The Money Diary of a Thrifty Gen-Zer 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. 

This time, we are excited to present our very first money diary contributed by a Gen-Zer. The fresh graduate was reeling from having to go back to the office for good — the Team A/B arrangement was reinstated later that week — and the cancelation of a yoga training course.

Read on for the highs and lows of her week, practical tips on how to spend less on shopping and ClassPass, as well as exciting meal prep ideas.


Age: 23

Gender: Female

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Salary: $36,000+ (excluding CPF)

Job: Copywriter

Location: Singapore

Monthly Fixed Expenses

Debt: $0

Allowance to parents: $200

Phone Bill: $20

Insurance: $140.20

Monthly Subscriptions: 

Spotify Premium: $0 because I’m on a family plan with my family hehe… Small wins.

Netflix: $21.98. I split this with 3 other friends but they paid me one shot at the beginning of our cycle, which was back in July!

ClassPass: $78. I have two accounts to take advantage of how ClassPass offers you 25% – 50% at certain studios depending on whether you’ve visited them before or when you last visited.

Duolingo Plus: $21.98/year under a family plan, which works up to $1.83 a month.

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

Before making my own money, I was definitely more irresponsible when it came to spending. I remember I’d go cafe hopping every weekend when I was still a secondary school student — I don’t even do that now! It’s overpriced and I can make better food at home. After I started working (after O’s, A’s, and while freelancing in university), I realized how difficult it is to earn money.

Even though I’m currently earning substantially more than I did while freelancing in university to supplement my allowance, I feel like I’m not really making enough. I’ve had to become more responsible when it comes to managing my expenses because of the increased commitments, such as parental allowance and insurance. Also, as the eldest daughter in my family, the importance of money is always being impressed upon me.

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

One piece of advice from my mom that has stuck with me is that I should wait three days before buying something that I want. If I’m still thinking about it after that period of time, I should just get it. If I’ve forgotten about it or don’t feel compelled to buy it any longer, it means I probably didn’t want it that much in the first place. This really helped me to manage my impulse buys!

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

Living is expensive, especially in Singapore, and my mom never fails to let me know how much things cost. As a result, I always feel like I’m always in this mindset of scarcity — there’s always a lack, there’s never enough. Definitely some childhood trauma there that I’m slowly unpacking. At the same time, I enjoy the material things in life like treating myself to good food and experiences, buying myself nice things, and buying gifts for people I love. Because what’s the point of saving and scrimping ad infinitum? I don’t know when I’m going to die. So I’m currently trying to strike a balance between being practical and grounded but also allowing myself the little luxuries in life. I’m reeeeallly trying to curb my online shopping tendencies. Especially when it comes to activewear and clothes, so I’ve imposed a “sell one buy one” rule to prevent unnecessary accumulation.

Daily Log


9am – I hit the snooze button on my alarm.

9.15am – OK, OK. I’m up for real now. It’s the first day of a permanent WFO situation and I’m vehemently against this… I’m definitely thankful that where I work is pretty near to my house and that it takes about 30 minutes from the moment I step out the door to arriving at my desk in the office. 

1.07pm – LUNCH! I meal-prepped two lunches with the new WFO situation in mind so that I can save a bit of money while eating healthier. On the menu, we have some chicken breast, soba, and edamame… It sounds sad and I wish I could convince you that it wasn’t but it’s really just something healthy and quick to put together. I jazz it up with a cheese stick and hanjuku eggs from 7-11. Variety is the spice of life, after all. $3.50

4.16pm – Deep into the afternoon slump, I’m staring at the ceiling wishing that one of the lights or pipes hanging overhead would fall onto my face so that I can claim insurance and I won’t have to work from the office anymore. Can you tell I hate it here?

6.05pm – Slow crawl to the end of the day but we made it! I squeeze onboard the train (peak hour is truly detestable) and make my way home. When I get back I’m greeted by the Lululemon hoodie I had bought on Carousell the week prior to treat myself… Hehe… Feeling thankful that my money diary started this week instead of the last. I’ve been trying to curb my online shopping habits, so I came up with the rule whereby I could only buy something if I sell something. Most of the time I buy clothes secondhand off Carousell anyway, because why pay full price for something when you don’t have to?

