Is this the right time? For many young couples in Singapore, the pandemic throws a wrench into the otherwise well-oiled machine of family planning. With weddings postponed and home construction completion delayed, nothing seems for certain and the prospect of having a child seems to recede even further into the future.
While the initial, global hysteria is beginning to dissipate, the COVID-19 pandemic leaves its deep and lasting brand on our lifestyle. For aspiring parents in confusing times, here’s how to decide if you are ready.
As if pregnancy and caring for a newborn didn’t give you enough to worry about, new or expecting parents now live in fear for the safety of the family. Nobody enjoys being cloistered at home, but stepping out inevitably entails risk of exposure to illness for both parent and child.
Additionally, economic recession puts jobs on the line, giving reason to wonder whether taking on a new financial commitment is really the best idea.
Nonetheless, we know these turbulent days are just eddies in a fast-flowing stream. Perhaps, because life carries on despite the pandemic, so should we.
Are you financially stable?
The country is seeing the first effects of COVID-19 on the job market. Fewer companies are hiring, and even more have begun to whittle their expenditure. Job security is no longer a given, or even a norm.
If either one or both in a couple are employed or otherwise receive an income, here’s everything within your control to stabilise your finances with a child in mind.
- If both parties are working, plan your finances according to only one source of income. This ensures that if one party leaves or loses their job, the family can continue to afford the same lifestyle.
- Look for permanence. If you are working for a company, aim to secure a permanent position or a longer-term contract. Permanent employees generally enjoy more corporate benefits such as maternity or paternity leave, childcare leave and certain healthcare subsidies. Meanwhile, signing a longer-term contract with your company means you’re less likely to be job hunting in a parching employment climate.
- Nurse your emergency fund to health. Ensure your savings will sustain your family long enough to find its footing, should you unfortunately lose all sources of income.
- Consider flexible insurance savings options. Especially if you are not sure when you will be ready for a child, insurance savings plans provide a secure way to earn interest while enjoying the additional coverage. GIGANTIQ, an insurance savings and protection plan by Tiq, offers versatile savings with optional protection riders. Earn attractive interest on your first S$10,000 for the first year, and grow your savings with cumulative interest for each protection rider plan you add on. Find out more here.
Which government grants are your eligible for?
Marriage and Parenthood Package
Designed to support the home ownership and parenthood aspirations of eligible married couples in Singapore, the Marriage and Parenthood scheme includes home ownership grants, leave affordances, medical subsidies and workplace flexibilities.
First released in 2001, the Package has since undergone periodic revisions to accommodate the ever-changing, diverse needs of married life and parenthood in Singapore. Read where your entitlements stand in this brochure.
To support and encourage couples to have more children, the Singapore government also offers new parents the Baby Bonus, which serves to lighten the financial load of having a child. When your child is born, you will receive a Cash Gift of S$8,000 if this is your first or second child, or S$10,000 for your third child and beyond.
Enrolling your child in the Baby Bonus Scheme also entitles them to a Child Development Account (CDA) – a special savings bank account – and a First Step Grant of S$3,000, whereupon any top-ups you make to the account the government will match dollar-to-dollar. You can contribute to your child’s CDA until 31 December of the year they turn 12. The account can be used to fund a range of childcare and medical expenses.
Learn more about the Baby Bonus here.
Baby Support Grant
Introduced to keep family plans above water during the pandemic, the Baby Support Grant is a one-time S$3,000 cash grant for children born from 1 October 2020 to 30 September 2022, both dates inclusive.
Upon the birth of an eligible child, the money is credited to the same bank account as would be the Baby Bonus Cash Gift, nominated by parents when enrolling the child in the Baby Bonus Scheme.
We’re breaking down the Baby Bonus Grant here.
Are you and your partner safe?
While a large part of Singapore’s workforce may still retain the comforts of working from home, this arrangement is impossible for certain professions.
If your work involves a lot of face-to-face interaction, it may be advisable at least until your child is older and less vulnerable to illness, to request to have your responsibilities adjusted away from the front.
If your workplace encourages employees to return to the office, you may also speak to your supervisor about making an exception for you, especially if your tasks can be completed remotely.
