A Week In Singapore On A $48,630 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 structural engineer working in consulting who makes $48,630 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on pizza. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Structural Engineer
Industry: Consulting
Age: 28
Location: Singapore
Salary: $48,630
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $4,050
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $720 for my share. (I live with three housemates.)
Student Loan Payments: None. (I paid off my $33,300 in student loans three years ago.)
Utilities, Internet & Cleaning ~$91
Health Insurance: $o. (Doctor's visits and specialists' treatments are covered by my company.)
Private Health & Life Insurance: $122
Pension: $202. (My company matches 80% of it.)
Phone Bill: $24
Public Transportation Card: $30
Income Tax: $182. (Interest-free monthly payment of last year's income tax.)
Investment: $600, automatically taken out of my savings account to invest in Singapore's Straits Times Index.
Savings: ~$730, most of which will go into my Vanguard Index Fund eventually.

Day One

6:50 a.m. — Time to get up. I've been planning to start exercising at home in the mornings, but my boyfriend stayed over last night, so I don't this morning. I rush to get ready for work, as I like to get in early on Mondays. Breakfast is just a glass of almond milk.
8:20 a.m. — I need coffee! My coffee connoisseur colleagues loathe the office coffee, but I don't mind it. I like good coffee, but I don't like to shell out $2-$4 a pop for it, so I recently invested in a single serve French press and signed up for a coffee subscription service that sends me a new blend every few weeks at $14.40 per bag. I make myself a cup.
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! It has been quite a stressful morning. I usually eat the same meal for lunch every day and I really don't mind it: a vegetarian wrap from a place near my office, which I eat at my desk. I rarely eat out with my colleagues, except for birthdays or project celebrations. Lunchtime is my "me" time. $5.70
1 p.m. — My BF's birthday is in a week and he already told me what he wants: the latest volume of a manga he's been reading. It was only just released today and no local bookstore is carrying it yet, so I place an order online. Cross my fingers it will arrive before his birthday! $20
9:30 p.m. — Wow, it's been a long and stressful day at work. I have a big deadline at the end of this month, so I will probably work late most nights and won't have much of a social life until then! Most food places are already closed by now, so I go to a supermarket nearby to grab discounted sushi packs from the deli counter for dinner. There's a discount on my favorite Kettle Chips, so I grab those too. My BF is staying over again tonight, so we eat together at my place. Then we hang out with my housemates until it's time to get ready for bed. $11
Daily Total: $36.70

Day Two

7:20 a.m. — No morning exercise either today. I think I need to postpone my morning exercise plan until after the work deadline. Breakfast today is chocolate pistachio milk, which is super yum, and a caramel bun that I share with my BF.
8:30 a.m. — At work, I treat myself to my usual coffee from my French press.
12:30 p.m. — Same vegetarian wrap as yesterday for lunch. I like not having to think about what to eat since it's the same almost every day. (At this point you might have realized that I'm kind of boring.) $5.70
8 p.m. — Still at work, but am getting hungry for dinner. I'm too lazy to walk to any food places out of the office, so I opt for a salad from the salad vending machine (yes, there is such a thing!) at work. I quite like the salads – they are very customizable and replaced daily. I'm getting one with quinoa, spinach, corn, tomatoes, raisins, cheddar cheese, pine nuts, and chicken breast, plus lemon-pepper dressing to go with it. $4.90
9 p.m. — I steal a pack of Oreos from our team's snack table. Not really hungry, just stress-eating!
10:50 p.m. — I am so fatigued that I don't think I can carry on working. I might be the last person in the office. I finally call a cab and head home. I have some Kettle chips, shower, and get ready for bed. ($6 expensed)
Daily Total: $10.60

