Ever wondered what your salary and spending habits are like in comparison to your peers? Money Talks is a column by Her World that takes an honest look at how women spend their money. If you would like to submit a money diary anonymously, please email us at Herworld.email@example.com with the subject “Money Talks” in your email header, and one of our editors will get back to you.
In today’s column, we speak to a pregnant 30 year-old Senior Copywriter whose money is all going towards her medical expenses. Here’s a look at what she spent on and a peek into how much it costs to prepare for a baby.
About The Diarist
Occupation: Senior Copywriter
Industry: Media & Advertising
Education level: Bachelor’s Degree
Salary: Below $6,000
Average Monthly Expenses
Utilities and Cleaner: $50
Phone Bill: $40
Subscriptions: $51.09 for HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Spotify and Lianhe Zaobao subscription for my dad
Entertainment: Non-existent since I got pregnant and stopped having a social life
Anything else: $200 ($60 goes to a part-time helper that I split half with my husband and $140 for my cat’s food and grooming sessions)
Savings: $200 (It used to be much more, but my monthly expenses have increased since I got pregnant.)
Total expenditure for the month: $4,586.03
On her attitude towards money:
“I used to be really intimidated by personal finance (because it was in shambles), but once I got disciplined about saving I felt a lot more confident. I was also really proud of myself for starting to plan my future and I even started investing in my mid to late twenties.
I did panic for a bit when I lost my job right after the circuit breaker. Thankfully, I had some savings to fall back on and I found another job pretty quickly. The Covid support grant from the government also helped to tide me over for a bit (which I paid it forward by donating some money after my finances have stabilised!). Through that experience, I learnt that I can really cut down on my expenses if push comes to shove. And it further cemented my belief that I should always be saving for a rainy day, which makes me think twice about spending frivolously.
Other than the occasional overpriced coffee, bubble tea or cafe meal, I feel like I don’t really splurge on much. I’d much rather spend on experiences than items, so I don’t mind splurging a bit more (within my means, of course) on holidays, fine dining restaurants (only once a year!) and gadgets that’ll make my everyday life easier. For instance, I’d seldom spend more than $150 on an outfit (and even then I would sit on the purchase for a week before checking out my shopping cart), but I would gladly pay more than $500 for a Dyson vacuum.”
On her lack of financial literacy as someone who comes from a low-income family:
“I come from a low-income family and have negative generational wealth to speak of, so I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll probably be working till the day I die in my HDB flat. Growing up, I never had any conversations with my family about money. They were just as clueless because we had so little of it.
In fact, whatever I know about managing money, I learned from peers who are more financially savvy or well-to-do. Shoutout to my ex-boyfriend for teaching me to always buy in bulk if I can afford to and to pay more for a well-made item that will last, as opposed to buying a cheaper version that would cost more to replace. My younger self only cared about the number on the price tag and I think I ended up paying more for that. Also shoutout to my ex-boss for teaching me that the most valuable thing I can buy with money is time — I use that to justify my Grab rides.
My family definitely thinks I can be more frugal but I also don’t want to be miserable while saving up. I don’t subscribe to keeping up with the Joneses and I always save before I spend — I think that’s good enough.”
On how pregnancy caused her to rethink her finances:
“Before pregnancy, I used to save 16% of my salary. Now I’d be lucky if I can save $200 per month. I’m re-calibrating at the moment because my medical expenses are throwing me off. Pre-pregnancy, my main medical expenses were for my dentist (I’m doing Invisalign) and my psychiatrist (I’m recovering from anxiety and depression). With this pregnancy, I’ve added on two more healthcare providers — my gynae and my ENT specialist (I got really bad nasal congestion during my first trimester).
That said, I feel like I’m somewhat comfortable with my financial situation. Sure I’d still need to scrimp and save on certain things, and I still can’t afford to fly business class but I’m ok with that. I’m just glad that I’d be able to provide my child with certain things that I didn’t get in my own childhood (e.g. swimming lessons, overseas holidays, toys and gadgets).”