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How To SAVE MONEY At Home In Singapore

Fix small money leaks to save and see your savings grow

It’s often not the big expenses that eat into your savings, it’s the little day-to-day expenses. To help you save money in Singapore, this overview shares a host of do-able ways to save money every day, so you can start stacking up the cash.

Because while it’s true that money can’t buy you happiness – it can buy you choices in life. And that’s almost the same thing. Researchers have found money can make you happier when it’s used to strengthen relationships, enable you to enjoy new experiences, or help you attain a state of flow, such as when practising a hobby.

Singapore is the 14th most expensive city in the world for expatriates, moving down two spots from last year’s ranking only because of the weakening Singapore dollar.

The republic has been overtaken by Copenhagen in Denmark and Bern in Switzerland, according to a survey released by human resource consultancy ECA International.

Hong Kong remains the most expensive location for expatriates to live in, followed by Tokyo and New York.

Assuming you haven’t recently splurged on a Porsche or a jet plane, why are your savings not stacking up as they should in Singapore? It’s time to look at those small, hidden expenses. From the unused premium memberships to extra utility bills, it’s never too late to find out where your money is going – and plug the holes. This way, you can organise a targeted money saving plan to get your savings account rising again.

Here’s your entirely do-able action plan for saving money in Singapore;

  1. Cut down on monthly expenses
  2. Go Green, Save Big
  3. Homemade cleaning hacks that don’t suck
  4. Buy (or sell) second hand
  5. Repair, don’t replace

Cut down on monthly expenses

If your goal is financial growth, what you spend on is just as important as what you earn. Making small lifestyle tweaks can make such a difference. Check out everyday things you can do to save money right now here, from cutting down on monthly expenses to easy shopping hacks.

Avoid paying credit card interest

Here are some tricks to help you avoid paying credit card interest ever again:

1. Pay your balance in full

If you can do this every month, you’ll never be charged credit card interest again.

2. Get a credit card with an interest-free period

Some credit cards offer an interest-free period when you first sign up for the card, typically lasting three to six months. You can use the card during this period without being charged any interest. However, take note of when the promotion ends, so you can pay off your balance before interest kicks in.

3. Use an interest-free balance transfer

Many banks provide balance transfers with interest-free periods that range from three to 12 months. You will probably have to pay an administrative fee to move your balance, but that will let you get away with paying no interest, provided you make the minimum payment every month.

4. Take out a personal instalment loan

Personal loans typically have much lower interest rates compared to credit cards, at about seven to nine percent, as opposed to a rate of more than 25 percent for credit cards. Opting for a personal loan to pay off your debt instantly lowers the interest you need to pay. You need to be disciplined to use this method of saving money in Singapore. Because it can be tempting to start spending wih your credit card again and end up back at square one.

Must-download apps to save money in Singapore:

Stay on top of your finances with these nifty apps:

1. Chronicle

This app means you never pay extra for late payments again. And you never forget to pay another bill again with this app, which alerts you with pop-up notifications before the bill is due. See all upcoming bills at a glance, and forecast future bill payments based on your history. (Available at Apple App Store)

2. Wally

To manage your money well, you’ve got to know where it’s going. Wally helps you do just that by tracking your expenses – including every cup of coffee and every taxi ride. You can link the app to your bank account so the app can log your spending. You can also scan your receipts or enter your spending manually. (Available at Apple App Store and on Google Play)

3. Key Ring

Membership and rewards programmes can save you money – but not if you forget the details. Store barcodes of your loyalty cards using the app’s barcode scanning function. You can let the cashier scan the barcode on your phone, instead of lugging around a stack of cards. (Available at Apple App Store and Google Play).

Go Green, Save Big

Being environmentally friendly is about consuming less and consuming wisely. These tips are not only good for the earth, but they’ll also help you save money in Singapore:

1. Turn it off when not in use

Switch off the lights when you leave the room, turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth and unplug your chargers and appliances when not in use. This old-fashioned advice will help you to save money in Singapore on lower utility bills.

