A Week In Singapore On A $77,088 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
From healthcare, to transportation, to food and drink, the norms and culture of spending (and saving) can vary from country to country. To see how women's spending habits differ — and remain constant — around the world, we're featuring international diaries this week.
Today: a partner manager working in tech who makes $77,088 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on tonkatsu. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Advertisement
Occupation: Partner Manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 31
Location: Singapore
Salary: $77,088, plus another 15-20% in bonus. I also get equity as part of my annual package.
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $6,424 (This is pretax, as there isn't tax withholding in Singapore.)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $748.50 (I live with one roommate.)
Monthly Loan Payment: $562, for an investment property with friend. We rent it, but it's a renters' market.
Central Provident Fund (Government Retirement Fund): $1,285 (My company matches $1,092.)
Taxes: $824 (I pay monthly.)
Cellphone: $30 for my personal phone. (I have another phone that's covered by work.)
Netflix: $5.24 (I split with my roommate.)
Spotify: $0 (I'm on a family plan.)
Monthly Investment Account: $378
Dance Studio Membership: $112
Bouldering Gym: $28.50
Transport Card: $30-40
Bone Marrow Foundation Donation: $45
Additional Expenses
Other Investment Account: $9,131 annually

Day One

10 a.m. — One of my favorite things about the weekend is being able to sleep in! I spend some time in bed browsing social media and news, in that order. A quiet Sunday morning is the height of luxury.
11 a.m. — Where did the time go? I drag myself out of bed and do my morning routine — oil cleanser followed by spritzes of serum and dabs of moisturizer. Skincare is practically cultish in Singapore. I'm running low on moisturizer and make a note to pick up more the next time I'm at the airport (yay duty free). Throw in a load of laundry to feel productive.
12 p.m. — My roommate decides to pick up food from a mall nearby. I go with her and spy an Adidas sports bra for 30% off ($40). Also stop at a supermarket to get groceries, but realize I have a pretty social week ahead, so I settle for some salad and roast chicken ($7.36). $47.36
Advertisement
3 p.m. — It's rainy outside — the perfect day to stay in, read, and nap. I finish the book we're reading in my book club and reward myself by starting a paranormal romance novel. My best friend lent me one a while back and now I'm hooked. #GuiltyPleasures. All my books are on my iPad, courtesy of my library's ebook app!
6 p.m. — Take a bus into town to meet some friends. We're going to try a new virtual reality escape room! It's their opening month, and games are 20% off. I pay for everyone to get the credit card points, and my friends PayNow me back. (It's like Venmo.) $46.68
7:30 p.m. — Update. We did not make it past the zombies. Boo.
8:30 p.m. — We head to a hotpot place for dinner, and after an hour-long wait, we're finally seated. I love this place for their amazing pork belly and fried beancurd rolls. The tomato soup is also one of the most delicious things in the world. We split the bill at the end. I promptly bus home, shower, and crash around midnight. $50.87
Daily Total: $144.91

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, get ready, and stumble onto the bus. Mornings are not my thing — I'm never functional until I get some food in me. There's a café at work, and I head directly there. I make myself avocado toast with a fried egg before heading to my desk to check emails.
10:30 a.m. — So. Many. Emails. I decide that I need some caffeine and pop into the office pantry to get a Coke Zero.
Advertisement
12:45 p.m. — Head up to lunch with my team! Honestly, not having to worry about meals is one of the best things about my workplace. Today they're serving local fare — babi ponteh, which is a pork stew over rice. I also grab a fried sesame ball and some steamed shrimp dumplings.
6 p.m. — Back to back meetings all afternoon, so I only get back to doing work at around 5 p.m. I make a heroic effort to focus and get stuff done because I want to leave early for a concert tonight! I booked the tickets months ago. (They were about $120.)
7 p.m. — Still working. Why'd I think I was going to be able to leave on time for a Monday concert?
8:30 p.m. — Finally finished! Luckily the venue is pretty close to the office — only two or three stops on the train! Grab some sushi before the concert with a friend and we split the bill. $18.70
11 p.m. — Worth it. I wish all Monday nights were this great. Take the train home, shower, catch up on social media, and roll into bed. I have an early start tomorrow!
Daily Total: $18.70

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — It's still dark outside. I've got a day trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for some client meetings. Brush, shower, change, go. I call a Grab (the regional version of Uber) to the airport ($14). My driver is lovely and plays classical music all the way to the airport, where my gem of a coworker has gotten me a chocolate chip muffin to stave off hangry morning me. ($14 expensed)
Advertisement
9 a.m. — Landed in KL! One hour to roll through immigration and to the client's site. My teammate pays for the Grab.
11:30 a.m. — That went well. Head over to my company's KL office to work and charge our devices — it's pretty far away from the client, and so we have to take a Grab and then a train into town. We get to the office just in time for lunch — we are super hungry and take two helpings of butter chicken each. Then it's time for emails and work until our flight home. ($42 expensed)
4:30 p.m. — We get to the airport a little earlier than expected, so I have time to check out the duty free store. The moisturizer I want is less expensive than it is at the Singapore airport, and I'm a big fan of stocking up on products, so I get two jars! $66
6:30 p.m. — Land in Singapore. This airport is #goals — it takes just 20 minutes from the plane to the taxi stand. Take a Grab home. ($15 expensed)
8 p.m. — My friend is cooking dinner for me tonight, so I head over to her place. I end up spending a lot of the time catching up on work I didn't get done while in transit. I bribe my friends into forgiving this rudeness with a bottle of wine from my stash at home. Head home after dinner, catch up with the roommate, and fall asleep quickly.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $66

