DMT Beauty Transformation: A Week In Singapore On A $282,951 Joint Income
featured Khareem Sudlow

A Week In Singapore On A $282,951 Joint Income

May 30, 2020DMT Beauty

#DMTBeautySpot #beauty

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: an Associate Manager working in Healthcare Consulting who has a joint income of $282,951 per year and spends some of her money this week on prosecco.

Editor’s Note: All currency has been converted to USD.

Occupation: Associate Manager
Industry: Healthcare Consulting
Age: 32
Location: Singapore
My Salary: $145,500 + 8% bonus
Husband’s Salary: $137,451 + 8% bonus
Net Worth: ~$1.2 million ($185,000 in 401(k)s; $200,000 in savings/checking; $800,000 in investments; $18,000 in ESPP. My husband and I have joint banking and investment accounts, except for bank accounts left over from before we got married that have less than $1,000 each. We split all finances evenly.)
Debt: $0 (College paid for with combo of parents’ help/scholarships/jobs and we don’t have cars)
Paycheck Amount (My paycheck: 2x month, Husband’s paycheck: 1x month): My paycheck: $2,936; Husband’s paycheck: 11,454 (he pays taxes in one lump sum in April, ~16,000)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Phones/Data: $40
Renter’s Insurance: $12
Netflix: $12
Hulu/Disney+: shared with brother-in-law
Wedding/Engagement Ring Insurance: $90/year
Credit Cards Annual Fees: $545
Photo Storage: $45/year
Note About Expenses: We are living in Singapore on a contract for my job. As part of the contract, our rent, utilities, transportation, my health insurance, and a $75 per diem are covered by my company. My husband has national health insurance.

Day One

9 a.m. — Hooray for the weekend and a good night’s rest! After playing around on my phone for a bit, I get up and make myself breakfast — a chocolate protein shake with a banana, peanut butter, and oat milk.

11 a.m. — I spend about an hour doing Duolingo Spanish lessons. I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish and I know Duolingo isn’t going to make me fluent, but I do feel like I’ve learned a lot so far. Then I read some of Daisy Jones & The Six. I got the rec from an MD, and I’m already trying to slow myself down because I love it and don’t want it to end!

1 p.m. — Roll out my yoga mat and do a 45-minute yoga power flow on the Peloton app. It’s free for 90 days and even though I don’t have a bike or treadmill, they offer other classes that are pretty challenging. Follow this up with a 10-minute meditation also from the app. My husband, T., emerges from the bedroom and we decide to have brunch today, so we get dressed, toss on our masks, and head out.

1:30 p.m. — Masks are mandatory in Singapore (or S$300 fine) and they are so miserable to wear when the heat index is 106 Fahrenheit. That being said, I’ve been outside once since last weekend so I am willing to put up with it, and now is the time to go because no one is out. We walk to a wine store and since we’re not allowed inside, we look at the menu outside and the worker grabs us a few bottles (prosecco and an NZ sauvignon blanc — also an MD suggestion!). $38.49

2:30 p.m. — We walk to a local coffee shop and it’s the same drill: stand outside, place an order for roasted whole beans, and collect it ($15.39). Then we walk to a restaurant and place our brunch order: yogurt and granola with a green apple pressed juice for me and aloha burger and iced coffee for T. ($30.09). We walk home and pop the prosecco and have a little boozy brunch in our apartment. $45.48

5 p.m. — Every couple of months we try to take a look at our finances together to keep track of how we’re doing. It’s depressing to see our losses given the COVID situation, so I open another bottle of wine. We’re all about that FIRE-DINK life and figure that once the economy returns to normal, we’ll only have a few more years before we could retire if we want — or at least drastically cut back on our work hours or switch jobs completely.

7:30 p.m. — We’ve been drinking since brunch, and with the windows open and the breeze blowing in, it almost feels like a summer Saturday patio-drinking in pre-corona times. Almost. We’re hungry and out of wine, so we order a pizza/ravioli/wine deal that is basically the same meal that we had for dinner last night. While we’re waiting for it, we work on our 1,000-piece puzzle (it’s taken six weeks so far — we’re so bad at it!) and talk about how we’re going to seize the day when corona ends and go to beach clubs and night clubs like we’re 22 again. (Sober edit: haha no we won’t.) $69.28

11 p.m. — Time to continue Hunger Games weekend! Neither of us has seen the movies, and I really liked the books, so this weekend has been declared Hunger Games weekend where we watch all the movies. We’re on the second movie now. $3.99

1:30 a.m. — Bedtime.

Daily Total: $157.24

Day Two

9 a.m. — I actually feel pretty okay this morning. Day drinking ftw! I have a protein shake and a huge glass of water for breakfast.

