From a young age, Nuraliza Osman and her siblings were taught that money should be earned and not given.
To save up for a bicycle, she recalls doing the dishes at home to earn a little cash.
“When we were growing up, our parents made us do chores to earn extra money. So money never came free. They taught us the value of hard work and that money doesn't come easy, so we should value it and be careful about how we spend it,” says the lawyer and former beauty queen.
Even when purse strings were tight at home, her parents never made her feel like she was lacking.
“My mom and my dad are amazing people. They raised three kids and put us through university, all while working really simple jobs and not having much money at all. They made up for all of that by being very careful with their choices,” she says.
"My parents’ generosity and financial prudence came through in those times. I think having financial freedom is being able to take care of not just yourself but also your loved ones. It’s why we work. It's why we save."
Nuraliza’s fondest childhood memory revolves around her family’s budget book — a classic ‘555’ blue notebook that was a staple in most households in the ’90s.
When payday rolled around, Nuraliza’s mother would jot down the family’s combined income and expenses, such as utility bills and school fees, for the month.
“With whatever money that we had left, a part of it went to a savings account for us and some into an emergency fund. There were days where we had a budget for treats as well…we could eat out as a family,” she shares.
Importantly, she learnt that saving up for a rainy day had enabled her parents to help others who may be more in need, such as relatives who had to borrow money.
“My parents’ generosity and financial prudence came through in those times. I think having financial freedom is being able to take care of not just yourself but also your loved ones. It’s why we work. It's why we save,” she says.
Naturally, these early life lessons had cultivated a strong saving habit in Nuraliza. Growing up, a trip to the bank to deposit her cash savings was a “grand affair” that brought her immense pride.
“There was so much pleasure in being able to count how much I had saved. I remember saving my weekly school allowance in my piggy bank. And when it came to the festive season such as Hari Raya where we got green packets, I would save even more and derive so much joy out of it,” she says.
This financial prudence carried through to her adult years. Her first big purchase? An apartment at age 27.
“As a young lawyer, the good part is that you work all the time so there are very limited opportunities to spend money, aside from at Burger King and McDonald's,” she jokes.
While Nuraliza always had her savings in check, a brush with cancer in her 30s had pushed her to take a more sobering, holistic look at her financial position.
“When I was saving money, it never crossed my mind that anything bad would happen. My parents are old and I help them financially. So if I’m not around, who's going to help them? If I got sick and became a liability, how would they be able to support me?”
Apart from beefing up her insurance policies, Nuraliza started to take investing more seriously to grow her wealth.
“I started thinking, holistically, about the amount of money I had saved. How do I want to grow it as well, right? So if I am not around, I can leave this money for my family,” she says.
Diversification was the first step. Pre-pandemic, she had set aside about 30% of her monthly salary to purchase employee shares at her workplace. But the company’s share price was promptly sliced by two-thirds when Covid-19 hit.
“The investment hasn't actually lost me money, but it caused sleepless nights. That was a bad move and it taught me that I really needed to diversify my investments,” she says.
She started dabbling in stocks at the height of the pandemic, but admittedly did not have a long-term strategy in place.
“I got really lucky because when I bought those stocks, the market was pretty much at an all-time low, so of course prices went up after. But I knew I couldn’t just be picking companies based on what I like and don't like,” she says.
Nuraliza’s decision to invest with Endowus has helped ease much of her dilemmas. “It’s transparent about the types of risks I'm taking when I go into an investment.”
"I started thinking, holistically, about the amount of money I had saved. How do I want to grow it as well, right? So if I am not around, I can leave this money for my family."
“The option to invest with CPF and SRS funds also provides greater flexibility while taking advantage of tax returns,” she adds.
Before pursuing a career in law, Nuraliza represented Singapore at the Miss Universe pageant in 2002. The then 25-year-old joined the competition on a whim to experience walking in the footsteps of her mother, a former beauty queen.
A self-proclaimed tomboy, she likened the experience to investing.
“You have to try a whole lot of experiences to understand what you truly love. Same thing with risk and investing, right? You've got to try different things, get burnt, understand what your comfort levels are and what is important to you. Is it security? Or are you not averse to risk at all?”
Prepare yourself for life’s ups and downs by having a strategy. Get started with Endowus today.