Forum: Important to spend within one's means

I am perplexed by the findings of researchers in the Minimum Income Standards for Households in Singapore (2021) report (Family of 4 needs $6,426 a month: Study, Oct 9).

The research found that a family of four, with parents, a pre-teen and a teenager, needs at least $6,426 a month for a basic standard of living. A family of two, with a single parent and a toddler or pre-schooler, needs $3,218 a month.

The median household income from work per household member is $2,463, according to the Census report released in June. Going by the data from the minimum income standards report, many more Singapore families would not be able to survive on their income.

There are some household items budgeted for in the report that may not be representative of a normal household (MOF flags issues with report, Oct 9).

Household durable goods like refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines, televisions and sofas can last a couple of years at least.

Having one-to-one private tuition will cost more than group tuition. It is also not necessary to take up tuition for every subject.

For items like newspapers and books, these can be read or viewed online and do not cost much. Many websites offer free and up-to-date news.

Mortgage payments for housing should not be considered an expenditure. It is an asset which can be realised if sold in future.

There are many government transfers or subsidies given to lower-income families.

In the Key Household Income Trends 2020 report issued by the Department of Statistics Singapore, resident households received $6,308 per household member on average from various government schemes last year.

Resident households staying in Housing Board one- and two-room flats received $13,670 per household member.

The transfer may come in the form of a medical subsidy like the Chas (Community Health Assist Scheme) card, which subsidises low-income patients with selected chronic conditions up to $320 per year.

Last year, 30,000 low-income households were given a $50 Public Transport Voucher per household.

I understand that many government transfers or subsidies may not be given out forever. Families must make rational choices with their expenditure.

Always choose to spend within your means and you will have enough to lead a comfortable life.

Foo Sing Kheng

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.