After the New Year’s Eve party confetti settles, you’ll likely start thinking about how you want your 2022 to pan out. Your resolutions might include health-focused goals like quitting smoking or conquering a 10K by the time the year’s out, but don’t ignore your financial health. Taking stock of your finances might not immediately sound like an exciting undertaking, but you’ll be better off for it in the long run.
If you’re looking to evaluate your financial health, you’re in good company. Singaporeans are now paying more attention to financial management, reveals the results of the latest OCBC Financial Wellness Index, released in November 2021. The online survey of more than 2,000 working adults in Singapore, conducted from August to September 2021, showed the overall index score was 62 last year, up from 61 in 2020.
Through measuring 10 pillars of financial wellness – savings and gambling habits, regular investing, protection from emergencies, regular investing and financial reviews, excessive speculation, borrowing money, spending beyond means and managing debt – the survey results indicated that over the last two years, Singaporeans had grown more confident about accumulating sufficient funds to cover a crisis and to sustain six months of possible unemployment, while fewer had unsecured debt, and more were able to pay off housing loans.
“I’m glad that in our financial wellness index, we found that more Singaporeans have started to save, because of what we have been through the last two years,” says Tan Siew Lee, OCBC Bank’s head of wealth management in Singapore. “This pandemic has taught us not to think the world will be good forever; large unforeseen events like this can happen.”
The “Stashaway Insights 2021: How investors reacted to Covid-19” report, based on data from the wealth management platform’s client base, found a similar trend: Comparing before and after the pandemic, the proportion of survey respondents who reported saving more than half their income rose four percentage points to 11 per cent.
“Covid put many families into financial hardship,” says Amanda Ong, country manager of Stashaway Singapore. “This reality forced many people, even those who were not directly affected, to start thinking more actively about their finances and ensuring that they have an emergency fund in place. [This] ensures that you’ll be able to meet immediate expenses quickly without having to draw down on your investments, for example.”
Simply having a financial plan in place isn’t the end of the story. Siew Lee says a regular review of assets and liabilities keeps her on track, and makes sure she doesn’t overspend. “Once we set a plan, reviewing it is important,” she adds. “If not, your plan will be way behind what you need when you want to retire, or you may not have [the money you think you do] because inflation has started creeping in.”
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