A Week In Singapore On A Joint $919,216 Income

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.
Want to continue the conversation? Join our Money Diaries Facebook Group to discuss finances, share spending habits and saving advice, ask money- and career-related questions, and get access to exclusive content. It's a judgment-free zone.
Today: a consultant working in finance who makes $21,594 per year and spends some of her money this week on sandals. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars. This post has been updated to include her husband's bonus.
Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Finance
Age: 34
Location: Singapore
My Salary: $21,594 (I'm working part-time until my son gets older.)
My Husband's Salary: $403,968 plus his bonus, which is a minimum of $456,000 (50% of which is cash, and the rest is shares which vest two years in the future)
My Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $1,799.52
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $33,664
Additional Rental Income: $37,654/year (from a property we have back in New Zealand)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $7,622
Helper: $647.90
Utilities: $591
Landlord's Insurance: $110
Health Insurance: $0 (My husband's company pays for it.)
Car Lease: $1,626
Netflix: $13.60
Online Exercise Class Subscription: $39.99
Cratejoy Subscription: $19.50
Online Newspaper & Magazine Subscriptions: $45
Charities: We donate an average of 5% of our annual pre-bonus post-tax income to various charities and friends doing charity walks, etc.
Savings: We save at least $12,000 per month out of our salaries (on average), plus the entirety of my husband's annual bonus.
Additional Expenses
Pest Control: $502/year

Day One

4 a.m. — I wake up after seven full hours of sleep! I feel so amazing — I haven't slept this long in at least six weeks, as my son has been waking up multiple times per night. We've been sleep training him for the past two days using the leave and check method, and it's really paying off. I know people judge parents who sleep train, but in my opinion, it's short-term pain for long-term gain, for the whole family. I feel energized, so I get out of bed and make zucchini bread. My husband's in Shanghai for work, so I don't worry about waking him up. As the bread cooks, I read the New York Times, Politico, and Refinery29. I remember I need a UV tent for my son before our next holiday, and find one online. My son wakes up at 6:30 and I give him a breastfeed and a cuddle. $112.36
9:30 a.m. — I'm not working today, so I drive my son to the doctor for his six-month vaccinations ($526.90, but 90% will be reimbursed by insurance). He gets one in each thigh and screams the house down. I hold him as he gets them and I literally can't watch. It's the worst thing, but completely necessary, of course. Afterward, I give him a quick breastfeed in the waiting room to calm him down, and he's back to his usual smiling, giggling self in a few minutes. On the way back to the car, I grab a strawberry rose cooler ($4.57) and pay for parking ($2.13). $533.60
12:30 p.m. — We need more printer cartridges for our ancient printer. They're really hard to find in stores because our printer is such an old model, so I order them online as my son takes a nap. I hate the amount of e-waste in the world, so I'm trying to hold off on buying a new printer for as long as I can. Afterward, I take my son for a walk through the park, and he flirts with some ladies doing tai chi. $57.17
2 p.m. — My helper wants to go grocery shopping to pick up some things for dinner. She's an incredible help and I'm so grateful to have her (we pay her well above Singapore average in recognition of that). She buys mangoes, chickpeas, cheese, spices, herbs, milk, salmon, and coconut water . While she's away, I take my son down to our condo's swimming pool for a play. $47.80
6 p.m. — After I put my son to bed, I eat the dinner my helper made: mango and curried chickpea salad with pan-fried salmon. It's delicious. She eats what we eat (something that's not always the case in Singapore, where helpers are often given a $200/month for food allowance), so she asks if we can have scallops and spiced cauliflower for dinner tomorrow — a recipe she's been wanting to try out. We scour the cupboards to see what spices we already have, and make a grocery list for tomorrow. Afterward, I watch some episodes of season two of Jessica Jones. It's such an awesome show, but I'm tired from my 4 a.m. wakeup, so I go to bed at 9. I read Red Sparrow on my kindle (so far, it's one of the best books I've ever read) until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $750.93

