This article was written in collaboration with DBS. All views expressed in the article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg. You can refer to our Editorial Policy here.
Singapore has one of the most well-educated populations in the world, a very generous tax regime, and low unemployment rates. With all these, you would think that achieving financial independence shouldn’t be difficult for the average Singapore worker.
Yet, it is not uncommon to hear complaints about the rat race, being perpetually broke, and struggling with the rising cost of living. So, what gives?
Perhaps the key to achieving good financial health that is seemingly always just out of reach, is not unlike that dream six-pack beach body – that is, cultivating the small but foundational habits required for us to succeed. Let us explain.
Here’s Why We Often Fail At Achieving Our Long-Term Financial And Life Goals
You don’t have to look very far to find an abundance of diets and workout routines, each claiming to have proven results and a convincing logical basis. But if that’s the case, why is becoming fitter a new year’s resolution that most people perpetually cannot seem to fulfil?
The field of behavioural economics tell us that big changes are the result of small, seemingly insignificant steps every single day, week, month, and throughout the entire year. The effects of our positive (or negative) efforts compound, leading to us achieving great results we can only perceive after some time.
For example, every cup of bubble tea you don’t drink, or exercise session you choose to perform even when you don’t feel like it, eventually leads to better health and fitness. However, the lack of immediate gratification and indication that you’re on the right path quickly leads to the sapping of motivation and abandonment of the plan – at least until next year when it gets added back to the list of regrets resolutions.
Without Good Financial Habits, We Cannot Achieve Our Financial Goals
We cannot afford to ignore the fact that it is in identifying what daily actions we need to take, that will get us from where we are right now, to our financial goals.
For example, achieving our goal to accumulate a certain amount of emergency savings or investment war chest lies in putting off purchases we want (but don’t actually need), and shaving off expenditure whenever possible, while monitoring various aspects of our finances to ensure we’re not racking up costs unknowingly.
Cents accumulate into dollars, and dollars accumulate into hundreds of dollars. Dozens of small decisions we make in a day accumulate into eventually achieving our financial goals.
Using Tools To Aid In Cultivating Positive Financial Habits
So far, we’ve probably not told you anything you don’t already know, at least intuitively. The seemingly unsurmountable challenge lies in actually doing what we know.
To help you stay motivated and on track to hitting your financial goals, platforms like the newly-revamped DBS NAV Planner can be a game-changing tool . For the uninitiated, DBS NAV Planner is an intuitive digital tool that helps you track, protect and grow your money, designed around a comprehensive financial planning framework.
Here’s are 6 features of DBS NAV Planner that can help you form positive financial habits, take appropriate actions, and remain on track to achieve your goals.
#1 Unified Dashboard To Monitor All Aspects Of Your Personal Finances
The focal point of the DBS NAV Planner is the NAV Planner Dashboard. For DBS/POSB customers, you can access the dashboard after you log in via internet banking or digibank, and click on the Plan tab on the top.
It gives you an instant high-level overview of your assets and liabilities, aggregated across your savings accounts, investment portfolio value, and even insurance policies. Furthermore, you can see your recent income and expenses, giving you a sense of your cashflow situation right now.
All this information across your DBS and POSB accounts, including past data, is displayed in the NAV Planner automatically, and to make it even more accurate, you can input information from other non-DBS/non-POSB accounts, such as savings accounts from other banks, your robo-advisor portfolio, or insurance policies from other insurers so you get a comprehensive view of all your finances in one place
#2 Allows You To Cultivate Discipline In Your Spending By Setting Personalised Budgets
Within the NAV Planner, you can set specific budgets for various spending categories, such as Bills, Utilities & Taxes, Shopping, Dining, Entertainment & Leisure, and more.
After setting your target budgets, DBS NAV Planner will automatically show you how you’re doing and let you know if you’re still within the budgets you set for yourself.
With this feature, you can get a better idea of where you tend to overspend, and see at a glance whether your actual spending habits matches your life priorities and goals.
#3 Celebration Of Big And Small Achievements Alike
One reason why people tend to make impulse purchases or succumb to wanderlust, even though that might not be the best idea for their wallets, is because spending money feels good, right now.
On the contrary, you don’t really get immediate gratification from buying insurance, making an investment, or saving more money.
DBS NAV Planner helps give you the encouragement and perhaps validation you need by letting you know whenever you hit a milestone, start to show a positive trend, or achieve one of the goals you set for yourself.
This gamification of your personal finances is an appreciated feature, which can be a powerful way to positively reinforce your efforts, leading to more of such efforts in future.
#4 Content To Keep You Inspired & Motivated
Tools and solutions are only useful if you understand the need for them, and how to use them for your individual situation.
The good thing about the DBS NAV Planner is that it comes with an extensive library of articles that get surfaced to you within the platform in a context-sensitive manner, allowing you to take charge of what you want to learn, when you want to learn.
You can read short explanations on a wide range of concepts like investment risk, types of insurance, and calculating loan interest rates, or delve into full-length articles that go in-depth into those topics.
#5 Provides Guidance On Steps You Can Take To Address Shortcomings
As the saying goes, if you keep doing the exact same thing, it would be insanity to expect different results.
We’ve explained the power of compounding small, positive behaviours, but the same applies for mistakes that we don’t rectify. To help us avoid mistakes, the DBS NAV Planner highlights areas where sub-optimal decisions that are being made, such as insurance coverage gaps or the lack of sufficient emergency savings.
By flagging potential problems automatically, you can get guidance on the next steps to take to improve your financial health. DBS NAV Planner has the added benefit of anonymity and privacy, since you don’t need to disclose private information to a personal banker or insurance agent.
#6 NAV Planner Is Always With You
As mentioned earlier, the key to long-term, sustainable changes is to keep doing it, so that small, positive changes have the opportunity to compound into something that has a big impact.
With this, you can look up on the condition of your current finances, and check your progress towards your financial goals – any time of the day, and wherever you are.
Give Your Financial Goals Another Go
Whatever tools you use to help cultivate good financial habits, we hope that this article gave you ideas and inspiration to take another crack at your financial goals, in small but significant step. Check out this infographic to find out how to develop financial habits that will actually last: