How much should a couple have before having a baby?While expenses differ between families (and your preferences), it is always a good idea to start saving up early while you’re trying for a baby, or the moment you find out you’re expecting, so that mon…
Author: SG Budget Babe
What should you do if you’re sandwiched between your parents, your children, and your own retirement?
I’ve been getting this question a lot lately, thanks to the viral video that NTUC Income launched two weeks ago, and will follow up soon with what I think are some steps readers can take. However, before that, I recently came across a sharing from a reader who managed to turn things around by being proactive and getting her finances in order. She has agreed to share her story and I hope this encourages all of you to show that not all is lost:
I am an only child, with two surviving parents and a toddler daughter. I may still want to give her a sibling later on. I worry about them as well as my husband and my in-laws (my husband has siblings, but they’re not financially well-off to be able to definitely foot the bills with us should anything happen).
My mother (early 60s):
- Has insurance, but simply not enough savings for retirement. Most of her savings went into helping my dad stem his scary spending. Even till today, my dad still dips into my mom’s savings from time to time.
- She doesn’t have any CPF, including in her Medisave.
- My dad paid for my university education in full from his CPF account, and gave me a $400 allowance every month back then.
- Has no insurance.
- Zero savings, except for his CPF retirement account which has a healthy $100k inside.
- He also has a almost fully-paid private property which he collects a monthly rental of $2000 on.
I was my parents retirement plan.
To turn things around, I needed to make sure I have insurance for all my dependents, and then come up with a plan to fund my parents retirement through passive rental income on their properties. This was what I did.
Step 1: Bought a resale flat with my mom.
Back in the late 2000s, in order to unlock the asset value of my dad’s property, I needed to get another place. The HDB rules hadn’t kicked in then, and as my dad’s property was entirely under his own name, my mom and I partnered to buy our own resale flat. My mother wasn’t able to take a loan, so I paid for the flat entirely.
Step 2: Applied for my own 5-room BTO flat with my husband and got our keys recently.
In the early 2010s, I started thinking about how I could make sure both my parents could retire and still have their own passive income to cover their living expenses, if not more. So my husband and I rushed to get our HDB BTO flat. This way, I could give my mom the resale flat for her to earn rental from, whereas my dad can continue to earn rental from his private apartment.
We received the keys to our new BTO flat recently and moved my parents in with us. This enabled them to help care for my daughter, and be able to fully rent out both their respective properties to maximise rental income.
Step 3: My parents stopped working and now enjoy a combined income of over $4000 a month from rental.
This was only possible with prior planning and careful execution every step of the way. Now that I had sorted out a steady income stream for my parents’, I still have to think about the “what ifs” and plan ahead.
Step 4: Getting insurance for my dependents.
It is important to me that whoever can be insured, is. This was the aftermath once I had revamped my family’s insurance portfolio with our agents.
My mom has:
- Life insurance + savings plan (which she bought many years ago from her sister)
- Personal accident insurance
- Private hospitalisation plan
- no private insurance, as he is a heart patient and was rejected from various insurers
- Medishield Life is what we can only rely on
- Private hospitalisation plan
- Personal accident insurance
- Life insurance
- Personal accident insurance
- Private hospitalisation plan
- $50k life insurance
- Investment-linked plan
- 2 endowment plans (15 and 25 years respectively)
- Personal accident plan
- Private hospitalisation plan
- A pure investment plan (as I am not good and have no time to invest)
- Increased my coverage by adding a $100k term plan after our daughter was born
Step 5: Getting myself insured.
As my family’s only stable breadwinner (my husband’s job is erratic and there are times when he does not have income, due to fluctuating demand), it was crucial for me to make sure that I don’t have to worry about my parents or my daughter if I should suddenly pass on.
In total, we spend about 10% of our annual income on insurance for protection, and another 10% for my investments. Some say this is excessive, but if I could and knew how to invest well, my investments portion could be further reduced, but at this stage of my life and given circumstances, I have opted to outsource it to a trusted financial advisor (yes, I’m aware I’m paying a fee which I could eliminate if I do direct). This is my choice and preference right now.
- Take care of your downside by outsourcing as many big-ticket financial risks as you can to the insurers, within your affordability. Get a trusted agent to do the planning for you, if needed.
- If possible, come up with a plan to generate passive income for your parents’ retirement. This will really help offset your burden if you constantly have an inflow of cash throughout their golden years.
- Protect or boost your earned income. Work on your career progression. Get a stable job, build up side income, or generate your own passive income through investments.
