We Spent A Net Total Of S$16,000 For Our Wedding, Or S$80 Per Wedding Guest.

Regular readers will know that Mrs Budget and I recently just got married! And we are glad that everything is finally over now!

Of course, as with all money matters, we tracked our spending as much as possible to see if we have overspent and if there are things we can improve on.

So here are all our wedding costs listed:

Pre Wedding ItemsCost
Wedding Bands$2,964.50
ROM fees$42.00
Ping Jing$4,976.00
Betrothal Package (Guo Da Li)$78.00

Wedding ItemsCost
Friend Accomodation Cost$338.98
Bridal Package$3,788.00
Groom Suit$890.00
Bride Additional Gown$178.00
Bridal Make Up Artist$720.00
Photographer extra hour charges$118.00
Car Rental$306.00
bridal car deco$80.00
Jing Cha Angpao$240.00
Wedding Banquet$25,693.01
Wedding Video$688.00
Wedding Gift$30.00
Wedding Photo Album$62.00
Wedding day angpao$878.00
Emcee$888.00


Grand Total$42,958.49

As you can see from the above table, we’ve spent close to S$43,000 for our wedding.

Of course, this includes line items like the wedding bands and the Ping Jing, all of which is from Mr Budget’s own pocket. For the actual wedding stuffs, most of it is co-shared by Mr and Mrs Budget.

One of the most expensive line item is our bridal package, which is at S$3788, consisting of 2 wedding gowns and 1 set of Kua for Mrs Budget, 1 set of male Kua for Mr Budget, on day 10 hour photography as well as on day make up artist for Mrs Budget. Overall we feel that the price we paid for is still quite reasonable for what we receive from the bridal shop.

For Mr Budget’s suit, we had it tailored for S$890, consisting of a 3 piece suit, an additional shirt and a tie. Other miscellaneous cost we incurred are getting a videographer to do our march in video, hiring a wonderful emcee to host our wedding, make up artist for our family members, wedding day angpaos for the groomsmen and bridesmaid, and of course, the biggest cost for us is the wedding banquet itself, at S$25,693.01. 

When you add all of these up, it comes up to a grand total of S$42,958.49, all of which we slowly paid for since last year.

Wedding ReceiptsTotal
Angpao (friends)$13,128.00
Angpao relative$19,688.00
Jing Cha$1,644.00
– table surplus-($7,480.00)


Grand Total$26,980.00

As with all weddings, we received angpaos to help cushion the cost, and we count ourselves lucky that the angpaos are able to cover the cost of the banquet.

For the angpaos, we received a total of S$32,816, which more than cover the wedding banquet all thanks to Mrs Budget’s very generous relatives. To be fair to our parents, for all surpluses of wedding angpao from the relative’s table, we gave them back to our parents.

Adding the additional angpaos from the tea ceremony, we received a total of S$26,980 worth of angpaos.

All in all, the net spent for us is S$15,978.49.

That may be a lot for some, but what we received in return is:

  • A day filled with lots of memories and catching up with people who makes us happy (albeit a short catch up)
  • The official marriage of Mr and Mrs Budget (although we have already been legally married)
  • A tailored 3 piece suit for Mr Budget
  • A beautiful wedding gown for Mrs Budget
  • Wedding jewellery worth >S$10,000

What we got back was definitely worth more than what we paid for. 🙂

Another way to look at the costing is that, for our wedding, 200 people came, so that’s about S$80 per person we spent to come celebrate our wedding with us.

All in all, we’d say we are quite happy with what we’ve spent, and there are probably not much areas that we felt we have overspent. We did away with a wedding live band which probably saved us S$1,000 – S$2,000. 

On top of that, we also optimised our credit card for the wedding banquet and received up to S$1,000 in cash back – this is only possible as the hotel allow us to make monthly charges to our respective credit cards, hence we charged S$2000 monthly to each of our UOB One credit card to get a max 5% cash back, and the rest of it we charged it to our Standard Chartered Unlimited Cash Back Card.

Do you think we’ve overspent? How much did you spend for your wedding?

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The Ideal Minimum Salary Range For 30 – 35 Years Old Singaporean Is Between S$3,500 To S$4,500

Syfe, a roboadvisor in Singapore, recently released a study that looks at whether Singaporeans are ready for retirement. 

