“How to save money?” is the million dollar question, especially in expensive Singapore – but it can be done.
When it comes to your financial well-being, it’s not just how much you earn but also how much you spend that matters. Although Singapore is often considered one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can still save money here. It’s all about making small lifestyle tweaks so that you can achieve the financial future you desire.
When it comes to saving money, small purchases can add up to big amounts. So people often tell you to cut back on takeaway cappuccinos and dinners out to save money. But if these indulgences bring you real pleasure, you’ll soon be tempted to spend again. So instead, we’ve looked at everyday ways you can save – and still enjoy your life.
These 14 tips don’t suck the fun out of life, and they can help you save more money in Singapore.
Practical ways to cut down on monthly expenses
1. Look at changing your electricity provider
Singapore households are free to pick an electricity provider on the Open Electricity Market, rather than stick with government-owned provider SP Group. With 13 electricity vendors competing to attract customers, there are some great deals to be had. The transition is seamless and won’t interrupt your electricity supply.
You can easily compare electricity plans for your size of home here.
2. Switch to a pure data mobile plan
There’s a good chance you use mobile data to make calls and send messages when you’re away from a Wi-Fi connection. This means your mobile plan’s talk-time and SMS allowance will be under-utilised. So, there’s no reason not to switch to a data-only mobile plan to save money on services you don’t need. As a bonus, you’re almost certain to get more data, which helps you avoid paying excess charges or having to top up your data.
3. Quit paying fees to transfer money overseas
As an expat, international money transfers are a fact of life. If you’re still paying to send money abroad, stop! Most Singapore banks offer free, same-day transfers to banks in a number of countries. Just one example: DBS Bank offers free transfers to Australia, Canada, the Eurozone, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mainland China, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand.
4. Don’t save your credit card information online
Saving your credit card information on your favourite shopping websites makes it all too easy to click “Pay” – and then suffer from buyer’s remorse three seconds later. The solution? Don’t save your card details. The extra step of having to fish out your card from your wallet can act as a deterrent for less essential buys.
5. Workout for free
There’s no rule that says an expensive gym membership will make you fitter than a cheap one. You can absolutely work up a sweat while working out at home. If you live in a condo with a gym and a swimming pool, make full use of those facilities. Otherwise, try free workouts on YouTube or purchase a subscription on an app like At Home Workouts by Daily Burn, or Daily Yoga. Get started on exploring free home workout options with these apps here.
6. Share subscription services
Spending a huge chunk of your life on Netflix or Spotify? So is everyone. Save money by sharing group accounts with family or friends. A Netflix group account costs $19.98 a month and can be shared by up to four users, while an individual account, for one person costs $11.98. Meanwhile, Spotify’s family plan costs $16.98 a month and can be shared by up to six people, which is way cheaper per person than its individual plan, which costs $9.90 a month.
7. Reassess your life insurance policies
Paying life insurance premiums year after year without batting an eyelid? Next time, spend a bit of time going through your plan’s benefits, and ask yourself if it still adequately satisfies your needs, which might have changed over the years. Singapore’s insurance market is competitive, and you might be eligible for new benefits if you upgrade your plan or sign up for a new one.
8. Take loan interest rates down a notch
If your loans never seem to disappear no matter how long you’ve been repaying them, it might be time to reduce your interest rates. One simple way to do this is to use a balance transfer to pay off your credit card debt once and for all. You could also take out a personal loan with a competitive interest rate to pay off your higher-interest debt.
For instance, if you are paying off $5,000 worth of credit card debt with an annual interest rate of 24 percent, you will save money by taking out a personal loan for $5,000 at an effective interest rate of 8 percent. You could then use that money to pay off your credit card debt.
Obviously, this method takes discipline.
Smart ways to spend less on shopping in Singapore
9. Save money with online wetmarket delivery
Supermarket house brands aren’t the sexiest-looking, but they’re almost always the cheapest. When it comes to everyday products like toilet paper, pantry staples or canned items, switching to house brands can dramatically lower your grocery bill. Likewise, look for refills for products like soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and fabric softener to reduce wasteful packaging, and pay less per litre.
In Singapore, the cheapest groceries are sold at local supermarket chains like Sheng Siong – and they deliver now. Wetmarkets offer the best prices for fruit, vegetables and meat. If getting up early to go to a wetmarket is not possible for you, you can buy online from three of the major wetmarkets in Singapore, at tada.fresh.com. Delivery is free above $50, nationwide.
10. Use discount codes and travel cards
Discount codes are the coupons of the 21st century. When shopping online, always look out for promo codes before paying. Google “[brand] discount code [month/year]” to try your luck. Also smart: Receive cashback on your online purchases via Shopback.sg, which works with a diverse range of stores, including Qoo10, Lazada, Agoda, Microsoft, Cold Storage and FoodPanda. Alternatively, peruse our list of the best GSS sales to lookout for in 2021.
While we’re talking about discount cards, your travel card for MRT and buses is also valid for water taxi routes in Singapore. Fares cost $5 – so next time you have visitors, instead of paying “tourist price” to take them on a tour along the Singapore river, just flash your MRT pass.
Singapore water taxis currently cover five stops: Robertson Quay, Clemenceau, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, and the Esplanade. So they can take you to the major tourist spots like Asian Civilisations Museum, Raffles’ Landing Site, Merlion Park, Esplanade Theatre, Singapore Flyer and Clarke Quay.
11. Shop outlet and pre-loved stores
IMM at Jurong East is home to factory outlet stores carrying designer, fashion and sportswear brands like Calvin Klein, Cotton On and Adidas. At Changi City Point, you’ll find discounted sportswear, casual wear and office wear brands like Lacoste, Fossil and G2000.
You can also find eco-friendly pre-loved bargains on expat chatgroups on Facebook, and good-condition pre-loved furniture at Praisehaven Mega Family Store. This warehouse full of pre-loved furniture, toys and clothes is operated by the Salvation Army, and profits go to charity. Items are clean and well-organized and profits go to charity. The only down side is that you can’t guarantee what you will find.
12. Comparison shop online with image search
With so many retailers both online and off selling the same items, comparison shopping can save you a pretty penny, especially on big-ticket items. Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs.
TIP: if you find an item you like you can search for similar images, and compare prices. You can often find the exact item, for cheaper. If you use Chrome or Firefox, here’s how you do it:
- Go to Google Images.
- On your computer, find the file with the picture you want to search with.
- Click the picture.
- Hold down the mouse, drag the picture, and then drop it into the search box. You can find out more ways to search, using Google image.
13. Go incognito when you browse online
Do your online shopping in an incognito browser window. Some websites adjust
prices according to previous visits – if you visit the same site often they’re less likely to offer you tempting deals to win your business. Browsing privately can fool them into thinking you’re a first-time visitor.
To set your browser to incognito:
- Open Chrome on your Mac or PC.
- Click the three stacked dots in the top-right corner of the window.
- Click “New Incognito Window.” You’ll find the option to open a new Incognito window in the three dot menu. …
- This will open a new window in Incognito mode.
14. Wait a week before you hit “add to cart”
Impulse purchases often lead to “buyer’s remorse”. It’s old advice, but almost every financial expert suggests you wait a week before you buy a non-essential item. In many cases, you’ll find the desire to buy fades away. Even if you do eventually decide to make the purchase, you have given yourself enough time to comparison shop and search for deals.
Originally by Joanne Poh, The Finder Issue 307, June 2021