Having been in “survival mode” for most of her life, Chow Jia Hui grew up as an extreme saver who put every last cent into the piggy bank. Today, she is gaining the confidence to take charge of her financial journey, conquering her fear of spending money, and dares to dream big. Watch her video here.
Thriving, out of survival mode
On camera, Chow Jia Hui’s bubbly, vivacious personality shines through. She’s also known for her candour — the 27-year-old host and content creator has gamely opened up about her stressful experience with losing her HDB resale flat after ending a long-term relationship.
What’s perhaps less known is that Chow is built on a fiercely resilient, independent streak. With her formative years shaped by phases of instability, she grew up feeling insecure and anxious about what the future holds. That sense of unease is reflected in her relationship with money.
In school, Chow was so afraid to spend her pocket money that she often skipped meals during recess breaks, and avoided the doctor even when she was sick.
“I had a very, very big fear of spending money because I always thought that I needed to save every single cent I had,” Chow recalls.
And if there was a chance to make some extra cash, she rarely passed it up. She worked part-time as a banquet waiter, private tutor, and frozen yogurt server, while juggling her university studies. She even took up ad-hoc roles that paid just $50.
“I really just tried to get any job I could possibly find… I did it to survive and get by.”
Today, Chow has found her feet in the creative industry, and feels much more secure with her finances. She no longer hesitates to spend on necessities such as daily meals and healthcare, and is willing to splurge on gifts for others.
“One of my goals is to buy a house… I want a shelter to come back to at the end of each day. To me, that’s a big part of financial freedom and security.”
Still, the urge to scrimp and save occasionally rears its ugly head. Chow finds it hard to treat herself to certain nice-to-haves. A $2 sugarcane drink seems too expensive a treat, when she can simply drink water from the tap.
“Now that I’m older and have built up a healthy level of savings, I’m working on these habits slowly. After being in survival mode for so long, I’m trying to dial myself to ‘living’ mode.”
Investing with intention
As Chow makes a conscious effort to shed her scarcity mentality, one of her first steps was to educate herself on investing and personal finance. Next, she reframed her money mindset to focus on her life goals.
From a young age, keeping cash in the piggy bank — and later, depositing it with a bank — had pretty much been the extent of her financial plans. She believed that saving as much as possible was the only way to accumulate wealth and support herself financially, and that saving simply meant “chucking the money aside” in a bank account.
That’s a far cry from her current goal-oriented investment portfolios, which she meticulously built after months of self-study and planning with an Endowus client advisor.
“Now, instead of just thinking I want to accumulate a lot of money in my bank, I am looking at a much bigger picture. What will this money be used for? What am I working towards? How much money do I need to achieve this goal?”
One of these goal-based portfolios will serve as her retirement nest egg, while another is meant for buying a property in Singapore in the near future.
“When I think about what my future may look like, the adventures I want to go on — it gives me motivation.”
Currently renting an apartment with housemates, Chow aspires to buy her own home. “It doesn’t have to be a big one; I’m not a glamorous person. I just want shelter, a roof over my head, a simple space. It’s a really nice thing to have a home to come back to at the end of each day. To me, that’s a big part of financial freedom and security.”
To accomplish this, her focus is on rebuilding her cash reserves and CPF savings, which were essentially wiped out when she surrendered her Punggol resale flat to the Housing Board (HDB) two years ago.
When Chow and her then-partner broke up, they had to return the property to HDB at a lower value and repay the housing grants along with accrued interest. That whirlwind experience of losing both her home and her relationship in one go, left Chow emotionally and financially drained — with just $0.46 remaining in her CPF Ordinary Account, and having to find another place to stay. She looks back on the episode as a valuable lesson, and plans to invest her CPF once it’s back to “a healthy level”.
Chow credits the guidance from her client advisor, Endowus’ repository of insights, and the user-friendly app for making investing accessible and easy to understand — even for beginners who are “super layman” like her.
“Endowus has made me a more knowledgeable investor. I get free, online access to a wide range of reading materials (about investing and personal finance), as well as live webinars where I can ask questions. From the app, at a glance, I can also see the fund breakdown of every single portfolio, where my money is going, and how it’s performing.”
In mapping out her objectives, Chow also sat down with a client advisor from Endowus to understand what her priorities are. They then worked backwards to figure out how much money is needed, what types of products to invest in, and how much risk she is willing to take.
“We had a chat about things like my lifestyle, when I want to retire, what I want to achieve in the next two to three years, and other short-term and long-term goals.”
That too, Chow says, put her mind at ease and gave her the confidence to put her money to work.
“Instead of just wanting to accumulate a lot of money in my bank, I look at a much bigger picture. What will this money be used for? What am I working towards?”
A savvier, confident investor
These days, Chow feels a lot more assured and patient with her money. Understanding exactly what her money is doing grants her peace of mind — basic investment strategies and concepts, such as compound interest, are no longer a mystery.
With her investment plans put into action, Chow is now focusing on turning her dreams into reality.
“I’ve got really ambitious goals, so I try to hustle smart, and not just hustle blindly. I think about how I can increase the value of my time and my work.”
She adds: “When I think about what my future may look like, where I'd be staying, the kind of adventures I want to go on, people that I'm going to meet — just the ability to dream beyond my present life, it gives me motivation.”
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