Does Your Monthly Household Expenditure Exceed $4,388?


The average expenditure of all Singapore households is $4,388 per month. This is according to the Household Expenditure Survey (HES) report released last month by the Singapore Department of Statistics.

Households staying in 5-room and executive HDB flats spend an average of $4,926 per month, while those in 3-rooms and 4-rooms spend $2,482 and $3,551 respectively.

Families in private housing spend much more, with those in private flats (including condos) expending $7,793 per month, and those in landed properties $9,962.

As we all know: the more you spend, the less you save; and conversely, the less you spend, the more you save. Many of readers have accumulated $1million in savings and investments through sheer financial prudence.

How much does your household spend a month?


About Author


  1. Interesting statistics – seems spending per household is really pretty high! For 4-room flats, it’s an average of $3,551 per month. I think I personally do not spend more than $2,000 a month, if you include allowances to parents and insurance spending.

  2. Once you have kids, you will know. I used to track my expenses very carefully. Excluding mortgage repayment but including insurance, our household spend more than 7k a month for 2009. Note that we don’t have a car or a maid. Most of the money goes to kids education/classes, kids medical/food (like freshly delivered goat’s milk) and perhaps, IKEA. I don’t even give my parents that much money…

    I do not know how people with family of 4 (kids kindegarten age) can spend less than 6k, without sacrificing significantly in kids welfare.

  3. Kevin : I have the same problems also. I have around the same household expenditure as you. End of the day I guess if could cut down but then would my family and me be happy? I think as long as there’s a balance it would be fine. I don’t want to live like a slave to money.

  4. hi,

    what is the cost of raising a kid in sg, assuming a reasonable std ( like attending govt school, RC tuition class and etc) and not a luxurious lifestyle?

  5. once the kids go to primary school, you will spend less. playgroup and childcare expenses were as high as 2k for us, but once they enter primary school, it’s only school fees and school buses.

  6. passerby, i can share on a baby wise per month

    520 to maid coz both parents working
    500 to MIL to Help out overlooking over the baby
    50 diapers
    100 Milk formulae
    50 Food/toys/cloths for baby
    unknown Medical but each visit to a specilist easily 100 – 120
    200 insurance

    this is for one baby :)

  7. Thanks for sharing.

    to alan : is the 500 to MIL to overlook the maid and baby in addition to the normal household allowance ( jiayong) given to her?

    to parent : wow. 2k exp is for one kid or two kids? so high. tink i will not be able to afford a kid .

    Can a couple with household income of around 7k ever afford a kid? Can anyone with similar financial situation advise?

  8. My guess is that you can afford the kid but you cannot give the kids the headstart compared to those who are spending more on their kids.

    Singapore follow a binomial wealth distribution pattern, e.g., two peaks, rich and poor. If you are average, you are way below average compared to the well-to-do (like many readers of the forum), but you are significantly better than the truly poor.

  9. passerby: everyone’s circumstances are different so it’s really pointless to ask whether you can or cannot afford to raise a kid on $7k household income.
    I’m sure you have your own unique challenges.
    Personally I find parents nowadays are too competitive for their own good.
    We worry way too much about what our kids need to have or go through in order to be successful.
    And truly Singaporean mentality to be successful is usually to be rich and earn buckets of money.
    Don’t get me wrong i fret over my kids too and i worry constantly if i provide enough opportunities for them.
    But sometimes looking at what some parents put their children through I also wonder if i would go crazy with some of their schedules and classes if it was me as the same child.

  10. To middleclass: agreed with ur pov.but I can’t help but worry whether I can afford a kid with my meagre nowadays do compare what they have.and it will be sad if I cannot develop their potential due to lack of income .

  11. passerby: since your financial situation would likely be different i cannot comment on what to do.
    As a parent myself all I can advise is always have kids for the right reasons.
    Most parents I know attempt to mold their kids into what they want or what they think they kids want to be.
    My priority is always to make sure my kids are happy and teach them the right values.
    Avoid pampering them and letting them make their own mistakes.
    But honestly parenting is one of the most difficult thing in live.
    Yet it’s a joy i would not ever want to miss out.
    I wish I could tell you not to worry too much about potentials, piano lessons, tuition and such.
    As Kevin has also said, things in life are due to randomness and chance.
    Maybe when you are ready you should just do the best you can and it would turn out just fine.
    Best of luck.