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I sleep in longer than usual because I'm exhausted from working overtime yesterday. I check my Fitbit and apparently only got around five hours of sleep last night, so I anticipate that today will be rough.
8 a.m. — For breakfast I have a glass of chocolate pistachio milk again.
8:45 a.m. — There was a train disruption, so I arrive at work later that expected. Can't be bothered to make my own brew today, so I have a cup of office coffee. I check my emails and remember that I have to get a senior colleague to sign my application form for the Young Engineer of the Year award that our Marketing department persuaded me to apply to. I feel like I don't fit the bill, but hey, I'll try my luck! I'll find out next month if I get shortlisted.
12:45 p.m. — I am meeting a university friend for lunch who I haven't seen in a while. I suggest a poke place near my work, and we each have spicy salmon poke with broccoli. She insists on paying when the bill comes, so I treat her to coffee at a nearby joint afterwards. I get myself a decaf latte (I need sleep tonight), and she orders a skinny flat white. It's always fun to catch up with old friends and find out what they are up to now! $8.50
1:45 p.m. — A colleague offers me a Swiss roll slice. I can never resist cake, so I gladly take it even though I'm still full from lunch.
4 p.m. — Grab a cab to an offsite meeting with a client. I think it'll be a long one. ($8.70 expensed)
9:30 p.m. — See, what did I tell you? The project director from the client side wanted us to run through all the draft tender queries with him, hence why we finished late. It is raining outside and my laptop has run out of battery, so I go home instead of back to the office. A project manager from the client side offers some of us a ride. I thank him and ask to be dropped at a mall near my place so that I can get dinner.
9:45 p.m. — Only fast food chains are open at this hour. I was considering getting KFC for dinner, but I see that they don't sell the Spicy Sichuan Special anymore! I go to 7-Eleven instead and get a microwave-ready kimchi fried rice. I guess this will do. $3.40
10 p.m. — Walk home to my place and my pants and shoes get soaked in the rain. I eat my food while reading mindless articles on Buzzfeed and then continue to work for a bit.
11:20 p.m. — I shower and aim to get to bed by midnight for some much-needed sleep.
Daily Total: $11.90

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Wake up relatively late again. I get ready, have my usual chocolate pistachio milk for breakfast, and dash to work.
8:30 a.m. — Another coffee from work. I've only just noticed how strong the office coffee is, as I instantly feel like an Energizer Bunny after I finish my cup. Ready to crack my brain for another challenging day.
12:30 p.m. — Lunch is another vegetarian wrap that I eat quietly at my desk. I received a reimbursement check of $300 from my insurance company yesterday, so I use my lunchtime to deposit it at my bank's check deposit box. $5.70
9 p.m. — After a long day of work, I am considering either staying even later at the office or instead going to get an additional birthday present for my BF. Most shops in Singapore close at 10, so if I leave now, I'll be able to make it. My BF and I normally extra-spoil each other on birthdays, so I have quite a generous annual gift budget. He wants a bean bag chair from Muji, so I head over there. My BF texts to ask if I have already left work and if he can stay over. I tell him "no" so that I can keep the gift hidden from him!
9:30 p.m. — The bean bag is out of stock! And I'm told that it won't be back in stores for a while. I'm afraid I won't have any presents for my BF to open on his actual birthday because the manga won't be there in time. Panicked, I head to the nearby Crate and Barrel to see if they sell any bean bags, but they don't. I give up and head home. I should have done my gift shopping earlier!
10 p.m. — I text my BF that he can still come over if he wants to. I go to 7-Eleven again and pick up a microwave-ready black pepper chicken leg and a pack of ready-to-eat onsen eggs. $4.70
10:30 p.m. — BF arrives at my place. I feel too guilty about the birthday present thing and tell him that I won't have presents for him in time for his actual birthday. He assures me that it's okay and that all he wants for his birthday is to cook a pie with me (we already discussed making Hairy Bakers' beef pie recipe). I feel so grateful, but still very guilty.
Daily Total: $10.40

Day Five

6:50 a.m. — Wake up early today to finish some work. BF is still sleeping so I try not to wake him.
8 a.m. — Office coffee again because I've given up.
12:30 p.m. — Another vegetarian wrap for lunch. Apparently I have enough stamps on my loyalty card (not that hard if you get the same thing from the same place almost every day), so I only have to pay $0.50 for my lunch today. Small win! $0.50
8 p.m. — Leave work today after sending important emails. I was planning to stay later to finish more work, but my BF texted to say that he might have to work tomorrow (since he has to travel to Hong Kong next week for a conference) and I want to see him. I decide that I will continue my work tomorrow instead. Today is the earliest that I am leaving work in a while, which I take as a win!
8:30 p.m. — I thought I'd try to look for the bean bag at another Muji store a few MRT stops away just to try my luck, but of course they don't have any in stock there either, so I reluctantly put my name on a waitlist. I tell them that I might change my mind if the item arrives too late and ask if they can hold payment until collection date. They agree!
8:45 p.m. — In preparation for this weekend's beef pie, I go to an upscale supermarket in the mall to survey the meat selection. Then I text some friends and my housemates to invite them to my BF's birthday celebration.
9 p.m. — On my way home, I pick up a spicy barramundi miso jjigae soup with bread from a nearby spot. I have enough reward points on my member card to redeem a free soup, so dinner is free! I live for days like this – an almost free lunch and a free dinner!
1 a.m. — I stay up late doing dances in my room to hit my daily steps goal. My insurance has a program where if you hit a certain amount of steps within a week, you can get a voucher for $7.60 that you can use at a supermarket chain or Starbucks or as credit on Uber. I'm still not close to my weekly target so far, so I try to get in as many steps as I can tonight. I'm not going to lose that sweet $7.60!
Daily Total: $0.50

