Opinion

4 Lies About Money You Should Recognise by the Time You’re 30

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Joanne Poh

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Mistakes, I’ve made a few. And so have many others in Singapore, I’ll bet, if the number of people in credit card debt from gambling and overspending or the legions of angsty, unfulfilled office workers are anything to go by. There isn’t a specific age at which you’ll have everything figured out, but by the time you hit age 30 we certainly hope you’ve erased these four erroneous views from your hitherto young, impressionable minds.

 

There will come a day when I earn enough to save and invest

When you were first starting your career in your 20s, you might have been forgiven for going through a teething period, during which you just couldn’t figure out how to get by on your meagre salary. But by the time you hit 30, no matter how modest your pay, you should have figured out a way to downsize your lifestyle enough to save and invest, at least a bit.

It’s always tempting to tell yourself that you’re not earning enough now to save and still enjoy your life, and that somewhere down the road when your salary has increased you’ll finally be able to do all that boring stuff like investing.

The sad fact is, life gets in the way, and once you hit your 30s or 40s you might get a rude shock when you find yourself saddled with a ton of financial commitments like mortgage repayments, rent or having to support another human being. The best time to save, then, is when you’re young. Thanks to compounding interest, you won’t even have to save as much now to see decent gains than you will when you’re older.

 

My ignorance is an excuse for not investing

Sure, we get it, you’re young and foolish, and while you might possess an extensive body of knowledge on the latest Kpop celebrities and the geography of hipster cafes in Singapore, you know next to nothing about investing, which is for grown ups.

You don’t need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of stock analysis strategies to invest effectively. At least educate yourself on the various investment options on the market—a lot of young people tend to avoid investing with the excuse that they can’t afford to buy property.

You might have waited for your teachers or private tutors to spoonfeed you with everything you needed to know back at school, but now it’s time to take ownership of your own life and actually learn something on your own.

 

It’s okay not to pay your credit card bills in full

Getting your very first credit card can seem exciting and oh-so-grown up when you’re new to the working world. In fact, it can seem like a ticket to free money! You no longer have to worry about whether you have enough money in your bank account for your debit card to work!

Well, 20-somethings had better disabuse themselves of that ridiculous notion right now. Credit card debt can spiral out of control much more easily than you think—and you don’t even have to be spending more for that to happen, as the high interest rates will see to it that your debt increases while you sleep.

A lot of young Singaporeans have gotten themselves into dire situations, like this guy and this lady. Racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt might not seem so scary when you’re young and feel invincible. But believe us, you’ll be peeing your pants when the debt collectors descend.

 

Hating your job is not a big deal

Most of us go through a few crappy jobs when we’re young. But after a few years in the workforce, it’s easy to start thinking that this is as good as it gets. While you might never find a job that you want to hug to sleep at night, never stop evaluating your career, and moving towards something that you find fulfilling.

We’re not saying you should quit your job immediately in hopes that the perfect Google or Facebook gig will land in your lap. What we are saying is that it’s unlikely your first job ever is going to be one that uses your abilities, strengths and personalities in the best way. And if you detest your job, you’re on the road to mediocrity—the best and most successful workers didn’t get where they were by counting down to 6pm.

As your career evolves, you’ll be faced when many choices. And when you make these choices, do try to factor in the importance of fulfilment, both in work and in life—not just the numbers in your bank book.

What epiphanies have you had in your twenties and thirties? Share them with us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.