Daily total: $3.50


9.20am – Day 2 of forever-WFO is off to a late start… Before leaving, I contemplate grabbing the lunch I have packed in my fridge. The thought of eating chicken breast, soba, and edamame again fills me with dread, which is not something I need early in the morning. I decided to just pay for lunch outside today, for the sake of my mental health. 

12.46pm – LUNCH! I’ve been reading a bit more about gut health so I got some kimchi soup and rice from a Korean joint near the office. I opt for self pick-up on Foodpanda, which not only saves me the time of ordering takeaway from the place directly and waiting but also scores me something like 20% off my meal. Aw yeah. $5.73

6.05pm – We get the good news that the office is reverting back to a hybrid working arrangement till the start of April. Two more months of waking up later, saving on public transport, and being able to make whatever I want for lunch at home.

7pm – I meet a friend who’s back to visit for dinner. He’s been studying overseas in the States and will be flying back to Chicago in a couple of days to start a new job on Monday! He requested that we eat something local today, so we got Beach Road Scissor Cut Curry Rice. I treat him to dinner just cause he’s not back very often and he covers the beancurd dessert we have after. We end up walking all the way back to my place, and then he walks back to his. I deeply appreciate friends who enjoy walking long distances. $19.80

Daily total: $25.53


9.10am – My morning routine is essentially the same, so I’m pretty sure you’re bored with it by now. Today I feel brave enough to have chicken breast again, so I grab the meal prep lunch before heading off.

1.05pm – 7-11 didn’t have eggs today, so I get TWO cheese sticks to accompany my lunch. It’s a lot better this time because I brought some kecap manis from home as a sauce accompaniment for the chicken breast, soba and edamame. $2

6pm – I leave the office for my yoga class. While I have a ClassPass subscription, the number of credits I pay for doesn’t allow me to attend as many classes as I’d like. There’s a group chat on Telegram that allows you to buy credits from people for a much cheaper price. Essentially, they just help you book the class with their account and you pay them. With the app, one credit works up to around $2.36, but when you buy it from the group chat it can be anywhere from $1 to $1.80. I managed to get someone to help me book my 9-credit class for $1.20/credit! I don’t mind paying for biweekly fitness classes (usually yoga) because it’s important for my mental health. $10.80

9pm – On the way back home, I find out that the yoga teacher training course I’ve been looking forward to attending in May has been canceled. I’m pretty crushed by this because I’ve been saving up for this and anticipating it for months. When I tell my mom she makes nary an attempt to be helpful and instead tells me, “It is what it is.” I suppose so. Feeling distraught, I try to fix up some dinner but I realize that we’re out of lemons when we usually always have lemons. I know this sounds dramatic but it was enough to make me feel like nothing was going right, so I broke down for a minute before collecting myself again. The friend I was talking to at the time told me to hold on for a bit, and came over with lemons and seaweed snacks… Not sure if he was procrastinating on his studying or he was just being a really good friend. A bit of both, probably. Hehe. I ended up making Turkish eggs as planned — greek yogurt with lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper topped with two sunny-side-up eggs fried in chili oil/chili-infused butter.  

Daily total: $12.80


9.45am – Back to WFH, it’s pretty glorious.

1.30pm – I eat some leftover tempeh that my brother bought from Ayam Penyet President. We usually settle our own meals, but he likes to order in because he’s too lazy to cook. Great for me cause I get his leftovers, especially when I don’t feel like making something for myself.

6.15pm – I go to get my brows threaded and upper lip waxed at my regular spot at Little India. Beauty is as painful as it is expensive. $12

7.30pm – My friends come over for dinner! I like hosting because we get to choose what to eat, it’s more affordable, and we don’t have to feel bad about staying for hours like we would at a restaurant. Tonight we’re making broccoli pasta based on a recipe I saw on TikTok. I freestyle a little bit but it ends up being good! One of my friends pays for the pasta, and I supply the rest of the ingredients.

