Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Invaluable Million Dollar Investment with No Monetary Return for a Long Time!

What is our one major investment that we will have to endure no monetary return for a long time? 

Oh yes…. For parents, this investment is unquestionably on your child/children! 

It not only includes the money spent on them, it is the time and energy on them, and the undivided love and attention for them guiding them during their grow up years. 


Recently I told some friends that so far, me and my wife has definitely spent more than SGD 1 million of expenses directly or indirectly because of our four kids. 

It sounds unbelieving, but it is definitely not bragging. 

I have been recording my daily, monthly, and yearly expenses.  Recently I extracted and compiled all the proof of spent. To my astonishment, our expenditure for the last decade on kids easily surpassed the million-dollar mark. 

In the following articles, I will just cite a few examples, and you can do your own math to see if I am lying. 

The more than 100K amount includes the direct kids spending and our household expenses such as all expenses spent within the household, including expenses on my helper and my parent-in-law staying with me mainly for the kids too. It however does NOT include mortgages, household vacation and car expenses, which in many ways are also indirectly for the kids. Hence, the actual expenses may be even higher.  

How can the expenses be so high?  Maybe you will think that we are a family that probably splurge on expensive education, unnecessary expensive meals or toys or apparels for our kids? 

Certainly not! 


Apparently, we are cautious spending on restaurant meal, and normally eat at home. Even when we eat out, my kids love to eat only pizza and Encik Tan drumstick rice!  We will try to share for most of the time in order not to waste food and money! I have little preference on food myself. I prefer Hawker or Kopi Tiam food, so low cost actually. 

For toys, my kids also have lesser toys compared to my friends. They also recycled some of their clothing, handing over from siblings to siblings. For phones, they also use our old and used phones. 

Yet, the expenses are still so high? 

Welcome to Singapore! 


In the old days, there are very little competition in enrichment classes. It will be rare that your friends are going for tuition, or swimming lessons or other paid sports or art lessons. Furthermore in the 80s and 90s cost of living in Singapore is really much lower, and everyone live a much simpler life. Parents care less for their kids’ education. After taking my PSLE and O Levels, my parents don’t even know I already taken these major exams. Instead, my mum’s primarily focus is for me to eat well! 

Therefore, back in those days, raising 5 or 6 kids is probably even cheaper than 1 or 2 kids of present times, taking into account all sorts of inflation, and average peer and environmental pressure. 

Let me cite a few examples in the following to prove my point. 


During my time, most of us will be schooling in PAP kindergarten at the age of 5 and 6 only. School fees and uniforms and books must be dirt cheap. This is because even our bottom few percent low-income parents can afford. 

Today, most kids go for N1, N2, K1, K2. Yes 4 years! Most with both parents’ working and no helper nor parents helping, it will be 6 years even. 

At the lower end, you will spend SGD5K per year just on school fees. That is approximately what I spent for my kids for half a day session in Church school. And this is definitely one of the cheapest in the entire Singapore. 

Before government subsidies, I reckon most parents will on average spend at least SGD1K per month and that will be SGD 12K p.a. Nonetheless, many pre-pri-schools are already charging SGD1.5 to 2K per month. MindChamps is charging close to 2K monthly for full day although working mum can have some few hundred subsidies provided you fulfil income criteria. 

It is hence inevitably that for just 4 to 5 years, your one child school fees can already hit 50K to 100K or more. 

It excludes school uniforms, books, materials, and all sorts of extra costs that many schools will be charging. There is also extra school enrichment and year end concerts, all requiring $$$. Sometimes, it is difficult to explain here, but once you experience it, you will know what I mean. 

On yes…. School buses are not cheap either at SGD100 to 150 per child monthly, depending on distance.

Baby Bonus does help, but that can cover partially only the expensive pre-natal, delivery, confinement etc expenses. Of course you can choose public hospital, but I think among almost all my friends who are middle-class, it is almost unheard of that anyone choose public hospital delivery services. 

