Money Diaries — A "Money Optimiser" with a wedding to plan and a house to buy
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Money Diaries — A "Money Optimiser" with a wedding to plan and a house to buy

Feb 2023
Feb 2020

Our next profile in our Money Diaries series is a 29-year-old marketing manager working at a large agency. With plans to get married in 2020, she's been working with her fiancé on a savings strategy to buy a house and fund their wedding. A big cost saver across categories, she'll spend her time trying to find cheap alternatives for clothing, hacks for subscription services, and cooking at home for her family to save on spending. From what we can tell, our marketing manager loves optimising, and is willing to invest time into finding the best ways to spend her money.

Age: 29

Current location: Singapore, lives in the East

Current industry: Agency, Marketing Manager

Number of years employed: 7

Disclaimer: Would like to think of myself as a money optimiser

Monthly expenses

  • Phone bill: $80 (looking to change to a $30-40 plan)
  • Netflix: Shared with sister, who pays for it.
  • The Business Times subscription: $30
  • Household expenses for mum: $300
  • Household expenses for dad: $200
  • Transport: $250 a month, Grab + take the train. Not planning to buy a car.
  • Food: $400 a month. I live at home, so I try to eat dinner at home, and also save on breakfast by eating oats. Lunch is primarily $5/meal. My goal is to have zero expenditure for breakfast, and I currently don't buy any drinks regularly other than bubble tea once a week. On the weekends, I do eat out a little to contribute to my $400 spend, but I limit myself to one nice meal a week.
  • Skincare, makeup, clothes: $100. I still spend, but all in moderation.
  • Insurance: Personal insurance.

Food: Effort trumps cost

My favourite thing to do is to try and cut back on my food expenses. On weekdays, I try to eat at the hawker centre, and give myself a budget of $5 and below. On weekends, I try to cook by myself. Through a combination of passion + budgeting, my personal challenge in the kitchen is to create awesome food with a small budget and I love replicating food I've eaten outside in the kitchen — such as laksa pasta, har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken), and even "crab in a bag".

I don't need to eat expensive meals all the time, though I appreciate it. My friends and I head to JB for good food once every two to three months. We have massive feasts (i.e. dim sum, seafood) which work out to be quite affordable per pax there. It usually costs about S$5 per person for a big dim sum feast, or S$20 per pax for a meal that includes seafood & crab.

Subscriptions: Seasonality works

I love subscriptions, but I am a seasonal subscriber. I subscribe to Style Theory during festive seasons and the wedding season to cut back on consumption. I've also tried ClassPass and F45 trials, but those aren't feasible for my budget long-term. I do, however, take advantage of free trials, and the New Year is one of the best times to try new gyms thanks to all the promos. I'm a serial trial hopper. Hiking is also part of my personal activities like Henderson Waves, so I try to stay fit doing that.

House hunting

I've been hunting for one, and I will be wiping out my CPF for it. We already bought the property — a resale flat — two weeks ago. We put a combined 20% to 25% of CPF and cash, and that's going to serve as our down payment. The home is located in the west side of Singapore.

My financial tools: Money-saving

I love shopping comparison sites, and I use GrabPay to clock higher points on rides and to get other discounts. Shopback is another favourite online shopping tool.

Saving and budgeting: Setting targets

All my money goes into one account because I have a budgeting strategy instead. I'm also getting married and getting a house with my fiancé, so that is my number one priority. We both have a similar philosophy to savings and spending — we like to get the best value out of everything we buy. OCBC 360 is up to 3.45% if you hit certain conditions that's what you get a year.

Liquidity is most important for me right now, but I will probably be pumping more into investments and will do so after my wedding.

My relationship with money: Security + access = opportunity

My view on money is that it provides security and access to more opportunities.

I am able to get visibility of my monthly expenditure using a spreadsheet. This keeps my finances in check. I personally believe that a combination of efficient budgeting + investing yields the best returns in the long run.

I do talk about investments with my friends. I feel like my understanding is pretty rudimentary right now, but I've been working on improving it. My fiancé is quite knowledgeable (he's in finance), and I've been reading more books about investing. I've also gone to workshops to get a sense of what I'll be doing beyond my budgeting and home purchases, since I want to make sure I understand all the available options I have before I invest. Knowledge is power after all.

Among my friends, we talk about salaries but not frequently. It's still not that open here. We also talk about investments and how to make money ?and I even have friends that have a multiple property strategy. I do notice, however, they've all spent some time researching this.

Among my girlfriends, I do notice that our partners are unfortunately, the more savvy ones. My female friends are not as savvy and many of them give their spouses free rein over their investment decisions. For my higher earning friends, they tend to buy REITs, and for my friends with lower capital, they'll think about buying bonds and trade tips on what credit cards to use. I feel a little odd since I don't even have a credit card, but I've definitely picked up a tip or two.

Financial health is wealth

All in all, I think I'm a pretty financially healthy person who enjoys life, but really loves to find a good deal. I do think that I do invest a good amount of time finding good deals upfront and going out of my way to JB to get deals on shopping and beauty services — but for my peace of mind and cost savings, it's worth it.


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