It is going to be a hard challenge and most likely I would need to do side hustle but my own business so that I can adjust the timeline based on my schedule. But I want to try a high target and achieve it.
Although currently I am far below my target for retirement preparedness, I decided to set a financial goal of having $500K in savings (excluding stocks, bonds, property) by the time I am 45.
It is going to be a hard challenge and most likely I would need to do side hustle but my own business so that I can adjust the timeline based on my schedule. But I want to try a high target and achieve it.
I set up this blog with the intention to share about depression and how I got over the lowest point in my life. Then it became an online journal to document my life’s ups and downs for the past few years. I have also attempted book writing and uploaded this onto my site sometime back. This is the 6th year and I have decided once the domain is up for renewal, I will cease to renew this site.
This blog has served me well for the past few years and I am very grateful my first blog post attracted many readers from overseas. I have done no promotion and my posts are not frequent at all. Readership did fall and I feel that this blog has fulfilled one important part of my life and it is time to move on.
I have decided to move to podcast and will be channeling my energy to write fiction stories with inspiration from real life. There is only so much to write about my own life, yet I have come across many weird/colourful people in my life at work, via meet-ups, blind dates etc.
Now, I want to transform these experiences into short stories (who read long blogs now?) and use voice to tell them. I used to be a terrific storyteller and I want to pick up that skill again. With a house of my own, and work from home has become the norm here, it is high time I make use of the conducive environment and get my butt cracking on this.
This blog will continue to stay alive till end 2021 and in the meantime, I will still persist to update whenever I got inspiration to write (since I already paid for it).
I will share the podcast link once I have figured where to host for whatever readers left that still visit my blog. I hope you will join me in my next exploration in life.
I always believe that one needs to detox one’s social circle of friends from time to time. Sometimes, it is just the chemistry has ended. Sometimes, the common topics are gone and there are nothing in common to talk about. Other times, a friend may hurt you with her words/comments and she is not aware.
For me, I will choose to evaluate if this person:
Recently, there was an ex-colleague whom we only worked for 3 months before I left the company. Thereafter, we never met up except for two times. We were in the same line, but she always have the wrong reason why I left that role. Her memory was I disliked the boss, whereas I corrected her multiple times it was because of the portfolio that I held. She started to tell me three years ago her desire to change field. I was contemplating very hard on changing careers at that time as well. After one year of all talk and no action, I was sick of her whining and decided to block her silently but not completely.
She detected I was silent suddenly and facebook messaged me. I decided to reply after 1 -2 days. To me, the break from her was very good for my mental health. However, I no longer entertained her grouses and especially when she is now holding a job with the same shitty portfolio that I have been through before, but she used to say I was complaining for nothing (see Karma at work here).
She shared with me her frustration with her mother-in-law and the high costs of living in Singapore. She wondered why some of her friends want a monthly income of $5000 after retirement to continue their lavish lifestyle. She contemplated living in rural Japanese countryside houses that require tons of DIY maintenance. Except her grouses with her mother-in-law, I find the rest kind of a joke because in a high standard of living city like mine, it is impossible to have $5000 to live on every month after you have retired. As for the countryside living, it is even dumber to me because clearly her husband and her are not the DIY handymen type to resolve any house issue on their own.
After I moved in to my house, I realized she will take chances to attack by criticizing my new neighbourhood as being full of criminals. Honestly, it is a 2-year-old new estate that is some distance away from another estate that is well- known to have issues. I was pretty shocked because I couldn’t believe this coming from her mouth. At the same time, she was also sharing that after she retires she will downgrade from a private apartment to a public flat. I am no dumb girl. Someone who enjoys fashion, branded bags, expensive French butter, western meals, greenery nearby, a big house and need her lasers as she is terrified of aging? Well, I think anyone will think she cannot adjust to the downgrade.
I don’t understand why someone wants to attack another person suddenly with this. But I do know that my house value will double in value at least once I fulfilled the minimum occupation period. So, I decided not to get into a bad squabble with her.
The final straw came when I told her about a relative badmouthing me during a funeral wake and she said she wonder if I would be a complainer when I get old. Well, she is also a whiner herself but she didn’t realise. I totally regretted sharing this with her.
