Covid-19 is pushing financial planning into the front of everyone’s brains. With financial markets in turmoil, airline travel almost at a standstill and malls virtually empty, it’s hard not to worry about loss of income. Social media is alive with people discussing possible downsizing, no-pay leave and salary reductions.
Social isolation doesn’t help. “Social distancing” is necessary now, and we all understand… but imagine how lonely and isolated you would feel if you had to stay alone at home, for years on end?
So how do you stay connected and happy when you don’t have a workplace to go to?
It’s never too late to learn something new
More Than Financials: Singapore’s first campaign on planning for retirement wellbeing is a new study by four undergraduates at Nanyang Technological University. Although they asked about retirement, the findings are also relevant to those of us who are years away from retiring.
Because unlike most studies on retirement, this one also asked participants about emotional health in changing times plus their interest in training for second careers.
“We started this project because we were hearing about the personal struggles of friends and family,” explains co-author Kirmaine Chen, 23. “They weren’t sure how to transition from working adult to something else. They were saying, ‘After I retire I’ll have more time to myself. I can’t travel on holiday all the time. What will I do instead?”
Actually, most Singaporeans already work past the official retirement age of 62. Only 40% of us are retired by 60-64. A further 15% of us don’t retire until 65-69. Statistics don’t show why… but it’s a safe bet some of us don’t like the idea of staying home, bored and alone. And others want to continue earning money, perhaps switching to another kind of work, or in a second career.
So far, not surprising. But what is surprising is this: we’re turning down free money that will help us do just it.
Yes, you can get paid to pick up a side hustle
Every Singaporean and PR aged 25 or more is entitled to a $500 SkillsFuture grant to spend on training courses related to work. From October 2020, we each get a further top up of $500 to spend on suitable courses. And if you’re aged 40 to 60 you get another $500.
But the study shows less than 1/4 of us have used these SkillsFuture grants.
“People said they weren’t sure where to find information on the grants, or they worried they would be too old to learn, or they were too busy, things like that,” explains Kirmaine.
“Some didn’t realise SkillsFuture courses can be bite-size. Some can be as short as one or two days. Or you can study at online classes with flexible timings.”
From learning a new sport to enhancing skills in the workplace through courses, the nation-wide initiative is a launchpad for a wide range of opportunities. So if Covid-19 has got you thinking about new options for your future, here’s where to access your grant money and suitable courses.
And if someone in your family is thinking about life after 9 to 5, you can go to the study’s website at readyornot.sg to get free retirement planning kits, personalised for your interests and delivered to your door.
The site also has tips on how to successfully land a second career and wellbeing options, like places to volunteer, and contacts for lifestyle classes on everything from fin-tech to flower arranging.
Having the right attitude is key to hustling
While learning new skills might seem harder as you get older, it’s not impossible. As aforementioned, in Singapore, there are plenty of opportunities for lifelong learning to happen.
As philosophy and science writer, Gary Hayden, wrote in a column for The Straits Times about finding the joys in the learning as he got older: “Needless to say, the older you get, the less chance you have of becoming highly proficient at what you set out to learn. But the joy in learning remains undiminished.”
Here are three tips to help you along your learning journey: