We all have a few regrets we’d rather forget about. Some are pretty much universal, like not spending enough time with loved ones or thinking you were cool enough for that “edgy” haircut. On the other hand, there are some regrets that only Singaporeans look back on ruefully. Here are some money-related regrets only Singaporeans can empathise with.
1. Losing the HDB flat
While some people do approve of the social engineering tactics employed by the HDB, there’s no doubt that the eligibility rules for the purchase of an HDB flat have left many a broken-up couple crying over more than just their relationship.
In a worst case scenario, a couple forced to pull out of an HDB flat purchase stands to lose anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000 of their hard-earned money if they break up after signing the agreement for lease on a BTO flat or collecting the keys on a resale flat
Now, I know there are many people out there who believe that the HDB is justified in giving married couples priority. But for most couples forced to give up their flats, it often feels like they’re being punished for not being able to force themselves into marriage.
Benson, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, had already collected the keys to a resale flat and begun renovations when his fiancée broke up with him. The couple lost more than $20,000.
One of his biggest regrets is taking for granted that the relationship would work out before trying to purchase a flat.
“At that time I was quite stressed out about money, work and the renovations, and I wasn’t the best partner,” he admits. “But I thought we could always work out our issues after the flat was settled.”
“I understand that the HDB wants to stop people from applying for flats when they’re not ready to get married. But sometimes you really can’t plan this sort of thing,” he says. “You already have to wait for such a long time, especially if you are buying a BTO flat. A lot of things can happen during that time. Do they expect us to get just married and then later end up divorced?”
Belinda, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, broke up with her fiancé a month before her wedding and lost not only the downpayment on their resale flat but also the booking fee for their wedding banquet venue.
“To this day, I still think back to that period with a twinge of guilt. I should have faced up to my fears earlier instead of waiting until we got the flat. That would have saved us a lot of money and heartache,” she says.
2. Having too much or too little money in their CPF account
With so many Singaporeans unable to get hold of their CPF savings for pressing needs such as medical expenses and family emergencies, it’s no surprise that many of their money regrets involve CPF.
Arnold, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, has been self-employed on and off for almost ten years, but only recently started making contributions to his CPF account in order to make qualifying for a home loan easier.
“If I knew they were going to raise the minimum sum, I would have paid more money into my CPF account, especially when I was younger and didn’t need to spend so much money. Instead, I spent most of my money having fun.”
On the other hand, Janice, a 29-year-old editor based overseas, regrets the three years she spent as an employee in Singapore. “I don’t have much money in my CPF account, and as I’m working overseas now it looks like I’ll never be able to arrive at the minimum sum,” she says.
“If I had known I would be leaving Singapore, I would probably have made the effort to leave earlier, so as not to let too much money accumulate in my CPF account. I see the merits of saving for retirement, but I’d prefer to have some control over my own money.”
3. Relying on Medisave and Medishield
There’s a whole lot that Medisave doesn’t cover, and anyway there are so many restrictions to its use that even if yours doesn’t get wiped out you’re still going to have to fork out a considerable sum out of pocket.
And there are so many conditions surrounding Medishield claims, such as having to pay high deductibles before you can get at the money, that falling is ill is turning out to be just marginally better than dying.
Arnold was involved in an accident many years ago when a bus collided with his motorcycle. He didn’t have a private insurance policy in force at the time.
“At first, I thought I was going to die,” he says. When I finally made it to the side of the road, some passers by wanted to call an ambulance for me. But I didn’t want to pay for the ambulance. I was just a student and had barely anything in my Medisave account even if they would have allowed me to make a claim. So instead I hailed a cab and went to a doctor covered in blood.”
“Now I have a health insurance policy. Too bad I didn’t have one back then. But I’m hoping I won’t have to use mine in future,” he adds.
Arnold is much luckier than the many Singaporeans suffering from serious chronic ailments. Those stories about people going bankrupt when a family member falls ill could happen to you, so do yourself a favour and get some insurance.
Do you have any money regrets? Let us know what they are in the comments!