“Some people can tell you exactly how much they need to retire. Unfortunately, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really like to calculate such things,” says Oo Gin Lee, 51, an entrepreneur who runs his own PR agency. He and his wife have three children in their early to late teens.
Intrigued, I asked him to elaborate.
“For the past few decades, my family has led a very simple life. As a result, we’ve managed to pay off the mortgage on our condo,” he says.
“I’ve also accumulated a decent amount of savings, so even if I lose my job tomorrow, we will be all right at least for the next few years.”
But even that amount might not be enough to last him and his family for the years beyond, much less when he enters old age. Fortunately, Gin Lee’s frugal attitude has rubbed off on his children. For example, he and his wife provide their eldest daughter, 17, with an allowance of S$180 per month.
“She never asks for more and ends up just saving most of it,” says Gin Lee with a shrug.
His middle daughter, who’s 15, is even stranger. Her allowance is S$120 a month. Some months, Gin Lee forgets to pay her, yet she never asks him for the money.
“My daughters are like me in that sense,” says Gin Lee. “It’s good that they’re frugal and don’t have the desire to buy things, but I also worry that they’ll grow up not appreciating the value of money at all.”
As for retirement planning, Gin Lee is determined to figure it out when he gets there.
“Sometimes I wonder: will I ever want to retire? The idea of doing nothing and just relaxing with the grandkids doesn’t appeal to me. I still want to remain useful to people. I think it’s important to keep learning and growing, regardless of age.”
Is there anything he’s worried about when he hits his 60s?
“If I die, then I die lah,” he offers casually. “It’s very straightforward: all of my assets will go to my wife and children. The only thing I worry about is if I get a long-term illness. This is why I took out hospitalization insurance early on for all members of my family, which costs us around S$9,000 a year in premiums. This is our biggest expense. Otherwise, we are very carefree.”
Gin Lee’s philosophy can be summed up like this: if you take care of the bigger picture, you don’t have to worry about mapping every little detail about the future.