Wednesday, May 24, 2017

10 Tips for "Adulting" for Graduates of 2017

Hello graduates of 2017! Congratulations and welcome to real life, where you now have responsibilities and can no longer hide behind the excuse of "but I'm a student!" anymore.

There ton's of things you need to do to "adult" properly, like have a proper resume, cleaning up your social media, etc, but I'll just go through the finance aspect of it all. I am a financial blogger after all. Even though I'm a small time blogger, some people say I'm on course to be almost as famous as Andrea Chong. My influencer management agent is not doing so well, so maybe that's why I'm not so famous yet (please join Huat Ah! Sosher, then we can go for food tasting together!).

"Looking for financial rants? Look for GMGH!"
(no, she didn't really say that)

1. Watch this Video

The rest of the tips here will never be as good as this one. If your only takeaway from this post was watching this video, that's good enough for me. This video will probably give you the best advice you'll ever hear, but I'm pretty sure that you're not going to like it.

2. Count and consolidate your money

How much money do you have in your bank account? How many bank accounts do you have? Do you have all your passwords / tokens to control all your bank accounts?

Are your parents or any other relatives safekeeping money for you? Is there any money that has been stashed away for "when you graduate"? Well, it's time you took it back!

In the adult world, NO MONEY NO HONEY!

3. Pay back "Ah longs"

Did you already have an agreement about the funding of your higher education? Did you manage to scam your parents to promise to pay for your university if you could make it in?

Do you have any student loans, membership fees, student credit card bills?

Knowing your debts and clearing them off is a very important part of successfully being an adult.

4. Begin take-over sequence

Bank accounts. Handphone bills. Insurance policies. Shield Plan. GP and dentist clinic and contact numbers.

Basically, you should be taking over and be in control of all your big people adult stuff already. No self-respecting adult has their mother calling to make dental appointments for them.

5. Start Fresh

This is my recommendation for the best starter products:

Current Account: POSB Everyday Savings Account
Savings Account: CIMB FastSaver
Debit Card: PAssion POSB Debit Card
*Credit Card* (optional, recommended only for advanced users): SCB Cashback Card

The POSB Everyday Savings Account is a good basic account with a low minimum ($500). Don't expect much from it. POSB and DBS (they are basically the same) have one of the best ATM networks around, and that's probably the only reason why you would want to have a POSB account.

The CIMB FastSaver is handsdown the best savings account for people starting out. With no special terms and conditions to fulfill, you only need a minimum of $1000 to start earning a very decent 1% interest on your savings.

The PAssion POSB Debit Card is amazing. It is your ATM withdrawal card, your MasterCard debit card, your PAssion membership card and ALSO your EZ-Link-sorta transport card (link it directly to your bank account so you never need to top up again!).

*WARNING, ADVANCED USERS ONLY* If you have been using a debit card, or even a credit card, and you understand how they work and how to pay off your dues, then you can consider adding this card into your arsenal. The SCB Cashback card is a no-frills 1.5% cashback card. That's it. Spend on whatever, get 1.5% back. No minimum spending, no cashback cap. It's basic, but it does the trick when a debit card just won't cut it. The golden rule is: Always pay off your credit card balance every month, in full. ALWAYS.

6. Protection is important

All those insurance policies I told you to take over? Evaluate them now! You might have endowment plans bought for you that you need to evaluate - surrender or let it run its course? This is also the same for a whole life insurance product that you might have. Insurance salespeople can be slimy and deceiving. The policy that your parents bought for you might no longer fulfill your needs, or there might be better, cheaper and newer insurance products in the market for you.

Insurance premiums have been dropping like crazy. If you're locked-in on an old plan, you might actually be better off completely trashing your current plan and buying a brand new one with the same coverage and maybe half the premiums.

Maybe people don't understand insurance properly and many people (including agents) mistake insurance for investments. Insurance is not investing. Anybody that tells you so is either an agent trying to make a sell, or a misinformed person. I've written quite extensively about insurance, so you can search for keywords on my blog, find posts tagged with Insurance or at least read my take on insurance in Singapore.

