Investment vs Insurance- Which is More Important?

Whether we like it or not, when we become adults, we have to start thinking about our personal finances and planning our future. For those who have not been taught about finances (I know pretty much none of us learnt this in school), planning finances could be a daunting task. The words ‘investment’ and ‘insurance’ often fill people with dread; is it a scam? Why should I spend my money on that? Do I need it?

The long and short of it is, both are important and you need both. But is one more important than the other? Let’s look at both and see for ourselves.

There are lots of kinds of insurance products but they all cover one thing- loss. The whole point of insurance is that it covers us if something goes wrong. This may be a hospitalisation, a disability, an illness, or some other kind of liability that would set us back financially. It is meant for protection; protecting us from the adverse effects of not being able to work or financial hardships. Many people think that planning for these things, such as death or disability, is a morbid topic and a worst-case scenario. But good health is never guaranteed, and it’s always best to get these things sorted before it’s too late. Insurance products also become more expensive as you get older, so it’s best to start early, so that these payments don’t interfere with any of your future life stages like purchasing a house or sending your kids to school.

Investing is all about growing money for our future- we can either plan for a passive income stream, so that we don’t have to rely on work so much. Or, we can plan for capital gains, so that we have a nice chunk of money when we want it. The idea of making money with not necessarily putting too much effort in (check out my articles about passive investing), is an attractive one. And, if we make all this money, why do we even need insurance?

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is, it is unwise to have one without the other; investment increases our upsides, but insurance protects our downside. If you invest without being insured, you run the risk of losing it all should you fall sick or become hospitalised (also, can I just say, it’s very naïve to think you will stay healthy forever), especially if your investments are not enough to pay for your bills. If you just insure yourself without investing, you are selling yourself short, only planning for the bad things that can happen, and not planning for the good times ahead. It also means that you may have to constantly work and never be able to retire. Neither insurance nor investments will work on their own; you need to plan and review both in order to be financially successful.

A very important thing to take note of is that investments take a long time to accumulate, especially if you cannot set aside a lot of money to invest. Insurance policies cover you pretty much as soon as you get them. So, it’s always important to sort your insurance out first; once you are protected you can focus on growing your money.

But do remember that investing and insurance is never fixed and one-size-fits all. You need to constantly review your finances in order to keep up with your changing needs!

How I Planned My Finances

People often ask me how I became so financially literate and what I did to make myself financially stable. So, I thought I would share with you how I planned my finances in Singapore. First of all, I will say, I’m very lucky to have parents who taught me from a young age how to save and be frugal. But, moving to Singapore I realised I needed to do more than just save. So here’s how I did it.

Step One: Have an Emergency Fund

This first step was crucial, as you will see in my story later why. I saved 6 months’ salary in my bank account, as a buffer should anything happen. This meant that rent was never an issue, even with putting a deposit on a new rental and moving apartments. It also meant that I had less buyer’s remorse and I knew how much I could afford to spend on my days off.

Step Two: Spend Wisely

 Pre-covid, I travelled a lot. A lot of people, particularly those back home, would often ask me how I did it. It was really quite simple; I often travelled to countries where the Singapore dollar went far. I booked cheap accommodation and ate local food. This kept my budget quite low.

  Also, in Singapore I don’t tend to buy a lot of things. I mostly spend on going out for meals or activities with friends, which I find easier to manage, especially if the restaurants are cheap!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Step Three: Get Covered

Remember earlier I mentioned why an emergency fund is so important? Here’s why. In 2019 I found out I had to have an operation- it wasn’t a particularly big surgery, but it was a crucial one. My doctor had found a growth and was unsure if it was cancerous. It was causing me a lot of discomfort and affected my personal life greatly. I was told that the estimated bill would be roughly $19,000. Thankfully, I had health insurance. Even though foreigners have to pay the cost upfront, I managed to get every penny back through my hospital plan, even the doctor’s appointments leading up to the surgery. It was a massive relief. Luckily, I had the money upfront to pay, but can you imagine if I never got that back? Expats often see insurance as unimportant, maybe because healthcare is free back at home, but it’s a fact that Singapore is not a welfare state, so don’t treat it like one.

