A Week In Singapore On A $20,800 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.
Today: a video producer who makes $20,800 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on cereal. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Video Producer
Industry: Media & Advertising
Age: 22
Location: Singapore
Salary: $20,800
Paycheck (Once A Month): $1,730 before deduction of Central Provident Fund (our form of Roth IRA)
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $600 for a common room in a three-room flat, utilities and internet included. I live alone.
Loan Payments: $0. My tertiary education was fully subsidized by a religious foundation.
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All Other Monthly Expenses
Transportation: $30. I usually take the bus to work and anywhere else.
Phone Bill: $37.60-$45.20. This is covered by my employer.
iPhone: $41. My employer generously paid for the two-year plan and I pay him back every first of the month in installments.
Adobe, Microsoft Office & Spotify: $25. I'm looking to get Adobe and Microsoft Office from my employers soon.
Netflix: Mooch off a friend.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up in an extremely frustrated mood. I was unable to sleep until 4:30 a.m. for some reason and I have a 10 a.m. meeting in the financial district. I do some light stretches and grumpily get ready for work.
8:45 a.m. — I get on an Uber and do my eyeliner, still in a mood. The ride is expensed; my company expenses transportation for travel to meetings before 9 a.m. or if the distance is quite far from home. ($15.80 expensed)
9:30 a.m. — I meet my bosses in a sandwich shop and discuss the presentation we're giving later. I grab a flat white and a ham and scrambled eggs wholemeal sandwich. My bosses and I talk about upcoming projects that I will have to run simultaneously as they travel for the next two weeks. $7.50
11:45 a.m. — That was a tedious one. I hitch a ride with one of my bosses back to the office.
12:30 p.m. — The office gets noisy as a group of freelancers come back from a technical recce. They invite me to lunch but I decline as I'm too busy and jumpy working on a current project. The reason for my jumpiness (and probably why I couldn't sleep last night) is because my end-of-year appraisal is today. I'm one out of few video producers in our small company, and it's been less than a year since I joined them. I'm terribly pessimistic about my performance at work, even though I've been told multiple times that I'm doing pretty well. My anxiety can get the best of me sometimes.
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1:45 p.m. — I decide to join the group for lunch but am still too nervous to eat anything. I order a Thai iced tea and nibble on fritters. A coworker pays for my drink with the company card.
3 p.m. — I finish compiling photos of dresses that I've steamed for a wardrobe fitting tomorrow morning. My boss asks if I'm free to have the appraisal chat. Here goes nothing...
3:45 p.m. — That went super well. All of my bosses are pleased with how I've been doing despite me being new and offer me a pay raise as well as a bonus paycheck! Woo-hoo! I feel much better and call an Uber ($13.44 expensed) to pick up more dresses for the wardrobe fitting.
4:30 p.m. — I pay $12 for the dress with my own money. I'll be expensed for it after I fill out the claim form. I call an Uber to bring me to the nearest mall to pick up shoes. Funnily enough, I get the same driver! He seems to be a fun guy. The fare comes to $4.28 (expensed).
5 p.m. — I wander into Rubi and find a nice pair of cream wedges. There's a sale going on and I contemplate getting a chic pair of black platforms that only cost $15 ... but I resist and leave to get a very late lunch.
5:30 p.m. — I'm also supposed to find a fuchsia pink dress for tomorrow's fitting but it's so difficult! Everything's too gaudy. I give up and decide to get grilled rice with salmon for my late lunch. $12
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6 p.m. — It's a miracle! I walk by a shop selling generic clothes and find a decent fuchsia pink dress. It was 50% off too! ($52.28 expensed)
6:30 p.m. — I've been feeling pretty bad flu-like symptoms today and waddle my way to the nearest pharmacy to get some flu pills. I also pick up Breathe Right strips since I'm sleeping over at N.'s house tonight. I've recently started snoring (something I detest in other people when they sleep) and it's been disturbing him. I feel like a shitty hypocrite. $8.20
7 p.m. — Catch another Uber back to the office and take a short nap. ($14.29 expensed)
7:15 p.m. — I get a bit of a tummy ache and am stuck in the bathroom for a bit. Things get kind of weird when my other producer starts asking me questions from outside the bathroom about work. I yell back saying that she can text me instead of asking me through the door, but she says it's important and then goes quiet. I exit the toilet and realize that the office lights have been switched off. What's going on? My colleagues surprise me with a huge "Surprise!" and sing "Happy Birthday" to me! My birthday's tomorrow and it's a really nice thing of them to do. They take a couple of photos and the office cat tries to swipe a taste of the cake. I pick the little guy up and pose for a photo.
7:45 p.m. — I finish the cake with my colleagues and get back to finishing a copywriting job. I'm staying late in the office today as N.'s flight from Bangkok lands at 8:30, and I'll meet him at his place.
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8:45 p.m. — I walk to the nearest train station to get to N.'s place. I tap in with my preloaded train card and switch trains from the yellow to the purple and finally the green line.
9:45 p.m. — N. is ecstatic to see me. We haven't seen each other since mid-December as he was spending time with his family. I've really enjoyed spending time with him for the past two months and our relationship was kind of going somewhere, although it's not so great now. His company is in a bit of a situation and there's a huge possibility that he'll be returning to Switzerland. We sit down and talk about how things will progress and decide to go with the flow and enjoy what we have now. It's shitty but we try not to think about it. We snuggle and watch Peep Show.
12 a.m. — He surprises me with a small ice cream cake and a candle. I get pretty emotional soon after as I receive a message from my mom, whom I haven't spoken to in three months. I moved out in September as things were very rough at home and my mental health was deteriorating. It's very uncommon for Asian kids to move out, especially at my age, so I've been a bit of a black sheep in the family. She apologizes for the things she said and did and asks if we can have dinner next week. I decide not to reply yet and cry for a little bit in N.'s arms.
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1 a.m. — I get some happy birthday loving and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $27.70

