Thursday, February 26, 2009

Timeline – Workers and Students Spending Habits in Singapore

I started thinking about how I spent money after starting coming to Singapore and thought it would apply for most of the workers and students. It was quite amazing, when I think about how the spending habits changes over time. In the first 3 months at work/school, I was spending $150 per month including (not including –rent), groceries,.. but over period of 3 years, I could see dramatic change. Having NETS card in hand changes perspective on money in negative way. Here’s the time line on how spending habits change over time in Singapore.
Two Months in Singapore
Mind calculator will be always at work. Any time you see some product will be multiplied by Kyats 850.( Myanmar) Yes, it was Kyats 850 per S$ when I came to Singapore. First week, I went to Fair Price and total bill was around $25 for 2 weeks of groceries. Second time I went my friends and it was around $60 and I used to wonder, Kyats 51,000 would we get so many stuff that would be useful for more than a month. If you don’t have a part-time job, financial aid or scholarship, then for first few months you will hold yourself back from spending. So, average monthly spending for first 2-3 months will be at very minimum.
After 4-5 months
You will have NETS card or a student credit card with some S$2000 credit limit and slowly the mindset will get adapted to Singapore Dollar value. We won’t feel the pain of paying the credit card until statement comes. Till then anything we buy is free, because the money virtual. We don’t get to see the money. It’s in bank account, we pay using NETS card, and when statement comes, money from bank account is transferred.NETS cards will be used in all places, many small purchases charged to the card will add up to big sum. Usually, it’s $8 at McDonalds, $10 at Taco Bell, $10 for movie kind of things will add to huge amount. You will be surprised to see how you had spent when the statement comes. You will wonder, if I have an extra small part time job for 10 hours in a week that would give me some S$400 - S$600 to pay my groceries and part of living expenses. That’s the phase, when every worker/student will feel the value of money. Exhausting the bank balance money (student loan, parents, income, ..)
After 6 months
Now, you should be in a permanent job (part time, or financial aid, research assistantship). Unless you control yourself with the excitement of getting a new job, your first pay check will be already spent before you realize.
Its very simple, for many months, you will be living within budget, controlling your spending. After, you get a job; first thing will be happy relaxed feeling. You will put some mental calculation, on ho much you will earn per week, per month, for 6 months. All long awaited dreams of having a nice digital camera, at least weekly once meal at Peninsular Plaza Restaurant, Ipod, … will come into mental picture. Next thing you know would beBuy cool Cell Phone (now a days, its becoming essential)
§ Ipod and Iphone
§ Dine out in restaurant now and then daily
§ Visit websites and edealinfo daily looking for new gadgets
§ New pair of shoes every month
§ Subscription to Starhub
§ Buy nice clothes
§ Flat Screen LCD TV sharing the cost with roommates
§ List never ends
So, that would be your first pay check money already spent. Most of the workers/students end up spending with their credit cards and left with additional 5,000 debt in credit card. Now having used to little lavish life style, it will be little difficult to go back to other life style. Next step would be to apply for new credit card, and what would happen at the end? Big balance in the credit cards, lots of balance transfers will go on…
So protect yourself from the lures of temptation, my dear readers.


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