Growing A Family Has Been Made Easier With Extra Helping Hands From The Singapore Budget
It is an exciting time for Samuel Mui and his wife, as the couple are getting ready to welcome a second child into their family.
Samuel Mui is feeling a little feverish, his nine-months pregnant wife Cheyenne is feeling a little heavy, but their four-year-old daughter Kaylyn is thankfully asleep so they can catch a breather.
“This daughter of mine is the only grandchild on both sides of the family,” said Samuel with a hearty laugh. “She’s quite pampered, so it’s good she will get some ‘competition’ when her brother is born!”
The cosy Punggol 4-room flat which the couple, both aged 37, moved into in August 2011 a year after their marriage is where they chose to settle down and start a family.
As with many young Singaporeans, both Samuel and Cheyenne, who lived in Sengkang with their respective families before getting married, wanted to live closer to their parents in a region of Singapore which they were already comfortable with.
Home In Punggol
They successfully bid for a BTO flat in Punggol after they were given extra ballot chances under the Married Child Priority Scheme, which favours those who intend to live near their parents. As the couple were first-time flat applicants, they were also given a $10,000 housing grant based on their combined income.
Living near his parents is invaluable for Samuel, as the couple do not have a domestic helper. Samuel’s taxi driver father helps to fetch Kaylyn from her pre-school, a 20-minute drive away in Yio Chu Kang, to his home in the evening.
Samuel, an engineer, and Cheyenne, a civil servant, make their way there for a family dinner before heading back to their own Punggol flat, which is just one MRT station away.
Family life highlights revolve mainly around the Punggol community, from hanging out at the Waterway Point which was opened a year ago, to bringing Kaylyn to the water playground at the nearby SAFRA Club.
“The HDB estate is quite pretty, and sometimes we like to take walks at the Punggol Waterway Park, which is rather scenic,” said Samuel.
In the meantime, the family is busy preparing for the baby’s arrival sometime in February. Samuel will get two weeks of paid paternity leave, a new initiative announced in Budget 2016, applicable for babies born from 1 January 2017.
Reflecting on how much has changed in four years, Samuel mused, “When Kaylyn was born in December 2012, I had three days of paternity leave, which was the policy back then. I took my own annual leave in order to stay home for a few more days.”
His presence was vital. Even though the couple hired a confinement nanny, and their parents were on-hand to help with the buying of groceries, Samuel not only helped with the baby, he provided emotional support to his wife.
Said Cheyenne, “I had a caesarean delivery and was not mobile. I really needed his help and he also gave me a lot of comfort, especially since I was trying to breastfeed and I needed someone to talk to about my difficulties.”
The two weeks leave will be a real boon to the family. Said Samuel, “My annual leave will become more precious as I have two children and I will want to spend more time on holidays, or just being with them.”
Like his sister, the newborn will be given a Baby Bonus Child Development Account (CDA), a co-savings scheme for children where savings deposited by parents into this account are matched dollar-for-dollar by the Government.
Samuel intends to use some of the funds in the account to pay for extracting and storing the baby’s cord blood, which is what they did for Kaylyn. The blood provides a rich source of stem cells for medical procedures that the child may need in his or her lifetime.
“It cost $6,000 and without the CDA, we might not have opted for it. With the CDA, as the Government was matching what we saved in the account dollar-for-dollar, it was akin to paying $3,000 out of pocket,” said Cheyenne.
But unlike his sister, the boy will benefit from the First Step grant, a $3,000 gift deposited in his CDA even before his parents start saving. The grant was enhanced in Budget 2016.
He will also qualify for a $4,000 Medisave Grant for Newborns, enhanced in 2015, which will be automatically credited into a CPF Medisave account opened for him. It will help to defray his healthcare expenses, such as MediShield Life premiums, recommended childhood vaccinations, hospitalisation, and approved outpatient treatments.
Both initiatives are introduced after 2015, which Samuel and Cheyenne were not aware of earlier.
Said Samuel, “These extras which help us to defray costs are really a blessing for us. But ultimately, when it comes to our children, with or without these perks, it is a rewarding journey, for which we have been very lucky to get the support of our parents. Having children has actually brought my whole family, including the grandparents’ generation, closer together.”