International Business & Economy Finance expat lady living a good life in Singapore

Finance expat lady living a good life in Singapore

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By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
Recently, refinery29.com featured how a Canadian-Chinese woman working in the finance industry in Singapore spends her money (http://www.refinery29.com/money-diary-singapore-finance).
Refinery29 is a fashion and style website based in the US. It is supposed to be a lifestyle platform that “delivers nonstop inspiration to help live a more stylish and creative life”. It covers “everything from shopping and beauty to wellness and celebrities”, giving readers all the “tips, tricks, and tools they need to live a more beautiful life — and share it with the world”.
The editor of the site tracked how the Canadian-Chinese expat spends her money during a seven-day period and reported it.
The finance executive is 29 years old, married, and living with her husband in a condo. The website did not disclose which finance firm she is working in but her salary was reported to be S$164,990 or about S$13,800 a month.
They do not have kids but have a dog named Pluto, living with them.
Their condo rental is about S$5,000 a month which she pays half (S$2,500). She said she splits “50/50 with my husband”. Utilities including water, electricity and mobile phone bills come to about S$840 a month, which again, she pays half (S$420).
After taking away rental and utilities, she will have about S$10,900 to spend for the rest of her month. It was later tracked that she had spent S$820 by herself alone in that 1 week:
• Food & Drink – S$280
• Transportation – S$56
• Beauty – S$450
• Entertainment – S$34
Here are some highlights of her spending in that week. Followings are in her own words:
Day One
“It’s Sunday, so I head to a barre (ballet) class. I (previously) pre-paid for a package of 10 classes for US$215. Stop by 7-Eleven to grab a bottle of Fiji water. US$2”
“I arrive at a Starbucks to meet a potential interior designer for our condo. I get an iced tall Americano. US$3.07”
“We go for Chinese hotpot and pig out. The bill comes out to US$78.57, but the husband pays for it. We keep our finances separate for now, so we alternate paying for big meals and rent is split.”
“We take our dog to a dog café, which serves both doggy and human food. The dog gets a pork bento box, and my husband and I each grab an iced drink. US$17.14”
Day Two
“I take an Uber to work each morning. Owning a car is exorbitantly expensive in Singapore, so we take Uber everywhere. US$8.46”
“I pick up my usual iced skinny mocha for the morning. US$5.36”
“Lunch with a friend. I get a soup-and-sandwich set. Our lunch expense is reimbursed by my company, capped at US$15.”
“I didn’t particularly enjoy the soup and sandwich at lunch, so I get an early dinner. Taiwanese meat with rice and sweet-potato fries. US$7.50”

Day Three

“I am at the airport waiting to board a flight to Hong Kong for work. I don’t particularly enjoy food served in economy class, so I get a bowl of beef noodles prior to boarding. I also grab two gossip magazines to catch up with all the Kardashians. US$22.14”
“I’m back in the hotel and I order a Reuben sandwich and fries from room service. I charge it to the company card.”
Day Four
“I grab a quick lunch with my colleague at an Italian place in Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. The two of us rack up a US$150 bill, charged to my company card.”
“Shopping for a new moisturizer at Joyce Beauty, which is similar to Space.NK in the U.K. I buy the Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder as well as the Silk Cream, and packs of sheet masks from Karuna. US$321.33”
Day Five
“Client breakfast at hotel. I get the Bircher muesli again, and charge it to the company card.”
“I have to rush to the airport after my last meeting, grabbing a bowl of ramen prior to the flight. US$15.42”
“More gossip magazines and some snacks, since I’m still hungry after that ramen. US$14.14”
Day Six
“Salad for lunch, paid by company.”
“I buy some pork and veggies for my dog, Pluto. He’s on a home-cooked diet, so I get various parts of pork to cook for him. US$32.14”
Day Seven
“Uber to take my dog to the dog park. US$7.21”
“Snacks for all three of us at a restaurant in the park. My dog gets grilled chicken without seasoning, and my husband and I share some fries, accompanied by an iced lemon tea for me and a beer for him. I get the bill. US$28.57”
“Another meeting with a potential interior decorating firm, and some more takeout Chinese food. US$7”
Retrenched Singaporean PMETs having hard time finding work
Meanwhile, it has been reported that highly trained middle-aged Singaporeans are out of work (http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/highly-trained-middle-aged-and-out-of-work). They have been retrenched and couldn’t find similar jobs back in their industry.
Mr Desmond Tan was once the head of Asia sales in one of the largest European banks. After he was forced to quit, he couldn’t find any other jobs back in the finance industry. He was turned away from jobs by bank after bank.
Some even said he was “over-qualified”. Mr Tan used to earn more than S$25,000 a month but now has to settle for commissions of about S$3,000 as a property agent.
Another highly qualified retrenched person is Mr Long Khin Keong. He was a former general manager in the oil and gas industry, drawing a salary of about S$15,000 a month. These days, Mr Long drives a taxi earning less than S$2,000 a month.
Mr Long was forced to drive a cab after struggling to find a suitable job for 6 years. He must have exhausted all his savings in the 6 years.
“I’m not asking to become a GM again, I just want to be somewhere I can contribute with my experience,” he told the reporter.
However, Mr Long is still hopeful that the government will be able to do something for him. He said, “Hopefully somebody ‘up there’ reads this and improves the predicament of many like myself.”
It seems that these days, once retrenched, highly trained Singaporean PMETs can only find work if they switch careers by picking up new skills like selling properties, insurance or driving a cab.
Perhaps if Mr Long is fortunate enough to pick up the 29-year-old Canadian-Chinese expat in his taxi, he will have a better chance to get her recommend him a job in her firm rather than to wait for the government?

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