Pam Oei’s CNY Angpow Packing Hacks — Including How To Beat The Queues For New Notes At The Bank

Huat has starring in a stand-up show about all things money and going cashless has taught the thesp?

The Dim Sum Dolly recently starred in stand-up show, The Funny in Money, where “Hossan [Leong], Fakkah Fuzz and I talk about funny situations in life that involve money, and how we move into a cashless society,” says Pam of the DBS-organised gig. When the 46-year-old actress isn’t doling out LOL moments on stage, Pam is the frontwoman of local rock outfit, Ugly in the Morning. The band’s new album, Three or More If You Can Afford It, drops mid-April. “The album title is in reference to the [government’s pro-natalist policy in the 80’s.] This was after the ‘Two is Enough’ campaign in the 70s, [when they realised] we weren’t making enough babies,” she muses.

8 DAYS: The Funny in Money isn’t your regular comedy show — there’s an educational element to it too. What lessons did you glean from doing this show?

PAM OEI: That it’s a very confusing time for people. People who are savvy with their mobile phones are more up to date [with cashless payments], but there are people who are also who are like, “What is PayNow? What is PayLah?” I also learnt that — and this is a very auntie thing — that during Chinese New Year, DBS and POSB erect these temporary pop-up ATMs all over the island that only give out new notes. I also found out you can give e-angpows now. Hossan also told me about cashless food courts. I haven’t tried going cashless at these food courts, but I’ve definitely tried paying friends and transferring money with the apps. It’s very convenient when you’re splitting the bill.

What’s your ritual for Chinese New Year angpow packing like?

Before this, I didn’t know about these extra ATMs, so I’d go queue up like an auntie. Different banks open at different times, and you have to make sure you’re in the queue at opening time, which is 8.30am. The queues are usually very long, and for some reason, they have a quota for the number of new notes given out per day, so if you’re not early enough, you have to go back the next day. It’s very tedious. I make a rough list of how many $50, $20 and $10 angpows I have to give out. $50 for nieces and nephews, or those siblings who are not yet married, goddamn them (laughs). And then there’s the ‘who-are-you’ category, which is $2. It’s considered very little these days, but they won’t know [who it’s from] anyway. So my ritual is to pack different denominations into different coloured angpows, or keep them in different sections of the wallet. If there are nieces or nephews you don’t like, don’t give them $50. (Guffaws) But I’m very happy to give angpows to theatre crew members or stage management teams that I work with. 

What happens to your son’s angpow money?

It all goes into his bank account which he doesn’t know about. He still dutifully hands over his angpows to me, but I don’t think I can get away with it for much longer. I’ll let him have the money when he asks. My husband and I have decided that we’re going to follow Janice Koh’s example, which is to split the angpow money into thirds — one-third to keep, one-third to save in the bank, and one-third goes to a charity of his choice. We’ll give him a selection of charities and see who he wants to donate it to.

Do you prefer shopping online or at brick-and-mortar shops?

I’m not a big fan of online shopping. I’ve had bad experiences with sizing. Even if you know your shoe size, it’s better to try it on because sometimes the source country is different. I recently bought a pair of heels online for about $70. It turned out to be way too high — my knees [can’t handle it] anymore! Oh, and there’s the swimming costume I bought too. Even though there’s a size chart and I measured everything, it turned out to be way too big. It’s from J.Crew and it’s good in that there’s a system for returns and the shipping you pay to return it is very little, about $7. But the return address is in Shenzhen and the address was all in hanyu pinyin. Like, how is it even going to find its way back there? So I’m just going to sell it on Carousell or a jumble sale.

Do people know that it’s you on Carousell?

No, I just use a username which used to be the name of my dog. You can find anything on Carousell and on Qoo10. But, ugh, I really hate the Qoo10 website — it’s damn messy! But one thing that I do buy online are cosmetics and skincare products. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s about 30 or 40 per cent cheaper than retail price and it’s the real stuff. I read the reviews to see if the seller is legit and check how many good reviews they have. I usually check with them if the product is new and sealed. So far, I’ve only had one incident where the Laneige water sleeping mask I bought didn’t arrive. It’s not like the seller disappeared — we did talk about it and both wondered where the package might be. But it was only $15. I buy more than I sell, though. But I am selling those stupid strappy heels on Carousell. Can somebody buy them, please!

Watch a video of The Funny in Money on Three Or More If You Can Afford It will be released in April.

Photo: Studiokel by Kelly Fan 

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