Financially Savvy - 7 ways to Thrive Financially as a couple in Singapore

1:37:00 PM

We can't deny that Singapore has a high cost of living. But... as a couple, we accept that in exchange, we get a good quality of living and a relatively safe country for our families to stay in. While we do not have the power to adjust the rising costs, we should constantly strive to find ways to maximise our savings.

We've previously blogged on How we Save Money as a Couple (Read blogpost here).
It is important to save money, but there's no point having lots of cash and not spending it! Are we a boring couple? Well not really.. (ok la don't judge please), innovative might be the word. Haha!

So here are 7 tips to help you enjoy your couple life and yet have enough savings for the rainy days:

1) Be Masterchef in your own kitchen
For most people our age, the bulk of their expenses would usually go to food or entertainment. So definitely, it would be a wise choice to learn how to cook!

Ben loves having his coffee and bread in the morning and if he has it at Yakun or Toast Box, it would usually cost at least $5. While he occasionally eats there, most of the time he chooses to eat at home instead.

So what do we eat for breakfast in the morning? Here are some items on our breakfast menu with the breakdown of their costs.

Sausages: ~$0.20 each
Eggs: ~$0.20 each
Bread: ~$0.15 each

Pesto Sauce is $6.70 per bottle. Lasts for about 2-3 weeks.
Approx. per serving for the hungry Ben: $1.10

Typically when we don't have much time for breakfast, Ben usually just makes 2 pesto toasts for himself and his cup of coffee while Mel grabs a muesli bar and nomz it down while if she has students for that morning.

On weekdays, we would have lunch separately because Ben is usually out teaching or at office while Mel is home before going out for work. Thank God that our work places and office are near affordable food centres so it doesn't cost us much to eat out. Even previously when Mel was working within the City, it was situated conveniently near Maxwell Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar Market. Unfortunately if you are working within Orchard area it would probably cost more for lunch :( 

On most Saturdays, Ben would get lunch back for us from the market nearby home and Mel's favourite Yong Tau Fu is just $2.90, while Ben's favourite noodles would typically cost between $3 - 4. With his no.1 coffee costing only $1.10, our lunch (inclusive of a drink) would cost us just $8 for 2 persons. 

Other than cooking together being fun, grocery shopping can be fun too! Moreover, the food that we usually buy can last us quite long! Recently we found out a super awesome meal that costs only $2.05 per serving, and it's rather healthy as well! 

Soba (from Daiso): $1 
Egg: ~$0.40 
Gyoza (from NTUC): $2.70 for 9 pieces 

Total: $4.10 (each $2.05)

Others on the food menu would be simple homemade Basil Stir fried Macaroni with prawns by Chef Mel. Recently, we decided to have some Crabs and Mussels for dinner. Having it out at restaurants or even coffee shops might cost us quite a lot so we thought of being adventurous cooking it on our own. Mel ordered some fresh seafood online from Ah Hua Kelong and cooked up a storm with Ben's family 2 weeks back. 

Mussels: $8 for 1 kg
Flower Crabs: $30 for 1 kg

Ah Hua Kelong ( offers free home delivery for orders above $40 and it isn't difficult to achieve that amount because you can always freeze what you aren't using yet for another cookout session. The service was great and the food was really fresh! Will definitely order from them again :) 

Once in a while we would try to be a little adventurous and cook something more complicated. While we do suffer from small disasters here and there (typically Ben's fault because he usually goes by 'feel' more than following recipes), we enjoy the outcomes and the process as well.

2) Exercise Together
Exercising helps you get fit and you can do it at a low cost by choosing sports that are more affordable (some are even free!). We run together every Sunday evenings and on Wednesday mornings, Mel goes to Body Sculpting class with her mum and Ben would head to the gym. The class costs $50+ for 12 sessions and entrance fee for the gym is $2.50. With the help of the ActiveSG $100 gift from our dear Government, Ben gets to use the gym for free for 40 sessions and Mel used the voucher to offset part of her class fees as well. So do make sure you download the app and claim the $100 for it is a sin if you do not claim free money offered by the Government (tsk tsk tsk).
Other than gyming and running, we also follow the P90X programme (Read our Fitness entry here). While we haven't really been very disciplined following it everyday, we try as much as possible to do it at least twice a week. And you can follow the programme for an infinite number of times!

3) Watching Dramas Online
This is something that we look forward to do everyday after work. Yup, we work every single day including weekends (#WorkaholicMuch). Watching our korean dramas is free because we stream them online. We have just finished watching Emergency Couple, My love from the stars and The Heirs. If you Korean Fanatics have any dramas to recommend, please let us know as well! Of course not forgetting catching up on Running Man and Dad, Where are you Going episodes, all available on the web as well.

Though Ben loves watching movies at the cinema, clearly Mel doesn't because she would fall asleep halfway through any movie, no matter how noisy the theatre or exciting the plot is. So that would be a bit costly since we would be paying for 2 tickets even though only 1 person ends up watching only, Hahaha!

4) Hunt for Good Deals together
Like some Ahjussi and Ahjumma who always prowl around for good deals, we tend to walk around in supermarkets or malls to look for discounted items and also subscribe to Group deal websites like Groupon. While it can be addictive to keep buying things, always remember to buy only when you really need the items. The discounts are sometimes psychological marketing tactics to try to hook you into buying things you don't really need.