I was very heartened to read of this reader’s story and glad that she was willing to share it here, to show that not all is necessarily lost even if we feel like we’re terribly sandwiched between generations. And even if your parents had failed to plan in the past, that doesn’t mean we still cannot take steps today to try and prevent our greatest financial fears from coming true.
As long as we plan well and ahead, there might still be a way out. Hopefully this inspires you as much as it inspired me!
This is a follow-up post to my previous article here on whether cord blood banking is necessary, and one that has been highly requested by many of you who can’t decide whether to donate or store your baby’s cord blood privately.(Please don’t ever disca…
Sometimes when you give your children your all (leaving barely anything for yourself), this act of love may end up becoming their biggest burden later on in life.
I absolutely loved this heartwarming ad by NTUC Income which recently went viral over the weekend. Not only could I relate to it, I also agreed fervently with the key message of the video that perhaps the best gift parents can give to their children is a good retirement plan for themselves (be it through savings, insurance, annuities, or any other means).
In the video, the groom laments about how his parents (seemed like) the “worst parents in the world” when they didn’t send him for the piano lessons or overseas trips that his friends were going on.
He then goes on to acknowledge that had his parents given him everything he wanted back then, he wouldn’t have everything he had now.
By juggling between spending money on him and saving up for their retirement, his parents’ foresight and planning now allowed him and his bride to focus on the steps they wish to take in their new life together.
This ad really struck a chord with me because I’ve been feeling the burden of being my parents’ retirement fund ever since I started working, as I’ve detailed here in my previous article.
The other thing I’ve realised while growing up is that what I used to want as a child…may not necessarily been what I really needed. Like the lead in the video, I longed for piano lessons (and ballet!) when I was younger, but my mom whisked me off to enrichment classes instead. I complained when my friends got to go on annual holidays whereas my family didn’t (the furthest we’d been was to Malaysia!), but now looking back, I really didn’t need them as much as I thought I did back then.
I used to think my parents were also “bad” parents, but now that I’m older (and a little wiser), I realise they brought me up pretty decently after all. Through their own ways of parenting (which admittedly wasn’t as “lavish” or “pampered” as many of my classmates), they enabled me to learn about thrift, hard work, independence, grit, and many more.
But one thing that differs in the video from my situation? My parents didn’t properly plan for their retirement. Neither did my in-laws. And as such, this is where our stress of having to divide our dual income among five dependents (or perhaps six, as we’re hoping to have a second kid in a few years time).
If you fail to plan for your own retirement, you’re putting the burden onto your children in the future, and that limits their life choices.
I quote from another reader who shared with me her story:
As someone whose parents weren’t financially savvy enough and didn’t plan for their own retirement, I’m under tremendous stress today, and I most certainly don’t want my child to have to go through the same in the future. That’s why my husband and I are working towards financial independence, so we don’t have to rely on our child(ren) as our retirement plan and support in the future. That way, they’ll be free to pursue their own life choices.
Want to start your own business but ain’t so sure if you’ll succeed? Go ahead and try; don’t worry about having to find a job that pays you a regular salary because we’re fine and can fend for ourselves.
Want to go abroad to pursue bigger career opportunities? Go ahead, but just remember to Skype us regularly.
So please, get insured and make sure you save up for your own retirement.
Do it for your children, if not for yourself.
Developed by none other than the guys behind Capital Gains Studio (yes, the same folks behind Wongamania and Debtzilla), I was recently invited to play the game and LOVED it.
Our game of 4 players saw:
|Here’s my winning shot!|
|Our table shot.|
P.S. Not sponsored to write this review, but am doing so because I genuinely enjoyed the games created by Capital Gains Studio since 2015 when Wongamania was first launched! This game was no exception, and I’m happy to support them once more with my own money backing the project. All opinions expressed are of my own.
Would you give up on your own retirement plan to fund your child’s education? Apparently, 90% of Singaporean parents would.I belong to the 10% who will NOT, but before you slam me for being selfish or a bad parent, hear me out first.If I fail to plan f…
It can be really mind-boggling as a first-time parent to figure out what’s necessary and what baby items are good-to-have. After all, we’re constantly being flooded by ads online and by Instagram influencers, all of whom seem to say that pretty much everything is a must-have!
