While chasing after a country club membership may no longer be in fashion, when it comes to financial aspirations, the “5 Cs” of Singapore are still very relevant. In particular, many Singaporeans still dream of someday owning a condo.
For Cassandra Choy, formerly a relationship manager at a bank and now a financial adviser of an Independent Financial Advisory firm, her bucket list looks a little something like this:
Buying her first Chanel handbag
Buying her first private property
Buying her first continental car in her favourite colour
and having her first million in liquid assets before 30.
Ambitious as it may seem, at age 29, Cassandra’s already three quarters of her way there. Over the past few years, she has bought the Chanel Boy handbag, the Audi A3 Cabriolet (now wrapped in satin pink), and of course, the private property – a 2-bedroom unit at Bartley Ridge condominium.
“In Singapore, being able to ‘earn’ a property yourself is a big deal. I am more conservative and don’t dabble much in investments or stocks to grow my wealth, so I thought property is something I can explore,” says Cassandra.
Buying Her Very Own Condo at 27 Years Old
Two years ago, Cassandra decided it was time to buy her first private property. “I searched on PropertyGuru and messaged the agents of potential properties. I remember going for so many property viewings – up to six a day! Back then, I did not drive, so I had to ‘Grab’ from condo to condo, which was really tiring,” she recalls.
But all her effort paid off when Cassandra found her current unit at Bartley Ridge. She initially bought the home with the intention of moving in, but eventually decided to continue renting it out for passive income (it was already tenanted when she bought it).
“I like that Bartley Ridge is relatively new, and it is just beside Bartley MRT. It is also located on the fringe of the Bidadari estate, which I believe will be a bustling place once the new BTO flats are done up!” she shares.
Cassandra bought the 2-bedder unit at $1.1 million, paying a whopping $500,000 in cash and $100,000 from her CPF Ordinary Account for downpayment. Her mortgage repayments are around $1,800 monthly, and even though her rental income more than covers this, she has chosen not to ‘touch’ her passive earnings.
“I set aside my rental income in a separate account and have never drawn from it. So in a way, I don’t use it to cover the mortgage payments. I pay the mortgage with my work income,” she explains.
A Well-Paying Job Is Not Enough – Financial Discipline is Key
Since the property is rented out, Cassandra still lives with her parents in their family home in Bishan. When asked about the typical Singaporean route of waiting till marriage to buy a BTO flat and “flip” it for profit, she shares that it was never feasible for her.
“This was not a consideration because I am very blessed to be earning more than the BTO and Executive Condo (EC) income ceiling. What’s more, I did not want to rely on or wait for my partner to secure a property,” she says.
When she bought the condo unit in August 2019, she was just 27 years young. This is an achievement she has worked immensely hard for and is (rightfully) very proud of. “I feel very accomplished and empowered. It is good to know that my prudent habits have paid off and that I can enjoy more financial freedom now,” says Cassandra.
Although Cassandra seems to be living it up now, she had humble beginnings. She started saving up and working towards her goals from day one, when she got her very first paycheck. Perhaps this sounds like a painfully obvious strategy, but it is one that is often taken for granted.
For many fresh grads, the sudden access to more disposable income is tempting, leading to an extravagant “upgrade” in their lifestyles. Yet while her peers were busy overly indulging in things like expensive meals and designer goods, Cassandra remained disciplined, and made it a point to save 100% of her commission and only spent what she needed to from her basic pay.
She believes that this is why she is on track to checking off her bucket list: “By saving my commission and spending carefully from my basic pay, I am making great progress towards my aspirations without compromising greatly on my standard of living. I enjoy the best of both worlds,” she says.
Up Next: The Road to Becoming A Millionaire
After the condo purchase and recent job switch, Cassandra went on to buy her continental car, an Audi A3 Cabriolet which she recently had wrapped in satin pink – her favourite colour. “I bought the property first because it is an asset. Even though you can’t really flaunt a home like a car, handbag or jewellery, I will always choose an asset over liability,” shares Cassandra.
With one year to go before her bucket list ‘deadline’, Cassandra is working hard to check her final aspiration off the list. “I have bought my car, so I guess now I have to strive for my first million in liquid assets (nett off loans), haha!” laughs Cassandra.
Cassandra’s story is an empowering tale of how financial prudence and grit can go a long way. Of course, there had to a bit of good luck in the mix, but that’s beyond our control. If you were looking for some motivation, here’s a timely reminder to stay inspired, persevere and keep hustling!
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