5) Family Time
Sometimes the best way to save money is actually to just stay at home and spend some quality time with your families, occasionally cook for them or just sit around and talk with each other about what went on that week. Ben's personal favourite is to have steamboat at home (although the downside is having to wash many dishes after!).  

6) Travel Cheap!
We've been together for 6.5 years (Read about our Relationship here) and although we love travelling, we've never been to expensive countries and always fly by budget airline. Going on a holiday is a good way to prevent ourselves from working too hard and for us to catch a breather from the hectic lifestyle in Singapore. We frequent Manila quite often as Ben's sister stays there, so our lodging is free and the cost of living there is really low.

Mel subscribes to the emailers of JetStar, Cebu Pacific and other budget airlines to get updated on cheap travels. So if you are an avid traveller, do that too!

Of course if we were cash rich enough, we wouldn't mind splurging on more expensive air tickets to get a more comfortable experience onboard. Our flights are usually between 3 - 5 hours only so we haven't seen a need. But if we are flying somewhere further, we would definitely set aside more budget for that, so that we won't end up having sore backs or aching necks during our holiday.

7) Manage your Money together
We have a joint savings account that we started when Ben was in his last year in University. We used to deposit $50 each every month into the account and when Ben slowly eased his way to work and business got better, we started to increase that to $100... then $150... then $500 and now we put at least 30% of our personal salary each into the bank account. The original idea was for Mel to match whatever Ben is able to afford to put in every month because Mel started working 2 years earlier so technically she has more savings. But slowly it became more of a game and challenge to each other to save more money! 

Because we manage our money together, we also plan together on how we use our money as well, especially since we are saving up for our wedding and planning to get a house next year.

This is an important tip and advice that we would like to offer to our friends who are preparing for their wedding and love-nest. It might be an unconventional advice, but we would like you guys to get a credit card. To be exact, credit cards that offer cash rebates.

Why do we say that?

Because most weddings involve a lot of costs and it can go up to $70 - 90k. Take the banquet as an example, a typical banquet of 25-35 tables would cost around $40 - 50k and that is already a big sum of money! And that also means that if we were to spend this money through a credit card, we get credit terms and also get a significant cash rebate!

There are pros and cons to owning a credit card. We are currently drafting up an entry on how you can get more discounts from such rebates and will definitely share more about our experience and rewards in the entry :)

Update: The post is up! Click here to read: 6 Ways to Get Discounts for Your Wedding!

All these being said, as a couple, we are always trying to be thrifty (NOT stingy or kiam-siap) in our actions and decisions. There's a lot of difference in needing to spend as compared to wanting to spend on something. It's all about setting some priorities and planning carefully on how much needs to go where.

As we plan for our wedding these few months, we have asked several of our friends how much they saved for their wedding so that we could gauge if we ourselves were on track. While some gave us a rough range of how much they have set aside for their wedding and housing after marriage, we do have friends who have decided to "go with the flow" and "play by ear, go by feel". It is a huge risk to take, but if you're careful enough and good at calculations, everything should go okay. But for us, we have decided to set up more goals and by limiting ourselves through budgeting, the chances of spending more than we actually have will be less.

Thankfully, we both have similar lifestyles and love to think of new ways to save more together. It actually takes some influence from one party to start the ball rolling. Planning for marriage and all that happens after marriage can be stressful and some find that we are too young for all these now. But we think that we're ready to take on the challenge and may even consider starting a family earlier if we are financially capable, because our parents are not young anymore and we want to get them involved in every step of our child's / children's lives.

Bring it on ;)

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  1. Thank you for all the useful wedding prep info! Looking forward to your post on credit cards :)

    1. You're most welcome! It will be up really soon!!! Thanks for reading :)

  2. "The original idea was for Mel to match whatever Ben is able to afford to put in every month because Mel started working 2 hours earlier so technically she has more savings."

    Anonymous is wondering why does Mel need to go to work 2hrs earlier than Ben? Is Mel paid per hour?

    1. Hahaha. Sorry for the mistake. Our bad. It should be YEARS and not hours. But technically speaking, yes. Mel is also paid per hour as she is a piano teacher :)

  3. Just fyi ^^ : The original idea was for Mel to match whatever Ben is able to afford to put in every month because Mel started working >>> 2 hours earlier <<< so technically she has more savings.

    1. Hahaha. Sorry for the mistake. Our bad. It should be YEARS and not hours.

  4. Wonderful advice! Looking forward to the next entry! Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the compliment! Will share more tips in our next entry :) Cheers!

  5. a good write up!so motivated cause me and partner has the same strategy!

    1. Hi fifa, hi-5 to you! It's great to know that there are other couples out there who share the same thoughts as us. Wishing you and your partner a happy and blissful life together!

  6. Wonderful post Mel, Ben! This is a very helpful post esp for my partner and I! will check back often for more lifehacks erhem "couple-hacks" ;)

    1. Hi Fusionous, we are glad that you find the post beneficial! We have more "couple-hacks" coming up and the next one would be on getting "discounts" for weddings and even tips on what kind of insurance plans to buy at this age. So, stay tuned and we hope to see you back on our blog soon! ;)

  7. Great sharing on saving money! I agree with point no.1, because you save so much if you cook yourself. I am packing my own lunch boxes to work and average cost of each box is only $2.5 for a whole week.

