The Unemployment Diaries – is this the time of my life?

It has been 6 weeks since my last working day and I’m still not bored of this unemployment life.

I’ve met many people in the past couple of weeks (some who I have not even met in months/years) and everyone is curious on what’s up with me and how I am ‘living the life’ so I guess I should be penning down some entries so I can look back in jealousy (of my past life) a couple of years down the road. That’s if I get back into the workforce. It’s so tempting to be a loafer and I’m growing somewhat comfortable in my retirement-stimulated lifestyle.

So what have I been doing?

1. Reading (for free)

I love the library since I was young. It has somewhat been a part of my life in many different stages. Apart from the usual functions of borrowing books, I’ve spent a lot of the time in the library studying/mugging (yes, i remember my friend queuing up at 9:40am outside the library and dashing in to chope seats at 10am). I’ve also spent a lot of time ‘passing time’ at the library. Sometimes, I’m too early for my appointment or tuition class; other times, I just didn’t want to go home early. I’ll grab a couple of (usually travel) books and I’ll flip through while listening music on my earphones. My favourite hangout was the NLB as it has a somewhat strategic position in between Bugis and City Hall. My favourite spot is the quiet reading area – which usually have seats. All these happened when I was.. still in school.

Now that I’ve started work, I’ve barely visited the library; maybe thrice in the span of 9 months, despite having an office opposite the library. These days, I enter the library with a clear define purpose of borrowing a specific book (which usually is not available as an eBook yet). I used to buy books off book depository – maybe about 5-6 books in the past 10 years but I’ve came to the conclusion that I haven’t had the time to re-read any of the bought books – so I kind of stopped buying. Staring at my book shelf; I realised that 2 books from the list were books about north korean escapees – Escape from Camp 13 and The girl with 7 names. Oh wells.

Anyway, my run for the library since Dec 2018 started after I read a book recommendation for  ‘Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata’. I can’t remember much of the recommendation but that book had been on my mind. Being a cheapo and not wanting to pay the $1.55 reservation fee, I am a highly active user of the NLB Mobile app and I’ll always check on the availability of the book whenever I remember. There were times where it was available but I couldn’t find it on the shelf and I ended up re-discovering the author ‘Haruki Murakami’ and his books since they were shelved in the same ‘MUR’ section. The happy thing is I did eventually get to borrow the book ‘Convenience Store Woman’ in early May (last week of work) and I completed it in an afternoon. 

In the process of re-kindling my love for reading, I’ve slowly moved on to the NLB Mobile App + OverDrive (offline download) which is a lot more efficient for reading. The best part of e-Books is that you get to screenshot your favourite quotes. This was especially useful for my newly discovered inspirational writer – Haemin Sunim. I started with ‘The things you can see only when you slow down’ and continued with ‘Love for Imperfect Things’. If you read my previous blog post, I’ve quoted him which represented how I felt and hope to be feeling. I kind of feel very happy to start reading again. It’s like this long lost hobby that I’ve forgotten due to the increase reliance and addiction to social media and netflix. I’m really glad that this ‘slow-down’ in life has given me a chance to remember my hobbies.

One more thing, there are travel guides like lonely planet on NLB App e-Books list too! I did use the South Korea one for ‘inspiration’ when I was in Korea. e-Books are valid for 3 weeks rental so you’ll definitely have sufficient time but also, do bear in mind that popular books may have a long waiting list (max I waited was 1 week?)

<Give reading another chance. Download the NLB App (Singaporeans) and you don’t even need to step out of your house>

P.S. Reading by borrowing library books is one of the best way to recover back the taxes you’ve paid. Your free library membership has already been absorbed into your GST and Income Tax.

2. Becoming a Pokemon Trainer – finally Level 34!

I was crazily addicted when it first launched back in Aug 2016. It was madness as I even went ECP night cycling to catch ’em all. My friend’s hens night staycation was booked at Changi Village as well – as it was known to be a spawn site. I played Pokemon even when i was overseas – Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. It was really fun. I kind of stopped playing by Oct 2017 but I re-downloaded the app in Jul 2018 cause I had to wait for a colleague while she plays at lunch time. After a few times of waiting, I thought I should join in as well. However, it was only until my first community day in Dec/Jan where I learned about ‘shiny’ Pokemons and that kind of re-kindled my interest.

