Money Diary #8: A Week in Singapore on an Annual Salary of $80,000+

Welcome to Money Diaries, where contributors give you a peek into not just their expenditure 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. 

In this edition, we have a millennial who dreams of saving enough funds in order to quit her day job as early as possible — she wants to be able to pursue a more meaningful role that matches her interests before the typical retirement age. This week, she stocks up on necessities during the 12.12 sale and buys some second-hand clothing as well.

Profile

Age: 25

Gender: Female

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business 

Gross Salary: ~$80,000/year before CPF

Job: Product Manager

Location: Singapore

Monthly Fixed Expenses

Debt: $0

Allowance to family + church tithe: $1,000

Phone Bill: $18

Insurance: $450

Subscriptions:

Netflix: $5

Monthly Savings (after CPF)::~$2600 in cash, company stocks, and exchange traded funds (ETF)

How would you describe your relationship with money, before and after making your own?

I definitely loved saving money since I was a kid; I enjoyed counting how much I saved in my piggy bank for the year and depositing them in my bank account. Updating my bank book (remember when we had a physical bank book?) was a really exciting yearly affair. I did spend a lot more when I was a kid. I would use my savings to buy comic books, figurines, and clothes. As I grew older, I realized that a lot of these were unnecessary expenditures and started cutting down on them. 

After I started working, “Financial Independence, Retire Early” (FIRE) became my main goal. It’s something that I am actually actively working towards. My current goal is to go into Barista FIRE by 30 i.e. work part-time to supplement my income without requiring a full-time job. This will really give me the freedom to pursue a job I personally enjoy and find meaningful, without having to be concerned about the pay that I will get. 

To reach my goal, I try to continue living on a student budget. I am not thrifty to the point that I suffer or cut down on socializing with my friends; I just suggest more budget-friendly places to meet them. I also do think twice or thrice, and even over the course of several weeks, before making any big purchases.

Did you receive any education — from family members, guardians, friends, or institutions — about managing your finances?

My parents never really spoke to me about how I should be spending my money. However, when my spending became rather ridiculous e.g. wanting to buy a $100 skirt from Esprit when I was in primary school, my mother insisted that I pay half the cost. My comic book obsession also had to be funded by my own savings. I think that’s how she taught me how to be responsible for my own decisions — by making me answer and literally pay for my own decisions instead of restricting me. My parents also gave me weekly or monthly allowances so I had to budget wisely so that I could still save some money by the end of the week/month. 

How much would you say that money occupies your mind and guides your decisions?

I think about money a lot, but not in the “I must be rich, I will do everything I can to be rich” kind of way. Money is really just a tool for me to achieve FIRE and be able to pursue what truly holds purpose to me. I also think that if I have been blessed with much, then I also should be a lot more generous, so I enjoy giving more to my loved ones as well. 

TL;DR? I think about money a lot mostly because I am always thinking about how long it will take before I can quit my day job. 

Daily Log

Monday

7.00am – Woke up early to have my breakfast because I expected a busy day ahead given that I took two days off the previous week. Taking annual leave is not that fun after all… Breakfast was free because my mom bought some pastries.

11.00am – As I am still working from home, I had a quick lunch at home. 

2.30pm – We are having a department-wide secret santa and I had to send a $20 gift. I actually don’t know my santee so I thought it’d be better if I sent him something functional/useful so he won’t feel like it’s a waste of space — we have all received gifts that left us wondering if we should throw them away, right? In the end, I ordered a customized bath towel with his name on it and delivered it to his house. It cost $21 on Shopee and I used my coins so I saved some money. $15.42

7.45pm – I wanted to take part in a giveaway on Instagram to win a Dyson vacuum cleaner. To join the lucky draw I had to buy $20 worth of ice cream. I also didn’t feel like going for my routine jog or exercise session so I asked my mom to join me for a 2.3km walk to the shopping mall to get the ice cream. It was a nice, cool evening and although I didn’t win the giveaway in the end, I got some ice cream and exercise out of the trip. $21

Daily total: $36.42

Tuesday

7.20am – Woke up and had my breakfast as usual. Breakfast was a nice chicken pie bought by my mom and a warm cup of caramel macchiato from my dolce gusto coffee machine.

12.00pm – Dad made some noodle soup for lunch while I cooked some mapo tofu with ingredients found in the fridge. It was quite yummy and after I had my fill, it was time to go back to work.

7.00pm – Rushed out of my house after a busy workday to meet my boyfriend before heading to my friend’s new BTO flat for dinner and a baking session. $7

We waited for a plate of volcano fried rice. It was quite tasty but the food took way too long to be ready. I get really impatient/irritable when I am hungry but thankfully I managed to divert my attention and not go into a rage haha. Turns out the fried rice was pretty decent. 

I brought some cookie dough that I made to my friend’s house because I don’t have an oven at home. The cookies were really delicious and my friend’s husband asked me to go and bake more often. 

10.00pm – I planned to go into the office the next day but some of my deliveries were scheduled to arrive too. Had to ask my mom to stay home to receive them for me, hence I pre-ordered her lunch for her in case I got too busy to do so the next day. I wanted to order the truffle fried rice from Wok-Hey but it was so expensive that I ended up getting the beef fried rice instead. $10.40

Daily total: $17.40

Wednesday

7.00am – Left home at 7am to head into the office; the commute takes about 70 minutes.

8.10am – Brought some bread from home and a cup of dolce gusto coffee to perk myself up and to prepare for the long day of work. Had to mentally prepare myself for small talk that I was expecting with my colleagues since I was in the office. Turns out no one was around; my boss was sick and chose to stay home (but he was still working). I ended up heading home during lunchtime since I really prefer working from home.

