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Today: a flight attendant who makes about $39,000 per year (plus $2,200/month from a trust fund) and spends some of her money this week on When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger.
Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Flight Attendant
Industry: Commercial Aviation
Income: $39,000 from work, but I also get $26,400/year ($2,200/month) from the trust fund my late dad set up for me.
Paycheck Amount: I get paid five times a month, with the amounts varying according to my roster. On average, it comes to $3,250/month.
Condo Maintenance Fee: $250 (I live with my mum in a two-bedroom/two-bathroom condo. The unit, bought for $600,000, is owned by me and was entirely paid for by the money my dad left me, so I have no housing loan or rent to pay.)
Car Payment: $500
Student Loans: I have a degree in journalism, but the cost (about $15,000) was paid for by my dad.
Central Provident Fund: 20% of my salary ($650), with a 17% match from my employer
Mom's Expenses: $750
TV, Phone, & Wifi: $180
Electricity & Water: $60
Savings: $2,500 (This amount is nonnegotiable to me, leaving me with $560/month for my own expenses. My boyfriend and I are saving up to buy a place of our own, and I dip into my savings only for big expenses such as holidays.)
2 a.m. — It's Saturday, and my mum picks me up from the airport after I arrive. My company pays for the cabs we take to/from Changi Airport for flights that depart/arrive at unearthly hours, but my mum insists on dropping me off/picking me up every time. I'm an only child, and we're extremely close. The flight took only seven and a half hours, but taking into account prep and traveling time, I've been at work for close to 12 hours. When I finally get home, I wash up, remove my full face of makeup, and promptly knock out.
10 a.m. — My mum drops me off at a cafe in Serangoon, where I meet my boyfriend, T., and his daughter for brunch. I'm exhausted but excited — I get to spend the weekend in Singapore! The three of us order the cafe's signature breakfast platter (scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, pan-fried mushrooms, brioche, and mesclun salad with cherry tomatoes), pan-fried salmon with an onsen egg and avocado on quinoa, a beef burger with French fries, and honey paprika chicken wings. T. gets a flat white while I order an apple peach kiwi mango lime juice. T. gets the bill ($65.90) before we leave and then drops his daughter off with her mom.
2 p.m. — T. and I take the train into town ($1.80 each with our prepaid cards). I don't feel like doing any shopping after that pricey brunch, but we walk around the mall and T. picks up a new wallet ($50) and pair of sneakers ($110) at Timberland. But he pays just $56, thanks to the "buy two, get 40% off" Black Friday sale, plus some $40 vouchers he got from the government for serving the nation. (There's compulsory national service for males in Singapore.)
7 p.m. — We check out the outdoor "Christmas Village" at one of the fancier malls. There's a two-story carousel and we make a mental note to take T.'s daughter here next time. T. gets a soft drink and a glass of Prosecco ($8.75) for us to share. He also orders some sambal stingray and Chinese broccoli cooked in oyster sauce ($15) from a food stall. We choose to sit outdoors despite the humidity to enjoy the live music. The atmosphere's great, and it's as Christmas-y as tropical Singapore can get. After gobbling down our food (we waited nearly an hour for it, as the stall was overwhelmed), we practically run to a theater nearby to catch Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. I booked and paid for premium tickets (big recliner seats with blankets and finger food served to us!) online a week ago. They cost $58.50. Pricey, I know, but it's date night, and the movie's looooong.
11:30 p.m. — T. wants to send me home via cab, but I don't want to spend another $18. Plus, there is a bus to my place that takes the highway, which takes just slightly longer than a cab, so T. comes with me. Since it's an express bus, the trip is costlier ($2, paid with pre-loaded transport card). At my place, T. and I watch Friends on Netflix using his account for a bit before he catches the last bus home. I chill out by reading and surfing the web, and then head to bed at 4 a.m., which is when I'm finally get sleepy despite being exhausted. Having irregular sleeping hours is part and parcel of my job.
Daily Total: $0
12 p.m. — It's my day off! I catch up on sleep and wake up just in time for lunch: economy rice (sweet and sour chicken, steamed broccoli, and steamed egg on rice) bought and brought home by my mum. Since I spent the whole of yesterday out, I decide to stay home today and spend time with her.
1 p.m. — I semi-unpack my luggage — my toiletries, humidifier, and spare uniform have permanent spots in my suitcase, since I fly practically every other day. I pass my dirty clothing to my mum, who gets the washing machine going. (She doesn't trust me with it.) I also rearrange my closet and take the winter wear out of storage. I'll need it for the days I'm overseas. The task takes three hours and gets me sneezing, but the end result is satisfying.
