UNAVOIDABLE DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR). Yes, you didn’t read that wrong. It’s that ministry that takes care of the environment, water, and food security. I know, I know, it seems like a stretch but really, there’s a lot in common between food security and financial security.
You’ll find that out very soon.
Be featured on a list of high performing people under 30 (30 under 30)
Buy a car.
Buy your first condo.
There are a lot of personal and financial goals out there you might think are unattainable.
But here’s one we’re arguing for that is a lot more reasonable, and perhaps even necessary:
When you turn 30, work towards having 30% of your income from sources outside your day job. (Hopefully you achieve this goal by your 40s.)
That means if you’re the median Singapore salary with a $3,600 take-home-pay, that would mean earning an extra $1,542 a month through some way that is not your day job.
|Your take home salary (70%)||Your other income sources (30%)||Your total take home
|$2,400 ($3,000 before CPF)||$1285||$4,285|
|$3,600 ($4,500 before CPF)||$1,542||$6,042|
|$6,000 ($7,200 before CPF)||$2,571||$8,571|
Why do we think that’s important? One word. Diversification. You already diversified in your investments, so why not your income as well?
And here lies our MEWR analogy that has deep ties with food security.
Singapore is heavily reliant on imports, the same way you are on your job income
As you might know, Singapore is one of the most food-secure nations in the world, despite not having a lot of natural resources or agricultural land, for that matter. We score high on international food security indexes. This means that our people have access to affordable, quality food to meet their nutritional needs.
Since colonial times, Singapore has always been importing our food. More than 90% of it. Now, imagine yourself as Singapore – this would be the equivalent of you getting your main source of income through your job.
Instead of relying on a single country, Singapore went on to build up its list of countries and regions to import from to over 170. So while the threats to food security could range from climate change or price fluctuations, we could rely on this diversity.
The human equivalent of this? It would be continuously upskilling and being a generalist instead of being a narrow-field specialist. Maximising your employability.
That said, for the times we live in, this simply isn’t good enough. COVID-19 has shown us how quickly and rapidly the world can change.
You might be saving $3,500 as an air stewardess one month, for example, and going to almost zero income in a matter of weeks.
When it comes to food security, the challenges can vary from COVID-19 to climate change. The former can affect the way food imports find their way to Singapore. Climate change affects how well crops grow in other countries.
The personal finance challenges that an individual might face?
AI and automation, reduced job security, and the worldwide backlash towards the globalisation movement – something that Singapore owes much of its prosperity to.
That’s why we must diversify our income even further
To counter the challenges of food security, MEWR advocates the 30 by 30 goal: an ambitious goal of being able to satisfy 30% of the country’s nutritional needs with locally produced food by 2030.
Food grown here may not always be as affordable vs imports, but it does have a big selling point: control and stability (and freshness, important for food, but who cares if your money is fresh amirite).
Likewise, additional income streams will probably never replace your main job, but they form a crucial part to adding to your financial stability.
That’s why we are working towards a 30 over 30 target for ourselves, to have at least 30% of our income coming from other sources once we are over the age of 30.
Here are some ways of earning side income we may want to consider:
Rental income: Most Singaporeans are averse towards sharing a home, but being a stay-in landlord easily has one of the lowest barriers of entry. You don’t need any special skills. If you’ve a spare room, you can consider renting out for between $500 to $1000, depending on where you live.
Need more money? Swallow a bit of pride and rent out the master bedroom instead. If you live in a central enough location, you could actually bump this all the way up to $1,800.
Side Hustle: For those of you who don’t own a home, this is probably the most viable choice.
Popular options that always come up involve giving tuition, being a driver/delivery person, writing freelance, offering translation services or helping people build websites.
Truth be told, there are heaps of ways you can make money. But they’ll often demand that you put hours after work. As someone who has done it, I can attest that this can be demanding.
Our suggestion is that your side hustle should be something that your main job can benefit from. That way, you can also use this to get a more lucrative job in the future. You can also earn more from your side hustle if you leverage your expertise in a subject matter, for example, you can conduct weekend drawing classes if you are a professional illustrator.
Dividend from stocks: This is probably the hardest one for people to achieve. To get an extra $1,000 a month, you’d need $300,000 invested, earning you 4% p.a. Out of reach for most people, but for high wage earners, or people who started early, this would be more realistic.
If possible, do all of the above
That way, you’d have even further diversification. For instance, you could rent out a room for $700, teach tuition to earn another $500, and get $300 per month in dividends. That would still be an extra $1,500 monthly.
Not too shabby.
Wah… sounds damn tiring leh.
Look, we know the idea of going out there to secure income sources is not a pleasant thing. 30% of your income from outside your day job? It’s definitely not an easy thing to achieve.
Some might find it harder than others, your day job might prevent you from moonlighting, you might work a lot of overtime, or have too many other commitments outside of work.
That’s fine, we’re not saying it’s a MUST; look at it as a challenge that will probably help you become more resilient to disruption. It might even help you discover a new main hustle for the future.
Some of us with more rigid mindsets might also oppose the notion conceptually, looking back to say that our parents never needed to do this.
But we live in very different times. Our parents grew up in a time where you could work one job, and one job alone. People would stay for 10 years for each career. This was a time where salarymen in Japan were guaranteed a job for LIFE.
Make no mistake, COVID-19 has shown us what we’ve needed to see for a long time.
That’s why whether you are a country, or an individual, it’s important to diversify on multiple levels. And hopefully not wait too long to do it.
The rules around job (and food) security have changed.
Singapore is adapting accordingly.
So should we.
Stay woke, salaryman
Learn more about MEWR’s 30 by 30 plan here.