- What are some concerns that young couples face when getting married and starting a family?
- How are young couples coping with the added pressure of starting a family?
There has been a great deal of talk going on about the somewhat out-of-this-world increase in COE prices recently. I mean, COE premiums starting from S$80,000 seems pretty steep!
I guess we’ve been seeing a steady increase over time, but this news affected me now more than ever because my partner and I are finally able to take the next step in our lives to become car owners.
After saving up for the longest time, that is!
To a lot of foreigners this car situation may border on being hilarious – after all, most of my friends overseas have been proud owners before they even turned 20. I remember this discussion that we had over drinks one day, and an American friend of mine was lamenting that one of the biggest drawbacks of moving to Singapore was having to give up his car.
“I suppose Singapore is smaller than back home in the US, but sometimes I still miss the luxury of driving – especially on days when I just can’t seem to get any cabs!”
Hear, hear. That is actually one of the main reasons my partner and I decided it was time to make the big purchase. But I guess that’s not happening anymore.
Complaints aside, I suppose it’s actually nice to have some spare savings on hand after a seemingly long time of being in debt. We’re still paying off our housing loan, but our cash flow is definitely much healthier now compared to a couple of years ago.
My husband and I got married in 2007, just 4 years after we graduated from university. When we decided to go down the marriage route, we were certain of two things – we didn’t want a lavish wedding (we’re both holiday junkies so we decided to spend more on our honeymoon) and we definitely wanted a place to call our own as soon as possible (and preferably a BTO since it’s the most affordable option).
As with most plans, neither of the two actually materialised. While our wedding was by no means extravagant, we still ended up spending close to S$20,000 on the dinner alone! A quick check on the Singapore Brides website will explain how expensive wedding banquets are, and then throw in the gowns, flowers… these really add up.
That was the first debt we took on as a couple.
Subsequently, we went through the whole process of trying to get our housing plan in place. We were eyeing a couple of BTOs in the Central/North district (the more mature estates) because of the proximity to both our workplaces and where our parents are currently residing, but due to the overwhelming popularity we often got a queue number way above the number of available 4-room flats (the housing type that we were looking at) and went through countless rounds of disappointment.
After 7 months of trying, we decided that somehow luck didn’t seem to be in our favour and with much cajoling from our parents that we should just go for a resale flat, we embarked on our property search hunt.
It didn’t take us too long to find our choice apartment. Although it was slightly above our initial budget, we were fortunate enough to have some degree of financial support from our parents, the CPF Housing Grant and the Additional CPF Housing Grant (by the way, all these were terribly confusing for us as first-time home buyers!), so we went ahead.
That was the second debt that we took up – a 20-year housing loan from HDB! It is a bit of a stretch financially to decide not to maximise the full loan repayment period of 30 years, but with all things considered (interest rates, our potential pay increment with career progression, etc.) it just made sense for us to shorten the loan.
From a more realistic perspective, this meant that we had to sacrifice and cut back on a number of luxuries that we used to enjoy (either as singles or in our first few years of marriage): things like long holidays to the US and Europe, fancy restaurant dinners, and frequent cab rides to work.
Also, having multiple financial commitments (housing loan, renovation loan, credit card loans) also meant that neither of us can risk losing our current jobs. This is something which has kept us up late at night – either from worrying that we’ll default on our loans, or working hard in the office to make sure that we can climb up the corporate ladder.
While we recognise that the lack of work-life balance is unhealthy, there is just no alternative if we want to keep up with our bills.
In fact, my husband and I have been discussing the possibility of starting a family (finally some good news to share with our relatives over Chinese New Year!) but decided to push things back since having a child essentially means that we need more money (hospital fees, diapers, milk powder, and everything that comes with a baby).
Plus, I’m not really sure if I can handle fulfilling my parental duties while juggling work all at the same time.
Decisions, debts and debates. Sometimes I feel the amount of stress that we are going through is just too much to handle – but when I get home after a long day at work without having to be in the same 90 square metres space with my family of 4, I tell myself it’s all worth it.