  12. middleclass,

    this i agree with you.

    have seen too many parents spoiling their kids. financially, morally & physically (read unfit)

    my view is next generation will be rather pampered n lacking in drive

  13. Any case, if I recall, when I had my first kid, my household annual income is is only around 70k, and I even had a maid then when the second kid was coming (still around 70k then).

  14. hi passerby

    to alan : is the 500 to MIL to overlook the maid and baby in addition to the normal household allowance ( jiayong) given to her?

    Nope just to over look the baby, jiayong another amount.

    My case is unique, she quit her job to look after the baby so i am not complaning coz she gets more working actually . so i try to compensate when i have bonus .. now adays some grand parents dont want to look after the grand children

    For 7 K household income , can start a family la but you have to remain frugal no car ..else it will eat into savings

  15. When I first saw the title I was a bit unhappy as we stay in a HDB, no car, (got maid that costs 470 + 265 per month) but still cross 7K a month.

    Feeling better when i see the comments.

    While providing adequate education to the kids is essential; saving for future is as necessary.

    Hopefully I can balance both and retire happily by 60 :).

  16. Kelvin – Thanks. I am appalled that you spend 7k/month. My salary’s within your range and
    I don’t spend as much; averaging 10% of income.

    Maybe I have lost touch with Singapore or at best I am in denial.

  17. Alvin – how many kids do you have?

    could you kindly share how it is possible to just spend $14k per year (10% of income)? maybe a breakdown of your expenses will help.

  18. Alvin: could you share how you are able to average spending on just 10% of your income?
    That’s just incredible, but in a good way.
    Do you have a spouse who earn just as much and do you have children?
    For example let’s just say that your salary is $15k per month.
    10% of that is only $1500 a month.
    I would not be able to do that because I’m a single income family and just giving my parent monthly is already $1k.
    Insurance premiums are also close to $1k a month.
    Then I would need to add household expenditure, wife, kids, etc.

  19. 2 Kids you will likely spend something like $6-7k.
    Single income

    Allowances: $1400 ($800 Parents, $600 Wife)
    Mortgage: Fully by CPF
    Maintainence Fee: $310
    Car related: $1400
    Insurance: $950
    Utilities: $500 (PUB $200, Telco+Cable+HP $300)
    Kids Education: $380
    Maid: $520
    Groceries: $500 (Market)
    Supermarket: $500 (Including diapers/milk/hshold)
    Pocket Money for myself: $200

    Total ~$6600 (Which is like equal to take home)

    The only consolation I have is that my participating insurance doubles up as my retirement savings.
    Yearly bonuses (If any) are totally saved for nest-egg.

    Bought a mass condo as couldnt wait after 4 failed attempts to get a walk-in
    COV was ridiculous for resale

    Car decision was a lifestyle thing and also cos the cheap mass market condo was not very accessible.

    Key decision also made for wife to stay home to lok after kids.. Her oncome loss was a double whammy that we sat down and decided we had to overcome

  20. Tough: your budget looks incredibly close to mine.
    Except I live in an also incredibly overpriced HDB EA flat.
    I’m sure some smart alec will be joining in soon to chastise us for wasting money on luxury item like owning a car.

  21. Middleclass:
    I reckon so. Personally I feel it will be very tough to ferry 2 kids around without a car.

    Thanks for your comment.
    Feels better that I am not alone out there

  22. middleclass, i will be that smart alec.

