The Money Diary of an Advertising Copywriter From Singapore

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 copywriter, who is currently adopting a hybrid arrangement of working at the office and from home. Unafraid of getting his hands dirty, he embarked on a DIY painting project with his father towards the end of this otherwise ordinary week.

Profile

Age: 26

Gender: Male

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Communication

Gross Salary: ~$36,000/year

Job: Copywriter

Location: Singapore

Monthly Fixed Expenses

Debt: $0

Allowance to parents: $200

Phone Bill: $20

Subscriptions:

Spotify: $5

Grab: $8.99

Foodpanda: $7.99

Monthly Savings (after CPF):: ~$1500

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

I’ve always found it a struggle to be frugal while still rewarding myself from time to time. Since I started earning my own keep, I’ve definitely become more conscious of the way I spend. I think having more tangible financial goals (getting a house, hitting certain milestones, etc.) definitely contributes to that. It’s ironic because I always thought the more money I had, the less I would worry but it’s really been the opposite. These days I try to log down all my expenditure so I don’t let myself go too much. But I do still indulge occasionally.

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

Growing up, my parents were always pretty frugal. I would say they had an 80:20 ratio when it came to saving and spending. The only remotely lavish experiences we had were yearly overseas trips and birthday dinners. They never sat me down to give me the money talk but they definitely instilled in me the importance of frugality. Much of what I know about financial planning I learned from Googling and — as with a lot of things these days — TikTok.

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

It definitely guides a lot of my decisions. I try my level best to not be an impulsive spender — some days, it’s difficult — and I think saying no and building self-control is something I’ve learned over the years. Realistically speaking, I’m not drawing a particularly high salary and I definitely have to sweat more about my decisions if I want to chase the same things as my peers.

Daily Log

Monday

9:00am – Woke up for work (from home). There wasn’t much for me to do and I just spent time tying up some loose ends from the previous week. Mondays are usually slower for me and I really enjoy that.

12:30pm – Fixed myself a plate of scrambled eggs and had them with English muffins for brunch. Also made myself an iced coffee with my v60 dripper and took a little mental break before getting back to work. I’ve found these really useful especially during WFH times. Sometimes, hours can go by without me realizing I haven’t taken a break from staring at my screen.

8:00pm – Went for a run. My parents often nag at me for running relatively late but the math goes like this. I end work at 6:30/7pm and then I laze around on my bed for a while, so it’s only at 8pm or so that my body feels ready for anything. This usually results in me having really late dinners but it’s a system I’ve grown accustomed to.

8:45pm – Had a simple dinner that my mum cooked while I caught up on anime. Mondays are when Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer episodes drop so that always gives me something to look forward to at the start of the day.

11:00pm – Bought and started on a Switch game called Eastward. It’s a charming indie game about two characters living underground in a dystopian world and their adventures as they discover what lies above the surface. It caught my eye since I love indie games because they’re often less showy with such great stories and visuals. $31

Daily total: $31

Tuesday

12:00pm – Over my lunch break, I headed to a hardware supplies shop near my house to get some paint. One of the walls in my room has slowly been decolorizing, so my dad and I are going to repaint it — that’s the big project this weekend. $42

12:20pm – Bought Western for lunch and almost forgot to collect my food. Only realized it when my dad told me, “Wait, you’re not holding your food”. Thankfully we hadn’t gone too far from the coffee shop and the auntie looked so flustered when I went back. We had a laugh and I thanked her and collected my grub.

6:00pm – Am I the only person who sometimes takes a break from working from home by going to the supermarket to walk around aimlessly? I didn’t end up buying anything but I just like drifting around the aisles sometimes. I can’t explain why but it’s therapeutic for me.

Daily total: $42

Wednesday

11:00pm – Managed to finish most of my tasks yesterday so this hump day was a pretty chill one. Did some writing of my own and watched some YouTube videos while waiting for feedback and the next steps to take for work.

7:30pm – Did a biceps and back workout at home. I exercise at home most of the time using dumbells and a barbell that I bought during the Circuit Breaker period. It has since become a routine. It’s easier to build the habit of exercising when the equipment is right there beside me. No bus rides or second-guessing involved, I just need to take a few steps to get going.

9:00pm – Stocked up on skincare through Shopee — some products from COSRX and Sukin (two of my favorite brands) and Foodholic masks. I’ve been experimenting with serums and I wanted to try COSRX’s Blemish Spot Clearing Serum this time. $22

Daily total: $22

Thursday

7:30am – Thursdays and Fridays are back-to-office days! It’s a weekly struggle transitioning from Wednesday to Thursday but I do enjoy the mix of the two work arrangements. It’s easier to get things done in the office and I can go up to people for any questions or discuss things rather than having to beep them on Teams and wait for a response.