4 p.m. — I decide to take a look at some financial statements, as I want to make sure that the company managing my trust fund isn't charging me more than they should, which is about $4,000 a year (deducted directly from the trust fund). I don't have the best relationship with them, as I feel that they put the idea of a trust fund into my dad's head literally hours before he passed away, when all he wanted to do was write a will, but I've come to terms with it. The $2,200 monthly allowance and trust fund will cease to exist when I'm 30, and I should get a lump sum of $150,000 then. Fun fact: I lived like a trust fund baby in the first year after my dad died (three holidays, a Mercedes-Benz, expensive house renovation, etc.) and ended up $10,000 in debt. Since then, I've come to the realization that I'm not a trust fund baby despite having a trust fund (I still have to work!), so I'm now really strict with my finances.
6 p.m. — I stop poring over the financial statements because my brain's hurting from the numbers. Also, they make me sad. I'm eternally grateful for the financial support I get from my dad, but would 10000000000% rather have him back. That's not an option, so I work on being an adult he'd be proud of. Another fun fact: My dad's funeral took place on my 22nd birthday, and I've never celebrated my birthday since.
8 p.m. — My two cousins and one of their partners come over as my mum heads out to dinner with her friends. I order and pay for two large pizzas and a snack platter from Domino's ($25 including delivery; we don't tip in Singapore). I'm the oldest among us three cousins, so I have the habit of paying for them every time. We eat and watch the Sex and the City movie on Netflix. I have yet to watch the series and am therefore clueless about the characters, but enjoy the movie nonetheless. $25
11:30 p.m. — My three guests head home, and I tidy my place up before painting my nails for a turnaround flight tomorrow — my company requires the stewardesses to wear makeup and painted nails while on duty. Again, I head to bed at 4 a.m. after scrolling through Instagram and reading Money Diaries.
Daily Total: $25
12 p.m. — I wake up and eat the fried noodles with fishcake and cabbage my mum bought for me. I run down to my lobby to pass a fellow stewardess some skincare products I bought for her on her request when I had a flight to Seoul. I head back up and start getting ready for my flight.
3 p.m. — My mum drops me off at the airport two and a half hours before my flight to Bangkok is scheduled to take off. I have an hour-long briefing with the other cabin crew I'm working with today, and we spend an hour and a half getting to our aircraft and preparing it for the flight — the ladies get the newspapers, magazines, earphones, and toiletries ready while the gentlemen ensure that the meals are correct.
8 p.m. — We land in Bangkok! We have an hour before returning home, but we're not allowed to leave the aircraft. After replenishing the amenities for the passengers, I eat the salmon salad my mum prepared for me. She prepares one for almost every flight I have, even if it means waking up at 3 a.m. to do it. I'm thankful, as I don't like eating the food on board despite it being free. Airplane food isn't fresh, and it's over-salted. Our taste buds aren't as sensitive when we're 35,000 feet in the air, hence the extra help needed. The food's okay if you fly a couple of times a year, but not when you're doing it thrice a week!
11:45 p.m. — We arrive back in Singapore, and I buy a beef burrito from a 24-hour kiosk in the airport because I'm starving. It's $4 after my 10% staff discount, and I eat it as my mum drives me home. Once home, I shower, repaint my nails, and head to bed at 2 a.m. $4
Daily Total: $4
10 a.m. — I wake up to the economy rice (spicy beef, cabbage, and long beans) my mum bought.
12 p.m. — Another turnaround flight today — same old, same old. It's to Jakarta, however, so the flight time is just over an hour each way. I work for a full-service carrier, so we still serve a meal despite having just forty minutes of cruising. It's a challenge to dish out 250 trays in that time AND collect them back, and we have to do it twice since it's a turnaround flight! I manage to find five minutes to eat a couple of spoonfuls of the tom yum chicken with rice we're serving. On the plus side, I end work relatively early.
7 p.m. — My mum and I decide to get sushi for dinner at the airport. I'm proud to say that Changi Airport is one of the best (if not the best) in the world, and the food options are good and endless. I get a salmon don ($13) while my mum opts for the chirashi ($17) and goes crazy on the complimentary pickled ginger. The hot green tea's free, too. I pay for dinner, while parking ($4) is covered by our prepaid card. $30
9 p.m. — It's terribly nice to be home on a weekday with nothing to do. I purchase When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger on my Kindle ($12.99) and read it in one sitting, but (spoiler!) it's not great. Definitely "meh" compared to The Devil Wears Prada. Like most sequels, the plot of the new book is thin and verging on screaming "this book exists because people will read it no matter what!" I head to bed at midnight. $12.99
Daily Total: $42.99
9 a.m. — Day off, whoop! I wake up and "cook" instant oats and mix some honey. I also drink and eat the fresh coconut my mum chopped opened, scooped the flesh out of and left in the fridge for me before heading out to work. She buys the coconuts at $1.60 a pop from the supermarket, and I love it.
