My Monthly Income and Expenses (Updated April-2020)

My Monthly Income and Expenses (Updated April-2020)
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Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

May 13, 2020

Why I Stopped Posting Income and Expenses Reports

Back in 2018, I used to post monthly income and expenses reports. However, I stopped this practice a few months after starting it, when I realised that these reports were incredibly repetitive month after month (and probably lulling everyone to sleep).

I felt that my income and expense reports were repetitive for the following reasons.

1. I receive active income from only a few sources – my 9-to-6 job, tutoring, as well as occasionally flipping items online. These were mostly stable every single month.

2. My passive income was incredibly low at the time, because I had just started investing seriously.

3. I have the same expenses month after month, because:

So, I figured I’d write this post for anyone keen on taking a peek into my month-to-month income sources and expenses.

My Monthly Expenditure

Here’s a snapshot of my current average monthly expenses, in Singapore dollars:

CategoryAmount (S$)
Rent (Paid to Family)$400
Utilities$35
Necessities$50
Food (Groceries and Dining Out)$100 - $150
Transport$60 - $90
Medical$50 - $100
Travel$0
Miscellaneous$30 - $50
Total$725 - $875

Rent: $400

I currently give my parents $200 and my grandparents $200 every month; I’ve logged this expense as “rent”.

Considering that my family sits on a pretty significant amount of wealth (just to be clear, none of which belongs to me), I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that they could easily make this $400 in just a few minutes. However, it is deemed as filial for children of Asian cultures to distribute a percentage of their monthly paychecks to support their parents. It makes them happy and gives them “face”, no matter the amount. (Of course, it can’t be too nominal. $10 would probably not cut it.)

 

Utilities: $35

Right now, I pay for only my mobile phone bill, which costs me $35 per month. This contract runs for 2 years.

There’s currently another cell service provider offering a no-contract $5 per month plan, which sounds like the dream. I’m planning on switching over once my existing contract ends.

Necessities: $50

Everything that I use on a daily or monthly basis, I’ve lumped as “necessities”. This includes household products, feminine products and supplements.

Because I currently take 5 different kinds of supplements, my expenses in this category are rather high. If need be (in cases of emergencies), I could cut down on my supplements.

Vitamin Supplements

The 5 different supplements that I take.

Food: $100 – $150

My food expenditure consists of groceries and eating out.

Groceries

At the moment, I don’t spend a lot on groceries as I sometimes have home-cooked meals with my parents; all these meals are paid for by my parents. In addition, if there are leftovers that nobody else wants, I bring these for lunch at work the next day.

My grocery spending is usually only about $50 a month, because:

  • I typically do grocery runs with my brother at least once a week for supper. I spend about $2 to $5 for each supper meal.
  • My girlfriend and I have been trying to get into the habit of batch cooking. Each serving usually comes up to no more than $2 to $3.
Cooking Shakshuka at Home

Cooking a very simple Shakshuka at my girlfriend’s.

Eating Out

On top of groceries, I spend a fair amount of money on eating out. Since I don’t pay a lot for groceries, I often splurge when it comes to eating out. Not exactly a good habit.

In 2019, I ate out a whopping 176 times. I admit that this seems a little cavalier, especially considering that I’m not making loads of money.

As such, in 2020, I’ve decided to reign this in a bit. It would be great if I spent no more than $50 a month on eating out. Since we’re currently on lockdown, this has been going well.

Cajun on Wheels Restaurant

Each dish set me back just $6. Meal-hacked.

Transport: $60 – $90

One thing I love about Singapore is the insanely cheap public transportation network. For example, I spend only $2.04 a day getting to work and going back home. That’s only $1.02 each way. (Amazing, right?) That’s why I take only public transportation. No Ubers or cabs for me.

I make a conscious effort to walk to as many places as possible, because I love walking. This keeps my transport costs as low as possible.

I’m that person who would walk anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to save that $1 transportation cost.

On a good month with lots of walking, I could spend as little as $60 on transport. On a not-so-good month with lots of rain and hence little walking, I could spend as much as $90 on transport.

 

Medical: $50 – $100

I have a chronic eye problem, which, at its most aggressive, would see me getting allergic conjunctivitis every month. I’ve since gotten it under control, with a great deal of tender loving care, cleaning and eye drops. However, all of this costs money, to the tune of $50 to $100 a month, depending on how much eye drops and medication I use.

This does not include the cost of medical appointments whenever my eye problem acts up. A single eye specialist appointment could set me back anywhere between $300 to $500. Thankfully, I haven’t had a problem with my eyes for a few years now, so I limit my specialist appointments to once a year, which are covered by my medical benefits at work.

Travel: $0

Travelling with Family

Whenever I travel with family, my parents usually foot the bill for accommodation and flights. When overseas, I usually spend only on food, entertainment or necessities.

Travelling Alone

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that I have not been travelling on my own for a while. Years ago, I visited Hong Kong with my girlfriend; my parents found out and, to cut a long story short, have forbidden me from ever travelling on my own again.

But I’m already 26, turning 27 this year. At this age, it seems absurd to not be able to live my own life.

As such, my travel plan for 2020 was to test the waters with my parents and bring up to them the idea of short trips with my cousins. These short trips would cost only about $200 to $400 per trip. This is another advantage of living in Singapore, which is in Southeast Asia. Countries with low costs of living are all around us, only a cheap budget flight away.

