I should have saved more

Not that I don’t save at all. In fact, I think I am in a good position when it comes to the amount of money I set aside just for saving every month. After working for 4.5 years, I have amassed a decent amount of savings. But now, even then, I am feeling a tinge of regret. Lately I have been thinking about homes and the value of homes and kinds of homes I can afford given my salary I take home every month and the amount of money I would have saved 4 years down the road. I can’t help but think that it remains insufficient to get the dream home that I want. And I am not asking for much. Just a decent sized home for a single like me in a decent place, close to an MRT station. I can definitely afford a 3-room HDB but am I willing to pay that much on an apart with a short lease?

I should have saved more. I have to save more. Buying a home is a huge huge investment. I need to make this right. And for me to make the right decisions, I need to have lots of options. And for me to have lots of options I need to have enough money to be able to afford the homes that I really want.

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Travel plans upon graduation

I will complete my master’s programme in November 2018. I have plans to go to Bali at the end of this year, just in time after completing my studies. That itself is a cause for celebration. But what about next year?

Canada (British Columbia)

Huge trip with my trusty group of friends that went to Iceland with me a couple of years back. It’s gonna cost quite a lot for this trip alone. The timeframe for this trip is after May, when the weather is somewhat warmer and frost is about to melt, making way for beautiful hiking trails. Just hope that we don’t encounter any starving brown bears that just came out from a long winter hibernation. I am expecting 2 to 3 weeks for this trip. A roadtrip, much like the Iceland trip we went to. Expected budget is S$2000 to S$3000 flights included.

Egypt/ Morocco

Somewhere exotic. Either Egypt or Morocco with my colleagues. Total 4 of us. a road trip to Morocco. A somewhat guided tour around in and around Egypt. 10 to 14 days. I am betting on the front end of 10 days, sufficient for a one-country sightseeing trip. The expected budget will be $1500 to $2000 flights included.

New York City

Possibly Solo. I have set my sights to New York. See the musicals, plays, art galleries, museums and just plain ol’ city sightseeing. Central Park, World Trade Tower, Statue of Liberty, Queens, Lower Manhattan, subways, pizzas. I could go with a friend. But solo trip would be interesting. Perhaps, meet up with Vivien, or Saki up in Boston, a day or overnight trip there just to see see look look? I would expect to be there for 7 to 12 days depending on my itinerary. The expected budget will be S$1500, no more than $2000. Flights included.

Next year could be the year of travels. I need to start saving up.

On housing

In Singapore, there is the life cycle of a typical Singapore

Grow up. Go to school. Graduate. Get a Job. Find a partner. Secure BTO. Get married. Move into BTO. Have kids. Start a family. Grow old. Die.

OK, it sounds simplistic and there may be some variations here and there but overall, for the majority of Singaporeans, (like me) the expectations of how one would like his or her life in Singapore looks someone like the one above.

I had a serious discussion about money and getting a flat with a couple of friends and colleagues. And one of the questions that struck me was: Why aren’t you looking for a partner to settle down so that you can get a BTO and move into your new house with said partner earlier, rather than waiting till you are 35 and single before you can secure your own HDB apartment?

I could have easily said something in the lines of: “Oh, I studied so hard during my days in University, so I don’t really have time to find a partner, and then when I am out working, I am so focused on work till I am exhausted anything else, and now, I am working AND studying at the same time so therefore, social life is non-existent. Thus, up to this point, I have been hustling and bustling but not giving time or thought to find a partner, go out on dates, settle down and make BTO plans.

However, I have come a realisation that the reason I typically to anyone who asked that question was kinda superficial. I believe that something happened during my childhood that causes me to upend the traditional “Singaporean lifecycle”.

I believe that the reason why I devote so little time in finding a suitable partner to settle down stems from the fact that I believe that not securing a home to call my own is a sign of instability. Some may argue that the process of getting a BTO with your partner is a natural parallel process that goes hand in hand with settling down with your partner. A successful marriage is usually accompanied by a successful acquisition of a home to settle down. But for me, that is not the case. I feel that if I don’t secure my own home, I feel like I am not there yet. I feel like I am doing an injustice to my partner who wishes for stability and security in a partnership. In buying a home and rightfully owning it I can then rest on the fact that I have settled down and I am ready to share that home with someone I will treasure for the rest of my life. That way of thinking is related to my upbringing when I was young.