    1. Hi Nigel! That is so right! Mel used to get bread from Breadtalk every morning previously when she was working at the office. That costs about $1.50 every morning. But then she decided to get a loaf of banana walnut bread and left it in office, which costs her only $2 a week. it's a lot healthier & also comes in handy if your colleague has no breakfast that morning, offering them a slice or two would certainly make their day! :)

  8. Haha, good pointers till the part where 70-90k was set as the norm on wedding expenditure. A ceremony with no returns, it would be better to put half that amount into investment products for a 7% yield.

    1. Hi Ssim,

      Thank you for the tip! Well, Ben is actually reading and eventually going for investment courses as well as learning under reputable business leaders that he has met through business connections. While it is easy to say that you would rather invest that money, it can be even easier to say that we should consider not even having a wedding banquet, but instead, pay a small fee and register our marriage (ROM).

      While we want to help our peers and young couples save and earn more money, we always believe that marriage is something that is very important. A lot of people put too much effort in their wedding, but not on their marriage. But yet, enough effort and recognition should still be put into a wedding since it is done only once in a lifetime and it is a platform for a couple to ask people who are important to them to witness their vows and for the couple to exchange their promises in front of people they hold dear.

      Spending a lot of money on a wedding is fine, but only when you can afford it. It is definitely not worth it to be in debt because of the wedding. That is the idea that we want to advocate.

      We hope that you have abundance in returns on your dividends and we also wish you a blissful love life with the partner of your life.

      God bless!

  9. Hello Mel or Ben, you guys are such a loving couple, I hope all other couples especially at around our age bracket can continue to master the art of financial management individually and as a couple.

    Well you know Singapore recently became the most atrociously expensive city to live in, and recently I have come up with a budget plan for an individual living in Singapore.

    I am 24 this year I think about you and your boyfriend's age, and did a feasibility study of how much does a young adult up to the age of 40-50 need to more than survive locally.

    My assumptions were male /female athlete who needs plenty of food daily(eg 4 meals and more), city dweller around CBD area, extremely active lifestyle, and commutes frequently so car becomes a must to beat the crowd, buying a HDB flat is also a must so maybe we will settle for 4 room in queenstown,best alternative to a condo.

    Lets move onto the breakdown of financial assessment for what an individual needs, and I found it shocking because tried as I could to keep the figure below $3000/person/month covering wide variety of necessary expenses daily and monthly, I cannot! Especially some couples where the guy in the relationship is a bodybuilder or ninja warrior, personally I can wolf down 2 foot subway sandwiches in 1 sitting, I can imagine how my guy friends bigger than my 60kg frame can do much more damage to wallet!

  10. My categories were broadly classified as(daily expenses breakdown):

    1.Food and beverages(assuming eat out-4 meals X $7.50/meal=$30/day($913 a month), this section can cost up to $40/day for titanic eaters, i mean if anyone's boyfriend is team singapore dragonboater or swimmer

    2.transportation-$50/day-toyota vios/altis on a 5 year repayment($1521/month)

    3.general shopping-$15/day or $456/month

    4.sports and fitness-assuming SAFRA, anytime fitness and NSRCC national service club for NS men($5/DAY) or $150 per month$5/day for everything included that needed to be insured for 1 person or $150 per month premiums

    6.GROCERIES,stationery, toiletries, basic necessary items etc, besides shopping, I put a figure of $500 a month to this one in case not enough.

    7.Excluding downpayment of 4 room 1000 sqft flat in queenstown, costing $450,000, monthly repayment is $1400 plus minus

    8.There will be no travel outside singapore,unless both boy and girl are super earners LOL,and download movies online instead of watching blockbuster red carpet releases premiere at GV or shaw theatres.

    9.medical checkup, dental needs, accidental emergencies-$5 /day or $152 per month to see doctor, presuming the average person regardless of age fall sick once a month, goes for medical checkup 4 times annually. This budget will cover costs.

    10. Telecommunications by VERY HEAVY data user-eg 12GB a month, surfing net at 10 hours a day annually, does online business like yourself, stock trading, writing school essays and business outlines every day.

    starhub most ex plan is $205/month, singtel cable TV=$59.90/month, very high speed fire optic internet access is $79.90/month, hence total cost is
    $345 monthly

    11.monthly utilities for 2 or 3 persons at home might be budgeted at $5/day or $152 per month for everything under singapore power.

    12.miscellaneous expenses like indoor sun tanning, teeth whitening, going for facial twice a week or 8 times monthly, pampering activities,watching a concert, cinema movies like transformers age of extinction, visiting MBS for skypark pool. I have not included yet!

    Okay lets take a sneak peek at what an average thrifty individual in cosmopolitan singapore needs individually,ie cannot share with partner and beverages-$1218
    2.transportation-$1521 for clothes and shoes-$456
    4.sports and fitness-$150 premium-$150
    7.HDB monthly loan-$1400
    9.telecoms(including TV,home phones, internet access wifi)-$345
    GRAND TOTAL:$6044/MONTH or $198.57/DAY /person

    No wonder they rank singapore as the most expensive place to stay, now we all know why!

