In Singapore, the cost of living has been going up and the game of money has become even more important to master.
We believe that in this journey, sharing and discussion on topics relevant to your personal financial well-being can help you get better. This led us to set up Seedly Personal Finance Community with an intention of creating a platform for such purpose.
Singaporeans can ask personal and sensitive questions every day on the platform while remaining anonymous. Simply ask a question and receive insights from helpful community members who have “been there, done that”!
Young Parents Advice Needed
” I am currently married in my first year, expecting a baby next month.
Our combined savings with my other half is only $4,000. Each of us earns around $2,000 to $2,500. How do I reduce expenses and increase savings as young parents?
Are there any hacks to raising up your first child?”
-A couple aged 25 to 29 Years Old.
Seedly Community’s help on what can this member do
Parenthood can be daunting, especially when you just paid off a huge sum for the wedding and are still in debt from your housing loan. All while trying to put your best foot forward in your career.
This week on the Seedly Community Page, our members asked for advice on raising up their first child. Assuredly, our helpful and experienced members came to the rescue with tons of helpful comments from where to get baby diapers to advice on insurance and vaccinations.
The average cost of raising a child in Singapore is $18000 a year and we know that only increases with age.
So, let’s start right from the very beginning!
10 tips to manage costs for your first child
1. Breastfeed Or Get Cheaper Formula Milk
The cost of formula milk products has risen 120% in the past 10 years in Singapore. That explains why most of our Seedly Community members discussion recommended breastfeeding as the option to save money. Breastfeeding has uncountable benefits for the baby’s immune system. Undisrupted by work, breastfeeding during your 4-months maternity leave can also save you a lot of formula milk every month.
But, we understand that not every mother can breastfeed. It is also true that the necessary breast pumps, pads and storage bags can cost a lot when the mother starts going back to work again.
Cheaper Formula Milk
Here are some cheaper formula milk options you can consider compared to highly advertised brands that typically average around $56 for 900g in the market:
|1||Johor Bahru||30%- 40% cheaper for more expensive brands Eg. Similac
|2||Dumex||From $19.90 for 800g, buy 5 get 1 free|
|3||Nature one Dairy (Sheng Shiong)||From $25.50 for 900g|
|4||Australia’s own||From $27.50 for 900g|
|5||Einmilk||From $33 for 800g|
Purchasing online also offers attractive prices.
However, the conclusion we can reach from the above is that taking a trip down to Johor Bahru seems to be the most cost-effective option.
If you have doubts about the quality of the products, our advice is to check the labels for the country of origin and examine the conditions of the tins before purchase!
2. Buy Baby diapers in bulk
- Abel Tan:
Buy the cheapest diaper you can get for your child for DAY diaper – Someone will change the diaper during the day, the infants waste your diapers like no tomorrow.
Buy a good diaper for the night – good diaper will help your baby sleep longer at night, and thus, you can get a good night sleep at night too!
- Huihui Ang:
Toilet train as early as possible also. Milk powder and diapers are the largest cost. So breastfeed as long as possible and toilet train as early as 2 years old.
Your baby can change up to 6 diapers a day. That adds up to about $2 per day, every day.
Going for non-premium brands can half that price which is a lot considering this being everyday item. Here are some options:
- Purchase Online: Qoo10 (use vouchers to buy diapers and wipes), Lazada
- Purchase in Johor Bahru
- Onwards: Prices from $17.90
- GOO.N: Prices from $21 when you buy in bulk (comes with free gifts)
Our community had also advised to toilet train your child as early as possible and to use cloth pants in the daytime. If that is too much of a hassle, consider using cheaper pants in the day and more quality ones at night so both the baby and you can rest better.
3. Hospital insurance is sufficient
This was the advice given by many of our community members.
Babies fall sick all the time, especially in their first year.
Hospitalisation expenses can go up into the thousands. Get your child a Children Hospitalisation Plan as early as possible so you do not end up incurring a huge cost. Consider looking for one that offers the reimbursement of expenses incurred by accompanying a parent.
Do not invest in other insurance yet if you cannot afford the extra expenditure!
4. Get support – Government policies and support groups
Government – Child Development Account (CDA)
Knowing the support you are given well can help you pay off a lot of extra costs.
