Mentality of young working adults in Singapore

Sorry guys! It’s been a long long time since I last wrote anything. I really missed writing, and time just passes by so quickly unknowingly!

I’m sure many of us would have come across this video clip from the channel 8 show 118, where a young man rants about his difficult life situation caused by our current society.

Here’s the English translation:
“I’m not the only one who is desperate to make money. Do go around asking other young people. Who’s not worried? After graduation and after serving the army, I’ll be 23-24 years old. In a blink of an eye, I’ll be 30. Within these few short years, I need to settle down, get married, have a place of my own, and start a family. How are these even possible without having money? A HDB unit easily cost over 300 – 400k. Let’s talk about the daily necessary expenses. If you work in the CBD area, you need to take the train on a daily basis. If you happen to be late or be in a hurry, you’ll need to spend money on cabs. Transportation can costs up to $6-$7 a day! As for lunch, the cheapest meal you can find still cost you $5-$6 a day. A cup of coffee at a coffee joint set you back by about $6-$7! And in order to response to the government’s encouragement on setting up a family early, I need to find a girlfriend. To find a girlfriend, I’ll have to bring her out on dates, dinner, movies, overseas trips once in a while, and to throw in a designer bag or two! Even if I look like a celebrity, no girls will want me if I don’t spend on her. And how about those who have plans to upgrade themselves or to further their studies? They need to take up study loans, and to give family allowances at the same time. When it’s time to settle down, a wedding banquet easily cost over $1,000 per table, while wedding photography package cost $3,000 to $4,000! All these cost money! My generation doesn’t ask for a luxurious lifestyle. We just want to maintain the basic standard of living. To do so, we have to earn more to sustain ourselves. I’m sure you wouldn’t want your son to come to you asking for money to pay for his wedding, or money to pay for his own flats. Yes, I do agree my methods in earning money is too extreme and I’m in the wrong. But the fault doesn’t lie with me, it lies in this society!”

So what’s going on with the younger generation these days, you may wonder. Or do you find yourself agreeing with what the actor had expressed in the show? Looking at various websites such as “The Real Singapore”, it seems that many young people do find life to be quite difficult in Singapore.

Personal thoughts. Being a young Singaporean myself (okay, maybe not THAT young anymore), I do find that cost of living did went up quite substantially over the last decade, especially in terms of housing and owning a car. But what do you expect? Inflation happens globally, not just in Singapore, and government has to maintain control over the number of vehicles on the road, and Singapore only has so much land area. I also feel that it is how you choose to live your life that’s the deciding factor whether things are affordable, or not.

I’ve been working in the CBD and town area my entire working life (almost 10years now), and I realised lunch can be very cheap, or very expensive. Again, depending on your lifestyles. During my younger days, I can spend more than $20 on lunch almost everyday. But hey, you may not be aware, but there are still $3.00 chicken rice or soup noodle in town! As for drinks, what I’m doing now is to refrain from ordering drinks from the coffee shop and just head back to the office for some H2O or coffee or tea from the office pantry. It’s free, and it’s healthier too!! As for transport, I spend less than $100 a month on public transport, and trust me, I stay more than an hour away from my workplace.

As for settling down, getting married and buying a place of your own, such life events isn’t unique only to Singaporean youth. If you watch what you spend and consistently save up over the years, you CAN afford to get married and have your own place. And don’t forget, you’re not bearing these costs alone, you have your significant other facing what lies ahead with you.

Forget that girl that needs you to wine and dine her, bring her for overseas trips, and for you to buy her designer stuffs. MOST Singaporean girls are not like that. At least not me and the circle of girls I hang out with. Only a gold digger would want you to constantly spend on her, and I’m sure if you’re a guy, you wouldn’t want to have someone like that as your wife. Someone who would just take, and not give, who wants to enjoy life and expect you to do all the hard work. (I have so much to write about girls like that, but let’s save a full post on that, for another day).

My husband and I did worry about the costs of getting married and getting our own place when we were younger, and so did our circle of friends. Turn out, life really isn’t that difficult afterall. After working for almost 10years, our HDB flats sort of took care of itself thanks to our CPF accounts. We only need a loan of about 200k, out of 460k, and repayment can be easily be made with our monthly CPF contributions.

As for weddings, having a wedding banquet at a 5 star hotel IS NOT THE NORM, although I do hear of couples making money from their wedding if they hold it at nicer venues. Spend within your means. A wedding can be simple and feels cozy without getting yourself into debt over it. If you or your significant half really want an extravagant wedding, there is nothing wrong with that if you can afford it. The key lies with proper planning and budgeting, and spending within your means.

And advice from a 30 year old just married woman to the 20 something out there, RELAX. Life isn’t hard if you work hard, make a decent living, plan and save for what’s important (no, not that bag). Learn to filter out what’s important and what’s not, and make decisions based on your life values. You’ll soon realised there are just too many areas where you no longer need to waste your hard earn money on.