    Please give your comments, suggestions, feedback. I am trying to aim for lower than an affordable $4000/ person/month but it looks like the odds are against our favour for the youngest generation. I look forward sincerely to your advice!

    1. Hi annon, we are 25 and 26 years old respectively and yup, Ben is a big eater too! And he's more than twice the weight of Mel, standing at 80kgs and 179cm tall.

      Looking at the assumptions, we probably have some suggestions to offer you, because you can definitely try to save more money by being more prudent in your expenditure. Mel and Ben doesn't work in CBD area but Ben's clients are in the CBD area. We don't drive but we do intend to buy a car AFTER we get our house (resale) next year.

      Our first suggestion would be, even though you drive, it would probably be advisable NOT to drive to work because of ERP and parking rates in the area. Even if you really have to, park your car in Plaza Singapura and take a train over. The parking rates are wayyyyyyyy cheaper than in CBD. We did not bid for a BTO and we don't plan to bid for one because we want to settle down and get our own home soon. So because Ben's brother is a property agent and Ben knows some property developers and investors, he still is well informed of when is the right time to strike the property market and buy our house.

      Pertaining to your food intake, Ben the 80kg hungry monster has this advice. He used to work out a lot when he was younger and in the modelling industry and he knows of some bodybuilders who shared with him the kind of food that they eat during their bulking phase. They actually cook their own food! Chicken breast, hard boiled egg white, greens and chilli etc. Ben is no expert on this but if you are into bodybuilding, you can try hunt for some recipes that you can use to make your own lunch since CBD's healthy food is usually $10++ per serving! Healthy food doesn't mean tasteless, so do your research and trial and error! Let us know if you find some yummylicious recipes!

      If you can eat breakfast at home for $1+, once in a while make lunch, eat at home with your family for dinner, I think typically you can spend around max $10-15/day instead of $30. But don't starve yourself!! It is about making the right choices!

      For your car, no choice I guess since you already have a car so you just have to deal with the expenses. But if possible, always take note of the ERP timings or parking rates. You can save on these whenever possible!

    2. For shopping, i think you should try to priorities what you NEED and what you want. Also, understand that there is a GOOD TO HAVE category. Buy what you need so you survive, buy what is GOOD TO HAVE so you can improve, buy your WANTS only when you can afford it.

      For gym, if you really want to save, you can work out at the public gyms set up by sports council or the CCs. They are a lot cheaper and only costs $2.50/ entry. And also with the ActiveSG $100 voucher, you can go for 40 FREE sessions!!

      We put insurance in a very high priority in our life so even if you are spending more on insurance it is fine. however, it is important that you understand your policies and it is better to get an agent you trust and put your interests as his/her priority, not their own commission.

      For points 6,7 and 9-11, they are necessities that you can't forgo so you don't really have much choice for that other than trying to find out what best deals different companies have to offer.

      For no.12, you just have to make sure you account for all your expenditure so that you do not overspend. While once in a while it is ok to splurge on something, it should always be within your means.

      There are a lot of costs that you account for here are actually costs that are borne as a family. We believe for couples now, both are working and thus should contribute to the family expenditure. So try not to bear all costs on just 1 party. When you and your partner come together, you take on the responsibility to start a family together. So do try to share the costs to build a conducive environment for the family. You don't need to be calculative as to split 50-50% of costs, but you should always have a joint account for family expenses.

      There are quite a lot of numbers that you provide here, but it somehow seems like an estimate more than an actual account of your expenses. We would advise that you use the "Money" app to track your expenses accurately so you can properly understand where you are spending your money.

      We wrote about how we track our finances here:

      Feel free to drop us an email at if you need more advice or you can add us on facebook if you wish!


    3. Also, one last advice regarding the gym. Ben actually bought his own gym equipment like free weights (total of 38 kgs.Costs approximately $150-180) and a gym bench ($150). And he gyms at home as well when he returns home late or decide not to go to the gym during a peak hour.

      You can purchase these items quite affordably either from or Nutrifirst.

    4. Hmm I don't think you should categorize that as an average thrifty individual. Eg, you can save cost on transportation by taking public transport, or u can probably goes for ur shopping twice or thrice a month, spending around $100 each time. And are you really fully utilizing starhub's most ex plan? You should work more on your insurance premium too. Given the amount you are spending, you can probably up the insurance coverage while you are young

    5. Hello nice to meet another anonymous, thank you for your genuine feedback. Just to prevent any further confusion as to both "anonymous posters" on mel and ben's blog, I am samuel Tan. So from now on, I will put my profile name as such, no more monikers, Mel can comment on this one too, as I can only click "reply to anonymous" but i think all parties can see and comment. As you can see from my posts, I tend to be very precise in my description of things because thats how a methodical assessment works from the beginning-thorough and comprehensive.

      Actually for the sole purpose of calculating cost of living in Singapore, I am single not even attached or hitched, currently studying in SIM RMIT, wondering aloud just how much is sufficient for the next generation of fresh school leavers embarking on a new destination in the working world.

