The Moneymaker: Michelle Martin, 39, host of 938LIVE’s Evening Digest. She’ll pit her bargain-hunting skills against Vernetta Lopez in Ch 5 variety Common Cents next month.
HOME IS: A landed property in East Coast where she lives alone.
HER RIDE IS: A five-year-old Kia Cerato Forte. “I bought it when the COE was $5. It was a rare moment, and I seized it!”
WHAT’S IN HER WALLET: “I withdraw about $300 cash every couple of days. I have three credit cards but really only use one. This is gonna sound really sad, but I spend on my eight-year-old miniature schnauzer so my pet shop membership card is the discount card that gets the most usage.”
8 DAYS: What kind of shopper are you?
MICHELLE MARTIN: I’m a journalist so I work best under duress and with deadlines. I usually shop very close to an event, like a day before, and I give myself a deadline in terms of the number of hours I can spend and [I set] an upper limit with my budget. I hope and pray I can get [an outfit for] under $150. But there are days I’m so under duress that I allow myself to spend more, about $300. I’m not good at bargain hunting! But I’m good at shopping with a deadline.
What’s one thing you don’t you believe in paying good money for?
Really expensive handbags. Your accessories should complement the way you look, but I find the price tags of some handbags offensive. For example, with $4,000, I could buy a lot of books. (Laughs) My most expensive handbag costs about $250. I bought in while on holiday in Cyprus.
What's the cheapest thing in your wardrobe?
I just bought a romper made of a silk material for $12 from a small kitschy shop in East Village in Simpang Bedok.
What’s your indulgence then?
Hair treatments and hair washes. It’s how I relax. I go [for a hair wash at the salon] every other day, and can do treatments on a weekly basis. It varies from $12 with the HDB auntie whom I know by name, to about $300 to $600 for a treatment. But that’s when I really need to be pampered. I have naturally frizzy hair and I don’t feel completely put together unless my hair is tamed, and I want to look professional when I’m moderating a panel or have an important guest [on my shows].
You have $10 to survive on for a week. What do you spend it on?
I love my food, and I need to eat. I’d get cereal, bread, bananas, and chocolate milk — which I cannot do without — and I’m a happy girl.
And what would you have if you had an unlimited amount of money to spend on food?
My favourite resturant in the whole wide world is Shinji by Kanesaka at Raffles Hotel. You can have lunch for around $100 onwards; for dinner, you can choose from sets that vary from $200 to $500. I love the simplicity of Japanese food, the freshness of ingredients, the artistry involved in putting it together, and the chefs at the counter really interact with you. It’s a lot of fun, and the food is art.
Do friends come to you for financial advice?
(Laughs) When people ask me to speak in schools, it’s usually about self-esteem issues and empowering girls to sift through the images that come at them on a daily basis in the media. I speak to a range of experts for my radio talkshow for women, The WOW Club, which stands for Women of Worth, and go to schools to give talks to girls. I made sure that when I went on Common Cents, I would appear the way I am, ’cos I wanted to put across the message that it’s about being yourself. I hear so much about girls hurting themselves ’cos they think there’s only one stereotypical type of beauty and body image — bone-thin — to aim for.
[The WOW Club] tries to bring home the message that a woman’s worth is something you define for yourself, and that you shouldn't pander to everyone’s expectations of a woman. That’s why when you ask me about how much this and that cost, I struggled a bit because I go with what matches my look and budget. I don’t let the label or price tag determine something’s worth for me.
Catch Michelle on Common Cents, Oct 1, Ch 5, 9.30pm; and Evening Digest, 938LIVE, 6pm to 9pm.