However, with the COVID-19 situation on high alert, travelling is out of the question for at least the rest of 2020.

Visiting Japan

Visiting Japan with family.

Miscellaneous: $30 – $50

A bunch of other things, such as gifts, entertainment and unexpected expenses, fall into this category.

My month-to-month spend varies depending on birthdays, social events and other unforeseen expenses.

 

Expenses – In Conclusion

Since my total monthly expenses amount to about $725 to $875, my total yearly expenses would therefore amount to only about $8,700 to $10,500.

Although my parents are authoritarian control-freaks, I’m still trying to make the best of a sucky situation by focusing on the benefits. And the clear financial benefit here is that I spend a lot less than I would if I were living on my own.

My Monthly Income

Active Income

My active income situation is fairly standard. I have only a few sources of active income:

  1. From my 9-to-6 corporate job;
  2. From my tutoring side hustle;
  3. From my flipping side hustle.
Income SourceAmount (S$)
Part-Time Corporate Job (Take-Home Salary)$1,750
Tutoring Side Hustle$600 - $1,000
Flipping Side Hustle$0 - $200
Total Income$2,350 - $2,950

Corporate Job

When I used to work full-time (5 days, 9-hour days) at my day job, I was earning about $3,600 a month, with $700 going into my retirement accounts, and $2,900 as my take-home salary. This is exclusive of any performance bonus received, which can vary between 1 to 3 months in any given year.

I’ve since negotiated a part-time working arrangement, and now work only 3 days a week. As such, my current salary is only $2,180 a month, with $430 going into my retirement accounts, and $1,750 as my take-home salary. Similar to the above, this is exclusive of any performance bonus received.

 

Side Hustles

For my tutoring side hustle, I teach students anywhere between 6 to 10 hours a week, making $25 an hour (this excludes the time that I take to travel to my students’ houses). The number of hours I teach is dependent on the availability of myself and my students.

I’ve been tutoring as a side hustle for more than 5 years now. I’ve since reflected and decided that this unscalable and unpredictable side hustle isn’t worth too much more of my time, and I believe that this is my last year of tutoring.

As for my flipping side hustle, I make anywhere between $0 to $200 a month. There are months where I can earn a great deal of money by getting in on the latest fad, but there are also months where I make absolutely nothing. I’m fine with this though, because I haven’t been putting in much effort at all. I’ve more or less dropped this side hustle entirely, because of the lack of passion.

Passive Income

I do have a few small sources of passive income, which are as follows:

  • Stocks (both ETFs and individual high dividend-yielding stocks);
  • Bonds (only ETFs);
  • Cash (in high-yield bank accounts); and
  • Retirement accounts.

In 2019, my total passive income amounted to $5,646, and the breakdown of this is as follows.

Passive Income SourceAmount (S$)
Stocks$2,969
Bonds$958
Cash$353
Retirement Accounts$1,366

Side Note: I track my yearly passive income, and you can find these reports in greater detail below.

Dividend Income from Stocks

The majority of my net worth is in Singapore’s stock ETF. On top of that, I am also invested in several high dividend-yielding individual stocks in the Singapore market.

For international exposure, I own VOO, VTI and VXUS.

In 2019, I received a total of $2,969 in dividend income from my all my stock holdings.

 

Dividend Income from Bonds

I have bonds only in the Singapore bond ETF. This is because I’d like all my bonds to be in the same currency as my home currency.

In 2019, I received a total of $958 in dividend income from my Singapore bond ETF. I don’t hold any bonds in any other market.

 

Interest Income from Cash

Since my expenses are low (ranging from $8,700 to $10,500 a year, as explained above), I am prepared to invest as much as I can when the opportunity arises, subject to keeping a minimum of $5,000 in my bank accounts (which is my emergency funds of six months of expenses).

In 2019, I received a total of $353 in interest income from my high-yield bank accounts.

 

Interest Income from Retirement Accounts

In 2019, I received a total of $1,366 in interest income from my retirement accounts, courtesy of the Singapore government.

 

My Life Plan Going Forward: 2020 and Beyond

In the 2-3 years since I’ve discovered the concept of FIRE, I’ve focused only on savagely slashing my expenditure, at the same time maintaining my original happiness. This has led to me accumulating a fairly significant net worth at a young age. And I’m happy with how far I’ve come.

However, I’ve completely neglected the other foundational tenet of FIRE, which is increasing income. Or rather, increasing enjoyable income, as Zach from Four Pillar Freedom puts it aptly. This has led to the situation that I’m in – not enjoying my corporate job, having a dead-end no-prospects corporate job, and no longer deriving any happiness in my unscalable side hustles.

As such, going forward, I plan to stop focusing on cutting expenses (as I can be rather obsessive over this). In contrast, I plan to be consistent in doing things that I enjoy, and hopefully find ways to monetize these things that I enjoy.

This would, hopefully, lead to a situation where I have multiple tiny income streams from passion projects in the future that provide me with a little money to cover my already minimal expenses, and also to save a little.

That way, I can eventually quit my dreary corporate job and start waking up each day excited to face the day. It’ll take years to get to where I want to be, but I’m willing to stick things out and see where things take me.

Should I continue to post monthly income and expense reports? What is your current situation with your income and expenses? How will you be improving your current situation? Feel free to let me know in the comments below. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary Book Cover

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