Every month, Ohmyhome co-founders Race and Rhonda Wong share their insights on the real estate market, PropTech, and one-stop-shop Ohmyhome.
This July, Race shares her practical tips on how young, married couples with growing families can start securing their futures by saving and investing on property.
How you manage your finances today is most likely a product of your environment and upbringing. Children can pick up their parents’ habits — from their mannerisms to the way they regard money — through mere observation.
My sisters and I learned the value of money and hard work early. My parents had us help out in their businesses during the holidays and pushed us to study hard and do well in school. They were also very conscientious about their spending and taught us to be the same by counting the costs of things we wanted to buy.
So whatever achievements we three have today, it is partly thanks to the work ethic they instilled in us, as well as mindfulness for the value of things.
For young couples starting out their lives or in the stage of growing the family, my advice would be to plan your finances early, have a shared financial goal, work as hard as you can and save as much as possible for your future. These will all help in long-term personal and family planning.
Now is the time to prioritise saving
Those living in their first home — typically a Housing Development Board BTO flat or a resale flat in Singapore — would have sunk a good part of their savings in it. So for these couples, wealth accumulation can come from maintaining a simple lifestyle.
Think of simple swaps you can do in your everyday life that may save you maybe $10-$20 a day – swap a cab for the bus or MRT, bubble tea for water, an expensive holiday for a more reasonable one. These small changes can add up to a few thousand dollars a year.
Do away with a “you only live once” (YOLO) mindset. Social media has been promoting this lifestyle ideal to treat yourself with the best, whenever you want to because YOLO. And many have, unfortunately, bought into this thinking whole-heartedly, frittering away their hard-earned money in the process.
Why not keep things simple instead? Let your dream lifestyle wait. It will come if you are prudent.
In this stage of your life, I would encourage you to know where your money goes, count up the costs and expenses. Choose saving when you can and stick to your financial goals.
One income is good, two is better
Having a dual-income household is also important. You may think “Well, my spouse’s salary is too low anyway, may as well stay home with the kids”.
But remember, salaries grow over time.
To supervise the household and help with your kids while both of you are at work, perhaps you could enlist the help of your parents or in-laws. If they are retired and willing, having them in your home could go a long way in easing your concerns.
If properly managed, combined incomes allow couples to increase the size of their monthly savings.
Buy private property then rent it out, don’t stay there
Consider leasing out the first private property you buy — instead of living in it — and rent a more affordable place for your family.
For example, if you lease out your newly purchased condo for $5,000 and rent another flat for $2,000, that’s $3,000 every month, or $36,000 annually. In three years, that’s more than $100,000. That’s a lot of money to help you pay off the mortgage.
If you buy a private property for your own stay, you lose any earning potential from what may be your biggest asset at this point. Not only have you spent the bulk of your savings with this move, but you also now have a bigger mortgage to service and not much cash left over for other investments.
For couples who see value in renting out their condo, be flexible in where you live and be ready to move wherever and whenever it makes sense for the family financially.
If you are concerned about the impact this may have on your kids, don’t be. They are more adaptable than you think. If you explain the move to them, they will understand. Hopefully they will find good sense in renting for investment purposes too when they are adults themselves.
Safeguarding your future
We all live in unstable conditions — businesses, job situations and the economy may be good one day, bad the next. The pandemic just reminded us of this.
Someone who is drawing a high salary now could be laid off tomorrow. What then?
That’s why having a good savings plan, investing well and being practical in your spending habits are crucial in safeguarding you and your family’s future.
As you progress in life, you can build upon your foundation and grow your investment portfolio.
When you reach that point, you can worry less about your spending, move into your dream home and still have enough to meet all of your obligations and maybe even support others in your community.
Model good habits to your children
Finally, and I can’t emphasise this enough, modelling good financial habits to children is important. Show them how to be responsible about money, help them shape their feelings, thinking and values about it.
This can be done by explaining the basics early, instilling in them a habit of saving, or creating opportunities to earn.