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How He Ying Ying Survived On $10 A Day

We dared newbie actress He Ying Ying to go back to basics and live on just $10 — in cash — per day. How did she fare? (A version of this story first appeared in Issue 1390, June 8, 2017.)

Spend $15 for an Uber? Or $30 for a Deliveroo? It’s become oh-so-easy to not realise how much we actually spend. And that's what 22-year-old actress He Ying Ying realised when she took up our 8 DAYS $10 money challenge. The final year Communications and New Media undergrad at the National University of Singapore, who takes cabs "all the time",  gives us a break down of her expenses during those five days. Bet she didn’t think she’d have to subsist on 3-in-1 coffee to complete the challenge. 

MAY 20, SATURDAY

PLAN FOR THE DAY: To visit her grandparents

EXPENDITURE FOR THE DAY 

Public transport: $4
Lunch: $3.80 bak chor mee
Dinner: 4 chicken rice
TOTAL: $11.80

WHAT SHE SAYS: “I was extremely surprised that I exceeded my budget even though I didn’t spend on anything apart from food and transport. I realised that if I want to survive on only $10, I would have to bring my own water bottle from home as I won't be able to buy any drinks.”

MAY 21, SUNDAY
PLAN FOR THE DAY: Family time at home
EXPENDITURE FOR THE DAY: $0
WHAT SHE SAYS: “I didn’t spend any money today! I guess I should probably eat at home more often as I get to save more money. Does this mean I can spend $20 tomorrow instead? (Laughs)”

MAY 22, MONDAY
PLAN FOR THE DAY: Drop by the salon or visit a café and read a book
EXPENDITURE: $0
WHAT SHE SAYS: “I changed my plans because I realised that if I go out, I’d have to spend nearly half the day’s budget on transport. I ended up reading a book at home and drank Milo instead. I know I'm sort of cheating because there’s no way someone can stay at home and not go out at all. Usually, people have to go to work or school, and somehow, they will end up spending money.”

MAY 23, TUESDAY
PLAN FOR THE DAY: Filming
EXPENDITURE FOR THE DAY 
Transport: $15 cab + $3 public transport
Dinner: $20 for steamboat
TOTAL: $38

WHAT SHE SAYS: “I had set my alarm clock the night before so that I’d be on time for filming but I forgot to factor in additional travelling time as I usually take a cab to work instead of the train. I ended up taking a cab and already exceeding the budget by $5. In the evening, I went out with my friends for dinner. I didn’t suggest eating somewhere else more affordable because it’s not nice to change dinner plans just ’cos I wanted to spend less. Also, I had already exceeded my budget. I tried to comfort myself by telling myself that I didn’t spend any money the previous two days. By offsetting the balance, I guess I only exceeded the budget by $8? (Chuckles)”

MAY 24, WEDNESDAY
PLAN FOR THE DAY: To read scripts and a book
EXPENDITURE FOR THE DAY: $0

WHAT SHE SAYS: “I really wanted to get out of the house and find a nice café or restaurant to read my materials, but a cup of coffee could easily cost $7 and I still have to factor in my transport costs. So I decided to have 3-in-1 coffee and read in my living room instead.”

Ying Ying’s biggest takeaway from the challenge:
“In the beginning, I thought that only spending $10 a day would be fairly easy and achievable because I know of people who only spend $5 daily. However, I realised that I had to make major adjustments to my usual lifestyle to stay within the budget. Because of this challenge, I’ve been taking public transport more often and I’ve also become more aware of where my money goes, which is mostly food (laughs). I realised that I’ve been spending money rather carelessly and this really reminded me to be more frugal.”

Buckle up: Hey, Kayly Loh (above) and Hong Ling (right), get set to tighten your pursestrings in our next Money Challenge. 

Who’s next: 
“I nominate Kayly [Loh] and Hong Ling to take up this challenge! (Laughs) I personally found it quite difficult, and I think it’d be fun to see if they can spend within the $10 budget too (chuckles)” 

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