Since then, I’ve taken part in most editions of community day, including the Lapras Sentosa event which I did not even score a single shiny Lapras. It was upsetting but I ain’t giving up =p I’m still determined to catch my own ‘shinies’, leaving it to the element of luck or perhaps algorithms of niantec.

Will this Pokemon interest die off in NZ or would I achieve greater heights cause I’ll be walking so much? Only time will tell.

On a side note, I tried to look for a New Zealand Pokemon Go community but I can’t seem to find one. I guess they might not be into such things.

3. Calculating & Managing Finances

This was one of the toughest challenge of it all, but it kinds of give me quite a bit of satisfaction after I came to a conclusion on how this can be done. There were sleepless nights (yes, such things keep me up at night) but at least I think I’m kind of good for now; or so i hope.

  • Savings Account
    • When I did have a salary credit, I was an avid supporter of OCBC 360 account where I can earn 1.2% of interest; credited on a monthly basis. There were other categories which can up the interest but for the most basic tier, it was 1.2%. Just so you note, if your money is still stuck in the (POSB savings) account that you had since you were a kid, you could possibly be drawing a 0.05% interest rate.
    • Now that I will not be getting any income in the months ahead, I had to look for a savings account which could earn more than 0.05% interest. Initially, the plan was to consider a FD which could give up to 1.9% (min. 6 months) but this would mean inflexibility – should I run out of cash in NZ, choosing to return earlier or perhaps deciding to hop on and explore another country. Not wanting to lock my money down, I decided to use UOB One account which will be giving 1.5% interest, should you spend more than $500 (exclusions apply) on UOB Cards in a calendar month. Should you be able to make 3 GIRO transactions (I’m using IRAS and 2 UOB Cards – YOLO and One Card), it will be 1.85%.
      How do I ensure I spend $500/month? I’m banging on pre-payments/topups and miscellaneous future expenses that I may be incurring across the next few months. This would probably involve online shopping (I hope it works well in NZ) and offering to pay first for purchases back at home. I guess that I would be booking accommodation(s) online in NZ and perhaps figure something out. It may not be a fool proof plan, but at least I think I’m covered for July.
  • Budgeting for NZ
    • I had to calculated the amount of money I needed to survive in NZ – assuming I was jobless – how long can I last?
  • Changing of phone numbers for credit card OTP
    • This was hell, but you can read more details in this post.
  • Stalking the exchange rate on a daily basis.
    • As at today (16 Jun), CashChanger.co reflects as 1 SGD = 1.103 NZD
      It’s a pretty decent rate but I’m still procrastinating. Let’s hope it gets even better.

4. Finding all ways and means to earn money

  • GrabHitch
    • I re-started my GrabHitch services (whenever I was heading out) but the petrol tank seems to be reducing quite a fair bit after I started. Deducting my petrol charges, I’m wondering if my hourly rate for GrabHitch can even hit $4/hour given the traffic jam(s) and extra detours. I haven’t figure out a nice way to stack customers yet so I’m slightly on the losing end but let’s see how things go. The 10% commission taken by GrabHitch feels a little painful too.|
  • uParcel
    • This is a courier service where you can earn from doing deliveries. I’ve been stalking the app quite a bit but haven’t found any jobs that are ‘on the way’.
  • Survey Apps
    • I’ve been diligently doing surveys on my mobile phone. To date, I’ve cashed out $10 from milieu and earned $20 CapitaLand Vouchers as part of Apiary Buzz’s new acquisition signup.

5. Disturbing Clarifying with Banks

I think I’ve been calling different banks on the average of once per week.

I have many services requests – ranging from cancelling of credit cards, waiver of annual fees/late charges and the most epic of it all was an appeal for expired points – which was worth $40 shopping vouchers. It took 20 mins of my time but it ended up a success so, I guess all was good.

I also took the time to clarify on the fine print(s) of the credit cards and promotion criteria for new benefit(s) etc.

I also bid farewell to my once-favourite CIMB cards.

6. Finding all ways and means to earn Krisflyer miles

As I’ve splurged an extra 15,400 miles for my one-way business class ticket, I need to find a way to earn back the miles as I no longer have enough for my return economy class ticket.