12:30pm – Had lunch at Paik’s with my colleague. Tried their tofu noodles for the first time and it was surprisingly good, though it could’ve done with a bit more flavor. And of course, I had to get their coffee but their Signature drink was unavailable so I ended up with a latte instead. I usually give myself a budget of around $10–$12 for office lunches because it’s harder to find economical options near my workplace. Since I usually eat plain and simple chicken breast for my meals from Monday to Wednesday, I let myself go a little on office days. $12.50

7:30pm – I work out at The Gym Pod on office days because there are a few outlets around the area, situated along my way home from work. I’ve enjoyed the exclusivity of The Gym Pod since the start of the pandemic despite it being a little pricey. Had a good chest workout this Thursday even though I was pretty spent. $15

9:00pm – Bought a kebab from Stuff’d for dinner. $5.30

Daily total: $32.80

Friday

7:30am – Another WFO day, another struggle. Fridays are especially tough because the fatigue from the week snowballs but I picked myself up and got to the office somehow.

12:30pm – Had lunch with my colleague at a food center near my workplace. Getting there involves a substantial amount of walking and it is not the most convenient option. But on days that I have some time, I take a walk there for a more economical lunch. It’s nice to take a break from being in an air-con space for so long. Had vegetarian today, which is one of my go-to stalls here. The auntie always gives an extremely generous portion and she occasionally charges me less too. And she always calls me “shuai ge” (handsome boy). ;) $5.90

6:30pm – Left work after some drinks with my colleagues in the office. Fridays are “bar days” and we get beer, wine, and snacks, which is always pretty nice. People usually start winding down by 4pm or so, which makes for a nice conclusion to the workweek.

7:30pm – Had dinner at MOS burger near my house, which strangely has become somewhat of a Friday ritual for me if I’m not meeting anyone after work. There aren’t many not-too-pricey food options at this mall so MOS burger has somehow become a go-to spot for me. It’s overpriced and gives the illusion that it’s healthy when it really isn’t. But you know what? I relate to that. $9

8:00pm – Was just randomly chatting with a friend who stayed near me and we realized we were both free, so we decided to meet for dessert. Tried a Jiu Xian-esque place that wasn’t too shabby and was definitely economical. $2

Daily total: $16.90

Saturday

11:30am – Saturdays are often sleep-in days. Even if I make plans, it’s usually for a late lunch or dinner. I deserve an alarmless experience after five days of waking up to incessant blaring in my ears. Had breakfast and watched Drag Race, which has new episodes every Saturday.

2:00pm – For lunch, which was paid for by my dad, I ordered from Greendot on behalf of my family. My mum and I both love their Lion Mane Mushroom Rendang and we felt like having vegetarian food that day. Weekends are when my family usually gets food delivery because with more of us at home it’s easier to hit the minimum sum required for free delivery.

3:00pm – Didn’t have anything planned so I just spent my Saturday afternoon tidying my room and catching up on shows. I recently started on Schitt’s Creek and it’s been my latest obsession. The characters are so well-written and the script is just chef’s kiss. Would definitely recommend it for people looking for a comedy that’s easy to watch.

Daily total: $0

Sunday

3pm – Sunday was finally the day of painting! We started at 3pm and I had no idea that painting a simple wall was such a structured job. First, we had to wipe down the wall with some spray concoction my dad had and let it dry for a bit. Then, we used tape to tape the edges so that the paint wouldn’t touch the sides, ceiling, and floor.

3:30pm – After the wall was dry, we started painting the first coat! I’d chosen a dark grey called Crater Black. The name seemed cool and I wanted something on the darker side of the spectrum but not full-on black. My dad and I took turns to paint. Still, it was way more tiring than I expected and it felt like I was getting a proper workout. We took about an hour for the first coat, before taking a break to let it dry.

5:30pm – My dad was adamant that we had to finish the paint job before sunset so that it would be able to dry, so we sped things up for round two. I felt more accustomed to the process by then and I knew that my dad was getting tired, so I did most of the painting while he used a smaller brush to touch up the sides. My dad used to paint — we had little murals in our previous home — so I knew that my wall was in good hands.

7:00pm – By this time, the second coat was more or less done and I was really happy with how it turned out! I was initially worried that having just one dark-colored wall might make it stand out too much in my room but thankfully, it blended in just right. We were both exhausted by this time though, so I proceeded to order delivery for the family via GrabFood once again. ‘Twas an exciting Sunday and I felt accomplished that I’d painted a wall with my own two hands, even if it wasn’t anything major. Got me feeling like an adult.

Daily total: $0

Weekly total: $144.70

Feature collage by Sherryl Cheong

a contributor

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

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