Before you’re 35, most of your life changing decisions are still being made. With your assets still accumulating, any financial evaluation is as imaginary as Donald Trump’s leadership. But there’s no harm in setting goals to shoot for eh? Here’s a speculative list, based on a typically Singaporean way of life. It’s not hard and fast, but keep it in mind:
1. A Time Deposit Close to Maturing
Maybe it’s a fixed deposit, a structured deposit, or just plain old insurance. Whatever the case, you want to receive a nice big pay-out at around 35. Why?
30 – 35 is the age when most people buy their first property. That means at some point, you’ll be faced with the initial 20% down payment on your property. That’s a huge payout, which leaves you vulnerable. Even if you use your CPF to cover it, you’ll be exposed to dangers like sudden medical costs.
A maturing deposit might not make up for the whole down payment, but it will provide a safety measure. Also, knowing you have a maturing deposit is a big help when property hunting; you can act with greater confidence when choosing a home loan.
You should start by finding a reliable investment scheme in your 20′s. (Read: Not the pyramid scheme that Amway guy showed you at that creepy sales meet). Due to extensive regulation by MAS, fixed deposits are a good place to look.
2. A Relevant Degree
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: You’ve already been working for so long, what’s the point of getting a degree now?
Well you’re absolutely right. You’ve been working that job for so long they’d never fire you. And today’s companies make it a norm to keep people on for 20 or 30 years. Also, they’re happy to keep you till retirement age without reducing your pay, or….Gah, my hand! It’s red and itchy because I’m allergic to lies.
Look, at 35, it’s possible you’ll be looking for a job at least one more time. Even if that doesn’t happen, aren’t you interested in a senior management position? You probably won’t get there on your O-Levels.
Keep in mind that a degree has become the norm. Back in the 80′s, a degree was like a doctorate; nice, but hardly expected. Then in the 90′s, education became much more accessible. Now we even have a taxi driver with a Phd. In about 10 years, if you don’t have a degree, you’re going to be more outclassed than Ris Low at a Buckingham Palace Gala.
And you could start taking night classes at 35, but I’ll bet it’s easier at 25. So consider starting early.
3. A Job With a Health Plan
When you’re young, and you’re running to join revolutionary start-ups or SMEs, a health plan isn’t that big a deal. It’s when you hit 30 that you need to start worrying about one.
Once you reach 30, your body’s organs start to decline (wow, even my third rate body outlasts our MRT). By the time you’re 40, you’ll start needing regular health screenings. Unless your first million is already in the bank, the coming medical costs should probably concern you.
Remember: You might be unable to make insurance claims if you’re not hospitalized (ask your insurer). So if you need to see a doctor for tests, you’ll need cash or credit. Oh, and how much can those tests cost? About 783 freaking dollars the last time I saw a cardiologist. (Maybe that’s why I need a cardiologist).
Anyway, at 35, your job should involve more than “X dollars a month”. You want something that covers health and dental screenings. Because pretty soon, everything involving those is going to cost more.
4. All Rollover Debts Resolved
Rollover debt is unpaid credit card debt. It’s like snot from a bad flu; it builds up until you choke, and occasionally picking at it won’t help. You need to clear it all out at once.
Now I’m not recommending bankruptcy, but I will say this: You can afford to go bankrupt from credit card debt at 25 or 30, and still recover. At that age, you probably don’t have a family to look after. You have plenty of good years left in you, and you might not have a car or home loans.
Going bankrupt at 35+ is another matter. Assuming you take five to 10 years to clear your bankruptcy (an average figure), it means you’re discharged at 40 -45 years of age. From that point, you need to wait another five years before you can get credit again.
Do you know what it’s like trying to get a bank loan at that age? If I had to pick an equivalent activity, it’d be something like eating live porcupine, or hammering nails with your forehead. So even if it means living off rice and bean curd for a while, do yourself a favour and kill your debt before 35.
5. At Least One Form of Side Income
I don’t care if it’s Forex trading, franchise ownership, or just a money making hobby. You need at least one alternative income source, in order to:
- Provide for retirement
- Overcome pay cuts or lack of increment
At 35, you’re understandably hesitant to walk off and find a better job. It’s not impossible of course; it’s just a lot easier to rip your pants off and butt-mambo on the boss’s desk (i.e. quit) when you’re younger. By 35 you probably have dependents, so telling your boss to walk off a pier is a lot harder.
Then there’s the issue of retirement, which you should start planning for. CPF provides for necessities, but it won’t maintain your current standard of living. If you want to buy that plasma TV or condo in your golden years, don’t count on CPF handouts.
So look around, experiment, and upgrade yourself. Find that “one extra thing” you can do to boost your income, and be an expert at it by 35.
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