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I Saved 87.95% of My Salary During Covid-19 Circuit Breaker

Even though payday is still about a few days away and there's still a week before the end of May, I referenced my spending habits for the past weeks and estimated my spending till the end of May to derive my saving rates.
While I already know my expenses would drop and savings go up, the huge jump in savings rate still startled me and nudged me to reconsider my pre-CCB lifestyle -- How much of my spending was actually necessary?

During the circuit breaker, my main spending is just groceries and utilities. I'm staying with my parents so I don't have to pay rent, working from home also means that I could eliminate commuting (around $150) and I don't have an option for CBD priced food where a meal cost around $10-20 for me. In addition, social distancing means I don't get to hang out with friends for movies, plays and suppers thus saving at least $50 per outing, and closure of schools and restriction on activities will cut down my spending on music and sports courses that rip off around $600 every month.

All these savings boosted up my savings rates to 87.95% of my take-home pay, it would be even higher if I'm more tactful with my groceries but I don't want to compromise the quality of food for my family.

I wouldn't say that I regretted spending that money because these spending did add a lot of value to me:
  • Transport is necessary to travel to work
  • I have to say that $10-20 per meal is expensive when you compare to neighbourhood standards, but it saved me the time and effort to prepare my own food and it provides an opportunity to socialise with my colleagues and friends working in CBD (most of whom have a much high maintenance lifestyle but socialising is very important in my field)
  • I prefer to watch movies and plays in theatres as it provides me a more immersive and no-distraction environment, and a reputable show can cost up to hundreds of dollars. It's an expensive interest that I acquired since secondary school.
  • Suppers. The devil. You know, after a long day at work, when you finally reached home, took a shower, and was about to get into the bed when your friends rang you up for a late night supper and you said yes. It must be the devil's speaking.
  • I have been playing two instruments, two sports and practising two martial arts for years and I have been enjoying them a lot that it's difficult to give them up now. They cost a lot when you add the figures together. 
These spending were deemed as 'normal' to me as it's the kind of lifestyle I have been living. If not for the circuit breaker which put these activities to a screeching halt. I probably wouldn't have realised how much I could have saved without these expenditures. 

During the circuit breaker, I don't dine in restaurants but I cook really nice food, I don't visit theatres but I still watch movies and plays with a monitor and immersive sound system, I don't go for suppers but I still keep in touch with my friends, I don't attend courses but I never stop practising and I continue to exercise regularly.

The circuit breaker offers me an opportunity to live an alternative lifestyle. I wouldn't lie that the quality didn't drop, it's definitely more enchanting to watch a musical or theatre production in real life, and it's really fun to sweat from competing with an opponent. But the current lifestyle really isn't bad at all.

With the circuit breaker coming to an end and people are going back to work in phases, it is no doubt that my expenses will start increasing again. But this time, I will keep a closer tab on my expenses. 

Following my previous post on "Should I spend $1500 on a digital piano", I learned to consider my expenses in long term events rather than short term events. This means each purchasing decision should be calculated based on the value in at least 10 years rather than if I can afford it with my existing savings or the next paycheck. It's no longer 'just $1000 per month'. It's $499,750 when I compound 4% on a $12,000 yearly spending for 25 years. 

That figure is really painful to look at.

And it'd be higher if you compound at a higher interest rate based on your investment returns, but for me I reference to the CPF rates as it's more conservative.

I think this is a every useful lesson for me. It set my perspective straight to acknowledge the fact that everything costs thousands times more than the price we pay, and make us question if our spending it really worth its value.

At least for me, I think it's worth it to spend $600 per month to be well-trained in a few life skills while enjoying the fun almost every day for the next 25 years even if that's going to cost $299,850 at 4% compound interest.

But I will definitely rethink the rest of my expenses.

How have your spending pattern change in circuit breaker? Is there any expenses you think you can eliminate once the we adapt to the new normal life after that? Please share your thoughts with me and many thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. I think I’ve been saving a huge chunk of my salary, if I didn’t take into account the large financial commitments such as retirement plans, endowments, private annuities, whole life and term life plans that I’m servicing at the moment. I’m amused by the way you compute the cost of buying a digital piano based on the SA rate but am thankful that you did not use the SA rate based on the first combined balance of 60k and for a person 55 years and above, then the opportunity costs will be even higher than 4% lol...

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