29 November 2019

From Relationship Manager to Grab Driver

Yet another Grab driver story. 

So this driver told me he makes about $8,000 a month driving Grab.  Turns out he used to be a Bank Relationship Manager (RM). I was curious why he switched from RM to become a Grab driver.

He explained that he used to earn shit load of money as a RM.  While his $8,000 a month from driving Grab was a far cry from the salary he used to make, he actually still saved the same amount each month as before as a RM.

"Earn more, spend more" was what he said.

As a RM, his typical day started at 8 am to receive updates, and thereafter, it was up to him, own-time-own-target. He could essentially "close shop" except for scheduled appointments.  However, most lunch and dinner hours, and way after dinner, were spent entertaining clients. He had no family life as a result.

While much of his work-related expenses could be claimed, the reality was that he had to spend on his personal effects as it was expected in his industry. When he wore a Tag Hieur watch to work, his boss asked him, "What kind of Mickey Mouse watch is that!?"  When he bought a sedan, he was scoffed at for not driving something more fanciful like an Audi.  To go to work, he had to deck out in custom suits.  That's $1,000 gone upfront for the suits.

He recounted one lady colleague, who carried expensive bags to work. And yet he knew, she was living in debt, owing far more than she could really afford.

There was another colleague who made $150,000 to $200,000 of commission each quarter! That's a lot of moolah, over $1m a year. Yet, he was eventually caught stealing from the bank and went to jail. How could a person who earned so much still found the need to steal? He could not understand.

He eventually decided to get out of this game and found that Grab works for him. Now he has more flexibility with his time, and living more healthily. 

I wish him well.


Anonymous said...

I love telling tall tales to my passengers to when I'm driving. It helps to pass the time.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Grab rides you have there.

Whether the story the drab driver told you was true or not, it still brought up some life lessons. When one earns more, especially at a young age, there is great tendency to give in to lifestyle creep. You want that continental car, because you feel you can afford and deserve it, when a cheaper mass market Jap car would do. You fly business class on personal holidays because you can afford it, and the list goes on.

I will never know what its like to earn big bucks at a young age as I started off at the lowest rung with a modest salary and worked donkey years to earn a more respectable salary only when I reached "uncle" age. But the early journey taught me to live frugally as I tried to live within my modest income. In later years, even as my salary grew, my lifestyle did not change much. I still live simply, eat in the company's canteen and still drive a mass market Japanese car. To me, a Tag Heuer watch is a luxury I do not covet. A simple water resistant casio watch is good enough for me.

So, is living frugally a good thing? I am not so sure. I may have missed out things in life that I would have enjoyed when younger but at my "uncle" age I would not even think of doing or owning.

The clear benefits of living frugally is in the financials. If you can resist lifestyle creep even as your income grows, you will see your rate of saving accelerates. With bigger savings, you can make meaningful investment in stocks and even in property. These investment generate passive income which in turn adds more to your savings leading to a virtuous cycle until you finally achieve Financial Independence (FI).

This brings me to what I would describe as the golden period or stage of one's life. At my "uncle" age, my children have grown up, completed their university education, home loans are paid off, financial obligations are lower, while my salary income has reached or reaching its peak, and passive income have grown substantially, you will see your rate of savings accelerate. This is my golden period. For typical salaried workers, the golden period is from the age of 55 to 65 - when their financial obligations / commitments are tapering off while their salaries are at their peak. This golden period is when they can build up their retirement nest egg substantially.

Sadly and unfortunately, not many people are taking advantage of this golden period of their lives to really shore up their nest egg. Many people chose to retire once their children graduate and enter the workforce, when their home loans are paid up or when they just achieved FI.

Well, I guess, to each his own.


Adnex said...

Grab earning 8k a month SGD? Ringgit RM ? Which century ago. I spoke to many Grab none has told close to 5K let alone 8k.

Lizardo said...


Haha. Makes for a fun journey eh?

Lizardo said...


The Grab driver wasn't that drab! Haha.

I agree that the power to really save and compound for retirement comes much later when liabilities have been worked off. Earlier savings had to deal with numerous draining expenses.

Lizardo said...


Yes, $8k per month seems questionable. Perhaps inflated. Or before deduction of expenses? The typical norm seems to be in the vicinity of $4k today. Used to be closer to $6k in the days when Grab was facing Uber competition.