    Tough, you situation is quite risky unless you are very sure your job is secure. i’m not sure how much savings you have, but my sincere advice is that you should try saving at least 10% of your disposable income.

    though you may surrender your insurance and get some cash back in tough times, it is not a wise thing to do in my opinion. insurance is there for even tougher times.

    with cash savings, you can also take advantage of investment opportunities – in your case i recommend blue chip stocks, but wait for a surprise downturn – everyone is saying recovery, but if the economy surprises on the downside, it is time for contrarians like myself to buy.

    the car is a luxury. since you are the only one who needs to travel on a daily basis, you can bite the bullet and take public transport to work, and take taxis for family outings. you will be surprised how much savings you will generate, and it is really not that inconvenient to take public transport. even some high earning expats take MRT and taxis all the time – one i know stays in Sentosa!

    just my 2 cents. (i know it is tough once you have upgraded to a certain lifestyle.)

  23. or consider at least downgrading to an off peak car to save on the COE, petrol and season parking at workplace. (you still have to take public transport to work!)


  24. you got it: I am thankfully blessed with a relatively secure job, savings is sufficient for the 6mths expenditure.

    I can still breathe cos bonus has been about 30% of my overall package and saved in total (if shit does not hit the fan)
    Yeh, I know that’s another risky bet…

    Car is also used to ferry kids to pre-school as well as weekend outings to free places. Like I said, appreciate the car advise and acknowledge it is a luxury. Just something to pamper myslef with given that I only have $200 pocket money a mth LOL.

  25. you got it: appreciate your advice but i hope you don’t get offended if i don’t share your opinion that my car is a luxury item to me.
    Interesting there’s a photo today on ST page A3 that reinforce the idea why I’ll not be taking public transport on a daily basis.
    Tough: like yourself I’m also a voracious saver and don’t splurge on other luxuries items.
    Relatively very comfortable with where i’m at no matter what happens.

  26. Sorry for not being clear enough. I am a ‘quitter’ hence I quoted myself “maybe I have lost touch with Singapore or at best I am in denial” earlier.

    My wife and I just passed 30 and have 2 lovely girls (3 & 1 years old). We are currently in Asia where most of the essentials are paid for (education, driver/car, trip back etc) as an overall outstation posting package. Admittedly, our expenses are mainly our indulgence.

    Having said that, I had lived in many western cities before my current posting and it is not as expensive compared to Singapore even without the perks I mentioned above. Taxes are high compared to here but there are essential perks like free healthcare & education etc. Based on the equivalent, my expenses did not shoot above 60% back then.

    I come back to Singapore regularly but in no way I feel the magnitude of such expenses, that’s why my eyes popped by looking at the 7k figure. My company offered me a position in Singapore so I am considering a move back. I am prepared to spend realistically to Singapore’s standards but looking at the figures made me think harder.

    I thought 4-5k is realistic. I wonder what goes on with those who has similar family structures but of a lower income bracket.

  27. Alvin: congratulations on having such a sweet deal.
    Obviously if you do decide to come back make sure that your company covers your housing, transport and education allowances.
    Otherwise it’s going to be a major pain if you want to maintain your 10% of income expenditure.

  28. I am sure small cities in the western hemisphere is cheaper than Singapore, but let’s take San Francisco as an example where I lived for 10 years before coming back to Singapore. The tax rate is a killer with a top line of 35 to 40 percent. Let’s say the effective tax rate is around 29 percent for a worker with an average salary PLUS a sales tax of 8.5/8.75% which was just increased to 9.5% around last March, and you are looking at almost 40 percent of your income gone. In the US there is no such thing as free health care (comes out of your salary towards your health insurance, people who think that there’s anything free in the US or anywhere also believe in the existence of Santa Claus). Education is free? Another myth, that comes out of the property tax paid for by the citizens of the country, so basically there’s some truth to complaints about foreigners in the US being a parasite (but no worries about it, human beings are human beings, we are no saints). Most people in the big cities also have to hire occasional nannies or enroll in child care and those are big expenses. I think my point is that taxes are very low in Singapore so you are quite justified in spending a lot for your family whereas outside the country, you probably pay the same amount, it’s just that you pay it as tax, so I am not so sure it’s an apple vs apple comparison.

