Category: SG Budget Babe

My Miles Hacking Strategy + Miles Credit Cards

Wanna know how to get FREE flights?You heard me right.No, this isn’t a gimmick, and it is no scam. The method is simple: redeem free flights using the right miles credit cards for expenses you’re already paying for.Now, it is no secret that I prefer ca…

Actual Hospital Bill for Pregnancy Delivery in Singapore

As a follow-up to my previous post where I estimated the bill sizes for delivery in various hospitals in Singapore, before deciding to go with Thomson Medical Centre given their affordability and other reasons detailed here.

I managed to gather the actual hospital bills for a few hospitals from my fellow mamas who had delivered close to my dates (2 – 3 weeks before / after), and here’s how they compare:

Actual Hospital Bills (October – November 2018)


Mummy’s Bill:




Gynae and anaesthetist fees have been excluded from the comparison as these service fees vary according to the professionals who are charging them. Between the few of us, our gynae fees ranged from $2000 – $3500, whereas the anaesthetist fees were from $700 – $775.

Do note that your choice of gynae and anaesthetist will also determine whether your final bill paid to the hospital is on the higher or lower end, as the hospital collects the fees on the doctors’ behalf.

Baby’s bill:

 Similarly, I’ve excluded paediatrician fees as the charges varied from $300 – $900+ for the bills I studied. Note that PD fees will depend on the PD you choose, and expect to pay more for the more popular ones.

In my previous post using estimates, I actually predicted that the order from most affordable to most expensive would be Parkway East –> KKH –> TMC — MAH, but as it turned out, the results were surprising.

Parkway East TMC MAH KKH
TOTAL HOSPITAL + BABY BILL $4,598.29 $5,538.71 $5,820.67 $6,099.50

*as of bills collected and studied in Oct – Nov 2018 from my friends

Anyway, if you were wondering whether going with KKH as a private patient will definitely be cheaper, I hope this article dispels that notion that it isn’t necessarily so. Much of it also depends on your gynae / anaesthetist / PD fees and how smoothly / complicated your delivery ends up being.

My friends who have delivered at KKH recently had their total bills range from $10k to $12k for a normal delivery. In fact, one of my friends who had previously delivered at KKH slightly over a year ago, has now decided to go with TMC for the delivery of their second kid, given that the prices don’t really differ by much!

I’ve also included my actual bill with TMC here for reference, lest any of you are keen on potentially delivering there as well and want to know how much mine cost:

There’s also a second part to the bill, which is your baby’s bill. Here’s mine from TMC:

Our out-of-pocket cash expenses ended up being about $6000, which was much lesser than I had budgeted for initially (we had saved for the worst-case scenario: an emergency C-section, and I highly encourage that everyone do so because you really cannot predict what will happen during delivery). On this aspect, we got lucky as I had a really smooth and short labour (9 hours in total).

I also received TMC’s Breastfeeding Essentials discharge bag (which I raved about in my previous article), and it is a gorgeous sleek diaper bag that I can foresee myself using for sure!

TMC’s Breastfeeding Essentials discharge bag

For those who are interested to see MAH’s discharge bag, here’s photos from my friend who delivered at Mount Alvernia a few days before me :

 
Call me superficial, but I’m mighty pleased with my TMC discharge bag by far. Not only are the items super useful (I mean, a branded Hegen breastfeeding pump?! And calcium supplements? And breast pads? And milk boosting tea? And a nursing cover? I could go on and on, you get my gist), I’m a suckler for the gorgeous black design of TMC’s diaper bag as well.
But the one I received has since been discontinued (Nov 2018 was its last month), and for mothers who are delivering in TMC from December 2018 onwards, TMC has just revealed this on their page as the revamped discharge bag:

 *squeals*

This goodie bag makes me somewhat wish my baby was born in December or 2019 instead, LOL! TMC has truly outdone themselves this time. I mean, a nursing bra?! And milk-boosting cookies by Singapore Lactation Bakes, which I’m also currently taking to boost my breastmilk supply?! And chicken essence!? And diapers?! And mittens?! And a baby bib?!

I’m betting this new bag of goodies cost at least $300+.What a steal!


When it is time for my second kid, I’ll most probably go back to TMC again for my delivery. They’ve given me nothing but a great experience for my firstborn.

P.S. Carpark issues? We visited TMC on various days and at various timings (1pm, 4pm, 10am and 12 midnight) and had no problems on all our visits, so there weren’t any concerns for us at all.

Disclaimer: During my stay, I was upgraded from a single room to a Premier Single by Thomson Medical Centre for my delivery due to availability.

Bill sizes frequently differ due to mostly gynae operation fees. Hospital packages form about half of the equation (sometimes lesser, depending on your gynae fees). The bill comparison between the four hospitals here are based on the bills I received from my friends who delivered during a similar period as me but may not be indicative of all bills, so I highly recommend that you book a hospital tour and get a bill estimate directly if you’re unsure. You can view my TMC hospital tour here.