Instead, I turned to the helpful community of Dayre mummies for advice, and consolidated our own version of a truly Minimalistic Baby Essentials Checklist that we’ll be using:
In this list, I also share where I chose to get many of my baby items from, and there are plenty of ways that one can get for free or at a reduced price if you’re savvy enough to know where to look. I started my search on Mothercare, but didn’t end up purchasing any from it in the end as I found cheaper substitutes elsewhere – Qoo10, Carousell and Taobao were my go-to places for value purchases!
|3-in-1 Baby crib||$110||Taobao|
|Baby bath tub||Free||Mount Alvernia Hospital|
|Baby bathing net||$4||Taobao|
|Breast pump set||$100||Spectra S1 (pump was second-hand from friends, parts were from Qoo10)|
|Breastmilk storage bags||Free||Goodie bag from attending Cordlife pregnancy conference|
|Milk bottles x 3||Free||Goodie bag from attending Cordlife pregnancy conference & gifted by AXA’s Know Your Planner|
|UV Sterilizer||Free||Free from Cordlife package|
|Bottle warmer||$12||Carousell (second-hand)|
|Baby clothes*||$140||Taobao, Primark (London) and friends|
|Diapers (70 pcs)||Free||Free samples by requesting from Merries, Goons, Huggies, Drypers, Mamy-Poko and from other baby goodie bags by insurance agencies. Also from NTUC Good Start Bundle.|
|Baby wet wipes||$10||Cloversoft, Pee-Ka-Poo & NTUC Good Start Bundle|
|Waterproof changing mat||Free||Goodie bag from attending Cordlife pregnancy conference|
|Ruyi / Eucalyptus oil||Free||Goodie bag from Mighty Sprouts|
|Car seat||$120||Baby fair|
|Baby carrier||Free||Gifted by a friend / also a free gift with Aviva’s MyMaternityPlan|
|Nail clippers||Free||Goodie bag from Mighty Sprouts|
|Baby soap||Free||Goodie bag from Mighty Sprouts|
|Nursing cover||Free||Goodie bag from Nestle (request online)|
|Waterproof mattress protector||$10||Taobao|
|Nursing bras (5 pcs)||$25||Qoo10|
|Crib Storage Organiser||$18||Taobao|
|Diaper & nipple cream||$20||Blended|
|Breast pads||Free||Goodie bag from attending Cordlife and TMC pregnancy conference|
Feel free to build on this list or make more suggestions in the comments below if you think there’s anything else I’ve missed out on!
How many baby clothes to prepare?
*For baby clothes, we bought:
– 8 x newborn rompers
– 6 x 3 months old rompers
– 2 x newborn mittens
– 4 x pajamas
– 4 x socks
– 5 x bibs ($3 from Carousell, and 2 were free from goodie bags)
I didn’t go overboard on buying baby clothes because my mother-in-law said that friends and relatives would probably gift them to us when they visit us and the newborn baby, and she’s usually right so we’re taking her word for it. Otherwise, if you’re not too fussy, preloved baby clothes would be a good alternative too as they’re usually softer, and your baby will outgrow them in no time anyway!
We’re trying to hold back on buying too many baby clothes because the mileage for them isn’t great, but at the same time, we want to have some to dress baby up and take nice photos for memory sake as well! Do balance this out according to your budget and affordability.
Preparing for a baby sure isn’t cheap, and we’ve yet to factor in the full costs of diapers which we intend to get after our son is born so that we can assess which is a better fit for his size. Considering most newborns use 8 – 10 diapers a day, this should set us back by about $50 – $60 each month.
(At least in the first few months, we do not intend to use cloth diapers because there’ll also be water and electricity costs anyway, and we foresee that we won’t have enough energy to wash them then.)
The NTUC Good Start Bundle
If you don’t already know, there’s another initiative that all new parents HAVE got to know about – the NTUC Good Start Bundle!
As long as your baby is born between 2016 – 2019, you’re eligible to redeem your free bundle! This is specially curated by NTUC and its 8 social enterprises, and I’ve personally had my eye on this ever since my friends at Dollars & Sense told me about it.
|Here’s my bundle 😀|
What’s in the bundle?
Over $300 worth of essentials and benefits to help you and your newborn cope with this major change in your life:
- NTUC FairPrice “FairMily Kit” – contains $100 worth of groceries for your baby and family, such as infant formula milk powder, baby wet wipes, diapers, baby toiletries and more. The oats are also great milk boosters for mothers who will be breastfeeding your babies!