Daily total: $12


2.01pm – I eat the leftover broccoli pasta and microwave a chicken breast for lunch. If you’re picturing it and it looks sad, just know that it was actually really tasty.

7pm – I head out to attend a spin class at ALLY with my best friend. It’s a really bougie boutique spin studio but in my opinion, the instructors are really of a different caliber. I didn’t realize we had booked into a 60-minute class instead of a regular 50-minute session so I passed away during the class.

8.30pm – We grab dinner at Santi’s, which is a nice pizza place that’s near the studio. We had some cream sausage pasta and shared a vegetarian gourd and feta pizza. I might be biased because I write copy for them, but this place is alwaaaays good. They’re on Burpple now, so we get 30% off with the deal we used. $17.85

9.45pm – Bestie wants to try the new lychee oolong ice cream from McDonald’s, so we head in the direction of Boat Quay. After walking 15 minutes there and realizing they don’t have it, we trek on towards Clarke Quay with Donki in mind. Midway through I realized I had left my AirPods charging at the restaurant. Aghhhhh we walk back. Afterwards, we walk to Outram Park station to head home.

Daily total: $17.85


11.05am – I relish sleeping in on the weekends! I offered to accompany my mom for grocery shopping, because I need to pick up a few ingredients in preparation for the rest of the week. It’s also nice to spend some quality time with her, because I don’t see her much during the week.

12.30pm – I want to eat Omoté for lunch but I know it’s expensive so my mom co-pays for the bowl. It still ends up being a whopping $22.80… They’ve increased their prices of late. The takeaway portion looks meager af… Am feeling disgruntled. $11.40

3.05pm – I drove out to pick my friend up from Parkway Parade, where she had kindly procured the basil leaves I couldn’t find in the supermarket. We get some oranges and bananas on the way back too — oranges for the loaf/cake we plan on making and bananas for the banana cake my mom wants to bake tomorrow. $6.50

4.10pm – We spend the afternoon and early evening making a citrus black tea loaf and a basil oil, tomato, garlic, and fresh mozzarella pasta dish. The recipes are both from TikTok, and they were genuinely pretty amazing. One of the best meals I’ve made in a while for sure. 

9.39pm – I drop my friend off at home before heading to another friend’s place for a birthday party. I decided to drive tonight because I’m not in the mood to drink and I don’t feel like paying for a Grab/Gojek back home. I make sure to pick up two strong zeroes for the birthday boy, of course. $10.90

Daily total: $28.80


10am – I wake up and head for my second yoga class of the week! It’s an inversion class today and I managed to get into a pose I’ve been working towards for a while. I head to the gym at my Community Centre after for a 30-minute incline walk because I’m feeling extra powerful.

1.05pm – I join my mom and grandma for lunch at a coffee shop nearby, which is well-known for its prawn noodle soup and Chinese rojak. I haven’t had this in a while but it really is super tasty. 

3.10pm – My mom and I head to this beauty salon to get lash lifts. I have a package and it’s been a couple of months since I last got my lashes done. There was a mix-up with the appointments because of miscommunication between the outlets but we eventually managed to get our lashes done. My mom really liked how hers turned out and I’m glad she does because she wouldn’t do something like this to treat herself normally. 

6.07pm – I head out on this rainy day to run some errands (i.e. pick up Carousell buys) with a friend, who has kindly offered his services as a chauffeur.

8.15pm – I help my mom make her banana cake and absolutely devour a massive slice (alongside the remaining slice of my citrus black tea loaf) for dinner. The loaf pales in comparison to the freshly baked banana cake, probably because the cake has loads of chocolate, hehe.

10.27pm – I grind hard on Duolingo and practice some of my Korean with a Korean friend. Gotta make the most of the money I paid for the premium version and keep dat streak up!

Daily total: $0

Weekly total: $100.48

Photography by Kimberly Tong, follow her on Instagram @crimeofrhyme.

a contributor

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

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