Frugal Money Diary #2 – My Morning Routine (2020 Edition)


Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

August 16, 2020

Side Note: Wrote this little frugal money diaries entry because I’ve been loving my mornings (the first time in a very long time), and I’m hoping to consistently improve on my morning routines from now on. It’ll be nice to look back in 5 years to see how far I have come.

7.00 a.m.

The shrill default iPhone alarm goes off, disrupting a wonderful rest that I had been enjoying (a rare occurrence for me).

I groggily fumble around for my iPhone on my night table, finally getting a hold of it. I snooze the alarm and go back under the warm covers of my bed.

This is too comfortable” are the last thoughts in my mind before I drift off again.

7.03 a.m.

My next alarm goes off.

I turn off the alarm with ease this time, since my phone is now right next time.

7.05 a.m.

Another alarm disturbs my rest.

After being woken up a number of times, my body realises that it’s not getting anymore sleep for today, and my brain slowly gets up. I force myself to open my eyes while fiddling with my phone.

I check the notifications that I received throughout the night, before doing a little online shopping. There are a few items that I’ve been meaning to purchase, and I check the listings everyday to see if I could be lucky enough to snag them at a cheaper price.

Nothing like a quick dopamine fix in the early morning to wake you up.

7.15 a.m.

I’m still in bed. I know I should get out of bed as soon as I wake up, but the flesh is weak though the spirit is willing.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you see it), I had deliberately left my window shade open the night before. Every morning at 7.15 a.m., the sun rises at such an angle that its blinding rays will shine directly on my pillow, erasing any possibility of sleeping in.

Today, it seems particularly scorching, and it becomes too hot and too bright, way too fast.

At this point, getting out of bed becomes infinitely more comfortable than sleeping in and getting sun-burnt.

7.20 a.m.

I keep 2 litres of water near my bed every night, and I greedily gulp down 2 cups of water. I start feeling a little less groggy, and my energy levels increase a little.

After, I use the toilet, brush my teeth and get changed into my workout attire.

It’s something that I lay out the night before, so I can just grab it without having too make too many decisions early in the morning. I wear the same thing everyday, just a simple tank top, and a comfortable pair of shorts.

7.35 a.m.

It’s time to start my short high-intensity interval training workout.

I’m not really feeling it today, but I firmly remind myself that the guilt of not working out today will plague me far longer than the temporary pain of a 15 to 20-minute workout.

It usually works wonders.

I regularly do 5 sets of 5 30-second exercises each morning by following one of Jillian Michaels’ workout videos. Today is no different.

Like always, I still feel sleepy and groggy during the first 2-3 sets, but by the second half of the exercise, I feel a little better.

At the end of it, I do a little light stretching.

Cost = $0 (My workout video is something I’ve had for years, and never felt the need to change or buy a new one.)

8.00 a.m.

Exercising is usually the most difficult part of my morning routine, because it can be difficult to get the body moving when you first wake up.

However, now that it’s done, I get to treat myself to some soothing jazz music.

After scrolling to the YouTube app on my iPhone, I click the first video on my recommended list. It’s always the same video everyday, because YouTube (or Google) can read me like a book.

Nothing like a great morning with some Cozy Morning Lo-Fi Jazz mixes.

This music is incredible. I’ve been listening to the same tunes every morning for months now, and I always find myself looking forward to it. That’s when you know you’ve found something real.

Cost = $0 (Just have to spend a few seconds watching some ads.)

8.05 a.m.

To rinse of all the workout sweat, I take a shower. A cold shower.

I find that though I hate the cold, it’s great for waking me up in the morning. It’s an electrifying shock to the body that I dislike, but find that it’s a necessary evil.

As the first spray of ice-cold water (I exaggerate, but that’s what it feels like) hits my body, I find myself thinking the same thing that I do every morning.

Thank God I don’t live in a country that has winter.

Thankfully, the human body doesn’t take too long to get accustomed to colder or warmer temperatures. 1 minute into my cold shower, I find that my body no longer feels tensed up and ready to escape the cold.

I enjoy the rest of my shower with those smooth Cozy Morning jazz tunes playing in the background.

8.15 a.m.

Morning exercise, done. Cold shower, done.

