Your parents told you your biggest regret in life would be not studying hard and ending up as a garbage collector. Now you’re all grown up and fortunately or unfortunately, your biggest regrets have nothing to do with garbage collecting.
Many of the Singaporeans who find themselves in ridiculous amounts of debt or unable to retire could actually have prevented themselves from suffering that fate if they had stopped making a few mistakes.
By mistakes, we’re not talking about failing to grab some incredible investment opportunity or not launching a successful business. We’re just referring to three very simple mindsets that many Singaporeans who constantly overspend have.
Viewing your income as a way to finance your lifestyle
You hear it all the time in Singapore. “If I had more money, I would buy an Audi.” “If only I had the money to stay at that luxury resort in the Maldives my friend posted about on Facebook.” “Next time when I’m rich, I’ll treat all of you to Martell!”
Singaporeans seem to have gotten one thing wrong… you don’t earn money in order to finance a lifestyle. You choose a lifestyle you can afford, and the money left over gets saved and invested. And when your income rises, that doesn’t give you an excuse to upgrade your lifestyle.
That attitude is why so many PMETs with otherwise healthy earnings get into credit card debt, and also why retrenchment can come as a bigger blow than it has to.
Sure, having a decent income can keep you off the streets and maybe even treat you to a nice meal now and then.
But there has to be a limit somewhere, even if your income continues increasing, and Singaporeans need to stop being too materialistic to see that just because your income increases by 50% doesn’t mean you get to buy 50% more blogshop clothes.
Treating yourself with no limit
Okay, we get that life in Singapore is pretty stressful, what with the crowds and the insane working hours and all. And if you don’t spend a bit of money to treat yourself every now and then, you’ll feel like a complete robot.
But it’s one thing to give yourself a budget and spend on yourself within reason, and another to take a completely exaggerated, no holds barred approach to pampering yourself.
For instance, a lot of middle income people take lavish holidays to Europe and the US, staying in nice hotels and eating at fancy restaurants the entire trip. A friend of mine once spent $7,000 on a holiday to the US, almost twice her monthly salary.
It’s also very common for women in Singapore to spend $150 to $200 on facials every one or two months, or $50 to $100 a month doing their nails… which on top of monthly clothes shopping excursions really starts to add up.
Sure, treat yourself by all means, but decide how much you’re going to spend first.
Pining for the high life
Not sure when it happened, but one day Singaporeans woke up and found that instead of chasing after the 5 Cs, they had become more concerned about becoming Instagram fashionistas, being seen at all the hippest restaurants and bars in the land and maintaining a Facebook account to show off all the great things they spent their time doing and buying.
Unfortunately, it’s also this desire for the high life that keeps many Singaporeans running on the hamster wheel, working like dogs to earn money that they immediately spend on luxuries. It’s gotten to the point where Singapore has become a bit of a dystopia.
It’s time for Singaporeans to take along, hard look at the kinds of lifestyles they want to live, and whether they’re willing to put in the work to get there.
After a bout of soul-searching (hopefully not at some luxurious detox retreat), it would do many Singaporeans good to figure out just how much is the maximum they’re willing to shell out for their lifestyles, instead of reaching for the sky and upgrading nonstop.
Why do Singaporeans with decent salaries overspend? Tell us in the comments!