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.
Our very first diarist is back! She is no longer unemployed (bless) and is actually at her second job since 2020. Still, she remains in search of greener pastures. To switch things up, we test a new — and much more concise — format for this sequel.
- Age: 26
- Gender: Female
- Education: NTU Bachelor of Accountancy
- A supply chain analyst in the retail industry
- On my third job, in my fourth year of working
- 1st year in supply chain, after a career switch in my third year of working
Caveat: I’m extremely demoralized because of my low salary, so this might be a dreary post.
- $3,800 with a 10% bonus dependent on my KPI
- Other meager benefits
- Insurance: $2,400/annum
- Allowance to parents: $500/month (in stocks)
- Transport: ~$100/month
- Exercise classes: $30/month
Work from office
- Lunch: Ban mian $4
- Facial: $140
- Dinner: Ma la tang $13.40
- Sportswear from Shopee: $9
Daily total: $166.40
Today was a chill day at work. One good thing about my job is that I have close to full autonomy over my daily duties. Feeling the Monday blues, I was extra unmotivated and decided to leave my workload for another day. I squandered the day away chatting with my expatriate colleagues. I wondered if they actually earned enough to make moving to Singapore worth it — they always seem so carefree.
I like to make the most out of my days in the office since I would have already spent money and time traveling to and fro. So I had a facial and dinner appointment. I ate ma la tang, a dish where you pay based on the weight of the ingredients you put into your bowl. I usually aim to grab enough ingredients to just hit the minimum of $10 (to save money) but my estimations failed me because the bill came up to $13.40.
I received bad news from the receptionist that my package was ending (7 sessions/$140 each) and she tried to make me sign a brand new package that costs $180 per session. Definitely out of my budget, so I said no and was annoyed at how I would have to find another alternative. Going for a facial is a luxury for sure, but it is something that I want to be able to splurge on. Maybe this is related to my ego.
I went home and had a breakdown because of my career. I felt like my worth was measured by my salary and that meant that I am heavily underperforming and almost a failure in life. It felt way worse because I have friends with high salaries. I fell asleep with puffy eyes and zero clue on how to get out of this black hole.
Work from home
- Lunch: Ban mian $4
- Snacks: Carrot cake $3, mee chiam kueh $4.10, teh o bing $1.20
- Car rental: $32 (for 2 hours)
- Rheumatologist: $2900 (before 5% copayment by my insurer); $145
- Dinner: Thai food $6, calamansi $1.60, prata $4
Daily total: $200.90
I felt better because a recruiter called me! It gave me hope because she told me that I was severely underpaid and deserved much more. It made me realize that I was not a failure — my company just failed to see my value. She gave me confidence that there will be another company that will pay me for what I’m worth.
I was late for my doctor’s appointment and had two options: to take a taxi ($31 for a one-way ride) or to rent a car ($32 for two hours). I went with the more cost-efficient method and drove to my rheumatologist. I was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and treatment has been expensive. But I am lucky that my father purchased the right insurance for me and 95% of the bills are covered. I am forever grateful for that as I was once screwed over by a public hospital that was unable to treat my disease — I’ll never go back to public healthcare for it again. I am so thankful that I have access to better healthcare options.
I went to an exercise class that night. It was the cheapest class that I had ever signed up for and the reason for the low cost was apparent judging by how it was conducted as well as how experienced the instructors were. My boyfriend and I only signed up because it was cheap enough to be a forced weekly couple activity — half-assed exercise was better than none at all.
We had crappy Thai food as there weren’t any cheap options in town, especially at 10pm. The food was so bad that we had to go for a second round. Our next option was expensive prata, which was still affordable. I saw technicians buying dinner at the same time and I instantly felt guilty for complaining about my plight — these guys were earning much less and they could only afford to have dinner at this time. I tried to tell myself to be grateful and I was, even if it was for a little while.
Work from office
- Breakfast: Free croissants in the office!
- Lunch: Ee mian $6, teh o bing $1.60
- Dinner: Free because I ate with my parents
Daily total: $7.60
Went back to the office and we had croissants from Providore for breakfast. We are a French company and our treats are always from a good bakery, with each pastry costing $4 – 10. We frequently have mid-week goodies that range from pastries and sandwiches to acai bowls. A collective thought across the team was that we would rather they gave us the extra $50~ spent monthly on these to us in salary instead. Since the company milked us, I secretly took more than one serving as payback. Hehehe.
I chatted with an expatriate colleague about housing — his lease was up soon and he had to look for an alternative because the landlord wanted to jack up the price by 40% (ouch). But I got very annoyed as he complained about the exorbitant rental prices in Singapore — which I fully agree — as he refused to look anywhere other than central condos with a gym, a pool, and of close proximity to MRT. He currently stays at Robertson Quay and is of the same rank as me. Okaaaaaay.