Day Two

5 a.m. — It's the weekend! My husband got home from China at around 2 a.m., so he's sleeping soundly as I scroll through Twitter and Instagram in the dark. At 6, I get up and make a frittata for breakfast. It's kind of Persian-inspired and has heaps of herbs, spinach, eggs, feta, goat cheese, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sumac. I also cut up some fruit to go with it, and make my son's breakfast: oatmeal with frozen black currants, puréed so it's a little less lumpy. He wakes up at 6:45, and I breastfeed him and "chat" with him about what we've got planned for the day. My husband wakes up at 8 a.m. and we eat breakfast together, my son smearing most of his oatmeal on his face and chair. I find it completely adorable (well, 90% adorable).
10 a.m. — My husband and I check Singapore's upcoming public holidays and decide to book a four-day getaway to Brunei in August. I have a friend who grew up there and I've always wanted to visit. While our son takes a nap, we find a beautiful child-friendly hotel, and book some flights. While we're living in Singapore, we're trying to take advantage of being so close to so many amazing countries in Asia. We're originally from New Zealand, and flying anywhere from there is a seriously epic journey. It's also a lot cheaper to fly when our kid is under 2! $3,506
1 p.m. — We head to the zoo for the first time with our son. We wanted to wait to go until our son was old enough to enjoy it a bit more. It's great fun — he stares and smiles at all of the animals. We decide to buy a family season pass, especially so I can bring our son on days when I'm not working. I remember that a couple of the women in my mothers' group have them, and send out a group WhatsApp message suggesting we do a trip back here in a few weeks. Since I'm only working part-time, I like filling my days off with fun activities I know my son will enjoy. $167.30
5 p.m. — We give our helper the night off (the scallops and spiced cauliflower can wait until Monday) and order sushi for everyone: oshiniko maki, chukka wake gunkan, edamame, salmon sashimi, maguro sushi, salmon sushi, spicy tuna maki, salmon aburi, and three pieces of salmon teriyaki. The food in Singapore is ridiculously good. We've been living here for four years and I've only ever had one bad meal (that was at a tourist trap, so it doesn't really count). I dry cook a piece of the sashimi for our son and mash it up a little — he seems to enjoy the taste. He's only been on solids for a few weeks, so it's still a bit of trial and error. $68.60
7 p.m. — After our son is asleep, my husband and I chat for a couple of hours about his trip and drink G&Ts. We remember we wanted to watch Ricky Gervais's new Netflix special, and spend an hour parked in front of the TV trying not to nod off. Not that the special isn't good, we're just too tired to fully enjoy it. We go to bed at 10.
Daily Total: $3,741.90

Day Three

7 a.m. — It's Sunday and my husband's playing soccer later on, so I make a big breakfast: cappuccinos, carrot cake pancakes, black currant coconut yogurt, and fresh grapefruit, kiwi, and strawberries. My son eats oatmeal with black currants again. Afterward, we take our son to the pool, practicing some of the things his swimming teacher taught him in his last lesson. It's already so hot, the pool is almost like a bath. We still haven't gotten used to the scorching, humid weather here. I don't think we ever will!
10 a.m. — The sandals I ordered last week were delivered yesterday, and they're too small, so I go online and return them (refund of $189.28). There are no bigger sizes in that style, so I find a replacement pair, but also end up buying an additional pair that's on sale as well. $323.99
11:30 a.m. — We go to watch my husband play soccer. His team wins, but it's bittersweet because so many of his teammates are leaving Singapore within the next month. That's the problem with the expat life — so many friends move away when their jobs here finish up, or they get a better offer somewhere else. I've been to more farewell parties than I can count. I wonder how this will affect my son as he grows up here. Will he have expat friends moving away all of the time? My husband reminds me that we too will be moving away, one day. We're definitely not planning on living here forever. It's an amazing country, but there are so many other places in the world we'd love to live in. As we head home (after paying for parking), we fill up the car with gas. $160.05
6 p.m. — I cook dinner while my husband does the bedtime routine — jerk chicken with a kale, cranberry, and tahini salad. I find some vanilla sugar in the cupboard and quickly whip up some almendrados (lemon cookies) for dessert. After we eat, we play a few games of Scrabble, and then review our five-year savings plan Excel sheet. We add our new childcare costs, as well as the school fees that will start late next year when our son starts nursery school. My husband and I both grew up in genuine poverty, and it's extremely comforting for both of us to have clearly defined financial goals, although I don't think I will ever feel financially secure. That's what a childhood marked by neglect does to you, I guess. My husband is paid well, but we're very conscious of living well within our means and building a solid nest egg. We're in bed by 10:30, listening to our son's breathing on the monitor.
Daily Total: $484.04

Day Four

6 a.m. — I wake up early to make our usual weekday breakfast smoothie: kale, frozen boysenberries, cacoa nibs, hemp seeds (which I found out yesterday are now illegal to import into Singapore), zero-carb protein powder, and almond milk. My husband starts work super early every day, so he always takes his to go, with a bottle of water. I feed our son and then we all pile into the car. I drop my husband off at work, driving through one toll on the way home. $1.50
7:45 a.m. — The nanny's at home when I get back. We do a quick review of everything she needs to know (what food my son's eating, how much expressed breastmilk to thaw for his milk feeds, his new favorite toy, etc.) before I jump in the shower, get ready for work, kiss my son goodbye, and get back in the car. I get to the office at 9:30 a.m.
1 p.m. — I'm seriously slammed, trying to fit a week's worth of work into the three days I'm in the office. I make a decaf coffee in the office kitchen, eat a lactation bar I brought from home (they help maintain milk production), and then settle in for a long afternoon. I suddenly remember that I need to do a massive online grocery shop, so I quickly organize that after I check with my helper if she wants anything. I buy a wide variety of fruit, heaps of herbs, eggs, spinach, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, shallots, beetroot, capsicum, leeks, fennel, chicken breast, salmon fillets, beef steaks, oxtail, scallops, cheese, almond milk, steel cut oats, macadamias, cashews, fresh coconuts, coconut flour, almond flour, almond butter, cashew butter, beef jerky, seaweed snacks, honey, maple syrup, butter, olive oil, crackers, toilet paper, nappies, cleaning supplies, tissues, and rubber gloves. This should last us about eight days, with additional trips to the shops as needed. $592.35
6 p.m. — I leave work and pick up my husband on the way home, hitting two peak hour tolls. Our son's just finished his bath when we get home, and we take over from the nanny. After our son is in bed, we eat the scallops and spiced cauliflower dinner prepared by our helper. It's amazing, as always. Afterward, my husband has more work to do, and I'm helping a colleague finalize a journal article we've been working on for the past few months. I work on that for most of the evening. I go to bed at 10 p.m. and read until my husband gets into bed at 11. $2
Daily Total: $595.85