Dubbed the Syfe Retirement Readiness Index, the study showed a few findings after polling about 1000+ Singaporeans across all age groups.

Here’s what they found:

  1. 60% of Singaporeans feel that they are not adequately prepared for retirement
  2. 69% of Singaporeans don’t think they can retire comfortably
  3. 50% save less than 20% of their income
  4. 40% of Singaporeans are significantly behind on retirement planning
  5. Women are slightly more retirement ready than men
  6. Nearly 30% of homeowners saved less than 10% of their salary

What caught our attention is actually the low savings rate for the 35 – 44 age bracket – also most likely to be new homeowners and young parents.

Seeing that this will be Mr and Mrs Budget’s profile in the next few years, this worried us a bit too. 

According to the study, for the 35 – 44 years old, only 52% save more than 20% of their salary, and nearly 30% of homeowners saved less than 10% of their salary.

With this in mind, we tried to do a forecast on our future expenses and see how much do we need to spend, and then we can work backwards from there to see how much we need to earn, in order to have excess money to save up for our retirement.

For the forecast, we will be calculating based on a young couple, with one kid as well as a maid to help with household chores, living in a private condo.

Budget Forecast when we reach 35 years old

Currently, Mrs Budget and I spend about S$700 for groceries and meals, and we order in quite a fair bit.

With a child and a maid, we forecast the groceries and meal to be around S$1000 a month. For the home utilities, we calculated in the home utilities, mobile bills as well as the internet bill.

We estimate the cost of a maid to be about S$800. Other assumptions: mortgage payment will be S$3000 a month, and we are contributing a monthly stipend to our parents.

Hence the rough estimated household cost is at S$7,400 a month.

And wow that’s a lot. 

We tried to see if our estimation is too far off, hence we compared this projection with another young family’s expense. We found that the figure is not too far off.

Here’s the real monthly expenses as shared by Dave and Kate:

Source

From the above spending, you will see that the monthly average is S$7916.63 a month. Of course, they have two kids in the family so the expenses is slightly high.

So it will seem like the average household expenditure is around S$7000 – S$8000.

If we split that by two working adults, you will need to earn at least S$4,375 per person so that your take home pay is at least S$3500!

S$4375 per person can be quite high for some, and it is no wonder that young parents who are homeowners will struggle to save more than 10 or 20% of their salary every month. When the money comes in, all of it will have to be spent on household items, your child, your parents, and the hefty mortgage. 

I’d imagine if a person is earning less than S$4,000 when he or she is older than 40 years old to feel as if he is living pay check to pay check. In my previous article, I have calculated that one have to earn at least S$2,600 a month before 30 years old.

Coupled with this new calculation, it seems like the ideal minimum salary range between 30 – 35 years old will have to be at least S$3,500 – S$4,500

Ideal Minimum Salary By Age

This way, he will be ready for all the mortgage and household expenses when he is 35 years old. This is also assuming the other partner has equal share in terms of household expenditure.

Also Read: At 30 Years Old, Your Monthly Salary Should Have Been S$2,600 For You To Feel Financially Secure.

Which is why prudent spending during your younger age is extremely important, and once you have this habit, you will bring it along with you even as you grow older. 

It is also equally important to make sure that you increase your income every year, so that you can catch up with new expenses as we grow older. 

For Mrs Budget and I, we will be using S$8,000 of monthly household expenses as a baseline to do a cash flow forecast for the next few years, and to see if our income can support that household expenses requirement.

Otherwise, we will have to make certain lifestyle adjustment to bring down the monthly household expenses. And it certainly looks that way now.

For our readers, do share with us your household expenditure so that we know if our figures are too far off. 🙂

Disclaimer: Figures above are not adjusted to inflation, and are only used as a general estimation. Real life expenditure varies from individual to individual.

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Civil Servant’s 0.1 Month Bonus – What It Means And What Are We Doing About It

So one of the biggest news yesterday was the announcement of the annual bonus for civil servants.

If you have not read it, basically, according to the Public Service Division, most civil servants will get a year-end bonus of 0.1 month this year, with a one-off lump sum payment of S$250 to S$1,500.

