Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Singapore Can Be Better

I am a simple man with simple needs and wants. However, I will share my "wish list" for basic day-to-day expenses and experience. These have to be managed from top-down.

Lower cost of living

1) Infant care will cost you >$1300 a month, about the cheapest I can find within Singapore. After the maximum subsidy we can enjoy with working mother's benefit, you are expected to pay about $750. Even if you managed to find a few cheaper ones around some "ulu" areas of Singapore, but are you willing to bring your child to and fro before and after work every day to the infant care centre? By doing so, how much more transport cost do you need to incur? You do the math yourself.

2) Medical cost for children and family. When your child is placed at an infant care centre, be prepared for him/her to fall sick every week for the first 2-3 months. Thereafter, maybe once a month. When your child is sick, you may be sick too. You can easily spend >$200 on medical for the family. If you need a paediatrician, it will cost even more.

3) A tin of 1.8kg milk powder cost >$70 for most brands in Singapore. This tin of milk may last you about 2-3 weeks. If you have 2 children, it will cost you about $200 a month easily. Of course, breast milk is strongly encouraged for child's development and it is free. If the mothers are working, they may not be able to fully supply their child diet by breast milk but they can reduce the intake of formula milk.
(There is a cheaper version under Dumex's Dupro/Dugro. You can do your research on the nutritional value of the cheaper version, which I thought was fine. Would you want to save the money by taking a bet on your children's health and crucial development? When none of your friends are using the cheaper brand, would you want to take the "risk"? I would say most people will choose to spend money to buy a "normal" range of milk around >$70, if budget allows.)

4) Living in new town and working at the city areas, It will take great discipline and maybe "anti-social" initiatives to enjoy the cheapest hawker food at around $3 every meal. This is provided you can eat the same thing every day without buying drinks. For most people, it will cost about $6 with drink in average for hawker food in new town and city areas. This will translate to about >$500 per person a month to eat. For your record, I do spend less than $300 per month on food without buying drink most of the time and visit restaurant once a week. This is because I enjoy simple food and I can live with eating the same/similar food every day. I am not a huge eater to begin with. Of course, you can prepare your own food before and after your work. Trust me, if you are already rushing to infant care centre before and after work, with the tons of household chores to do without a maid and parent support, cooking is the last thing in mind. Actually, you still have to cook for your child even if you are not cooking for yourself. Now you know why I am so busy.

Better infrastructures to support population growth

1) I have my fair share of squeezing in trains, buses, hawkers centres, shopping centres and most family-friendly places in Singapore. The travel time to most places in Singapore from my place (beside mrt) will take >45 minutes. If you take bus, even travelling to nearby town will take 1 hour, plus waiting time. The experience can be better. That all I would say.

2) When we were looking for an infant care arrangement, trust me, we have considered all the options we have :
  • Infant Care Centre
  • Employing a maid;
  • Being a stay-at-home husband/wife;
  • Asking relative to take care of my child; and 
  • Finding a professional nanny.
We were on waiting list of >200 for each infant care centre that we have enquired. 皇天不负有心人. We finally gotten a place at infant care, by the magic of super "kiasu". We emailed in immediately when we knew which company successfully bid the rights to operate the infant care at the premise. And we almost couldn't got it. Most of my friends couldn't get a place at infant care. Amazing on how efficient Singaporeans are, right?

The "wish list" can go on and on. However, I will be so happy if the above fundamentals issues can be resolved.

This should not be viewed as a politic-related post. What I have mentioned are my "little wish list" that I think should be look into fundamentally. I didn't cover the progress and good things I felt about Singapore here. So it is only a side of my story. I am just a simple man thinking out loud on my wishes, remember?


  1. Frugal Daddy,

    I knew I have lost touched with the costs of how much it is to bring up a child when I found out 3 years ago how much a private kindergarten class costs...

    I remember going WTF!!!???

    And during my weekend working, I see quite a lot of young parents fumbling with their baby strollers on the crowded bus and MRT. it would be insensitive of me (and out of touch) if I had thought to myself why don't these couples take a cab?

    Instead of reading reports or getting 3rd hand information from underlings, just practice management by walking around will do. And that's my wish :)

    A walk here walk there man of leisure me.

    1. Hi SMOL

      I only can internalise the challenges that parents faced after being a parent. Really, now i can understand why many people choose to stay single or childless. haha. Hey, I am not advocating that direction, Singapore need more children and Singaporeans please.