Day Five

6 a.m. — Same smoothie and work drop-off routine as yesterday (road toll, again). As I'm leaving to go to work, the nanny says she won't be able to work tomorrow due to an unexpected family health issue. I put a reminder in my phone to organize a replacement for tomorrow ASAP. $1.50
10 a.m. — I have a lull in my day and grab a matcha latte with a coworker. She paid last time, so it's my turn to pay. As much as I love spending time with my kid, I find being at work and around adults seriously enjoyable. My coworker and I chat about some issues she's having with one of our coworkers, and I try to give her some practical advice. On the way back to the office, I buy a Caesar salad with extra chicken to eat at lunch. I'm so hot from all the wandering and can feel sweat prickling my face. Singapore's humidity is murderous! $19.35
6 p.m. — Same office pick-up routine as yesterday. When we get home, we find out that one of our nephews injured himself at school today and has to stay in the hospital overnight for observation, just as a precaution. My brother gives us regular updates, but I feel pretty bad about being so far away and unable to visit him. After our son is asleep, I hop online and buy a few gifts from a toy store near my brother's house, which will be delivered tomorrow. My husband and I also send him a "get well" video message over WhatsApp. Singapore is great, but I miss home! $108.25
7 p.m. — After our son is asleep, we eat roasted tomato and quinoa soup for dinner. Afterward, I decide I need to get back into working out regularly, and spend 30 minutes doing a Tracy Anderson DVD. I love workout DVDs and online subscriptions — they're so much more convenient than the gym. The workout hurts, but I enjoy it. Then I take a quick shower and read in bed while my husband keeps working. I fall asleep before he gets into bed.
Daily Total: $129.10

Day Six

6 a.m. — Same smoothie and work drop-off routine as yesterday (but we missed the road toll by seconds, this time!). It takes me longer to get out of the house today, as the substitute nanny needs to be more fully briefed about looking after my son. I get to work at 10 and try to avoid running into my boss. (It works — I don't think he noticed I was late.)
12:30 p.m. — I manage to duck out for lunch with my husband. We try to do this once a week, but our normal work schedules are crazy, so it's often impossible. We go to our favorite place overlooking Marina Bay. I have lobster risotto to start and then pork belly, and he has tuna ceviche and then roast chicken. We drink sparkling water. $177.45
3 p.m. — I'm doing an online writing course in my spare time, and one of the instructors recommended a particular book in the last lesson. I find it secondhand online (it's been out of print for decades) and order it with express shipping. $19.50
6 p.m. — My husband has a work function tonight, so I make my way home alone (hitting the road toll). I pay the nanny before she heads home. After I put my son to bed, I eat dinner — baked beetroot, goat cheese, pine nut, and arugula salad, with sumac lamb meatballs. My helper is seriously the best. I don't know what I'd do without her. After dinner, I take the opportunity to do some writing for my course. I'm in bed by 10 p.m. $120.50
Daily Total: $317.45

Day Seven

6 a.m. — It's Thursday so I don't have to work today, but I'm still up early to breastfeed the baby, make breakfast, and take my husband to work (we miss the toll today). When we get home, I feed my son some puréed fruit and then we play. He's so cute!
10 a.m. — After my son wakes up from his nap, we head to a playgroup meet-up at a friend's place. There are 10 other mom friends there with their babies, all around the same age as my son. It's so much fun watching the babies spend time with each other. We chat about mom stuff and politics (Trump, of course, and Comey's new book), and a few of the ladies ask me how it's been going back to work after having the baby — they're about to do the same and want some pointers. I try to focus on the positives, but don't hide the fact that it's a serious juggling act.
2 p.m. — On the way home, I decide to drop into the shops to stock up on some supplies for our short holiday to Borneo next weekend. My son's doctor recommended that we buy pre-made food pouches to feed him, as Hep-B is a risk in Borneo and he can't get vaccinated against that until he's 12 months old. I buy a bunch of different varieties, plus extra kid-safe sunscreen. I grab a honeydew milk tea with tapioca pearls on the way out. I get the low-sugar option, but it's still ridiculously sweet. Worth it. $84.60
6 p.m. — My husband gets home early from work, and we bathe and feed our son together. I'm making dinner tonight, as our helper is feeling unwell. I decide to keep it simple, and make cashew "hummus" dip with veggie sticks, plus cheese and crackers. We have fruit for dessert. My husband decides not to work tonight, so we settle down and watch a few episodes of Broadchurch on Netflix. We're in bed by 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $84.60
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.
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

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series