      Moreover, since the government led surveys like ministry of manpower annual salary report of common jobs in singapore, or average household expenditure, articles educating the general masses on how to save and everything else, does not quite meet my primary objectives of discovering what an way above average person consumes daily,monthly or yearly, I decided to scour the web for sincere opinions based on factual studies and techniques to lower cost or monitor expenses.

      additional note:If Mel is reading this post, I am a swimmer and occasional runner, I go to the gym maybe 3 times weekly to tone my washboard abs and water polo physique. I was formerly from SP canoeing team/waterpolo in 2009. Just for the record, I am only 1.65m,61kg and can already eat in one sitting 2 burger king upsized meals to satiate my hunger, I can do this thrice a day. no wonder few friends are willing to treat me ala carte meals during outings. LOL

    6. *So, I took the following assumptions(intended to be vastly above average)
      -A relatively high earner (whatever that means) around age 35-40, this person is already earning only $7500 after tax monthly take home pay.

      -This person is a male singaporean, giant monster eater, works out 2 hours daily for 7 days a week, stands at 1.8m tall and 76kg active sportsman. I am sure majority of singaporean men are heavier and taller than that, a good physique to start calculating cost per meal daily at the higher range.

      -A really career minded entrepreneur, business owner, who engages most of the time in replying emails, studying new business concepts, meeting prospective partners and all the other business related stuff.

      -Because we are progressive society,he will need a car to avoid the rush hour crowd. zoom from place to place, but i will be strict-only cars with COE priced included at approximately $120,000, SO no rolls royce or Lamborghini ,BMW M series. I presume most CBD executives drive to work and have no problems paying fees to park car.

      -He would live in a purchased HDB 4 room flat, which after downpayment it would cost $1400 to finance monthly. I mean the whole flat by himself in worst case scenario. He can invite friends to stay permanently free of charge if he wanted companionship.

      -Yes and definitely being a very tech savvy person, he will have no choice but to fully utilise starhub most expensive phone plan because it can be considered value for money for high data usage professionals.

    7. -sporting needs will somehow inevitable overlap with shopping needs( which Mel told me to categorize expenses into "NEED", "Good to have for self improvement" and "WANT" sections. If he needs to start from scratch, I presume spending $4,000 a year buying new underwear,clothes and shoes enough to fill an entire wardrobe annually shouldn't be spendthrift, because we all need clothes and shoes. Beside shopping expenses of $4000 IS allocated year after year, no more will be given. even if he wants to buy 1 laptop per year, a mountain bicycle, surfboard or new gym equipment, pullup bars. He gotta dip into this funding pool. Mel suggested I could set up my home gym but that will mean getting a condominium at 2500 square feet for spaciousness?

      -With sports and fitness comes working out at gyms, regular kayaking and dragonboating at Seasports centre NSRCC, crossfit challenge and triathlons at marina bay area. And at least 1 gym membership to not loose face, and the almost zero cost SAFRA membership which I have now with no income ceiling or floor.

      -I figured out insurance needs from the perspective of myself who just completed NS 1 year ago having still required to pay the AVIVA SAF group term life insurance policy cover.My $150 per month comes from this existing policy with $1Million coverage max. But Mel and yourself has told me insurance is long term investment so I should consider this $150/month raised to maybe $450/month.

      -In terms of food and beverages expenses, sometimes I feel sympathetic for the busy workaholic higher income earner who has to get to work early, get to bed late, alot of other commitments. Hence I think eating out is a better option although it may not be cost effective at times.

      Let me explain further how I got $40 for meals, take pepper lunch express(UPSIZE it) it costs $12/meal already even outside city area at food courts. multiply it by 3, you got $36. throw in a cold pressed healthy juice X2 500ml cups, thats additional $10, so end result you have $46/day for the busy professional on the run.

      -I think that $6000/year or $500 per month on groceries,stationery and miscellaneous marketing expenses is okay right,wrong? when it includes the chicken breast, wholemeal bread and cereal, evian water bottles cartons,fruits and greens and other stuff?

      Thats about all my assumptions which would most likely be true for the above average "not so spendthrift" but unfortunately slightly high consumption athlete male business services employee in modern day cosmopolitan Singapore.

    8. **Next segment(random questions based on plenty of observations):
      1.Out of curiosity, Mel, would you consider an annual vacation/overseas backpacking expedition of 50 days(9 weeks) to be normal time frame or too long, I mean that could possibly be one of the activities under the category of leisure and travel, which I left blank to stop expenses from rising.

      2. How much of income(meaning minus taxes, CPF contributions,ie take home pay) should one save and invest monthly?

      3.Nowadays all the world is abuzz with the knowledge that Singapore is gradually becoming a millionaire capital. Hence if someone aged below 34 years old were to have a bank account of S$1,000,000 , is it considered pretty average and regular? Note that I am speaking on behalf of the educated population who should gross higher income and having a higher likelihood of becoming millionaire much much faster than the rest. what is your take?

