One of the most covid affected industries is the entertainment industry, which includes live concerts, musical, theatre shows, and cinemas. As the title suggests, spotlight is on the cinema industry in this article.

Singaporeans love going to the cinema, and we’ve got the numbers to back it up. We have one of the world’s highest per capita cinema attendance, which stands at 18.5 million in 2019 before its drastic fall to just 4.6 million in 2020. Cinema operators had a lot to deal with in 2020: circuit breaker, reduced seating capacity, delays in the cinematic release of Hollywood films and the rise of streaming services.

It’s anybody’s guess now, whether cinemas can withstand the test of time (read: covid), or face closure in the near future. If I would indulge in an online discussion on the topic, I would argue that cinemas do have a place in the post-covid world. And here’s why. 

Covid has proved that ‘everything online’ is not the way to go

Zoom fatigue. Digital detox. Social isolation. Need I say more?

These are some of the keywords that I’m sure many, if not all of us, could relate to during the circuit breaker period. Even though Singapore did not enter a full lockdown, the effects of prolonged social isolation could still be felt. 

Covid has resulted in a slew of social distancing measures that has paved the way for online businesses to thrive, yet the hyper-digital experience in 2020 also left many people craving for in-person, real-life interactions. 

Sure, we could stream our movies from the comfort of our homes, and have movie night with more popcorn, snacks and soft drinks than we could get at any cinema. We could even host watch parties with friends to make this into a group activity. 

But we all know that the online experience can be lacking. The atmosphere that a live audience creates, the suspension in the air, the collective gasps at a shocking plot twist, these are things that cannot be created in digitally. And it is these organic experiences that will keep audiences returning to the cinemas. 

The cinema experience rarely starts at the theatre halls

Shopping malls have long relied on cinemas as anchor tenants to draw crowds in. As one of the landmark activities with a mass audience appeal, the draw of the cinema also helps to boost sales throughout the rest of the mall. 

The cinema experience is more than just showing up at the theatre halls to watch a film on a glorified tv. It’s the whole routine: from planning a date, dressing up, going for a meal, some light shopping even, then the cinema.

Of course, one might argue that it’s much easier to just throw on some pajamas and start streaming from the comforts of your couch. True, but after all this time at home, I’m sure many of us would like a change of environment from time to time. 

Streaming and cinema may not be at direct odds, but find fans who enjoy different aspects of the service. These fans may be purely streaming or cinema fans, or both. The cinema audience is not all lost. 

I for one am rooting for the return of cinemas.

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I distinctly remember what I felt when I saw my first full-time salary in my bank account.

“Omg…like that only ah…”

I was earning a typical graduate’s pay at that time. After calculating a realistic monthly expenses budget, I realised that I could only save approximately $1000+ each month. It would take me the entire year to save just slightly above $10,000. 

What I meant by a realistic budget was this: I was working at an office in Orchard then. There were no hawker centres, and food courts were few and far between. Sure, I could eat at a food court daily, order cai png or fishball noodles and save a ton. But eating that daily? That’s quite a stretch.

Sometimes, my lunch buddies and I just wanted something different for a change. Is that too much to ask for? *grumbles*

That monotomous 9-to-5 life also meant that most office workers will need some entertainment through the work week. Shopping for new work outfits, streaming service subscriptions, a gym membership, weekend activities…the list goes on. Unless you have a difficult and urgent financial situation to deal with, I think that most of us would find it hard to get through the week without any entertainment at all. 

I wondered how I was going to pay for big ticket items in the future, like a house, a family, or let’s be real, medical expenses if my parents’ ever needed it. The pressure was real – during work, to meet work expectations, and after work, to meet life expecations.

If you want to increase your foundation of savings faster, here are some tips on how you can do it. 

#1 Create a budgeting rule (50/30/20)

Arguably the most popular budgeting rule is the 50/30/20 rule.

You can modify the rule to suit your needs. I can comfortably save about 40% of my earnings. The rule looks more like 40/20/40 for me. 

The thing about budgeting rules is that it only works if you stick to it, duh. If you have trouble sticking to budgets, I recommend keeping track of your expenses using an app. I use Wallet, they have a mobile and web version which makes it really convenient to track your expenses even when you’re on the go. There are paid features on the app, but the free one works just fine for me. I can set monthly budgets, create savings goals and track expenses from different bank accounts, which is detailed enough for my purposes. 

There’s no trick, no hack for this. Just record everything the moment you spend it and control your expenses if you’ve overspent for a few days. 

#2 Know what to spend on

You know how to save, but do you know how to spend?

Honestly, this one takes a bit of trial and error. It’s about knowing your lifestyle and what works for you, and nobody gets it right at the first try. 

