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What should a Singaporean have by age 35?

Friday, July 27, 2012

I came across an article in Yahoo!Finance: "The 5 things every Singaporean should have by 35."

The 5 things the author listed are:

1.  A time deposit that would be maturing soon. He thinks that people should start by having a reliable investment scheme in their 20s and went on to say that fixed deposits are a good place to look... er...

2.  A relevant degree. He thinks that a degree is the norm these days and people should get a degree as soon as possible. He also thinks that a degree is the key to employability. I wonder if diploma holders might disagree and, also, I guess for those who are more entrepreneurial, a degree might not really be a necessity.

3. A job with a health plan. OK, this sounds kind of strange to me. It is as if one of the reasons for working for company ABC must be because it has comprehensive health benefits for employees... I would rather have a comprehensive personal medical insurance policy. After all, what if company ABC were to retrench me?

4. All rollover debts resolved. This means no credit card debts. I think we should not have any credit card debts no matter our age. It is the most expensive debt anyone could have! 24% interest per annum? Of course, there are balance transfer offers aplenty these days but they aren't exactly free either, are they? So, zero rollover debts from the day we get our credit cards, period.

5. At least one form of side income. He says it doesn't matter if it is forex trading, franchise ownership or a money making hobby. This is to provide for retirement and some extra spending money. I would agree to this but I would try to make it so that this side income is passive in nature. The side income should be such that it continues to flow in even if we should be incapacitated in one way or another.

The author probably means well but I cannot help but feel that the article was hastily written although it is obvious to me that the writer has a flair for writing.

I suppose people in different age groups would have different things to say about what we should have by age 35. What would you say are the things we should have by age 35?


INVS 2.0 said...

Hi Ak71,

The first point is a damned story. Fixed deposits are paying crappy deposit rates.

Second one sounds elitist to me. Degree is of course a must for A level graduates like me, who are having grave difficulties looking for a job. But for entrepreneurs, it is a waste of time and money because degree breeds follow-by-books mindset, which is a taboo to businesses.

Fourth one, I think he should emphasise more on car and house debts.

AK71 said...

Hi INVS 2.0,

Wow! I didn't expect anyone to comment on this blog post so quickly.

It would be interesting to hear more views from other readers on this one. :)

wirbelwind said...

Hi AK71

I feel that the article is complete nonsense. I think it is dangerous to take advice from people like him. People who think that know a lot and trumpet their "knowledge".

That being said I think it is a lesson learned about giving advice to others. Dont act pro when you are not one, and be humble and conservative with your choice of words

Sheng Shi

AK71 said...

Hi Sheng Shi,

That is a very good reminder to one and all. I try to refrain from commenting on matters which I do not have a good understanding of as well. It is not just about being repsonsible, of course... ;p

JCK said...

A Good Wife.............

AK71 said...


Why at age 35? ;)

Komatineni said...

I saw the story yesterday too but didn't expect AK71 comments :)

That's a story with a nice title but with little/no good content inside the article.

If everyone were to have a FD that should meet house downpayment; no debt; good job with benefits; passive income source & education, then it's all done.

Ray said...

seems more applicable to the US than to Singaporeans.
Job with a health plan.... that's only applicable for the US whose health care is expensive if the company doesn't subsidize. In Singapore, basically companies do not subsidize that much (as far as I know), it's all up to your own insurance. We are famously NOT a welfare state. If govt already stated they wont take the responsibility, why would the private companies want to shoulder that responsibilities? This article is definitely a copy job from some overseas article in my opinion.

AK71 said...

Hi Ray,

Ah, that is a very sharp observation. Now that you say it, it does have an American flavour.

AK71 said...

Hi Komatineni,

Yes, I was somewhat surprised that the article got through the filters at Yahoo!Finance. This is assuming that that there are filters, of course.

JCK said...


Dont know...a good wife seems a good thing to have at 35yrs :)

AK71 said...


Haha.. OK, I will walk on thin ice a bit now. ;p

Well, do we need marriage? Yes, if we want children and if we want to buy a new HDB flat.

Otherwise, we just need a good companion. Not necessarily a wife

If we are the marrying type, then, a good wife at any age is good. :)

Stock Shrimps said...

Happiness. Defined in your own terms.

Before the age of 35, really ought to know what you desire and to be achieving it.

The rest, like degrees, money... are these not just instruments to help you find those experiences that gives you satisfaction and happiness?

AK71 said...

