Ever wondered what your salary and shopping habits are like in comparison to your peers? Money Talks is a new column by CLEO that takes an honest look at how young Millennial and Gen Z women spend their money. If you would like to submit a money diary anonymously, click here.
In today’s column, we speak to a 27-year-old researcher who spends no more than $200 on shopping a month.
Education level: Post-graduate degree
Salary: Around $4,000 – $4,500
Savings: $500 – $700
Student debt: $500
Misc: $40 – $50
Transport: $300 – $500
Allowance for Parents: 10% of salary
On her relationship with money:
“I’ve always had a healthy relationship with money in the sense that I never felt as though I needed money to be happy or ever been obsessed with branded goods or stuff like that. I’ve been brought up in such a way where my parents always encouraged us to be quite conservative with how we spend money. To spend within our means and to not be overly materialistic—the whole “you can’t buy happiness” type of mentality.
I became financially independent in my early twenties after I graduated from university. I always worked each time I graduated from school (secondary school, junior college) and also started doing part-time work after graduating from junior college.
That’s another thing that my parents always taught us—we have to work hard for our money. I think that’s why, even though I do like shopping, there’s always a limit as to how much I would spend.
Doing all sorts of part-time jobs while studying helped me built that healthy relationship between work, money and spending. At the moment, I do feel that I have enough to cover my expenses. I just got married so we’re hoping to buy a place—a HDB flat, hopefully—so [my partner and I] are trying to be more frugal.”
On her monthly expenses:
“In terms of how much I spend on shopping, I always hope that I will spend no more than $200, but it differs every month. There are some months where I don’t spend a lot because I don’t shop. But there are certain months, especially during sale periods, where I spend $200 or, at most, $300. I always buy clothes during sales so I don’t end up overspending. I do spend a lot on food and transport—I spend around $500 on food and $300 to $500 on transport.
My transport expenditure differs month to month because on some months, I take more Grab rides, while on other months, I commute by train. I don’t buy bags or shoes often and I only shop when there’s a discount. I started shopping online when I was in university because I got a lot of student discounts and, in general, I think you can get better deals online. If I ever buy things at full price, I don’t usually spend more than $100 on one item. I shop from fast-fashion brands and don’t own a single luxury item.“
On her more unique expenses:
“I like to spend on language courses and am currently taking Japanese classes. Since I’m trying to get fitter, I’m also spending more on fitness classes, which are very expensive in Singapore. While I don’t believe in spending money on clothes and bags, I don’t mind spending money on experiences such as travelling, learning something or going to the theatre.”
On the best financial advice she’s received:
“Always save for a rainy day. That’s the attitude that my parents instilled in us since young because you never know when you won’t be able to work or you’ll lose your job, and money is hard to earn. I don’t think I have any unique views on money that differ from a typical Singaporean, but I will say that I am not caught up in material wants. I’m not brand-conscious at all and I buy stuff that I like—they can be cheap and I don’t really care.”
Here’s what she bought in a month:
(all during the Black Friday sale at 40% off)
Shop similar here: ZARA flowing camisole dress, $69.90
Day 28: Perfect for a date night, but also work-appropriate if worn with a shirt underneath! I actually bought two dresses from the sale, but returned one of them.
Shop similar here: ZARA XL chain link necklace, $39.90
Day 28: This chunky necklace is great for elevating a basic outfit.
Shop similar here: ZARA medallion chain, $29.90
Day 28: I plan to wear this to spice up my white tee-with-jeans outfit!
As told to Claire Soong.