Price of Life in Your 30s

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If ever there is a season in life that has the most changes, your 30s would be it. From singlehood to a twosome, DINK (dual income no kids) to growing family, starter home to family-sized abodes – life as a 30-something is a whirlwind of changes.

And much of that has a price tag.

1. Raising kids

If ever there is a season in life that has the most changes, your 30s would be it. From singlehood to a twosome, DINK (dual income no kids) to growing family, starter home to family-sized abodes – life as a 30-something is a whirlwind of changes. And much of that has a price tag.

You can’t put a price on the joy kids bring to the family. But raising a child in Singapore can cost.

According to a 2016 report on TODAY online, the average cost of raising a child from zero to 21 is S$340,000 (S$20,000 at the lower end of the spectrum and S$1 million for those living the high life). It works out to an average of S$1349 a month. That may seem like a lot. But if you break it down, you’ll see it’s entirely possible.

0 to 3 years

Diapers, clothes, shoes, toys, books, milk, toddler snacks, baby soap and shampoo, baby detergent, medical and insurance, enrichment classes – who knew such a tiny person could need so much.

Think about the basics – milk and diapers. One piece of diaper, at the cheapest, costs about S$0.20. Your toddler will need about eight a day. That’ll amount to S$50 a month. A tin of formula costs around S$40 for the most cost-effective brands. The 900-gram tin lasts about a week. In a month, it’ll amount to S$160.

From birth to 18 months, your child will need a series of immunisations. This will mean no fewer than eight visits to the doctor. If you go to a polyclinic, some of the jabs are free or can be paid via Medisave. The rest come up to S$439.50 and you have yet to factor in paying for the doctor’s time.

Pre-schooler

Once Junior hits three, there’s education to consider. A Straits Times report put the median cost across over 1,300 childcare centres at S$856 a month for full-day childcare. According to the Ministry of Education, kindergartens cost S$150 for a half-day programme and S$375 for a full-day one.

Then there are the swimming lessons, dance classes, reading programmes, art classes, piano lessons and any other skills you think your progeny should possess.

Primary school

School is generally cheap because most children go to government-run schools. What ups the costs are the other things: transport fees (it is not uncommon to foot S$100 a month or more for two-way school bus trips), school uniforms, textbooks, pocket money (budget S$1.50 a day for a lower Primary school kid and upward of S$2 for an upper Primary one).

And who can leave out tuition? Home tuition rates go from S$20 to S$50 per hour depending on the tutor’s qualifications. Group tuition at centres need not necessarily be cheaper. On average, it’s S$35 an hour. That’s for one subject. Pity the parent who thinks his child needs more.

Price: S$200,000 onwards (S$340,000 on average from 0 to 21)

2. Getting a maid

If your child is not at some sort of full-day care and you have no grandparents to count on, nannies and maids are a necessity. A maid costs upward of S$550 a month for her pay plus S$120 a month for the levy (if you qualify for the levy concession, S$265 if you do not). There’s also medical insurance of about S$350 for every two years and two medical check-ups a year (from S$70).

To get a maid, there are other costs: employer’s orientation programme, agency fees for helping you find a maid and doing the paperwork, security bond with the Ministry of Manpower, initial medical examination. Add them up and it costs upward of around S$5,500.

Nannies cost more a month – from S$700. But if you consider the additional costs a maid incurs, it all evens out.

Price: S$700 onwards

3. Upgrades

As your family expands, so must your home and your car. There is no putting a price to this because the variables are too many. Suffice to say that S$350,000 for a resale HDB four-room flat is considered a bargain and you would need at least a home of that size if you want two kids or more.

If you want to own a car, prepare to fork over a six-figure sum because COEs alone can cost S$50,000 and more (based on COE premiums in December 2016).

Of course, you’re not without some help. There’s the Baby Bonus Scheme with a cash gift of S$6,000 for the first and second child and S$8000 for the subsequent children, the Baby Bonus Plus which adds another S$2,000 and the Children Development Account (CDA) that matches dollar for dollar what parents put in the account up to S$6,000 for the first and second child, S$12,000 for the third and fourth, and S$18,00 for the fifth and subsequent children. Since 2011, there has also been the Child Development Credit scheme which adds another S$300 or S$400 depending on the value of your home.

A lot of things in your 30s will cost a lot. But comparing and finding the best financial products on BankBazaar.sg will always be free.

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