Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life in Singapore

Have you heard about the financial bombs in life? These are the obstacles, the road bumps, along your road to accumulate wealth. It seems unavoidable especially if you want to follow the typical model family in Singapore. Of course you can also choose to lead the estranged and socially divorced life of Diogenes, but his is an extreme life. Let's talk more about these financial bombs.

Firstly there is the extravagant wedding. For Chinese couple, it would entail the customary wedding banquet in some posh hotels that would set you back by a few tens of thousands. For me, I kept it to a respectably 30k by keeping the banquet tables smaller and removing a lot of unnecessary (in my opinion, of course) frills that are just icing on the cake that we can do without. We got back in terms of the ang bao money given by generous guest and relatives, so it was really kept at a pretty low cost. It was a good thing too because on hindsight, the extra cash that we can save is really dumped into the next financial bomb....

...Housing. The second financial bomb that comes along will be one of the biggest purchase anyone in Singapore would have the misfortune or fortune (depending on how you see it) of experiencing. I got a resale HDB in a matured estate and a 5 room one too. Things are all well and kept within plans but the funny thing is that when the plans collides with reality, all your well laid plans might just fly away in the face of reality. I know the ideal home for me when I see it, the perfect location, the ideal setting to set up my family and a good location to set up my work at home plans...the only problem was that the property is a 5 roomer but the 'planned' property is a 4 roomer. Some had said that it was lunacy buying at such a high price with such a high COV to boot, but I think it was a period of rare sanity amidst my usual well organised but ultimately sterilized 'insanity' that is so characteristic of my life. Whatever you call it, it is a done deal now so I'll have to make the best out of it. After settling the downpayment and the necessary fees, the next financial bomb comes ticking in.

Renovation. I was searching around for renovation ideas and went to the recently held fare at Expo to take a look at the packages and quotations offered by the various interior designer firms. I think from the mind draining and sleep inducing talk by the various companies, it would seem that the renovation costs alone for my property might go up to around 50k. There are some serious questions to ask myself and my wife: Will we really enjoy the marbled living room floor instead of the cheaper homogeneous tiles? Are we paying good value for the parquet instead of focusing on, again, cheaper alternatives? Is a feature wall necessary in the living room? What is the focus on the living room - is it a place where different minds meet together in jovial conversation or where different eyes meet in the lively pixels of the latest LED tv?  Many more questions bombarded us as we go from company to company, seeking that elusive interior designer to help us discover what we really wanted in our hearts when we have not a clue to what we wanted. I think with furniture thrown in, it might really escalate the entire cost to the range of 60k plus. Oh well... so be it then.

If you've still survived all these three financial bombs, there'll be a fourth one - kids. Since I've not been hit by it, I'll not talk about it now. But seriously, it makes me think what I really wanted in life. It seems like either we have a pretty high standard of living or simply that we are not earning enough money. Money seems to drain out from our coffers like a fully running tap ever since we got married last year. Mind you, the proverbial tap is not dripping water, it's gushing water and for years to come too! I guess I'm just at the wrong place at the wrong time, but such talk do not make me feel better nor does it improve my situation, hence it's ultimately demoralizing and pointless. Let's just bear with it and shoulder on.


Anonymous said...

One of your articles comes to mind:


When your earnings are sufficiently large, these financial "bombs" will become "fire crackers".

Createwealth8888 said...


Anonymous said...

LP, you can consider laminate for your flooring. Parquet is difficult to maintain.


Singapore Man of Leisure said...

This post reminds me of this analogy:

From "boys" perspective
The gift to your significant other does not end with a dress. You then need to invest in matching shoes, matching handbags. Assessorize, assessorize!

From ladies perspective
Once you allow your "big child" to buy that iPad or Xbox, he will buy lots of apps and endless game softwares! Game on!


Musicwhiz said...

Hi LP,

I've been through all 4 financial bombs so far but the kid is by far the most long-term as it is a lifelong commitment! The rest are one-off (except the house lah).

So yes I am still planning and trying to build up as much savings as I can, both for my family and for my daughter too.


Createwealth8888 said...

Why worry? You can always rebuild after kena bombed, right?

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

I bought my place brand new.

I only spent $2K on lights, $2K on curtains, blinds, bay window seats, $2K on furniture, $2K on TV, washing machine, fridge. Total: $8K and I moved it within 2 weeks.

It might not be a big bomb but it was explosive too. So, I feel your pain. Ouch.

Stiff upper lip and soldier on, my friend. :)

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

Indeed...That's exactly what I'm going to do as well. Thanks for reminding me!

Hi jwt,

Difficult to maintain as in? Easy to scratch or what? I've not considered the materials...it's just too mind boggling to think thru all the materials. It's seriously not interesting to me...I wish the designer can make it look good will do.

la papillion said...


Wah, your analogy very cheam, what does it mean in my context? Haha!