12 p.m. — I drive myself to a pilates studio located in a mall half an hour away. It's really expensive though, at $350 for 10 one-hour sessions, but I decide to commit myself to it again because I find that it helps with my poor posture and backaches. Plus, the sessions are intimate with a lot of personalized coaching from the instructor, and I feel fantastic every time. I pay for the new package from my savings account, bringing the balance to roughly $18,000. $350
1 p.m. — I meet my mum at the mall, and we head into town. We have crab broth ramen for lunch ($27.70), and she puts it on her credit card. Afterwards, we walk around and visit the brick-and-mortar store of Singapore's most well-known online boutique. I leave with two pairs of pants (same style but in different colors because they fit me so well!) and two tops for $95. We pop by an açaí bowl cafe, where we share the signature bowl ($6.80). My mum pays, as I don't have any cash on me. $95
8 p.m. — My mum drives us home after we pick up two chirashis ($26.50, she pays) to have for dinner at home. I eat while packing and studying for tomorrow's flight, which is to London. I go to bed at 2 a.m.
Daily Total: $445
10 a.m. — I don't have to be at the airport until 10 p.m. and T. doesn't start work until 5 p.m., so I take the bus ($1.20) using my pre-loaded transport card to his place, which is about half an hour away. We have breakfast at the coffee shop nearby — wonton noodles ($4.40 for two), plus T. also has his daily dose of "kopi" (coffee with milk) for $0.88. He pays. I don't get a drink, as I rarely drink soft drinks and don't drink coffee. It makes my heart beat really quick.
11:30 a.m. — T. drives us to a show flat for a new condominium 15 minutes away. We want to buy a property together but are deciding between public or private housing. This 99-year leasehold, city-fringe private development we're checking out will set us back a cool $1.62 million for a 1,070 square foot unit, which is actually too small for us. My mum will be living with us, and I want T.'s daughter to have her own space for when she stays with us. We decide he may purchase a resale public flat instead, which will cost $475,000 for more space, and it's in an even better location. However, we're both used to the amenities and security of a condominium. The dilemma continues.
2 p.m. — T. and I pick his daughter up from school, and we head to a mall for lunch. On her request, we get shrimp fried rice, pork dumplings, and spicy and sour soup noodles at a Chinese restaurant ($47.40, I pay). We drop her off at her mom's place before T. drops me off at my place and heads to work. I nap for two and a half hours, as I have to be awake all night for my flight later. $47.40
7:30 p.m. — I wake up and get ready for work before my mum drives me to the airport. Tonight's flight will take 13 hours. I am ready, however, with my facial spray and salad. We take off at 12:30 a.m.
Daily Total: $47.40
6 a.m. — I'm in London! I'm extremely exhausted despite having gotten three hours of sleep in the cabin crew bunk. More importantly, I can't wait to remove my makeup. It's 6 a.m. in London, and it takes us two hours to get from the aircraft to our hotel. Overseas, the flight and cabin crew get shuttled to/from the airports via private buses. I find it difficult to sleep on buses, so I look out of the window and listen to music the entire journey to the hotel. It's nice to not have to talk after almost 13 hours of talking.
8 a.m. — After checking in, I shower and head to the supermarket to get water and a ham and cheese sandwich ($8.30). I gobble it down before sleeping until noon. $8.30
12 p.m. — A couple of my colleagues and I decide to head to Oxford Street. We don't want to sleep the day away and have trouble sleeping at night! I pay for the Tube ride there ($3.70) with an Oyster card that still has money left on it from my last trip here. I accompany my colleagues as they shop but don't buy anything — it's easy to fall into the trap of shopping every time we're overseas, so I make a conscious effort to buy only what I need (or really like).
7 p.m. — I do, however, treat myself to a steak dinner at Flat Iron ($14). It's the one thing I always do in this city. After that, my colleagues and I take the Tube back to the hotel. The ride ($3.70) is once again paid by my Oyster card, which still has $12.80 left on it, yay! I wash up and knock out early. $14
Daily Total: $22.30
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