat and car all fully paid. I am not a top earner among my peers. My wife quit her job two years ago to take care of my son fully. We are able to achieve this mainly because we are financially prudent.
To share, here some pointers which helped us achieved our current status:
Buying a property within our means
We bought a 3-room flat versus a larger one because we did not want to be saddled with a hefty loan. On hindsight, we could have afforded a larger flat and we do need more space when my son came along. Nonetheless, we spent within our means at that point of time – that is, we did not need to fork out cash each month, and was making monthly repayments calculated to be sufficiently paid out via our CPF earnings only for 30 years. However, we made it a point to make partial capital repayment at the end of each year if we had spare cash in order to accelerate our repayment and reduce the loan and interest amount. We were able to do this substantially as our careers progressed over the years and our incomes went up. With financial discipline, a 30 year loan ended up getting cleared in less than 10 years.
Avoid depleting CPF
We do not deplete our CPF accounts. The interest rates are better than fixed deposits. Yes, the money is locked away till retirement, but remember you can still use it eventually or leave it to your bequest. Hence, take CPF savings into account when planning for your retirement.
Tapping into CPF Life
The CPF Lifelong Income For The Elderly (CPF LIFE) Scheme provides Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents with a monthly payout for as long as you live. Do you know that it include bequests to your family members too? This is important for me as I am not just saving for myself, but also for my son, Asher's future. There are two CPF LIFE Plans for you to choose from – the LIFE Standard Plan and the LIFE Basic Plan. The plans differ in terms of monthly payout you would receive; and the amount you would bequest to your beneficiaries (more details:
Tapping on the CDA account
The Child Development Account (CDA) is part of the Baby Bonus package provided by the Singapore government (more details:
http://www.babybonus.msf.gov.sg/wp-content/parent/documents/CDA%20First%20Step%20infographic%20-%20Eng.pdf). We topped up our son's CDA account to the maximum to get the maximum dollar for dollar return from the government. We do not deplete it unnecessarily as we know the remainder of the CDA savings can be passed on to Asher's CPF account when he is of age (I will be elaborating more about this in another more detailed post, stay tuned).
Buying a second-hand car
We chose a second-hand car over a brand new one as it is more worthwhile after factoring in the depreciation once you drive a car out of the showroom. Depending on model and mileage, a used car often costs 30% less than a new car of the same model. Most cars depreciate by 20% in the first year, and a further 10% over the next two years. So if a car initially cost $100,000, you would have saved yourself a $30,000 loss. That's 30,000 good reasons you can live without the euphoria of having bought a new car.
Avoid splurging on branded goods
We spent within our means. I see no need to indulge in branded goods. I am not saying you need to always go for the cheapest options, but you don't have to always go for the most expensive. After a certain price point, the difference in quality is really marginal. How much more comfortable is say, a shirt from Prada versus one from Uniqlo?
Spend on Experiences versus Material Goods
We will choose to spend money on different experiences rather than spending on material goods. How many pairs of shoes does one need? On the other hand, the more books you read, the more you travel, the more you broaden your horizon, the smarter and deeper a person you will be. In the long run, spending on experiences definitely pay off better than short-term material gratifications.
In short, YOLO is true for life experiences, but not for financial planning. Happy Father's Day to my dad and I hope to impart the same good values to my son Asher, plus pass on some of his CDA savings to his CPF, through prudent financial planning.