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Wake up. Need food. Realize that I have an 8 a.m. call. Survive call. Take a later bus into work and hit traffic. Fingers crossed that I get to work before my 10 a.m. meeting.
11 a.m. — Made it in in time! After the meeting, I head over to the office gym with some coworkers. Given the busy week, I decide to take it easy and work on my form. I ponder getting weight lifting gloves. Grab lunch at the office café afterwards — they have another local favorite today: chicken rice.
6:30 p.m. — Rush out of work to dance class! I'm trying to get myself to a place of work-life balance, and scheduling post-work classes has been a great way of making sure I leave work at a decent time. Dance has been fantastic, but I'm really intimidated by how good everyone in the class is.
8:30 p.m. — Time for evening calls! The Singapore–New York time difference is 12 hours, so there's really never a good time. It's my first time joining this call, and I'll finally get to meet my American counterparts.
8:45 p.m. — I spoke too soon — the call is cancelled! It's too late to jump into the next dance class, and I want to stay for the student performances later, so I walk around looking for food. All I see is a pasta place nearby...so pesto pasta it is! $9.50
12:05 a.m. — The performances are great! Tickets are usually $5, but mine is covered through my dance studio membership. After midnight, some folks decide to stay and practice, but I give into the yawns and Grab home. $12
Advertisement
Daily Total: $21.50

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — Snooze the alarm a bit today since I went to bed (relatively) late last night! I'm heading to a fancy event celebrating women entrepreneurs tonight, so I throw on a long black dress and take a little more care than usual with my makeup.
1 p.m. — It's my manager's last day before maternity leave, so she takes us to a Mexican place for lunch! I order a burrito bowl. Yum.
4 p.m. — More meetings. One more day until Friday! I celebrate with an iced Milo from the fridge.
6 p.m. — Make my way to the event! I miss the shuttle bus in so I have to take a Grab. There's a lot of dialogue about gender expectations in different regions and how it has impacted these amazing women. We really need to be having more of these conversations and putting more infrastructure in place to support diversity (of all kinds). Gender diversity is only one of many things that need to be discussed. I nibble on appetizers and Prosecco. $5
10:30 p.m. — Time to head home. Since I'm not spending much on food this week, I let myself call my umteenth Grab ride home for the week. $12
Daily Total: $17

Day Six

7 a.m. — Morning again?! Head to the office and decide to make a PB&J for breakfast.
10:30 a.m. — Have a coffee catch up with a former teammate (she moved to another department within the company). We have baristas in the office who know our order by heart — two chai teas. We update each other on our lives, and she scolds me for not going on any dates this week. I promise to do some serious swiping this weekend.
Advertisement
12:30 p.m. — I'm meeting a friend of a friend for lunch. She works in the same org, but on a different floor. I get seafood stew over rice from the office café. She expresses interest in joining the gender equality initiatives in our offices (I'm one of the leads for it), and I invite her to our next committee meeting.
7 p.m. — The day flies by in a blur of meetings and emails! Peak hour surcharges are ridiculous, but I hate being late so I call a Grab! I meet a couple of friends at an Italian place, and we split a burrata appetizer and a bottle of wine. I get a pasta for my main and something chocolate-y for dessert. One of my friends pays for dinner as a thank you for a project I helped him out with recently. $13
10:30 p.m. — We Grab over to our next destination — a small Japanese speakeasy. They serve bespoke drinks, and make me something amazing with gin and elderflower. I head out at around midnight, and try to pay before I go, but my friends won't let me. Drinks on me next time. Call a Grab and head home! $14.50
Daily Total: $27.50

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Noooooooo! I wanted to sleep in today! Not going to get up.
9:30 a.m. — My hunger gets the better of me and I pop into the kitchen and make myself breakfast from random ingredients in the fridge. Then I do some reading in bed.
Advertisement
11 a.m. — Drive over to my bouldering gym where I meet a couple of friends. They've changed up the walls, so I start with some easy problems. Super psyched — I have more control over my movement now than I did a few months ago. Then I try a hard wall and realize that I really need to work on building up strength in my triceps.
1 p.m. — Shower and drive into town to meet a friend for tonkatsu! I can't find street parking so I somewhat reluctantly park in a nearby mall ($6.50). We order fried goodness and catch up on life ($25). $31.50
3:30 p.m. — My roommate's in town running errands and wants a ride home. While I wait for her at the mall, I pick up a cute sports shirt and yoga pants. It's sale season, so I get the shirt for half off. $21.20
4 p.m. — We pick up Chinese food on the way home. Dumplings, more fried pork goodness, and stewed vegetables. We're going to have leftovers for DAYS. Not complaining. $20.50
10 p.m. — Some friends are moving, and are having a party to empty their liquor cabinet before they go. I take a Grab there. $5.20
11:55 p.m. — I'm like Cinderella; midnight is my kryptonite. Make the rounds and say goodbye to folks before Grabbing back home! $5.20
Daily Total: $83.60
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Advertisement
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Class of 2008, Email Us! Class of 2018 is graduating into a great economy — but this was not true for those who graduated from college in 2008 on the eve of the Great Recession. We want to speak to women from the college Class of 2008 about the past 10 years: your career, how you felt about the economy then, and how you feel about it now. Email judith.ohikuare@refinery29.com.
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Fashion
A look at the subcultures around the world that color what we wear — and why.
Watch Now
Travel
Explore the world's most most vibrant cultural and culinary centers—in 60 seconds, of course.
Watch Now
Beauty
The craziest trends, most unique treatments, and strangest subcultures in the beauty world.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Millennial survivor-woman Lucie Fink dives headfirst into social experiments, 5 days at a time.