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A Typical Singaporean Financial Journey – Up To $422K Projected Expenses

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Living in Singapore can be really stressful. Due to the high cost of living, life is constantly about planning ahead and working toward certain milestones such as marriage and starting a family. Every milestone comes with a price tag!

This article serves as a benchmark to how much you roughly need for each milestone in life and a strategy on how much you need to start saving/investing every month to clear this debt.

Fact: You will probably spend up to $422K by Age 30 

The early life stages of a Singaporean involves 5 most financial milestones. According to our research from Singstat, these milestones take place by 30 years old on average.

  • The total average expenses amount to around $422K (a portion payable via CPF)
  • Aim for $1,000 or more combined savings/investments at ~8% interest with right instruments
  • This will allow you to hit that amount within 18 years with purely savings/investments
  • Do note most likely you will take on a home loan and pay it down over time (e.g HDB home loan paid by CPF)
  • A couple will have around 7 years on average to prepare for starting a family (with additional expenses beyond that)

Source: Singstat Gov

Milestone 1: Student Loan – Estimated $21K

Kicking off at age 25 for most male graduates and 23 for female, most graduates will have to start clearing their debts 1 year upon graduation. This burden can carry on for years depending on how much gets allocated to the loan repayments.

Milestone 2: BTO or EC – Estimated $300K+

Before getting married, your future spouse and yourself would probably have applied for a BTO or EC. The cost involved even before getting your BTO includes option fee, stamp duty, down payment, to balance of the purchase price. (Example is based on a 4-room, non-mature estate). For ECs, they are a separate ball game with almost 3x prices and heavier loan obligations altogether.

  • This is probably the first big ticket purchase to most couples or individuals.
  • This first step will be choosing between an EC vs BTO. Both subject you to different types of considerations such as cost and the kind of loans you are eligible for.
  • Whenever you are ready to apply, you can follow this step-by-step checklist to apply for your first BTO.
  • Should you be getting an HDB Loan or a Bank Loan? To make a better decision on the types of mortgage to get, you can look at this infographic by DrWealth.

Milestone 3: Marriage – Estimated $40K

Like most things in Singapore, weddings can be expensive too! Expenses include wedding photo shoots and banquet venue. While on average, 60% of the banquet can be covered with red packets from relatives, the remaining 40% would be an unavoidable cost for most couples.

  • The median age for marriage is at 30.3 years old for groom and 28.3 years old for the bride. That is only about 5 years upon graduation! You would need to produce a marriage certificate upon 3 months of getting your BTO.
  • There’s no hard and fast rule to purchasing an engagement ring except asking someone who had been there done that. In Singapore, there seems to be a lack of such an article: You can read a first-hand encounter on Buying An Engagement Ring In Singapore!
  • She said “Yes!”. It’s now time to save up for your wedding ceremony and banquet. An Average wedding in Singapore costs about $43,000 in total. Couples will now have to plan out their finance journey together and it is reported most family squabbles start from financial conflicts.
  • Most of the successful cases we observe amongst our friends usually include a joint account where each individual contributes a portion of their salary. That account will be mainly for big ticket purchases. If you are unsure of how to start, we have a guide to get you started.

Milestone 4: Renovation – Estimated $55K

The cost of renovating your home depends a heavily on the type of design and materials chosen. Given that a large number of the Singaporeans lives in a 4-room, the cost of renovation gets the best sensing when it comes to 4-room units.

  • One point to take note is that some of the interior designers charge an additional percentage for use of credit card as payment. It will be a good habit to always clarify these charges to allow yourself some time to do your homework on the feasibility of using credit card payment or cash payment.
  • We interviewed three of the top renovation experts in Singapore to get their advice for Singaporeans when it comes to renovation and had 3 major takeaways:
  • Reputation: It is always important to research the credentials and history of your Interior Designer before committing.
  • Price vs Quality: Cheaper packages usually come with a price. Being thrifty may be a virtue, but compromising on quality may not be that wise a move.
  • Realistic Budget: Set a realistic spending budget and fully equip yourself with information on sales and promotions.

 

Milestone 5: Your First Baby – Estimated (Prenatal And Delivery) $6K 

The median age of being a mummy is at 30.5 years old, about 7 years upon graduation. The cost incurred for prenatal and delivery depends on the hospital (public or private) and the surgical procedure involved. A portion of this expense can be claimed using your Medisave. Most couples will find having a child one of their biggest expenses after housing.

  • Children are expensive because they add costs to housing, child care, health insurance on top of their daily necessity.
  • The cost of delivering your first baby depends on a few factors: Public vs Private Hospitals and The Method of Delivery

And of course, beyond these, comes the monthly maintenance and planning for sustaining your household. That, we will leave till another article!


The power of compounding interest to clear $422K!

Given that this is a rough benchmark on the kind of expenses we might be looking at, we can’t help but wonder: “How much do I need to save each month and how long does it take to accumulate this amount of money?”

Note: Accumulating and paying down a loan are separate things together (If you have a loan to pay down, it should be your priority before other things)

We went on to calculate the savings for 0%, 3% and 8% interest per annum and the results are shocking.

  • 0% – The interest you get if you store your money under your pillow
  • 3% – The interest from a savings bank (if you meet their max interest requirements)
  • 8% – The interest from basic passive investing (e.g ETF, Index funds)
Monthly Savings0% interest3% interest8% interest
$100351 Years82 Years44 Years
$50070 Years38 Years25 Years
$1,00035 Years25 Years18 Years

Our Advice: Start Budgeting And Saving Smartly Now!

I definitely had no idea how financially draining these “milestones” were, prior to the writing of this article. The numbers may look scary, but also, some of these costs, such as your housing and cost of having a baby can be offset with your CPF.

An average Singaporean will have 7 years upon graduation to prepare for the arrival of their first born. There’s no better advice than start spending and saving in a smarter way. Try to limit and manage your loan repayments and ratios if not you may soon find that you are swimming in debt.


Editor’s note: If you are keen to find out more about how you as a fresh graduate or young working adult can save up to get better, do read more on these articles to get you started!

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