Welcome to Money Diaries, where contributors give you a peek into not just their expenditures but also their lives over a seven-day period. Reading a diary is a pretty good way of living vicariously through another person and we hope you’re in for the ride.
Here we have a Singaporean, fresh out of veterinarian school and living alone in a new city far from home. In this eventful diary, she talks about meal preps, crashing into the garage door with her car, as well as the highs and lows of performing surgery on her patients.
Editor’s note: All prices in AUD have been converted to SGD.
Education: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Salary: >$50,000/year (pre-tax)
Debt: None; thanks Mom and Dad for paying for my education.
Rent: $680/month for rent, inclusive of utilities
Health Insurance: I’m currently covered but will begin paying approximately $125.82 per month soon.
Car Insurance: $53.34/month
Car Registration: $64/month
Gym Membership: $43/month
Mobile: $8 for 8GB of data/month
Netflix ($6.66/month) – Sharing with friends
Spotify Family ($3/month) – Sharing with friends
How would you describe your relationship with money, before and after earning your own keep?
I think I have a healthy relationship with money. I’ve always tried to be frugal and tried very hard not to overspend on unnecessary things. Before working full-time, I did my fair share of part-time work to supplement my living expenses and was able to save a considerable sum whilst enjoying studying abroad. I worked very hard as a student, juggling four part-time jobs at one point whilst completing my degree and sacrificing my weekends for money. Now that I am working full-time and getting a regular salary, I’m trying to make my money work even harder for me so I can reach my financial goals sooner rather than later. I think that comparison is the killer of joy — it is very easy to compare one’s lifestyle to others more well-off and feel frustrated with the status quo. While living the frugal life is important, I think it’s also important to treat ourselves ever so often because you work damn hard for your cash and should be able to use it to enjoy life!
Did you receive any education — from family members, guardians, friends or institutions — about managing your finances?
My family never educated me on financial planning and have actually thwarted my attempts at accessing some of my finances, which is very frustrating. I decided that if I ever have children, money will be something that I will be very open about. I learnt by doing random reading on topics that interested me, and by watching Youtube videos.
How much would you say that money occupies your mind and guides your decisions?
I think about money when I have to use it. Being the perpetual planner that I am, I make budgets for whatever I need. For example, when I go to the shops for groceries, I don’t worry about what I put in the basket because I know my general spending habits and have already accounted for it. At this stage of my life, I have longer term financial goals that I want to achieve and have a vague notion on how to achieve it, having set aside a good portion of my salary. Admittedly, whether I’ll still have the same goals as time passes is still a huge mystery at this stage because a lot can change in half a decade.
9:00am – I roll out of bed feeling shitty from the weekend as I had a couple of long days at work. Waddled to the kitchen for a cup of Twining’s Morning Tea and peanut butter on raisin toast; it hits the spot and I am satisfied.
10:20am – Put some gym clothes on after convincing myself to go to the gym I’ve been researching. Committing to a gym is tough!
11:00am – Arrive at the gym and sign up for a month’s trial for $20. Everyone was super friendly and the equipment is quite nice to use compared to my old gym. $20
12:00pm – Left the gym feeling amazing and decided to head to IKEA to pick up some miscellaneous home goods. IKEA is one of my favourite places to go to — I love thinking about how to decorate my future home. Today, I whizz through the departments and head for the lower level to get a small frying pan, bath towel, lint roller and toilet brush. $13.50
12:55pm – Decided to get lunch whilst I’m at IKEA, so I pop by the tuck shop at the end to get a hot dog and cinnamon bun. And THEY WERE AMAZING. $2.50
1.35pm – Drove by a famous 24/7 discount fruit shop and decided to pick up some vegetables. Got back into my car and realised the checkout girl overcharged me for my beans. Day ruined. $10.45
2.15pm – Went to the mall to get some more groceries for meal prep. Decided to be super healthy, so I grabbed salmon and more raisin toast because that’s life. $18.80
2.50pm – Bumped into the garage door with my car because I was in a foul mood and it was testing my patience. Instantly felt shittier; I told my landlord that I’ll pay for repairs right away.
5.00pm – Cooked some mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed beans and pan fried salmon for the upcoming work week. I feel great about my culinary prowess and attempts to eat healthier.
6.15pm – Settled down and watched a couple of episodes of Narcos on Netflix before cleaning up the mess in the kitchen.
9.00pm – Did some quick reading in preparation for work tomorrow before retiring to bed.
Daily total: $65.25
5.55am – Woke up to my alarm and contemplated sleeping in rather than turning up earlier for work. Decided to be good, and dragged myself out of bed and into the work clothes that I’d prepared.