  29. To be clear, if I am tracking non-big ticket items, my expense will be more like <5k.

    The 7k does include the so called big ticket items are things like second-hand Piano, short holiday (never been further than KL for a family holiday), kids illnesses, root-canal treatment, new laptop replacement, Wii, new bed for kids, etc. spent in one year, average into 12 months.

    I stress that I do not have a car nor a maid, and I even stop turning on air-conditioning!

    For ease of calculation, if say my household spend is 7.5K a month (90k a year), excluding mortgage. And the household income is 130K. So the saving rate is still about 30%. Not too bad I would have thought.

    We cannot all live based on doomsday scenarios, in which it doesn't matter anymore, because there wouldn't be even that many things to spend on anymore.

  30. poor kid grown up on

    the education system in the past seems much more equitable. i remember that in the past, my classmates and i didn’t differ much in terms of getting enrichment classes outside of school (we didn’t get much).

    the situation is different now. kids from poorer families and less educated parents will definitely lose out in this rat race, judging from my personal experience as a parent of 2 school-going kids.

    my kids are fortunate to have parents who can afford the time and money to guide them and send them to enrichment classes and overseas immersion programmes, buy expensive digital dictionaries, laptops, and so on.

    but i pity the poorer kids. the rich-poor divide will definitely widen if we don’t do anything about the equitability of our education system.

  31. So what can we do to make our education system equitable? I was reading outliers about sending poorer kids to school even during the vacation.

  32. no way can you change it as the system is so rigid. It will take a maverick to change the system (read – not soon)

    the only way is to home-school them during vacation (the rich can get tuition so that is when the gap widens)

  33. Wow. I think I have to give up saving for my retirement if I want to have kid.

    But do expensive enrichment classes really help the kids? Is there other cheaper alternatives?

    I read outliers too and it seems kids born early in the year have more advantages than those born end of the year.

  34. Normal – Agree there’s no free lunch and taxes collected will be ‘returned’ as essential services. What matters is how it is channeled and returned.

    Take Australia, I have no qualms paying 49% tax and have it channeled into my future needs (and I happened to think education and medical are very important).

    Take pre-schools here, it bothers me that I am subjected to market forces. It should be a given (free) because here is a 1st world country and knowledge is what Singapore to survival.

    Take HK with similar tax brackets, it is cheaper to live there as education and medical are free. Noting their middle class is classified as SGD200K per annum.

    I feel the tax distribution is not balanced hence a big chunk is used on children’s enrichment, one’s well-being etc.


    Making the schools equitable? We only have ourselves as parents to blame. Academic pursuits are way of life in Singapore and the Government is merely doing their job to cater to these demands.

    The rich will be in a better position to ‘equip’ their children as they have the resources (read: market forces). If the Government and us parents intervene this process, I am sure the system will improve (with caveats).

  35. I think the problem happens when a government mistakes itself as a business. Some of that is necessary so that costly projects can be justified or at least there’s some process in rationalizing expenses, but there are just some things you can’t just put a value on, like equitable education as people have suggested.

  36. I think the only way to effect change is to believe that it is possible. Working on the premise that it is impossible will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    So take the example of home-schooling the kids during vacation, how can we encourage parents to homeschool their kids during vacation?

    Another great question to seriously ask ourselves, does the studies cited in Western literature like Outliers apply to Singapore? I read fairly widely and I understand a lot of the policies enacted over in Singapore are based on wildly successful foreign studies. Unfortunately, when they are applied locally, they lack the context.

    One example on Outliers talks about numbers literacy and claims that Asians have simple sounds for numeric digits. Hence, this gives the headstart, but does it apply to all Asian cultures? Is Chinese mathematics superior to Japanese mathematics (because of words like roku, nana, hachi).

    On having ourselves to blame. Though this may be true, it is fed on the belief that extra classes are beneficial to the kids. One easy way to segment the problem (not the only one) is to either make extra classes available to as many children as possible or to disprove the belief.

    I find it difficult to disprove this belief. One of the reasons Outliers is very readable and believable is that it conveys the message which is in general hard to dispute, practice makes perfect.