Of course, there were a lot of unhappiness aired by Singaporeans, especially those in the civil sector. Mrs Budget is also part of the civil service. 

Is 0.1 month bonus very low? Well yes, if you look at the historical annual bonuses for civil servants over the past few years.

Dr Wealth did a very handy bar graph to help visualise this:

Source

Here’s what the graph show:

  1. 2019 bonus of 0.55 months has been the second lowest payout in the last 14 years.
  2. The lowest payout was in 2009, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, at 0.25. It was the only time in the last 14 years that no mid-year bonus was given.
  3. The highest bonus given is 1.7 months. 
  4. Following a low annual bonus, the year after will usually see at least a 1.5 months of annual bonus (year 2010, 2013, 2017).

According to an internal note to public officers that was made available to the media, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the economic performance this year has been weak, and the economic outlook remains uncertain and challenging with downside risks.

What that means is that, going into 2020, economy will continue to be sluggish and with the global trade war still ongoing, things are not going to go up anytime soon.

What Can And Should We Do

So instead of complaining, or after we complain about the decrease in bonus, what we should be doing is to make sure we prepare adequately in case of a recession mid late next year.

For Mr and Mrs Budget, we will be looking to trim down on our monthly expenses, as well as revoking into our financial commitments. This means that we should cut down on food delivery, and cook more often at home. Entertainment cost is also an area we need to cut down on.

Also Read: November 2019 Monthly Expenses Update

Mr Budget also has a high monthly mortgage commitment, and that is something that is constantly weighing him down. So we will have to see if there are ways to go around that. 

Other than relooking our finances and be more prudent, perhaps more importantly, is to make sure that we increase our cash holdings which serves as our war chest to be deployed when there are any stock opportunities. 

Currently for Mr Budget, his cash holdings is a bit on the low side, as most of it is invested out into the market. What he will be doing for the next year is to increase his cash and cash equivalent, and continue to contribute to his CPF.

Based on a simple projection, if he did not put any more stocks and just save up his cash from his salary, by end of next year, his cash holding should be between 30% – 35%. His pension fund should swell to 38%. 

Note to self: Please don’t buy anymore stocks in 2020 unless they are absolutely attractive. 

For Mrs Budget, she is currently overweight in her CPF, with half of her current net worth (minus properties) consisting of her CPF. What she will be doing next year is to continue to pile up on the cash and can be slightly more aggressive in scouting for investments to spread out her portfolio more. 

Based on a simple projection, if she buy S$6000 of stocks and save the rest of her salary, by end of next year, her cash holding should be around 30%, while maintaining a 48% CPF portfolio and a 12% SG stock portfolio.

Hopefully we can stay on this path towards increasing our cash % holding. 

For those getting more than 0.1 month of bonus, please save up, because winter might be coming! The government usually knows more than we do!

If you are in the private sector, how much bonus are you expecting to receive?

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November 2019 Monthly Expenses Update

At the end of every month, Mrs Budget and I will reconcile our monthly expenses and see what are we spending on, and where we can optimise or cut down our expenses.

We subscribe to the believe that every penny saved is a penny earned – sometimes its easier to save S$100, than to earn S$100, both of which results in the same net worth increase.

In November, here’s what Mr Budget spent on.

Meals$266.74
Transportation (mrt)$113.19
Entertainment$374.81
Groceries / Home$2,114.37
Phone Bill$56.10
Family$278.33
Income Tax$103.05
Hair Cut$34.00
Digital Subs$30.56
Malaysia Mortgage 1$851.74
Malaysia Mortgage 2$127.50
Singapore Mortgage$985.74
Others$1,014.75

My total expenses this month is $6,350.88, consisting of a fixed expenses of $2,467.02 and variable expenses of $3,883.86.

The variable expenses is higher this month as we made our usual wedding downpayment for our banquet next year, and we foresee some recovery in that aspect next month when the ang Pao comes in.

Entertainment cost is higher as Mr Budget went overseas with his company. Other than that, managed to cut down on grab food meals this month hence the overall expenses is lower than last month. Mr Budget also incurred a S$1000 cost under “others” as he made a voluntary contribution to his EPF account. 

For the month of November, I would say that we are fairly satisfied with Mr Budget’s monthly spending. 