I used to spend on a monthly gym membership, which I only discovered a few hundred dollars later that it wasn’t for me. Some other things I used to splurge on were things like weekend cafe runs and excessive grab rides. Of course, there are people who save excessively and sacrifice on some enjoyment. How much and what you choose to spend on lies on a spectrum.

That’s why the word is relativeHow and what to spend on is entirely up to you. That’s why the hardest part about this all is comparison – feeling like you have to do what the next person is doing. But that’s a conversation for another day. 

For a start, be honest with yourself about what works and what doesn’t work, and don’t be afraid to cut things out when they emotional payoff doesn’t match the financial expenses. 

#3 Get on the side hustle bandwagon

One way to save more is to earn more. Enter the side hustle life. 

Still not convinced by the side hustle life? Just think about the avalanche of uncertainty and change that is 2020. Now’s the time to start diversifying your income streams. 

But the side hustle life isn’t all rosy. Side hustling means working more than your regular 9-to-5 hours. You must be prepared to sacrifice time for rest and socialising to do this. 

Of course, you might think that you can get a cushy side hustle that pays decently well for a bit of work. However, my experience with side hustles is that it can be a hit or miss. It’s hard to find something that balances out the money vs time equation. I really can’t justify getting paid $10 for a 600 word article (yes, those are the rates you’ll find in low entry writing jobs). 

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I know of accounting colleagues who did some simple bookkeeping for small business owners, friends who are event photographers on the side. It takes a bit of creativity and a lot of hard work to distill from your existing skillset something that people need. 

When you have 6 months of salary in savings, you’re in the clear to begin investing – we will be sharing more about investing tips in future articles. In the meantime, happy saving! 

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These days, we are inundated with online sales events throughout the year from 1.1 to 12.12. At the time of writing, we are on the eve of 5.5 sales. 

The dizzying e-commerce sites and persistent add to cart reminders may be effective for the average shopper, but it certainly did not influence the most stubborn of customers – my mother. Growing up in an Asian family, we were taught to turn a blind eye to sales. There isn’t really a sale, they just want you to spend money, my mother used to say. As a teenager who wanted in on all the latest trends, I must admit I was mildly annoyed at that. However, I fully appreciate the think twice, think thrice mentality that was instilled in me. 

So before you check out of your cart today, here are some things to consider (courtesy of my very Asian mother). 

1. Quality vs Price

For over 10 years, my parents continued using the same household items. It wasn’t until long later when the items finally reached the end of their life span that they were duly retired. 

Back in the day when there wasn’t e-commerce, my parents were great at sourcing out quality products at a reasonable price by browsing through their options dilligently. 

These days, the prices of some items have gone down drastically, but so has quality. If you’re fishing for a deal, consider the quality vs price conundrum. Is it worth spending that $5 if what you’re buying will disintegrate after a few uses? 

And if you’re eyeing something that’s more expensive…

2. Can it wait?

Because the best sales are usually the year end ones. Think 11.11, Black Friday, 12.12, Christmas and New Year’s sales. 

There are some decent discounts this 5.5, but certainly not as impressive as the year end ones. If it isn’t something that’s particularly urgent, it’d do you good to wait till the end of the year before you check out. 

3. How long will you use it for?

If you have a room full of stuff lying around, it’s time to reevaluate if you really need more stuff. 

What I do is to delay some gratification. It’s always a good idea to wait a little while to see if you really need something; whether it can really add value to you.

I tend to look for value in products, and maybe this is an age thing. Can this improve my quality of life? Can this improve my day to day experiences? Does this make me happy in the long run? Because if it’s only going to end up in a forgotten corner of the house, then it probably isn’t serving you in the long run. 

If you’re worried that the product might get sold out – I do think that you can find dupes for most things. As my mother would say, you can always find another company making the same thing. 

Happy shopping folks!

About three years ago when I was a newly minted OL (short for office lady), I immediately took on all the quintessential traits one needed to have to become one, plus all millennial trends that came with it.

That included an aesthetically pleasing office mug, an office shawl to guard against the unreasonably cold office temperatures, a pair of office shoes for formal occasions, and of course – a gym membership.

Those were exciting times, when GuavaPass had not yet been acquired by ClassPass, and was offering pretty affordable gym membership prices, presumably in a bid to grow their user base. Although I was never one to exercise voluntarily, the draw of the gym culture was what pulled me into a membership. Trendy workout clothes, matching workout shoes to go with, and an exciting after-work lifestyle were some of the things that completely sold me.

Interestingly, none of which were about the actual exercise itself.

On hindsight, I could have put that money to better use, especially since I had just started working at that time. Here are some of the things I wish I knew about gym memberships, office trends, and money management.

Let’s start with the perks of going to a gym.

#1 A gym membership offers more than just exercise

It’s the experience.

