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3 Pieces of Advice For Young Singaporeans Embarking on Careers at Raffles Place

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Joanne Poh

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If you know where the fat bird at Raffles Place is, know exactly what to do with a tissue packet during lunchtime and know your way around the warren of the Raffles City MRT tunnel, congratulations, you’re a full-fledged CBD worker. We hope you enjoy your post-work cocktail at Customs House.

However, beyond the glamour of working alongside some of the country’s highest-paid professionals and regularly walking past handbags that cost twice of Singapore’s median monthly income on your way to the office, working in the CBD can be a drag. Not only is food more expensive in that area, the pressure to spend is also high, as your colleagues and friends jio you for lunch at Club Street or drinks at MBS.

Young Singaporeans who’ve recently joined the Raffles Place workforce, here are three tips to make sure you emerge from this job with a healthy amount of savings.

 

Set savings and investing goals early on in your career

If you’re working at Raffles Place and can call yourself a PMET, chances are you’re drawing a healthy salary. For instance, the starting pay for degree-holders at foreign banks is usually between $3,500 to $4,500 at the very least, with front-office employees often getting paid much more.

That means you have no excuse for not setting savings goals, and setting aside a portion of cash each month to invest. There are some Singaporeans who truly cannot make ends meet, but as a PMET it is less likely you are one of them.

Lots of young PMETs make the mistake of not starting to save and invest early. I have friends who worked for foreign banks and drew a healthy salary for many years before they managed to start saving a single cent. That’s a real pity, because they’ll have to save and invest a lot more to be retirement-ready than if they had started earlier. As a rookie, you have time on your side, so start as early as you can.

 

Don’t try to be like everyone else you see at Raffles Place

The temptation of lifestyle inflation is particularly high for people who work in the Raffles Place area. Not only is this area filled with people who draw high salaries, it’s also filled with folks whose mission in life is to look as atas as they possibly can.

It’s common for CBD office workers to spend $50 on cocktails after work or $20 on a bowl of ramen during lunchtime. Ladies are constantly faced with the taunting of authentic designer handbags everywhere they turn. And despite the high cost of parking, you can bet your boss isn’t going to park his Porsche Carrera in the neighbourhood carparks under the Park and Ride scheme.

If you start your first CBD job hoping to be like everyone else, you will—but be prepared to join the ranks of the many PMETs who suffer from cash flow issues and are in credit card debt despite drawing generous salaries.

 

Know where the cheap lunch places are in the CBD

While food prices are definitely higher at Raffles Place than they are in some hawker center in Bukit Batok, there are quite a few places that are cheap—you just have to know where they are or be willing to walk a little.

If you’re closer to the Shenton Way side of things, walk past the Telok Ayer area and down to Chinatown, where Maxwell Food Centre and Chinatown Complex are. Those closer to the Tanjong Pagar side are better off eating in the Tanjong Pagar HDB area than walking up to Raffles Place.

In Raffles Place itself, skip the pricey areas like Marina Bay Link Mall and head to older buildings like Hong Leong Building, the bridge linking SGX to Shenton House and Afro-Asia Building, where cheap eateries and stalls abound.

Do you work at Raffles Place? Tell us what it’s like and how it affects your spending patterns in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.