"Get married, buy a house, start a family". If you're in your mid to late 20s, you've probably heard that more than once.
It can get tiring hearing the same pieces of well-meaning advice over and over again. But the truth is, there is no better time than your 20s to start planning for these milestones.
If you're between the age of 20 and 29, chances are, you're probably in the process of establishing your career direction, or at least have an idea of where your professional strengths lie – and you've probably asked yourself the question, 'where do I see myself in 5 years' time?'
You might have also started dating and thinking about when you could see yourself settling down.
Regardless of your goals, it all boils down to one thing: Money.
So before you turn 30, here are the 4 things you can do with your money, so that you can hit your future milestones easily.
1. Master your Monthly Budget
The focus here isn't about stressing yourself out trying to stick to a strict budget right down to the last cent. Rather, becoming a master budgeter means that you will be better equipped to balance your income and expenses according to your needs and wants, and your short-term vs. long-term goals.
Start tracking your expenses by using this Budget Calculator to see where you stand. Having a good idea of where your money goes each month will go a long way toward helping you become more financially savvy. It'll also help you make and keep track of your financial decisions, whether it's to decide on your splurge of the month, or how you can save for your long-term commitments such as a home or car.
2. Figure out how you're going to use your CPF
As a working adult, you probably know a portion of your salary goes into your CPF, but do you know how much you have in those accounts, and what you can use them for?
Most people in their 20s don't think about it, but it's actually important to keep track of your various accounts as they will help meet your housing and healthcare needs. The way you use your CPF to finance these needs will determine how much you will eventually be left with for your retirement, which is why you need to plan ahead.
For easy reference, here's where you can find out more about the CPF contribution and allocation rates for the three accounts: Ordinary, Special, and Medisave. You can also easily calculate your monthly CPF contribution rates.
The CPF Starter App is a convenient way to get started, and you can learn more about your CPF accounts on the go.
Of course, everyone is different, and there's no one-size-fits-all piece of advice. It's a good idea to take some time to understand your own needs, and to plan accordingly.
3. Lay the financial foundation for your first home
For most of us, buying a home is on the agenda starting from sometime in our mid-20s, when we're ready to settle down and move into the next stage of our lives.
Depending on the type, size, and location of your ideal house, you'd be looking at different costs. Just for reference, consider a 4-room BTO in a non-mature estate that costs around $300,000, with a 10% downpayment of $30,000. Here's how you can use your OA to finance your home:
Beyond the downpayment, you would also have to consider how you're going to finance your housing or bank loan, and how you will juggle these payments with the rest of your financial commitments. Not only that, you'd also have to think about the longer-term impact of your housing loan payments on your retirement savings.
To have a good estimate of the housing loan you can take based on your income and your ability to service that loan, you can use HDB's Enquiry on Maximum Loan Calculator, which helps you compute the maximum loan amount.
There are other options as well, such as using your cash savings to pay for your monthly instalments, and keeping your CPF savings intact so that they can be channeled towards your retirement instead. It's all up to you, and now is the best time to make those plans.
4. Plan to start your very own family
Before you embark on this (huge) step, you want to be sure that you're taking advantage of the financial schemes available.
Start by researching the schemes available to support new parents and families, such as the baby bonus scheme and Medisave grants for newborns.
There's also the Medisave Maternity Package, which allows you to use your Medisave for pre-delivery medical expenses and delivery expenses.
The planning doesn't stop there. You also have to think ahead in terms of planning for your child's healthcare insurance, education, and possibly even financing a new, bigger home to better accommodate your growing family.
Are you ready to enter your 30s?
It may seem daunting to think of all these at this point in time, but proper planning will ensure that you are much better prepared to enjoy each milestone, without any undue financial stress or worry when the moment comes.
Time is on your side right now, so seize the day to start planning – your 30s (and beyond) awaits!