I got a pleasant surprise when I checked my CPF statement recently.
After 3 years of work, my CPF has accumulated to a good $51,000 sum, which therefore brings my current net worth to above $100,000 from just savings alone. The breakdown is as follows:
CPF (forced savings)
1. Aim to save 50% of your take-home pay.
I strived for a much higher savings rate of 70% - 75% each month.
However, it wasn't a case of extreme savings where I needed to deprive myself of a social life and live on just bread and water. The higher savings percentage was achieved due to a rise in income, as I worked harder in my office job to show the value of my worth to my bosses (thus warranting a pay raise, hooray!) and also taught more tuition students on weekends and weekday evenings.
Although it was tiring - I was literally working 7 days a week - it was all worth it. After all, I don't know how many more years of my youth I can spend chiong-ing so much tuition...once family responsibilities kick in, I'll probably have to cut down.
2. Save your bonus (instead of spending it).
This wasn't quite as relevant in my case as my company does not give out yearly bonuses. Nor do we get a 13-month bonus.
However, I did get a pleasant surprise when my boss rewarded me with a $1k+ bonus, and that went immediately into my savings.
3. Open up separate bank accounts / Park your money in a good savings account.
When I first started out, I opened 2 accounts to keep my expenses and savings separate.
I've since added more savings accounts, due to the cap of $60,000 for attractive interest rates by many of the different banks. I've been exploring good savings accounts, and you can read my reviews of the UOB One, OCBC 360 and BOC SmartSaver here.
Unfortunately, all 3 banks have since revised their interest rates and qualifying criteria, so I'm now on the lookout for the next best alternative. Will update on the changes shortly once I've gathered the data.
The stock market hasn't performed well this year. For those who were lucky enough to purchase at the market bottom during January - February, congrats! Unfortunately, I wasn't one of them as I had run out of money during that period and didn't have enough to invest.
I did, however, invest in one counter which netted me a $2k+ gain within 2 months. It was my best investment of the year and the profits went straight into my savings.
In 2014, I wrote about the tips that helped me to accumulate my first $20,000. The ones that I'm still practising today are:
5. Track all my expenses
I'm still using the free app "Expense Manager", although I'm looking to migrate to Seedly soon once I change my phone, as it is a local personal finance app developed by my (now) friends who also consulted me in the development phase to help improve it for users. Would anyone want to sponsor me a new phone? My current phone has a pathetic 8 GB of internal space and is always running out of storage so I can't install any new apps -.-
On the app, I've also added a new category called "Wedding", which I foresee to be the next big money-sucker as my wedding date draws closer.
I've gotten a little lazier at tracking my expenses, so sometimes I do 2 days at one shot, but I'm still tracking every single dollar I spend as it continues to give me valuable insight into where my money is going. I'll do an update on this by end December to chart my yearly expenses for 2016.
6. Eat cheap / Avoid cafes
I remember receiving much flak for this tip, as many of my peers just couldn't fathom skipping cafe food and sent me dirt via emails or comments.
On a personal basis, I've continued to stick to homemade food and hawker food. My wallet is happy and so am I (true-blue Singaporean foodie here).
Skip the morning coffee
I've only indulged in Starbucks when I'm teaching. Other than that, I try to skip coffee entirely and drink plain water instead, as it is healthier for my diet as well while I try to lose weight in time for the wedding.
Cut down on drinks / nightlife
I'm really proud of the fact that I've not stepped into a single club this year.
Other than the inevitable fact that I'm getting old and the nightlife doesn't appeal to me anymore, I find that another main reason is because I've simply lost my love for alcohol after knowing how bad it is for folks trying to lose weight.
I still indulge in my social drinks with friends, but it is probably safe to say that my days of clubbing are over.
7. Take advantage of credit card promotions
I've been studying credit cards in detail to see how I can maximise my dollars and rewards over the year. The cashback I've gotten from the cards and other perks are indeed a huge bonus. I continue to maintain my stand that being smart about credit cards are a fantastic way to save money as well, provided you pay off your debts in time.
Here are some posts I've written on this:
What Are the 5 Best Credit Cards in Singapore Now?
Which Credit Cards to Use for Wedding Expenses
Looks like I've hit my $100,000 milestone much earlier than I expected (age 30).
Although some may argue that CPF isn't really your money, I definitely look at it as cash of my own, albeit a sum that I can't withdraw at my own whim and fancy.
I'll do a recap of my entire savings and expenditure for 2016 in a few weeks when December comes to an end. Given that I'm now past the $100k mark, I hope to reach my next milestone of quarter of a million ($250k) before 32.
Moving forward, I expect our wedding next year to be a huge drain on our finances as well as our housing, but I'll continue to save as much as I can.