With the departure of mileslife, there’s one lesser way to earn. Now I’m left with Grab Points, (Note: Their system had a glitch or perhaps running out of budget, and their transfer had failed since 7 Jun; 9 days and counting), Chope Points, Changi Rewards Points and now the new micro redemption of DBS Points (previously required 5,000 but micro is now possible with 15% loss in value). For purchases that don’t channel any valuable cashback or fulfilling any minimum spend, I need to split my purchases between Krisflyer AMEX and DBS Altitude Card. Tough choices each time but still worthwhile.

I’ll update my Krisflyer journey when I buy my return ticket.

7. I’m spending quite a bit of money, way too much for an unemployed soul

When you have too much free time, you end up shopping a lot both online and offline.

I’ve bought a new jacket, new shoes, thermal wear, clothes, higher socks, hairdryer, new bag, tripod, hair and skincare products and the list goes on..

I’ve resisted some purchases too – DJI Osmo Pocket (really wanted it but couldn’t see the long term utility), new camera (my canon S120 still does not have a worthy competitor).

8. I went for my first solo trip

In an attempt to prepare myself for the solitary life, I’ve decided to take a short trip to an all-so-familiar country, South Korea.

It was nice to not talk (since I talk most of the time), and let my voice rest – which perhaps resulted in the recovery of my cough and discover the disadvantages of solo travel. I was not able to eat a lot of food in Korea (which were 2-person servings) and I ended up spending more money in expensive cafes as there was no one to share dessert with. As a result, I couldn’t even eat ice cream at all as I was often too full from my meals.

I spent most of the time talking to myself on IG-story but I was thankful that I had friends/readers/followers/random strangers that bother replying and entertaining my nonsense. I still had that bit of social life in the social media atmosphere.

I also made it a point to stay in Hostel (for 2 nights) as it had been a few years since I last put myself in such shared accommodation. Thought that it would be useful for me to re-experience it again, before I get uncomfortable in NZ. At least I have some basic mental expectations to the situation.

[Read more about my South Korea trip]

9. Watch Dramas & Variety Shows

I thought that I would spend more time on this but it only took a small portion of my time.

I watched ‘Her Private Life‘ as an attempt to do some filming locations blogging but the storyline went flat and I haven’t completed the series.

On a side note, I got really hooked on Abyss (available on Netflix) and I spend my monday/tuesday nights chasing the series which is thrilling and in suspense. I get pretty scared watching the drama late at night. Whoops. The last 2 episodes will be aired when I’m in NZ so I’ll probably spend my first few nights completing the series. Please be good.

I continued with the Produce X 101 series which is in Season 4 now. Not that I really love it but I kind of watch it out of Habit? Don’t really have a one-pick yet and I might not have any till the end; Oh wells.

10. Meet friends and ex-(ex)-(ex)colleagues

Suddenly, everyone makes it a point to meet me before I fly off and it was pretty good to still have a bit of social life.

It’s pretty nice to catch up but it’s pretty straining on my wallet >< but at the same time, I can’t say no to good food either!

The most annoying question of it all is.. ‘What is your plan in NZ?’ and my useless answer is ‘No Job, No Plans. Just flying to Christchurch and it would be Winter’.

To be honest, it’s not that I don’t want to plan but it’s just that most things can only be done when you’re there or nearer to your arrival date. It is as YOLO as it can be so I just got to get out of my comfort zone of excessive planning and just go with the flow.

11. Clearing (a small portion of) my room

Finally cleared my ($20,000 worth of) university readings and notes which I thought I would be looking at after I graduate.

The truth is, I haven’t touch any of them since I graduated. Another more fun part is I re-looked at some useless but cannot throw away sentimental items from my younger days. They are all the remnants of what youth was about and some things were so ridiculous but it was still kind of worth keeping cause of the memories. I still have a long way more to go for my room but chances are it will have to wait till I’m back.

12. Last, but not the least, Planning for New Zealand

I have a work in progress list in my other blog post but I still feel it is inadequate.

I ought to be packing my luggage and now I’m down to -8 days yet I’m still procrastinating. I spent the past couple of hours + a few days typing this post out, instead of packing my stuff. I have no idea how a 28-inch is sufficient for me. I can’t even decide how many jacket(s) I should bring or fit. Other people can stuff their items into a 65L and I’m still like.. deciding if I should bring maggie mee or not. Priorities. urgh. but I am still me.

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“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” by Albert Einstein

I guess I’ll get some answers to the quote above in about 6 to 9 months time.

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