Me and My Money

– Andrew Ang

An engineer by training, Mr Andrew Ang decided to become a financial planner after he experienced the value of insurance first-hand.

Eleven years ago, the graduate from the University of Surrey was working as an electronics engineer when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mr Ang, 39, said: “My parents spent their life savings to send me abroad, so the insurance payout from my mother’s critical illness policy was so important. It was about $50,000, and was enough for her treatment.”

Mr Ang’s mother, 59, made a full recovery.

His belief in the value of financial planning was further underscored when his eight-year-old daughter, Charlotte, suffered from a congenital heart problem, and needed open heart surgery two years ago.

His son Alexander, six, suffers from autism. He and his wife have another child, five-year-old Abraham.

Mr Ang’s wife, Corrine, 36, quit her job as an accountant and became an insurance agent so that she could have more flexible working hours to take care of their children.

Questions & Answers

Q: Are you a spender or saver?

I am not a spender, but I also don’t save a lot. My monthly income is about $15,000 on average, and I have to set aside $7,000 for family expenses.
My son, who has autism, attends two private schools and one government-subsidised school, and spends about 55 hours a week at school. His school fees alone are more than $4,000 a month.
I pay about $1,500 in insurance premiums, and also have to pay for the upkeep of three cars, driven by me, my wife and my father.

Q: How much do you charge to your credit card every month?

About $5,000 a month.
Using a credit card allows me to track expenses for my business, which include spending for clients’ birthdays and events and my team activities.
For other spending, I prefer to stick to cash. I withdraw about $200 every three days.

Q: What financial planning have you done?

I have 12 insurance plans under my name and am insured for $1.8 million in death and disability coverage.
I have two hospital plans and I have recently bought an early critical illness plan to cover for more medical conditions relating to critical illnesses.
Each month, I pay about $1,500 in premiums.
My wife and I have invested more than $300,000 from our CPF savings and cash savings in managed funds. I also own some equities.
At the end of every year, I also review my own financials. This is critical in managing cash flow, given my family’s situation.
My wife and I diligently keep the receipts for our spending, and we key them into Excel spreadsheets so we can try to forecast what will happen in the coming year.

Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?

I worked extremely hard during my schooldays. I started working at the age of seven.
I remember I earned $2,000 every month when I was older, by distributing newspapers as early as 5am, and peddling drinks and food at the former National Stadium till 10pm.
Even though my parents were farmers, they provided my siblings and me with a good education.
They have always taught us to give back.
All of us will donate and volunteer our time whenever possible to give back to society because we benefited from charity when we were younger.

Q: How did you get interested in investing?

I went for quite a few investment classes organised by SGX (Singapore Exchange) and Sias (Securities Investors Association (Singapore)). Also, I learnt from the four professional certifications I have acquired over the 10 years as an adviser.
Right now, I have completed four core modules of Master of Applied Finance by Macquarie University.

Q: What property do you own?

My wife and I bought a four-room HDB flat for $187,000 10 years back and are still living in the same flat.

Q: What’s the most extravagant thing you have bought?

I have a weakness for cars. Maybe because I am an engineer, I like experiencing what it is like driving different types of cars.
In 2007, I bought a second-hand BMW 3 Series for $72,000, and decided to sell it a year later.

Q: What’s your retirement plan?

I plan to get a yacht. I was a trained diver and naval officer.
It will probably require about $10,000 a month for me to travel the world with my loved ones. I have endowment plans that will give me about $20,000 a year.
My other investments will fund the rest.

Q: Home is now…

My four-room HDB flat. It is an important reminder to my children about the importance and value of money.

Q: I drive…

A manual-transmission Honda Civic 1.8.

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