How much energy you save by turning off the lights depends on the bulbs you use. Incandescent light bulb or halogen light bulbs use more energy than LED lights because they need to get hot before they can generate light. This means ninety percent of the energy used by incandescent light bulbs goes to make heat, not light.

So if you leave a room for more than 15 minutes, then it’s more energy saving to turn the lights off. You can also utilize sensors that can help switch your lights on and off.

If you want to find out how much money you save, check the watt rating printed on each bulb. If you have a 60-watt bulb and you turned it off for one hour, then you can save .06 kilowatt hours.

You can also calculate how much money you can save on turning off your light bulbs. Get your recent electric bill and check out how much per kilowatt hour you’re charged. Then, multiply the amount of kilowatt per hour by its given price. For example, if you have an electric rate of 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, then you can save about 1.2 cents per hour

2. Limit air-conditioning

In Singapore electricity costs from 23.38 cents to 23.65 cents per kWh. Air-conditioning uses between 750 to 3,300 watts while a standing fan or a ceiling fan uses anything from 10 to 120 watts. So you can see that air-conditioning costs more to run than a fan.

In Singapore, running an air-conditioner costs around $200 per month on average, while running a ceiling fan costs just $12 a month.

If you want to enjoy a cool and comfortable temperature and still save money in Singapore, try these options;

Use both a fan and aircon
Using a standing fan or a ceiling fan in conjunction with an aircon is an effective way to reduce running costs while staying cool.

Regularly service your air-conditioner
Clogged filter fibres make it harder for your air-conditioning unit to blow out cold air. When your aircon is not running at 100% efficiency, running costs are higher. Experts suggest you get your aircon serviced every three months. It will cost from $50 to $75 per unit.

Invest in black-out curtains or blinds, in your bedroom
Your body temperature needs to drop for you to feel sleepy. That’s why it’s harder to fall asleep when the weather is hot. If you prefer to sleep in an air-conditioned room, use a timer to turn it off before you wake up in the morning.

3. Wash clothes in cold water on a full-load

One of the advantages of Singapore’s heat is that water in your pipes is often warm enough to wash your clothes effectively. This makes your washing machine’s water heater function almost unnecessary. So try switching to laundry detergent that works in cold water to save money in Singapore. It also helps to wait until you have a full load to wash. This saves energy and water – and as a bonus, you get away with doing the laundry less often.

If your dryer is chewing through energy, consider buying drying poles. In Singapore weather your laundry will be dry almost before you can get it pegged up! You can get drying poles that can be installed on your ceiling. You can raise and lower them with the touch of a button, or manually. Some come with built in heaters and lights, to speed up the drying and kill bacteria in damp laundry.

4. Use energy-efficient appliances

When your appliances wear out, consider energy-efficient replacements. Look out for
the Energy Efficiency Rating when purchasing a fridge and the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) rating when purchasing a shower head. Anything with at least three ticks is efficient. Switching to LED bulbs is another easy way to instantly lower your electricity bills.

5. Join the library

Bookaholics will be happy to know that a National Library membership is free for PRs, while non-PRs pay a reasonable annual fee of $42.80. If you have children to entertain, it’s good to know the libraries in Singapore have programmes for childen that include free arts and crafts activities, storytelling times and games days.

Your library card is a good way to save money in Singapore because gives you savings on entry to museums, art galleries and cultural attractions. Plus your library card gives you free access to LinkedIn Learning business and personal development courses, so you can upskill for free.

6. Buy second-hand

Instead of buying brand new products, borrowing or buying second-hand is cheaper and more eco-friendly. It used to be very hard to find second-hand items in Singapore. It’s partly cultural – many Singaporeans believe the spirit or luck of the previous owner comes along with the item.

But lately the lure of vintage has changed this attitude. Now you can buy second-hand household goods much more easily. Search on Carousell, at Hock Siong and Co, and at charity shops such as Praisehaven Mega Family Store, a giant thrift store run by the Salavation Army.

