What Do Millennials Do With Their First Pay Check?

Alexa Fang

Alexa Fang

Last updated 24 April, 2018

Turns out, Singaporean Millennials are a lot more prudent than you’d think - judging by how they handle their first pay check.

Millennials — a generation of youths born between 1982 and 2002. A generation that has been at the core of many a debate about their attitude, work ethic, and way of life. Just do a quick Google search. And when it comes to money, it seems, unsurprisingly, that this generation also has rather a different concept of how to make it and spend it compared to their predecessors. It’s likely that they splurge more on comforts and conveniences such as Uber rides, tech gadgets, eating out and on e-shopping. But this is also a generation who has defined the sharing economy.

So, seriously, what’s their deal? To get a better idea of how our Singaporean millennials view money and how they’re spending it, we asked three of them a simple question: How did you spend your first pay check? While it is by no means representative of the entire generation, it does shed some light and maybe clear the air about their sense of responsibility and financial prudence.

Loh Kian Yuan, 26, Male, IT Support Engineer 

Practical spender

When he got his first pay check, Loh bought his family a good meal, some new work clothes and shoes, a new mobile phone (his was old at the time) and kept approximately 40% as savings.

At the moment, the 26-year-old is working full-time and studying part-time. When asked what he normally spends on every month, he says: “I’m a simple man with simple needs.”

Daily expensesTransportMobile phone billInsuranceSchool feesMiscellaneous

A breakdown of his expenses

“I allocate about S$15 per day as daily expenses, S$4 for transport suffices as I seldom take a taxi, S$35 for my mobile phone bill, S$350 for insurance, S$800 for school fees and S$200 for miscellaneous stuff.”

It seems like this millennial does not splurge on comforts and conveniences. Still, he admits it’s hard to save up at the moment since he’s studying part-time.

When it comes to living comfortably in Singapore, Loh reckons that, as a single person, S$3,000 seems adequate. But, if children are in the picture, S$4,000 would be an ideal starting point.

Jolene Yip, 24, Marketing and Partnerships Executive

Thrifty spender

How Yip spent her first pay check does not differ too much from how she spends the rest of her subsequent pay checks to date. To her, every cent counts; plus, the first job normally doesn’t pay much.

In fact, she made her first big purchase only after one year into her job. “I got myself a pair of Comme des Garçons Play Converse high-top canvas sneakers, which I had been hankering a long time. My motivation to save on a regular basis — at least 25% of my pay — is so that I am able to spend more on big-ticket items like an overseas trip.”

Yip travels every few months, and in the span of one year, she covered Japan, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Indonesia. The trick, she says, is to look out for promotions for air tickets and hotels, to plan in advance and to use cashback services.

What she spends on monthly at a glance:

  • Food (splurges on good food once or twice a week)
  • Transport (mostly public transport)
  • Insurance/Savings plan
  • Parents’ allowance
  • Online shopping
  • Workout classes

To live comfortably in Singapore, she estimates a sum of S$5,000 monthly by the time she gets married, has a house of her own and kids.

Cassandra Leoh, 24, Manager  

Thrifty spender

The honest answer is I didn't do anything special with my first pay check apart from paying for my and my sister's bills, as well as her tuition fee. I had every intention of giving my grandparents and my mother some money, but I haven't — and the second pay check has already come in,” Leoh admits with a laugh.

I have also started to look for an insurance policy.

Here’s an overview of her monthly expenditures:

  • Transport (taxi is kept to a minimum — once or twice a week)
  • Food (eats at home at least twice a week)
  • Bills
  • Insurance
  • Entertainment (movies, zoo, shopping)

She has been advised that she should at least save 10% of her salary — a rule she plans to adhere to. At the moment, she does not have a long-term financial goal, but her reckons that S$5,000 a month would be an idea amount to live well in Singapore.

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Alexa FangBy Alexa Fang

Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she's having croissant, she thinks in French. "31 Rue Cambon" is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.

Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.


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