updated 5 May 2011, 22:44
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Mon, Jul 12, 2010
The New Paper
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Cheap for my sweet, sugar for my money

MEDIACORP actor Zzen Chong is on an austerity drive.

The 32-year-old has been cutting down on his expenses since he confirmed his marriage plans in March last year.

The Malaysian-born actor will wed his girlfriend of eight years, 30-year-old car dealer Geline See, on Jan 14.

The wedding will be held at an Italian restaurant in a hotel here.

Chong is most famous for his role as baddie Robert Zhang in the 2008 hit drama The Little Nyonya.

He has just finished filming the Channel 8 police drama Unriddle.

Even before he started saving up for his wedding, Chong said he was already quite thrifty.

He eats at hawker centres, coffee shops and foodcourts almost all the time and spends an average of $5 per meal.

Once in a while, he eats at zhi char stalls at gatherings with friends, where he spends about $20 a meal.

His Wedding Budget
Wedding dinner for 150
persons at $110 per head:
Bridal photos: $2,000
Dowry jewellery: $1,500
Wedding bands: $1,000
Flowers: $500
Hotel rooms for relatives
from Kuala Lumpur: $750
Red packets for the
wedding entourage: $1,300
TOTAL: $23,550

Chong said he is penny-pinching to pay for the wedding expenses and the couple’s matrimonial home.

The Singapore PR, who used to live in Kuala Lumpur, told The New Paper: “I’ve sold my car and stopped buying gadgets to save up.

“If I wasn’t saving for our wedding and flat, I would have bought an iPad and a digital SLR camera.”

The couple now shares usage of Miss See’s car.

These days, Chong spends not more than $20 a day, down from $40 in the past.

This is because he and Miss See have cut down on their movie outings.

He has also adopted a new tactic when it comes to shopping for clothes.

“I now buy during sales and every item costs less than $50. I also accumulate the points on my credit cards and telco bills, and exchange them for shopping vouchers from Topshop or Zara,” he said.

In the past, he admitted he would have let those points expire without using them.

Chong said in total, he hopes to raise about $23,000 for the wedding.


He has found sponsors for the bridal outfits from a bridal boutique in Johor Baru, the wedding invitations and also a photographer and videographer for the wedding day.

He will pay for the rest – such as the wedding dinner and bridal photos. Chong said he has about $15,000 and that he has a long way to go.

“I used to spend my money however I like. But now, money is becoming more and more scarce,” he moaned.

“I’m short of about $9,000 now. But maybe I’ll be able to pay for the wedding dinner with the red packets from my guests.”

The couple has also hit a snag buying a flat.

Both are Singapore PRs – Miss See is from Johor Baru – so they can buy only resale flats.

Chong hopes to live close to the MediaCorp office at Andrew Road. The couple have seen more than 30 flats in the past four months at estates like Toa Payoh, Bishan, Balestier, Whampoa, Sin Ming and Cambridge Road.

But the main problem is the high price – up to half a million dollars for a four-room flat.

He said: “My budget for a flat was initially $300,000, then it rose to $400,000. But it seems now that I have to increase it again to $500,000.

“I’d most probably have to pay a cash deposit upfront of $25,000.

“If that’s the case, I may have to borrow money from relatives.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments
S$23K still not simple? Do you know how much does it cost for a table of 10 pax now? My son's school 25th anniversary dinner already cost $65 per person, mind you, it's kid cost.
Posted by IndignantFemale on Wed, 14 Jul 2010 at 12:57 PM

Mind you, you don't have to be caucasion to eat hamburger, I am just quoting example, and there are chinese couples these days indicating on their invitation card: "if you are pondering for a gift, cash is perferred" . Look around you how many Chinese these days do thing the western style.

What is wrong with sharing wedding expense figure? Many people do that, share with friends and relative how much it cost their wedding. Are you married? Have you gone through before? Guess not, otherwise you will understand what he's going through. I hope when the day comes for you, you will say sorry for saying all you said here. He is not the first or only one to share wedding expense amount publicly, mind you.

He is just a very typical human in Singapore, with all .....
Posted by IndignantFemale on Wed, 14 Jul 2010 at 12:54 PM
$5 for dinner is cheap. The cheapest food in my area is fried rice for $6. Can I buy a HDB resale after selling my private property and must your salary be less than $8k? Which HDB neighborhood has nice neighbors?
Posted by likewhatever on Wed, 14 Jul 2010 at 00:33 AM
what's the big deal in this?
80% of the middle class singaporean have to live like this...
and a large majority of us have to eat coffee shop everyday, or rather is this report implying most of the mediacorp artist dun eat @ coffeeshop and save up? ervyone of them is eating restaurant everyday...
please dun make it sound like a sad story and so poor thing.....a large percentage of the commonfolks are living this sort of life while some others are not even able to afford the luxury of eating out everyday and driving a car around...
Posted by rebirth78 on Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 23:30 PM
Why not plan for a BLACK WEDDING?
Posted by amfreeaccess on Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 22:49 PM
HDB is definitely getting more expensive. My neighbour has 2 valuations, one in May and one came in yesterday. Second valuation had an increase of 18K from the first one. Not to forgot COV is getting higher as well. $25000 cash upfront is defintiely not enough the way market is going. Be prepare to cough out more!
Posted by poppyseed on Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 19:23 PM
he's actor lah, people kaypo asking so he tell lor, like that also kena shoot from people......he's just a simple man trying to set up a happy family only lah.
Posted by Happyman108 on Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 19:00 PM
Actually, I find this article about Zzen quite hilarious and pathethic. Here is a not-so-famous actor who is getting married and we get to know about him cutting his expenses on shopping spree and spending about $5 a day at hawker centres, coffee shops etc. Spending S$5 on food outside is no big deal to save money. That is the amount that most of us singles would roughly spend, too. He would have been more impressive if he were to eat instant noodles or bread and butter often at home. That is truly saving money. It would have been less stressful if he and his bride-to-be were to throw a simple dinner or buffet. Being happily married is more important.

And a warning: do not depend on friends and relatives to give you a big hong bao just because you throw an expensive dinner. Guests normally give .....
Posted by malinablu on Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 18:59 PM
Dear IndignantFemale....Firstly can I he a Caucasian?? Definitely, NO. Why behave like one?? Secondly,
he did not list his preferred wedding gifts but his wedding
expenses. What's the meaning of that??

I agree with Pushkin62 & sureerat_tang, go simple then.
Posted by lovemelovemenot on Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 17:11 PM
Dear "lovemelovemenot", the way you say, then all the caucasians should die of shame? They all list out their preferred wedding gifts.

And Italian restaurant = not even a big banquet.Do you expect his guests to turn up at his wedding dinner empty handed? Do you do that? It is typical in Singapore here to give ang bao equivalent or more to cover the cost of dinner. Only the rich and filthy rich don't need that and will receive rubbish gifts.

I wish you people would stop shaming a very normal typical Singapore groom. When come your time, you will know how tough it is
Posted by IndignantFemale on Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 16:53 PM

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