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Fri, Apr 23, 2010
The Sunday Times
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Are you financially ready for a baby?
by April Chua

THE thought of having babies may have some couples jingling their loose change nervously but not for Ms Chew Ailin, 27 and her husband Roy Chang, 33, who were well-prepared for the additional expenditure.

Even before they got married, the couple agreed to get by on one income and refrain from spending on big-ticket items.

This frugality helped Ms Chew and Mr Chang cope with the increase in
expenses when the children came along. The couple has three young children — a 20 month-old boy, Yi Kai, and eight month-old twin girls, Yi Xuan and Yi En.

Ms Chew quit her training consultant job to be a stay-at-home mum after
Yi Kai was born.

“Roy and I decided that it was best for our family that I stay at home to care for and nurture the children. I also felt responsible for my children’s upbringing and didn’t want to leave this responsibility to someone else,” she says.

When Mr Chang received news that his wife was pregnant with the twins, he
was initially concerned how they were going to manage with one income and
three children, especially when they had just bought their house.

While now they have five in the family to care for, a mortgage and more bills to pay, Ms Chew figured they would be able to manage by living simply and by cutting back further on certain expenses.

The couple has also adopted smart shopping strategies, like stocking up on groceries and daily necessities, especially diapers, when these were on sale.

They also eat in most of the time and Mr Chang happily gushes that he is enjoying the home cooked meals.

“And it’s definitely easier to eat in with three young children!” he says.

Ms Chew adds: “Almost all our children’s clothes, toys and baby gear are either gifts or hand-me-downs, which have been very helpful given the rate babies outgrow their clothes and lose interest in various toys. I also fully breastfeed the twins so we save on milk powder cost. Besides, it’s the best milk for babies!”

Mr Chang, who is a pastoral staff member of a church, does his fair bit of
belt tightening. The self-professed “big Apple fan”, who fancies computer gadgets and musical instruments, says he now refrains from making such purchases if they are not necessary for the household.

”After all, it’s only one person that benefits, not my household,” he adds.

They say they are constantly bombarded with the notion of wanting and needing more of everything. Mr Chang says: “There seems to be no end to what we ‘need’. I think more importantly is learning to be contented and willing to work with what we do have. It may require some budget and lifestyle changes but the joys of having children more than make up for these ‘sacrifices’.”

“It is amazing how children canjust melt your heart, when they call you ‘papa’, or simply relate to you.”

Indeed, being frugal is a basic and sound strategy that couples can adopt to save for their children’s expenses, says Ms Anne Tay, vice-president of Wealth Management Singapore at OCBC Bank.

She advises couples to “save first then spend”. For example, they can set
a monthly goal of saving at least 10- 20 per cent of their pay for rainy days, and plan their lifestyle and expenses around the remaining 80-90 per cent.

“Having a child can be a strain on your finances if you do not plan well.

The journey of raising a child till independence is long. Couples should not overly focus on giving the best to the child and spending unnecessarily in the early stage of his or her life, and ignore the on-going costs involved in raising a child.

“Direct the extra dollars for ‘wants’ into a savings or investment plan and
start building the necessary finances to provide for the child’s later years,” says Ms Tay.

She adds: “There is never a perfect time. If you want to have a child, plan for it, especially financially.”

Checklist for parents-to-be

The cost of raising a child may be high but through proper and early planning, it is manageable.

Create a baby budget: Stick to your budget and what your baby needs, not what you want for your baby.

Check available government support for new parents, e.g. Baby Bonus, Infant or Child Care subsidy and tax incentives.

Check your employment benefits: There are a number of benefits you may be entitled to e.g. paid maternity and childcare leave.

Save and spend smart: Save 10-20 per cent of your pay for rainy days. Stretch your dollar by stocking up necessities like diapers during sales or buy cheaper online.

Plan early for the unexpected: Get life and medical insurance for yourself and your baby. Also, ensure you have protection against your long-term liability such as your mortgage, which can be a huge burden.

Save early for your child’s education: Start now, not when he starts school, to maximise the benefit of compounding minterest and smaller regular savings amount.

— Ms Anne Tay, vice-president of Wealth Management Singapore at OCBC Bank

This article was first published in The Straits Times.



>> Sign up for the "I Love Children - Maybe Baby Seminar" to find out more about planning for your family!

readers' comments
I recommend free to print your cheque conveniently.
Posted by shirely1234 on Sat, 24 Apr 2010 at 15:03 PM
It is not easy to have children with only one income from the husband. For the wife, she has to take care of the children and to do little accounting work to pay all the home bill. One way to save time is to use all the web service to pay bill or to print cheque. Best of luck.
Posted by shirely1234 on Sat, 24 Apr 2010 at 15:01 PM

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