11 a.m. — My mom turns 60 this year, so my dad, siblings, and I are each listing 10 things we love about Mom and then we’ll have it printed as a book and gift it to her once we’re together again. I compile my list and send it over to my brother who is doing the layout. Since we won’t be able to all be together on her birthday, we’re going to send flowers, so I look at options and send them to my siblings for their thoughts.

1 p.m. — Hunger Games time. We rent the movie ($3.99) and place a delivery order for soup and sandwiches. I get a tomato and cheese toastie and butternut squash soup, and T. gets a wrap and minestrone soup. It is ridiculous to eat soup in Singapore, but if you turn up the AC and close your eyes, it’s almost like it’s a cool spring day. $18.85

6 p.m. — After the movie and reading for a bit, T. and I go for a run. This is our usual route around our usual time, but today it is so packed with people. This is pre-corona levels of crowds. People are over it, and I know this won’t be popular with the quarantine police out there, but I kind of understand. There have been less than 10 daily community cases here (the high counts are all in the foreign worker dorms and are very under control) so people don’t feel threatened as much as they did back in January-April. We finish the run and walk away from the path to stretch, and we see the literal quarantine police wandering around. It seems the crowds have thinned out to normal Sunday evening levels now.

7 p.m. — Back home, we order delivery for dinner. I get a “Feel Good Salad” with kale, salmon, almonds, sweet potatoes, and fruit. It sounds weird but actually tastes very good. T. gets a falafel wrap with sweet potato fries. While we’re eating, I remember that our building is having an Instagram contest where you post a pic of yourself making dinner, tag them, and you can win $50. In a rare quarantine miracle, I made dinner last weekend and happened to take a pic because I was so proud of it. I edit the pic and post it to Instagram. $21.41

8 p.m. — It’s #selfcaresunday, so after I shower, I put on a face mask, light a candle, turn on some fairy lights, and write in my journal for a bit. Then I do a short restorative yoga to calm some of the anxiety I’m feeling about the impending week. Afterward, T. and I watch the last Hunger Games movie. I really enjoyed the first three, but the last one has too many guns and explosions for a Sunday night. $3.99

11 p.m. — Reading and bed.

Daily Total: $44.25

Day Three

8:15 a.m. — Wake up and roll out my yoga mat for a quick 20-minute flow to start the day. I’m trying to do yoga every day in May, and so far, so good. I really like starting my day with some stretching since my lower back has been killing me. Afterward, I have a call for work and then make myself the usual protein shake breakfast. I actually do have a semblance of a morning skin routine, so I do that too: drugstore cleanser, Clinique fresh pressed daily booster, Origins Ginzing eye cream, and Neutrogena moisturizer. I’m slowly getting better at skincare but still finding what works for me.

12:30 p.m. — The takeaway continues. This time I go over to the mall (malls are life in Singapore) to get a salad for me and a wrap for T. I put on my face mask, walk to the only open entrance to the mall, and scan in for contract tracing. This involves scanning a QR code, putting my name, phone number, and FIN (like SSN in the US) into the form, tapping Check-In, showing the security my safe entry form, and getting my temperature taken. Then I walk to the salad place, do the same check-in again, place my order, wait six feet away from everyone while it’s being prepared, check out of the salad place, walk to the entrance of the mall, and check out. I walk back to my apartment where they take my temperature as well. I am safety. $17.99

1 p.m. — I eat my salad while doing Duolingo and reading the news. It turns out that the reason for the big-crowds-turned-no-crowds on our run yesterday was because the quarantine officers shut down takeaway alcohol at the stretch of restaurants right after we went past. We noticed this weekend that people have started getting takeaway drinks and then just standing along the path to drink them in small groups, which is against the “circuit breaker” rules. Someone took a picture and posted it to Facebook, so the police started enforcing the rules.

4 p.m. — I was dreading a meeting this afternoon and it gets canceled. Yay! T. cuts up some guava so I snack on that while taking a break from work to order my mom’s birthday flowers. I get them from a local florist that my family has been using for years — my prom date’s boutonniere came from there! The total is $40, but it will be split with my siblings, so my portion is $8. I also owe my sister $8 for the wine rack she bought last night. $16

5 p.m. — Last hour-ish of work. I put on some Stevie Nicks because I’ve got Daisy & the Six on my mind and also she’s just cool.

7 p.m. — Sign off of work, read a bit, and then get sucked into our ridiculous puzzle. T. and I end up working on this for an hour before we realize we should probably eat dinner. He whips up a pesto pasta and I take a break from the puzzle to do a lower-body bodyweight workout from the Peloton app.

