Besides queuing and complaining, eating is the next quintessential Singaporean past time. In particular, buffets are the perfect convergence of Singaporeans’ love of food and their need to win, also known as being kiasu.
Consequently, the typical Singaporean is pretty well-versed in getting the most out of all-you-can-eat buffets. There is much wisdom in tackling buffets that can shed light on personal finance too.
Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
When you’re hungry, its easy to overeat. The result is an agonising night, perhaps with more than one trip to the bathroom. Just as overeating causes health problems, and overextending yourself with loans and risky investments causes financial problems.
When you are hard up on cash, you might be impatient and more willing to take on quick-fix solutions. At such a time, one is most susceptible to quick personal loans, self-addressed cheques that banks send, or pawn shops that take collateral.
You shouldn’t also take on higher risk, high return investments just because you feel you’re lagging behind compared to your peers . When you think about it, those who are not in a strong financial position are precisely the ones who are ill-advised to take on loans or high risk investments.
Clear Your Debts First
You won’t go into a buffet with a full stomach, would you? If you do, your capacity to take in good food is much diminished, despite your best efforts and intentions.
Similarly, clearing your debts should be one of your financial priorities, with the sole exception perhaps being a housing loan, if you have a plan to manage it over the long run. Otherwise, you will be hampering your ability to increase your net worth, even if you have been making good investments.
Prioritise On The Important Things
The age-old advice we always strive to practice when visiting a buffet is to eat your money’s worth to break-even on your cost of entry to the buffet, then eat whatever you want.
In other words, be sure you cover your bases first when it comes to your financial planning. These could be saving for a home, having emergency funds, buying insurance, and so on. Whatever is left, you can save it for a holiday, overpay for an iPhone X, or splurge on retail therapy. At no point should you let the non-essential expenses in life derail you from what really matters.
Don’t Be Tempted Into Deviating From Your Plan
Everyone knows that carbohydrate-heavy food like rice, pasta, noodles and bread are littered around the buffet line in order to “tempt” you into abandoning your pre-determined plan and taking up valuable stomach real estate, leaving less space for the more expensive food offerings.
In your personal finance planning, you probably also have mid to long term goals like saving for your home, retirement planning and investing for the future. The harvest from these seedlings you plan will not bear fruit for years to come. Thus, you might sometimes be tempted by financial advisors or advertising campaigns to deviate from your plans in favour of “exciting” investment instruments.
Our advice? Consider carefully the opportunity costs of every new decision you make, in relation to your existing personal finance arrangements.
Save “Space” To Capitalise On Opportunities
We all know that we should always keep a buffer to be able to enjoy desserts or grab “highly sought after” foods that once they are replenished, like durian or lobsters. You can’t do that if your plate’s full with other things, or if you need to recover after stuffing your stomach.
The same principle applies for our personal finance. We need to have the flexibility to capitalise on opportunities that present themselves. Perhaps a stock that you have been eyeing dropped to a price that you’re comfortable to take a position in or retail bonds get issued by a reputable company. You can’t take advantage of new opportunities if everything you have is committed and cannot be liquidated quickly without incurring large losses.
More likely, you’re not at a buffet on your own. The same is true of your personal finance journey. Share ideas about new investment or insurance options you’re considering with your loved ones. Their perspectives can help ground you and keep you from making bad choices. Set up a meet up with a trusted personal advisor. Or connect with fellow Singaporeans through our DollarsAndSense Facebook Page.
We at DollarsAndSense are pleased and honoured to be serving you and we wish you a pleasant meal. Bon appétit!