Financial Planning

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.

We’re All Hit with Rising Costs

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).

Changes in Needs, Wants and Lifestyle

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.

Too Stressed To Feel Blessed

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.


These insurance products are underwritten by Manulife (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Reg. No. 198002116D). This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment. There may be high costs involved if you terminate the policy early, and your policy's surrender value (if any) may be zero or less than the total premiums paid. Buying health insurance products that are unsuitable for you may affect your ability to finance your future healthcare needs. This advertisement is for your information only and does not consider your specific investment objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not a contract of insurance and is not intended as an offer or recommendation to purchase the plan. You can find the full terms and conditions, details, and exclusions for the mentioned insurance product(s) in the policy contract.

This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact us or visit the LIA or SDIC web-sites ( or

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Content Sources
1 - Bhaskaran, M., Ng, Y., & Teo, H. (2016). Rising Costs In Singapore. IPS Exchange Series, 175.
2 - Department of Statistics Singapore. (2019, January 2). Key Indicators On Household Income From Work Among Resident Employed Households, Annual. Retrieved from Department of Statistics Singapore:
3 - Department of Statistics Singapore. (2019, July). Household Expenditure Survey 2017/18. Retrieved from Department of Statistics Singapore:
5 - Kit, T. S. (2019, February 2019). Cost of living in Singapore: Slow overall inflation but some pressure points. ChannelNews Asia.:
6 - Lock, C. (2019, August 10). Government survey shows families in Singapore are spending more on travel. Retrieved from The Straits Times:
7 - Loh, G. (2018, August 01). Singaporeans seeking adventure. Retrieved from Channel News Asia:
8 - Tambyah, S., & Tan, S. (2012). Happiness and Wellbeing: The Singaporean Experience. Singapore: Routledge.
9 - Visa. (2016, May 10). Singapore Households Estimated to be World’s 7th Top Overseas Travel Spenders by 2025. Retrieved from Visa Inc: