Money Diary of a Civil Servant in Singapore - WILDCHILD SG

The Money Diary of a Civil Servant From Singapore

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where contributors give you a peek into not just their spendings but also their lives over a seven-day period. Reading a diary is one pretty good way of living vicariously through another person and we hope you’re in for the ride.

Here, we have a civil servant who slept past his bedtime (because of his new-found interest in reading Money Diaries) and indulged in a ‘Travel Around the World 100 Capsules Assortment’ during his coffee run at Nespresso Boutique.


Age: 25

Gender: Male

Education: Bachelor of Engineering

Occupation: Civil servant (who writes a lot of papers and reviews many policies)

Industry: Technology

Salary: ~$40,000/year

Location: Singapore

Monthly Expenses

Student Loans: $1,800

Phone Bill: $30

Cable & Wi-Fi: $73.71

Utilities: $110

Spotify: $3

The New York Times & Straits Times: $33

Daily Log

Day 1, Monday

6:45am: My alarm shrieks, piercing through the early morning silence and the first thought that races through my mind is, “How did I end up going to bed at 1 am?” I blame my friend, N, who introduced me to Money Diaries last night. I shower and brush my teeth at the same time, cursing at how warm the weather was throughout the night— global warming is real. It’s a sombre Monday morning so I pick out a dark green shirt with black pants to reflect my mood, shave and slap on some aftershave. Then, I shove my breakfast into my bag and head out the door.

7:26am: I arrive at the bus stop to wait for the bus that takes me to work. By the end of the ride, I had gone through the New York Times’ Morning Brief in its entirety. Today’s brief is about the one-year mark of the Christchurch terrorist attacks, Israeli elections and more depressing news about the coronavirus.

8:00am: During the bus ride, I go through the news quickly to make sure I’ve read every headline. I make a mental note to return to some articles that are relevant to me later. As I get off the bus, I receive a notification from Apple, telling me that I spent $1.22 on transport to work today (side note: just did a calculation, I spend $1.02 or $1.22 to travel to/from work, depending on the route I take). The next five minutes is literally planned out to the second. $1.22

8:05am: I stop by the fridge to grab my carton of milk. Clearly holding onto too many things in my hand, I fumble with my keys and somehow manage to unlock my door and turn on the lights to see my lovely desk welcoming me. I pour a cup of milk into my oatmeal and my milk frother (huge Nespresso fan here) before turning it on. Next, I return the milk carton to the pantry en route to the water fountain to get some hot water for the coffee before walking back to my room to see my milk frothing nicely.

8:06am: Surprise! While holding a steaming mug of latte, I realize I’ve been stabbed in the back by my own boss. I knew that something was odd about how smooth this Monday was going. I scramble to log into my computer to deal with the missile heading my way.

8:45am: On a typical day, I start work just about now, after I have (barely) grasped what’s going on in the world. But since I was scrambling to find the answers to the early Monday morning curveball, everything has been delayed by 30 minutes. No big deal.

11:15am: I go for lunch at the canteen, after a couple of hours of work. I eat the same thing every Monday, until the lady who prepares my food just nods as she sees me approaching— no words were exchanged. Ah, the power of non-verbal communication. Had a wonderful and thought-provoking chat with colleagues about cars and investments over lunch. When will I ever be able to buy my own car? I really need to start saving but my study loans are eating me alive. While walking back to the office, I silently reaffirm my belief that adulting is real. There is no turning back the clock. $3.00

5:30pm: My day was a complete blur after lunch and I don’t remember what happened exactly. I do know, however, that I’m done for the day! I grab my bag and shut down my laptop, while shoving my stuff into my bag. I realize I need a haircut during one of my bathroom breaks. On the way to the barber (which is midway between my office and home), I listen to last week’s episode of my current favourite podcast: Office Ladies. $8.92

6:50pm: Showered and now, I am having my dinner while journaling— it’s rather therapeutic. Made an impromptu decision to go to the grocery store opposite my house so that I may prepare my own lunch for tomorrow, in lieu of the social distancing my office is enforcing.