- Marian Fletcher:
I recommend UOB for the Child Development Account (CDA) account. POSB and OCBC have a cap on the 2% interest i.e after a certain amount, the interest will no longer be at 2% but 0.05% instead.
UOB has no cap and will give 2% interest on any amount deposited in its CDA.
- Caroline Sim:
There are changes to the CDA matching mechanics. Sign up for the CDA account online. Upon approval, the government will deposit the first $3,000 into the CDA account. All you have to do is to put in another $3,000 before your child turns 12 years old to enjoy the next $3,000 of matching.
On top of the Baby Bonus Cash Gift that gives you $8000 for your first and second child and $10 000 for the third and subsequent child, sign up for the Child Development Account (CDA) which matches your savings dollar-for-dollar up to $6000 until he or she turns 12 years old. This includes higher interests and additional benefits. You can even use these funds for your child’s educational needs such as child care centres and pay for medical-related expenses. This includes things such as thermometers and vitamins from Guardian!
- Caleb Tan
Join all the Facebook groups and see if you can get any blessings from other parents such as old clothes or loose diapers that don’t fit anymore. Bless your own stuff too when your baby outgrows them.
Our community from the Seedly group also recommended other Facebook groups you can join to reap some tips from experienced parents! These are some recommendations:
- Breastfeeding Mothers Support Group (Singapore)
- Baby Products Promotion Singapore
- Preloved Baby Goods
5. Free vaccinations at Polyclinics
Hospital recommended immunisations are fully subsidised, free at all polyclinics for Singaporean children. Optional vaccines and medicine are also payable by your child’s Medisave, Baby Bonus cash gift or savings in the CDA.
Visiting a paediatrician (PD) is more expensive so save on that by visiting the general practitioner (GP) instead!
6. Change your lifestyle
Manage your finances
- Alison Ong:
I think firstly, start tracking your expenses! Use an app to find out where your money is going to!
Track your spendings and savings manually or automatically using the Seedly app.
Set a budget and stick to it.
Slowly Save Up
We feel like that this example is best set by one of our Facebook Community members:
- Caroline Sim:
I started with saving $2 a day for the baby for the first year. As she grow older, I will increase that amount by $2 every year.
Eg. $2 per day for 0-1 year old. $4 per day for 1-2 years old, and $6 per day for 2-3 years old.
Every little saving count. Do what is within your means.
Grow your money
7. Get Hand-me-downs and don’t spend unnecessarily
- Khuan Yew Cheah:
Get only a few ner clothes as babies grow really fast. Second-hand clothes from friends are great as the material is already softer and does not irritate the baby’s skin.
Babies grow fast.
That means they outgrow all the new clothes you were planning to get them in a jiffy. Getting old baby clothes from relatives and friends is a common thing to do and a great way to save money on new clothes.
Carousell for Big Items
New and old baby cots, play tents, baby strollers and even new milk bottles can be found on Carousell at cheap prices. This can save you a lot of items that usually cost hundreds.
- Caleb Tan:
Work out an arrangement with parents to take care of your baby, so that you do not need infantcare service that will cost you at least $600 per month.
The most cost-effective way to take care of your children is to arrange with your parents to look after them in the day while you’re at work.
However, if that is not an option, PCF (PAP Community Foundation) or My First Skool costs $600++ every month for infant care services.
Hiring a caretaker would also amount to similar or higher prices.
9. Keep your eyes peeled for Discounts
If there’s one thing we have learnt from our Seedly community, it is to keep looking for discounts that can help you save. Promotions online, in shopping centres, bargains on Carousell, those are all tips that came from conscientious searching.
What we can tell you is that the next baby fair you can grab some discounted goods is the Baby Land Fair at Suntec City from 23-25 Feb 2018.
Do browse around the fair before making a rash purchase!
10. Babies are simple
We learnt this from one of our community members:
- Abel Tan:
Do not make the perceived lack of money to be a problem. The solution is to focus on the parts of life that matter.
Babies do not need much. They only need you.
So even a clean old mattress from the storeroom or from friends will do. Place it on the floor for naps and for you to lie together.
“Tuition” – talking and hugging and setting a schedule for feeding reduces stress and pain. I recommend putting the baby to bed by 8.30pm. You need time for yourself and hubby. This one is completely free!
Most importantly, never ever let the lack of money affect the abundance of new love you will have in the family. Children are contented with simple. In fact, they will grow up to be more resourceful!