Singapore is known to be one of the wealthiest nations in the world. But are we really, factoring in high gross domestic product (GDP) and low unemployment rate? A study conducted by 2 local universities, NUS and NTU, estimated that a family of four would require $6,426 a month to live comfortably.
It begets the question, is that the standard of living or the quality of life we are living by? Affordability to healthcare, affordability of education, means to get necessities etc. How much money is enough to be comfortable? Or are we equating happiness to comfort level? We go to college, get a degree, get a regular job after graduation, sometimes even holding up two jobs to earn enough money, caught up in a rat race, and possibly being stuck in a rut. As we climb up the ladder, we start to acquire more and more in life. We start dreaming and wanting more. To treat and reward ourselves with the hard-earned money. Our motivation and desires may come from social status, peer pressure or to gain the respect from others.
Once, we might be contented owning a Taobao handbag for practical use. Now, we might be eyeing for the next collection of Chanel handbags. The more we have, the more we want.
The chase begins.
Know thyself. It’s obvious that we should not spend above our means at the expense of our next meal. It’s an opportunity cost. We are trading away a decent lunch for the latest iPhone, living from one paycheck to the next. Climbing up the corporate ladder, or switch from a high paying job to another higher one, we attain more disposable income. Spendings continue to advance to keep up with our lifestyle. And if we are not careful, we may end up in unexpected debts.
Singapore is considered to have a strong economic growth. The increase in technological advancement and infrastructure have made things accessible and efficient for most Singaporeans. We are now more reliant on robots and systems to take off a certain workload, and further the efficiency than before.
Inflation contributes to the increase of cost of living over the years. Thankfully, our standard of living improves as well. Singapore’s healthcare system is the epitome of a standard healthcare system across Asia-Pacific region. Extensive healthcare infrastructure ranging from polyclinics to restructured and private hospitals, on top of health insurance, makes healthcare expenditure more affordable.
Majority of Singaporeans live in Housing and Development Board (HDB), with a minority living in condominium and private estate. However, this does not transcend to living a comfortable life. A family of 4 in a 5 room HDB might be well-off than a family of 8 in a private estate that’s merely getting by. $6,426 a month should be a benchmark, and not a goal that we should live by this figure. It varies based on the size and weight of what was accumulated from individuals to individuals.
We don’t need to be rich or successful to live comfortably or be happy. Managing your expenses and know your limits. Don’t underestimate the power of living simply. Maybe the question should not be “How much should we need to live comfortably”, but “How can we meet our needs and adjust our wants with the money we have”