I began to think about these personal attacks on me and analysed how “good” this person really is. Her career is nothing to flaunt about (she never join a well-known mnc before), she said she is in technology but when I looked at her LinkedIn profile, her companies are research institutes, electronics distributor or unknown organization (only her current company is more well-known but with a shitty portfolio and no boss to back her up). I have more exposure than her in the field we both worked in, and her husband isn’t really supporting her anyway (she supports her own parents, her husband doesn’t even pay for her personal Office365 subscription), and once she told me she wanted to do renovation so that both husband and wife have a common goal to work on.
All I want to say is, there are many opportunities for me to make personal attacks on her as well. Her greedy parents who only care about money, her lack of children and feeble excuse that she doesn’t want to have because both of them hold jobs that required extensive traveling. Well, I have come across enough couples to understand that very often married couples in Asia often don’t have children because they cannot. Unless one partner is a non-Asian, which means both parties are western in thinking. Otherwise, in Asian context, an Asian couple often will have children – be it societal pressure or in-laws pressure –but they will have. The renovation to make both her and her husband work together towards a common goal is a tell-tale sign her husband is no longer interested in her. The huge allowance she need to give to her parents and the reluctance to get a new Mac to replace her 10-year-old Mac or an Ipad tells a lot that she has a lot of expenses to keep up with, even with a 5-digit salary.
See? If I want to, I could. But I don’t want to reduce to her level. So, I decided to block her for good. I blocked her on Telegram, on Facebook and deleted her phone number.
I wish her all the best, but I am glad this time I decided to make a clean break, an easy one since we don’t meet in real life. All the best to her, but no way you are entering my life again.
I am super happy to move into my very own house on 25th July 2020. It marks the start of me having my own space, and also learning how to manage a house on my own. It comes with one bedroom, one kitchen (not open concept), one living room where I can split into living and working/dining area), a storeroom and a bathroom. The only downside for my house is I face a lot of restrictions in getting one.
As a single in my country:
- I can only purchase one highly subsidised flat in my lifetime as long as my marital status remain single. I need to enter the open market (which means a free market for property like any country) if I want to select the unit, the location etc
- My house is not that ideal as it is a low level unit and it is 10-15min walk from the nearest train station. But I can still walk if I want to, to reduce travelling cost. It is still nearer compared to my mum's house.
At this point, this space is wonderful for one person to live in. I am very grateful my house was completed before COVID-19 started. I collected the keys to my house last December but renovation was halted twice - once because I changed contractor and another was due to COVID-19.
As my house is highly subsidised, I was able to pay for everything in one go without any mortgage. I also saved up a lot when I was working for my renovation and stuck to my budget for renovation. However, I did spend more for my loose furniture, but I have fully paid for it as well. Since my space is not big, I only stuck to a few essential furniture items. They cost more but I plan to bring them with me when I moved to a bigger place in the future.
It has been wonderful to have a quiet place to go home to and enjoy my tranquility. After spending so many years quarreling with my mum, I welcomed this space even though it is small (actually it is quite sufficient for me).
This house is also easier on my finances as I am able to focus on my career switch to human resources. I am able to take a lower starting pay without worrying about monthly mortgage bills for a start. In addition, I lead a minimalist lifestyle and only buy what I need, and my continuous willingness to take on temporary jobs during my job hunt means every single cent that I earn will fund my daily expenses.
In a way, COVID-19 has presented some forms of support for me as the government has launched a number of support schemes in my country. I am now working with a Career Coach and together with my own job hunting efforts, I hope to move into a new field by the end of this year. I tapped onto a recent funding scheme and that also provided some relief for me. Utilities and groceries have been supported for my case as my house allowed me to enjoy the highest subsidies from the government.
At the same time, my freelance boss also approached me a couple of times. Although I was very reluctant to help her, I decided to be firm and ask for more money but within a short period of time. Once November comes, I am able to start billing her and be able to recover at least 75% of my renovation fee by January 2021. I decided to make use of this opportunity to earn back as much of my renovation fees as possible and build back my emergency fund without touching my savings (they are meant for my retirement).