A huge thank you to Allison aka Heartland Boy, Elaine Lim and Karen Lim for sharing your actual bills and parenthood journey with me as we all become first-time parents!

With love,
Budget Babe

A Comprehensive Guide to Government Grants for Newborns and Babies

There’s a wide range of benefits available to parents if you’re having your baby in Singapore. I came to learn of all these cash grants and freebies when I was pregnant with my first child, but realised that many of my peers aren’t fully aware of what they’re entitled to, so here’s a full list of what you can get and how:


I detail them below on what they cover, and how you can apply to claim your benefits:

  1. The Baby Bonus cash gift
  2. The First-Step CDA grant and dollar-for-dollar matching
  3. MediSave Maternity Package
  4. MediSave Grant for Newborns
  5. MediShield Life Coverage
  6. Parental Leave Entitlement (paid by the government, too!)
  7. Income Tax rebates
  8. NTUC Good Start Bundle (with free hospitalisation insurance)
  9. NLB Baby Gift Pack

1. Baby Bonus Cash Gift

As part of their efforts to boost the population fertility rate, the Singapore government gives you at least S$8,000 in cash if you’re having a baby and doing your part for “national service” :p


Expect to get:

  • $8,000 for your first and second child
  • $10,000 for the third child onwards

The cash will be paid out over the first 18 months of your child’s birth. You can expect to receive the first portion of the cash gift within 7 to 10 working days of your child’s birth registration (I got mine the week after applying), and after completing the online form found here. The cash can be used to offset your newborn’s expenses, although they may not necessarily pay for everything you need to spend on.





2. Child Development Account (CDA)

There are two parts to the CDA:

  • A first-step cash grant of $3,000
  • Dollar-for-dollar matching of $3k – $15k (depending on your child’s birth order)

You can expect your child’s CDA to be opened within 3 – 5 working days of their birth registration among either of the local banks – DBS, OCBC or UOB. Save a trip down to the bank by doing it online here.

For the dollar-to-dollar matching, you have till your child turns 12 years of age to contribute and get the equivalent from the government. The sum will be credited in the subsequent month of your top-up. 


Source: Baby Bonus

I’ve also reviewed what you can use your CDA funds for here, as well as which is the best CDA to open for your child.

In our case, we chose to open the CDA with POSB (for reasons detailed in the above linked blog post). Within a few days, the new account was opened for us, and we received the NETS card by mail shortly after. I then got an SMS saying that the $3000 CDA First-Step Grant would be credited into my account soon. Everything took about 2 weeks so it was pretty efficient!

3. Your MediSave Maternity Package 

As long as you’re delivering in a Singapore hospital, you can claim the following from your MediSave (also known as the MediSave Maternity Package):
  • Up to $900 for pre-delivery care (bring receipts of your prenatal consultation visits, screening tests, etc and submit to the hospital at time of bill payment after your delivery)
  • $750 to $2,150 for delivery procedures 
  • $450 to offset each day of your stay in the hospital (usually 2 days for vaginal deliveries, and 3 days for Caesarean)

In our case, Thomson Medical filed the claims for us. I had a natural delivery where $2550 was deducted in total from my MediSave for the delivery procedure, prenatal claims and hospitalisation stay.

For my baby’s bill, $900 was deducted from my MediSave.




4. MediSave Grant for Newborns


All Singaporean babies will receive a $4,000 CPF MediSave grant, and the account will be automatically opened for them upon birth. The grant can be used to help pay for your child’s healthcare expenses – MediShield Life premiums, integrated shield plan a.k.a. hospitalisation insurance (please get one, I highly recommend it as per this post), recommended childhood vaccinations (defray the costs by getting it done at polyclinics for free or at a subsidized rate) and approved outpatient treatments.

You do not have to do anything to receive this grant, as all eligible newborns will receive it automatically after birth registration and the grant will be credited two months later. You’ll receive a notification letter once the grant has been deposited, but just in case your newborn is eligible but did not receive the grant, you can email the CPF Board at medgrant_newborn@cpf.gov.sg to enquire on the status.


5. MediShield Life Coverage

At this moment (Nov 2018). your MediShield Life still does not cover serious pregnancy and delivery-related complications – if you want financial protection for these, only a maternity insurance plan offers it. 

All Singaporean babies are automatically covered by MediShield Life from birth, inclusive of coverage for congenital and neonatal conditions, for life (these will usually be rejected by insurers or come with exclusion clauses, which is why I recommend getting a bundled maternity plan during your pregnancy with a transferable all-inclusive life plan with no underwriting if you can afford it).