12.45pm – While I was on the train, I ordered lunch — bolognese pasta and mushroom soup from Saizeriya — and used the 25% discount offered by Grab for self pick-up. It was quite worth it since I managed to skip the queue and collect my lunch straight away. $6.15

6.30pm – Ordered dinner for the family which was paid for by my mom before going for my evening jog. On my way back I stopped by the petrol kiosk to pick up Délifrance’s mushroom feuilletée for my breakfast the next day. It’s really good! $5.70

Daily total: $11.85

Thursday

7.30am – Had the mushroom feuilletée for breakfast and drank some Starbucks toffee nut latte using my Dolce Gusto coffee machine. It’s really good and because it’s a seasonal special, I stocked up on a bunch of them (more than 10 boxes). 

12.00pm – Had a quick lunch at home because there was a meeting during lunchtime. :’( 

6.30pm – Ran out of my house right after work to meet my boyfriend for dinner at Beauty World. I love eating at the rooftop hawker center — the food is cheap and good. We ordered some xiao long bao which tasted amazing and also got a bowl of char siew ramen each. It was cooked to perfection; the char siew is slightly burnt with a nice crunch and the soup tasted really good. The best comfort food I could ask for. Ordered some sugar cane to go along with the meal. That’s my kind of date night. $14.20

Bought some bread for breakfast for the next couple of days. $3.80

Daily total: $18

Friday

7.30am – You know the grind by now. I had some bread for breakfast and today I had a cup of Pike Place roast coffee from Starbucks. It’s slightly bitter but I love how rich the coffee tastes.

12.30pm – Ordered lunch that was paid for by my mom but I didn’t get to eat it because I was late for my minor procedure at Singapore General Hospital (SGH). I ran out of the house after realizing that the delivery I was expecting was taking too long.  

2.30pm – Reached SGH at around 1.32pm and ran in for registration. After filling up some forms, I was told to wait in a specific room. Waited for almost an hour before the procedure was done and I was told to go home without having to pay for anything because they will try to cover using my insurance or MediSave. Otherwise, I’d use my company’s insurance for the claims so I think the procedure would be free either way. 

3.45pm – On my way home I bought a cup of peach green tea from i-tea and I loved it. $2.60

6.00pm – My boyfriend came over after work and we made some beef bolognese pasta together. Home-cooked meals are always really nice until you have to do the dishes. Thankfully, he did them. 

Daily total: $2.60

Saturday

10.00am – Woke up and my sister bought breakfast from McDonald’s. I ate the chicken muffin and it was not too bad. Drank my Starbucks’ Pike Place roast coffee with chocolate milk and it tasted great. 

1.00pm – Ordered lunch from Tenderfresh for three pax and the food was pretty good. The fish and chips were still crispy even after the delivery and my creamy chicken pasta tasted better than it looked. $23.60

5.00pm – After church service, I decided to pick up some Mr Coconut as I was heading to my friend’s house for a steamboat dinner. Bought 6 cups in total and used the 25% discount for Grab Food’s self pick-up again. Had to carry them all the way to her house though so I regretted the purchase. $25.60

Daily total: $49.20

Sunday

10.00am – Waited for my boyfriend to come over for breakfast. I heated up some bread for the both of us and we drank toffee nut latte as it is one of his favorites. 

1.00pm – I made some kimchi fried rice and pan-fried some marinated pork belly for my family. The meal was surprisingly good.

3.00pm – Ordered a bunch of stuff from Shopee because it was 12.12. Honestly, there wasn’t much of a discount for the items that I bought but I needed them anyway. $49.80

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Found a new mask that’s really breathable and covers your nose much better without sliding down; I got 50 of them since it’s super worth the money. $7.50 
  • 6 boxes of toffee nut latte (used some of my Shopee coins to get a discount). $40
  • My boyfriend gave me an iPhone as my Christmas gift which was really really sweet of him. He decided to buy me one with 256GB of memory because mine was constantly running out of space, which meant that I was always choosing between deleting photos or not being able to read my WhatsApp messages. Yeah, it’s that bad! So I got an iPhone cover. $2.30 

7.00pm – I love Sunday dinners because everyone is usually at home. Ordered tze char for dinner for all of us and my mom paid for it. I also cooked my own rice and sunny side up for extra ingredients and to save some money.

8.00pm – Bought two dresses from Carousell, which is where I normally buy clothes these days. They are much cheaper — my main concern — and it’s much more environmentally friendly since I am kind of saving these dresses from the garbage dump. $37.70

  • A red Fayth dress was going at $12 + $1.70 for delivery. I thought it was really a steal and I’d wear it when going back to office unavoidably becomes a daily thing next year. :’(
  • Bought a dainty and romantic white Lovet dress for $24. My boyfriend approved of the design so I bought it though I felt it was a little pricey. 

Daily total: $87.50


Weekly Summary

I track my daily expenses closely using the Monny app; it has a simple interface so you won’t feel frustrated using it and end up giving up!

Spent a little more than usual since I bought some stuff on 12.12 and also decided to buy some dresses on Carousell. Typically I’ll try to keep my spending between $600 to $800 a month if possible — excluding transport but I hardly take Grab, Gojek, etc. anyway — so that I can maximize my savings.

Weekly total: $222.97

Feature photograph by Sherryl Cheong

a contributor

One of many contributors sharing their stories under the cloak of anonymity.

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