Almost one in ten Singaporeans have taken on more debt to cover expenses

Kim HoPR Manager
February 24, 2021, 3:29 AM GMT+0

The majority will cut back on non-essential spending

Latest YouGov research looks into the financial impact COVID-19 has had on Singaporeans, and how their behaviors and priorities will continue in 2021.

On the Money: YouGov’s Global Banking and Finance report 2021”, uses YouGov Plan & Track data to offer a high-level overview of financial attitudes, preferences and habits in 17 global markets.

Given the impact the pandemic has had on the global economy and workforce, it is perhaps unsurprising that about half (51%) of Singaporeans have since actively reduced non-essential expenses, particularly amongst those over the age of 55, where over half (56%) have done so. Younger Singaporeans (aged 18 to 24) are the least likely to have reduced non-essential spending the past six months, with only a third (34%) saying they have. A third (34%) of Singaporeans have also dipped into their savings for expenses and one in ten (10%) have refinanced (replacement of existing debt obligation with another debt obligation under different terms).

Almost one in ten (9%) have had to take on more debt to cover their expenses. This is particularly the case for those aged 45 to 54, where one in seven (14%) having gone further in debt.

It has not been all doom and gloom for Singaporeans recently though, three in ten (29%) have managed to save more in the past six months and one in seven (14%) have not had to do any of the aforementioned.

Looking to the future, the majority (79%) of Singaporeans intend to cut back on non-essential spending. This trend is echoed across other APAC markets surveyed, where at least two-thirds of consumers plan to cut their costs going forward. In line with recommendations to avoid physical touching, three in five (63%) also intend to use digital banking services wherever possible, and over half (55%) will now avoid visiting banks in person whenever possible.

YouGov also looked at the financial priorities of Singaporeans this year. Saving money for unexpected hardship (51%) came up top, followed by ensuring one can meet regular financial commitments (44%) and ensuring one’s self and family are adequately protected in case of an emergency (34%). Financial priorities differ between age groups, however. Those over the age of 55 are twice as likely to prioritise saving money for retirement than those aged 18 to 24 (39% vs. 20%). Conversely, those aged 18 to 24 are twice as likely to prioritise making money by investing than those aged 55 and up (39% vs. 22%), and five times more likely to prioritise purchasing assets than those 55 and up (10% vs. 2%). Younger Singaporeans (aged 18 to 24) are also three times more likely than all other age groups to prioritise returning to pre-pandemic spending habits (12% vs. 4%).

Ervin Ha, Head of Data Products for YouGov APAC commented: “The past year has a been real blow financially to people across the globe, and Singapore is no different, as we see as significant proportion going further into debt or refinancing to cover their expenses. However, data also shows that Singaporeans are a financially prudent bunch, with the majority intending to cut back on non-essential expenses, and their top priorities revolve around saving. It remains to be seen how much longer the pandemic will take a toll on people’s financial situation, but it is clear Singaporeans are prepared to weather any storm by focusing on saving for rainy days.”

***Results based on 1,027 Singaporeans surveyed on YouGov Profiles

Click here to download the whitepaper.