13 Questions with Jeraldine Phneah

By July 26, 2018People
Jeraldine Phneah

TL;DR – She ain’t your typical girl-next-door.

Not too long ago, a friend shared an article, How to save $100,000 in your 20s, in our Whatsapp groupchat. I was quite amazed someone this young, yes, younger than yours truly, can be this disciplined and this driven.

So I got curious… I thought to myself, “Surely someone like this would be very very down-to-earth and probably skimps on fashion and makeup and stuff…” Yes, yes, truth be told, I was imagining someone a little bit more on the side of Plain Jane  ~guilty~

I googled for her, read a little and also checked out her blog. I then searched for more photos of her, because you know, human beings are, by nature, a very shallow species.

My first impression of Jeraldine?

 

Jeraldine Phneah

“Whoa… quite a good-looking girl! Very sunshine-y bright and all, if you know what I mean. And, is she wearing circle lens with 15mm diameter…??”

Interestingly, Jeraldine shies away from the very topics that most female bloggers focus on – fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Instead, she mostly tackles topics revolving around self-development, current affairs and also a little of personal finance. These are topics that are not so exciting and don’t interest an average millennial – at least not me.

I would’ve imagined a young woman of her age to be incessantly flaunting her #ootd, travel tales and fancy lifestyle on Instagram. Isn’t that what most women in their mid-20s do these days?

But nope, Jeraldine ain’t your average Singaporean young lady.

Instead, Jeraldine strikes me as impressively mature and erm, a little (too?) serious for someone her age. So serious that I almost found myself sitting at attention as if I was in the military when I was reading through her posts. It’s quite hard to believe she’s only a few years younger than me.

So interesting and different I’ve found Jeraldine to be that I actually asked our editor if I could interview her. But as I was doing my own little research on her, I started to question my own decision. Ah, crap. She seems like a tough nut to crack. But you know what? #ChallengeAccepted!

Who knows, maybe I’d be able to discover the not-so-serious side of her, right?

After discussing with our editor, we decided to throw email her questions around four pillars, Work, Play, Love and Money. We didn’t want to just find out how she saves and invests, or how she works hard to upgrade and stay relevant. We’d wanted to paint a more rounded picture of what Jeraldine is really like as a person. We’d even included a few random, whimsically frivolous questions in our first draft of questions to her.

But oopsies! It seems like Jeraldine is far more serious and focused than we thought. I could also almost see what she’s like at work when she wrote back to us and asked if she could change the questions, hurhur.

Read on, and you’ll see why.

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WORK

What are your thoughts on digitalization and disruption? And with our economy facing transformation and disruption, how do YOU ensure that you keep abreast of these changes and stay relevant to the workforce?

As shared on my recent feature on The Drum, I feel that in our new digital economy, things are changing so quickly and it is really important for young adults to never get complacent in the careers.

I personally stay updated by reading news on the latest changes in my industry every day; pick up new skills related to my industry on my own during my spare time (i.e. google analytics; search engine optimization; inbound marketing) and attend networking session and industry talks at least once a quarter after office hours.

Sometimes, I also contribute my perspectives on topics related to my field. Check out this interview on Forbes.

An award that Jeraldine won in her industry

 

What did you wish you had done differently for your career?

I would have perhaps done a three year course instead of four year course at university. That would give me an additional one-year head start to my career. Furthermore, for the field that I am in (technology industry), having honors is not really a plus or necessity.

How can millennials improve their work life at the workplace?

I feel that the most important thing would be to minimize distractions especially when you’re doing deep work like drafting a proposal, preparing for a meeting or learning something new.

At work, I switch off all notifications on my phone and I have fixed times where I check work emails and whatsapp and respond to them. Do check out other tips I’ve shared for better work life balance here.

PLAY

Share with us your thoughts about work-life balance as a young working woman. How important is the PLAY/LEISURE component in your life?

I feel that play/leisure is extremely important in ensuring one does not burn out and can be well-rested enough to deliver their best performance at work. It also allows us to balance the different roles I have in my life – a worker, a daughter, a wife and a volunteer.

I understand that people sometimes perceive the desire for work-life balance as laziness and generation y gets slammed for this a lot.

However, I personally perceive Singaporean millennials desire for work-life balance as a sign of hope that we are one step closer to our dream for a Swiss standard of living where workers can enjoy high standards of living, productivity and work-life balance.

