Most people would not say no to owning private properties and jet setting to Europe at least twice a year for vacation. In fact, that’s the kind of retirement life that younger Singaporeans wish for. A recent survey revealed that Gen Z and Millennials in Singapore aspire to retire in luxury at the age of 58. The question is, do we have what it takes to fulfil this life goal, especially for Gen Z?
While Gen Z (loosely defined as those aged 24 years old and below) are savvier savers as compared to the Millennials (between 25 and 40 years old), the tech-dependent Internet generation are less prudent when budgeting, saving and investing amidst economic uncertainty.
With growing inflation, taxes and concerns about a global economic slowdown, it’s time to manage our finances more strategically than just tightening our belts. Here are some money tips for fellow young adults to stay financially healthy:
MONEY TIP #1: START BUILDING AN EMERGENCY FUND
If you have been researching personal finances, as Gen Z are prone to do, you may be familiar with the idea of an ‘emergency fund’. For the uninitiated, this refers to savings that are intended to tide you through unexpected and difficult times.
This emergency fund should be able to support you fully for 3 to 6 months, covering necessary expenses for food, transport and utilities as well as existing commitments such as loan payments. There must be a degree of liquidity such that your cash is available when you need it.
In case you are wondering, a last-minute vacation does not constitute an emergency, even if your best friend threatens to unfriend you. You should only use the emergency funds in a real emergency such as for unexpected medical expenses or when you face retrenchment. Also, you ought to save separately for long term financial goals such as buying a property or for retirement.
Setting aside an emergency fund is a process, so do start saving even if you don’t have the full amount on hand. No matter your stage in adulthood, an emergency fund is essential. While you are at it, think about how else you can so that you and your loved ones stay prepared to withstand any situation life throws your way.
Still unsure about emergency funds? Read this.
MONEY TIP #2: SET YOUR GAME PLAN
Good intent is never good enough, without an actionable plan. To better manage your money, you need to have a clear picture of your total expenses, start budgeting and have the discipline to stick to your plan. It also helps to identify your short term and long term financial goals.
Some people go by the rule of “paying” yourself first, which means setting aside a fixed amount of savings before factoring in the expenses. Others go by the popular budgeting rule of 50/30/20 whereby up to half of your bring-home income is for needs, 30% for wants and the remaining 20% for savings and debt repayment.
You can change the budget allocation according to your personal financial situation or goals; e.g. if you have greater debts, you may want to allocate more for debts and savings and reduce unnecessary expenses (wants). To achieve certain financial goals, you will need to sacrifice luxury over practicality.
It’s great that Gen Z prioritises income over free time, but all of us should keep in mind that a greater income does not equate to greater savings. Hence, it’s time to review your spending habits and to buy only what you need. Learning the art of delayed gratification can help you to keep finances in order.
MONEY TIP #3: UNDERSTAND GOOD DEBTS AND BAD DEBTS
Ever wondered why people take loans for their houses even when they can afford to pay everything in full? That’s because not all debts are bad debts. Some debts are considered to be good and used as a form of leverage.
If the debt you take on helps you to generate income and build your net worth, or improves you and your family’s life in significant ways, it can be considered positive. For example, a university degree can be costly but it can provide career opportunities that will repay the education loan many times over. That makes the education loan a good debt.
On the other hand, bad debt refers to a sunk cost that offers little chance of generating returns. An example of this is incurring credit card debt to buy a branded pair of shoes or a new game console. Chances are the value of these items will depreciate over time, not to mention wear and tear, thereby diminishing any chance of reselling it at a profit.
These days, there are many shopping temptations, be it online or at physical retail shops. With the ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ BNPL services, which is the fastest-growing online payment method in Singapore, based on a report by US financial technology firm FIS, users can borrow easily and pay for their purchases over time. For those who are unable to stick to their budget, it is very easy to overspend and incur debts that are likely to be bad.
Understanding the differences between good debts and bad debts will help you to better manage your finances in the long run. Otherwise, all it takes is one bad debt of spending on luxury items that you cannot afford to put a huge dent in your hard earned savings.
MONEY TIP #4: PAY ATTENTION TO FEES AND REWARDS
A missed or late payment can cause you to incur a late payment fee, high interests and poorer credit score in the long run. While there’s the possibility of getting a late payment fee waiver for the first time, you may not be able to get a waiver the next round. Also, it is important to read the fine prints when purchasing online as certain shopping platforms charge hidden fees. Doing your due diligence will help you to better protect your money.
On a happier note, cashback and reward apps can help you to optimise your online spending. Most people would have heard of ShopBack – Singapore’s most popular cashback website – where one can easily earn cashback when you purchase from your favourite merchants on the website/app. Besides that, you are welcome to join Tiq Tribe – Etiqa’s community platform where you can share your experiences and be rewarded with gift cards and vouchers.
Convenience often comes at a cost, and little amounts can add up to a significant figure, so it’s best to change that “never mind la” mindset.
MONEY TIP #5: START INVESTING
With core inflation rate recorded to be 5.1% in October 2022 and the upcoming GST hike in January 2023, your hard earned savings are losing value if you are not doing anything about it. If you fall into the category of “I want to invest but I don’t know how”, that’s good because you have acknowledged the necessity of investing amidst the rising costs of just about everything.
Most of us in our early 20s and 30s do not have much financial capital since we have just started working and drawing a salary. However, this is the time to consider long term plans (see Money Tip #2), specifically in investing. As retirement is still far away, we can better harness the power of compound interest at this stage of our life. A well-diverse portfolio can help in the long run as it will help maximise returns in the long term.
The key lies in doing research before investing and avoiding speculating excessively. If all this sounds too daunting, we are here to help with Etiqa’s investment-linked plans (ILP) catered for different wealth accumulation and retirement goals.
STAY FIRM AND STICK TO YOUR PLANS
Gen Z has not been dealt the easiest cards in life; from growing up in the face of the 2008 financial crisis to meeting a grim labour market in an uncertain economy. But that’s how we learn to be frugal and appreciate the value of money.
Beyond being realistic about spending and saving, we can level up on our personal finances by investing prudently, consistently saving and ensuring we have sufficient insurance coverage. After all, we have our sights set on retiring in style by age 58.
Information is accurate as at 30 January 2023.
Age means the age at next birthday.
These policies are underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. This content is for reference only and is not a contract of insurance. Full details of the policy terms and conditions can be found in the policy contract.
Invest achiever, Invest builder, Invest plus SP are Investment-linked Plans (ILP) which invest in ILP sub-fund(s). Investments in these plans are subject to investment risks including the possible loss of the principal amount invested. The performance of the ILP sub-fund(s) is not guaranteed and the value of the units in the ILP sub-fund(s) and the income accruing to the units, if any, may fall or rise. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of the future performance of the ILP sub-fund(s).
A funds summary and product highlights sheet(s) relating to the ILP sub-fund(s) are available and may be obtained from us via https://www.etiqa.com.sg/portfolio-funds-and-ilp-sub-funds/. A potential investor should read the product summary, funds summary and product highlights sheet(s) before deciding whether to subscribe for units in the ILP sub-fund(s).
As buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment, an early termination of the policy usually involves high costs and the surrender value, if any, that is payable to you may be zero or less than the total premiums paid. You should seek advice from a financial adviser before deciding to purchase the policy. If you choose not to seek advice, you should consider if the policy is suitable for you.
These policies are protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact us or visit the Life Insurance Association (LIA) or SDIC websites (www.lia.org.sg or www.sdic.org.sg).
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