For many of us, growing up, we assumed that our lives would follow a similar path as our parents’: a long career at a company after concluding our studies, followed by a well-deserved retirement.
Today, such a linear life journey seems less likely. Millennials are a generation of opportunity, both in the opportunities we’ve created for ourselves, and what’s available to us. From further education to career development or following a different path in life, we are changing how we define our milestones and goals. For two Prudential customers in particular, that has never been truer for them, than in this year.
Marie Wee and Darren Ho didn’t think they would be affected by the economic downturns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Marie was working in a media startup and Darren had been a core team member for a well-established media and e-commerce company. But the economic downturn ended up giving them the chance to re-write their scripts and make new, incredible changes in their lives.
For Marie, 42, she finally decided to start her own company, Marie Wee LLP, specialising in event planning with a charity element, for luxury brands. She had the idea to start her own business for some time, and finally found the courage to take the leap. It’s still in the early days, but her business is taking off steadily, with her selling out seats for the pre-opening of Restaurant Euphoria by Chef Jason Tan and a wine-pairing lunch at Saint Pierre.
Darren, 38, found himself made redundant and decided that it was time for him to upskill with a new professional certificate. He enrolled in Grow with Google for a digital marketing course. He’s had plans to move into the advertising field, and is currently studying while working freelance for an advertising agency.
Living Multiple Lives, Not Just One
Both have gone through personal and professional transitions and have had to make big changes to their lives. “Change is only scary when it’s not managed or controlled,” says Darren.
For Marie, the biggest change to her life occurred two years after the birth of her first son. As she was going through a difficult personal situation at the time, she made the decision to take a break from her career to focus on spending more time with her son while working as a freelance writer to support her family. “I moved back in with my mum and hired a nanny to help out, so that I could have the flexibility to work and spend precious time with him, while managing my finances,” she recalls. She even acquired a real estate license so she could have an alternate income stream.
After her son started schooling, she decided that it was time to return to full-time work. But instead of going back to her previous career, she chose to explore something new. She ended up joining a PR firm focused on the F&B and hospitality industry, where she took on a business development role. Says Marie, “I thought that it would be interesting to explore other roles I might excel in. It wasn’t a difficult transition since I came from a related field. But it felt great to know I could make it in a different industry.”
After five years in public relations, she returned to the publishing industry to join a startup by ex-colleagues because she craved writing and sharing stories of human interest and experience. Their entrepreneurship is in part what gave her the courage to start something new by herself. While a small part of her wishes she had taken this step earlier, she’s thankful for the many learning curves she’s gone through.
“Looking back, I can see how everything’s come together to give me the skills I need to be a businesswoman - the life skills from meeting and interviewing CEOs, entrepreneurs and more; sales experience from doing business development during my PR days; to managing people and events. My career changes have empowered me to run my business confidently and with more ease than I'd expected,” she smiles.
Marie was empowered to take the leap to start her own company.
Similarly, after a decade working at the same company, Darren too decided that he needed to start afresh in his career. “I’ve always defined my work by what I was learning from it. I learnt something new with each role but after a while, that stopped. I had been cruising along for the better part of a year and I needed to experience something new and different,” he recalls
He quit his job and decided to take a break. He wound up travelling for several months. “I spent time across all of Western Europe taking in the arts, culture, history and design. I took up photography as a hobby and after I came back to Singapore, I decided to go diving all across Asia, to rediscover the beauty of nature. I had time to really think about what I wanted to achieve, and it wasn’t about having a corporate job.” he comments.
Photos taken by Darren, a freelance writer and travel enthusiast.
But when he finally settled down home, he received an offer to work for a small media and e-commerce firm, which intrigued him. “E-commerce is something I’ve always been curious about, so I took on the role happily, even though I took a significant pay cut, and again when I switched industries. But it’s not difficult to find a balance. It’s just about managing your finances so you can maintain the same quality of life as before,” he opines.
Saving Ahead for the Future
The future will surely hold more changes and transitions, planned and unexpected. But they are confident they can handle future events, thanks to simple financial planning habits that they picked up over time.
Marie is far more prepared today to manage the changes in her life. “I’m more heavily insured today, as are my children. I started saving a decade ago, when my friends were talking about flipping properties, and I realised I had to make wiser financial investments.” Her insurance plans include long-term savings plans, as well as term life and protection insurance plans. “I know I’ll have returns from my life insurance, and it may not be the most lucrative returns, but it’s secure protection for life.”
Says Darren, “I didn’t come from a wealthy family. My mum worked two jobs to put my brother and myself through school. She taught us the value of money from young, and we learnt to save for rainy days.” His financial planning today includes a range of savings, investments, life and critical illness insurance plans. “No matter what happens, I know that I’m covered. It takes time to develop financial planning, so it’s really important to start early and review it regularly, especially when a new transition happens.”
He doesn’t just save for rainy days, however. He’s also preparing for the financial needs he will have later in life, as more people are living longer today. “Beyond just saving for a longer retirement, I’m saving more today to ensure my quality of life isn’t compromised, even if I live to 100,” he shares.
Darren adds, “Being financially responsible sounds boring, but I have no fear today should I lose my job, want to take a break to try something new, or to support my loved ones. It gives me the freedom to decide how I want to lead my life on my own terms, whether I’m planning for a laidback retirement or to start my own business in the future.”
He adds, “I’m sure that in five or 10 years’ time, I’ll be reviewing my life goals and making new changes to my goals. One thing I’ve learnt through all these twists and turns in my life, is that it’s full of possibilities, and we’re free to explore any opportunity at any age, anywhere.”
As more people are living to 100, it’s important that we are financially prepared so that we can continue to lead enriching lives that are full of opportunity no matter what age we are at. We want to help you #BringOn100 ways to live, and to help you reach your financial and life goals.
Speak with a Prudential Financial Consultant to find out more about doing life on your own terms.
This article is for your information only and does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any persons. Please seek advice from a qualified Financial Consultant for a financial analysis before purchasing a policy suitable to meet your needs.