When I embarked on my first job after graduating, my mother recommended I get two bank accounts -- not because I have a lot of money, but so I can have separate ‘spending’ and ‘saving’ accounts.
Save first, spend later
Each month, a set amount of my pay check goes into the ‘spending’ account. These are meant for daily and fixed expenses. The funds in my ‘saving’ account on the other hand, remain untouched save for big expenses like annual insurance premiums or that dream vacation.
While this ‘save first, spend later’ rule sounds simple enough, I have also become more aware of how this rule affects everyone differently as I grow older.
For instance, everyone has their own saving goals in terms of how much they are hoping to, and are willing to save. Those who are less privileged simply do not have the luxury of putting aside much money after accounting for fixed expenses.
One thing my parents have always reminded me however, is that the comfort of being financially stable is not something to be taken for granted.
“You never know what will happen in the future,” my mum would tell me, stressing the importance of accumulating savings to be prepared for big-ticket items like my own home, or a rainy day, like an unexpected illness.
Focusing on being prepared for the future
My parents sometimes criticise my purchases which then makes me wonder if I am not saving enough.
Living frugally means I can build up quite a bit of savings with time, but it can also easily turn into an unhealthy obsession, making it key for me to understand how to keep the balance between being frugal and being prepared and safe.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to save money at every possible opportunity — I enjoy finding a great deal. But when trying to be frugal leads to a constant need to scrimp and save on every penny and eventually, an irrational amount of worry and anxiety, we have to ask ourself how much saving is ‘worth it’.
How thrifty is too thrifty? I don’t have a good answer for this, but it is likely that the perfect equilibrium between financial security and spending on things we care about is different for everyone.
Some people prefer to spend on experiences, like holidays or a particular hobby, but spend way less when it comes to buying items like clothes or food for themselves. Others may find that they do not get much joy from spending on themselves, instead preferring to splurge on gifts for people they love.
This is not something that can be easily taught, in school or by a family member. It’s something that we have to figure out for ourselves as part of the adulting journey, based on our own financial situation and life goals.
It also means that what’s most important is not what we spend (or do not spend) on, but rather, how we are able to prepare for our future.
Learning to keep my money safe
My mother is someone who meticulously keeps every receipt and checks the price of each line item to make sure that she has not been overcharged (also to ensure that all the discounts are keyed in correctly).
This habit of tracking each and every financial transaction is something that I’ve learnt from her. Checking my transactions regularly means I can catch any unauthorised transactions quickly.
Thanks to digital statements and the ease of mobile banking apps, this habit has evolved to be much easier (and safer), and I no longer have receipts stuffed in my wallet.
Another thing that bugs my parents a lot these days? Scam texts, phone calls and emails.
We have all been the recipients of dodgy automated calls claiming to be from a certain bank or government agency, or emails trying to get us to enter our PIN because our account has been “locked”.
For many of us who have loved ones, particularly those who belong to the older generations, the worry that they will fall prey to scams and have their precious savings wiped out is a very real one.
When we were younger, our parents helped keep our money safe. Now that we are older, it seems like the tables have turned and it’s now our turn to help them do the same.
Rise in online banking fraud
These days, online banking fraud is becoming increasingly prevalent.
It was recently reported that a 90-year-old woman in Hong Kong was scammed of millions by fraudsters pretending to be government officials. Singapore is not immune to this - a woman’s 60-year-old mother was scammed of her life savings over a Viber call.
When it comes to protecting our loved ones, especially those who are less tech-savvy, it is important for them to be aware of what these scams might look like.
Scams come in all shapes and forms. One of the most common however, is phishing, where an email or SMS message from an organisation masquerading as a bank baits the recipient into giving away personal details.
Or it could involve impersonation, where a fraudster pretending to be a bank employee calls an individual and have them hand over information or control of their bank accounts and SingPass account.
Tips to guard against scams
Where possible, we should gently encourage our loved ones to be wary of such emails and messages with three simple tips.
1. When receiving a message or call, purportedly from a bank, they should always verify the number or email by checking the bank’s official website.
2. They should also familiarise themselves as much as possible with the bank’s security measures. Small steps such as confirming that the URL of the website in the address bar is the same as their bank’s and making sure that the authentication process is the same as their previous experience, go a long way in staying safe from scams.
3. Another key thing for them to remember is to never disclose their OTP or login credentials to anybody.
Through educating our loved ones and actively sharing measures to guard against scams, we can help protect their money and keep their finances safe in the same way they helped to protect ours when we were younger.
Protect your parents and loved ones from scams by sharing these tips with them.
Top photo credit: Alex Greene/Pexels, Michael Longmire/Unsplash
This sponsored article by Standard Chartered Bank is a reminder that scams are real and happening out there, and that we have a responsibility to protect our loved ones from it.