Each day, you make financial decisions. Should you get your takeaway from a hawker centre or hip cafe? Should you open the blinds to brighten your room or turn on the light switch? Should you use your credit card or e-wallet for your online purchase? Should you choose a whole life insurance plan with cash value or a purely-for-protection term life plan that’s affordable?
It may not always feel like it but many of your daily decisions affect your wealth, and not just in the obvious dollars and cents way.
Shifting perception of wealth
Wealth is traditionally measured by anything you can count or put a number on: your bank account balance, your annual wage, the value of your properties, how many cars you own and so on.
However, more and more people are aspiring towards a different kind of “wealth”, what some describe as having a rich life. That is, being free of financial stress and happy, having a sense of personal fulfilment, and enjoying meaningful relationships with loved ones and friends.
So, what kind of financial decisions can give you a “richer” life?
Sometimes, just a single financial decision can have a powerful positive impact on your financial state of health and in turn, your wellbeing. Here are some examples:
- Parking your emergency savings in a high-interest savings account
You can not only accumulate the amount you need faster but also earn enough interest to cover annual inflation and prevent your emergency cash from losing value. As a result, you’ll be more prepared to tackle unexpected financial events such as prolonged unemployment due to illness.
- Picking up a high-demand skill
This increases your employability, helps you advance in your current role and may even lead to a bigger salary. Plus, learning a new skill keeps your mind engaged and boosts your confidence.
- Shaking off freeloader friends or people who mooch off you
We’re not saying you shouldn’t help a friend in need, but you should put an end to the exploitation. You’ll save yourself from slipping into debt by financing others’ needs (while they get rich). You’ll also become financially free to use your hard-earned money for your priorities again.
We asked six people to share the best money decision they made this year – and how it has put them on the path to a richer life.
"Putting a sizable portion of my money in the stock market" - Clarence Yeo, Marketing Executive
“My idea of a rich life is to be able to stay grounded and happy despite the different tides of life. This year, I decided to put a sizable portion of my money in the stock market. Aside from giving the money potential to grow over the years as opposed to leaving it in a bank, I’m learning to develop a propensity toward risk. Being fully responsible for my own profits and losses has also changed how I think and make decisions. I knew it wouldn’t be easy maintaining balance when dealing with losses on the one hand and not drowning in opulence when swimming in gains on the other. Furthermore, entering the game during high market volatility due to Covid-19 brings highly varying levels of unrealised profits and losses every day. I could make total gains of S$500 one day and chalk up losses of S$2,700 on another day. So, it’s been a good test of who I am. Learning to maintain emotional equilibrium in the face of fortune’s frivolous nature is challenging, especially considering the potential losses. However, over time I’ve been able to slowly turn off my concerns about market performance and regain clarity. I’ve also brought this newfound ability to other aspects of my life. By tuning out what’s bothering me, I have greater capacity for other things in life.”
"Leaving my CPF Special Account untouched" - Sivakumar, People Partner and dad of two kids
“Live within your means and aspire for more, but only after being grateful for what you have now – that’s my guiding principle. I’ve decided to leave the savings in my CPF Special Account untouched instead of investing it in various financial instruments out there. My rationale is simple: The Special Account gives 4% interest per annum and that’s guaranteed. Compare this with what banks provide and it’s clear how good an opportunity this is. While I’ve been enticed by some to invest the money in this account, I have said no. I guess my inaction is the best decision I’ve made as my savings for retirement can grow at a rate that beats annual inflation. Based on what I think are thoughtful financial decisions, I am more confident of growing my wealth but not at the expense of risking what I already have.”
"Exploring various investment vehicles like ILPs, ETFs, stocks and even cryptocurrency" - Raissa Smarasista, Customer Experience Assistant Manager
“I used to just keep all my hard-earned savings in the bank, but recently I’ve been exploring various investment vehicles like ILPs, ETFs, stocks and cryptocurrency. To enhance my knowledge, I’ve been reading up about them and have set aside funds to try out these new investment opportunities. While the ups and downs can feel like a rollercoaster ride, it’s rewarding knowing that I’m actively doing something to grow my money in the long run. Another thing I did was to get a Singlife Account where I can park my emergency fund with discipline. It has helped me to stay on track with my savings goals, especially because my emergency fund is now growing at a faster rate compared to when I stored it at the bank. While Covid-19 has put my love for exploring the world with my loved ones on hold, it’s allowed me to focus on accelerating my savings. I can now achieve my short- and long-term goals while still being financially ready to go on that rewarding trip once borders reopen.”
"I used my first property in Malaysia to finance a property in Singapore" - Darren Lee, Marketing Manager and dad of two kids
“A rich life is all about experiencing life to the fullest and it’s not measurable in monetary terms. However, by having fewer financial worries, I can focus better on my purpose in life, which is to create more good memories with my family. This year, we got our own home in Singapore. We were able to do this because of an earlier big financial move: biting the bullet and purchasing my first house in Malaysia years back. It ultimately allowed my family and me to finance our private property in Singapore. Instead of paying rental monthly and helping my former landlords finance their mortgage, my wife and I decided to use our CPF savings to cover the monthly payment for our own property. Having greater liquidity allows us to invest more in other financial avenues and properly secure our children’s financial future.”
"Paying off my property in my 40s" - Mastinah Zakaria, Graphic Designer and mum of five kids
“The ingredients of a full life are good health, a happy and loving family, and being free of financial worries. I’m grateful for being blessed with the first two, and this year, I removed a big financial weight off my shoulders by fully paying off my resale unit. The great thing is that I got to use my CPF money which I otherwise wouldn’t be able to cash out until I’m 55. Plus, my husband and I will never have to worry about making monthly home loan repayments should either of us become unemployed. Having one less financial obligation also allows us to focus better on growing our retirement funds. My other big financial decision this year was moving closer to my parents. I get to enjoy more of their home-cooked meals and I’m learning their secret recipes. Also, by saving on travelling time, I now have more time in my schedule for other things that matter like going on walks and catching up with other people who matter to me.”
"Using my MediSave funds to enhance my CareShield Life coverage" - Liz Chong, Digital Direct Business Manager and mum of one kid
“I want to be able to experience each stage of my life to its fullest, without having to worry about bills and financial commitments. Therefore, I’ve made some key financial moves over the years. For instance, when I just started working, I saved a big chunk of my income and bought my first investment property in Singapore by the time I turned 25. Then right after giving birth to my son, along with getting him health and life insurance, I also bought him an endowment plan to cover his tertiary education fees in time to come. With that taken care of, my husband and I can now better manage our financial portfolio with an emergency fund and park the rest of our money into various asset classes to better prepare for our retirement needs. This year, I made another important decision: I used my MediSave funds to enhance my CareShield Life coverage with Singlife's CareShield Standard. This gives me greater assurance that firstly, I’ll receive higher monthly payouts to cover my long-term care needs should I ever become severely disabled, and secondly, my family’s quality of life will not be greatly affected by my condition.”
While the best financial decisions often require the most work, going through with them has benefits. You’ll have more control over your life, experience less self-blame for money problems, and find the freedom to channel your energies to activities and relationships that make you feel good.
Now that you’ve read these individuals’ #BestFinancialDecisionThisYear, what’ll be your best financial decision for the year ahead? If you need help with scoring your financial goals, speak to our financial adviser representatives today.