Friday, May 22, 2009

Relevant Costs

Relevant costs must be considered when comparing two alternatives.

For illustration, let's talk about the choice of going on an exchange programme versus staying in Singapore to save the cash. Now many people judge an exchange programme to, say the US or Europe, as really expensive, and estimate it to cost about S$10,000 to 15,000 or so for the 6 months to be spent overseas.

And then their claim stops right there.

They break down this sum to include airfare to primary destination, accomodation, living expenses, transport, and additional travel.

But they forget that when you're in Singapore, you also incur quite a sum of money just living there. Transport (EZ-link), food (canteens and restaurants), entertainment (movies, clubs), shopping, accomodation (hall fees or equivalent) etc cost money too, did you forget that?

As a reference, let's just use my scholarship allowance as an example. Each semester, I wait for my S$3,000 disbursement from the scholarship office. When I was awarded the scholarship, this was explained to me to be living allowance. This means the school has calculated that a student needs a minimum of S$3,000 just to get by 4 (not even 6!!) months in Singapore. Covers food, accomodation, transport, and there's enough leftover for some form of "discretionary expenditure".

So when you talk about an exchange programme, let's deduct this $3,000 from the overseas exchange programme cost estimate. You're saving S$3,000 in expenditure in Singapore when you go overseas. What I'm trying to say is, the relevant difference people should be looking at when they think about whether to go overseas for a term or not is the S$10,000 estimate less S$3,000.

(And since the $3,000 figure was for a 4 month period, it's only natural 6 months would cost more--greater savings in other words.)

Now think about that, S$,7000 for 6 months overseas? That is a good deal. So don't fret, go apply for your exchange programme. It's well worth the money, take it from me.

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