8:05pm: The darn grocery store doesn’t have anything I need. To feel like my trip was worthwhile, I bought some nuts to replenish my snack corner in the office. $9.40

9:35pm: Watching some YouTube videos to unwind and end the hectic day. I am still in denial that it is only Monday.

Daily Total: $22.54

Day 2, Tuesday

6:55am: I sleep in for a couple of minutes because I had another late night for the same reason (thanks, N!). As I mentally go through what to write for my money diary, I realise that my weekdays are extremely routined (read: boring).

7:30am: I manage to catch the bus to work (barely). $1.22

7:45am: For some reason, I am already walking to my office, which is significantly earlier than my usual time. Odd. I observe that there are a lot of people at the atrium, though my office is way emptier in comparison. Guess my colleagues reach around 8am?

8:00am: Frothed my milk for a warm oat + honey breakfast. Today, I try out new coffee beans (Nescafé Origins Gold – Colombia), which tasted absolutely atrocious. Hands down the most acidic coffee I’ve ever had in my life. I read the morning news while sipping my morning cup of lemon juice coffee. After breakfast, I plan out my day carefully, despite being well-aware that I may end up not following it.

8:50am: An email (a positive one!) springs into my inbox and I start working on it. Told you my day wasn’t going to go according to plan! 

11:30am: Lunch! $3.50

7:17pm: After lunch, I spend the second half of the day working extremely hard and putting out fires. I had a lovely conversation with a colleague about life and relationships as we walked out of office together. She went to her Grab (her husband) and I went to mine (bus). I went for a quick run before stopping by the town centre to grab some dinner. $4.32

11:19pm: I get ready for bed by watching some YouTube videos to unwind. Am still missing the sports highlights that keep me entertained each night, thanks to the virus. I make a mental note to myself to sleep before midnight to repay my sleep debt.

Daily Total: $9.04

Day 3, Wednesday

6:50am: Happy hump day! Thank goodness it’s midweek. The late nights are starting to take a toll on me. Thank goodness I have a medical appointment tomorrow so I don’t have to be at work. I am confident this will keep me motivated throughout the day.

7:20am: Shower. Shave. Aftershave. Is it weird that I like to alternate the tone of my shirt between dark and light? Today is a dark shirt day. I read my Morning Brief on the bus to work and along the way I see a woman walking two cute little dogs. I deduce that today’s going to be a good day! $1.22

8:10am: I bring my aroma diffuser to work today, along with some grapefruit essential oil. Everyone looks into my office when they walk past. Two colleagues compliment the lovely citrus smell the diffuser emits.

9:00am: I get to work— writing papers and approving stuff.

10:45am: Time flies really quickly. When I get up to wash my coffee mug and lunch box (from 8am, whoops), I realize it’s 15 minutes to lunch.

11:07am: Head to the canteen with my colleague, E. As I walk towards my favourite stall, the lady who serves me my food (same as the one on Monday) signals to me and asks, “the Wednesday usual?” I nod. I love lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays. $4.00

3:30pm: E whips up some cup noodles because he is starving. Whaaaat? We just finished lunch. Also, he has been having cup noodles daily for the past two weeks and I’m seriously starting to worry about his hair.

6:30pm: I submit my work to my boss before chatting with a colleague for a bit about life. I notice that my boss is still in the office when I leave. I aspire to be as hardworking as him but he’s probably getting at least twice of what I’m getting. Money talks. Going home was probably the right call.

7:30pm: I take the bus home and run into the secretary. I wonder why she was leaving the office so late. $0.92

9:00pm: Just finished ironing a pile of clothes while listening to this week’s episode of Office Ladies. I chat with a friend of mine, whom I’m seeing next week for a course. She asks me out for breakfast next week, which I obviously accept. I need to improve my social life.

