Real stories about money from real people. Money Confessions, a SingSaver series, will excite you, inspire you, and leave you wishing to get financially woke.
After two years of mostly staying at home and working remotely, my wallet isn’t exactly looking forward to opening up as much as the economy — and inflation is making it worse.
On 22 April 2022, it was announced that Singapore will lower its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level from Orange to Yellow — the first time in more than two years.
Singapore scrapped all limits on group sizes for social gatherings, got rid of Safe Entry (thank goodness), made masks optional outdoors, resumed night life activities as well as allowed all employees to return to the workplace.
Fast forward to today, a good number of Singaporeans have returned to the office, including most of my family and friends included. Some of them reverted to the pre-COVID-19 "normal" of going back to the office, while some stuck to hybrid work arrangements.
And because we had more freedom to go out, gatherings, birthday parties and weddings soon followed. This led to me spending significantly more than what I was used to, and before I knew it, I had raked up a shocking credit card bill after the relaxation of COVID-19 rules.
Went from spending S$500 to almost S$2,000 a month after restrictions were lifted
During the period when only five to eight people were allowed to gather, I spent an average of S$500 a month.
Because they were all small gatherings with only my close friends, it was purely a meal whenever we hung out. I managed to save a pretty sum as there were no after-meal activities such as hitting the bar or singing karaoke.
But once the restriction was lifted, it became a spend fest. Since April, I've been guiltily going way above my budget, spending almost S$2,000 a month on making merry and pampering myself.
I said “yes” to every gathering I was invited to, every karaoke sesh, drinking, partying, numerous trips to Johor Bahru and even attended a couple of weddings. It was like revenge spending of sorts after not being able to unwind due to two years of restrictions.
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Experienced ‘lunchflation’ when I went back to office and got my feelings hurt
Since the announcement that all employees can return to the workplace, I’ve been to the SingSaver office a couple of times.
While it was fun to meet my colleagues again (some of them for the first time), going out for lunch came as a shock to me.
The affordable salad store that we frequented pre-COVID had raised its prices by S$1.50. To make matters worse, the portion was significantly lesser than what we remembered.
After a quick Google search, we realised that this phenomenon is called ‘lunchflation’, which, apparently, is a real thing. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a trend that affects office workers, among others.
Anyway, we sauntered off with our bowls of greens and we swore under our breaths never to patronise that stall (which didn't even accept credit card payments) ever again.
Yes, the SingSaver staff is super particular about charging everything to credit cards because we’re all miles and cashback chasers. Imagine the chaos we caused as we fumbled our phones to make a PayNow transaction, holding up the line and extorting change from one another (due to bad internet connection) just to gather S$8 for a bowl of salad.
Projected amount I will spend if I go back to the office full-time
Those few days back in the office and experiencing lunchflation traumatised me, and I can’t imagine how harrowing it must’ve been for the majority of the working Singaporean population to be back in the workplace.
The days of rolling out of bed, heading to your “home office” in five steps, and wearing only sweatpants and t-shirts are over for most.
According to Market Place, returning to the office comes with a hefty price tag.
“Workers who previously had the ability to work from home are seeing increased wardrobe, food and transportation costs — price tags that are compounded by rising inflation,” the website wrote.
Previously, my colleague wrote about The Real Cost: Returning To Office, where heading back thrice a week could set you back close to S$400 per month, and up to S$600 if you splurge a little.
But here’s my take on the entire situation:
Returning to office
|Transport to office (MRT)
|Breakfast (coffee and toast)
|Random mid-day snack
|Transport home (MRT)
|S$21.60 per day, S$432 per month
Working from home (WFH)
|S$5 per day
|Gratitude to have this privilege
|S$5 per day, S$100 a month
Total amount saved every day: S$16.60
Total amount saved per month: S$332
Working from home saved me at least three hours a day
And besides money, a whole lot of time was saved while working from home.
If I need to reach the office by 9am, I have to wake up at 7am — one hour to wash up and get dressed and another hour to travel. At the end of the day, I will need an hour to travel home.
While working from home, I simply roll out of bed at 9am, or sometimes slightly later (my boss is aware of this).
WFH has allowed many of us to sneak in extra sleep or spend more time with our family, because we save time on the commute.
Thankfully, SingSaver has yet to mandate returning to the office, so most of us are pretty much still working from home and saving as much cash as we can.
I shudder to think of the damage to my wallet the day the company makes it compulsory for us to return to the office.
P:S: If SingSaver/Hyphen Group sounds like an amazing place to work, you are right. We have some job vacancies which you can check out here.
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The Real Cost: Returning To Office
Social Gatherings Increased To Groups Of 10, Mask-Wearing Outdoors Optional From 29 March 2022 Onwards