Opinion

4 Lifestyle Choices That Will Raise Your Cost of Living in the Long-Term

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Joanne Poh

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Remember that one time you decided to buy that diamond-encrusted watch/life-size blow-up doll/virtual reality home entertainment system that cost you thousands of dollars?

Well, the good news is that that purchase is now in the past, and no matter what the mailers the company sends you every 3 months might say, nobody is forcing you to spend your money in the same way ever again. Phew.

When it comes to certain lifestyle choices, however, the paying and paying never stops. They’re like the gift that keeps giving, in reverse. Here are four lifestyle choices that may not seem all that extravagant at the start, but given time will have an impact on your finances.

 

Owning a pet

You just couldn’t say no when Peanut / Whiskers / Princess gazed at you with those limpid eyes at the pet shop / animal shelter. What the heck, you told yourself. That cat or dog will be cheaper than a kid.

But a pet can be a significant expense that just keeps adding up over the lifespan of the animal. The cheapest pet food at FairPrice might not cost that much, but if your pet develops health problems later on in life it’s likely you’ll have to upgrade to more expensive, premium food.

Then there are annual checkups at the vet, vaccinations and treatment for when your beloved pet falls ill—expenses which will only mount as he or she gets older. And no, this is not something you can use your MediSave funds to pay for—nice try.

Dogs can live up to 13 years, while cats can have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years, which is a timeframe that’s no different to raising a human child.

 

Smoking

Smokers get a lot of grief in Singapore, since the number of places where you can light up has been steadily decreasing over the years.

Not all of us are Ironman competitors and teetotallers who eat clean every day, so let’s not point fingers when it comes to the health implications.

In terms of cost, however, Singapore is a relatively expensive country to be a smoker. The price of one pack of Marlboro cigarettes is about $13. That means someone with a pack-a-day habit is spending close to $400 a month on cigarettes. Let that sink in….

 

Driving

We all have that friend who claims he’s able to survive on $400 a month. Well, unless he’s a Grab/Uber driver, there is no way in hell that guy uses a car as his main form of transport.

Travelling by car is expensive, even if you win a free one from one of those competitions where people compete to see how long they can keep their hand on the vehicle. Other than fuel, ERP and maintenance, you’ve got to factor in the cost of parking the car just about anywhere you go.

And for most, because the car itself already costs so much, it no longer makes sense to waste time on public transport. You don’t spend $100,000++ on a vehicle to let it rot at home.

 

Having kids

While there are many other reasons the birth rate is as low as it is, the cost of raising children cannot be ignored.

It has been estimated that it costs between $200,000 to almost $1 million to raise a child in Singapore, with $360,000 being a mid-range estimate.

While pro-family groups will insist that nothing beats the joy of having a child, the truth is that starting a family is a very serious question that will have a lifelong financial and emotional impact. The next 20 years of your life will not be the same, for better or for worse.

You’ll no doubt face ups and downs over the course of the next few decades, but with a child or two under your wing, it will be your responsibility to keep them afloat no matter what happens.

This is something you want to think about carefully, and only jump into if you’re sure it’s what you want—and not because your parents or in-laws are pressuring you to produce grandkids.

What lifestyle choices have you made that have raised your cost of living? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.