As with last month, mortgage payments make up to S$2000 of Mr Budget’s monthly fixed expenses. Hopefully we will reap the reward in the future. 

For Mrs Budget, here’s what she spent on.

Meals$200.95
Transportation$80.00
Family$600.00
Entertainment$16.00
Groceries / Home$2,114.37
Phone Bill$39.71
Endowment$303.97
Insurance$87.25
Income Tax$0.00
Shopping$182.34

Mrs Budget’s total expenditure was $3,657.59, out of which $1,311.88 is the fixes expenses.

Other than contributing a monthly stipend to her parents and contributing to her endowment plan, the other high expenses is the wedding table downpayment. As per usual, Mrs Budget’s spending is well within our satisfaction.

October 2019 Monthly Expenses Update

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At 30 Years Old, Your Monthly Salary Should Have Been S$2,600 For You To Feel Financially Secure.

Earlier today, Mr Budget was having a lunch catch up with a friend. Obviously we spoke about marriage and the topic of money came up in our discussion. 

While we went talking, I can’t help but sense that she is worried generally about her financial situation. As she approached 30 years old, she has not settled down with her partner mostly due to financial insecurity.

According to a recent report, over the decade, Singaporeans who are getting married for the first time are getting older

The median age of first-time grooms was 30.2 last year, slightly older than 29.8 in 2008. For first-time brides, the median age was 28.5 last year, compared with 27.3 in 2008.

So I asked myself, at age 30, how much should you have saved up in order for you to feel like you are ready for the next phase in life? Is money a big factor in deciding whether to tie the knot?

Mr Budget did a quick scenario planning to find the monthly salary indicator to check when will someone feel “safe” to move on their next phase in life:

For simpler calculation, we made the following assumption:

  1. A couple will need to save up S$20,000 in total for the cost of the first child. This includes basic government hospitalisation, as well as the various basic cost for after the kid is born up till the first year. You can read my previous post on this.
  2. Wedding will cost S$20,000. This assumes that banquet can cover itself, and the couple will need to fork up expenses such as photography, wedding gown package, guodali, honeymoon. This is a general assumption and varies according to each couple. 
  3. Renovation will cost S$40,000. This is a general assumption and seems to be a fairly accurate estimate. We spent about S$25,000 because our home comes almost fully furnished.
  4. Assume first house will be covered by CPF and some help from parents for easier calculation. 

Hence the total needed for someone to “adult” and get married at 30 years old, it turns out to be S$80,000 per couple, or S$40,000 per person.

Let’s make a further assumption that people only start saving when they turn 26. This is because the savings rate for Singaporean in their first few years of career will usually be quite low, or that they may have student loans to clear in the first few years.

To save up S$40,000 in 5 years (26 to 30 years old) before turning 30 years old, he or she will need to save S$8,000 annually, or S$666.67 a month. 

Assuming he or she allocates S$1500 for living expenses (food, entertainment, roof over the head, transport, social commitment), that will translate to a total take home salary of S$2166.67, or a gross salary of S$2,600 (to take consideration of CPF).

Also Read: Our Retirement Expenses

So I would think that if someone, at age 26 years old, is making S$2,600 in monthly gross salary, he or she might start to feel anxious about life. 

The good thing is that, according to a recent report, the median salary for Singaporean is now above S$4500. 

But for those that are making S$2,600 or less, I would think the option now is to upskill, and see if there are better career opportunities in other companies. 

Don’t give up because there are so much more joy in life and everything will always be ok. Mr Budget started off with S$2,200 in gross salary about 6 or 7 years ago. 

How much was your gross salary when you started working?

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Why You Should Never Pay For Credit Card Annual Fees

Earlier this month, while Mr Budget routinely checks his credit card transaction, he realised that Standard Chartered has charged him the annual fee for the usage of the Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback card. 

The total amount charged was S$192.60. 

If you do the math, you will realize that the amount is actually quite a huge amount.

Some background: Standard Chartered Unlimited Cash Back card is a no frills card that gives you a flat 1.5% cash back with no minimum spend, and there is no cap on the monthly cash back. So it is a pretty useful card if you have big purchases. 

To get a cash back of S$192.60, you will need to spend a total of S$3,852.