      4.This is an extension from q3, with singaporeans showing more inclination towards having high salaries with good education background, having an acute sense of entitlement, how difficult is it to hit a monthly basic salary of $10,000-12,000 for the good graduate? Hearsay has it that most graduates employees will get that amount at 50 birthday and beyond. shocking huh? Even our DPM Teo Chee Hean mentioned that in civil service senior division staff who earns an average of $11,000-$13,750 basic pay are few and far in between and only 1/83 OF THE 76,000 government employees in office buildings or 910+ people get that kind of pay. When I thought that our nation boasts the highest GDP and cost of living, alas a $10k a month isnt doing justice!

      Not including bonuses of course, but a recent article published that only 2 percent of population have 6 months bonus while the 98% get less than 6 months bonus. So while 2 percent take 18 months pay for 12 months of work, others wallow in self pity? therefore to sum up, what is a very good basic pay and very good bonus range?

      Here is the article

      5.Okay MEL, if you had a chance to do a very thorough walkthrough of a person's expenses, using the above characteristics of that guy, who could be any girl's fiance or brother/husband to be, taking that he is above average and everything else into consideration stated in the above paragraphs and being unmarried.

      Q:What is your maximum possible monthly budget for him? Such that he will find the budget more than able to meet his needs in all the mentioned categories previously discussed(items 1-12) and even surpass those expectations. I have provided my viewpoint, maybe its your turn to round off a dollar value to make things more concise.

      Thank you for reading my comments, I hope to inform,educate and start the thinking process going.Enjoy your world cup finals weekend coming soon!

    9. Hi Samuel,

      Thanks for the lengthy reply! We're not sure if we are the right person to provide advice on such an "individual" who is at the age of 37, single and probably not intending to get married. Do note that our blog is more greatly geared to couples our age who have the intention to get married, start a family, and that BOTH parties would contribute to the monthly expenses. We’re unsure why a single man at the age of 35-40 would want to buy a 4R flat and allow friends to live free permanently though. Haha, are there really such people around? Gasps!

      That being said. We have a simple calculation for you:

      In order to be spending $6,000 a month on your expenses, you will need to be earning AT LEAST $15,000 a month in order to be able to save $1,000,000 by the age of 34. That would leave you $9,000 to save on a monthly basis, which is $108,000 a year, and if you do it consistently for 10 years, hopefully you will be able to get to $1mil when you are 34. Best of luck! ;)

      To summarise it in short, it’s great to know that you are already planning for your future even though you have not entered the working world.

      But I feel that girls should not put the pressure on their partners when it comes to earning or saving. Personally, I do not tell Ben “eh, you can only spend $500 on food this month ah, eat so much for what!” or “can you spend only $150 on petrol this month?” (when we have a car, that is). Instead, I would sit down with him and look through our monthly expenses, and see which aspects of our expenses he has been paying higher than I have been (which in most cases, it would be the Food and Grocery category just because he eats out more often and we would sometimes pay for our family’s groceries as well) so that I could contribute in other ways. Note: Ben does not make me do that. I choose to do that on my own accord.

      I can’t speak for all women out there because not everyone of us would do the same.

      I got together with Ben, knowing that his family is not well-to-do and in much debt. I chose him as my husband, still knowing that his family is still not well-to-do and still in much debt. It is because I love them for who they are and how openly they have welcomed me into the family. And seeing how Ben has been so hardworking and trying his best to earn more to give us all a more comfortable life, affirms that I have made the right decision.

      Nevertheless, I hope that all these numbers and planning that you have done will not put you off into finding a girlfriend or the intention of not wanting to get married. Our life changes every single day and so will our financial planning. You can now plan on how much you’d like to save by a certain age but as you go along, all would change when a baby comes into the picture, or perhaps a family member is ill and you have to help out with contributing to the household income or hospital expenses etc.

      We will have a separate blog post soon catered to other parts of your questions and even what insurance plans are recommended for individuals at our age, since there are quite a few comments on that. In the meantime, have a good week ahead! :)

  11. Thanks for sharing^^ but will you guys be having post about how much it cost for wedding? Me and my partner are planning to marry in 3years time.

    1. Hello! You're most welcome! Yes we will definitely share how much we spent in total for our wedding. But the post will probably only be out mid of next year (2015) once our wedding is over.

      We do highlight the approximate costs of each component of the wedding in our "Mel Ben Gets Prep" blog posts though so in the meantime you could use those as a gauge of how much to prepare.

      Many couples do not see the "hidden costs" in planning for a wedding. While a lunch / dinner banquet usually takes up most of the budget, do keep in mind that you will also need to set aside budget for gown rentals, suit rentals, church catering, photography, videography, pre-wedding photo shoots etc.

      For starters, perhaps you would like to take a look at the average costs of holding a banquet in Singapore here:

      Keep a lookout for our next blog post as we will share some money saving tips when planing for your big day!

  12. hi dear,, watch doctor stranger.. :D

    1. Hi, thanks for the tip! Shall get started on that soon :D

  13. This is quite a good post. It's good to see couple saving up for the future etc. Good job!

    1. Hi Angelus, thank you! We hope to inspire more couples to save up as early as they can because it's always good to start young when we have "fewer" liabilities. It also prepares us better for rainy days.

