Refocusing Your Everyday Worries
Singapore has its charm. Whether we like it or not, it’s the competitive spirit which has been ingrained in every Singaporean that pushes us to survive and thrive. We are always on our toes, wanting to be at the top of the game at every aspect of life.
So, what exactly looms over the heads of every Singaporean? What are we fighting for? Let’s take a look at the top things you and I are most likely to be fretting over almost every morning. Don’t worry, we’ve also come up with ways you can overcome these daily tribulations too!
We’re All Hit with Rising Costs
As the living standards improve in the country, so do the expenses and lifestyle of every Singaporean. Back in 2013, the median gross monthly income per household member was $2,247, but, in 2018 it has risen to $2,792 (Department of Statistics Singapore, 20192). If you take a look at a typical Singaporean’s expenses, it has been recorded that a household spent an average of $4,910 per month on goods and services in 2018, compared to $4,720 as recorded in 2013 (Department of Statistics Singapore, 20193). Freaking out yet? This makes us wonder even more about how both our monthly income and expenses managed to hit such a dramatic spike, which led us to consider these causes.
Take for an example the cost of a bag of rice. In 2013, a 5kg packet of fragrant Thai rice was priced at $12.78 (Kit, 20195). In 2018, that same bag of rice costed $13.06, a 28 cents increase just over a course of five years (Kit, 20195). On top of that, the costs of housing, utilities and public transport are rising too (Bhaskaran, Ng, & Teo, 2016, p. 121). One moment you may think you’re right on budget, but the next, boom! Rice prices increase or fuel costs skyrocket, then it’s back to readjusting your funds.
Changes in Needs, Wants and Lifestyle
Another obvious difference indicating the change in living standards of Singaporeans is reflected in their lifestyle. Twenty years ago, having a mobile phone was constituted as a luxury. Now, almost everyone from the auntie at the coffee shop to your neighbour’s toddler has a device. In fact, having multiple devices is part of the norm today too!
What was once known as ‘luxury’ items have become bare necessities – life essentials! It’s the new normal. So too has that car you’ve been eyeing or that flat you’ve been saving up your Central Provident Funds for. Taking public transport or living with your parents has sort of become ‘uncool’ in the name of convenience and privacy.
Moreover, with television and the internet of things, travelling has also become more of a lifestyle norm for Singaporeans (Lock, 20196). In recent years, more Singaporeans are going on holidays, with most of them finding sanctuary in exploring new and adventurous destinations (Loh, 20187). According to a study done by VISA, the average annual spend on overseas travel per Singapore household is projected to hit over $41,000 by 2025 (Visa, 20169).
It’s A Sandwich Situation
Truth be told, it’s not that you’re not bringing in enough cash. It’s the fact that literally everything around you has become more expensive due to inflation (Bhaskaran, Ng, & Teo, 2016, pp. 12-131). Therefore, it’s common to feel as though your hard-earned money is never enough. Just like your favourite kaya and butter slapped onto two slices of toast in the morning, you too are sandwiched.
Let’s consider your family responsibilities for a bit. Like a true Singaporean, you’re likely to look out for your family and see that everyone is well taken care of; making sure Dad gets the best medical attention and your kids are enrolled in a school that stimulates learning. All of that, while juggling work, social life, family time and a little bit of me time. Wow. That sounds like a lot on one’s plate.
Too Stressed To Feel Blessed
It comes as no surprise that Singaporeans feel stressed. According to a survey done by Health Promotion Board, one in six working adults in Singapore experiences a relatively high level of stress (Health Promotion Board, 20124). In a study done by Tambyah & Tan (2012) it was concluded that money is the top issue making Singaporeans unhappy. Cue the loud sigh. Now more than ever, the ability to maintain a certain standard of living has become more of a priority amongst Singaporeans. No one wants to be left behind and many live in constant fear of never having enough.
Refocusing Your Attention to What Matters
Financial stress is not necessarily caused by the lack of money. Chances are it could be due to the lack of understanding how to manage finances efficiently (and that’s perfectly normal, not to worry!). Think about it, if you have your finances in check and a plan in place, you would have lesser things to worry about and you’re more likely to have a peace of mind.
One of the ways you can go about doing so is to channel your financial worries into coming up with a budget. When you have a budget that lists everything from large expenses such as your HDB down payment, to your everyday costs like transportation, you will be able to get a clearer picture of where your money is going. When it comes to savings, don’t just let it sit in your bank. Instead, think of ways you may grow it through investments. On top of that, having a life insurance policy in place only adds on to firming up your safety net in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
In short, it is always a good idea to start planning early for your retirement as it would be less strenuous as compared to doing it at a later age.
The good news is, you don’t have to do everything on your own. With the help of a Manulife Financial Consultant, you can start focusing on the things that matter most. Armed with financial planning skills, our Financial Consultants will go through a financial needs analysis with you in order to recommend insurance solutions to help you get closer to your financial goals based on your financial shortfalls within your budget.
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