I was 27 when I found out my department was closing down. It hadn’t been announced—I deduced it because my boss refused to give me an answer for a future project although it was pretty urgent. “Is the department closing down?” I asked out of curiosity. She was surprised. She admitted that the decision was just made and told me not to tell the rest of the team before the formal announcement.
At 27, I was jobless after four years into my first job. I remained unemployed for almost seven months and my bank account balance dwindled to less than $100. Here are the mistakes I made five years ago that you could probably learn from.
I spent more than I would have when I was working
Brunch is not cheap—any cafe-hopping millennial can tell you that. I was a cafe-hopping millennial and I could have told you that. And yet, I went for brunch/high tea almost every other day. I considered them my well-deserved treat—I was so busy in my previous job that I didn’t even have time to use up my annual leave or go on long holidays. So when I had “nothing to do”, I decided I deserved nice things. Bad choice. I depleted the money in my bank account in no time and towards the end of my unemployment, I only had less than $100 left in that account. My sisters started paying for my meals when I went out with the family and refused to take money from me. You can do the same when you find a job, they said. It made me feel bad and regret my life choices even more.
I refused a transfer
After my boss confirmed that the department was closing down, the CEO asked to meet me and offered me a role in another department. I turned it down. It wasn’t my area of expertise and figured I would simply be a dead weight to the team. He asked if there was any other roles in the company that I wanted. Again, I said no. The thing was, I had been looking to leave the company but was afraid of change. This gave me the opportunity to uproot myself and find my roots elsewhere, so I didn’t want to remain in the company. A colleague told me I should have just taken up the opportunity while looking for a new job just to make sure my source of income wouldn’t be cut off. Looking at my bank account back then, she was probably right.
I didn’t suspend my student loan
Yes, four years after graduation, I was still paying off my student loan. I used a family member’s CPF money to pay for my degree and had to make monthly repayments. I was living paycheck to paycheck at the time, so I didn’t have a lot of money to spare. I was paying about $150 a month and even when I was unemployed, I continued to pay that sum although I could have applied to suspend it until I got a new job. I only suspended repayments after the money in my bank account was depleted and they couldn’t make a deduction. If you’re in the same situation as me, please go to the CPF website right now and request for a suspension. It takes less than five minutes.
I refused to dip into my savings
I have a savings fund—two, in fact—but I refused to dip into them when I was jobless. I viewed those funds as my emergency funds or retirement funds. I didn’t have a lot of savings, which was why if I had used it, all the money would be gone in no time. OK, I did dip into it once to pay my bills—because bills still have to be paid when you’re unemployed. One of my savings account was a save-as-you-earn plan that takes a sum of money from your primary account every month and put it in a separate account. Although I was not earning anything, the bank continued to funnel money into the savings account and like a fool I was, I didn’t suspend that either. I was basically channelling money I could have used into money I wouldn’t touch. Again, poor life choices.
I went on a tour around the Asia for a K-pop boy band
A lot of people are gonna roll their eyes when I tell them this story, but I spent most of my unemployment days going to concerts—around Asia. I was into a K-pop group then and they had just started their first world tour. I went to Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka just to watch their concerts, and would go for multiple shows in one country. Pretty sure I spent almost $7k on that tour alone, including flight tickets, hotels and concert tickets. And that also affected other choices I made, which I will talk about in the next point.
Also read: Quiz: How Well Do You Know EXO?
I didn’t look for a job till much later
I left the company end of August and didn’t start looking for a job until December when money ran low. Every time I wanted to apply for a job, the band I liked announced a new stop in their world tour. I bought tickets to their concert in October and figured, hmm, might as well wait till after the concert to apply for jobs. I was afraid I would have to start work and wouldn’t be able to go for the concerts. Obviously, I didn’t realise going for job interviews would take time. Was it a mistake? Yes. Did I regret it? No. I realised seeing my idols kept me from going to a bad place when the going got tough. I lost money but kept my mental health condition in shape, so fair exchange, I guess? But please don’t do this if you’re in debt.
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