In the old days, only the top income can afford private hospitals, and all rest of Singapore are all going to the very affordable public hospital. 


As healthcare cost increase, we as parents also worried and started buying insurance for our kids once they are born. During my younger days, where got parents buy health insurance for their children?

For my kids, we bought NTUC income health insurance. For reference purposes, one is close to SGD500 and the other is SGD780 per annum. 


For Chinese enrichment classes, we sent them to Berries/Busybees. In a classroom setting primary school student, we pay ~SGD750 per 16 lessons per pax. 1 lesson per week. In one year, there are 52 weeks, so yearly charge will be 3.25 x SGD750 = SGD2.4K. Enrolment fees and materials for lessons are separate.  

By the way, this is just for Chinese hor….! Still have Maths, and other subjects. 2.5 to 3K per year is very common for each weekly enrichment classes subject. We only go for Chinese! 

You can find some of the pricing in this blog: https://blog.moneysmart.sg/family/best-tuition-centres-singapore/ 

For sports on my two kids now, I easily spent 1.5 to 2K per month, excluding shoes, apparels and rackets, courts booking fees, competition fees etc. Recently, I heard from my friend that his friend spent 4K per month just on one sport for his primary school kid. Crazy! Yet, this is how competitive the parents can be nowadays!  

Of course, you can also spend nothing on your kids. It is totally up to you. 

Personally, I do have my own reason in giving my kids this foundation of sport. 

Again, looking back to my old days when my parents spent nothing on me, and I am lucky to learn myself the sport I love and, in some way, excel in it without paying much! 

Nowadays, if you spend nothing on coaching, it is almost impossible that your kid can go up to national level in any racket sports or swimming or whatever popular sports! Tell me if you manage to find any example, unless the sports require only in-born talent! Very very rare! 


Then you have children’s shoes or apparels that are always needing to change as their feet and body grow so fast. The price of shoes, even those white ordinary school shoes without brand are at least SGD25 to 30. Those white shoes of Nike/Adidas are normally SGD50. 

During our time, panda white shoe is SGD5 maybe! Who wear panda to school nowadays? 

Clothing, school bags, pencil boxes, lunch boxes, water bottles are all very expensive nowadays compared to the old days. Toys are also more expensive! 

When you have more household members in the house, more aircons will be running incurring expensive electricity and maintenance fees. FYI, when I was young, I have no air-cons, no washing machine, no heater, no bed in my house until I am young adult. 

To be honest, we are still living frugally today, as I will not waste electricity unnecessary due to my humble upbringing. Still, our expenses are very hefty as everything in Singapore is really getting more and more expensive. 


Many years ago, when my kids are still at younger age, I use to tell my wife, 

any schools for my kids, who cares? They will grow smart themselves and character building is more important!”. “Don’t need tuition lar…! “Don’t need to buy insurance lar!” 

However, once you are in it yourself, and you experience today’s ever increasingly expensive and competitive Singapore, then you will understand that sometimes, it is inevitable! 

You are really NOT that kiasu parent, but it is just that you really love your kids and wanted them to have a good foundation to start with. Of course, I emphasize again that character building is even more important! 

Finally, raising a kid in Singapore today is totally different from in the 80s or even 90s, let alone, two, three or four.

I did a post last year on, 

How Much Does It Cost in Detail to Raise a Child in Singapore for Low, Middle and High Income Households

For middle-class, I suspect It can easily cost more than ½ million to raise a kid in their life time.  

Then there is also the intangible part of it. The huge amount of time you spent on the children, teaching them, driving them around, loving them, are all “pricey intangible expenses” that otherwise your time can be used to earn more money?  

To be honest, I sometimes feel that it is better during our childhood days when there are fewer material comparisons, and the masses are all not so well to do, aside from the top few percent. 

Even when I belong to the bottom few percent lower income family, I still grow up in a very very decent environment comparatively without inferior complex. 