My mouth starts salivating and I realise that it’s time for breakfast.

I eat and drink the same thing almost every morning – last night’s leftovers (there are always leftovers) for breakfast, with some delicious milk tea (just a third of a bottle to limit caffeine-intake).

I had stopped drinking caffeine for 2 and a half years, from beginning 2018 to the middle of 2020. I’m sensitive to caffeine and found myself having a lot of sleeping difficulties earlier. But I’ve found that a little caffeine can really help to perk me up in the morning.

So, I give myself a little allowance to drink some in the morning, and that becomes my only cup of the day. Only tea, no coffee.

Milk Tea

And frankly, it’s absolutely delicious, and has become one of the highlights of my mornings.

Cost = About $2 (for both the leftovers and a little milk tea, about a third of a bottle)

8.30 a.m.

With my stomach sated, my muscles all stretched out, and my mind more alert, I sip on my milk tea while enjoying a beautiful view of the highway. It’s not much, and I get to see only cars driving by, but at least it’s still beautiful with all the greenery.

Another thing I love about Singapore – the abundant greenery. It’s everywhere.

My mind wanders.

Today, I’m thinking about how different my 2020 has been from my 2019.

2019 was a year of stress, overwork, unhappiness and discontent. I worked easily 70 (maybe even 80) hours a week (which included all my commutes), on a full-time job that I hated, and tutoring gigs that bored me so. During any free time that I had, I found myself not wanting to get out of bed, because I was already dreading the time that I had to go back to work or to go tutoring. Some nights I stayed up till 2 or 3 a.m., only to find myself waking up at 10 or 11 a.m., with half my day gone.

Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park with lots of greenery.

2020, on the other hand, has been a year of more passion projects, more writing, and less work.

When you include all the writing that I do each week, plus my part-time job and tutoring, I would say that I still work at least 60 hours a week. Except this time, I get to work more on writing, and less on mundane administrative office tasks. And no commuting – oh yes, that’s the worst.

Speaking of work, don’t you have some writing to do?”, I gently remind myself.

Right. Work. Writing. Better get to it!” I sit down, turn on my laptop, and start typing.

In many ways, 2020 hasn’t been so different from 2019. I still work a lot, trying to become a better person than I was yesterday.

Only this time, I actually enjoy a lot of what I do.

And that makes all the difference in the world.


My Morning Routine in a Nutshell

  • 0700: Wake Up
  • 0715: Get out of bed
  • 0720: Drink water, brush teeth and get changed
  • 0735: Exercise and stretch
  • 0800: Turn on jazz music
  • 0805: Cold shower
  • 0815: Breakfast and tea
  • 0830: Relax a little before starting work

How Much Do I Spend Each Morning?

  • Working out at home: $0
  • Jazz music on YouTube: $0
  • Breakfast and tea at home: $2
  • Staring at scenery and being grateful for my life this year: $0
  • Total: $2

5 Inexpensive Things that Make a Wonderful Morning Routine

  • A little light exercise (15-20 minutes)
  • The accomplishment after a short cold shower
  • Relaxing, morning jazz music
  • A simple breakfast
  • An appreciation for the beauty of an early morning

What’s your morning routine like?

As always, thank you for reading and supporting this blog. 

Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary Book Cover

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  1. Budget Life List

    My morning routine is get up at 5, visit the bathroom, do yoga for 30 minutes, eat scrambled eggs with veggies and a side of fruit and yogurt. Then meditate or nap (let’s be real, it usually turns into a nap….) for 15 minutes, then I write or work on blog stuff, next I get dressed in my uniform, grab my prepacked lunch, and head to work. My drive is 15 minutes but it is over a bridge and by the river so by far the best view in town! Not a bad way to start the day! I am sensitive to caffeine too so I only have one cup a day at work.

    • Liz

      Thanks for sharing your morning routine, BuLL! I totally love peeking into other people’s morning routines and finding inspiration. I love how you get up at 5 (I’ll get there too, someday. Emphasis on someday.), and focus on healthy habits (like a healthy breakfast, yoga, meditation and blogging). Definitely something I can improve on as well. Hope that you’re doing well at work, and I’m glad to hear that your views have been amazing! 🙂