10 p.m. — I’m restless and know I’m not going to sleep tonight, so I go for a 30-minute walk to burn off some energy. This late at night, there are only a few people out, so it’s easy to distance. I get home just in time to watch T. place his last puzzle piece of the section he’s been working on! I cheer and sing/hum the Olympics theme because this is a big deal, people!

11:30 p.m. — Shower and read a bit before bed.

Daily Total: $33.99

Day Four

8 a.m. — I wake up with the intention of joining a Zoom yoga class, but I’m so tired so I snooze and get up a half-hour later to do a 20-minute shoulder-opener yoga. I can’t believe how good my shoulders actually feel at the end — it will be great for the next 20 minutes before I hunch over my laptop for 10 hours.

9 a.m. — I make oatmeal with peanut butter and blueberries for breakfast, wash my face, brush my teeth, and settle in for a two-hour team meeting. Thankfully everyone I work with hates video calls, so no one can see my sloppiness!

12:30 p.m. — All of my calls finally end, and I’m feeling very hungry and overwhelmed. I can fix the hunger part, so T. orders veggie fajita bowls and chips and guac for us for lunch. I’m really concerned about the amount of work I have to do and the fact that the deadlines keep moving up for it. $26.18

3 p.m. — I remember that it’s my sister and her husband’s wedding anniversary today, so I take a break from work to make them a free ecard and email it over. I also look around on Alo and add some things to my cart that I absolutely do not need. Then I go online to a local bookstore and find a book on my list and add that to my cart as well. I’ll decide later whether this shopping is a good idea or just my way of handling my emotions.

4 p.m. — I am really annoyed about a work thing so I sign off “Thanks” with a comma instead of an exclamation point. That’ll show ’em. Then I eat a vegan coconut ice cream sandwich with dark chocolate cookies. It’s delicious and momentarily takes me out of my bad mood.

7 p.m. — I signed off from work but continue to get Whatsapp messages from my boss. I really like Singapore, but the work/life balance is sort of non-existent, at my office anyway. The lack of balance has gotten even worse because of corona — everyone knows you’re not busy, so they seem to think you’re okay working into the night, which I am not. Admittedly, I’m also having a rough day and things are weighing on me more than usual. I chose to move here mostly knowing this was how things were, so I just need to learn to blend into the culture.

10 p.m. — T. and I eat leftover potato and cheese pierogis for dinner with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I made them from scratch a few weeks ago, and it was a lot of work but actually very fun! (I’m a horrible cook, but I think this was much more enjoyable because there was no chopping involved.) Then we take a late walk, and when we get home, T. works a bit more, and I work on our puzzle. I only place five pieces — seriously, I’m so bad at it!

11:30 p.m. — Finish reading Daisy Jones and I’m both happy because I loved the book and sad because it’s over! Then, bedtime.

Daily Total: $26.18

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — Wake up, bit of yoga, morning routine, log on to work. T. informs me that our lockdown has been extended for four more weeks! The government says Singapore is reopening, but basically nothing is changing so it’s definitely still a lockdown. This is so disheartening. Though soon I will learn what my eyebrows look like in their natural state, which is a fun little adventure.

9 a.m. — T. tells me that last night while he was trying to sleep, he was looking at the stock market and decided to buy some stocks that are down right now. I add the company to my stock app to track its movement. $2,000

10 a.m. — After a couple of meetings, I make a protein shake. The bottom of the blender falls out, so it leaks everywhere. This is fine.

1 p.m. — We’re trying to clean out our fridge because we’re moving apartments this weekend (same building, just a few floors up) and don’t want to have to haul a lot of food. We have lots of takeaway leftovers, so I make some rice for leftover Thai green curry for T. and leftover veggie fajitas for me. I find some funny Seinfeld-in-the-time-of-coronavirus memes that lift my spirits out of my morning funk. I also do a little Duolingo.

3:30 p.m. — A couple more meetings and then I eat a rum and raisin flavored KitKat mini that came from a pre-quarantine haul from the Japanese grocery store, Don Don Donki. They have all kinds of uniquely flavored Japanese snacks — I always find something fun!

7 p.m. — I log off work for the day and go down to the building lobby to get the logistics set up for our move. Then, T. and I order dinner — fattoush, an eggplant wrap, and a trio of different dips with warm pita: hummus, baba ganoush, and spiced walnut. Everything is really good! This will be added to our regular delivery list. $43.20

8 p.m. — I do a Peloton arms/shoulders workout, followed by 10-minute abs. Take a quick shower and settle in to watch the next episode of The Last Dance.

11 p.m. — I add six pieces to the puzzle (whoop) and then get into bed. I start reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz. No real thoughts on it so far, so we’ll see how it goes.