With this house, I felt that another chapter of my life has started. My focus now is on my new career and I have also started online dating again.
I hope that I am able to reach my target goals within the next 4 years - stabilise and command the same or higher income in my new field by then with better work-life balance and less pressure, and to find my life partner by then. It is a strange thought but as I am now able to invite my friends over to my house, I realised there are many divorcees, some with children, who are also looking for partners.
Since I am still single, I thought I should continue my search for love concurrently with my job hunting efforts.
Hopefully, within the next 4 years, I will be able to move to a bigger house which i will be able to enjoy with my partner and also have the flexibility to rent out in my golden years.
To those who have been reading my posts, I really have to say, depression still comes and goes. There are many nights and even days that I cried lying in bed wondering if I can achieve my goals. But as long as you tell yourself to stay positive, opportunities will come. I guess being in a quiet and safe environment helps a lot because when I go for interviews I project a more positive vibe.
After another mindless quarrel with my toxic mother over a ridiculously small matter, I decided to go for a much needed yoga session.
In the middle of the session, I began to recall my past. I am not sure if it was the positive vibes generated from my yoga session, but I wanted to give myself a much needed pat on my shoulder for growing up well and getting to where I am now in a less-desired environment.
During my first two weeks after birth, my mum used to tell me she ignored me completely because I was a girl. In Asian countries and especially with an old-fashioned mother like mine, boys are better than girls mind-set is (and still is) ingrained in her mind.
When I reached primary school (or elementary school for western readers), I faced school bully and was ostracised by everyone. I had school lunches on my own, and went home alone. I had no friends simply because people were afraid of getting on the wrong side of the fence with the school bully.
My sister was crap to me. I remembered my English was very poor, and once my sister destroyed my mathematics exercise books. I went to her class and she lied that she did not, and was ashamed to acknowledge me as her sister because my spoken English was bad (well, now I am replying on English as a livelihood. How ironic is that?)
The only time my mother took time to focus on me was when I failed every single subject in my third year of primary school. I had tuition but I managed to buck up after the tutor insinuated that I was stupid. I realized that I had to rely on myself and boy, did I study hard when I was only 10 years old.
When I reached Primary Six, the final year before graduating from Primary School, I was appointed as a Prefect (you are basically a school monitor). It felt great to have the experience of being a School Prefect even though for a year.
During secondary school, my sister scalded my thighs (it was an accident frankly speaking, but my mother did not reprimand her). Thank goodness I was young so recovery was fast and easy without a very visible scar on it. I decided to seize the opportunities to enjoy more sporty and group-based extra-curricular activities because I knew I had no money to access these activities on my own, and I wanted to feel a sense of belonging to a group.
I didn’t have a group that stuck with me through these activities but I had no regrets participating in it. I continued to survive and relied on my own to pull through bad grades and eventually graduated from Secondary School (or High School) with good enough grades to get into one of the top 5 junior colleges.
My sister, on the other hand, had bad grades but she always had a boyfriend by her side to help her study. My old-fashioned mother always think that is something to be proud of (especially she is married at 26, a decent marriageable age) because she has a guy to rely on. For my western readers, yes this might sound ridiculous to you, but it is goddamn true. In my mother’s strange distorted world, she thinks having a man is the most important in the world. Despite you managed to get everything by yourself.
Junior college was tough with a psychopathic Principal that constantly tracks everyone’s results for every single test. It was a pressure cooker environment. None of my family members knew the pressure I was going through. However, I managed to get into one of the hardest faculty in university.
I graduated within four years whereas my sister delayed by another school term. To me, every single school term means extra money so I decided to go ahead with it although I was contemplating to switch to law.
I started working illegally during school holidays at the age of 15 but my mother think she was so great in supporting me in EVERYTHING. The reality is nope, she didn’t. I had only 2 uniforms throughout Primary, Secondary and Junior College to alternate. My shoes were worn till they couldn’t anymore hence my fourth toes are both deformed slightly (they were bent to accommodate into the tight white shoes).
I worked during every single holiday after I graduated from Junior College to earn money and keep it for my expenses because my sister was constantly hounding me with that mindset. However, she didn’t have to. Ever since Primary One, I have been saving 50%, or more, of my pocket money.
