Someone asked this question on r/askSingapore and I wrote a long and considered response as featured below. Cheers to all long-time suffering parents!
First, I will like to calm your nerves by bringing up the Chinese proverb “家家有本难念的经” (Every family has a skeleton in the closet.) For reasons you wont divulge, you and your husband are currently renting. And I get it. If I were in your shoes, the uncertainty of not knowing when I will have a flat I can truly call my own will weigh heavily on my mind. It’s an unknown variable, which may or may not seriously impact the family’s finances when we raise a child in the future.
I think regardless of their take-home income, every household will surely have financial woes. For me, my wife is a Singapore Permanent Resident. Which means that she only started to contribute to her Central Provident Fund account in recent years and is unlikely to even hit the Basic Retirement Sum. So, I feel that it’s my responsibility to top up her CPF account whenever I can. See, money no enough.
But we have two kids. Our take-home income is close to $7k too. I think having clarity about how you and your partner handle your finances is instrumental to starting a family. We have a joint account, in which we deposit money into every month. Our children’s childcare fees come from that account. I am saving for their college funds; she’s in charge of groceries and sundries. If we need other things (like a baby chair, playmat, the list goes on), we will dip into the joint account. We haven’t argued about money (yet).
Personally, I think setting clear boundaries gives me invaluable peace of mind. So I decided to save up to $40k each for my children. Of course, you may ask what happens if they want to study overseas. Well, my answer to that is “then find your own money and top up the rest”. I’m very certain about this decision because I started working part-time at KFC when I was 17 (and actually subsequently clinched a scholarship). If they want to study at prestigious overseas universities, they got to channel their hunger into securing their funds. My money is finite - I need to save $1 million for myself and perhaps another $100k for my wife? I expect my kids to understand and empathise with my situation.
I have not taught my elder 4-year-old son phonics yet but I’m starting to inculcate financial literacy in him. At this impressionable age, he’s all about buying toys, so I give him 50 cents per day so that he gains experience on how it is like to save money for a period of time and delay gratification. I tell him exactly how many 50-cent coins he needs to save before he can buy his next toy. Hopefully he will grow up to appreciate the value of money and be savvy with it.
You may feel that you aren’t in control of your finances but I think life finds a way. I actually got into cryptocurrency after I became a father because I was so desperate to find extra money. Glad to report that I have not lost money in crypto yet. Your incomes will increase as you gain senior responsibilities. You may be inclined to start side hustles. When you put your mind to it, money is everywhere. Hell, 4 people used my referral link for Trust Bank - garnering me supermarket vouchers!
In fact, I can tell you that money is the least of my worries. Losing my social life because of the need to take care of my children, however, frustrates me to no end. Please consider the emotional costs and not just the monetary aspect.
But having said all this, I don’t regret having children lar. Ending this with another Chinese saying “天无绝人之路” (There is no path that will push you over the cliff)
Have faith. Hang in there.