Last month, Ministry of Manpower released their annual report on income growth in Singapore. Their 2019 figure for Median Gross Monthly Income From Work (Including Employer CPF Contributions) was $4,563 🙂

Read : MoM Report
Read : CNA Report

Wait! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It is important to understand the definition they used, so that we can make meaningful comparisons.

Income can generally be split into two categories, Ordinary Wages (OW) and Additional Wages (AW).


[1] Ordinary Wages are :

  • wages due or granted wholly and exclusively in respect of an employee’s employment in that month; and
  • wages payable before the due date for payment of CPF contributions for that month.

Example : monthly salary


[2] Additional Wages are :

  • wages which are not granted wholly and exclusively for the month; or
  • wages made at intervals of more than a month.

Example : annual bonus, leave pay


Gross Annual Income From Work
(Including Employer CPF Contributions)
= (OW + AW) [100%] + (Employer CPF contributions) [17%]

Gross Monthly Income From Work
(Including Employer CPF Contributions)
= Annual Figure / 12

People tend to be mistaken and compare their Monthly Salary against such report benchmarks. Most of the time, the Monthly Salary isn’t that insightful as it doesn’t paint the complete picture.

Below is a chart I populated using my Monthly Salary over time based on CPF statements. Pretty interesting, right?

  • 2007 Sep : Graduated in the middle of financial crisis.
  • 2007 Nov : Quit my first job. Company offered an additional $200. I rejected it.
  • 2007 Dec : Joined SME that paid less but offered more growth
  • 2013 End : Quit due to personal reasons. Began The Lost Trio / 3 of the most important years of my life.
  • 2014 Jan : $7 per hr / it’s complicated
  • 2014 Apr : Ikigai pivot #1 / no excuses, no regrets
  • 2016 Sep : Ikigai pivot #2 / live fast, die young

The chart can be meaningful or useless, depending on how you look at it.

On one hand, it seemingly charted income growth but on the other hand, it neglected side hustles and additional wages. Meaning I could have made $1 million on the side and that chart wouldn’t show you anything.

Shit income? Guess what – been there, done that. Changed industry? Yep. Career switch? Aye.

All I ever wanted was .. not to be the one who is lamenting in my forties .. if only I had the courage to do xxx when I was younger ..

Oh, did I mention I am 37 😉