Sacrifices We made for the Wedding

11:16:00 PM

Thank you for all the comments and emails about our entries so far. We are really glad to be able to offer our advice and give recommendations whenever we can to all BTBs and HTBs who are planning for their wedding as well!

Because our entry on "How to Thrive Financially as a Couple in Singapore" has raked many views and comments, we will be continuing with our next episode in our finance series, this time slightly more geared towards saving up for your wedding or love nest.

We started saving up for our wedding and home before we got engaged because we knew that marriage was definitely part of our plans in the coming years. Shortly after we opened a joint account, we actively contributed on a monthly basis and our savings grew really well. Some couples would use their joint account savings for all events classified as "couple-related", including yearly overseas trips together. However, we have both agreed that the money saved in this account can only be used for our upcoming goals, which would be the wedding and house plans. We would then use our personal savings for everything else.

Over the past year, we have made several sacrifices in preparation for our wedding and house. These are just some short-term sacrifices and we hope to be able to get them once we are financially capable of affording them.

Getting a Car

Ben mentioned in one of our earlier entries that having a car was a "good-to-have" for us both because of our job scope. Especially for Mel that she has to travel home-to-home on weekdays to teach, she could very well teach 1 or 2 more students a day if we had a car because right now, even if students lived nearby each other, there is still some time required to walk to lessons or waiting for buses (which can be a pain when you've missed the bus at peak hours!) 

Having a car would also be ideal for Ben because some of the companies that he teaches at or some appointments with clients are in the west while we stay in the east. It gets rather inconvenient especially if the classes or meetings are as early as 7.30am. 

So we normally commute by public transport, walk to our destinations or ride on our scooter. No, not a Vespa kind of scooter or an electric scooter... It's a kick-scooter, 100% manual effort! Ben bought it online from a year back for S$184 and initially thought that it would be a faster way for him to travel from train stations to his destinations. But one day, Mel decided to pillion on Ben's scooter and we were amazed that the scooter was able to fit our feet and weight because it was meant to be used for stunts (it even had a suspension by the way, which... has spoilt probably because we are a little too heavy. Haha!).

Of course we can't scoot all the way from Tampines to Orchard! But we are satisfied with how well our trusty vehicle has treated us so far and how it has shortened our traveling time by 50% as compared to walking. The downside would be that it isn't safe to ride when it's drizzling or raining as it can be quite slippery, and can be a little heavy for Mel to lug around for lessons. 

On average, our spending for transportation are as follow:

Ben = $200 / month (approx. $80 on ez link top-up & $120 on taxi rides)
Mel = $220 / month (approx. $70 on ez link top-up & $150 on taxi rides)
Total = close to $450 a month.

Getting a car would cost us about 2 - 3 times of our current transportation spending to buy and maintain the car on a monthly basis. Furthermore, we feel that it is more important to get our own home first and getting a car loan would lower our chances of getting a full HDB loan for our home. So getting a car would be put on hold for the moment and in the meantime, Mel will continue to look forward to Ben picking her up from work to scoot home together (eh, it's actually damn cool ok. do you know how many people are jealous of our awesome vehicle. hahaha!)

Holiday Plans

Mel had the privilege of traveling once or twice a year because her dad used to be a flight attendant. She was able to visit many countries and go on tours with her family till she was about 18, when they stopped issuing her free tickets (bcos she was no longer a student, tsk) and also when everyone at home had different schedules and couldn't find a good time to travel together.

We both make it a point to go on a trip together every year, whether it is to a country we frequent (like Manila, because Ben's brother in law manages a hotel there) or some place new, even better if neither of us has visited before. 

Over the past 6.5 years, we have visited Taipei, Penang, Krabi, Bangkok, Phuket, Cebu and of course, Manila. 

We've never gone out of Asia, not because we don't want to but because it's more costly for the air tickets, accommodation and tours. For most trips, we set aside about $800 or less per person and make sure that we do not bust our budgets. Going somewhere further also means that we would need to take more days of leave, which is quite difficult for us as we are self employed (you know, if Mel doesn't work means she doesn't get any money. No money means cannot go for holiday. Haha). We do get tempted to go to places like Korea, Japan and Australia, especially with travel deals that we receive in our email inbox every week (so enticing!) but because of our marriage and housing plans, this has been put on hold for the moment. 

(Ahhh, but we are going somewhere new next year in April to take our pre wedding shots! Stay tuned to our blog because we will be sharing some good deals on the location we had chosen and how much we had paid overall!!!)

Fitness packages

A few entries ago, we posted an entry on our Fitness Regime, which we have stopped the P90x3 for quite a long while now because we feel that the results have not been very progressive as we moved into the second cycle. We are now on a different home workout regime and will share what it is if we do see any visible results!

We also mentioned on how we went for trial yoga lessons at Real Yoga a few months back. We didn't get down to blogging a separate entry about it because we didn't want to take any photos during the lessons. We enjoyed the lessons thoroughly and saw ourselves waking up at 7am one of the days to head for the 8am class! Doing Yoga in the morning was a good stretch for our aching bones and joints. The teachers are also very professional but because we had such a tight schedule those 2 weeks that we had to finish all 4 trial sessions, we were not able to try out some of the classes which seemed more fun and interesting.

Now to the price...