You see, I fondly remembered growing up that my parents didn’t own a home back then for several years till I turned 3. I remembered staying at my relative’s house and perhaps for a short while, my grandma’s house (I wasn’t too sure, I was too young) bouncing between these two homes. At my relative’s house, they had 3 children of their own and I remembered living in a fairly chaotic household. Growing up like that, sensing that lack of security and comfort of a home that my parents did not have to call it their own perhaps altered my perception and belief in what is truly stable in a person’s life. Owning a home is a sign of stability. Without it, I feel unwarranted to find a partner.

Perhaps that childhood memory I had was the reason why I was very incessant about owning my own home first, before finding a partner, even though I could’ve gotten a home sooner, rather than wait till I am 35 years old before I can buy an HDB from the resale market. It is just some law that the Singapore government made when it comes to owning public housing for Singles. I don’t resent the law, the family is important and forms the social nuclear unit in Singapore, and I understand where they are coming from. So I just have to be patient. 4 more years before I am finally eligible. Till then, I have plenty of time to plan and save for my dream home.

Four months till graduation… and I am already losing steam

The road I am taking, it can be a lonely one.

Just four months till graduation, and I am already losing steam. The final hurdle, one more module and a project thesis and that is all there is to it to complete my studies.

But somehow, I have lost all motivation to really push myself hard.

One final push. I don’t know what I can do to get back on track.

It is a lonely road.

Somehow, I don’t see anyone pushing me on, egging me, encouraging me to not lose hope.

Work, study and all the other things going on in life.

2018 hasn’t been kind to me or my family.

When this year ends, I promise I will reflect on 2018 and share some of the things that have happened in my life. Both good and bad.

So I have been thinking about money…A lot!

I am 30 this year and recently I have been thinking and yearning to move out of my parents apartment and buy my own apartment.  A place where I can call home. But I can’t do that until I am 35, me being single and if I want to buy an HDB flat, then 35 is the age when I can buy a flat for myself to live in. 5 years of waiting of planning. And all the time this part few months, of imagining myself owning my own home, naturally led to thinking about money.

Buying a home is a significant investment and commitment. The cash deposits, the bank loans, the monthly mortgages, more bills to pay, all led to the fact that I had to start thinking about money more and more often. Lately I have kinda obsessed in managing my money, to the point where I no longer think of where to save, or how much cash saving I should have, but more in the veins of: How much emergency funds should I have? How much of the monthly mortgages am I comfortable at paying? How much money should I put in my retirement fund? Where should I invest? For how long? How much can I afford in buying a house? Where should I look for, for my first home? So many questions. So many adult questions!

My thinking about money has become so granular, that every dollar is carefully considered. Of course, keeping a tight lid and having sheer discipline in managing your money all the time is unrealistic. Circumstances change, you might lapse in your spending habits, and there will be days where you might have the extra cash to do anything you want, be it saving or spending. Again so many decision, its paralysing.

I used to think that I should just set aside the amount of money I should save, and then whatever is left is for spending. That is no longer the case. Life just got a little more complicated. Savings, expenditures, investments, deposits, withdrawals, transfers, mortgages etc.

I have 5 years to plan. 5 years to determine where I should go where my money is concern.

Ear infection… on both ears!

So this past week, I was ill. I was down with an ear infection, which resulted in me being forced by the doctors to take 4 days of medical leave so that I could rest and recuperate as my ears slowly heal. Which is a good thing because I desperately needed the rest because my ears were killing me. The infection, thankfully not in the deeper part of the ear canal, was causing so much pain, it felt like I was having an earache, headache and toothache all at the same time! The pain was like firecrackers going off in my ears, shooting pain through the nerves up and down on the sides of my head. At its peak (in terms of inflicting pain) I could neither move my jaws nor chew my food during meals. I couldn’t sleep because of a headache giving me such excruciating pain that only paracetamol and diclofenac could alleviate. And I was on those painkillers for the better part of the week, 24/7.