6.05am – Had my favourite peanut butter on raisin toast and mediocre instant coffee in an attempt to wake up before work. Slapped some sunscreen on my face (sun protection is important, people!) and packed my lunch bag for work.
6.30am – Jumped into the car and decided that today is a house/EDM kinda morning. Because everyone needs a pick-me-up sometimes, amirite?
7:00am – Rocking up early for the journal club was worth it because the discussions were semi-interesting. Note: Journal club is when you read up on some pre-assigned articles or textbooks on a certain topic and come together to discuss it.
8:00am – Headed down to surgery land to report for work.
10:45am – Scrubbed in to do half a castration and tried my best to close it nicely. Go me!
11.50am – I decide that I better eat quickly whilst I have the chance to so I whip my meal prep out and took a moment to be grateful to myself for making salmon this week.
1.20pm – Scrubbed in to help with another surgery and got grilled with questions. I like working with this surgeon because it’s so mentally stimulating and fun!
3:20pm – Finally done! I wander around looking for things to do. Randomly checked my phone and saw that I’d received an email about winning an academic prize. What a wonderful day!
4.30pm – My landlord tells me that the garage door repair will be $120. I don’t mind because it is pretty reasonable and I’m feeling like a baller knowing that I’ve got some extra prize money.
6:00pm – End work on time today for the first time ever (woohoo!). I quickly pack my bags and run because I don’t get paid for overtime; I had pulled a 70-hour week the week before so I was over it.
6.30pm – Decided to go for pilates class at the gym. Luckily the gym is a mere minute away from work and en route home so it’s very convenient.
7.30pm – Done and dusted with pilates! It was great, and I feel good working on some of the lesser used muscles in my body. I video call my mom on the way home.
8:00pm – Finally home. I make a quick dinner of soba noodles and omelette, and watch Narcos whilst scarfing my dinner down.
9:15pm – I finally take my shower (gross) and roll into bed for more Netflix and some random internet browsing before bed.
Daily total: $0
6.25am – I wake up to my phone alarm and proceed to perform my morning routine of breakfast, clothes and getting to work with some jams. I have some extra time today so I decided to have my breakfast on the balcony — it was glorious.
8.00am – Time for rounds. I am very happy and lackadaisical because I am technically ‘floating’ today which means I have less responsibility and more time to do whatever I want.
10.00am – At this point, I haven’t done anything useful today so I look for things to do and find a very interesting case. I engage a more senior clinician about the case and we have a fun conversation about what we think the patient has.
12:00pm – The situation hasn’t changed. I get my lunch and chat with some of my other colleagues because I have nothing better to do. During lunch, I find out that my landlord has gotten the garage door repaired so I quickly transfer the repair money. $120
6:00pm – The rest of my work day goes slowly. I tried to find things to do but didn’t quite have anything to watch. I did get to examine a lot of patients and felt like I learnt something about heart conditions today.
6.30pm – I make myself some omelette to add to some leftover beans and sweet potato mash for dinner. My housemate’s boyfriend is over for the night so I avoid the living area and hide in my room.
8.30pm – Go on a Netflix binge after cleaning up and do some light reading on an interesting procedure that is happening tomorrow at work.
Daily total: $120
5.25am – Woke up to my alarm and debated going to the gym or sleeping in; I decided to go eventually and proceed with my morning routine.
6.30am – I rock up at the gym and have an amazing one-hour workout — the gym was empty for a good 15 minutes.
7.35am – Arrived at work feeling on top of the world because endorphins are the key to feeling great at the beginning of the day.
8.00am – Rounds.
9.15am – I scrub in midway through a surgery that takes much longer than it was expected to. The surgeon tells me to close it up so I try my best to make my stitches look pretty.
11.00am – The surgery that I’d prepped for begins. I had fun answering the questions asked and felt a lot more engaged as I knew what was happening during the procedure. Got to close it up and it was my prettiest closure yet — I feel great!
1.15pm – Quickly write my surgical report and run upstairs for lunch with my colleague. We chat a lot about what we like to do and where we’d come from. It was my favourite lunch thus far.
2.00pm – Start wandering about looking for ways to be useful. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else left for the day.
6.00pm – Leaving on time for the third day in a row — score! I have a nice chat with my colleague out in the car park and I feel like we can really be friends.
7.00pm – Make myself some dinner and watch Narcos whilst waiting for 9pm to roll around.
8.40pm – Decide to sign up for Hello Fresh with a friend’s referral code and pick some Dijon burgers, pork bibimbap and spiced salmon for the week after next. Promptly cancelled the subscription after placing the first order because the cost wasn’t worth it after. $9.99
10.00pm – Video called my mom as it’s the eve of Lunar New Year and everyone’s gathering with their families.
Daily total: $9.99
6.25am – I wake up feeling great about myself and proceed with my morning routine.