I bought my first computer set for myself, whereas my sister had hers bought by my mother. I paid for my own driving course, enrolled into finance and Japanese courses on my own. I simply paid for everything except my university tuition fees. Yes, it cost $22,000 in total, which was a lot. But my sister and my university tuition fees were actually paid by a lottery that my father struck. An old aunt of his came into his dream and gave him those precious numbers that really saved my sister and I from tuition debt, and my parents didn’t have to sacrifice their retirement fees (it is something similar to 401K for USA, a pension account managed by the government).
When I sprained my ankle in my 30s, and no one bothered to help me buy food, I was left almost famished at home if not for my friends who came to visit me. However, I do gain real insights from the deepest darkest moments during that day and really woke up to the fact that I should emotionally cut away from my family. I should also be tougher, less kind and speak my mind.
Therefore, I am proud to say that although I didn’t have an excellent career as a high-flyer, nor did I get married by age 30 with children, I:
My attitude towards my parents
Towards my parents, my motto is: They gave me the basics to grow up to be an independent person, so similarly I will give them the basics when they grow old and sick. Attending to hospital needs, insurance etc, seeking help within the medical system, knowing where to seek medical help and getting extra pair of hands to help out are some things that I will do, similar to what I did for my late father. Likewise, I will not abandon my mum completely when I moved out.
However, I will cut off emotionally to protect myself. They had never really spent time to understand my feeling. Hence, neither do I want to continue to invest my emotions on them. Honestly speaking, this realization 5 years back really saved my sanity.
Last thoughts - Positive Ones!
Although I did not become a high flyer (but I wish to carve something on my own business after I move out and have a more conducive environment to do so, while holding out a less stressful but still decently paid job moving forward), I did not go astray and still managed to earn and lead a decent respectable life. My belief that money and knowledge are my protection as I get older also helped to set my life straight and righteous (at least I don’t indulge in vices).
Slowly but surely, I can see that the happiness that I felt in my sunflower dream during my childhood - after leaving behind my family members - will soon come true in reality.
Therefore I would like to pat myself on my shoulder and say to myself today: Good Job!! You have come a very very long way on your own!!
After been in the workforce for 15 years, I think COVID-19 is my 3rd crisis. I have been through SARS, Asian Financial Crisis, followed by a long period of slow growth. I always thought that I am unfortunate to met SARS, but now I can say honestly I can feel for COVID-19 graduates because the economy is said to be worse than SARS. For Asian Financial Crisis, many central banks came to help so largely it was confined to slow growth but it was not that bad.
This time round, it is BADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD.
The entire world has literally come to a halt for some countries. For mine, right now we are still under restriction, so work has literally stopped for many people. I am very thankful that I didn't get a bigger house, otherwise I will have a 25-year loan to pay. No thank you, I really don't foresee that as I think it will not be up to me to say good bye to corporate world on my own terms, but rather the world will simply have fewer jobs than before. So I might be forced into early retirement.
Everyday the only thing that I am grateful for is 1) no house loan 2) my renovation is 90% paid 3) no utilities bills to pay till April 2021 (if I am careful in my usage and I wouldn't even be able to move in for at least another 2 months - that is another 2 months' worth of utilities' bills roll-over).
But this cannot continue forever. I still need to pay for insurance, build my retirement nest and my savings. So I really really hope the economy will spring back to life in Q3 so that at least we will be able to survive to see 2021.
It has been a long journey going through the renovation of my house. I only managed to collect my keys from the developer last Dec. Rushing to open the door, I thought I could start on my renovation and move out of my mum's house by Chinese New Year in February 2020. However, it turned out I need to check my house's condition before I can handover to my contractor!
It took a month because I could only meet the developer's contractor on Saturdays. It took two rounds for me to get all the rectifications done. By then, I was very angry with my ID because I find her suggestions not great. We had a quarrel over Whatsapp but that was because I realised she kept forgetting my instructions, and kept increasing price. I decided I had enough and told her I would like to terminate. I was wondering if that would wake her up a little.