  14. Very sweet and loving. Keep up the excellent work. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Hi Jianhong, thanks for the compliment! Have a wonderful week ahead :)

  15. Hi Mel & Ben, I've just stumbled on your pinterest pic and stop by to read ur blog. Nicely written. Will surely come back for more.:) Congratz on ur engagement and starting the blog :)
    Ur new blog reader

    1. Hi M, thank you for the well wishes and for stopping by to read! We hope that you will continue to enjoy our posts and that you will find them useful in one way or another :)

      May God Bless you always with abundant joy and keep you and your family safe wherever you are.

  16. Hello!

    Just a quick thought - I am in the wedding industry and having recently gotten married myself - we spent about 15k on non-refundable (i only say that cuz it isn't usually covered by angbaos) which includes the wedding bands - simple gold rings frm Poh Heng, wedding/evening gown + one suit from Silhouette, 1 cream suit + 3 shirts tailored in Bangkok + other random stuff like angbaos to the entourage/vendors, catered food for tea ceremony, kwa outfit, flowers. The dinner itself cost us about 25k for 25 tables. So it's doable for less than 60-70k as your budget suggested, but you need to do alot of homework.

    warmly // sam


    1. Hi Sam,

      Yes, we believe that it is definitely do-able under 60-70k. The budget we had posted, $70-90k, is just an estimate for most couples.

      Ben is also in the wedding industry - he does wedding events, wedding gigs, photography, videography, photo booths, wedding bands, emcee-ing etc under TravelClef and his newly set up company The Gig Co.

      In fact, we believe that even less than $30k is possible. Just by inviting 10 tables of guests in a restaurant, buy a wedding gown in Philippines for S$450 and buy a suit for Ben at G2000 for around $200.

      However, we have much to consider as well. Mel's dad has lots of friends and clients and most of them are hawkers, pork sellers, noodle sellers and business owners. We initially intended to hold a lunch wedding which would cost us approximately $1000 / table but we really wanted these hawker aunties and uncles who had watched us grow up, to be the witnesses at our weddings as well.

      Ben also has many friends and business associates to invite as well. So that is why we chose to hold a dinner banquet in the end, even though it would cost us 50% more than what we originally planned for.

      We did realise that under your calculations, you did not include photography and videography costs. We do hope that you remembered to capture important moments in your wedding though!! Or probably you got it for free or at a low cost since you run the company? ;)

      Unfortunately, we are unable to get it for free but we did manage to get a really really good deal for videography and photography,which costs typically $4 - 8k under a conservative calculation. Phew!

      We will share with our readers what are the deals we managed to get and tips to get good deals from companies in our next few posts!

      Thank you for your comment & may your business continue to flourish :) Huat ah!

  17. Great post! Very helpful and clever ideas you have. Oh, bout the $100 from ActiveSG, how do you claim it? Hmmm

    1. Hi Krislynn,

      Thanks! You'd first need to download the ActiveSG app via your mobile device and follow the steps to login. If you have any issues, you can approach the office at any ActiveSG Sports Centres ( and get them to help you with the process.

      The $100 will be credited into your account and you can start using them for gym entries, booking of badminton courts or also offsetting a part of sports course fees!

      Hurry claim it and use it :)

  18. Thanks for sharing your financial lives so openly and I feel your money saving tips were really great! Just a short note to you guys, for longer term savings you could consider endowment or monthly investment plans to get higher interest than the bank as there is inflation to take into account as well! And don't forget to insure yourselves before your big day as you all plan to spend the rest of your lives together, through thick and thin. Be prepared for the worst too, so you can have peace of mind to enjoy the fruit of your savings.

    1. Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for the tip but we've got that all covered as Mel's Dad is an insurance advisor and so we are greatly covered :) Haha. We are really lucky for that!

      We are currently in the midst of drafting a blog post on what kind of insurance and savings (with returns) plans couples or individuals our age should take up as well! Hopefully, with our knowledge, we can help more people along the way so that they too can know what is beneficial for them :)

  19. Nice blog. Though not everyone can afford the same as the two beautiful couples here. Family in debt for more than 10 years or more and still on going. After secondary school have to work to pay off the debts. The debt is too huge. Couldnt afford a single cent for a budget travelling. Each meals could only spend not more than $2+. Couldn't afford for marriage with my gf. You guys are blessed with what you have. Treasure them well. :)

    1. Hi A,

      Thank you for your blessings. Actually, my family is also in debt. My dad owes the bank alot of money. And I remember the bank coming in to stick stickers on my furniture 10 years ago.

      After my university, I have to start paying my own school fees which is $39,000. And if that is not enough, after graduation my mum went to hospital and I had to pay the medical bill and also my washing machine broke down. Spent $2000 on family expenses but I would like to advice you that don't look at them as burden. Look at them as part of growing up and having added responsibility as an adult.

      The debt is huge, but as long as you work hard and learn how to earn and save and keep fighting! You can do it! It may be tough, but where there is a will, there is a way. I started my businesses with $46 dollars and that was all I have.

      When faced with adversities, don't react by complaining. Think of how you can overcome them.

      If you need personalized advice, I can try to help you. Add me on facebook. I can try to advice if I have the capabilities.