Blogging is clearly one of your hobbies. What made you start blogging? Why didn’t you choose to write about beauty and fashion like most female bloggers?

One of the reasons why I started blogging was because I was interested in topics such as current affairs and personal development. However, I didn’t really have many people to talk to about it as my peers weren’t interested in this subject. Putting my perspectives out there has really helped me to connect with other like-minded youths.

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I understand that many young female bloggers specialize in topics such as beauty, fashion or living a luxurious life. As these are not my areas of expertise or interest, I chose to focus on bread and butter issues. This includes topics such as cost of living, labour issues and our education system.

Besides sharing suggestions on how the system can be improved, I try to add value by sharing tips on how young adults like myself can navigate the challenges of adulting in Singapore such as saving money, renovating their first HDB flat and the best job portals for Millennials.

What else do you do outside of work besides blogging?

I love to exercise. I go to gym twice a week and wing chun practice on the weekends. One of my favourite activities is scuba diving. I have an advanced open water diver certification and also plan to take my rescue diving course next year. I was really inspired by the heroism of the selfless divers who saved the children from the Thai football team.

I also donate and volunteer at Bedok with our monthly food distribution program for lower income families and regular house visits to residents living in this area to collect their feedback on municipal and national issues.

Jeraldine Phneah conducting house visits

 

LOVE

What are some traits in men that turn you off instantly?

The qualities I dislike are not specific to men or women. In general, I dislike people who discriminate others or feel they are superior to others because of their age, race, gender, mental or physical ability etc. Everyone has some form of biasness and nobody is perfect. However, to show contempt for a specific group isn’t really the right thing to do.

Tell us about your wedding. Why did you choose to keep your wedding so simple?

My wedding was a simple and intimate ceremony at the Registry of Marriage at Fort canning. I decided to keep it low-key with just family and close friends present. For my wedding dress, I got a white maxi which was on sale on Zalora and I bought a hand bouquet from the wet market. My whole life I’ve never been the kind of girl who dreamt about having a fairytale wedding and don’t really like fanfare. Hence, something simple suited me.

After that, we went to Hanoi for our honeymoon and also took our pre-wedding photos there. 🙂

How has married life been like? Above, below or close to your expectations? Is love/marriage overrated, you think?

Before getting married, people kept telling me that I would lose my freedom. However, so far, I don’t feel as though I’ve lost any freedom. I own my own house and can now continue to do what I like in life – house visits, food distribution, hanging out with my friends and travel. The same goes for my partner.

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Perhaps, if one feels they have lost their freedom, it could be because they did not set healthy boundaries in their relationship.

Jeraldine Phneah and husband after their ROM

 

MONEY

What is one thing an average young working adult in Singapore can start doing today do to reduce their expenses?

One step you can do to reduce your cost is to not overspend on your weekday lunch.

When working in the CBD, it is usually tempting to spend more than $5-$15 on lunch due to peer pressure or having tons of awesome restaurants around. For at least 4 out of 5 days, aim to pack your own lunch or spend no more than $3-4 on meal. This would save you a lot in the long run.

If you work in Tanjong Pagar and don’t mind eating vegetarian food, my recommendations include the $2 Vegetarian Beehoon with egg at Yuan Cafe and $2.80 mixed vegetable rice from Tanjong Pagar Centre.

 

If you had one day left to live, what would you do with all the money you have?

I would give it to my family members as part of my contribution to their retirement funds. For the rest, I’d donate it to a charity.

How open are you and your husband about your income, savings and spending? How do you split household expenses with your husband?

We are completely transparent with each other about our income, savings and what we spend on.

As believers of gender equality, we also split our household expenses with each other. For instance, I pay for the town council fees, utilities bill, property tax and insurance. He pays for the internet and his car maintenance fees. We both take turns to pay for groceries.

My afterthoughts of Jeraldine?

Like it or not, Jeraldine isn’t your typical girl-next-door kind of girl. Jeraldine demonstrated how powerful determination can be and how having such strong willpower can help to achieve something she feels most passionate about.

It is also remarkable how this young lady is willing to roll up her sleeves and be proactive as she try to shape the environment to be in her favour.

This, perhaps is something that we (ahem, millennials) should all learn from Jeraldine.

 

 

 

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JW

Author JW

I am nice, most of the time!

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