The infection took longer than usual to recover because both ears were not infected at the same time. It started on my left ear and slowly made its way to the right ear. That means I had to endure excruciating pain both times as it travels from the left to the right over the week. At one point, both ears were hurting so bad that diclofenac was the only painkiller that would allow me to sleep.

I am better now and I finally finished the course of antibiotic. The doctors prescribed me Augmentin, which is the brand name for amoxicillin antibiotic.

While visiting the hospital, for some odd reason, the doctors couldn’t pinpoint the exact cause of my ear infection. The symptoms were the classic ear infection one would typically diagnose given the type of pain one would get, but couldn’t exactly find the cause of the problem. Was there a wound in the ear? Was there a yellow discharge in the ear indicative of an infection? Was there an insect residing in the ear, or some piece of foreign material stuck in the ear canal? No, no, and no. I told them that only the outer ear area was hurting the most and that I retained my hearing just fine. It seemed that the ear canal and the surrounding soft tissues like the skin and cartilage that gave my ears shape were hurting the most. But as to what caused it to be infected. No one could give me a straight answer.

Nonetheless, Augmentin was prescribed, as its usually prescribed as a first level defence against ear infections (among other types of infections that Augmentin is useful for). Whether it truly works, I am not too sure, but the over time, the pain subsided and now I am back to normal.

I have an appointment with the ENT on Monday and hopefully, nothing serious will come out from this whole saga.

 

Inflection point

The past couple of months, I have been to a number of housewarming visits, house parties and board gaming sessions with my friends and colleagues. All of them are married and have an apartment where they can truly call their own and to come home to. Recently, I have this strange urge, to move out of my parents house and buy my own apartment, a place where I can truly feel at home, a home where I can be proud of owning.

But I am 30 years old, single and finding a partner has never been at the top of my list. Right now my focus is on school work, graduating on time at the end of this year. On top of that, there is work, in which I have felt pretty uninspired lately, 4 years have passed and no prospects of a promotion (if that even matters much at all, but still, makes me wonder my true worth at my workplace). My days are numbered there. I am just hunkering down, waiting for the day when I complete my Master’s degree and then I can move on.

So, finding a partner. Not something I am actively pursuing. Which means that getting a flat would have to wait till I am 35. That is five years from now. Not that long I suppose. Which means that I can start laying the foundations, financially, and psychologically today so that I can prepare myself to move out when I hit 35. It’s gonna be a big move. A new phase in life, matter a little late, but rules are rules, getting a HDB flat as a single, you need to wait till you are 35. I guess I don’t mind. Like I say, I can start a 5 year roadmap on top of my annual New Year’s Resolutions to prepare when the time comes. Graduate by 2018, I will be 31 this year. Get a new job at 2019, 32. That leaves me with 3 years to slug it out, work hard and save as much as I can before the big three five.

My mind has been distracted with the thought of moving out even though I cant right now. My mind drifts whenever I am idling about the prospects of owning my own home. Thinking about how it would look like, where it would be. Hell, I have even been googling for interior design inspirations on Google and Pinterest for my ‘home’ 5 years from now.

Lately, I have even seriously considered imposing a self ‘ban’ or ‘moratorium’ on sprucing up my room to make that little tiny space to call my own, my sanctuary. The whole room revamp is done anyway. I love it and I am proud to have invested time (and money) to look and feel as exactly what I wanted it to be. To be comfortable in my own room. Now, its all about saving money. No more major upgrades, furniture or gadget purchases (which includes computer upgrades, my new AMD system is the only computer system I will own till I get my own place) from now till I am 35. I need that money saved for my new house. The downpayment, the renovation, the furniture and electrical appliances in the kitchen and many other things that requires a lot of money upfront.

A 3 room flat for a single person like me would be perfect. Not too big, not too small. I can only buy a resale flat. Perhaps I will get the new generation 3 room flat. I love the layout. The only thing next is location. Unless there is a financial windfall that I am going to experience in the years ahead, HDB will have to do.

5 years. A lot of things can happen during that time. Yet I need to prepare. Number 1 priority is money. I need to cut down on my spending for the next 5 years. The house is the goal, the journey, a good paying job.