Sad businessman sitting on a bench outdoors.

SINGAPORE: In a heartfelt social media post on Reddit, user truthhurtsal, an expat in Singapore for ten years, bared his financial struggles, prompting a supportive community dialogue as he asked, “Will I ever make it in life or is it over for me?”

As a mid-40s expat wrestling with a S$120,000 debt, truthhurtsal, facing unforeseen family crises, disclosed his financial breakdown on an annual income of S$150,000, living paycheck to paycheck, with significant chunks allocated to child support, taxes, and escalating rent. Navigating a stringent budget, including a one-meal-a-day regimen, truthhurtsal sought advice.

Encouraging words from social media community

Fellow expat psthedev suggested downsizing due to high rent, drawing from personal experience. Ok-Kaleidoscope-3719 expressed concern about truthhurtsal’s “one meal a day” diet.

Suitablestill368 emphasised overcoming challenges in one’s 40s, urging truthhurtsal to actively reshape his life, stating, “Don’t think it is over for you. Many people had little to nothing when they are in their 40s. In the end, it is all about you, working to change your life.”

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JanGabionza, sharing expat experiences, stressed prioritising paying debt first and advocating for a lower lifestyle while urging truthhurtsal by asking: “How bad do you really want to get out of debt?”

“You better make sacrifices on your rent. Go through an agent to help you find a more affordable place. Bite the agent fee. If it means saving 20K in rent,” he added.

User smile_santa added long-term planning insights, suggesting a rental downgrade or exploring budget-friendly retirement regions like Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, or Thailand. She also added an encouraging note saying, “Life is not over, it’s just delayed. Keep fighting.”

What can expats do to better manage their finances?

Here are 9 tips from Expat Living:

  1. Get Budget-Smart: Launch your expat financial journey with a budget, be it pen and paper or a savvy app.
  2. Keep Cash Ready: Cultivate an emergency stash—3 to 6 months’ worth. Be a financial ninja prepared for any surprise attack.
  3. Decode Debts: Crack the code by targeting high-interest debts first. Extra mortgage payments are your express lane to debt-free living.
  4. Simplify Savings: Make saving a breeze. Set up automatic transfers post-payday. Your future self will thank you.
  5. Navigate Savings vs. Investing: Rainy day fund or financial adventure? Understand the game of saving and investing, two paths to securing your financial future.
  6. Reality Check on Risk: Gauge your risk tolerance. Align your investment approach with short, medium, and long-term goals.
  7. Insurance Alert: Changing countries? Time for an insurance check. Life’s milestones are cues to ensure you’re covered.
  8. Unveil Estate Planning: Estate planning isn’t that complicated. Keep it simple: who gets what and watches over “the little ones”.
  9. Currency Broker Hacks: Sending money globally? Currency brokers are your money-saving wizards. Check out future exchange rates for added smarts.
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Remember, as smile_santa says, ‘Life is not over, it’s just delayed. Keep fighting.’ Your financial journey as an expat is about resilience and positive change. /TISG