Daily Total: $6.14

Day 4, Thursday

6:50am: I wake up and realize that I do not have to go to work today because I have a medical appointment in the afternoon. Oh joy! I snooze for another hour or so. That was the most delicious sleep I’ve had in a while.

8:30am: I roll out of bed feeling really refreshed and optimistic. I make my own coffee and receive a call from the hospital asking me if I can head over earlier. I have nothing planned for the morning so I agree, because I can get it over and done with.

9:49am: I make my way to the hospital. $1.31

12:00pm: I collect my medication and head home for lunch. Am absolutely hungry because I didn’t have anything for breakfast except for that cup of coffee. $1.31

4:00pm: I laze around for a couple hours, an absolute luxury on a weekday. I take a nice shower, shave and throw on some cologne before heading to Somerset where I’m meeting my friend, R, for dinner. I set up camp in a Starbucks and read my book/watch YouTube videos while waiting for R. $9.80

6:05pm: R arrives from work and we go to Uniqlo to check out some clothes because she’s not hungry. She also accompanies me to T2 to get their French Earl Grey tea, because I’m sick of the weak Lipton infused water tea I am currently drinking. $40.00

10:30pm: We had Sushi Express for dinner and ice cream for dessert because I have a discount coupon for the latter. I had a long conversation with R about life, career, travel and friendship until we get chased out by the staff at Ben & Jerry’s. $17.50

Daily Total: $69.92

Day 5, Friday

6:45am: I get up early because it’s Friday. I look forward to Friday every Monday, which seems rather sad. I put on a blue polo tee, grab my breakfast (oats with peanut butter) from the fridge and head to work. $1.22

8:05am: I realise my team mate is not in today (he’s on leave), and half the other team is on medical leave. My side of the office is pretty much a barren wasteland. I silently hope that everyone’s alright because it’s a terrible time to be sick now. I make a cup of coffee and start reading the news on my laptop.

8:45am: My boss barges into my room and informs me that something that I had been handling previously needs my attention. The truth is that no one said anything about it being urgent/a priority and yesterday (while I was away, of course), it “suddenly became urgent”. Great!

9:00am: Now that my plans for the day are ruined, I finish reading the papers and proceed to work on the recently-turned-urgent piece of work. Literally a minute later, I am evicted from my office because the cleaner wants to vacuum my room. I don’t complain and remember to thank her before leaving her to it.

9:05am: I wash my coffee mug and the Tupperware I use for my breakfast and return to find that the nice cleaning lady is done. I thank her again and decide that I should get started on the supposedly urgent piece of work.

9:06am: My phone rings. I’ve literally never gotten this much attention in my life ever. I feel like a celebrity. It’s a nice lady asking me some questions, which I couldn’t answer because I’m not good at my job. I promise I would get back to her as soon as possible because I’m responsible like that.

10:50am: I spend over an hour gathering information everywhere and from anyone that I can think of before returning her call. She picks up almost immediately and sounded glad to hear from me.

11:20am: I spend some time explaining stuff to her. She asks some questions and I do the same too, to understand things from her end. I felt we had an extremely fruitful discussion. Absolutely love and appreciate people who are polite regardless of their seniority/authority. I can’t reveal your name, nice lady colleague, but thank you!

11:21am: HOLY SHIT. I have not opened the “urgent” email and documents that my boss sent me.

12:05pm: I decide to go for a quick lunch. $4.20

4:30pm: Still working on the urgent matter, with guidance from my boss. I had three cups of tea and a cup of coffee. Also, I’ve never felt more efficient.

6:30pm: Finally emerge from my room because I completed the work I had set out for myself for the day. I realised I even completed some of the work which was only due next week. I wouldn’t be in office for three days, so I had decided to do it in advance.

6:31pm: I realise 90% of my colleagues have left. The office is almost empty. Well, clearly I’m the only one with nothing better to do on a Friday evening.

