How are Singaporeans spending their holiday funds now that travel is no longer an option? We find out
More to spare
It's been a while since we've fumbled for our passport in a sea of paraphernalia — to the point where we're missing that discomfort of air pressure weighing down on us in a plane. Gone are the days (albeit just within a year) where we could plan for a quick weekend vacation on the idyllic shores of Bali or even a quick drive to our neighbour, Johor Bahru for some good Lok-Lok and affordable beauty services.
Staying on homeground is now the new way of life until the travel ban is fully lifted, as new graduates and young working adults try to find some breathing space in between work, social life, and personal time. But there is a silver lining somewhere in between: there's a surplus culminated from the absence of bougie holidays. The question is, what are we doing with it? While it might take a global pandemic to cease the travel spending, this might be the only and best chance we've got at maximising this stack of savings.
Below, we gathered some thoughts from individuals of different age groups to find out how Singaporeans are spending their money and putting their travel funds to use.
Lynne, 22, assistant marketing manager
Money is something I tighten my belt on as the job market is extremely unpredictable, and every industry is affected directly or indirectly at some point. I am much more savvier with the way I spend my money now but yet I try to find little luxuries to splurge on such as going on for more restaurant meals more since my travel fund is just sitting there indefinitely.
Norman, 23, final year marketing undergrad
I have worked part-time throughout my years as a tertiary student and I see the current economy in an unprecedented upheaval state. I was taught to always save for rainy days and it certainly is raining now. I have channeled what you called "travel funds" to making some investments on the stock market. The stock market is currently volatile yet opportunistic and I see it as a small window to invest. At the back of it I also stretch my dollar for daily expenses to ride out this bleak employment season.
Adele, 28, ex-finance professional who was recently retrenched
Following my retrenchment, I saw a greater need to manage my finances more strictly. Even with substantial savings and a decent retrenchment package that could possibly last me comfortably for two years, I am careful with daily expenditure and have relooked at my financial commitments such as mobile plans and monthly service subscriptions. I cut back almost entirely on past small luxuries like shopping for new outfits and dining out. Instead I channel my past travel funds and savings to enrich myself with online courses and networking more with people to prepare myself for a new job.
Clive, 30, creative professional based in the US
Life is still business as usual for me but it does feels like I am walking on thinner ice so I make sure to not step on any cracks knowingly, but being extremely careful with my spending. I still set aside funds for travel but not as much as before and I am willing to spend a little more to buy quality food while being on lockdown. It is a simple luxury that I look forward to while battling through this season.
Zana, 22, recent university graduate
Most of my travel savings were supposed to go into my long-awaited graduation trip that had been scheduled for June. My friends and I had booked our airline tickets, confirmed the accommodations, and were just waiting to get on the plane for that supposed time of our life. So when the pandemic hit, the only thing we wanted was to get our money back, and thankfully we did. Since we didn't get a grad trip, I decided to just splurge a bit of it on myself and my home and ended up getting a new monitor plus other furniture for my room since I was going to be spending more time in my room this year anyway. I think the rest of my 'travel savings' will just be saved for the future when things start opening up again.
Ting, 31, finance professional based in Hong Kong
Life has pretty much revolved around staying home and putting time to good use. Besides venturing on various home fermentation projects like making kombucha and bread, I allow myself to spend quite freely as I have little liabilities on hand. Since I am unable to travel anytime soon, I splurge a little more of items I fancy — whether it be groceries and eating out with friends.
Sarah, 35, technology professional based in Singapore
I am probably more cautious as a principle, but I still spend normally as required. Due to the pandemic and working from home being the norm, I save more now as compared to being in the office, which ironically increases capacity for other things like leisure or 'travel'. Life on the surface is pretty much the same but there have been structural shifts at a society level, inadvertently then affecting me at a sub conscious level. I do not deliberately set aside money for travel as I see it part of enriching life's experiences but costly cities or distant countries would be a factor in cost consideration and I will need to ensure I have enough funds to manage it when it comes.
Kelly, 36, finance professional based in Singapore
Life is pretty much business as usual and I still spend as required. Most of my travel funds probably went to the purchase of my new apartment. Part of the reason of bringing forward the purchase was in the hope of locking in a good price from the developer considering the current state of the economy.
The main difference in how we handle money and our travel funds is predominantly based on two main factors: the stage of life and how stable our cash flow is. But the fundamental approach to money is consistent – people are cautious and spending within their means, but they too see a need for little luxuries and mini celebrations especially during a time like this.
It comes in various forms, such as putting together a decent outfit to head out, indulging in artisanal groceries to prepare a lavish meal, simply ordering in more books or wines than before with the hopes of returning or having some semblance of normalcy. Perhaps, some day, that luxury could fall back on taking a long holiday, far away from Singapore.
A former banker, Crystal Lim now freelances at her own time while juggling an active one year-old at home.