Who will care for the baby?
Once your entitlement of maternity or paternity leave runs out, the immense task of caring for a fully dependent infant during office hours has to be passed along to someone you trust.
Those fortunate enough to have the support of parents and in-laws enjoy a worry-free work week, given the experienced hands in which you leave your child.
Others to whom this option is unavailable may seek the services of a childcare centre. Unlike with your child’s grandparents, you have no guarantee of the quality of care your child will receive at a centre, so we suggest consulting neighbours, friends and family members for recommendations before settling on one.
Given the situation, it’s important to choose an establishment with childcare and hygiene practices you can count on.
Childcare services also tend to be costly, compared to the allowance you may give parents or in-laws for their help. If you plan to engage these services, start saving early to give your child the best care possible.
Insurance savings plans provide a useful way to save for such anticipated expenses. If you know exactly when you will need your funds, insurance savings plans such as can help you meet these milestones on schedule.
Meanwhile, GIGANTIQ offers versatility for the undecided, with top-ups and partial withdrawals any time after the free look period. Insurance savings plans also confer the added benefit of protection to give your family peace of mind.
#TiqOurWord If word-of-mouth recommendations don’t give you 100% peace of mind, choose ePROTECT safety. For a limited time, insure yourself with ePROTECT safety and enjoy free personal accident protection for up to 3 children, including coverage on COVID-19 and dengue fever. Read more here.
Is your home ready for a new family member?
As the pandemic progresses, the significance of ‘home’ continues to evolve. For many, ‘home’ now encompasses work and recreation, two activities previously heavily situated in the outside world.
Now that your dwelling accommodates more of your lifestyle, making room for a growing child will require intentionally organising better and acquiring less.
Meanwhile, slowdowns in home construction are pushing back HDB completion dates, and young couples will have to wait longer than expected to collect their keys. For those living in rented spaces, the extra room needed for a child can be easily made by moving to a more spacious unit, if you can afford it.
If you are however living with your parents or in-laws, it’s always respectful to check whether the other occupants of the home are comfortable living with a baby in the house.
Furthermore, never take for granted that because you live with your parents or in-laws, the mantle of childcare falls upon their shoulders if or when you return to work.
#TiqOurWord As you prepare your home for a child, get your protection in order too. Keep your home safe with Tiq Home Insurance, a suite of award winning insurance plans with first-in-class Emergency Cash Allowance and 24-hour Emergency Home Assistance. Sleep easy with us in your corner from just S$28 a year.
Your life, your rules
In all circumstances, no matter how desperate, remember that you always have power over your own path, and that even the worst times see their end. Whichever you choose, weathering these times as a couple fortifies your relationship and paves the way for a stronger, more resilient family. With a brighter future in mind, take courage.
GIGANTIQ is not a bank account or a fixed deposit. It is an insurance savings plan that earns a crediting interest rate.
Information is accurate as of 18 August 2020. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K). Protected up to specified limits by SDIC. As buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment, an early termination of the policy usually involves high costs and the surrender value, if any, that is payable to you may be zero or less than the total premiums paid. You should seek advice from a financial adviser before deciding to purchase the policy. If you choose not to seek advice, you should consider if the policy is suitable for you. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Tiq by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd.
A digital insurance channel that embraces changes to provide simple and convenient protection, Tiq’s mission is to make insurance transparent and accessible, inspiring you today to be prepared for life’s surprises and inevitabilities, while empowering you to “Live Unlimited” and take control of your tomorrow.
With a shared vision to change the paradigm of insurance and reshape customer experience, Etiqa created the strong foundation for Tiq. Because life never stops changing, Etiqa never stops progressing. A licensed life and general insurance company registered in the Republic of Singapore and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Etiqa is governed by the Insurance Act and has been providing insurance solutions since 1961. It is 69% owned by Maybank, Southeast Asia’s fourth largest banking group, with more than 22 million customers in 20 countries; and 31% owned by Ageas, an international insurance group with 33 million customers across 16 countries.
Discover the full range of Tiq online insurance plans here.