A closer look at our expenses

Our blog has garnered a lot more traction over the last few months and we thank our readers for your continuous support and comments.

One area which has garnered a lot of eyeballs is definitely our monthly expense reports. We share our expense reports with fellow readers as part of our journey towards minimalism and financial independence. This is solely our journey and as there are not many local families out there who track their expenses or share their expenses on the public space, I guess ours provide a snippet of how a family of 3 survive in the city state.

Firstly, as per some comments, I agree that our expenses are on the high end. If we look at the expenditure average for each household in Singapore, based on the statistical average compiled by singstat in 2012/13, the average expenditure is around SG$4,724. Let’s adjust a bit for inflation, perhaps the average today will be somewhere around the SG$5,000 – SG$5,500 mark. So with monthly expenses that is hitting $5000 – $7000 a month, we are definitely still above the “average”, or perhaps, just the average on some months.

Dollarsandsense had come up with a pretty interesting chart that provides the breakdown. Juxtaposing on this, I thought I would input some of our figures as well and do a comparison just to have an idea.

For the purpose of this exercise, I had used data from our September expense report. I am aware that probably using the figures on a year-to-date might be a more accurate representation but since I just wanted to have a feel to understand where we are, I am only using the September figures (and yes, I am too lazy to compile the figures for the last 9 months). Also, since that is one of our higher spending months, it will be quite interesting to see what the comparison looks like.

The categories used in the table below is slightly different from some of the categories that we had created to track our expenses. I have tried to include them in the relevant categories be as representative as possible. Those that doesn’t seem to end up anywhere, I have parked them under the “Others” category.

Also, there were some categories, for instance, groceries which I had no idea where they were parked in the singstat report. The report seems to include F&B expenditure as mainly dining out but since groceries is part of what we consume, I had included that in this category as well.

And so here it goes….

Singapore household average Our household
Items Amount ($) Percentage Amount ($) Comments Percentage
Food & Beverage 1,188 25.10% 1153.22 included Ally’s formula milk as well as groceries here 16.86%
Clothing & Footwear 156 3.30% 3 0.08%
Housing & Related Expenses (e.g. utility, furnitures, furnishing) 687 14.50% 121.44 includes utilities, property and conservancy charges 1.78%
Health 261 5.50% 144 included the health supplements 2.11%
Transport 811 17.20% 401.79 5.87%
Communication 217 4.60% 218.35 3.19%
Recreation & Culture 399 8.40% 0 0.00%
Educational Services 310 6.60% 1060 Basically we factor in Ally’s childcare and other related costs here 15.50%
Accommodation Services 40 0.08 0 0.00%
Others 655 13.90% 3737.47 Everything else that doesn’t fall under the above categories. In the singstat report, this includes Others” includes spending on miscellaneous goods and services not classified under the other categories such as social support services, insurance expenses, personal care services and expenditure on alcohol and tobacco. 54.65%
Total 4,724 100% 6839.27

A quick glance at the table, it seems like we are doing pretty well in most categories. The areas where we probably fared higher in terms of the amount spent is probably educational services, which is mainly childcare cost for Ally.

Other than that, it’s definitely the “Others category”, which is about 5-6 times higher than the average, and for us, it constitutes a whopping 55%!!!!!

Based on the singstat report, this category includes pending on miscellaneous goods and services not classified under the other categories such as social support services, insurance expenses, personal care services and expenditure on alcohol and tobacco.

What about us?

I thought I would do a rough breakdown as well.

Parents allowance 1200
Wedding red packet for Dave’s sister 1000
Insurance premiums 913.59
Others 623.88
Total 3737.47

I guess for us, the biggest component that form the “others” category is parents allowance. I doubt that this was included in the household expenditure survey as it doesn’t really fall under a typical “expenditure” pattern. However for us, we decided to have this recorded since this is money outflow and we wanted to track where our money flows. The second biggest component was the wedding gift to Dave’s sister. Well this is definitely an outlay that we don’t incur monthly but it’s good to see what accounts for this anomaly. The third largest component is definitely insurance premiums. This includes not just premiums that we are paying for the 3 of us, but also an integrated shield plan for my parents (which I am sharing with my sister). And as we all know, these plans are not cheap, especially at their age…

Anyway, as mentioned the above exercise was conducted mainly out of personal interest, as I wanted to have an idea where we stand, in terms of both absolute terms and percentage. I do not deny that overall, our expenses are on the high end, especially for a family of 3, with no car. But when we break down the categories and further scrutinise the numbers, our expenses are not really as high as one might think.  A friend of mine commented that we are very generous people (based on the amount I give to my parents and the various ang paos outlay). I thank her for her kind words and these are amounts which we are comfortable with giving. I know someone who gives her mother $2,500 a month and I also know of friends who give less than $500. Whatever the amount, it should be something that we are comfortable and we totally respect that and there should be no basis of comparison.

Dave should be doing a more thorough breakdown of this when we collate our annual expenses. To be honest, we are most probably bursting our budget, not that I am proud of that. Initially, when I suggested to Dave a monthly budget of $5,000, it was also partially inspired by this report. We figured that since the average household here can survive on that amount a month, we should try and strive to do so.

We tried, at least I think we did…

2 thoughts on “A closer look at our expenses

  1. Hi Kate,

    I think allowances to parents is definitely not counted as an expense for Singstat. For their data, I am surprised housing related expenses is this high. Probably renovation and furniture are amortised? Whereas educational expenses are very low at $300. I am sure two kids in infant/child care would be way above $300.

    I second your friend. Both Dave and you are definitely generous people! =p


    • Hi Thomas,

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

      Yes when I was studying the report, I was also rather surprised by the “housing” category. Initially I had thought that they included mortgage, but taking a closer look, that might not seem the case. And yes I think you are right that renovation and furniture might be amortized in that sense.

      Education as well, for family with children, even if they do not go to childcare, enrichment cost are already skyrocketing high. I know a few friends who send their kids to various types of classes and it cost about 1-2k for each kid per month!!!


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