How I managed to save $50,000 for law education in Singapore

It all began on one early Saturday afternoon when my mom brought my sister and I to the nearby POSB branch office to set up our very own savings account. I remembered vividly that I was Primary 4 back then. It was the beginning of my financial journey.

Even though I wasn’t given a lot of pocket money, I didn’t know why but I had the innate desire to save almost every time I had the opportunity to do so. During Chinese New Year, all my ang pao money would be saved and because I was young and ignorant, I will always trouble my father to help me deposit into the bank account.

Every month, I would have saved around $50 from a portion of my pocket money and I would ask my father to help me bank in too. Occasionally, I would also receive bursary awards from MOE which were saved up also.

As time passes, I managed to save around $2,000 by the time I was 12 years old. It is a small amount on hindsight, but back then, it felt like the world to me. Alas, my sacrifice was worthwhile as I managed to accumulate a 4-digit figure before I went to secondary school.

In secondary one, I actively looked for financial assistance from my school as I knew my parents were struggling financially due to the ripple effect of the sub-prime mortgage crisis in 2008.

My dad so happened to get retrenched from his decades-long job that year too. That was my first encounter with insecurity of money at home, which further spurred me on to save up even more.

As I continued to excel in lower secondary, I applied for bursaries after bursaries. Coupled with my usual habit of saving a portion of my pocket money, I managed to have around $5,000 worth of savings before I graduated from secondary school to attend JC.

During my Junior College days, the financial situation became slightly better. I was therefore able to focus better on my academic studies. Nevertheless, money issue was still at the back of my mind.

I was still very thrifty, and I did not socialise much with my friends as I found it a waste of money to go out and have expensive lunches or go shopping for unnecessary clothings. Instead, I found most of my time using the internet at home to either play games or learn new things.

I also decided to travel to school everyday by cycling to save up on bus fares. It was a good decision as I was in control of my travel time too. It was also a good form of exercise for me. Oddly enough, I would feel tired not cycling to school on days where it rained heavily. I also continued cycling to school even during the A level examination period.

It was also during my JC days where I got exposed to the idea of investing. I remembered reading this online Straits Times article on the Singapore Savings Bond. It was a relatively new product back then and I still remembered fondly how I was discussing about it with my Economics tutor.

However, I didn’t really start investing until my Army days which I will be talking about soon enough. Before I finish JC, my bank account had $10,000 already. That was a milestone that I always wanted to complete before I turned 18 and I managed to do it.

It was a small financial victory for me and I felt confident to do more. However, if not for the large sums of bursary money I got from the government, Buddhist Lodge foundation, Singapore Police Force, DSO and many others, I wouldn’t have been able to save up a 5-digit figure.

With that $10,000 in my bank account, I happily went to Tekong to undergo BMT. Although being conscripted, I still managed to find joy every month when the allowance came through. Training was tiring enough for me to just book out and recuperate at home that I managed to save most, if not all, of my NS allowance.

It was also during my first year of NS that I made my first foray into ‘investing’ other than just saving. It wasn’t really investing per se but I set up a Save-as-you-serve account from POSB. At month 13, which was 1 year into my NS, I was credited my interest of roughly $240 (2.0% per annum) and I closed the account.

Second year into army, I became a sergeant and garnered a pay of roughly $1,000. I continued saving and invested in a variety of products such as the Singapore Savings Bond, Astrea IV bond, individual stocks, P2P lending and more. It was this period where I experienced an exponential growth in my savings, relative to the past nine years in school.

As I was about to ORD and finish NS, I began giving tuition for JC and secondary students. Along with my NS pay, investment returns and tuition job, I managed to hit past $40,000 in terms of total asset values.

After ORD, even though I did not get a proper job, my freelance tuition was able to get me to where I am today where I no longer have to worry about not getting a scholarship for my law education or burdening my parents with CPF loans. I managed to save around $50,000.

It feels good to be financially in control of my life. Even though along the way, I may have missed some opportunities, at least I found it a sensible and calculated decision to make.

I hope that my story can inspire people to always be positive in life. With the right mindset and attitude, there is nothing one cannot achieve. As the late Mr Lee once said

“Life is what you make of it. You are dealt a pack of cards… Your job is to make the best of the cards that have been handed out to you.”

– Lee Kuan Yew

 

 

 

 

7 Replies to “How I managed to save $50,000 for law education in Singapore”

  1. I admire your struggles.
    True or False ,the below sentiment expressed by underemployed PMET is depressing. Besides skills future, gov need to have a task force to tackle the underemployed PMET

    Jin jia lat…

    The government likes to proudly show off the ran kings of our schools, in particular that of NUS and NTU. Of course, it serves to demonstrate everyone should aspire to secure degrees from these schools so as to ensure they get good jobs et cetera.

    Recently, I attended a Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence (PDVL) training; here’s a shocking fact I discovered when my curious self went around surveying for a bit – many of the folks attending the classes were ex-PMETs from polytechnics, NTU and NUS! A lot of them previously were in computer science, electrical and civil engineering jobs before being replaced. I counted a handful of them in their 30s and while most were in their 40s. There were also some fresh graduates who could not land jobs yet and so resorted to driving to earn a living. Dear lord! You mean to say our graduates from these top schools in Asia couldn’t find proper employment?! One of the common reasons supplied was that too many foreigners were plying the same trade as them and at considerable lower salaries. In other words, a huge quantity of electrical engineering jobs going instead to Indians FTs and civil engineering jobs snagged by Filipinos.

    The clowns at the top echelons of our G are always boasting about the country attaining GDP growth, oh come on even the dumb would know GDP growth can be achieved by importing vast quantities of foreign labour. Ooooh yes that means millions of foreigners, and here’s a fun fact: our population is supposed to only hit 7 million by 2030 yet we are already nearing the 6 million mark, mind you this is only 2018. The doors are thrown wide open to the rest of the world, in the process causing so many locals to become underemployed or unemployed. While the government constantly publishes reports about how awesome the Singapore education system is, they prefer to go around hiring cheap labour with dubious academic credentials from third world countries.

    Many of our locals live in HDB dwellings and are thus saddled with enormous housing loans; without jobs to fund their debts and living expenses , they are left with little choice but to force themselves to become private hire car drivers. When autonomous vehicles finally arrive at the scene in a big way, what then next? Take an elevator to the tallest floor of Marina Bay Sands Hotel tower and contemplate “migrating” to the netherworld?

    Like

    1. As much as I agree to a certain degree that this could be an issue dealt with through governmental policy changes, I also feel that we as individuals can make use of everyday to think of how we can better ourselves and make the demand of our capabilities price-inelastic, or salary-inelastic for the matter 🙂

      Like

  2. Inspiring post. I came from a similar background but my parents never informed me of the difficulties they were facing and I only found out later in life. I’m playing catch up now with my finances, so I can support them and myself better. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    1. Hi, firstly, thanks for checking out the little story of mine.

      I’m sure your parents did not want you to worry back then. For myself, my parents never wanted me to worry about finances at home. However, things can be really obvious at times when problems trickle down to affect daily living.

      Anyway, hope that you will be able to achieve your version of financial success and do your parents proud. All the best! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Admire your grit and hardwork! Read your other posts as well and it brought some new perspective to my current investing strategy (have never really considered index fund investing). Anyway, you’ve gained a new follower!

    Like

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