Splitting that into 12 months that will be a minimum monthly spent of S$321! 

What this means is that, if you are paying for the annual fee, and if over the past 12 preceding month, if you did not spend a minimum of S$321 on the card monthly to get the cash back, you will actually lose money for using the cash back card! 

So it makes absolutely no sense to pay for the annual fee, because you can easily go for other cash back cards option (eg the AMEX True Cashback card which essentially does the same thing). 

Being the stingy Mr Budget, he wrote in to request for a fee waiver. 

Of course, Standard Chartered replied with the following response: 

Apparently, there are no options for an online fee waiver request, and you have to do a phone waiver request. 

To my delight, the phone waiver fee request is actually very very simple, and upon keying in the credit card number, I received an instant confirmation of the fee waiver.

Earlier this year too, we had a similar experience with our DBS Live Fresh Card, where we requested for a fee waiver. Unlike Standard Chartered, you can request for a fee waiver digitally in just a few buttons. 

Here’s how it looks: 

Needless to say, the Live Fresh card annual fee was also waived earlier this year.

As shared in our previous article, it is probably a good time to do your credit card review as the year comes to an end to see if there are any unexpected charges, or if your credit card strategy can still be further optimised. 🙂 

Read: 7 Things To Check On Our Financial Check List Before The Year 2019 Ends

If your bank is charging you an annual fee and reject your fee waiver request, you should definitely swap out to another bank, because it makes little money sense to be paying for credit card annual fees (excluding the high banking tier credit cards). I’m sure most banks waive off their credit card fees nowadays to users with high credit score.

Which is why regular checking on your personal finances will allow you to identify financial gaps like this.

Also, since we are talking about credit cards, we’d be interested to know which is your primary credit card and what are you using it for.

Do let us know in the comments below! For us, it will be the UOB One Card, DBS Live Fresh, and then the Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Card!

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October 2019 Monthly Expenses Update

At the end of every month, Mrs Budget and I will reconcile our monthly expenses and see what are we spending on, and where we can optimise or cut down our expenses.

We subscribe to the believe that every penny saved is a penny earned – sometimes its easier to save S$100, than to earn S$100, both of which results in the same net worth increase.

In October, here’s what Mr Budget spent on.

Meals $556.04
Transportation $85.00
Entertainment $198.00
Groceries / Home $778.8
Shopping / Cloths $61.00
Phone Bill $56.10
Insurance $1,635.16
Income Tax $103.05
Hair Cut $34.00
Digital Subs $30.56
Malaysia Mortgage 1 $880.13
Malaysia Mortgage 2 $123.38
Singapore Mortgage $985.74
Travel $141.00
Others $5,319.00

My total expenses this month is at S$10916.52, a high side from my normal benchmark. This consist of S$3848.13 of fixed expenses and $7,068.39 of variable expenses.

The variable expenses is slightly high because of the renewal of my annual term insurance, a one of wedding expense of S$5,000, a one off angpao S$500 to my mum for travel expenses, a one off home projector purchase of S$128.

What I also realised is that my dining cost is slightly on the high side this month, due to over reliance on Grabfood. Making a mental note to reduce dining expenditure for the next few months.

Mortgage payment also makes up almost S$2000 of my monthly expenses, and will only continue to increase the next few years. With one of the condo almost done in the next few months, will need to see if we can start finding tenant or sell off the property so that we can reduce some cash flow stress.

For Mrs Budget, here’s what she spent on.

Meals $205.10
Transportation $104.50
Family $600.00
Entertainment $105.93
Groceries / Home $778.83
Phone Bill $39.71
Endowment $303.97
Insurance $87.25
Shopping $2.40
Gifts (Wedding Festives) $70.00

Mrs Budget’s total expenditure is $2,303.11, out of which $1,340.53 is fixed expenses. Other than the monthly contribution to the family and endowment plan, Mrs Budget’s spending is well within our satisfaction.

What is not in our satisfaction is the high expenses of Mr Budget – hopefully we can reduce the dining expenditure, entertainment expenditure, home groceries, as well as restructuring one of the Malaysia condo mortgage – either through selling off, or renting it out after TOP in a few months.

Will see how it goes. 🙂

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Also Read: What Have We Done This Month Towards Our Financial Goals – October 2019