I last did a post on my own household expenses back in Apr 2020. There have been substantial changes since, as well as a better understanding of retirement expenses. I thought it would be good to update for 2021.

2020 was an exceptional year for investment, something which may not repeat this year. Hence, I would expect income in 2021 to be lower, while spending to increase.

Income

IncomeAmountRemarks
Insurance Income $37,200$3,100 monthly escalating benefit
Fixed income portfolio $17,400Temasek bond and Pimco Income fund
Stock portfolio$85,000Based on 10% of $850,000 portfolio
Total annual income$140,000Rounded up to nearest $1,000
Monthly basis$11,600

Positive cash flow from insurance and fixed income should be about $54,600, which is enough to satisfy my monthly expenses. I rather not touch my stocks for expenses, because I want them to leave alone to compound.

The fixed income portfolio takes into account the financing I need to pay for the leveraged annuity, which is currently cash-flow negative. It will turn positive in 2025, adding another $800 to my monthly passive income. Cutting back a bit now to have more assurance in the future.

For the stocks portfolio, I’ve estimated a return of 10%. But I’m really working towards at least a 20% return, which is still considerably lower than what I achieved in 2020 with a lot of mistakes.

Expenses

ExpenseAmountRemarks
Eating out$800Estimated 5 family meals out each week at $40 average
Medical expenses$600I’ve doubled my medical expenses due to medical inflation and more self-care.
Insurance expenses$500For 2 adults and one child. Split with wife. Includes savings component through an endowment and whole life insurance for kid.
Entertainment$500I raised my entertainment budget as I include weekly massages for my wife and I. It’s a neighbourhood place, under the HDB block. We like that its affordable, close, and high quality.
Groceries$400I’ve kept groceries the same as before despite no longer having a helper to feed. But reality is that I think my grocery bills have dropped considerably as I buy less online and more at the nearby market.
Mom’s allowance$400If I had a good year in stocks, I’ll give my mother an end year bonus. I’m lucky that my mom doesn’t require too much of my help for her retirement, and she has other children and sources.
Child expenses$300Not including childcare expenses of about $450, which comes out of theChild Development Account (CDA). It’s mainly diapers and milk.
Utilities$200Town council fees, power, water, internet, phone.
Transport$2008 cab rides a month at average cost of $20. I threw in an addition $40 for public transport and to round up.
Cleaning$200We pay for someone to come in and clean our place about three times a month. It’s a big relief. 
Subscriptions$70Netflix, YouTube premium, Google Drive, etc
Total monthly expenses$4,000 Rounded up to nearest $1,000
Annually$48,000

Expenses are rounded up and in some cases overestimated. It’s better to overestimate and be pleasantly surprised. I also have various expenses that crop up, like buying a gift for the wife or family. But I can easily cut back as well, and some expenses like eating out and entertainment can be stopped without feeling much.

My wife chips in a bit here and there, but I’m paying for the bulk of household expenses. I think its fine and I like being a provider. The basics like electricity and water are also minor expenses, and the highest family expense remains eating out. We probably eat out more than we should, but I don’t the time or energy to cook and clean everyday. It’s dependent on my energy level, but I’ll do my best to cut back here.

Mortgage costs of about $500 per month are not being added at the moment, as its still being drawn down from my CPF account. The OA would be exhausted by 2022, and I would have to start using cash instead.

I find that keeping a lid on expenses is really important. As long as you avoid the big expenses, you don’t need to sweat the small things. The most relevant to me is buying a car or upgrade to a condo. I’m reluctant to do so as we simply don’t need them. We are doing well with taking taxis, and it is really easier than owning a car. While it would be nice to have a pool and gym, I’m not sure if paying a few hundred dollars a month extra in maintenance fees would justify living in a condo. Not to mention the added property taxes. Moving into a condo might not feel like an upgrade either. We live in a 4-room BTO flat in a mature estate, and the amenities around are unmatched. It’s a high floor and close to town too. To move to an equivalent condo would cost at least 3 times more. Still, the wife is making some noise, and I’ll see what we can afford when our minimum occupation period is up in 3 years.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Miscellaneous expensesAmountRemarks
School fees$5,000Half of $10,000 total cost
New PC$4,000Will probably aim for a high end PC with a 3080 card and a Ryzen 7 processor
Playstation 5$1,000For 1 PS5 and 5 games
Travel$6,000Total budget of $12,000 as my wife will also contribute. Should be good enough for two short trips (e.g. Malaysia and Thailand) and one long one.
Total$16,000

Beyond the day-to-day, I wanted to document some major expenses for 2021. I’ll be finishing my studies, which would cost another $5,000. It’s subsided by the Singapore government, and pretty affordable at less than $10,000 for the whole thing. While I have doubts about actually pursing a career that utilises it, I suppose it keeps my options open. Stopping now would waste the first $5,000 I paid.

I have long wanted to upgrade my PC with the latest AMD or NVIDIA components, and was tempted to do so this year. But my PC is working fine now, and I want to resist spending the money even though I can well afford it. I expect prices to come down in middle to late 2021 as demand gets satisfied. Same with the PS5, which is crazy difficult and expensive to get now.

Travel, which was non-existent in 2020, should also be a large part of 2021 spending. Like many others, we are looking forward to travelling again. Won’t be too far away as we have a young child, so furthest I think we will go is Japan. But if travel is expensive and a hassle, we will not travel too much.

Taken together, I expect total expenses in 2021 to be about $64,000, or almost $5,400 a month.

Summary

Taken conservatively, my income of $140,000 is over double of expected expenses of $64,000. This lets me keep adding to my net-worth during retirement. Even if investment income is half of what I expect, I’ll still be able to save. I found it was important to do this to feel secure about money lasting. Ultimately, my aim is for $1.5 million by 2024, which is my fortieth birthday. But this does call for a higher rate of return of 20%. At the same time, I will be fine if I can just maintain my net-worth as it is.

Despite no employment income, I still enjoy a comfortable life with few true deprivations. $64,000 in expenses is still pretty high, and more than the median income of Singaporeans. It’s a function of having a family though. While I don’t mind living frugally if I’m by myself, its much different with a wife and children. You don’t want them to feel like they are short-changed. It’s a miserable life to scrape and scrimp. Better to enjoy life eh?

Hope that you are living well in 2021 =)

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