During my childhood, I did not feel “lacking”, because I did not have tuition or enrichment lessons. Even, when our family cannot afford to eat MacDonalds or take the occasional taxi, I still find it pretty normal as a kid without much complaints. 

It is so different today! 

How about you? 

How much are you spending on kindergarten? 

Will you spend on enrichment classes for your kids and how much?  

Will you spend to groom your children? 

Undoubtedly, kids are definitely one major investment that we will have to endure no monetary return for a long time? That said, the intangible returns of investments of the indescribable joy are huge for any parents!  

Saturday, 3 April 2021

20,000 Less People In Singapore Each Day During Covid Year?


From Singapore Tourism Board (STB) as below… 

"Singapore attracted approximately 19.1 million visitors in 2019 with receipts at S$27.1 billion, according to preliminary figures by the Singapore Tourism Board."

"Due to unprecedented global travel restrictions and border closures, Singapore saw a decline in both visitor arrivals and tourism receipts in 2020. Visitor arrivals fell by 85.7 per cent in 2020 to reach 2.7 million visitors (nearly all from the first two months of 2020), while tourism receipts declined by 78.4 per cent to S$4.4 billion in the first three quarters of 2020."

This translates statically to a net decrease of 16.4 million overseas visitors during covid year. 

And it pro-rates to 1.37 million lesser overseas visitors per month in Singapore. 


Prior to Covid in 2019, Singapore residents made a total of 10.7 million outbound departures compared to in 2020 where there were a total of 1.5 million outbound departures. See table below. 

Source: https://www.singstat.gov.sg/find-data/search-by-theme/industry/tourism/latest-data 

This means that 9.2 million more Singapore residents stayed in Singapore during covid year. 

And it pro-rates to 767 thousand more Singapore residents in the country per month. 


Overall statically and for reference purpose, 

  • There were 7.2 million less people in Singapore during covid year. (i.e. 16.4 minus 9.2 million) 

  • On average per month, you will have 600 thousand less people in Singapore
  • On average per day, you will have 20 thousand less people in the country


Rolf's Portfolio Update - End March 2021


Due to the stock rout in February and March and falling gold and silver prices, my overall portfolio value fell 6%. However my cash position increase slightly from other sources and with higher USD to SGD exchange rate, overall net fall in portfolio is limited to 3%. 

As for portfolio mix, there are not much changes since last update from End January (click here). I am still holding on to ~75 percent shares and 25 percent cash - bonds - metals. 



My tech component saw its rout in the last two months affecting mainly my China tech stocks. My Tech mix fell by 2%. On the contrary REITS rose by 1%, and O&G rose 0.6% since end of January. 



Since my last update, I sold off Raffles Medical at losses, but recovered the losses by selling HKSE renewable stock GCL-Poly Energy (3800) at double bagger. I bought into SEA Limited and stake in it increase from 3.5% to 6.7% of my overall portfolio. 



In my last portfolio update on 26 Jan 2021, I closed the article with “How long can stock keep rising?” 

Indeed in less than one month after that, Market is bearish until recently. Tech and Growth Stocks started to tank, although STI started to climb more than 8% to as high as 3200 recently driven by the three main banks in Singapore and also recovery stocks. 

But why did tech and growth stocks fall even when the market is cheering for the vaccine drive and recovery optimism?

With improved economic outlook, investors expect a rise in inflation and US Treasury yields is rising. Rising yields is slowing the rally in technology and growth stocks as investors are worry about the rising debt costs for these companies. 

On the contrary, higher yields have lifted financial stocks and accelerated a rotation of funds into other Covid-beaten sectors.  

You may be wondering, will stock prices continue to rise or fall in the next quarter? 

I am not overly concern, as I intend to stay unaffected with little or no action. But if there is a significant rise in stock prices, I may cash out profits to stay with more cash. Personal preference!