6. Bring your own mugs to cafes

Some cafes offer discounts to customers who bring their own mugs, so you can save a little money in Singapore on your morning joe – and minimise single-use plastic. At Jewel Coffee, for instance, you get 20 cents off when you use your own mug, while Toast Box offers 10 cents off your kopi when you go BYO.

You can take re-usable bags to the supermarket, but annoyingly, plastic bags are still free in Singapore. So you don’t save any mone, but you do help save the planet.

Homemade cleaning hacks that don’t suck

How to use natural ingredients and common items to get your home spick and span – and save money in Singapore!

1. Use white vinegar to clean almost everything

White vinegar is dirt cheap and can be used to clean a variety of surfaces, from tiles and window panes to the toilet seat and stove. Mix one or two parts water to one part vinegar, pour the solution into a spray bottle and clean away. The smell of vinegar dissipates once the liquid evaporates.

2. Try baking soda to scrub and deodorise

Baking soda’s mildly abrasive properties make it suitable for getting rid of stubborn dirt and grime. Mixed with water, it effectively removes build-up in the oven and on the stove. It’s also a great deodoriser – sprinkle a bit into stinky shoes or stale smelling suitcases, leave overnight and vacuum the next day.

3. Mix up your own cleaning products

Try these homemade concoctions to save money in Singapore: Mix two parts baking soda with one part citric acid to make a cleaner for the toilet bowl. You can also make an enzyme cleaner by submerging citrus peels in vinegar for several weeks and keeping the liquid.

4. Make your own air freshener

Save your tea leaves or tea bags, and coffee grounds as they make great deodorisers – but you must dry them out completely first. Just plop the dried grounds or leaves into a small dish or glass and stick them in the fridge, sweaty shoes or a stale-smelling cupboard – and let them absorb the stench overnight. If drying out used tea leaves sounds like way too much work, soak dirty dishes in warm water with a couple of used tea bags. It will break-up the grease without harsh chemicals or scrubbing.

5. Say goodbye to disposable sponges

Those green and yellow sponges are one of the most germ-filled items in your home. Follow an online tutorial to make tawashis, a type of reusable, machine-washable dish cloth, out of old pantyhose, socks or cut-up T-shirts.

6. Replace kitchen paper with cloth rags

If you’re relying on disposable kitchen paper to clean up spills and wipe down surfaces, it’s time to invest in a few washcloths to save money in Singapore. Don’t want to spend money? Cut up a few old towels and you’re good to go. You can also repurpose old towels into reusable mop pads.

Where to buy (or sell) second-hand in Singapore:

It’s easy to buy pre-loved items without sacrificing quality or style, and doing so is better for the planet. Plus, if you’re new to town or relocating soon, the second-hand market makes it easy to find or get rid of furnishings and more. These thrift stores and sites offer a mind-boggling array of pre-loved items.

General + Miscellaneous goods:

1. Carousell

This mobile app is home to Singapore’s most popular second-hand marketplace, where you can buy and sell everything from comic books to cars.

Carousell

2. Cash Converters

Offload unwanted items in exchange for a small fee or pick up second-hand electronics, video games, furniture items and more at its many stores in the heartland.

Cash Converters
Address: Multiple locations
Tel: See website
Opening hours: See website

3. Gumtree

You’ll find at least 10,000 listings on this classified ad site for anything from second-hand furnishings and clothes to job vacancies and moving services.

Gumtree

4. Pass-it-on

Donated items are distributed to those in need, thanks to this non-profit platform.

Pass-It-On

5. SGFREECYCLE

This Facebook group connects people giving away items with those looking for freebies. If you want free plants, you can join Facebook goups like Plant Freecycling Singapore or Plant Swap Singapore, where you can collect or swap free plants with other plant parents living in Singapore.

SGFREECYCLE

Where to find pre-loved furniture in Singapore:

6. Hong Siong & Co

Buy lovingly restored classic furniture and homeware, or have an old piece up-cycled or appraised, at this family-run business. Prices aren’t thrift store, but the furniture is very well restored.