It isn't worth it to pay monthly even though the lessons are unlimited (you could go as many times you want everyday) so they kept pushing for us to sign the 6 or 12 months packages, even including a special discount for couples. We then explained to them that it isn't a right time for us to sign the package due to our busy schedules and that forking out $4000 at this point of time was not going to help us in budgeting for our wedding.

Every time we are about to pay for something worth in thousands, we would tend to question ourselves if it was worth it to spend on that for now or leave it in the savings for more pressing goals.

In this case, $4000 is worth 2 - 3 tables at our wedding banquet, or even the price of the entire church wedding itself or getting better furniture for our home in a year's time.

We would definitely consider signing a package in future though, once the wedding is over and we have secured our home and are able to allocate a certain amount of money for this category of spending. But for now, we are very contented with our "home gym equipment" and going for our weekly runs together. Sometimes, you don't need to spend a lot in order to stay fit and healthy!

(Stay tuned to our guide on how to stay healthy while detoxing the 'cheaper' way)

Enrichment Classes

Just last year, we signed up for Korean language classes together and managed to clear 2 levels (Beginner Stage 1 & 2) within 2 months. The course fees are about $350 per pax, that makes it $700 for the 2 of us to complete 1 level. We did want to carry on with lessons but it was quite difficult to accommodate to the class schedules as we had to forgo some nights of teaching (which is quite impossible because Mel's working hours is usually 4 - 9pm on weekdays).

Apart from that, Ben has always wanted to start on proper singing lessons and get certified in that field. However, due to time constraints and work commitments, he never really got the chance to embark on this dream. Music lessons do not come cheap as well, probably within the range of $70 - $150 for an hour of professional lesson, with prices increasing as each level progresses.

In the meantime, Mel is completing her Grade 8 in violin so that she will be able to teach violin from next year onwards. It can be quite challenging to set aside a sum of money every month for lessons, and even set aside time to practice in order for the lessons to be more effective. But it seems like the demand for violin teachers are high, and there aren't that many around who are able to give private violin lessons.

Sidetrack: Know anyone who is interested in taking up more violin students to teach? Our violin agency is looking for more teachers to join our family. Find out more at the following website:

Some of the common questions we have been asked by friends lately would be:
a) How much do you need to save for your wedding/house?
b) How much is enough in order for me to get married?

Actually, it's never enough. The truth is, most of the time, it's quite like Hokey Pokey. Haha.
"One hand in, one hand out." 

You will constantly have to pay for something, whether it is related to the church wedding, wedding banquet, floral decor, downpayment for your home, home renovations etc. We haven't been through all of the processes yet as we are still somewhere at the start of our timeline. But we know what to expect and we try our best to prepare ourselves so that we can skip being in a panic zone.

While we are not able to share about our actual spendings yet, we would like to advise young couples like us to adopt the following practice in preparation for your marriage life:

1. Start saving as early as you can

It's okay to start off small and make some increments as and when you are both comfortable. What's not okay is waiting till the last minute or using money as an excuse for delaying your plans to get married.

We both started by contributing only $50 each to the account every month and slowly progressed to $100... $150... $500 and so on. It was quite difficult for us at the start because we also had to make contributions to our individual CPF accounts. But we had a goal in mind and worked towards it. It never stops though! We still challenge each other every month to increase our monthly savings.

2. Keep tab on all loans taken

It gets a bit dangerous once you decide to take a loan for your wedding because you also have to be mindful of other loans you are currently having to pay back each month, and those that you need to take once housing & renovation plans come into the picture as well.

It isn't wrong to take up loans and we can foresee ourselves doing the same soon once we secure our home. It is important to keep tab on all deadlines taken as well as keeping current and updated with the amount of "future money" used. You definitely do not want to get a rude shock of your life to unknowingly chalk up a credit card bill that costs you your entire month's salary!

What Ben usually does for credit card expenses is that the moment he uses his credit card, he will immediately pay that bill to his credit card using the AXS machine. 

For recurring bills or loans financed by your credit card, it is important to account them properly and similarly, you don't want to accumulate a recurring bill that devours a huge chunk of your salary.

3. Be realistic in budgeting

We read an online article on several good ways of budgeting for your wedding, one would be to base it on the amount of time you are left with till your wedding. For instance, if you only have 12 months left to the big day, are starting off with zero savings and able to save $2000 as a couple monthly, you would only have a budget of $24,000 to work with. Even though most restaurants and hotels would only require you to pay majority of the cost of the banquet the day after your wedding and you are intending of relying on money collected from red packets to pay up most of the cost, you might not want to plan for a wedding that costs $100,000 from the start as it is a big risk to take if you are not able to recover the costs in the end.

You might find some of our previous blog posts useful whilst budgeting for your wedding:

What we discussed during our Meet the Parents Session
Wedding Prep Timeline and Checklist by MelBenGets
Shortlisting Photographers & Videographers
Getting Discounts for your Wedding

We hope that our posts have been useful so far and that you have enjoyed reading them. We are really excited with all the small changes that have been happening in our lives so far and we can foresee that our day's are only going to get busier and busier so we're hoping to still be able to post regularly whenever we can. Feel free to keep your comments coming in via our comment box below or drop us an email at if you'd like to keep it private and confidential :)

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