      Best regards,

      Benjamin Kwan

  20. I like both of you.
    Way better then the "Xia Suay".

  21. Interesting blog! Keep up the good write up and fill us with more tips! Believe it is very helpful in guiding the young couples around who are about to set up their home! Looking forward to more blog post! =)

    1. Hi!

      Thank you! Yes we will be. We are also on the lookout for other young couples out there who have blogged about their experience. So if anyone happens to know of any, do drop us a message so that we can learn more from others as well :)

  22. There are websites which streams movies online too so you two no need to go to the cinemas and watch. Just have to be paitence and wait for a few weeks for the hd quality ones to be released.

    1. Hi,

      That we do know ;) But of course nothing beats watching an action-packed movie on a big screen with superb surround sound systems.

      It's not that we don't want to spend money to watch movies in a cinema (it's quite cheap at $5 on sunday mornings if you're an M1 subscriber!) but we enjoy being in the comfort of our own bed and pausing the show for a pee-break or to answer a call. And the best part is that Mel would not feel guilty falling asleep anytime during the movie / drama we are watching. Hahaha!

  23. Hi! Great job guys! It's hard to find thrifty couples nowadays. Wish both of you a blissful marriage! :)

    1. Hi Ethel, thank you for the well wishes! We hope that more couples would also learn from our experiences and share with us if it works for them as well :)

  24. Thanks for the useful tips. :)

    1. You're most welcome! Glad you have found them useful! :)

  25. Don't have an other half to relate this post with, but I'll contribute my two cents worth of good dramas! There's Hotel King, which is 30 eps long and ends at the end of July. Other favourites include Master's Sun, That Winter The Wind Blows, Vampire Prosecutor 2, Sly and Single Again. For something less dramatic than Korean dramas, try TVB Dramas like 点金胜手 The Ultimate Addiction! Variety shows-wise, The Return of Superman is a for sure must watch - similar to Dad, Where Are You Going? and also with kids that melt your heart! :)

    1. Wow! Thanks a lot for all the suggestions! Looks like we have a good list to follow for now ;)

  26. hi! your post is really helpful and my partner and i would like to follow your savyplan! may i know.. what kind of joint account did you guys open(like did you get a card or is it like fixed deposit?)? cause both of us are in uni now.. and normally there will be a minimium sum that is required to open one and we are worried we cant meet that target :/ looking forward to your reply! thx!:)

    1. Hi there!

      The account that we are using would be the OCBC Smart Parent Savings account (which I think it's called Statement Savings account now). The account does not differ greatly from other banks like POSB or SC or UOB we believe, as it is just a simple joint account with little interests. Just that friends who are using SC have told us that their reason is because the ATMs are more inaccessible and so they would not be tempted to withdraw too much money. Haha. That shouldn't be a worry because you should try not to use too much of the money as it's meant for your marriage / home.

      We are not using fixed deposit yet because we know we don't have enough liquid assets at the time to put our money into fixed deposits and trusts funds.

      We knew that we needed more liquid cash to save for our marriage and other "unforeseen costs" like medical bills etc. so for now, the account that you are using should not be used solely for the purpose of earning interests. Because inflation far outweighs the bank interests.

      For most savings accounts, the minimum sum is typically $1000 to open and also $1000 to maintain if not they will start deducting $2 a month (tsk tsk tsk). So maybe you might want to try to set aside that amount, dump it in the joint account and never touch it till you are ready to use it for your wedding.

      Let us know if you have any other questions! and wishing you both all the best :)

  27. Hi, how do mel save when it comes to her expenses on clothes and makeup etc? :)

  28. Hi, that's a very good question! :)

    I have just looked through my Money Journal Lite app on my phone ( and over the past 6 months, on average I do spend between $100 - 200 monthly on shopping. But there was a month that I didn't spend on shopping at all. Erm... I can't remember why either. Haha!

    My outfit of the day is really casual though - t-shirt, shorts and slippers. I only dress up nicer on Saturdays when I head to church or am going for an event or special occasion. I do not put make up on a daily basis, even when I was working in the City area. Only sunblock, concealer and shape my eyebrows. So in actual fact, I do not spend a lot on make-up, not because I have good skin though, but my pores get quite clogged up when I put make-up on for a full day!

    I used to shop online more often 3 - 5 years back but would limit myself to buying perhaps 4 - 5 items a month? That would be about $100 - 150 a month. But nowadays if I do need a pretty dress for an event, I would just look into my sister’s cupboard because she’s a fan of Forever New and I’d borrow it since I’d only be wearing it once.

    I do spend more on skincare products and am a fan of Laneige and Dermalogica. Getting them from Qoo10 (GMarket) or is a lot cheaper or if you have friends heading to Korea itself who can help you get back some products. I only need to replenish my skincare products every 6 - 10 months depending on how fast or often I use them.

    Give yourself a limit to how much you should spend on shopping though. I realize that I haven't worn a lot of my dresses more than thrice, which is quite a waste.

    Then again, if you're talking about buying better Bras or running shoes, I'd say go for it. You can't save on getting them cheap if it's not gonna come good. I would still spend more on them ;)

  29. Hey there. For wedding, we used mahanttan credit card and got around $800 cash rebate by paying every quarterly. Not sure if the term have changed for the cards do check it out! :)

    1. Hello!

      We are doing the same! It's $200 back every quarter. A good deal not to be missed! We have just blogged about it in a new post on "6 Ways to get discounts for your wedding". Do have a read and share it with your friends:


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