What does money means to you?

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Money means different things to different people. At different stages of our life, we also view money differently.

My Early Years:
When I was growing up, my Dad was in a well-paid job and money was meant for spending. I remember my dad bringing the family out for expensive meals every weekend, and my brother and I would get new toys every week. I even had the whole range of Barbie dolls with the house, the car and the full works. Back in secondary school, my dad would shower me with new school bags, watches and gadgets all the time, and I received more than $50 a week for allowance, which was a lot back then. At that point of time, money was never meant for saving.

My teenage years to being an young adult:
My dad lost his job in 2000 when I was 16. Suddenly, everything turned topsy-turvy. I would come home from school to my parents quarrelling, and my brother crying, and with no electricity or water at home. Somehow, we went from living a comfortable lifestyle to not being able to pay for basic necessities. I started working part time to afford my studies, and to help with family expenses. After my tertiary education, I became the sole breadwinner at home. At this stage of my life, the lack of money was like a curse. Money was sacred, and money to me means sacrifices. I had to sacrifice time and having fun, for money.

Moving forward:
I had recently reshuffled my thoughts about money and what it represents.
I begin searching deeper into the meaning of what money can do for me. I used to have a love hate relationship with money as it is something not within my control, especially when I was buried deep in debt.

Here’s what money means to different people:

1) Money means FREEDOM
Financial freedom means the ability to have more choices, more options, and the ability to spend my time however I want it, without much financial constraint. Rather than spending time in doing mundane tasks, I can afford to outsource such tasks like doing housework, cleaning, and washing to outside help. Such freedom also means being able to say no to a high paying job that doesn’t interest me. Of having the choice of selecting the kind of work I like, instead of working just for the sake of a high remuneration. I look forward to the day whereby I can retire from a regular job, with enough passive income to fund for basic necessities and live life without worrying about money.

2) Money means SECURITY
I would never want to go back to the days whereby my family and I would be unhappy and stressed over money. We could not afford to fall sick or for things at home to break down. Security now means a comfortable home, not having to worry about bills, any unexpected expenses or life events like a job loss or medical bills. Having more than enough money means such unexpected problems are easily solved, without much distress, just like the saying “any problem that can be solved by money is not a real problem”.

3) Money is a TOOL
Life is short. It is a short journey for us to make the best out of it, and we can’t bring money to our grave. It is a tool to exchange for a comfortable lifestyle and to buy the convenience in life like a car, or traveling in comfort. It enable us to accomplish goals, pursue passions, travel, to start our own business, to help those in need, or to afford material goods.

4) Money represents status
Although money doesn’t exactly represent status to me, I can’t deny that there are people who look at money in such a way. There’s no right or wrong, just different ways we look at things and values. People see money as a status as it symbolize their high earning power, or how much money they make through their hard work. This could mean bigger and fancier cars, a bigger house, material goods to show off such status, or membership to a country club etc. It also represents success and that their hard work had paid off, hence deserving the finer things in life and wearing it on their sleeve as constant reminder of their success to themselves and to others, making them feeling more superior. They also use their status to network and connect with like minded people.

5) Money represents POWER
Why do so many people want to be rich? It makes them more superior. It enable them to control people and situations, leading into things working in their favour. It isn’t necessary evil. People who see money as power are just utilizing it to get things done their way. Just like how the majority shareholders of a company has more power, authority and influences over the minorities and other stakeholders. It empowers people to make decisions.

6) Money is needed for basic survival
More often than not, money is used for people to stay alive. Most of us need a job to pay for basic necessities like putting food on the table for the family, education for our children, repayment of a mortgage loan, paying for bills, and transportation to get to work and back home. Even in Singapore, not everyone can afford more than the basic necessities with the high cost of living. Yet, I believe it is possible through a minimalist lifestyle, cutting expenses, increasing productivity to earn a higher salary, and better money management skills.

7) Money is the root of all evil
Many people still believe that money is the root of all evil and view it negatively. For example, I just read an article on The Straits Times titles “The number of millionaires here has risen at a sharp rate, thanks to the robust recovery of financial markets in the past year.” and I saw many negative comments posted in response to the article.

– But a whole lot of people still struggling

– If this is only what you have you must to be very poor

– A whole lot of crap

– The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer

– Yes, exactly. They acquire their wealth through corruption and other evil means, then come here buy house, buy car, buy women, buy whatever to launder their money. Sick

– More foreigners evading taxes and hiding their money here?

Look at the comments above. There are indeed people who hold such views that money is a sacred resource. That if others have more of it, the rest of the population would share a smaller cut of the pie. And that people who accumulated wealth attained it out of greed or by immoral methods/ways, resulting in an increase in the number of poor people.

In conclusion, to me, money is a mix of various things. Having money means being in control of how I choose to live my life, and the ability to eliminate most unpleasant surprises in life. It is a mix of having the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and as a tool to buy time, and the things I need and want.