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I wake up at a very odd hour. Apparently, with the flu and my snoring, it just got worse! I feel super bad and crawl out of bed to snooze on the sofa. N. refuses to let me sleep on the sofa and drags me back in. He's a swell guy; I'm going to be really sad when he leaves.
8 a.m. — We roll in bed some more and then quickly get ready for work. I have to be at the media campus by 8:45 and book an Uber. N. yells from the shower that he'll get reservations for my birthday dinner tonight. He gives me a wet kiss and I run down to catch the Uber. ($4.28 expensed)
8:45 a.m. — I get there on time and wait for my creative director and boss.
11:30 a.m. — The fitting goes pretty well and I hitch a ride back with my producer. We vaguely talk about our appraisals and complain a little about issues in the project.
12 p.m. — I cuddle the office kitty for a bit and continue sourcing dresses for other talent. This is getting annoying due to unreasonable demands...
1:30 p.m. — A group of colleagues and I head out for lunch. I'm not very hungry and order chicken cutlet rice and iced tea. $4.51
6:30 p.m. — As the day goes by, it gets really busy. I panic as I was supposed to leave an hour and a half ago to pack things to stay over at N.'s and then get the train to meet him for dinner in town. That's definitely not happening. I call an Uber back home ($5.26), pack up most of my things, and then book another Uber to meet him. I use a $5 discount code ($5.26). $10.52
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7:15 p.m. — I am shook! I got a text from N. before seeing him saying that he wanted to get me something for my birthday but wasn't sure if it would be the right pick. After we kiss hello, he takes me to a bookstore and points to a Dan Brown book. Confused, I ask why Dan Brown (nothing bad about DB, just saying) and he cheekily tells me he's pulling my leg. Amused, I walk with him towards a game shop and he asks the shop owner to pick up the "reserved gift" — a brand new PlayStation 4! I've wanted one since last year but never bought it because it was more of a want than a need and I could definitely use the savings for much more important things. I get slightly tearful and give him the biggest hug ever. We also get a couple of games to play later. I'm excited!
7:50 p.m. — Since N. got me the PS4, I call an Uber to get to our dinner location. $5.26
10 p.m. — Dinner was at a popular Mexican place on a quaint hill in town. We have a reservation on the terrace with sparkling fairy lights. We order totopos con todo with salsa roja, piña habanero salsa and guacamole, tostada de atún, pollo quesadilla, tacos (carnitas, chorizo con res, camarónes), a margarita (for me), two micheladas with Coronas (for N.) and four shots of mezcal. I enjoy having good conversations with N. He graciously pays, stating it's a birthday dinner and my heart feels so full.
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10:45 p.m. — I set up the PlayStation and we play Mortal Kombat XL for a while before going to bed.
Daily Total: $20.29