      Indeed, I still feel infant care is a basic need as both parents are working, it can't be priced at >$750 after subsidy. If got twin, it is >$1500 cash. unbelievable, employ maid is more economical. However, many things can't be measured by financial along for parents.

      For the baby stollers, i feel you. I also hated it when children as old as 5 to 6 years old still sitting in a stroller like they have the rights of the trains, pathway, and so on. For children 3 and below, I can understand as it is extremely challenging to manage without a stroller unless you have a helper. I plan to stop the stroller when my child is >3 years old (Now at 1 year old, I am already gradually stopping the usage). Quite troublesome to take bus with stroller and not everyone can afford a cab everywhere.

      Being a parent is a thankless job. Not only financially, but you have to think 24/7 whether they are picking up the talking skill, physical skill, toilet skill, eating well, and so on and on. endless. haha. I enjoyed it thought, weird but I missed my personal time.

      I do appreciate a man of leisure lifestyle too. :)

  2. Hello Frugal Daddy,

    I share the same concerns. It is amazing how much it costs to bring up a kid in Singapore, especially if the kids are sent to childcare. Besides the money, health is affected too. My entire family went through one bout of flu after another. It is bad enough if your child falls sick. It sucks when you are sick too.

    I have not attended a single political rally, but I have read the news. I wonder why none of the parties have talked about these bread & butter issues impacting the sandwiched generation in Singapore.

    1. Hi SS

      I feel you too. So I am happy that you joined the financial community as we have similar profile. As for politic, I don't want to get involved. However, it is indeed a problem that they should deeply look into if they want to boost fertility rate. It is not rocket science if you ask me.

  3. hi there! i totally agree with the escalating cost of private education centres. i feel some regulation is necessary to ensure that private operators (whose sole aim in life is to maximise profits) do not just pass on costs to parents. i feel its necessary for the extended family network to be strengthen (don't ask me how) in order to ensure that the relatives can help out to take care of kids, transfer knowledge, traditions and culture. we all sit in our pretty apartments and meet up with our aged parents too little these days. misunderstanding with relatives, in laws arise so often that we rather move out and avoid then resolve. all this is bad for us. just random ramblings.

    1. Hi gagmewithaspoon

      Thanks for visiting my humble blog.

      Even the cost of anchor infant care endorsed by the public is expensive at about >$1300 before subsidy.

      Some parents have no choice, like mine. Our parents would prefer to work than taking care of our child. What to do. Even the people in 50s are "strawberry generation", for some of them. hehe...

  4. Heng ah...u r Singaporeans!

    U wait few more yrs, more Heng u will be!

    Wait until u have to fork tuition fees, pocket money, buy things for them, enrichment classes, ur kids also have peer pressure even u r a frugal daddy!

    I am still in favour in growing human capital from 20-35 to build up a sustainable nest NOT everyday warchest here or warchest there when young. The pt is cannot focus in investment more than work. But still can learn investment but must be patient.

    Ok sorry I am a bit extreme in this point.

    I think even Frugal in Singapore is probably gg to be "Siong" when u have family burden..

    1. HI Rolf

      I am waiting for you to comment on parent related cost. haha and here you are!

      Agreed that human capital is more important and realistic for majority of us whereas investment is to ensure our money don't lose out to inflation and not a "common" mean to replace human capital. Though few of the experts are able to do that.

      Yes, that why despite financially being efficient, I am still hesitating to have a 2nd child after 1 year of considering. The time and physical commitments are tremendous too. haha.

  5. Hi Frugal Daddy, I'm from the singaporemm blog.

    May I ask why you chose not to have a maid? I have one, and it is a lot more economical for sure, plus she can still help out around the house.

    About the milk: For some very large supermarkets, you can find milk powder in a box of 3 in sachets for many brands. I did the math and they are cheaper overall than the milk tins due to the reduced packaging (and my brand does not come in 1.8kg anyway.) I always buy 2-3 boxes at one go and each box can last up to 1 month. It will not make a lot of difference but may add up in the long run.

    1. Hi Michelle

      Thanks for visiting my blog.

      We prefer the private time at home without maid. Also, there isn't anyone look after the maid. The cost is about the same if we factor in food, medical. However, maid can do more things for sure. We may consider for 1 if we have 2nd child.

      Thanks for the milk powder tips. Now majority breastfeeding and shifting to solid food. I have requested many samples from clinic and the coy and friends also given theirs when their kid outgrown. So haven't really bought 1 tin yet. Was doing research at major supermarketts but all very costly.

      My name frugal daddy has to earn its upkeep. Haha