8.00am – Rounds.
10.00am – Nothing much is happening so I wander about trying to be useful, and basically hang out with my colleagues.
4.50pm – An emergency patient comes through. I look at the ECG and have a quick listen to the heart. Then I discussed my findings with the senior clinician as the heart sounded like “shoes in a dryer”, which is not good.
5.20pm – I peek into ultrasound to look at how the emergency patient is going. The nurse calls out that the patient isn’t looking good so I grab the oxygen line and run out for some drugs.
5.22pm – When I return with the drugs the patient crashes, and we commence CPR. I administer the drugs. Unfortunately, the patient doesn’t make it. A moment later, we are told that the client doesn’t want us to continue with resuscitation anymore.
6.40pm – I leave, still kind of reeling from the last case. I drive home and decide that I need to fuel up before the petrol prices rise again. Quickly made a detour to the petrol kiosk before stopping by a Korean store on the way home to pick up some ramen and fresh kimchi. The old store owner gives me 10% off my purchase which makes me happy. $38.84 + $11.34
8.10pm – I make myself a good stiff gin and tonic with some free limes from work with my bowl of steaming hot Korean noodles and melt into the couch with Netflix on the TV.
12.00am – Fell into bed semi-tipsy and a little sad.
Daily total: $50.18
9.50am – I wake up to the neighbour’s dog barking and make my way to the kitchen for a cold brew tea and some eggs for breakfast.
10.30am – Did a load of laundry and sat in front of the TV, finishing off the seventh season of Brooklyn 99. Also made a list of groceries to buy tonight. I also work on my finances and move some money around as I just got my pay this week.
12.40pm – My housemate asks if I’ve had rice cakes before. I say no, so he makes me some and I struggle to finish the very generous portion.
2.00pm – Got off the couch and decided to wash my car after making myself a stiff gin and tonic.
4.00pm – I go get my laundry and feel a little useless for not spending my weekend doing something more interesting.
7.20pm – I head out to get some groceries and decide to clear all my vouchers so bring the bill down really low for a lot of food. $12.11
8.20pm – I get home with the food, make myself some dinner and sit in front of the TV to watch “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” with a gin and tonic in my hand because I’m spending another Valentine’s day single. Again.
Daily total: $12.11
10.00am – Rolled out of bed and decided to get out and do something with my life. I look up some nearby hiking places and put on some cute workout clothes so I’ll actually get out of the house.
10.20am – Ate some yogurt and grapes on the balcony; I felt amazing.
12:00pm – Left the house after doing enough research for the hike.
12.25pm – I get a parking spot and start on the hike, feeling a little self-conscious. Then, I decided to not give a fuck and doing the 4kms up and down the summit. I also almost sprain my ankle twice. Yikes.
1.20pm – I hit my checkpoint on time so decide that I deserve to get myself some Malaysian takeout and call the restaurant I’d been eyeing from my research earlier to get a serving of their char kway teow.
1.30pm – Somehow managed to step on dog poo right before entering my car. Fortunately, my car mats are unscathed but my shoes are disgusting so I change into sliders.
1.40pm – I pick up my takeout after successfully parallel parking on a busy street. Go me! The paper bag that the food came in wished me a happy Valentine’s day, which brought a smile to my face. I drive home salivating as I am famished from the hike and the food smells so damn good. $13.09
2.00pm – I hose down my sports shoes and wash my hands multiple times before settling in front of the TV with Narcos, free kombucha I got from my grocery shop and the char kway teow.
4.00pm – I get up after two episodes and multiple distractions to finish cleaning my sports shoes.
5.00pm – Video called my cousins who are visiting my place back in Singapore. We had a lengthy chat about life and our travel plans, and I virtually showed her around my new place.
6.50pm – I get into the shower and get the sweat off. Finally.
7.20pm – I retire to my room to do more day trip planning as I have a rostered day off for Monday, and text one of my close university friends.
8.45pm – Decided that I need a new phone holder for the car because my $2.80 one from Daiso broke. So I went to various websites to compare prices and ended up getting a magnetic one because it looks snazzy, cheap and minimalist. $10.99
9.20pm – I need new casual sneakers so I trawl a few more websites before settling on some Toms that are on sale for $60. Rather than paying it all upfront and messing up my budget, I decided to use Afterpay for the first time. $14.99
11.30pm – Got my shit together and signed up for Japanese classes which I’ve been wanting to do for a while now to get the early bird price. Also bought the necessary textbooks from Amazon which is another first! This will cover me for the year. $549 + $112
Note: This was from my “fuck it” money cum personal development stash, so it shouldn’t really be counted towards my everyday expenses.
Daily total: $39.07 + $661
Weekly total: $296.60 + $661
Feature image by Sherryl Cheong