Being Singaporean, there’s a high chance most of your goals for the New Year directly or indirectly have something to do with money. Need to lose weight? This is the year you’ll save up for that gym membership. Want to tie the knot? Better start saying up for that HDB downpayment.
But if you find you’ve been struggling with the same money goals every damned year and are still nowhere closer to “attaining financial freedom” or “buying your own place” than you were five years ago, you might need to rethink yours to make them more achievable. Here are some tips.
Ask yourself what crap you wasted your money on this year
Telling yourself you’ll “save more money” without thinking about how exactly you’re going to go about doing it is like saying you’ll attain the physique of Brad Pitt while continuing to spend all your spare time playing World of Warcraft.
You’ll never improve your situation if you don’t bother to find out what’s wrong, so identify all the crap you wasted your money on this year so you can make sure history doesn’t repeat itself next year.
If you’re a true blue Singaporean, you might be frequently wasting money on some or all of the following:
Taxi rides to work because you couldn’t get up in the morning
Eating out at expensive places way too often
Not controlling your alcohol intake
Gadgets you barely use
A gym membership that makes you feel suicidal
Once you’ve realised where your money’s been going, it’s easier to curb your bad habits.
Ask yourself why your plans to save or make more money in 2015 flopped
Virtually every Singaporean starts the New Year vowing to save or make more money in the coming year. With stars in our eyes, we dream of striking Toto, or snagging a job that pays us piles of money to sit in the office and look important.
We imagine having enough money to go on that round the world trip, or finally retire from our soul-crushing jobs. Yet almost everyone ends the year as usual, complaining about the high cost of living and not having enough money.
If you didn’t manage to achieve your financial goals this year, identifying just why your plans went to the dogs can be a useful exercise.
Here are some common reasons Singaporeans continue complaining about the same things year after year:
Vowing to find a new job but not bothering to actively apply for many.
Being underpaid but never raising the issue with your boss.
Not bothering to attend skills upgrading courses or ask for new responsibilities at work despite declaring your intention to switch to a new field.
Blowing all your savings on that end of year trip to London.
Being too undisciplined to stick to your monthly budget.
Make a list of simple things you can do to hit your targets by the end of 2016
If your plan to save money, achieve financial freedom and conquer the world involves becoming an expert on investing, ruling your finances with an iron grip or finding a job that pays millions, it’s safe to say you won’t be hitting your targets in 2016, if ever.
It’s time to wake up and realise that goals can only be reached if they’re broken down into achievable steps, the simpler the better.
So make a list of simple things you should be doing to achieve your financial goals in 2016, whether they be saving more money, boosting your income or getting into investing. Here are some examples:
You will cancel your gym membership and newspaper subscription.
You will create a budget that determines how much you’re allowed to spend on food, transport, shopping and entertainment each month.
You will go grocery shopping every Sunday and cook at home at least three times a week.
You will tidy up your resume and apply for at least five jobs each week.
You will have no more than one alcoholic beverage each time you go out.
Remind yourself what you’ll enjoy if you achieve your goals
Making goals without knowing why you want them is behaving like that couple who wants to throw a $200,000 wedding without even realising they’re doing it just to show off.
Would you want to drink protein shakes and work out at the gym every day if you knew nobody would think you looked better and that you would still feel as lethargic as you do after spending a week on the couch and calling the McDelivery hotline? Of course not. In fact, if you hate exercising but do it anyway, your goal is the only thing that keeps you going.
In the same vein, why would you deprive yourself of luxuries for some meaningless numbers in your bank balance? You have to ask yourself what that cash is going to do for your life.
If you’re all YOLO when it comes to money, you’re probably forgetting that getting your finances in order will enable you to enjoy the following:
The ability to retire in 20 years instead of joining the troupes of very old people slogging it out in menial jobs.
The peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about when your next paycheck is coming in or when the bank will call to hound you to pay your credit card bills.
Being able to choose a career that interests you instead of being forced to work long hours in a punishing or boring job because you need the money.
Not having to constantly be concerned about whether you’re wearing the right clothes or being seen in the right places.
Not having to worry about how you can afford to see a doctor if you fall sick.
When you set your sights on the sweet, sweet benefits of not living from paycheck to paycheck, you’re that much more likely to form habits that won’t make your bank account bleed.