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Get up.
10 a.m. — Arive at the office. I serve myself a cup of coffee before starting work. I need to get as much done as possible today.
1:30 p.m. — Get a spicy poke bowl with broccoli again for lunch. $8.30
3:30 p.m. — I think I'm done for today! I go to the mall near my place to get what I need for the birthday celebration tomorrow.
4 p.m. — I have $3.80 insurance voucher that will be expiring soon, so I drop by a supermarket in the mall and get a refillable pack of hand wash plus my favorite high-end sweet potato chips in the discount aisle (they're expiring in two weeks, but that won't be a problem!). Total comes out to be $4.40 but my voucher covers most of it. $0.60
4:30 p.m. — I order a chocolate cake from a local artisanal chocolate specialist in the same mall that I will pick up and pay for tomorrow.
5 p.m. — I plan to get giant number balloons for tomorrow, but the shop assistant advises me to get them a few hours before the event to make sure they're at maximum perkiness. They're $18.20 each, so the total will be $36.40 for two. Since I know I'll be busy cooking tomorrow, I text my friend to ask for help and she kindly agrees to pick them up for me (and pay for them) tomorrow. I buy some nice-looking candles before heading home. $5.70
5:30 p.m. — Feeling pretty lazy while I wait for my BF to be done with his work so that we can go on a dinner date.
6:30 p.m. — BF texts to say that he might need to stay late at work, so I cancel our dinner reservation and we decide that he will get us takeout later instead. I have grapes as a snack to ward off hunger until then.
8:45 p.m. — BF finally texts that he will be leaving work soon! My housemate joins us and we order chicken rice. Dinner is BF's treat for me, so my housemate settles the dinner monies with him.
9:30 p.m. — We finally get to eat, thank goodness! BF informs me that he might need to work tomorrow so we might not have enough time to make pie *sad face*. I suggest ordering food for the party instead. We spend the night watching the first episode of Black Lightning with my housemate before going to bed.
Daily Total: $14.60

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — Have a cup of coffee for breakfast.
1 p.m. — Go to the nearby mall to get my winter coat dry cleaned. (I have postponed cleaning it since my Christmas trip to visit my BF's family in London last December!) $15.20
2 p.m. — I get wardrobe freshener, facial cotton, body lotion, and laundry detergent at the supermarket. I use two of my insurance vouchers, so I get $7.60 off. $8.10
3 p.m. — Pick up the birthday cake that I ordered yesterday. They got the first letter of my BF's name wrong! But luckily the skillful pastry chef easily fixes it. $26
3:15 p.m. — Vegan chili soup with a bread roll for lunch today. $5.70
4 p.m. — I have to get in 12,500 steps today to meet my weekly goal! I'm feeling too lazy to walk outside so I search for dance cardio workout videos on YouTube and dance my heart out until I reach 12,500! My friend texts to say that she found a party supply shop that sells cheaper balloons than the ones I found, and she kindly picks some up.
5:30 p.m. — Two of my other housemates are back home, and my BF texts that he's leaving work soon. I order pizza for dinner for the seven of us – my treat. There's a discount deal at the pizza place for four 11-inch pizzas and two starters. I place the order on Deliveroo for the food to be delivered at 6:30. $63.50
6:30 p.m. — BF is here, yay! My friend texts that she'll be late but we start eating.
8 p.m. — We watch a movie that literally starts with a birthday celebration scene where everyone sings Happy Birthday song (a complete coincidence), so we take this opportunity to whip out the surprise birthday cake! One of my housemates sneakily requests to pause the movie by excusing himself to get drinks in the kitchen. I quickly excuse myself to the kitchen as well to prepare the cake and candles. Another housemate turns all the lights off and I emerge from the kitchen with the cake! Everyone sings and my BF smiles from ear to ear. We take photos, BF blows out the candle, and I serve the cake. We resume the movie and spend the rest of the night drinking gin and tonics. I pay my friend back for the balloons. $27.30
12 a.m. — BF stays over and I sing him "Happy Birthday" right at midnight before we snuggle and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $145.80
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