Daily Total: $2,043.20

Day Six

8:15 a.m. — Wake up, yoga, log on to work. In my effort to clean out the fridge/freezer, I make a chocolate protein shake with oat milk, frozen mango, guava, tahini, and cinnamon, and I am shocked at how good it is! Normally, my experimentation results in me having to choke down something brownish-green and disgusting. Today will be a good day.

1 p.m. — I break to make myself a smorgasbord of leftovers for lunch — a few pierogis, fattoush, pita and carrots and dips, and a cucumber that I end up taking one bite of and throwing out because it’s gone bad. Wasting food is the worst. I also do my Duolingo lesson of the day and check my building’s Instagram to see if I won the dinner photo contest. No news yet.

5 p.m. — I am accidentally on purpose listening in on T.’s work call about the division of responsibilities on his team. He’s been regularly working 11+ hour days and is largely unsupported by his boss as he tries to transition work to others. He tells his boss what’s up and I’m so proud of him, so I order churros to celebrate! I get a single stuffed Nutella churro and a bundle of original churros plus dark chocolate sauce. They are the perfect afternoon snack and now I’ve got a sugar high to power me through the rest of the afternoon! $13.81

7 p.m. — Close my laptop for the day and put on an episode of Schitt’s Creek. Love this show. Then I pick out, you guessed it, a Peloton workout. This time it’s a Y2K music outdoor run. It takes me back to 13 years old when I was singing Hit ‘Em Up Style as though I could relate. I run along the river and over to the Merlion statue. It’s so weird to see this area devoid of tourists. While I’m out, T. goes to the grocery store. He gets bananas, a cucumber, wine, a beeswax wrap, some bath/body stuff for a bday gift that I’m not allowed to see, lemons, limes, cheese, and bread. I honestly thought this diary would end up being just a compilation of our delivery orders but look at us switching it up. $102.42

9:30 p.m. — I come home to birthday flowers from my friend (T. proxy purchased and delivered them)! I turn 32 tomorrow, which will be interesting to celebrate in corona life. I take a shower and exfoliate with a homemade mask. It’s super weird (banana, ground oats, and greek yogurt) and smells strange but my skin is so smooth afterward! Then I put on my Laneige Lavendar Water Sleeping Mask and T. and I watch the last episode of The Last Dance. I realize we didn’t have dinner but I guess that’s what happens when you have four churros each as an afternoon snack. #cleaneating

11:30 p.m. — I read a bit in bed. I’ve noticed that social distancing is really permeating my life because whenever characters hug or gather in groups, I always think about how they’re not abiding by the rules. Does this happen to anyone else?? Eventually, I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $116.23

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Happy Birthday to me! I wake up and do a 45-minute morning yoga video with one of my friends. Afterward, we do a video chat, and when I hang up with her I have a call with another friend. Then I start meeting after meeting for work. T. brings me a cinnamon morning bun and some tea! These morning buns are so buttery and delicious.

12 p.m. — Our apartment manager drops off three mini birthday cupcakes! That was so nice of them! There is one Oreo cookie, one mint chocolate, and one red velvet with what looks like cream cheese frosting.

2:30 p.m. — I don’t know how it got to be the afternoon, but T. and I decide we should eat. We want bagel sandwiches, but the delivery minimum is $50. So we buy bagel sandwiches and seven bagels and cream cheese ($47.73). The place confuses our order and gives us eight bagels and no cream cheese, so when they re-deliver the rest of our order, they throw in some cookies and cake! At the same time, T. is having cheesecake delivered (so this has really turned into a cheesy afternoon) ($13.70). $61.43

5:30 p.m. — Early log off today because it’s Friday before the long weekend and I’m ready to partayy. T. and I open a bottle of wine and put on some music. He puts a bunch of birthday candles on the cupcakes and sings. We each have a cupcake (yum) and just chill and sing along with the music.

7:30 p.m. — Our niece video calls to wish me a happy birthday. She’s such a cute little nugget with so much energy. Today she shows us her princess dress and even does a few twirls. We also get to say hello to our nephew who is just learning how to wave. I miss these two so much! After the call, T. and I eat the cheesecake slices we ordered this afternoon — strawberry for me and apple crumble for him.

8:30 p.m. — We decide we should have more to eat for dinner than just cheesecake, so we order from a restaurant down the street. It is pouring out, so delivery times are long. After about a half-hour, the restaurant cancels our order. This is a bummer but happens quite a bit because there aren’t enough drivers for all the delivery orders. Not a big deal, we just order from another place and get the food a little later. We each get a boring salad, but it’s healthy! $23.11

11 p.m. — T. tells me what my bday gift is — a home spa day tomorrow! I’m so excited to relax and be pampered. Then we put on Moana because we were talking about it with our niece earlier and told her we would watch it. And that’s a wrap for the first day of 32!

Daily Total: $84.54

COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.

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