Top Financial Regrets And How To Avoid Them

Jarrett Ng
·4-min read
 Don't let reckless spending and a lack of planning be your downfall.
Don't let reckless spending and a lack of planning be your downfall.
Don't let reckless spending and a lack of planning be your downfall. | Photo: 123RF

Adulting is hard.

Having to juggle the added responsibilities that come with being an adult? Scary sia.

And when it comes to expenses, it may well be a Thai horror movie at this point.

Ranging from bills, marriage, buying a house, starting a family, to the worst of all - adult transportation fees, there’re plenty of hefty expenses to look out for once adulting begins. And unless your bank account is equally hefty, you would likely need to control your expenses and constantly worry about having enough to pay up.

As a relatively new player in this adulting game - I’ve encountered plenty of situations where I’ve regretted not making the right financial decisions to improve my financial and mental well-being - and I’m here to share them with you.

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1. Not financially planning for retirement

Years ago, a friendly chat with a wise friend led us to the topic of finances and life (no, he’s not a financial advisor). We naturally discussed our retirement plans. “Eh bro, you said you wanna retire rich and travel the world - but how are you gonna finance it with just your savings sia?”, he said.

Retirement was a long way to go, and so I didn’t pay much mind to it and thought, well, I could just think about it when the time neared and get by with just my savings.

But I hadn’t thought of actually formulating a plan - a plan that would make my retirement dreams possible. I did the calculations and the realisation hit me like a truck - unless I was making an ultra-hefty salary, I wouldn’t be able to afford what I wanted to do at the age of 65. That’s my first regret - by not financially planning for retirement, I had already started on the wrong path.

With the help of online resources, I then calculated how much I’d need to retire comfortably with the lifestyle I wanted to live, at my desired age of retirement. Now that I had a goal, I could focus on what I needed to do to get to that goal and get on the right path to retirement.

Thinking of what to do during retirement is fun - but thinking of the finances involved and what to do to get there is necessary.

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2. Not investing earlier and compounding

Thinking of financing my retirement naturally led me to explore investing as an option to grow my wealth. Reading up on investing, the second regret quickly hit me - I should've started this so much earlier lah!

How did I come to that realisation? Compound interest. This refers to the interest earned on top of interest already earned. More time spent accumulating interest means more compounding, which also means you stand to earn more. Time heals all wounds, indeed.

A good example would be putting your money into an investment that earns you 10% returns, on average, annually. Putting $1,000 in that investment means it would turn into $1,100 at the end of year one. In year two, this 10% return would be applied to $1,100, so you would stand to earn $1210. Over a long period, it would add up to a pretty substantial amount. After 35 years, this investment would be worth over $28,000!

See how you can easily enhance your returns with time? That’s the power of compounding and starting early when it comes to investing. Huat ah.

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3. Not budgeting and keeping track of expenses

I used to be pretty lax with spending. If something interested me, I bought it. Didn't matter if it was necessary or unnecessary.

This habit stuck with me throughout my youth and even in my early years as an adult. I could get by financially when I was younger, but as an adult, my reckless spending only got worse due to my increased earning power. This caused my liabilities to build up, and eventually, I was depleting my savings and falling behind on my payments.

I came to the natural realisation that this habit needed to come to an abrupt halt. This became my third regret - I wasn’t mindful of my expenses. I didn’t budget my finances properly and allowed my spending to spiral out of control.

I eventually stuck to a 50-20-30 plan to budget my monthly income appropriately: 50% was reserved for necessary expenses, 20% for leisure expenses, and 30% for savings and investments. I quickly got my finances back in order and still stick to the plan religiously to this day.

It feels extremely shiok once you’ve got your finances all planned out, as you can make luxury purchases stress-free knowing that you’re within your budget.

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