Hi mw,

I also think that the biggest 'bomb' is children. It not only consumes your cash, it also consumes a big part of your time and energy. The rest are just starters compared to this one, haha!

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Not worried, just un-used to the fact that so many money is flying out of my pocket in so short a time frame.

Indeed, after my three bombs, I'll having to rebuild from scratch. It would have drained me quite totally.

Hi AK,

Haha, 8k is really very good already :) Ya, I will soldier on!

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


We often look at the upfront purchase costs when making decisons without adding up the total cost of maintenance and other add-on costs that will come once we have made the initial decision.

1) The bigger the flat, the higher the maintenance costs - energy will cost more you if decide to use aircon. And it will cost more to renovate and furnish too ;)

2) Decision to renovate whole house using designer versus DIY; or part designer (kitchen) part DIY (rest of flat).

Visit IKEA for inspiration?

Treat your flat as a canvas for your artistic outlet? Paint your own feature wall?

Wedding and children are lifestyle choices: "living-in-sin" versus marriage; double-income no kids; 1 child max versus multiple children decision, etc.

The typical model family or keeping up with the Joneses?

Giving you a gentle poke ;)

Anonymous said...


Actually hor, a kid may be a shorter term financial commitment than a property. If the kid manages to get a good scholarship after A levels, the parents' financial burden is very much minimised. In fact, if the kid gets one of those top-end scholarships (eg SAF overseas merit scholarship), the kid can start giving the parents an allowance!

Musicwhiz said...

Haha out of the general population, how many kids can get such a scholarship? Probably less than 1%. It's a little like hitting the lottery isn't it? :P

So I still stand by my view that kids are a longer-term liability than a mortgage loan. You can pay down a loan but you can't pay down a child! Haha!

Createwealth8888 said...

Your kids are wildcard liabilities until they start working and on their own.

Mickey said...

I guess you are just used to it, but it seems to me that another bomb in Singapore is buying a car, which seems to require the equivalent of taking out a small European-sized mortgage...

la papillion said...


I see i see :) I agree with you...sometimes the actual cost of something goes beyond the sales price stated. There's always the unintended consequences that we had to be aware of :)

I'm quite alright with the spending actually, just that I'm not used to spending such a huge amt in so short a time, haha

la papillion said...

Hi Mickey,

You must be talking about new cars :) But if you just want a car that brings you from one point to the other, I think you can get a pretty decent pre-owned car for 30-40k. That's not so bad actually, haha

financialray said...


I have been through all the financial bombs and survived.
Kids are the only ones to give u a reason to love wholeheartedly without expecting anything in return.
They are also the pillars of strength and motivation in life through all the ups and downs.
Jim Rogers used to think too that kids were a liability until he had his own kids who are now probably worth more than anything he owns.I am sure of that because I am walking down that path now.

Createwealth8888 said...

Why Jim Rogers Says His Timing Is Terrible

“I thought children were a terrible waste of time, energy, money – I felt sorry for my friends who had children,” he says. “I thought it was something I would never do. I was terribly wrong. They are so much fun.”

Having become a father at the age of 60, Rogers, now 68, is trying to devote himself to his family. They famously uprooted from New York and moved to Singapore so daughters Happy (full name Hilton Augusta, about to turn 8) and Beeland (known as Baby Bee, now 3) can learn Mandarin.

financialray said...

We will all have to be prepared for the ULTIMATE financial bomb in the last few remaining years of our life. If it were a long dragging terminal illness, no matter how rich, this financial bomb can destroy the entire financial nest. In fact, for many, the highest medical costs are all incurred during the last few remaining days or months. This is the financial bomb that is the mother bomb of all bombs.

Createwealth8888 said...

Some of us may not have the mental capacity to be aware of that ULTIMATE financial bomb in the last few remaining years of our life. It may bomb our children or caregiver instead. That can be a real killer bomb.

financialray said...

Yes,Uncle8888, this ultimate financial bomb has often ripped loving families apart. It will be a common scenario as the population ages. The worst thing is we will never know how much is enough to cover for this final last bomb.As technology advances, healthcare costs rises. So be prepared as much as we can.

Anonymous said...

Ultimate Financial Bomb:
That remind me of "AMD" form.
Have you signed it? My wife have signed it. I want to sign it but keep on delaying due to "laziness".

i have read an article by a local neurologist who because of his work, witnessing so many cases of "U. F. Bomb" and (for him) especially living life like a vegetable is really very scary. So he is all for signing the "AMD"
Of course, he has signed "AMD" in no time.
So who are we not to sign the "AMD" compare to this neurologist?
Do we know more than him about living a vegetable life?

Anonymous said...

Terminal cancer/disease with 100% no chance of recovery as confirmed by the present medical knowledge, how would choose to live with the rest of your life? - Stop all treatment and let nature of the disease run it's course for your life or continue the best treatment your money can buy to prolong your life on this earth?
Of course, the poor has little or no choice.