On the other extreme, there was an earlier article on the straits times which shows how a young person can save $100K by the age of 30. Which one do you want? You decide.
Let's continue with the people who're in their mid 30s and are in debt. These people are not low income earners. In fact, they earn over $4000 a month. Some as high as $6000-$8000 per month.
The curious case of being broke?
Case 1The first person is a 35 year old who earns $5000 monthly. This person has no savings and is $20,000 in credit card debts.
- Has a taste for designer bags and shoes
- Enjoys eating at posh spots such as Mezza9, Otto Ristorante and Catalunya
- Stays at 5 star resorts and hotels when travellling
Now, spends $3000 on rent, phone and utility bills and the rest goes into paying 3 credit card debts which was accumulated over the past 10 years
The second person is a 38 year old who earns $6000 monthly. Owes credit card company $7000.
- Splashes on designer bags
- Travels to expensive places like Maldives and Fiji
- Buys fancy clothes and toys for 5 year old son
The third person is a 33 year old who earns $4000 monthly. Has credit card debt totalling $15,000 which was accumulated since 2007.
- Go to the spa every week for massages, mani-pedis and hair treatments
- Take cabs everywhere
- Eat at expensive restaurants twice a week
- Always treating friends to drinks when outside
There were several instances where she was flat broke and has to walk one and a half hour from her office back home because she doesn't even have money to take a bus or MRT home.
The fourth case is a couple of age 34 and 36. Both are lawyers and have a combined income of $17,000. This amount of salary is an envy for many but they still can get into trouble. Currently has debts amounting to a couple of hundred thousands dollars.
- Spent $100,000 on wedding
- Pay six figure sum for a condo in a prime district
- Spent even more money on renovating and expensive furnitures for the house
They said the debts will probably take them 3 years to clear.
Are you in trouble of debt?
There are already 4 cases in just one article. Who knows how many other cases are there out there? The main problem i see is in their lifestyle. Most think since they have a good income, they can spend more and live an extravagant lifestyle. All of them know their lifestyle is not good for them but they can't control it. This has become a habit and to be honest, habits are hard to change.
What these people need to do is to simply change their lifestyle. How easy would it be i would never know because i've never been in that position before.
Don't get into debt in the first place
This brings me to the point that we should all realise how bad this kind of situation is and prevent ourselves from sinking in. If you have kids, teach them how to budget and manage their lifestyle at a young age. Don't let them be used to an extravagant lifestyle even though you are rich. Teach the value of money to them.
If you're still studying and about to graduate, keep your lifestyle in check now. Once you graduate and get a job with a good pay, don't keep thinking of where to spend your money. Save a portion of your income first and keep track of your expenses. If you're getting married and planning to buy a house, know the cost involved and plan for it. I've written articles on the cost of marriage and buying a house. You can read it using the links above.
$100K savings by age 30?
I say it is possible because i'm on my way to my first $100K by age 28.
My lifestyle is simply taking bus and MRT everyday. No cabs unless i'm in a rush or its midnight already. God knows how many months I haven't taken a cab now. Transport cost is only $80-$100 per month. Everyday, i eat at coffee shops and hawker centres with an average price of $3-$4 per meal. Once every weekend, eating at cafes or watching movies at cinema would be possible. Averagely, I spend $25-$30 per weekend. Seldom do I eat at posh restaurants. Some weekends I stay at home to study or relax so no money spent also. Every month i give my parents 10% of my salary for household expenses. Mobile phone bills is only $25 for me as my company subsidise most of the cost.
Other cost like buying clothes, travelling, occasional treats for my family and gifts for friends will amount to roughly $1000-$1500 per year. One thing I have to admit is I seldom buy clothes and even if I buy, I will buy at a discount.
With this lifestyle, i can save more than $20K per year.
Why save so much?
This is the interesting part. I hope this will change your views on savings. The purpose of savings is not for you to bring into your grave. It is also not just for some rainy days which your parents might have told you before. Don't get me wrong, saving for rainy days is important and you should prepare at least 6 months of your expenses in savings.
The key point is money can grow money. It is like a seed which when planted, can grow into a tree which bear fruits. Yes, money does grow on trees if you plant it. Have you heard that a seed can grow into a tree and the fruits can produce even more seeds which can grow into even more trees? This is primary school science. I bet your teacher didn't tell you about the money seed.
The concept is easy to understand. To implement it is another knowledge which you have to learn. Just like a farmer who plant seeds in his land and waits to harvest the fruits or vegetables. He has to understand what type of soil is needed, what type of fertilisers to use, how much water to give?, when to harvest? etc etc. It's the same with money. When you invest it, you need to know where to invest, how to invest, how much to invest, when to sell, when to buy etc. I hope you get the idea.
If the money tree grows well enough, one day you'll be able to stop working and still have enough money to live your life. This is financial freedom.
Save or spend now? You decide
Delayed gratification is necessary for financial prosperity. Sometimes a simple lifestyle may make you happier too. No money problems, more than enough to spend, no unnecessary debts will certainly make you happier. I did write on delayed gratification some time ago. You may want to read this: A generation of instant gratification - The cause of unhappiness. Do you want to own a condominium but be under the burden of huge debts or have a simple house with manageable debts and be happier?
Your happiness depends on the decisions you make. Don't ruin your future because of the lack of planning, knowledge or some wrong decisions. Choosing the right lifestyle may well be the most important choice in your life. Choose wisely.
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