Depending on what you’re looking for, a gym offers that space for you to get in the zone for exercise. From relaxing yoga studios, neon lit HIIT gyms to a a climbing gym, it’s rarely just exercise that you’re paying for.

Of course, some people will say those are just marketing gimmicks. But if you’re somebody who dreads exercising AND wants to exercise more, I’d say that the ambience and people help. The process of booking a session, having to go down to a physical gym, and the presence of other gym-goers is a huge motivation for some (and for me too). So if that’s what you need, then a gym membership is definitely worth the price.

#2 Gym instructors can guide you better than a Youtube video

Sure, you could follow Youtubers like Chloe Ting or Blogilates, but a Youtuber can’t give personalised corrections on your posture, or whether you’re ready to do something more advanced.

There are probably other perks, but these are the two that were most important for somebody who was terrible at exercising.

Now let’s think about the costs.

How much are gym memberships?

ClassPass’ lowest tier goes at just $19 a month, which gives you an estimate of 2 classes. They’ve got a credit system, which determines the price of each class based on a few factors, like popularity, time, location etc. Kind of how plane tickets work, just to give a quick analogy.

Source: ClassPass

A quick survey of a few gyms in Singapore and you’ll find that the average monthly membership fee is roughly $60, that is if you take up a long-term membership of course.

Let’s say we take $60 as our benchmark, that’s $720 a year, which is not too exorbitant.

Which brings me to the next, and more important question.

How often are you going to the gym?

I’ve heard of people who bought a gym membership but hardly went there at all. All that is money wasted that could be put elsewhere. These seemingly smalls money leaks can accumulate to become a large hole in your pocket.

If you’re anything like me – someone who was easily sucked into the latest lifestyle trend – then it’s more important to ask yourself what are you really doing this for? You got to admit to yourself if you’re just following the trends (as silly as it might sound).

And if you really are anything like the 22 year old me, then chances are you aren’t just spending on gym memberships. You’ll have a slew of other subscription accounts that take out of your salary on a fixed basis.

So the long answer to this question is no, you don’t need a gym to exercise. Not unless you really milk it for what it’s worth. Save your coin, take to Youtube, or better still go to the park for a good-ole jog.

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The joy of finding a good deal always makes my day. 

Here is a compilation (those that we can find) of the stores opened by former restaurant chefs, at affordable hawker prices. 

Disclosure: The accuracy of the material found in this article cannot be guaranteed

What’s more value for money, owning a car or taking grab daily?

We’re here to break it down for you.

Cost of Annual Car Ownership

Annual Car Installment S$11,600 (Assuming S$100,000 car, 30% desposit, loan tenure of 7 years)
Annual Road Tax S$168 (1.6 liter car)
Annual Insurance S$2,400 (Assuming a Mazda 3)
Annual Fuel Fees S$2,600 (Assuming S$1.85/liter, mid grade petrol)
Annual Servicing Package S$500
Annual HDB Season Parking S$960 (Assuming minimum monthly parking)
Total ≈S$18,200

Let’s assume you need to commute to and from work daily from Pasir Ris to Marina Bay Financial Centre, and you book a Grab at least twice on the weekends

5 day work week S$20 x 10 = S$200
Weekend Grabs S$20 x 2 = S$40
Annual Cost S$12,480


You could easily save at least $6000 a year without a car, even if you went ham on taking Grabs. We’re assuming very few people would take Grabs on this frequency.

Of course, owning a car is very much a lifestyle choice. Having a car comes with the convenience of being able to take control of your own transport. So if that all rounds off nicely for you, car ownership can still be on the cards for your financial goals.


The talk about money cannot be missed in every Chinese New Year.

If you’ve had enough of 2020, and you’re looking to make 2021 the best it could get for you, here are some pantang things to increase your luck during Chinese New Year.

Don’t sweep or take out garbage

All your spring cleaning should be done before the first day of CNY. It’s believed that if you sweep the floors, it is akin to sweeping your wealth away. Taking the trash out would mean throwing your fortune away from the house. So just endure some messiness on the first day of CNY.

Don’t wash hair

Hair in Chinese has a similar pronunciation as ‘gaining wealth’. So it’s believed that you shouldn’t be washing your wealth away at the start of New Year.

Avoid needlework

Using knives, scissors, or needles is seen as bad luck, because any accidents arising from that could lead to a loss in wealth. Use this as your excuse to order food in over CNY.

Avoid borrowing money

And make sure your debts are fully paid before CNY. Otherwise you risk being unlucky throughout the year.

Make sure you have a full rice jar

Rice has a huge significance in Chinese culture. If the rice jar isn’t full, it’s signifies that you don’t have enough food during CNY, and that’s a bad omen.