If the government wants to know why young Singaporeans aren’t coupling up and having babies as often or as quickly for their liking, they might want to consider that living with your parents until marriage puts a dampener on a lot of things.
97% of unmarried Singaporeans aged between 15 to 34 live with their parents, while at least 37% continue living with them even after marriage, a pretty sobering statistic which says a lot about the affordability of homes in the Republic.
While living with your parents appears to be an affordable solution for young people who are priced out of the housing market, it can become surprisingly expensive, considering most Singaporeans pay their parents allowances, and many pay higher amounts when living with them in order to contribute to the household expenses.
While some people contribute a token some, I have friends who’ve given their parents as much as 30% to 40% of their take home pay. That’s unquestionably tough when you’re not a high earner. Here’s how to survive.
Optimise costs for the household
Once you become a contributor to household costs, you have the right to want to make sure they don’t become unnecessarily high.
For instance, if you’re the one who pays for your parents’ mobile data plans, you would be stupid not to review these plans periodically to ensure you’re getting the most cost-effective ones. If there are three people in your household, sign up for a multi-line mobile plan from one provider instead of getting three separate subscriptions.
You should also cancel obsolete subscriptions to land lines, which fewer and fewer people are subscribing to and unread newspapers (many parents in their 60s are using iPads to read their news) instead of blindly paying for them.
Organise a cooking schedule
When you’re living alone, cooking for one each night is super troublesome. But with one or two parents at home with you, you get to enjoy economies of scale.
Instead of letting your parents trudge down to the hawker centre in the evenings while you eat at a restaurant with your colleagues after work, organise things so that you all get to eat together at home, thus lowering costs for the entire household.
If you’re lucky enough to have a mum who’s been trying to fatten you up for the last 20 years, all you have to do is put in the effort to get home before the food gets cold.
Otherwise, take matters into your own hands and do the cooking yourself, or figure out a roster so you and your siblings and/or parents can take turns. A friend of mine shares cooking duties with her mum and two sisters, so they get to eat at home most nights without each having to cook more than once or twice a week.
Pay for household expenses using the right credit cards
Even if they’re not collecting an allowance from their grown-up kids, many parents still expect them to contribute to the payment of utility bills and other household expenses.
Instead of handing over the cash to your parents, it’s a good idea to pay the bills directly with credit cards that can get you some benefits—especially if your parents themselves pay by bank transfer or cheque. The above scenario is more common than you might expect—I know a retired lawyer who “doesn’t believe” in credit cards.
Check out this article elsewhere on MoneySmart for the best ways to pay your utility bills.
Using your cards to pay for household expenses also enables you to consolidate spending to satisfy higher minimum spending requirements in order to qualify for cash rebates, rewards or air miles.
For instance, if you usually give your parents a $500 allowance in cash, ask if you can contribute $500 towards groceries instead, and then use a card like the Maybank Family and Friends card, which gives you 5% cashback on supermarket spending if you spend at least $500 a month. If you’re not the one who goes to the supermarket, issue a supplementary card to the parent who does.
Living with your parents isn’t as cheap as foreigners assume it is! Still, just because mum and dad are there to make decisions for the household doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contribute to lowering the cost of running it.
If you live with your parents, do you contribute to household costs? Tell us why or why not in the comments!