updated 9 Oct 2011, 09:40
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Wed, Sep 07, 2011
The New Paper
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She’s wiser with her money now
by Shaun Soh

MOST people would be careful in spending their hard-earned money.

But local DJ Maddy Barber (also known as Madeline Tan) was prone to "stupid spending" when she was younger.

She told The New Paper: "When I went to work in India in 2000 as a radio software consultant, I had so much money.

"Basically, I was an expatriate there and most of my expenses were paid for.

"And I spent all the money on Indian silk! I'm talking about tens of thousands of dollars."

The 37-year-old said the silk she bought was used to make dresses that she wore just a few times.

But now that Barber is older, she has become wiser in her spending.

She would like to think that she's now smarter than most Singaporeans when it comes to buying things.

She said: "Most people here are very brand-conscious...(but) I go for something that's value for money.

"I don't need to buy a $1,000 handbag when I'm happy with my $50 one."

Barber is 91.3FM's on-air presenter for drivetime show The Backseat and, since April this year, the station's assistant programme director, a new position created for her.

She said the job has helped her save money.

"Now, I start work in the late afternoon, and I get home around 9pm," she said. "By that time, there's no way I'm going to go out to spend money."

She pockets an additional four-figure sum from doing freelance jobs which include emceeing at events and voice-overs.

Managing her income

The mother of two has also learnt to better manage her money thanks to her husband, a British businessman who runs an IT firm here.

She has two daughters - 15-year-old Libby from a previous marriage and Ally, five.

The bulk of Barber's expenses are household necessities like groceries, school fees and the children's clothes.

One of her most expensive purchases was a $2,000 tap water filter system as she believes in its health benefits.

Every month for two years, five per cent of her income is drawn out in cash and deposited into a fund managed by her financial adviser friend.

Barber said that although the amount is small, it's good to have an additional pot of money set aside for the future.

She stressed the importance of being aware of theactual value of what you want to buy.

"A car like an Aston Martin would cost around S$350,000 in Singapore. In the UK, it would cost just about £50,000 (S$97,700)," she said.

"If I were to buy it, I would buy it in the UK."

Barber - who lived and worked in Bangkok for six years, doing radio jobs and dabbling in real estate - added that with the amount people pay for property in Singapore, you can live in a house in Thailand with a golf course, eight bedrooms, a private swimming pool and a private gym.

She said her knowledge of how prices differ overseas helps her manage her finances with greater clarity.

It also gives her ideas on where best to retire.

While she's not sure how much she needs to save to settle down in the south of France, the UK or Thailand, she believes it will be cheaper than retiring in Singapore.

She currently owns property in Thailand and Singapore.

Said Barber: "So, a house in each country is the plan. Two down and two more to go!"

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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