7. Prepare for Emergencies

Zombie. Vampires. Aliens. You name it, be prepared for it.

However, it's more likely to be a sudden medical issue, or an unfortunate incident that will require you to break the piggybank.

You MUST have an emergency fund BEFORE you start doing any risk investments.

A good rule of thumb is 6-12 months of expenses, but it never hurts to play it safe and have a bit more. Stick that money into your savings account where it will less convenient for you to dip into it. What's the point of having an emergency fund if its empty when you need it?

8. Invest / Risk only what you can afford 

Investing involves risk. Risk means that you can lose money. If you're investing, you need to ensure that you aren't gambling away your rent/food money!

A simple and easy strategy is to put aside a fixed small amount into some tried and tested strategies with known risks.

$100 a month into POSB Invest Saver is a good start. Maybe $500 in a Singapore Savings Bond to get yourself a CDP account and understand bonds.

Giraffe Value has a massive guides with step-by-step instructions for a variety of investment instruments (slightly outdated though). I think dropping by is a great way to familiarize yourself before you start actually risking real money.

9. Freeze this moment

Once you start working, you're not going to realize how quickly time flies from month to month and from year to year. The next thing you know, you're 28 and writing a blog for people 4-7 years younger than you to read.

I think it is important to know that your career does not define your happiness. You're in your early 20s now. You know what happiness feels like, and you know that having a nice job contributes to that happiness, but in most cases, it is not the source of happiness.

Too many people get caught up in the rat race and corporate ladder, chasing an ever shifting goalpost of what society's counts as success. Luxury accessories, private cars, condos. Next it'll be boats and airplanes. The race never ends. It is up to the runner to decide when to stop.

Just pause for a while and think about the things that make you happy right now. Good health, close relationships with family and friends, opportunities and time to explore your interests. I think most people can agree that delicious food, beautiful vacations, luxury goods and all are wonderful things to have, but they aren't essential things to happiness.


If material wealth is what drives you, you need to be able to pinpoint when enough is enough. Most people dream big and end up small. I advise to dream humbly and realistically, and anything above and beyond that should be happily cherished as a bonus.

10. Go forth and conquer the world

10 years ago, utter the words Uber, Airbnb and Groupon and people will think you were mumbling gibberish. Today, they are multi-billion dollar companies.

We live in a world today where the possibilities for tomorrow is endless. Want to start your own business? Want to pick up a new skill? Want to learn a new language? Want to live in a different country?

Nothing is stopping you.

Having a good financial base gives you a sturdy and stable foundation to fall back on when things don't turn out your way. It is also a solid foundation to keep you on track to easily do the right things.

Have cheap and simple insurances to transfer away your risk that you can't afford to deal with.
Don't buy things you can't afford.
Save diligently.
Live happily.



  1. Good advice for coming of age! I like.

  2. Very good tips here, thank you for the insight! I have 1 question though. I was thinking of putting a large part of my savings (not everything though) in Singapore Savings Bonds where it will get a higher interest rate per annum (let's say I put for 5 years+), instead of CIMB FastSaver. What are your opinions on this? I am unsure if it's a sound decision.

    1. No prob Anon, hope it helps.

      I think it very much depends on your holding period, with some thought being taken into account for liquidity (emergency).

      If you are going to do nothing productive with your money, throw it into the SSB. Right off the bat, it already gives 1.02% compared to 1% with CIMB.

      However, think about your liquidity. Would there ever be a case that you might need to withdraw your money quickly? How much of it is reasonable to expect? If so, then you can consider splitting your money, some with CIMB for quick liquidity and a decent 1%, and the rest into the SSB while you figure out your next steps.

      If your large sum is over $15k, the Citi MaxiGain account is also another interesting option. However, that is a sizeable sum, which is why I didn't list it here.


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