- Free 1-year health insurance coverage for your newborn – this is a Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plan administered by NTUC Income and worth up to $205 (excluding MediShield Life premiums). You can choose between the Standard or Enhanced Plan, which will help pay for hospitalisation costs incurred. There are also options to include additional riders for a daily hospital cash benefit or a child illness rider to protect your baby’s well-being, if you’ll like.
P.S. I know I’ve mentioned previously that hospitalisation insurance is the FIRST plan you need to get once your child is born, but instead of having 2 health insurance policies running at the same time, you might as well save on premiums during the first year through this initiative! However, if you’ve already kanchiong spider and bought one of NTUC IncomeShield Standard/Enhanced plans for your baby prior to signing up for this Good Start Bundle, don’t worry, you’ll still get to enjoy automatic waiver of your second-year premiums.
- Free Plus! cards for non Plus! members – for parents to earn LinkPoints on your daily and baby essentials at over 1100 outlets.
- Complimentary playtime entry to The Little Skool-House Early Literacy Centre – bond with your child on Thursdays for free at the centre and partake in the different activities catered for children from 0 – 3 years old. Worth $180, all you need to do is to make an appointment with ELC by calling 6585 5292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance, and that’s it! I intend to bring our son here to play very soon 🙂
- Early Experiences Matter : Parent-Child Activity Book – by NTUC First Campus and worth $15, when you attend any of PA’s Embracing PArenthood celebratory events held in all constituencies in Singapore (just pick the one nearest to you!)
I really like this activity book as it gave me some great ideas on how to cut costs further and DIY my own activities with my child in his early formative years – including wind streamers, sock puppets, DIY crib mobile, jigsaw puzzles, and more! Will post more on that when I get down to making them 😛
With so much goodies inside, I bet you won’t want to miss out on this one.
PM Lee shared some tips during his NDP Rally Speech this year (2018). While I applaud the government for some of their initiatives – Medishield Life and CareShield – which I find are fantastic improvements, many of the tips that our dear PM shared didn…
If you’re not hacking the credit card game in Singapore to get free cash (back) or miles for money that you’re already spending, it is about time you got on the bandwagon.Image CreditsI’m a huge advocate of credit cards because the way I see it, it is …
Becoming first-time parents sure comes with lots of stuff (and costs) to think about. One of the key concerns we had was whether we ought to store our baby’s cord blood – our gynae and relatives were for it, but the sentiments online were mixed.
We’ve always heard that storing a baby’s cord blood was expensive, but when we enquired, the costs were honestly much lower than what we expected. At just $5,000+ to store our baby’s cord blood for 21 years, that works out to be less than $20 a month – even lesser than what we pay for (financial) insurance!
Stem cells have the immense potential to treat cancers and blood disorders, and have shown promising results thus far in many clinical trials which are ongoing for regenerative therapies. This is largely due to their unique ability to transform into specialized cells which are able to perpetually create more copies of themselves.
At present, over 35,000 cord blood transplants have already been performed around the world to treat various diseases. In fact, I see it as a form of insurance (like what I told my husband when trying to convince him that the cost was worth it), except that it is even better than typical (financial) insurance because whereas those can only cover or offset costs, this form of biological insurance has the potential to treat and cure the condition!
When we asked around, it turned out that most Singaporean parents choose either to:
– store with a private bank
– donate it to the public bank
– discard it entirely (what a waste!)
However, our journey towards deciding whether to bank our child’s cord blood (and later on, WHICH company to choose) wasn’t as straightforward as we thought it would be.
We met up individually with the sales representatives of Cordlife, Stemcord and Cryoviva, and even spoke to Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB), but received such conflicting advice that we were honestly stumped whether or not to privately store or donate it. It didn’t help that when we asked around, there were many who shared that they donated their baby’s cord blood to SCBB instead of choosing to store it privately.
But when I dug further, it turned out that SCBB rejects most of the donated samples. Read more here on why I didn’t think donating my baby’s cord blood to SCBB was a good idea after speaking with SCBB, Cryoviva, Stemcord and Cordlife.
This article also provides another point of view that encapsulates ours. This line really resonated with me:
Why pay a few thousand dollars to privately bank your baby’s cord blood when you can donate it for free to a public cord blood registry? If your child ever gets sick, you can just look for a “match” in the public registry and it should be there, right? Wrong.
Wait, isn’t cord blood banking a scam?!
After spending weeks researching on this issue, I most certainly do not think so.
