Being an air stewardess can be perceived as a glamorous job, especially by people outside of the industry.
The starting pay is good, particularly if you are working for Singapore Airlines. You get to travel to more cities in a single year than where most Singaporeans would dream of going to for their entire life.
You are constantly surrounded by young, good-looking people who are not only your colleagues but also your travelling companions.
But beneath the external glamour that the job offers lies the not so frequently mentioned fact that there are many financial pitfalls that air stewardesses are exposed to in their line of work.
The #YOLO Syndrome
Imagine earning a monthly starting salary of about $4,500 (inclusive of allowance), and being able to fly to different cities each week.
Many of us would succumb to the temptation of purchasing luxury items at discounted prices we cannot get in Singapore. The latest Kate Spade bag from New York, the classic Louis Vuitton bag from Paris, or the ever-trendy Armani jacket from Milan.
Trying out the best restaurants and partying at the most popular clubs around the world is something that travellers would look forward to as well. So why should it be of any difference for air stewardesses who are travelling to these destinations?
To make things even harder, the ability to say “no” reduces significantly when your travelling companions (i.e. your fellow stewardesses) are all going out for shopping and dining trips together. No one wants to be left out.
A common reason to be spending so much is that flying could be a short career. And if you are flying for just a few years, why not maximise the fun that you can enjoy in all these cities while you still can? Isn’t that the point of being an air stewardess at a young age?
Taking the #YOLO approach does make sense when one argues it in this way.
We won’t blame you for agreeing. But we think it does not hurt to also take in a different view of how financial planning can be incorporated into the life of an air stewardess.
Being An Air Stewardess Is A Job
It’s important to remember that as glamorous as it appears to be, being an air stewardess is ultimately still a job. And why do we work? Primarily to earn a living for our family and ourselves.
Most people don’t spend thousands of dollars while “working”, but air stewardesses are not most people are they?
While it’s easy for the rest of us office people to say no to spending lavishly while working in our boring CBD offices in Singapore, air stewardesses are “stuck” in places like London, Rome and Tokyo as part of their work.
There is nothing they can really do, except to go out and enjoy the cities they are in while waiting for their return flight.
It would help for air stewardesses to remember that even while they are overseas, they are not officially on holidays, and should not spend money as if they are.
Nobody wants to work a job that requires him or her to spend more than they earn because of the pitfalls surrounding the job. The same logic should apply to air stewardesses as well.
Saving For Your Future
We all need to save for our future, be it for our wedding, HDB flat or a rainy day.
When you spend less, you save more. The equation is simple.
Think about where you want to be in 5 years. If you foresee yourself married, with your own home and possibly children as well, you need to start planning financially for these things today.
Even if you can’t foresee where you will be in 5 years, it does not give you an excuse to not be saving. At the very least, you should have an emergency fund of about 6-9 months of expenses.
Life After Being An Air Stewardess
We think it is fair to assume that many air stewardesses who join the industry do not envision themselves staying in their jobs for the rest of their lives.
If you are not intending to be an air stewardess for life, here are some important things you need to remember.
1) Education Costs Money…And Time
Like it or not, Singapore’s employers do look at academic qualifications. If you want to work in a big financial institution or a PR agency, having a degree could be a pre-requisite. If you want to work in specialised areas such as graphics designing or IT, you would still need technical skills.
These are qualifications and skill sets that you will need time and money to acquire. A degree could cost about $25,000. In addition, you might need about 3 years worth of savings to tide yourself over the duration of the course. Based on Singapore’s living expenses, this could easily cost you another $36,000.
You need to have enough savings to ensure that you can pay for any further education that you intend to take up in the future.
2) You Are Likely To Earn Less In The Future
Let’s be realistic. If you are currently earning $5,000 a month as an air stewardess, there is a very good chance you will need to accept a much lower salary when you transit to life outside of being a cabin crew.
The medium salary in Singapore is $3,949. Take home salary would be lower after accounting for CPF contributions.
If you were already spending about $4,000 each month, it would be extremely difficult to readjust back to a much lower standard of living.
So don’t go about trying to upkeep an expensive lifestyle that is not going to be sustainable in the long run. Just because you can afford it today does not mean you will be able to do so in the future.
3) Finding A Job Will Take Time
Even if you have sufficient qualifications and a simple lifestyle that would make it easier to transit to a new job, it is important to remember that finding a suitable job will take time.
You need to be prepared that it could take you about 6 months to find a suitable job. Depending on the sector you are applying to and the economic conditions, you might take even longer.
With that, it is also important to ensure that you have sufficient savings to fall back on while you are actively searching for the right job.
Think For Your Future…Today
All in all, the financial planning challenges that air stewardesses face are similar to those faced by people working in other professions.
However, the exceptions lie in the fact that air stewardesses generally have much more spending power, compared to their peers in a similar age group. In addition, the frequent travelling as part of their job also gives them many more opportunities to spend their money. Hence, air stewardesses would need to be mindful of their spending habits.
This article first appeared on Dollarsandsense.sg
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