Day Three

8:15 a.m. — We snuggle in bed until 9 and get ready for work. N. books an Uber and drops me off at work as usual when I stay over.
10 a.m. — I need to dive into work and start preparations for tomorrow's shoot. But first I call PlayStation Hong Kong to remove two-step verification from my original account. I've been procrastinating on this since November. It takes a while (their security is top notch!) and all's settled. I wait for a dress to arrive for the talent and continue prepping.
12 p.m. — I book a Grab (a Singaporean ride-share) to the talent's house with my director. ($5.25 expensed)
1 p.m. — I leave my director to assess the last few things at the house and book another Grab to get the last few items for the shoot. ($7.51 expensed)
1:30 p.m. — Purchase several necklaces and earrings as options, again using petty cash. I pick up a grey t-shirt, a belt-hole puncher, and a faux pearl necklace as well. Sourcing for wardrobe options can get tiring! ($49.45 expensed)
2:30 p.m. — I wander into the drugstore and pick up another pair of earplugs since the ones I got for N. didn't work so well. I also buy bottled water and anti-bacterial wipes. $10.80
2:50 p.m. — Book a Grab back to the office. ($8.26 expensed)
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3:30 p.m. — This flu is seriously not getting any better! I suspect it's a viral infection and my boss tells me to go to the doctor. I walk to a nearby clinic and am prescribed antibiotics. I hope this works. $22.50
4:30 p.m. — An extremely enticing email pops up in my inbox. I've been meaning to try GuavaPass for the longest time and now they're offering a six-month unlimited class pass at $44. I go for it. The classes are all super interesting! I book an Ashtanga Mysore yoga class at 7 p.m. on Monday. $44
6:30 p.m. — I can't take it. My nose will end up being the death of me! I book a Grab to go home and my boss tells me to expense it. I've never been more grateful. ($5.25 expensed)
7:30 p.m. — After taking a short nap, I realize that I haven't eaten anything at all today. I get my ass up and walk to the nearby supermarket to get a few things. I'm too lazy to cook so I get store-bought sushi for dinner, as well as add frozen chicken breasts, Special K, and snow peas. $9
9 p.m. — I finish the sushi and make instant noodles. This is what I get for not eating all day and being lazy!
10:30 p.m. — I crash after taking a shower. Early call time tomorrow.
Daily Total: $86.30

Day Four

6 a.m. — Up and at 'em. I book a Grab to get to my first location. ($12.71 expensed)
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10:30 p.m. — That was a really, really, really tiring and shitty day. First shoot of the year and it was … unpleasant. My boss drops me off at the office with a huge pile of wardrobe items. It's also my weekend to cat-sit the office kitty, which perks me up. I book an UberPet to N.'s place, expensing it on my boss' account.
11:30 p.m. — N. is so happy to meet the kitty! He's more of a dog person but I've never seen him give so much love to a tiny, grey, moving furball.
1:30 a.m. — We both pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

11:30 a.m. — It's a very lazy day for N. and me. We stay in bed and play with the kitty.
1:30 p.m. — We get up and decide to buy food and groceries to cook dinner. Halfway through the 10-minute walk, my stomach starts to cramp horribly. This is probably the result of taking the medicine without eating anything. I grumble the whole way with N. sympathetically patting my back. I see that the pastries that I found so delicious on set yesterday are being sold in the mall, and I wolf one down and feel much better ($2.60). I hate forgetting to eat. N. gets two grilled chicken burritos with tons of veggies and rice and bubble tea. When we settle in on the sofa back at the apartment, we look at each other and realize we didn't get groceries. Doy! $2.60
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3:30 p.m. — We play Overcooked on the PS4 while the kitty nibbles on our ears. Around 5, I get sleepy and take a nap. I set the alarm to 7 p.m. to walk back to the supermarket and make dinner.
8:30 p.m. — Yeah, that didn't happen. It is most definitely a lazy day. N. orders Dominos.
10 p.m. — More Overcooked and pizza! Kitty tries to pounce on one of the pizzas and N. cuddles him tightly.
11:30 p.m. — Bedtime. We did not achieve anything today and promise to do more tomorrow.
Daily Total: $2.60