    I was doing abacus sums with my daughter yesterday and she’s only in K2. She was moving from adding single digit to double digit with sums producing 1xx. I cannot help to imagine that with enough practice and the conceptual breakthrough, she will soon be able to add different combinations of numbers within a month. The only thing then left for school to teach her is how to pronounce the numbers and write them in English/Chinese. If that is not a valuable headstart, then what is it?

    Like most forumers, I draw inspiration from my parents. When I was really young, my parents bought an Encyclopaedia set (must be my dad full month salary) and a microcomputer (era before PC), even though we were really not that well-off. I like to think that helped me in more ways than I can imagine. (One difference was that he was not into classes and I never went for any, except for one tuition, to learn to write essays).

  37. poor kid grown up on

    the sad truth is that the education system is becoming less equitable.

    one way to make it more equitable is to discourage optional in-school enrichment programmes that require payment (eg overseas immersions), as well as other opt-in items (eg expensive digital dictionary, magazine subscriptions).

    at the least, schools should NOT be asking the kids and their parents to sign up for optional programmes or to buy expensive items. there should not be any such advertisements or messages communicated to parents. (kiasu parents can still find out about these, but through other channels – the idea is that we do not want the school to impose certain pressures.)

    if it’s a required thing (eg an affordable calculator), then make all parents pay for it, and offer financial assistance to those who can’t afford.

    this will be a step forward in making education here more equitable.

  38. hi poor kid grown up.. Education is a must in singapore context ..else many doors will not be open for you and even if it is open , you will be short changed .. thats the sad reality . seen it too many times.

    parents should not force children into so called good primary school but encourage long life learning instead, the key is aim for a degree .

  39. As a parent I constantly worry about how good a job I’m doing with my kids.
    I always debating whether I am or I should be projecting my aspirations, ideals, shortcomings, phobias, etc onto my kids.
    How much freedom and liberty should I give my kids to live their own lives and choose their own paths.
    What would be my response be if my kids have different ideas from me on what they want to pursue in life and what happiness are to them?
    Parenting really makes every other task in life looks trivial.

  40. poor kid grown up on

    Alan, i fully agree that education is very important. what i was trying to say is that we should make it more equitable, more fair to the poorer families.

    i can see that poorer kids are losing out in education if they can’t afford expensive enrichment classes and gadgets and such.

    i acknowledge that parents are partly to blame, so that was why i suggested that schools (ie MOE) should try their best to help the poorer kids.

    one way is to do away with expensive opt-in stuff, be it enrichment, overseas immersion or an expensive calculator. if a certain gadget or a certain subscription is deemed important, make it compulsory, and schools should offer financial help to those kids who can’t afford.

    if schools make such things optional, there could be two effects – one, the poorer kids will feel left out and feel inferior and even blame their parents; two, the poorer kids will lose out in learning opportunities, exacerbating the rich-poor gap.

    when i was a kid, it was much more equitable. no expensive gadgets to buy, and no expensive overseas trip to go to.

  41. After seeing that everyone is living high lives and not seemingly realising that they are among the very fortunate… I would like to share how the poor manages household expenses in Singapore.
    Single parent income $1800 (Take-home)
    Mortgage 3-rm HDB $600 (About $200 is cash)
    School fee govt primary school $10 (Only $5 is cash)
    SP Utilities $150
    HDB Conservancy charges $36.50
    Singtel residential line, mobile line, internet broadband $100
    Insurance $300
    Car Never will own one
    Public Transport $200
    Remaining cash goes towards buying food and necessities, including medical expenses.
    Maid no money for one so my kid stays home alone when I’m at work
    Piano classes, tuition, overseas holiday are meant for the rich
    Savings = $0 I’m lucky if my bank still have money left before reaching the next payday

  42. Hi Ms’s very sad to hear your story..

    So what if our GDP grows 20%++ and outperforms China? The lower income class will continue to struggle..and work till 65..