6. Parental Leave

The full list of parental leave benefits you’re entitled to are:
  • 16 weeks of paid maternity leave for mothers (as long as you’ve served in your job for at least 3 months), or 12 weeks of paid adoption leave
    • If you’re self-employed, your benefits differ and you generally get 8 to 16 weeks of paid income – read here to calculate how much you can get (hint: it depends on how much income you declared, so if you have been under-declaring your income to avoid taxes…good luck on that!)
  • 2 weeks of paid paternity leave for fathers
  • 4 weeks of shared parental leave (if your wife is willing to transfer hers to you)
  • Up to 6 days of paid childcare leave for each spouse, if your child is younger than 2 years of age (the Government-Paid Child Care Leave Scheme) – however, do note that this is subject to agreement with your employer as well, so if your workplace is not entirely pro-family then this could be quite tricky.
    • You’ll get 2 days if your child is between the age of 7 – 12 years 
  • 6 days per year of unpaid childcare leave per spouse (thus combining with the above paid childcare leave, you’re entitled up to 12 days if your child is younger than 2 years old)




6. Income Tax Rebates

Take advantage of the different tax rebates available for Singaporean parents :

  • Qualifying Child Relief, 
    • Claim up to $4,000 per child if your offspring is younger than 16 years of age or studying full-time.
      (Tip: the spouse with the higher income should be the one claiming for this, as it could probably reduce his/her taxes by a larger margin!)
  • Working Mother’s Child Relief,
    • For mothers who are working and handling dual roles, you can claim 15% of your earned income in tax reliefs for your first child, 20% for your second, and 25% for each child if you have 3 kids or more!
Do note though, that the total cap for QCR and WMCR is $50,000 per child. 
  • Parenthood Tax Rebate, 
    • On your first child, you can claim $5,000 of Parenthood Tax Rebate. If you have 2 kids, add on another $10,000 for your second child. Or, if you’re like my cousin with 3 children (or more), you can add on $20,000 more for each subsequent child. This works out to a significant total of $35,000 of tax rebates if you have 3 children and make the maximum claims for them!
  • Foreign Maid Levy Relief, 
    • If you’re hiring a domestic helper to assist you
  • Grandparent Caregiver Relief
    • If your parents are unemployed and helping to look after your child


For full details on claiming these income tax rebates and other methods to reduce your income tax, see this post I had previously written here, which was also shared by Ho Ching herself!


7. Subsidized Infant Care Scheme


You might need to place your newborn in an infant care centre once you go back to work, especially if you don’t have a domestic helper or a parent to help you look after your child. Fees aren’t cheap; on average, expect to pay at least $1,300 every month (for each baby). PCF Sparkletots and My First Skool have the most number of branches island-wide, and are generally affordable options for you to look into for a start.


If you enrol your child in a centre licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), then you’re automatically eligible for a subsidy. Working mothers can get a basic subsidy of up to $600 to offset your monthly infant care expenses, or up to $300 at childcare centres. Families with non-working mothers get up to $150 per month. 



The last 2 I’ll be sharing below aren’t exactly given by the government, but I’m including them in this article as they’re from a national co-operative and a government statutory board. 


8. The NTUC Good Start Bundle


An initiative put together by NTUC and its 8 social enterprises, parents of newborns can claim up this bundle containing up to $300 worth of newborn / household essentials and benefits.


My NTUC Good Start Bundle, which I received for my firstborn 


It also comes with a free one-year health insurance coverage, courtesy of NTUC Income. Don’t forget to register for your free bundle here once your baby is born!


9. The National Library Board (NLB) Baby Gift Pack

Register your baby as a library member and receive a baby gift pack to kickstart their reading journey from young!

The baby gift pack contains:
  • 3 board books
  • Reading is Fun! Publication
  • Rhymes and Fingerplays for Little Ones
  • Baby Height Chart
  • A Guide for Reading with Little Ones DVD
All you need to do is to bring along your child’s birth certificate and your own NRIC to any library (except NLB Esplanade, Orchard and Chinatown) to register, borrow 6 books, and collect your baby gift pack!

Parenthood isn’t easy, especially for first-time parents, so don’t forget to register and claim all your benefits and entitlements as listed above to help make your journey a little easier!


With love,
Budget Babe


Review: Thomson Medical Childbirth Education Course

It was hilarious how my husband bugged me to find him a class that would teach him about childbirth and how to handle a newborn, because at 33 weeks pregnant, he suddenly realised that he was ill-prepared to become a father and didn’t know ANYTHING (lo…

My Review of the 2.7% T2023-S$ Temasek Bonds

I wasn’t going to write about the latest Temasek bonds offering, but have been receiving so many PMs from friends and readers alike about it so I thought I’ll just pop in here to share my thoughts really quickly on this.You can read the full details of…