Are You Poor Because Of Cost Of Living Or Cost Of Lifestyle?

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with my level-headed bestie, when we talked about how people our age are getting into huge debts.

Do a quick survey around and it’s not hard to get responses from people complaining about how cost of living is just too high for us to cope with. And then this video went viral:
While I’m not saying that we are enjoying high salaries (I mean, seriously, would anyone ever say they think they’re overpaid for their jobs?), I think a lot of these money woes are brought upon us by our sense of self-entitlement. By this, I mean, a lot of us think we have the “right” to enjoy life because we “work so hard”, and that a lot of luxuries that we enjoy now are basic “needs”, that many people of the same age in, perhaps, a different country, may see as huge indulgences.


Before you say cost of living is too high and that you’re poor because of it, ask yourself:

  • How often do you put out your hand to hail a cab because you’re too “tired” to take the MRT?
  • Count the number of brunches you’ve gone for at hipster cafes (you can probably keep track by the number of Instagram pictures of Eggs Benedict and coffee you’ve posted)
  • Or the “designers’ coffee (from Starbucks and the likes) do you buy in a week?
  • How many trips (be it long-haul or just an island getaway) have you gone for this year? How many have you planned for next year?
  • Add in the staycations you’ve gone for or are looking forward to too
  • Look into your stash of bags… how many cost more than $100?
  • Do you insist on “at least” a 4-room flat because anything else is “too small”?
  • Is it necessary to hold your wedding at a hotel? Do you really have to go overseas for your photography? Do you know that if you just want to be “married”, you actually only need to pay a small admin fee at ROM to get officially hitched?
  • How many boxes arrive at your house per month from online shopping?
  • How many phones have you changed in the last 5 years?
  • Do realise people in the past didn’t need a phone, tablet and laptop to stay “connected”?

My point is, the main factor that’s making us poor isn’t cost of living. It’s just that we are so used to luxuries that we can’t give them up. We see them as “needs” instead of “wants”. We’ve fed our lifestyle with so much that it’s got a hefty appetite now and it seems “impossible” to scale back.

Unfortunately, we’re not capable enough to make sufficient money to sustain this lifestyle, and this is how we get into debts. We’re wearing hats that are too huge for our heads.

I blame such behaviour partly on social media. Browse through Facebook or Instagram and it’s not hard to find yourself envying the lifestyles of your peers who seem to “have it all”. Those that always deck out in something new in their OOTD, who bought yet another expensive bag, who is always having a whale of a time in her/his getaway, stay in the most gorgeous pad, held the most interesting wedding…

And then we think to ourselves, hey, why is it that he/she can do it while I can’t? I deserve to enjoy these too! Why should I be like my parents, who slog and don’t get to enjoy life?! What’s the point of working if I can’t go for trips and eat expensive breads and coffees?

In the end, all of us struggle behind these facades we gingerly put up.


4 thoughts on “Are You Poor Because Of Cost Of Living Or Cost Of Lifestyle?

  1. Hey Kristen,

    I agree with what you wrote in this post! Most of the time, we young ones give in to temptation very easily. We’ve done it before; once on a bag that our hot classmate also had, and then the next time on that nice-looking Starbucks hot mocha so that we can channel our inner Britney Spears (aka look busy and important). And then the next, and the next. And because we don’t see instant repercussions on these little spendings, we become braver and more outrageous with our money. 1 bag turns into 5 branded bags. 1 dress turns into 3, 4 branded dresses with tags still on them and nowhere to wear them to. And when we get our first job, yay! Even more money to spend!

    We fail to plan for our future and to look at the bigger picture. I recently read an article which interviewed people on their crazy spending habits, and one unemployed woman actually said she depended on her husband to make money, and because he earns enough, she’s good. But I was just thinking, what if one day he dies! People just don’t think about the possibilities in life anymore than we used to, and when things happen, we always have someone to blame. Someone other than ourselves.

    Glad you wrote this article out. Will share it!


  2. I’m not saying that means we shouldn’t be responsible for noticing how our cost of lifestyle is… Haha. But I’d also like to point out that… well, we do advocate a certain lifestyle when we post about this in our online magazines and blog as well. Our culture in Singapore is definitely heavy on consumerism. It’s always about the next beauty product, the next I.T bag, the next etc. We built this city on spend and spend. 🙂

    1. Guilty as charged 🙂 I know what you mean. But I think consumers also got to consider their own ability to afford these items. I’m not saying we can’t enjoy ourselves and indulge in a trip or a good meal. I’m more concerned about people who are already in debt or aren’t having a lot of savings, but insist on leading the type of lifestyle they think they “deserve”. As we get older, and expenses such as for medical reasons, or for kids or parents (real “needs” that can make or break your life) become more apparent, we’ll really regret going on so many trips we don’t even save up for rainy days.

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