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18 Nov 2021
SOURCE: CPF Board
Chase your dreams. Follow your passions. Do what you love.
You’ve probably seen posts with inspirational slogans plastered all over social media, with a common thread of urging you to go forth without fear to follow your dreams.
But in Singapore, we are often told that our dreams and passions may run counter to economic and material pursuits. The latter should be prioritised if we want to be successful. It does not help that our Asian Mum or Dad tends to veer on the side of pragmatism and they often like to ask, “Can your dreams pay the bills?”
Before you give in to the pragmatist inside you, here’s why it’s possible and important to juggle your dream and financial goals.
As a Bioprocess Engineer with Shiok Meats – a cell-based meat and seafood company, Xavier works on the R&D and engineering aspects of bringing delicious and sustainable seafood to our tables.
While Xavier is passionate about his area of work, there are other dreams that he holds dear too.
Xavier and BOB, his 9-year-old Shih Tzu
A dog-lover since young, Xavier has been taking up a pet grooming course on Saturdays together with his girlfriend.
Learning grooming techniques, including styling and pedicures, opened his eyes towards the possibility of doing this full-time in the future. At the same time, his friends have been fortunate (or trusting?) enough to get free grooming sessions for their pets, allowing him to put his skills to the test.
In the longer term, he sees himself becoming more involved in different aspects of the pet industry.
Actively making plans for his life wasn’t always second nature to him. In Xavier’s own words, he used to have a YOLO mindset, like many young Singaporeans.
But when his mom passed away a few years ago, he had to step up. Handling her assets was new to him, but he eventually realised how much she had saved over the years. This sparked a personal interest to develop an understanding for personal finance and future-planning.
Even though Xavier’s been only working for four years, he has started planning for his retirement by making prudent decisions for current milestones, like planning for his upcoming wedding, buying his own house while making sure he will not have to worry when he’s in his 60s and if he has kids, not becoming a burden to them.
And of course, working towards funding his pet-grooming dreams.
Before Xavier started working, he was sceptical about CPF. He was indignant that a percentage of his monthly pay went into his CPF accounts, and did not understand why he had to wait for so many years before he could get his money back, amongst others. But once he started working, he decided to make an effort to understand CPF better and how it can help him.
Soon enough, after getting a deeper understanding of CPF and the various ways in which it benefits him, he became a believer in CPF. So much so that he joined a CPF volunteer event this year to meet like-minded people. Through that experience, Xavier learnt that he enjoys advocating and educating others about financial planning.
“I believe everyone should actually take time to learn the facts about CPF, and pass on that knowledge to others who need it”
Xavier has also started making active steps to secure his future, by investing his Ordinary Account (OA) savings through the CPF Investment Schemes (CPFIS) and Endowus.
For a start, Xavier says that it is crucial for everyone to find your purpose. It may not be apparent to you now but do spend time to give thought to what you are passionate about. In the meantime, you can start to save and make prudent financial decisions that will help you fund your purpose. Once you do find your purpose, you will be able to pursue it whole-heartedly without being held back by financial considerations. And it’s important that we are open and flexible when making plans towards the purpose. Plan A may not work, so it's good to have a plan B, and plan C, and not lose faith along the way.
Xavier feels that young Singaporeans shouldn’t go towards the other end and fully turn their backs on the path towards financial success. “While working, we are all trading time, blood, sweat and tears just for a paycheque. But that paycheque helps to secure our financial future, and at the same time it can support our dreams.” That mindset has fuelled his ability to take pet-grooming classes every week without worry.
Unlike the Singaporean Dream which is often an individual chase for social-economic standing, the dream life Xavier aspires to have has an element of “us”. This means to impact the lives of others as well. Giving connects people, and it makes them happier and healthier. Furthermore, giving is not just about money, as help can always come in the form of sharing time or ideas. That is why Xavier chose to be a CPF volunteer and help people around him to understand more about financial planning.
“Instead of the Singaporean Dream, I will say success for me is a state where I am able to contribute to the less fortunate, ensure my loved ones are taken care of and all while making sure I made plans for my own future where I won’t ever add a burden onto the shoulders of my loved ones.
It is not what I have achieved or gained, but what I have given.”