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What if you got 10 years of income today?

On average, most of us salaried employees are paid monthly and thus we decide more on a monthly basis.

Some don’t even make sound decisions, where they usually let their heart and circumstances dictate what they should do.

Imagine if you got paid 10 years of income today and you won’t be paid in the next 10 years. 

How would some of your money decisions change?

Projecting your Income 10 years forward

We would usually look at our income from a monthly perspective. I have a rare friend who was able to look at things from an annual perspective.

My best friend would tell me that as a rule of thumb, your income usually stays stagnant or goes up. You won’t go for another job unless it pays you better than what you are currently earning at the current place (except for intangible perks).

Conservatively assume that your $3000 salary doesn’t increase for 10 years, you will eventually accumulate $420,000.

Do click to view a larger image.

When you see a sum of $42,000, you would think you cannot do much with that amount of money. When you extrapolate what you could accumulate to 10 years, that sum is large enough that you will start thinking: “I should be more responsible with that sum of money because that is a sum of money that I don’t want to mess up big time!”

If we can get $420,000 today, people who wish to be more responsible would freak out because they have always been planning with a monthly amount in mind, just chuck as much as they can to save and spend the rest.

They would be anxious about whether they can utilize the $420,000 efficiently given that they won’t have much coming in the next 10 years.

The spendthrifts will be ecstatic to have such a large sum of money upfront.  They probably run through their heads which holiday destination to go to or what desirable assets to acquire.

Heck, I think a lot will just buy a condo and eat frugally for the rest of their 10 years and hope in 10 years’ time they can sell the condo at 100% appreciation.

Projecting Forward if You could Build Wealth With it Sensibly

I have many friends who don’t see the benefit of saving up a sum of less than $500 monthly.  Even at the end of 1 year, it is only at most $6000. What can you do with that amount these days?

We all have a threshold sum where, past that, you realize it’s motivating enough to channel your hard earn money to build up. This could be $1 million, or $500k or $250k.  The problem is that if you tell them that you will reach that goal in 40 years, it is too far for them to feel it.

I find that an acceptable time period is to project forward and visualize how much you will build up in 10 years.

Taking $850 per month out of your disposable income and putting it away to build wealth (read my wealthy formula), in 10 years’ time you would have put away 24% of your income to build up to $102,000.  A six-figure sum should be more motivating to work towards.

Expand the table and you can see the 20 years projection and 30 years projection.

This is not an extreme saving ratio. You still have 76% for your daily and housing needs.

Projecting and visualizing forward creates the motivation factor to work towards, while monthly fixed automated savings create small successes that make you stick to the plan.

Paying off a mortgage in 10 years

Many still lament that a typical flat that cost $350,000 today is considered rather expensive. My assessment is that it is not cheap (which is what everyone wants, the free lunch) but it is affordable (Kyith: This was first written in 2014 so you can see the difference in prices!).

There are a few measures of housing affordability and one common metric is how many times your annual household income we are spending on our home.

In our case study here, if the wife earns as much as the husband, their annual income would be $82,000.

I have to remind friends a few times that if they are thinking of taking 25 years to pay off the mortgage, their outlay is $450,000 due to the interest that they will pay and so the total cost is not $350,000. The price to income for this case study comes up to 5.5 times, which is on the high side that I would probably tamper with my future opinion on housing.

As the home is one of the largest assets of many Singaporeans, many of our financial decisions revolve around it. One of the biggest is whether they would save more interest by paying off the home early and whether it is a good decision to pay off their mortgage early.

For some reason, most of my friends only considered paying off the mortgage early themselves and did not use their spouse’s income! I find this very strange because it would be more efficient for all of us to view our money in unison but I guess this is a function of how many couples manage their money nowadays.

If the couple projects their combined income for 10 years they would realize that they can use 53% of their $840,000 combined income to pay off their $450,000 mortgage + interest.

In most affordable cities you should be able to pay off your income in time, and if you receive 10 years of income today, you would have no problems paying it off.

However, if you can view your income this way, you would also wonder about the tradeoffs about paying off early versus whether it is a good idea to do that.

Perhaps investing that money may make more sense or spending on things you value a lot such as holidays.

Projecting common spending and optimizations forward

The same kind of framing can be carried out so that we get a better vantage view of whether it is worthwhile to make certain life decisions.

Purchasing a car and spending on certain specific items might not look as money-draining, but when you tally up the total and project forward, a $159,000 is not a small sum.

Certain spending optimization decisions made can have a substantial impact on your long term financial well being as well.

Would you take care of your health, or choose to live well since you only live once?

Would spending $2,000 less yearly on vacation help you satisfy some other goals that you value more?

Making these hard choices might seem insignificant on a monthly basis, but if you add them up in 10 years, huge advantage you will have.


Revisiting the question at the start, would you be able to plan your money well if you received 10 years of your income all today?

Will it change what you do with your money?

How we will frame things is often related to how most of society frames things. And if society trains us through a monthly distribution frequency then most of us can only plan on a monthly basis.

We will then fail to see some of the possibilities that exist in front of us because we stop critically thinking.

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Saturday 16th of April 2022

If everyone receives 10 years of salary upfront, I doubt the price of HDB would be $350K, probably much much higher since prices would be bidded up 5-10x and you are able to take a bigger loan (since you have 10x higher cash component).


Friday 29th of April 2022

HI KKLK, this is more of a philosophical question to sense whether we all have enough insecurity with our ability to manage money well. It is quite unrealistic in real life this to happen.


Monday 24th of November 2014

Great article! Puts the possibilities right up front!

In this day and age, I am not sure if we can hold a job for 10 years! Gone are the years of single employers, business cycles move very quickly and we can find ourselves out side the door.

What effect will it have on thinking if we break down our salaries into days and hours? In Singapore front line service wages is about $6.50. Somehow, the cost of lunch takes a huge chunk! ( 50%!)

How does framing our wages in hourly or daily payment affect our perspective on savings, planning for the future?


Tuesday 25th of November 2014

hi henry, you can do the reverse, and if you earn 3k you can see that your per hour wage is 15 bucks. you can then visualize how much you can purchase with that.

Mickey J

Friday 21st of November 2014

Interesting! As you look at your income, 10 years forward, it will be interesting to look at your liabilities, 10 years forward as well because that gives you a view of how you should look at your career roadmap as you know how hard you need to work in order to meet these liabilities.


Saturday 22nd of November 2014

Hi Mickey, that's something I didn't thought about ! But its true. It pushes you to work smart or hard in your job!

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