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Weddings in Singapore cost tens of thousands of dollars – and that’s only for the basics. If you don’t want to take a loan for your wedding, then saving up for it is the way to go. However, base interest rates provided by banks are at a measly 0.05 per cent. When you consider the fact that the inflation rate is around 3 per cent, your savings will be worth less by the time you’re ready to tie the knot.
Endowment plans offer higher base interest rates to grow your savings faster. They are also structured to help you save regularly while providing you flexibility to meet financial needs that arise.
Read on to find out how to use an endowment plan to save money for your wedding.
How Much Does a Wedding Cost in Singapore?
Holding a wedding in Singapore is no minor affair, both emotionally and financially. Even if you’re not one of those entitled brats that think the whole world owes them a fancy wedding, expect to pay anywhere from S$30,000 to S$50,000.
Here’s what a typical wedding budget might look like:
- Diamond ring (for proposing) and wedding bands (for exchange on the wedding day) – S$5,000
- Bridal package – S$3,000
- Photography and videography – S$3,000
- Wedding banquet (20 tables) – S$24,000 (see how to save on your banquet here and here).
What is an Endowment Plan?
An endowment plan makes it easy for the average Singaporean to save and invest their money. They are a financial product offered by insurance companies, but they are focused on savings, not protection.
To entice you to sign up, insurers offer higher base interest rates than the banks. The catch is that you have to commit to saving regularly for at least 15 years.
Because many Singaporeans are afraid to lock up their cash for this long, endowment plans allow you to withdraw a portion of your account during the savings period. This makes it an ideal tool for saving money for your wedding.
Basically, your endowment plan splits up your premiums (40:60) into two accounts – a fixed account and a flexible account. The fixed account earns a higher interest rate than the flexible account.
Withdrawals can only be made from the flexible account and usually from the third year onwards.
How Does an Endowment Plan Help Me Save For My Wedding?
To better understand an endowment plan, let’s take a look at one in action.
Amber, 21 years old, wants to settle down and have a family by age 36. She can save around $400 per month. An endowment plan for her could look like this:
Endowment Plan for Amber
Term: 15 years
Premium: S$400/month, or S$4,800/year
Guaranteed returns: 3.25%
Non-guaranteed returns: 3%
At 31, Amber decides to get married. At this point, she has already maintained her endowment plan for 10 years. She can withdraw from her flexible account from Years 2 to 9, which amounts to approximately S$29,000, with interest of 3%. This is enough to cover most wedding expenses.
Five years later, at 36, Amber decides to start a family. Her endowment plan has also matured, paying out all the premiums she had paid over 15 years plus interest, less the amount withdrawn in Year 10. Amber decides to use this money to prepare for the arrival of her new child.
Why Use an Endowment Plan Instead of a Savings Account?
At first glance, an endowment plan seems similar to a savings account. However, there are main differences between the two:
Before using an endowment plan to save for your wedding, be aware of the following things:
1. Endowment Plans Require Regular Payments
An endowment plan is an insurance product, and like all insurance products, you are expected to make fixed, regular payments. These are known as premiums.
You can choose to pay premiums on a monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual basis. Do be aware that failure to pay your premiums will result in heavy penalties that cause you to lose money.
2. Endowment Plans Have Fixed Savings Periods
Unlike a savings account, you have to maintain an endowment plan for a fixed number of years. This ranges from 15 years to 25 years, depending on the insurer.
This is actually a good thing, as forcing your money to remain in the account will ensure your principal grows over time. And thanks to the power of compound interest, the longer you hold your money, the larger your account grows.
On the flip side, this also means your account will be cashed out once the endowment plan matures. You can choose to re-invest this amount in other plans, or use it to meet other financial needs.
3. Endowment Plans Have Limits On Withdrawals During the Savings Period
An endowment plan offers you some flexibility, allowing you to withdraw from your flexible account during the savings period.
If you happen to need more money than you are able to withdraw, then you’ll need to look towards other avenues, such as a personal loan or a credit line. You can find the right personal loans at Singsaver.com.sg.
4. Your Premiums Cover All Fees
Like all insurance plans, your premiums cover the cost of all fees, commissions and charges. There should not be any further charges to be paid other than your premium.
If you’re interested in finding out what are the fees charged, you can look under “Distribution Costs” in your policy documents. Or, if you want to see your Financial Planner squirm, ask them point blank what the fees are and how much goes to commissions.
5. You Will Lose Money If You Terminate Your Plan Early
An endowment is useful, but make sure you can commit to the entire savings period before you sign up for one. Terminating a plan before maturity can result in a loss, especially in the early years. Most – if not all – plans give you back a grand total of S$0 if you terminate your plan within the first 2 years.
If you find yourself temporarily being unable to pay your premiums, you can withdraw from your plan’s flexible account to pay your premiums in the interim. However, you need to have sufficient funds in your flexible account to do so.
Always speak to a qualified financial advisor before signing up for an endowment plan or any other investment product. Just as you need to be able to afford a wedding, so should you be able to afford the savings plan that will make it happen.