Is having $100k by the age of 30 just a pipe dream?
“I’ll never get rich,” a friend exclaimed recently during a casual catch-up.
“I earn so little and I don’t think I’ll ever get $1 million. Heck, even $100,000 seems far off for now,” he lamented.
I was caught by surprise at his outburst, but decided to ask just how much he earned. It turned out his income was more than $3,000 a month – pretty decent for a fresh graduate in the first few years of his working life.
My friend was probably just despondent that, like most of us, his earnings fall far short of what investment bankers get. A fresh graduate in that rarefied field can earn more than $9,000 a month, I am told.
But is it true, as my friend frets, that it is impossible to get ahead financially on a regular salary? I decided to investigate this claim, taking as my starting point the question of whether a fresh graduate can reasonably expect his savings and investments to chalk up to that nice, round figure of $100,000 within six years of work.
These calculations were for a male starting work at the age of 25 after two years of national service and four years of university, and who is hoping to hit the target by age 30.
For the sake of the exercise, the starting pay was taken as $3,050 – the median salary for a fresh university graduate last year, meaning that half of them earned at least that. The graduate was assumed to get a 4.5 percent pay rise yearly, and 15 months of salary a year, including the 13th month, plus two months of bonus.
He was then taken to save 20 percent of his take-home pay, after Central Provident Fund contributions. This is the minimum savings target for young adults without large financial commitments, say financial advisers.
The graduate would have two options in dealing with his savings. First, he could put them all in the bank at almost zero interest rate, as has been the case for the past five years since the financial crisis.
Or he could save 40 percent for a rainy day, and take some risks by investing 60 percent in the stock market, where he may expect a yearly return of around 6 percent – the average annual return of the Straits Times Index over the past 10 years.