Hi Stock Shrimps,

You are right! What is the point of using someone else's checklist only to end up unhappy?

For sure, in our modern day society, to be happy, we need financial well being but financial well being alone would not guarantee happiness.

Stock Shrimps said...

Thanks AK71 :) So true, still need money to buy things, pay loans, avoid troubles.

I met a friend recently. He believes he's not the marrying kind. Even a good wife would probably provide him grief.

I'm reminded of an idea, but can't remember source, along the line of: "don't be trapped in the idea that you need to spend and to own brands/things to be happy. You can be happy with experiences and some experiences are free."

AK71 said...

Hi Stock Shrimps,

Definitely, we cannot do without money but we shouldn't be obsessed with money. Money is just another tool in our lives. :)

Your friend has the most important knowledge of all: self-knowledge. People without self-knowledge could end up always doing things which they feel are expected of them. They suffer in silence.

I have quite a few friends who are married and now tell me that they envy me for being single. They (both males and females alike) told me that they would choose to stay single if given another chance. Statistics show that divorces are on the rise in Singapore too.

As for spending money and owning branded stuff, that is the way for some people. I know quite a few people like that. :)

Well, if they can afford it, not so bad. Those who are using credit in order to own these branded goods need to wake up.

A friend told me it is really peer pressure. So, mixing around with the "right" crowd helps. I know what peer pressure is like. I was a teenager once. ;p

Anonymous said...

Hi Ak71,

Well, diploma holder here :)

I have noticed before that this author usually writes reasonable articles, but I have to agree that this was hastily written. I am a diploma holder who went on to take a part-time degree, though I have never thought that a degree is necessary. It’s condescending to say that people with O-levels probably won’t get to senior-management positions.

Getting a degree is just what the majority does, and if that makes it a norm, then I am proud to say that I am abnormal.

Incidentally, I have written something about “35 years old” also, Please remove the link if unsuitable.

Kong Zi says “三十而立, 四十而不惑”. I think the most important thing for a 35 year old to have is self-realisation.

AK71 said...

Hi Happy Pork Belly,

Thanks for sharing the link to your blog post. It is very interesting!

I have not read any other articles by Ryan before. Maybe I should. I am always reading stuff online anyway. :)

As for what Kong Zi said, I had to get it translated. ;p

"At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning.
At thirty, I stood firm.
At forty, I had no doubts.
At fifty, I know the decrees of Heaven.
At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth.
At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right."

Very, very interesting! It is also kind of sad because I will be 41 this year and I cannot say that I am free of doubts... :(

Kyran Tan said...

It reminds me of the common saying that by 30 years old i wanna achieve $1 million dream.

Personally, I will be contented if i don't need to beg, borrow or steal to survive with some $ in the bank account for rainy days.

Whether you can have $10k, $100k or $1 million in the bank account is enough is really subjective isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ak71,

Haha, I once thought I could stand firm when I reached thirty. I am 34 now, but still a bit wobbly!

FoodieFC said...


notice how everything got to do with money? I find it weird

Novice198 said...

Hi Guys,
I guess I can talk like the wise old man, maybe not wise but older than most of you. At 53 I have come to realise that time and health are the most precious things in this world. Time once wasted cannot be recouped, and no matter how much money you have you will not be enjoy it if you are unhealthy.
Surprised to note that many married people would like t b single given a chance. I am not sure whether they know / understand the feelings they will experience to return back to the empty home everyday of the week. If they say that would be having a livein companion so there would be somebody to go back to then these people are running away from commitment. I am not passing any judgement on anybody, to each his own.

AK i stumbled across your blog and I am impressed. Have sent a separate mail to you and awaiting a response from your end.

AK71 said...

Hi Kyran,

I am quite sure I did not have $1m at age 30 although I have friends who managed it. There is something magical about having $1m, it would seem.

I also have a friend who told me that his sister would feel poor even if she had $2m in her bank account. They come from a family of multi-millionaires.

So, yes, wealthy or not is a rather subjective thing.

AK71 said...

Hi Happy Pork Belly,

Time for both of us to pull up our socks! ;p

AK71 said...

Hi FoodieFC,

Sigh... Isn't that the truth? Pretty sad but almost everything is about money in our society.

I try to constantly bear in mind that achieving a meaningful passive income stream is for a higher purpose in life.

AK71 said...

Hi Encik (aka rsm),

I always appreciate the wisdom of older people. Thank you for sharing your perspective on things.