Science and technology has developed so much such that today, stem cells from cord blood has been proven useful in the treatment over over 80 diseases. The figure was less than half just a decade ago. With over 800+ clinical trials ongoing around the world, and as scientists continue to find new ways of using stem cells for treatment, just imagine how much more potential we could discover in the near future. Some new areas where research into cord blood stem cells is currently being done include brain injury, juvenile diabetes, cerebral palsy, congenital heart defects, hearing loss, liver disease, spinal cord injury, and more.
The umbilical cord blood and lining contains three types of stem cells – haematopoietic, epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells – which have shown immense potential in not just treating various diseases, but also aiding the repair of injured tissues and organs.
Of course, it is still fairly early days, but the cord blood banks are already saving lives (SCBB and Cordlife have had many cases of successful transplants) and as research continues, it is very likely that in the future, more ways of using cord blood to treat more diseases may be found. Don’t forget that these undifferentiated cells contain a powerful ability to specialise into different cell types, which is where their promise of treating diseases lie in.
The science is exciting! Who knows what the future will bring, and what more we will discover? I don’t want to have to rule out the possibility for my child and my family just because we decided not to bank it to save a few thousand bucks – like what my husband said, he’ll rather forgo one family holiday and spend the money where it matters…for health.
Can’t stem cells be used from other sources aside from cord blood?
Indeed, haematopoetic stem cells can also be obtained from the adult bone marrow, but not all transplants work out either. On the other hand, cord blood stem cells require a less stringent HLA matching compared to bone marrow stem cells, and also a lower risk of developing graft vs. host disease.
The cost is also significantly different – it can cost up to $64,000 to procure a matching unit for bone marrow or public cord blood banks (or up to $40k provided you’re lucky enough to find a match in SCBB locally), whereas it costs nothing if you had banked it privately for your own family’s use.
Should I store just the cord blood, or the cord tissue as well?
This was another difficult decision we had to make, because it meant paying more if we wanted to store more than just the cord blood stem cells. So I did more research and spent hours on Google Scholar to understand more about the three types:
Epithelial stem cells
Mesenchymal stem cells
Can differentiate into…
Healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets
The soft tissues that connect, support or surround certain structures or organs in our body including the lining of the cornea, skin and liver
Structural tissues – bone, cartilage, muscle, fibrous tissues, and fat.
Can be used to treat
Blood diseases or cancers such as leukaemia, immune-deficiencies, metabolic disorders, refractory anaemia, tumors, bone marrow failure, etc.
Soft tissue repair (eg. diabetic surface ulcers, burns on skins), organ lining regeneration (liver, pancreatic or gastrointestinal lining), and even eye (to replace cornea membrane)
Tissue repair (eg. in stroke patients, heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, repair of the bone, catrilage and/or tendon, liver failure), immune modulation (HIV, type 1 diabetes, Graft vs. host disease)
Cord tissue (Wharton’s jelly)
Some other common concerns we found online (on Hardwarezone forums) were:
1. During labour, if the gynae missed something and the cord blood is not sterile, it will be rejected and you will still need to pay –> this is not true, as there is no payment if your cord blood is not viable for storage.
2. Why not donate it to the cord blood bank which is free, and you’ll get the cord blood within one year if you need it? –> This is not entirely true as it may have already been discarded (without your knowledge!) or used by someone else. Read what I discovered about SCBB here.
3. If you do not have hereditary blood problems, chances are, you will not need it –> not true, as certain blood disorders develop as a result of the environment. Moreover, if one’s blood condition is hereditary, then all the more their cord blood will NOT be suitable for usage, since it would have already contained the genetic defect anyway!
4. They are so freaking expensive…they use the fear of humans to make them sign up –> “expensive” certainly is a subjective term, but for as low as $19 a month, if you can afford it, I think it is a small price to pay for such biological insurance. Even my monthly premiums for hospitalisation insurance costs wayyyy more than that, and my ISP cannot treat me (it can only waive off my financial bills), whereas cord stem cells offer me at least a chance of treatment or even a cure!
If you can afford to go on holiday or spend on expensive tuition for your kids, I believe one can most definitely afford to do cord blood banking.
All in all, I do NOT think cord blood banking is a scam at all, and in fact, after spending hours researching on whether to store or even donate, I’m even more sure that for any parents who can afford it, private cord blood banking is the way to go.
The last thing you’ll want is (lest anything happens in the future) for you to have looked back in regret and think, if only I had banked my child’s cord blood!
I know I don’t want to have, or live with, that sort of regret.
Next up, I’ll be comparing between the different options and plans for cord banking in Singapore!