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 treasury specialist who spent close to $1,500 on food as she worked from home. Here’s her money diaries during the circuit breaker.
Occupation: Treasury Specialist (Finance &
Education level: Bachelor Degree
Salary: $5,000 (inclusive of AWS but not variable bonuses)
Insurance and investments: $867 (Life policy, hospitalisation and medical insurance, retirement plan)
Phone bill: $28
Subscriptions: $99 (Starhub home internet & TV)
Petrol: $400 (I’m paying for my mother’s petrol bill)
Groceries: $300 – $400
Food: $250 – $450 (inclusive of dining out at least once a week pre-COVID-19)
Income Tax: $46
How much she thinks she spends: $1,800
How much she actually spends: $2,945
On how she shops:
I generally don’t shop regularly. I tend to only buy clothing and fashion items when I go on holiday, and even then it’s based on how I feel at the time. I would suddenly feel the urge to shop and I can spend 3 – 4 hours shopping up a storm. I’m not sure why, but I just prefer shopping on holiday. Perhaps it could be due to the fact that I have more free time? But I also tend to prefer unique designs and I feel that I find a lot more affordable and independent designers that catch my eye when I travel as opposed to in Singapore.
When I do shop in Singapore, it’s mostly to replenish my basics. My biggest hobby is dance — I do contemporary dance 4-5 times a week before COVID-19 struck — so I was mostly buying a lot of sports gear from Uniqlo and random places whenever they went on sale. I usually went for quantity as opposed to quality as the items went through so much wear and tear. It didn’t make sense for me to be splashing out on expensive sports gear only for me to replace them so soon.
On what she spends on:
Pre-COVID a big part of my income went toward dance and workout classes (around $300 – $400/a month), dance performances to support my friends ($400/ a year) and holidays two to three times a year that would come up to $6,000 – $8,000 yearly. I’ve definitely had to cut out traveling due to the temporary travel ban. I’ve also cut down on the dance classes and have chosen to stick to one studio to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus.
I like to indulge in smaller things on a weekly basis, more so ever since COVID-19 struck and I’m home more often. So on a monthly basis, quite a bit of my of my spare income would go towards spending on food. I usually treat myself and my family to bubble tea, ice cream, pastries and bread whenever I feel like it, and each time I’ll spend about $5 – $20 and minimally about three times a week. I really love my snacks!
I have a big family (seven of us total), and most of us are now eating all three meals at home (during and after the circuit breaker) so a lot so the spending for groceries have gone up exponentially. I tend to cover a lot of the big ticket items at home (like the monthly food bill) as my mother is the only who is working to contribute to the household expenses. So I feel it’s my duty to pitch in as much as I can. I’m very close to my family so I don’t mind.
On her attitude towards money:
I have about $50,000 in savings right now. I think this is a healthy amount to sustain my current lifestyle and cover big ticket family items. But compared to some of my friends, I had a lot less savings considering that they had already paid for big ticket items like their house and wedding.
I’ve never really seriously looked at my expenses and savings seriously, so for me it’s more of maintaining a 50-50 ratio between spending and saving. Any bonuses received usually goes to funding my holidays for the year.
But when I hit 30 and everyone else started getting married or was married with kids and table topics change from where we are going to travel or work to things like buying a house, funding kid’s education and insurance and stuff. That was when I had a more serious look at where my money has gone through the years.
I want to be financially independent when I retire around 60, so I decided to start investing this year. In a way it’s like forced savings. I also cancelled all my other credit cards and maintain only two cards. One for household groceries and petrol and the other to keep tack of my daily spending so that I will have an electronic record.
How COVID-19 taught her to rethink her spending:
When COVID-19 happened, it forced me to look deeper into what was necessary. Especially the amount of dance classes I was taking, plus my food and clothing expenditure. I realised I could do a lot of things at home for free. So from Phase 2 onwards, I plan to cut down on my dance and workout classes and plan my meals and snacks for the office to save money. I would also start preparing my own cold brew coffee and tea to save on that.