I do have a different perspective on commitment. I believe one could be committed to one's partner without marriage. It certainly beats getting married only to divorce later on. It definitely beats a person who is married but has extra-marital affairs.

So, for a long time, I have believed that marriage in Singapore is really to give legitimacy to children born of that relationship or to buy a new HDB flat. ;)

I am happy that you have stumbled upon my blog. Please come by often. :)

AK71 said...

Hi rsm,

I just checked my mailbox but did not see any email from you.

Here is my email address:

You might wanna try resending. :)

meesiam said...

well, i am hitting 35 next year....glad that i fulfilled 4 out of 5 listed on my own after working for 10yrs.the next 10 yrs is on health and time...and of course time=money.

as for the 6th that is added along the discussion : Family.

well, i would say, it would be grateful and thankful if i find the right person for marriage.

since i have not, i just spend the time and effort with my family and friends.

It is not really a big deal for not getting a good wife/ husband esp in SG.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

Looking back, I realise I've learnt a lot from my 2 years of NS!

Life is indeed:

Own time own target; fire!

Some shoot finish earlier than others :)

Some shoot other people's targets :(

Some aim too long and run out of time :(

Some just can't squeeze the trigger :(

Some are marksman :)

Some are boh boh shooter :(

AK71 said...

Hi meesiam,

I was just informed late last night that Dennis Ng passed away a couple of evenings ago at age 43. Heart attack.

Recently, I have been hearing about Singaporeans in their 40s dying suddenly. This is really scary.

Unhealthy diets? Work stress? Late nights? Beer drinking? Smoking? Too many worries? A sedentary lifestyle?

Yes, I agree that we should focus on our health and family.

AK71 said...


Indeed so. I always tell people that they should not compare themselves with others. Set targets for themselves and try to hit those targets. Set higher targets each time they manage to hit the existing one. We should set our own pace. :)

Of course, it is difficult not to compare with others. I have this failing too although its occurrence has lessened as I age.

Kyran Tan said...

I am hitting 32 this year and likewise I do not have a wife, not even a gf. After my last gf, I realise that love will hit u at the most unexpected of times. No point fretting and making yourself worry. Worrying will only make u sick. I am learning to do things and enjoy things at my own pace. Learn to appreciate things in life even if I am a boh boh shooter hahaha

AK71 said...

Hi Kyran,

Oh yes, I always say what will be will be. Some things, we just have to leave it to Fate, especially if those things involve more than one person (i.e. ourselves). ;)

Actually, I do not think that being single is such a bad thing. I don't quarrel with myself although I talk to myself sometimes... actually, many times...

It has taken me quite a bit of time to become rather ZEN about many things in life and I still have some distance to go and I am going to be 41 this year. Not getting younger.

I constantly try to be a more considerate person. I care about others just like how I would also like others to care about me.

Through my actions, I try, firstly, not to be a burden to others and, secondly, to bring happiness to more. :)

Kyran Tan said...

Hi AK, it is always enlightening for me to hear the point of view from someone more experienced in life and wiser than me. I am a believer that experience is life's best teacher. No number of paper qualifications will beat that. They only serve to supplement your analytical skills.

No doubt I am still a long way to being a happy individual without having to depend on others for that. That is a challenge and I will take baby steps to reach there haha

AK71 said...

Hi Kyran,

Yes, take baby steps but think big! :)

As for depending on others, well, all of us have some growing to do, some of us more than others. It is a necessary stage in our lives.

We, in turn, should help others. This will grow the circle of people who would walk towards financial freedom over time. :)

Kyran Tan said...

Yes Sir! Haha

AK71 said...

That's the spirit! Stiff upper lip and soldier on! ;p

Mad Stranger said...

Hi AK,
I disagree with most of the author's advices as well. Maybe you can write your version of "What should a Singaporean have by age 35?"

AK71 said...

Hi Mad Stranger,

To tell you the truth, I don't see such articles as being meaningful simply because everyone's circumstances are different. There is no need to set specifics which everyone should hit by a certain age. Such articles are mostly just attention grabbing.

I rather prefer having certain principles and practices in life which we should adhere to regardless of age. This is meaningful. :)

Novice198 said...

Hi AK71,
I resent the message to you from my gmail account. did you recv it.

AK71 said...

Hi rsm,

Nope, I am afraid not. Maybe, check to see if you keyed in my email address correctly. :)

I just received an email from another reader using a gmail account. So, gmail should be OK.

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