  43. “Retirement” is a dream for the poor. How can I retire when I will be servicing HDB loan until 65 years old and by then my CPF still $0 (all withdrawn to pay for flat) and bank account still $0?
    Poor people are destined to work until they die or maybe I should go and die now.
    You see if die before paying up the housing loan then Home Protection Scheme will pay up my outstanding loan and my orphaned child can rent the entire flat out at roughly $1500 per month.
    With a simple mathematical calculation, you will find that it is more profitable for me to die now.

  44. Sorry Ms Poverty on

    so the 13% GDP growth does not benefit everyone. why does the government keep harping on GDP and temasek profits when the benefits are not felt on the ground? it may create a feel-good effect, but it’s only temporary. people will realise sooner or later that the good news is just an illusion and only pockets of people benefit directly from it. what’s worse is that these pockets of people are usually the ones who are already better off.

    i’m sorry to hear of your plight, Ms Poverty. but hang in there, your children will grow up, go out to work and then you can enjoy a better life. from what you described, i think you are managing very well given your situation.

  45. Seems to be a lot of thoughts here that having kids is an expensive affair. It may well be. But fact is, once you’ve decided to, it’s a matter of finding the money. Think of it this way, if you could force yourself to put aside $1,000 from each month’s worth of salary, could you work out a viable budget?

    Once you’ve put aside that amount, go have the baby. $1,000 per month for about 3 years. By then, put the child in full day care. Costs do go down significantly as the child gets older.

    And whatever saved can then be invested.

    There is no real need to have an insurance for the child. He/she has no dependency who really need the cash. But do buy medical insurance (can use Medishield to pay).

    Over time, would be worthwhile to also start putting aside some $$$ towards the child’s education.

  46. I guess for our case is slightly better.

    CPF loan: 1k fully covered by CPF.

    Contribution to parents (both mine and my wife side) $1000 total. Well, that the benefit of parents having more than 2 child so that each child has less to give to parent in future :)

    To our joint account for future planning. About 2k per month from our combine income.

    Car: 1000 per month
    Utilities: 200
    phone/internet: About 200
    Makan combine about $1200
    misc: 400
    Insurance $200+ from CPF per month cash $100
    Total: actual spending average about $3k per month.

    Rest is personal saving for my wife and me and we do save quite a healthy percentage.

    So quite ok at this point of time. We figure having a BB will bump up another 1k per month but the current saving from joint acct is sufficient for future rainy days.

    As my parents leave just a few blocks from me, we do get a healthy saving from our 5 meals a week at parents place (rotated between both his/her parents :) as my wife don’t really cooks.

    Why bother when home makan is just 3 blocks away?

  47. im very fortunate after reading all the above. Im 30 yr old, earning $6k from my full time job..limelight part time in teaching once a wk, $1k. hubby earn pathetically 3.2k a mth.

    utility: $120(i seldom on air con to save $$)
    maid $590
    milk/diaper $500 (cos my 1yr dotter drinks milk like camel n refuse to eat anything else!)
    mum: $400 (for overlooking my maid n baby)
    Car+petrol+rd tax etc: $1100
    Insurance : $500per mth(only mine) +300per mth(hubby)
    My own personal expenses: i cut down all my shopping after delivering my baby… really practically all to save for my kid! FOOD: $300
    Public transport: Poor me gotta take mrt..cos hubby work in ulu place.. our timin diff.. i nd to sacrifice to take one trip of mrt ;$60
    hp/broadband: $100 (combine of mine n hubby; we select cheapest plan)

    Overall.. i think is not how much u earn.. its how much u save that matters… n how hard u try to strive n work hard… i really got NO LIFE.. work two full time job already take up 12 hrs a day ; five days a wk. Sometimes..lookin back.. i really salute myself for being such a tough cookie workin so hard.

  48. I earn about 3.7k a month. Can’t do shit with it n currently in 80k debt after tat after 5 years with 2 kids

  49. BTw I scrimp n save with no rental to pay, 2 or 1 meal per day. Kids hardly go for any outing nor enrichment. NO vacation n no bday or anniversary celebrations. It’s still not enuf n still incurred debts. The cost of living is too high unless you take home 9k in order to live moderately

Leave A Reply

9 + 11 =