Whoever said thirty is the new twenty did not live in Singapore. Unless you want to live with your parents forever or be stuck in the army indefinitely, moving on to your thirties brings for many the chance to be truly independent—mainly because they’ve finally got the earning capacity to do so.
When Singaporeans hit 30, they’ve got the best of both words. They’ve moved past the crappy salaries they got as fresh grads, yet a good many are still unmarried, which means the burden of mortgages and kids hasn’t set in yet.
By all means party hard and enjoy this time as the prime of your life—but don’t forget that unlike your 20-something brethren, you’ve got less time left before retirement hits. If you haven’t already done these four things, you’ve got no excuse.
Have a proper emergency fund
You should already know the importance of keeping a certain amount of cash stashed away in a savings account, to be used only in emergencies. Yet for twenty-somethings who are struggling with less-than-ideal starting salaries, paying off student loans and learning the finer points of adulting, it’s often hard to build one up.
If you’ve found yourself waiting with trepidation at the ATM machine hoping there’d be at least $20 left for you to withdraw, it’s time to get your act together now that you’re thirty.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to build up a proper emergency fund, one that’s worth 3 to 6 months of your monthly expenses (your actual expenses, not what you’d spend if you had more self control), one that you never dip into unless it’s an absolute emergency, and not because “it was on sale”.
Have a proper financial or retirement plan
You’re now 10 years closer to retirement than you were at 20, so it’s time to put in place a proper plan for your finances and retirement. You might not have any wrinkles yet, but it’s definitely not too early to start planning for when you do.
Due to compounding interest, you have an immense advantage if you start planning for retirement earlier rather than later. So by not waiting till you’re in your forties or fifties to start, you could actually be enabling yourself to stop working many years earlier.
According to one 2016 survey, 1 in 3 Singaporeans hasn’t started planning for retirement, while another revealed that 46% of the respondents thought they would be forced to work beyond retirement age and 44% had not started saving at all. These are pretty dismal figures. Don’t be like these people and start planning before your next birthday.
Pay off all loans that aren’t for your home or car
For many Singaporeans, their biggest financial burden, one that they’ll carry for most of their lives, will be the purchase of a home. In addition, some of you might decide the time has come to give the MRT the finger and get a car.
But before you sign yourself up for such hefty financial commitments, make sure you’re debt-free in all other areas.
Hopefully you’ve already managed to pay off your study loans, if any, within the first few years of your career. Otherwise it’s time to dig your heels in and pay them off once and for all.
The other type of debt many 30-somethings are plagued with is credit card debt. If you’ve got a stubborn credit card balance you just can’t seem to pay off, that’s an emergency and warrants eating instant noodles for a few weeks/months till you get it sorted out.
Understand your insurance needs
Insurance really isn’t such a complicated concept, at least when it comes to the basic types that can benefit an individual. And no, we’re not talking about the investment-linked insurance plans that agents might already have tried to persuade you to buy.
Chances are you already bought some kind of health insurance plan when you were in your twenties, and that you just got whatever an agent recommended. It’s time to review your plan and compare it with the offerings of other insurers. You can do so easily using MoneySmart’s health insurance wizard.
You’re also reaching the point where you might have dependents, or people who you want to ensure are taken care of if something happens to you. These could be aged parents, your partner or your kids if you have them. If that’s the case, life insurance would be appropriate, so compare plans using MoneySmart’s life insurance wizard.
This story first appeared on Moneysmart, 16th March 2017.