She didn't and I decided to terminate the working relationship with her since she clearly didn't put much emphasis on my project.
Moving onto another contractor (no ID this time round), we spent January getting quotation approved and visiting my house to have a clear understanding of the space. He made some suggestions based on the last drawings by the ID and we agreed and proceeded with the work in late February.
However, I didn't expect the COVID-19 case would happen. Also, the contractor's schedule is getting slower and slower. A 3 weeks' work became a 1 month's work. In addition, the carpenter whom I liaised with was stuck in his country and couldn't get in before their Movement Control Order took effective.
Sigh.. hence my renovation work was stuck at rectifications stage until the restrictions are lifted (my country also had a restricted work order).
RENOVATIONS ARE TERRIBLE!!!!! Please share with me your woes!!
I have been pondering about this ever since I got my own house (will only get my keys in December). Since I will be having my own space (finally!!!), I am wondering if readers would prefer me to do podcast or continue blogging? I really wonder if anyone reads blogs nowadays?
Let me know? I am keen and will have the environment to do podcast (no disturbance from my mum)
I don't ask for more at this point in my life. All I wish is that I can meet my true love next year and settle down into a peaceful harmonious relationship. Even if this relationship won't last till my last breath, I wish to experience for once true love in this life.
I have officially entered the second month of work with my new employer, and as true as my gut feel, this is another underemployed job. I have a full three weeks of waiting before I join the company. If a company can afford to wait for you for three weeks, and it is a new role, that spells a lot on the urgency of this role.
My role sits under the department called Strategic Development. Usually such fluffy-titled department means that they park all the weird, cannot be classified, neither-here-nor-there roles in one group. My department consists of a business development young chap that do everything adhoc from annual report, financial modelling, assisting with logistics of Senior Management Retreat to being an information centre to Finance, Legal and IT (well, that is an impromptu, unofficial role that I loved to dig at him to annoy him); a risk manager that oversees the internal audit and risk management role for this organization, and me.
During a lunch conversation with the young business development guy, he was telling me that he did not know what his career path here was. I agreed with him that he was doing a lot of adhoc items and his career path was not clear. After one year, he requested to change to another department for a more defined portfolio. It was rejected in an indirect way, because that department was under another head that is currently at loggerheads with my boss. Coincidentally, I ran into another friend whom we both took a finance course together two years back. She told me after leaving audit, she also found herself in a strategy role that does nothing for the whole day at a stretch. Occasionally, she worked till midnight when they were reviewing a particular acquisition. This friend is only 28 or 29.
A few years back (and I mentioned this on my blog as well), I once lamented having three jobs in a row with the same experience of being underemployed. Even the stint in Learning & Development department that I tried during my exploration on career switch had the same issue with underemployment (it was predominantly administrative work). Through these two conversations, I realized underemployment is a real issue. In fact, this topic even came up in an article of our national papers. The only difference is fresh graduates are underemployed and are paid poorly for jobs that underutilised their skills, whereas I am paid at a rate that is still ok to my last drawn salary with a much smaller jobscope.
The only reason why I took up this job was because job market is bad, and I needed money for this period to pay for my renovation and my annual insurance premium. I knew this job was going to be quite lull during the interview. However, I knew I wanted to resume my exploration on a second career. Having a lull job gives me the time and energy to continue exploring on the side while continuing to receive a paycheck. In fact, I am actually writing this blog post during my working hours because I have nothing urgent for the day nor am I in the mood to do anything with 30min left before knock-off time.
Honestly speaking, my current company is very slow. I thought as my last role in my current field, I could utilize all my skills and close this career with a big bang. However, the company is also facing two factions – my boss and the other head – that my risk colleague and I believed would bring down the organization before it could even develop into a considerable player in the industry. I take this time to practise positive thinking and hope few things will take place during my stint here so I could successfully transit to my second career, without having to invest too much effort into this company and my current role. All I hope for is to spend my time freelancing during my working hours and collect my monthly pay cheque and build my savings again after my renovation is completed.
A woman who has long passed the marriageable age, or known as 剩女, but becoming comfortable and contented with my singlehood life and the freedom it brings to me.