Dinner was with my parents at the alumni clubhouse of my dad’s alma mater. We liked going there because they served pretty good food for a decent price and have an ambiance similar to that of an expensive restaurant. My dad is extremely thrifty and this is one of the few places we liked to go to feel fancy. Plus, the club gave him $40 dining vouchers every month since he reached 60 years old, so it was great for us.
Work from office & home
- Lunch: $0, ate cup noodles from my stash in the office
- Dinner: Ban mian $4.50 + bubble tea $3.30 (after discount)
- Muffins: $3.90
- Ingredients to bake: $21
- Wok Hey for my brother: $6.80
Daily total: $39.50
I worked at home before heading to the office during lunchtime. I skipped lunch as I had to prepare for a presentation at 3pm. It went well and I was ravenous. Still, I didn’t want to grab food since dinner would be in a few hours, so I made use of the stash I had in the office and wolfed down a cup of instant noodles before leaving. I bought a muffin at the sandwich bar downstairs because I was happy.
It was getting late in the week and I finally finished two major presentations, so I wanted to reward myself by taking it slower the next day. Plus, it was a work-from-home day! I also got a bubble tea for myself using a voucher that I bought online (this practice limits me from drinking too much). I decided to bake jelly hearts the next afternoon, which is something that I had been craving for a long time but refused to purchase because it was overpriced! I went to the supermarket and contemplated going to the Value Dollar store but I felt like splurging a little on the ingredients this time. I still chose the brands that were on sale though.
My brother was alone at home and I bought dinner for him. Wok Hey is overpriced in my opinion and I’ll never understand why people would buy it when you can get a way better plate of fried rice from any tze char stall.
Work from home
- Lunch: Ban mian $5 + iTEA $3.60 (after discount)
- Dinner with parents: $0
Daily total: $8.60
I baked in the morning and felt extremely carefree. I barely received any emails. I had my fourth bowl of ban mian for the week, along with a large cup of my favorite bubble tea. iTEA is the only bubble tea that I buy without a voucher because it is cheap enough.
Along with a teammate, I had an interview with a candidate at a quiet muffin cafe near my place. I felt bad that we purposely arranged the meeting near us as we were both working from home. The interview reminded me of when I was job hunting and how I was surprised that one of the rounds was with my potential teammates. Back then, my first thought was, “What? Why would they do that?” Now that I’m on the other side of it, I see why it’s beneficial to see a different side of the candidate. It was definitely an interesting experience.
Each of us had a muffin and drink on the company’s tab. I wondered if other companies have the same practice of doing interviews outside the office — I thought that was pretty cool.
⁃ Lunch: Pasta from Fish and Chicks $10.80 (after discount), teh o bing $1.60
⁃ Chips $2, green tea $1.50
⁃ Dinner: Ban mian $8
Daily total: $23.90
I slept in because I had a long week. Then I had lunch with my partner at a neighborhood coffee shop. We ordered from a popular Western food stall, which had a National Day promotion. Going around to try food that is on discount was our new weekend activity. We love how it gives us an itinerary for the day and that we get to try new food that would have otherwise been out of our budget. I was shocked at the price as it totaled up to more than $10 after the discount. For a coffee shop, it was definitely not cheap and it wasn’t that good anyway.
I had a beach volleyball tournament today! I got snacks from the supermarket to bring to the beach. It was super fun and I really enjoyed playing competitively for the first time in years. I was thankful that life had returned to some sort of normalcy and we were all able to enjoy a nice day out at the beach without masks.
My back hurt after a full day of games and I immediately booked an appointment with my chiropractor to fix it the week after.
Dinner was the fifth and final ban mian of the week and also the most expensive one. We were at Vivo City’s Food Republic — that’s a touristy food court for you! I was thankful that this group of friends did not need to eat at restaurants and were happy with food courts. Food court food people are my favorite kind of people.
⁃ Breakfast: Muffins from Thursday (luckily I bought them, hoho #foresight)
⁃ Volleyball court booking: $5
⁃ Lunch: Genki Sushi $13
⁃ Dinner: Home-cooked dinner $0
Daily total: $18
For the first time in years, I played my first indoor volleyball game! It was so nostalgic as we screamed our lungs out with every ball that came and we reminisced about our competitive days back when we were teenagers. We took many photos and had a reunion lunch together. It was such a fun morning.
The afternoon was spent accompanying a friend and her fiancé to her gown fitting. I was so honored to be there! The one thing I did glean from this was how much money goes into a wedding — one gown costs $800 – $1200.
I went home for dinner because I felt guilty for not spending time at home the entire weekend. Sunday is the only day of the week that my mom cooks dinner as my grandparents come over to our home. Since my grandma stopped cooking, it is the only time my grandparents can have homemade soup, so my mom always spends a lot of effort preparing dinner for them.
While preparing for bed (and a boring week ahead), I spent some time reflecting and basking in the aftermath of an extremely fulfilling weekend. I was super content.
Weekly total: $464.90
Feature image by Sherryl Cheong