7:15pm: I get home, shower and have my dinner before pulling out my laptop to work on Money Diaries. How am I doing so far? Or have most readers stopped reading after Day 1? $1.22

11:35pm: Wasted my entire night watching YouTube videos. I promise myself I will wake up earlier tomorrow to have a productive day, although I actually have nothing planned for my weekends. Another two days in the library it is, then.

Daily Total: $6.44

Day 6, Saturday

8:00am: Today is Day 6 of the week-long Money Diaries challenge. Safe to say I spend a lot less when I am working, which is good for someone with as much student loans as I do. Every month, as I watch my salary get funnelled to my study loans, I die a little inside. I really envy those people who are fortunate enough to not have to worry about that.

9:00am: I make myself a cup of coffee and get to reading the news, which had nothing new because it was mostly about the virus.

11:00am: I have an early lunch because I did not have breakfast and I am hungry. Also, my family usually has lunch fairly early.

12:30pm: I clean up the house as my parents both leave for work. Yes, they work on Saturdays. I like to listen to my favourite podcast (you already know what it is) while mopping the floor because doing chores is an excellent time for multi-tasking.

4:00pm: Why on earth is it raining? Just when I had intended to go pick up more coffee and drop off my used coffee capsules. Now I have to wait for the rain to stop. In the meantime, I make myself some cup noodles because that is just so comforting on a rainy day. I think it’s my way of comforting myself.  

5:00pm: I decide to go to Vivo City to do some shopping because it has a Nespresso Boutique. It was meant to be a routine coffee run but I ended up being talked into buying the Travel Around the World collection because they were giving out a free Bonbonnière Coffee Capsule Dispenser. I’m such a sucker for these kinds of useless shit. I also pick up a tube of L’Oréal facial wash and M&S cookies. $101

9:30pm: Lugged home a hundred capsules and a capsule dispenser. I feel pretty smug about scoring such a good deal. I get home and realise my parents are still not home and everything is exactly the way I left it. $1.60

9:45pm: Decided to go for a quick run because it’s been while since I did so. Am trying to go for IPPT Gold this year, for the money.

Daily Total: $102.60

Day 7, Sunday

9:30am: I wake up really late today because I slept at 2am. I was editing the past six days of Money Diaries and lost track of time (YouTube probably had something to do with it as well).

10:00am: I have a quick shower, pull out my laptop and begin my really boring routine of reading the news. I also only receive a message on my team WhatsApp chat informing us that we only need to come in for two/three days a week starting tomorrow. That’s really nice to hear because now I have way more flexibility to work from home/Starbucks/the library. I wonder how this will affect our continuity given that many of my resources are in office.

11:30am: Lunch time with Mum! She makes the healthiest food I know. She remarks that today is the first time in a while that Dad isn’t around for Sunday lunch (he’s working). Didn’t notice that until she mentioned it.

1:00pm: I feel really sleepy so I make myself a cup of coffee. I make sure to pick the less strong capsule, because I reserve the strong ones for the weekdays, duh. It’s also partially because I don’t want to get (so) addicted to caffeine.

3:25pm: I follow Mum to the grocery store near our house, which is a Sunday routine for us. We stop for a short tea break at the coffee shop next door. She pays for the groceries using my credit card because I want to earn the cashback.

6:30pm: Dad comes home from work and we have a family dinner together. We never have dinner together as a family from Monday to Saturday, so Sundays are always nice.

7:39pm: Since the football season was effectively disrupted, weekend evenings have seriously been a little dull. I decide that I shall work towards my commitment to exercise more by going for a run later.

9:04pm: Finish a short run today plus some sit ups. I feel good! I hate the pre-runs because the inertia to start is painful. But as soon as I drag myself out of the house in my running gear, I feel good and slightly more accomplished. I shower and get back to finishing up the edits of this Money Diary.

Daily Total: $0

Grand Total: $216.68

Feature image by Stella Heng

One response to “The Money Diary of a Civil Servant From Singapore”

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