Day Six

8 a.m. — N. and I are woken up by the kitty prodding our heads. We give him some kisses and refill his kibble bowl.
10:30 a.m. — We finally get up and shower. The kitty watches us from outside the glass door. Why.
11 a.m. — I messed up! My best friend got us tickets to Call Me By Your Name and for some reason, I thought it was at 1:45. Turns out it's at 8 p.m.! My best friend and I make plans for me to return the kitty back to the office, set up the PS4 at my place, and take the bus to a dinner place near the movie theatre. N. has his helper coming over at 3 p.m. to clean up and he has to study too. We agree to meet up again after the movie ends. For now, we head out to get lunch.
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1 p.m. — It's sweltering outside. Typical Singapore. I get chicken rice and sugarcane juice for both of us. N. gets lor mee (a Chinese-inspired dish with thick, starchy gravy and yellow noodles) with shark nuggets. I chastise him quietly for contributing to the extinction of sharks. He pays for our lunch and we walk back, looking around at the quaint houses in his neighborhood; it's pretty gentrified but still so beautiful. We also get two pricey but delicious coffees at a nearby hipster café. N. covers this as well.
2:30 p.m. — I kiss N. goodbye and he gets ready to call his family. He's an Orthodox Christian and apparently, it's Christmas today. I wait for the UberPet to take me to the office and use my boss' card again. The kitty looks kinda bummed to leave.
3:30 p.m. — I handle the kitty's needs and meet up with my best friend to take the bus back to my place. We discuss the movie and my friend's enlistment life.
4 p.m. — We play Overcooked! It starts to rain heavily and we worry a little about how to get to the dinner place. I quickly do a load of laundry and we leave.
6:30 p.m. — We get to the place on time and I get kind of suspicious when my best friend starts looking shifty. He brings me out to the patio and one of my best girlfriends is sitting there! Apparently, they've been planning to surprise me for a while. I am definitely surprised and am very happy to see my friend. We have a nice dinner of chicken karaage don (me) and kimchi ramen (best friend). They decline my efforts to pay.
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7:30 p.m. — All three of us slowly make our way to the movie theater and I am greeted with surprise number two: my second best girlfriend carrying two huge balloons with the number two on them! I am mortified and also very amused. They know I hate grand gestures and snap photos of me looking embarrassed as heck. We stash the balloons in my friend's car and head up to the movie. It's a small, local theater that mostly screens indie films. We get three bottles of Evian, Thai iced tea, and fries. They pay for this, too.
10:30 p.m. — That. Was. Amazing. Holy shit, it was so good! Armie Hammer looks so delicious. Kinda sucks as he and Timothée Chalamet reportedly support terrible men as directors (whom I will not bother to name). We decide to go back to my place for a round of beers, a local version of Cards Against Humanity, and garlic bread.
12 a.m. — My girlfriend agrees to drop me off at N.'s place. I am so very, very, very grateful to all of them. I hug them goodbye and head up to meet a sleepy N. Bedtime soon after.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — There is a huge thunderstorm outside and I don't want to get up. Ever. We snuggle in and get up an hour later.
9 a.m. — N.'s Uber takes way too long to arrive so I book one on my app instead. It gets here much faster and he passes me a $50 note to cover it. The Uber drops him off first then takes me to my office. The whole trip is $22.26 — that's $10 extra! I guess I can't complain because of the thunderstorm.
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10 a.m. — I refill my water bottle and eat French vanilla granola with milk, and the kitty comes by and tries to get a taste. I slowly pack up the items used for the shoot two days ago and do my reimbursement form. It comes up to more than $70. Great! I submit it to my producer.
12:30 p.m. — My colleagues are already hungry and craving Korean food. We take a 10-minute walk to the nearest mall and the Korean place is packed. Seems like a bad idea, but we still manage to get seats. I get kimchi chicken ramen with iced green tea while they get kimchi beef ramen and saba fish with rice. $4.50
1 p.m. — I repair my screen protector since it got badly damaged when we used as a prop on set. The art department guys promised to pay me back and the cost is $21.70. My colleagues get bubble tea and I decide to get one too ($2.25). $23.95
2 p.m. — I start working on a new project that needs six new copies. (I also do copywriting and conceptualization besides producing.)
6:15 p.m. — I leave the office, rushing to my Ashtanga Mysore class at 6:45. Unfortunately, I forget that the rush hour for buses is terrible and end up arriving at 7:05 after transferring to another bus.
8 p.m. — That was a really good session. It's my first time and I feel calm for the first time in a few weeks. I sweated so much! I wait for a bus to get to the nearby mall that has a supermarket, where I order a big sushi roll made with brown rice, shredded carrot, chicken, cucumber, and unagi slices. ($8.18) I also pick up some ingredients to make teriyaki sauce: cornstarch, low-sodium soy sauce, ground ginger, brown sugar, and extra-fine grain bread ($17.26). $25.44
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9 p.m. — I take the long bus back to my place and get on GuavaPass to book more classes. I choose a pole class on Wednesday and an Intense Ride class on Sunday. I've filmed at the gym where the ride class is being held and the location is pretty sweet!
10 p.m. — I take out chicken breasts to defrost and then hop into the shower. After, I prepare the teriyaki sauce and stir fry the chicken with boiled snow peas. The brown rice finishes cooking and I prep three days of lunches and dinners before eating Ben & Jerry's "Everything But The…" and watching old episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
12:30 a.m. — Bedtime.
Daily Total: $53.89
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