What’s more expensive – Singapore or Singaporeans’ habits?

Recently, Singapore’s debt level has been touted as “among the highest in Asia”, mainly due to property loans. Not only that, the Credit Bureau Singapore highlighted that more Singaporeans are taking multiple loans – thanks (or no thanks) to low interest rates.

As shared by one of our contributors, an average earner here will perpetually be in debt, a situation that has experts asking themselves if loans and debts are on the rise because Singapore is becoming increasingly expensive on the whole, or if it’s becoming an unaffordable country for a segment of society because they are accumulating debt they can’t repay…

Singapore is known as the second most expensive city in Asia based on the increasing prices of food, transportation, housing, and utilities. Whether it’s foreigners looking to move to Singapore and who need to save a lot of money to maintain a decent standard of living or regular Singaporeans getting in debt and spending beyond their means to go about their day-to-day activities, it seems like that reputation holds true.

Of course Singapore is not the only city in this situation. This index shows that Singapore’s costs of living are on par with New York’s, the highest amongst US cities.

debt-graph

I’m not interested in getting into the technicalities of the economy, taxes, and inflation, but perhaps it’s also fair to say that we as consumers are not reigning in our spending habits.

Some friends of mine, for instance, are always looking to buy nice things (branded products, lavish weddings, fancy cars, dream holidays) and then expect subsidies and grants from the government when they realise they ‘re living way above their means…

I had a candid discussion with a colleague about how people can make do with an Akira TV instead of a Samsung, and he gave me a look of disgust.

Such reactions show that Singaporeans are hard-wired with above-average standards of things they desire to have. Whether it’s purely for personal fulfilment or caving in to peer pressure, having such high standards beyond our affordability can lead to undesirable consequences.

Have we lost our way in this material world? Are we Singaporeans playing rich, only to end up swimming in debt?

Interestingly, this article talks about how a high-earning couple decided to scale down on their way of life and gave away many of their possessions simply because they weren’t happy or satisfied despite owning everything they desired.

More importantly, their modest spending led to them no longer having a $30k debt. If even the rich can be in some sort of debt (albeit manageable), imagine what this means for an average S$3k earner in Singapore!

That’s why I think that alternative consumer movements like Freecycle and Degrowth could really have an impact here; ultimately it’s not only about spending less, but about spending smarter!

About the author

Najib A.

View all posts

1 Comment

  • Not only that. Poor planning also play a part. For example, squeezing wedding, buying house and having a kid all within one year, all because of rising property prices, and you only work for 2 years

Share your thoughts!