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Sunday 17 October 2010

Money = happiness?

By Rachel Scully

Does earning more money make you happier? Not everyone agrees.

According to the Household Expenditure Survey conducted by the Department of Statistics in 2007 and 2008, the average household expenditure per month is $4,388.

That figure could be slightly larger now, with the rising cost of living.

However, would earning more necessarily make one happier? Or does how much you want and need dictate your pursuit of wealth and happiness?

RazorTV went on a quest to find out what "the magic number" is - the minimum amount of money you must earn a month to be really happy in Singapore.

We discovered some interesting insights and spending habits of Singaporeans.

How much is enough?

From speaking to interviewees in the street, Razor TV found that their "magic number" can range from $2,500 to $20,000 a month, but most estimates fall in the range of $5,000 - 6,000 a month.

One interviewee who said he would need $10,000 to $20,000 a month to be happy cited heavy family burdens as the reason for his high figure.

Three interviewees said $5,000 to $6,000 was their minimum figure. When asked why, one said "because in Singapore, expenses are very high, to manage everything and to be happy you need more than what is required".

So is $5,000 enough for one's living expenses? Razor TV did a calculation to find out.

Say you spend $20 a day on meals, that's $625 a month on food and drink. If you take public transport, the bus or MRT fare could add up to about $121.34 for transport a month. For those living in HDB flats, utilities, groceries and housing loans will cost you an estimated $1,300 a month.

Another $600 may go to your parents' allowances, for your health care and dental needs, $50. Then throw in another $200 for recreation and leisure, and $200 more for shopping and gifts. Most importantly, savings which they estimate at $500 a month.

In summary:

Items Monthly expense

Food and drink:  $625
Transport:  $121.34
Housing, utilities, groceries: $1,300
Parents' allowances: $600
Healthcare: $50
Recreation & leisure: $200
Shopping & gifts: $200

Total: $3,596.34

By Razor TV's estimates, personal expenses alone will come up to more than $3,500 a month for the average Singapore resident who doesn't own a car.

But how about other people you may have to support? For your spouse, you may need another $500, and if you have elderly parents, another $500. For two children you will need at least another $350 for their education, books and toys.

So the "magic number" by Razor TV is $4,946.34 - the minimum amount of money you need to have a month to be happy in Singapore. Rounded up, it is quite close to the $5,000 cited by the interviewees.

How would you spend it?

If they earned $4,946 a month, what would Singaporeans spend it on?

Most of the interviewees told Razor TV they would give their parents about $1,000 to $2,000 out of the sum. Razor TV found that their interviewees are a frugal lot, with one saying that he once survived on $2 to $3 a day.

He also said he will use 55 per cent of his income on his family, 10 to 20 per cent on relaxation and another 10 to 20 per cent on giving.

When the reporter pointed out that he didn't have much left for himself, he said, "I am very easy with my lifestyle".

As for the remainder of the sum, a number would spend it on travelling and entertainment, with one lady saying that she will spend it on vitamins and health supplements.

They say money can't buy you happiness, but everyone knows that the lack of money is not a happy option either. The fact is, money can't buy you everything, but it can certainly contribute to a general sense of well being.

But as every Singaporean will tell you, there sure is a lot to pay for in this country!

1 comment:

  1. If you add in insurance for yourself, your kids and your wife, think $5000 is the minimum. Insurance may include mortgage insurance, hospitalization, etc....


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