14 February is Valentine’s Day, a day where those with a partner celebrate love and those without partners celebrate friendship. It is also a day that florists look forward to and boyfriends dread – the one single day where the prices of flowers like roses sky-rocket, much like the tulip craze in the 20th century.
Interestingly, as much as we would like to believe that ‘love can overcome everything’, there are very much more ‘financial obstacles’ that you and your valentine would eventually face, should you decide to take your love to the next level from courtship. Below are just some ‘hurdles’ that you have to face and overcome together as a couple:
1) Wedding packages
If you think that roses on Valentine’s Day are expensive, check out the cost of wedding packages. A wedding ceremony can be a simple ‘sign-your-life-away’ ceremony at Fort Canning, with a buffet to reward your eye-witnesses or it could be as extravagant as an events totaling up to more than hundreds of thousands. It all depends if you or your partner has a fairy-tale idea of a wedding where you fly all your guests on all-expenses paid trip to an exotic (and usually unknown) island in the far Pacific and take your once-in-a-lifetime wedding pictures in 4 different locations around the world with 10 different gowns and suits to choose from. Yes, such weddings do happen in real life! So gentlemen, before you decide to pop the question, make sure your idea of a beautiful and memorable wedding is somewhat similar to your partner’s. It is no wonder that a wedding ceremony is ranked as one of the top 3 most stressful life events.
2) Moving into your dream house
If you think a wedding package is the most expensive item on the plate, you gotta be kidding yourselves. Welcome to getting that dream home of yours. A simple 4-room HDB flat can easily cost you from $300,000 to $800,000, depending on its location. A private condominium? Anything from $1M (for a decent 2-bedder) to $4M, again depending on its location. Just when you thought settling the home loan does the trick, enter “renovations and furniture”! Yup, depending on the interior designer you use and the type and brand of furniture you buy (even going right down to the brand of taps and toilet bowls you use), your budget for renovations and furniture can easily reach $50,000 for a simple 4-room HDB to even exceed $1M for a condominium (I kid you not!) There are six-figure ‘exquisite’ interior designs (and we are just talking about the apartment design on paper only) and designer sofas to start off. You had better sound out your partner today about that dream house that you may one day build together. If not, your dream house can really, literally, turn into a dream…
3) Cost of building your future together – with kids!
Your kids are the loveliest and cutest self-propelling, moving objects you will ever see in this world and the costs of having them will not be anything less than lovely. (I apologise for my sarcasm and distasteful punts) Consider the cost of childcare in Singapore. It could set you and your partner back by $800 to $1,000 a month per kid for full-day child care while you and your spouse are at work. Baby bonus? It will be used up before you can finish saying the words ‘I have just received my baby bonus!’. Is that all? I would have to say an apologetic no. The cost of varsity fee is inflating at about 5-6% a year, near doubling the cost of inflation for daily goods which stands at 2-3%. A varsity course standing at $40,000 today will become $106,000 in 20 years’ time. Time to look for a professional adviser to help you do some planning if you have not. (Find an unprofessional one and he/she will set you back even further on your finances.)
The above seems to make the future look really bleak for love-birds out there today who are just looking forward to celebrate Valentine’s Day each year and fill each other’s hearts with love and affection, and some are probably running for that ‘Best Boyfriend/Girlfriend Amongst My Circle of Friends’ award of the year. But on a more serious note, prudent financial planning and discussing with your partner on their financial preferences and habits are ‘must-dos’ before marriage if you want to have the provident ‘live happily ever after’ life. Financial woes are one of the top 4 reasons for divorce in the world today and it does not take a rocket scientist to know why. Never let money issues affect affections of the heart. Let money be your slave and not the other way round. Happy Valentine’s Day, my dear.
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The author of this article is Mr Sean Ong. He is a Certified Life Coach and a Chartered Financial Consultant with more than 14 years of experience in the finance industry. A shareholder with the one of the largest independently-owned financial advisory company in Singapore, Sean also leads a top financial advisory group and has been featured on the local TV and radio. In his efforts to contribute to the society, Sean ran 1,000km over 87 days to successfully raise more than $13,000 for a children charity in Year 2012. He also published a book called “Mend Your Socks!” where sales proceeds were donated to charity. Sean can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.