TN Advisory

So you are a H.E.N.R.Y., what now?


HENRY introduction ideas: 

Are you amongst a growing group of people in the workforce today who can hold your head up high in saying you’re drawing a higher-than-average income? Yet for some reason, your savings or assets never seem to be growing significantly year after year? 

Believe it or not, there is indeed a name for people like that, “HENRY”. The “High Earners, Not Rich Yet”.  For a name like that, how are we going to define the HENRYs of the world? The typical definition according to Investopedia for the US is: 

High earners, not rich yet are individuals who currently have significant discretionary income and strong chance of being wealthy in the future: in the US “2003 fortune magazine article refers to a segment of families earning between 250k – 500k, but not having much left after taxes, schooling, housing and family costs, not to mention saving for an affluent retirement” [1]

In Singapore, the average income as of Jan 2021 stands at S$5,877/month, or about S$70,000 annually. There are many different definitions and benchmarks of HENRY’s across the world. In this case, when we hear someone earning about a S$100,000 annually, we generally assume they must be doing well enough in life. Though the benchmarks vary, HENRY’s have some characteristics that are agreed upon regardless of occupation, age or income. [2]

The HENRY “high earn not rich yet.” is a term to describe consumer who enjoys an above-average income but is more inclined to spend than save or invest

HENRY’s in Singapore and Money

Did you know that 1 in 2 high-income earners (up to $20,000/month) have money problems? A poll revealed that the monthly income, as high as it can be, is in fact insufficient to cover their equally high expenses. True to a HENRY, around 1,000 Singaporeans aged 25-54 with a higher-than-average income do not have savings. As a result, about half of them are not confident that they will have enough money to fund their desired lifestyles when they retire. 

The same poll also revealed that even with a high monthly income, it is still insufficient to cover a HENRY’s expenses. Aftermath needing to dig into their savings, just to cover their monthly expenses. 

These high monthly expenses typically come from a few factors:

  1. High dependency on loans (business/lifestyle) 
  2. High personal expenditure (lifestyle) [3]

It’s strange, isn’t it? Turns out, living on paycheck to paycheck is not just a problem for majority of the people in the workforce. Even people who earn high income ALSO faces the same problems that prevents them from building up their net worth, making them feel poorer than they should.  

The problem is that high income earners should not face such problems, but about 1/3 of them confessed to having poor discipline when it comes to managing their money. 

  • The no. 1 reason for ending up in debts is usually not investments or business failures, but overspending
  • The problem then is not about being able to earn enough, but the behavior in managing the income

Another problem comes from not having proper financial planning.

  • This usually happens to people who suffer from “Peter Pan Syndrome” 
  • Thinking that they can work forever and earn a high income so, “what’s the need to save up and plan for anything?” 
  • 40% of such folks typically have very short-term goals like buying that next luxury car, travelling to the next exotic holiday or a multi-million-dollar home and just shoot for those wants without worrying about future needs[4]

The reality of “Peter Pan Syndrome” however shows that reality can be quite harsh as these high living costs or dependency on loans to repay that high life, can be extremely difficult to pay back when that income is disrupted (in the case of the covid pandemic). The biggest sign of a HENRY is then shown when they cannot afford to stop working due to everything mentioned above. 

Warren Buffet’s quote comes to mind, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked”.

Combine everything together and it results in a simple problem: The inability to accumulate wealth. That’s what makes being a HENRY so frustrating.

So, you’re a HENRY with all that’s mentioned above. What do you do now? What are the lessons we can take from those who came before us? 

One person we can take point from is Ronald the Janitor (No, this isn’t a children story) 

Ronald the Janitor passed away at age 92 with a net worth of USD8million. How did he managed to do this without the hard skills the financially literate have? Or the high income? [5]

His secret was simple: 

  • Plain savings and investments, owning at least 95 stocks/blue chips
  • Letting it compound over time 

The main takeaway here is that doing well with money has little to do with HOW SMART you are, but HOW YOU BEHAVE with money. Being rich and wealthy also has no direct relation with how much you earn, but more to what you do with what you earn. As mentioned above, a simple but time proven strategy is always to set aside a portion of our income every month for two things: emergency funds (cash that’s easily accessible eg. Bank account) and to save/invest. Sounds easy enough but often it proves to be difficult if we’re not able to take an account of our monthly inflows and outflows. 

Whether it is in investments or plain vanilla endowment plans, there’s always a solution that would fit you best.

The main lesson in all this is always simple. A carefree life is not out of reach if you start to plan for it now. While ’living within your means’ is simple in theory, is tough to act on. Nonetheless, being able to do so means you will have enough. Financial success is not a rocket science. There are no complex formulas to learn. Financial success is a soft skill, where how you behave is more important than what you know. Cultivate the right habits, implement the right behavior, and you’ll be a HENRY no more. 

The HENRY “high earn not rich yet.” is a term to describe consumer who enjoys an above-average income but is more inclined to spend than save or invest



[3], [4]


Written by Leon Lee (Financial Services Consultant from TN Advisory Group)

At TN Advisory Group, our services and expertise can be used to assist interested parties in relation to the various fields of financial planning. Should you decide to not seek advice, do consider if the product in question is suitable for you.

If you wish to know more, hit me up!