• Timothy

My Projected Living Expenses for 2020

Updated: Feb 27



In a bid to manage my expenses better, one of the things I was curious about was how much was I actually spending each month. After all, everyone wants to earn more and spend less, right?


The numbers might seem a bit excessive for one person, and I won’t be surprised if your own expenses may be way below this. In fact I was having a chat with my colleague and he mentioned that his monthly expenses total only about $300 per month (excluding parental giving, etc). That is pretty hardcore and even though I think I might be able to cut expenses by a lot if I really want to, it would mean a very different life, or, in my colleague’s words, it’s really 吃苦 (literally eat bitterness).


Let’s take a deeper dive into the each category and see if I can reduce this:


Food (Self) – $15/day or $300/month

Now, I can definitely eat for less than $15 a day. In fact, if I really want to, I can reduce this to about $3 per day. However, that would mean eating economic rice / chicken rice on a near daily basis, but I find such foods to be generally unhealthy. One of the pillars for this year is to be healthier, and in my office environment, I can get a cai png of rice + 3 veggies for $2.70, but it’s usually dripping with oil. If I were to do that everyday, I’ll be paying for frugality with my health, which I do not want to. It will bite me in the backside years down the road. As such, I am happy with paying a premium for healthy and wholesome food. Depending on the office I’m at, I’ll usually get a plant-based burrito or a meat-free salad option.


Food (Dates) – $400/month

So this depends on the month, but usually it may hover around $100 per week, depending on what we do / eat, and as such $400/month seems accurate-ish. As both of us are on plant-based diets on weekdays, the weekends is when we eat freely (read: meat). One of our conscious decisions we’ve made is that when we do eat meat, we’ll try to get high-quality cuts. We also try to avoid hawker as much as possible (for health reasons). I reckon that once we get married in a few years’ time, this will drop as the expenses here gets switched out for home cooking.


Transport (Public) – $2/day or $40/month

I walk 30 minutes to work everyday, and even though I sweat a lot on reaching the office, I still do it as I can clock a total of 1 hours’ worth of walking everyday. Sometimes I’ll need to go attend to external commitments after work, so I’ll just grab a bus or train, which I think works out to be about $40/month. I am pretty sure I spend way less than this, though. I don’t have accurate data for this right now as we’re working split site due to the coronavirus outbreak, so my travelling is a bit wonky at the moment. Also, I try to avoid Grab as much as possible unless absolutely necessary.


Transport (Car) – $120/month

This is drastically reduced to just petrol costs. It used to be about $400 a month. However after making a choice to take the public transport on weekdays from this year, I’ve been able to save on parking, and I also only need to pump petrol once a month. The car is fully paid off, and I’m blessed to have parents who are okay to pay for road tax, etc., so I don’t have to worry about those. Even though technically I can stop using the car permanently, I still feel like I should use it on weekends so that I can spend more time with my girlfriend, as well as fulfil ministry and church obligations easily. Also, it doesn’t make sense for the car to be sitting at the carpark like a trophy display since we paid COE to use it.


Utilities (Phone) – $18/month

I changed my plan to circles.life, and there was a really awesome CIS plan they were offering last month where I get essentially unlimited everything for $18/month for 1 year. I don’t think I can get a better deal.


Subscriptions – $81.97

So this is where it gets hairy. Here’s the breakdown:


  • Netflix – $15.98

  • Amazon Prime – $2.99

  • Spotify – $10

  • Adobe – $13

  • NTUAC – $42.80

  • NTUC Union – $9


I’m a film buff, so Netflix is definitely most desired. Amazon Prime is not needed, I’m only subscribing because of the Amazon Prime Videos series I can’t get on Netflix like Jack Ryan, The Man in the High Castle, and The Office. I read a lot, and I love it when there are great movie adaptations of books. I’ll probably cancel Amazon Prime after finishing the series. However, I am running out of interesting shows to watch on Netflix, and so maybe I might cancel Netflix, and only subscribe after a few months of inactivity so that the movies can build up a backlog and I can binge them within a month.


Spotify is desired when I’m on the road or driving, as the premium subscription allows me to choose songs on the app. If I were to only be using Spotify at my desk, I will happily unsubscribe this.


Adobe subscription is primarily used for Lightroom work for my photographs. I’m a photography buff and also act as the photographer for my company’s events, so that’s useful. I’ve tried to use many free photo-editing software but none comes close to Lightroom, really.


NTUAC is my gym and pool, so $42.80 is cheap compared to the ones offered by the popular gym chains that can run up to $150 per month. I go there about 4 days a week for exercise.


So, really, I can kill off Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Lightroom, if I really want to. Amazon Prime Video has already a vague shelf-life (i.e. once I’ve finished all the series I want to watch), but I’ll most likely still keep Lightroom as there are intangible benefits that come along as a photographer for company events, and that I also truly enjoy photography.


Insurance

I think this is something that I don’t want to cut. I have already checked that I am not buying any extra or overpaying for insurance, so nothing much to say here.


Others – $500/month

This is for items which I label as such for privacy reasons, but they include mostly things like taxes and my regular savings plan (which I don’t really consider as an ‘expense’, since the money is expensed to me). But nonetheless I’ll just count it in.

Summary

With that, if we were to project the monthly expenses of $1716.17 over the year, we’ll get about $20,594.04 per year.


So all in all, there is definitely some fat to trim here and there, but in real honesty, I think I am doing OK. I could very well eat cai png everyday, stop paying on our dates out, and have cheaper hobbies, reduce RSP, but that would be a big buzzkill on the quality of life. I am perfectly fine with paying a bit for ‘luxury’ and convenience, and I think it’s those little indulgences that keep us going strong about our daily work.


In the end, it’s about not being penny-wise, pound foolish isn’t it?

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