When I got pregnant with Zoey, I stopped working full time and started doing mainly project work. As a result, when my CPF balance fell to zero, I had to start making my HDB loan payments with cash.
Six months ago, I started working on a more permanent part-time basis and this resulted in me having CPF contributions again. So I went to HDB to provide my payslips and kick start the deductions via CPF once more.
Counter lady asked: So you work for more than 1 company?
Counter lady: Full time or part time?
Me: Part time
Counter lady: How much is your salary per month?
Me: Around $3,500
Counter lady: That’s part time?
Counter lady: *Incredulous look*
This exchange made me seriously think about the average salary in Singapore. The look on her face obviously showed me she was surprised working part time could pay this amount. To me, it is not a lot, but rather a trade off. My time for less money and it’s been a worthwhile trade.
This trade gave me a chance to relax while I was pregnant and watch Zoey grow after she was born. It allowed me to wake up in the mornings with her, have breakfast with her, pick her up from play group, bring her on play dates and generally be with her when she needed me. I am fortunate enough to live in a time and age where the Internet has made working from home possible. On top of that, my job allows me to leverage my skills without actually having to physically be in the office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
I know most people do not have such luxuries. For me, I simply want to make full use of my time. When you know there are limited hours in a day and limited days in a lifetime, you don’t want to waste those hours.
My discussion with Irene over the dinner table that night was about how many people living in Singapore were unaware of how big the income gap has become. Given the economic conditions 20 years ago, a large proportion of people now are actually living a much lower quality of life as compared to before. In the past, sole breadwinner families could afford to fully pay off their flat in 15 years, own a small car and take a family holiday every year. Now, many dual income families barely making ends meet, much less consider cars or holidays. Irene says it is ‘The Disappearing Middle Class’ syndrome. The cost of living in Singapore is one of the highest in the world making the average salary simply insufficient.
With that in mind, I decided to set up a poll on Facebook to find out how many of my friends would trade 50% of their work load for 50% of their salary. Sadly many of them would not because they feel they don’t earn enough. Even those who would, think it would not work as workload can never be exactly half. There were some who tried it and they ended up going back to full load.
So where does that leave us? This is a problem I would really love to solve. Each of us have gathered knowledge, experience and wisdom in our lives. All of this builds up to increase both our personal and professional value. If people could leverage on it, would they? If their value could be increased to the point where they could work half load and yet have enough money, would they? Or do they believe money is never enough? This is a really tough question and I have struggled with it in the recent months.
Personally, I converted my work to full load this month. It doesn’t mean that I have stopped being an entrepreneur or that I have jumped back into the rat race. It just means I am committed to working more this year. The reasons why I am doing so are partly due to money. With a growing child and aging parents, the expenses are endless and making more money will definitely help make life more comfortable. The other part is due to passion and belief in the work I am currently doing. I have learnt a lot in the past year and truly appreciate where this journey is leading me. The incredible people I have met on my journey with Entrevo and Key Person of Influence Singapore has convinced me that this is the way to go. I am fortunate to have found a place where I can contribute fully, be constantly inspired, work with people who make me happy, yet still have the flexibility of working from home and picking Zoey up from play group. Now I just need to make myself more productive and prove my worth so I can continue to enjoy this fantastic environment.
At the same time, I am working on a solution that will help more people maximise their value, work less hours and spend more time doing the things they want with the people they love. There is a KPI in everyone and I think it’s just about finding how to unleash that person.
P/S: If you are keen to find out what Key Person of Influence is about, feel free to ping me. I’m happy to share over a cup of coffee.