Opinion

3 Ways Working Too Much Could be Costing You Money

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Joanne Poh

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Singaporeans have every reason to want to work less. They are notorious for working the longest hours in the world, and also for being disengaged workers who pretty much hate their jobs. Other than that all-too-familiar fear of losing out, money is reason the average Singaporean remains chained to his detested job. Well, what if we told you that working too much could actually be costing you money? If you’ve been putting in extra hours at the office in exchange for more money, here’s why you might still be broke.

 

1. You’re drinking more

How many times have you muttered, “I need a beer,” as you left the office? Never mind that alcohol of any sort of hideously expensive in Singapore.

We’ve long suspected it, and now we know it’s true. A recent study has revealed that people who work more than 48 hours a week (that’s like everyone in Singapore) are more likely to consume excessive amounts of alcohol or exhibit risky alcohol-linked behaviour.

Gerald, a 32-year-old banker, is a regular at Avalon, where he can spend $300 to $400 in a single night. He works long hours, often remaining in the office until midnight, and views his Friday night indulgences at the club as essential to his sanity.

When asked why he doesn’t just pick a less intense job and then spend less to make up for a lower salary, Gerald is at a loss for words.

 

2. You end up spending more money on your kid

While everyone in Singapore seems to think that kids are expensive little things, the truth is, their lives might be better if parents traded a bit of that money they spent on them for time.

If you work punishing hours, you’re going to have to either pay for childcare or hire a maid to stay at home and supervise the kid, unless your parents are willing to care for your offspring full-time. NTUC’s childcare costs about $600 to $680 a month, but you can end up paying a lot more at other centres. Hiring a maid, if you don’t have one already, will cost you over $1,500 in agents’ fees and at least $700+ a month.

It doesn’t stop there. When your kids are old enough, if you and your spouse are at work all day till late at night, you might find that you end up putting your child in tuition classes because you’re not around to coach them yourself. You might also be more willing to fork out the cash for other activities like ballet or abacus just so they’re not left alone at home all evening.

Lynette, a 30-year-old marketing executive, is pregnant with her first child and plans to hire a maid when she gives birth.

“I don’t really like the idea of having to share the flat with another person. But my parents have their own lives now and have made it clear that I can’t expect them to stay home and look after the baby all the time. I was already busy and frazzled all the time before I got pregnant. I can’t imagine how I’ll cope without help after I give birth.”

 

3. You spend more on holidays

The longer hours you work, the more unlikely you are to actually be able to take leave and go on holiday. So it doesn’t seem to make sense that you spend more on holidays. But time and time again, I’ve seen my friends with very demanding jobs pay sky high prices to book air tickets at the last minute and on the most expensive days of the week.

Nigel, a 29-year-old lawyer, laments, “I always end up booking my holidays at the last minute, because I never know if I’ll have to cancel my trip because a matter has blown up and I’m needed at the office. To avoid my boss having to complain about being made to approve more leave, when I go on a weekend trip it usually means I depart on Friday night and return on Sunday, which are the most expensive times to fly.”

On a recent trip to Bali, Nigel ended up paying an exorbitant $400 for a return ticket on a budget airline because of the above problems. Air tickets to Bali are usually about half the price if you book in advance and avoid the most expensive days.

How has working long hours made you spend more? Let us know 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.