Step Four: Don’t Leave it Too Late

I went on to purchase critical illness coverage, as I knew deep down in the back of my head that having an operation at 25 (especially one where the C word comes up) is not normal. (I’m fine by the way, it wasn’t cancer.) So, I felt that it was best to be fully covered for critical illnesses. Hospital plans are not sufficient. Imagine if I were diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, and just had a hospital plan? It wouldn’t cover my change in lifestyle; having to take taxis everywhere; maybe hiring at home help; having to maybe order personalised meals. Not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t be able to work if I was going through chemo. A hospital plan definitely wouldn’t cover all of that.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Step Five: Invest

Ok so I had an emergency fund, I was protected and covered insurance-wise. Now what? How did I make my money grow quicker than leaving it in the bank? My current DBS account has an interest rate of 0.005%…. I’m not being funny but that’s rubbish. So, I took a portion of my savings and invested it in unit trusts. I purchased investment policies that contained a mixture of sub-funds that are managed by portfolio managers. I’m not one to sit and watch stocks and manage that by myself, so I’m very happy to let a professional do that for me. This will help me achieve my long-term goals of purchasing a property and having a very comfortable retirement.

I pride myself on not living paycheque to paycheque; I actually can’t remember the last time I did live like that! I always reflect on these five things and review how on-track I am with my financial goals. I hope this helps those who are confused on where to start. How do you plan your finances? If you feel that you have any questions or need any help, please do get in touch.

Reddit Vs Wall Street

Remember GameStop? That old shop where you would go to buy second hand video games? Well, yesterday they made big headlines…and here’s why.

Understanding a Short

  A short position is a trading technique, whereby short-sellers will borrow a stock that they think will drop in price, and buy them back at this lower price. Short sales have an expiration date- which means that sometimes short sellers have to act fast.

  A short squeeze occurs when the opposite happens; the stock sharply rises, forcing all those who predicted its downfall to buy to prevent even bigger losses. This inevitably drives the stocks even higher.  Short squeezes can happen when there is an unexpected positive news story (like Tesla, for example), or anything that can excite new buyers.

So what does that have to do with GameStop?

  In January 2021, a series of short squeezes ensued on several different stocks, including GameStop, AMC (remember, that cinema company?) and BlackBerry (everyone’s dream phone 15 years ago). Retail traders on Reddit page ‘Wallstreetbets’ banded together to drive the price of these stocks up, because they had found out that several hedge funds had short-sold them. This resulted in large price spikes, as the short-sellers were forced to buy back their stocks before incurring any more losses.

  Many users saw this as a way of getting back at hedge funds for the economic crisis in 2008. (Side note, if you haven’t watched The Big Short- you should. It explains the property crash perfectly.) It was almost as if all these users had become vigilantes, taking on the Big Bad Wall Street. Some on the website even donated their earnings to charity- how Robin Hood-esque of them.

Robinhood; take from the rich give to the…rich?

What’s not so Robin Hood-esque is what Robinhood did. Robinhood is a stock trading app; on Thursday 28th Jan 2021 it announced that it would block trading of GameShop, AMC and Blackberry shares. The free stock trading pioneer only allowed clients to sell positions, not open new ones. This provoked outrage among users and US politicians alike. A class- action lawsuit accused Robinhood of market manipulation and there are calls for the company to be investigated. The Senate banking committee said it would hold a hearing into the volatility.

  Many believe that this kind of move from Robinhood shows clear classism and bias in the financial world; that hedge funds in Wall Street can influence stock fluctuations, fat cats can reap the spoils of market volatility, but the average joe can’t. The users on Reddit merely played the short-sellers at their own game. What’s your opinion? Do you think that Robinhood was in the wrong? Or do you think that the stock market shouldn’t be manipulated by Reddit users?

A Bit About Me

Hi there,

First of all, thank you for visiting the site. On this page, I will be sharing with you some tips that expats should consider before making the big leap to invest in Singapore.

Thinking about money is often quite daunting, and we frequently put dealing with it to the bottom of our to-do list. I will be trying to make everyone’s lives a bit simpler, by addressing the main questions surrounding investing, along with dispelling some common myths.

Not only that, stay tuned for posts about my favourite places in Singapore; fun things to see and do; the best food and even local deals you might be interested in.

I moved to Singapore close to three years ago now, and I really wish that someone had given me a few pointers when I moved here. I’m happily settled now, and working in the finance industry- so I hope to share some insiders knowledge and insight with fellow expats here in Singapore!