Hong Siong & Co
Address: 153 Kampong Ampat, #01-03, Junjie Industrial Building, 328326
Tel: 6281 8338
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. to Sat.)

7. Just Anthony

This is your go-to place for Chinese antique furniture and accessories to give your home a touch of oriental mystique.

Just Anthony
Address: 379 Upper Paya Lebar Rd. 534972
Tel: 6283 4782
Opening hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (daily)

8. Long-longtime Store

Shop vintage and refurbished furniture, home decor items and bicycle parts at this store, which organises viewings by appointment only.

Long-longtime Store

9. Lorgan’s The Retro Store

You can find bold, quirky pieces from the ‘30s to the ‘70s, all renovated and refurbished. They’re not exactly thrift store prices, but it’s cheaper than buying a vintage piece from overseas and having it shipped to Singapore.

Lorgan’s The Retro Store
Address: 160 Paya Lebar Rd., #02-07, Orion@Paya Lebar, 409022
Tel: 9455 0133
Opening hours: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Weds. to Mon.)

10. Noden

Sleek Scandinavian-style furnishings are Noden’s speciality. Pick up a vintage piece specially hand-picked from Europe.

Noden
Address: 211 Henderson Rd., #02-02, 159552
Tel: 6741 0190
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Wed. to Fri.); 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sat. to Sun.)

11. Second Charm

At this furniture store, you’ll find unique pieces that are both quirky and sleek.

Second Charm
Address: 21 Kallang Ave., #05-165, 339412
Tel: 9830 0115
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Tues. to Sun.)

12. Singapore Trading Post

Give your home the feel of an Asian resort with unique pieces sourced from around the region.

Singapore Trading Post
Address: 315 Outram Rd., #07-01, Tan Boon Liat Building, 169074
Tel: 8891 9950
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Mon.); 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Tues. to Fri.); 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sat.); 12 to 5:30 p.m. (Sun.)

13. The Godown

Pick up exquisite antique furniture and decorative items, as well as reconstructed and refurbished furniture pieces, sourced from all over the world.

The Godown
Address: 100D Pasir Panjang Rd., #02-08, The Meissa, 118520
Tel: 6333 8966
Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Mon., Wed. and Fri.)

Where to find pre-loved baby clothes + toys

14. Better World Books

Buy used books at this online bookstore, which donates a book to someone in need with every purchase.

Better World Books

15. Singapore Baby & Mummy Marketplace and Forum

Buy and sell baby clothes and toys in good condition here, and get to know other parents along the way.

Singapore Baby & Mummy Marketplace and Forum

16. Singapore Boutique and Designer Baby Clothes Brands Buy/Sell/Trade

Dress your beloved in cute designer outfits, thanks to this Facebook group that lets
you buy, sell and swop luxury baby clothes.

Singapore Boutique and Designer Baby Clothes Brands Buy/Sell/Trade

Repair, don’t replace

At big DIY stores like Australia’s Bunnings or America’s Home Depot you can buy everything from lumber to wire. It’s not the case in Singapore, where contractors handle almost everything from painting to assembling furniture. (IKEA offers a home assembly service in Singapore, for this reason).

But if DIY is your thing, you can still reduce waste by fixing what you have, and cut the cost of buying something new. Hit up these stores for DIY supplies to save money in Singapore.

1. Selffix

With 14 stores scattered all over Singapore, Selffix is where you can find tools and hardware, home appliances, car maintenance accessories, paints and locks. Many of the world’s best-known brands such as 3M, Philips and Black & Decker are available, and you can also place orders on its website.

Selffix
Address: Multiple locations
Tel: See website
Opening hours: See website

2. Zener DIY Store

This store, which sells garden tools, electrical accessories, light bulbs, locks and household decor items, has three physical stores, as well as an online shop that offers free islandwide delivery for orders above $100, so that helps you save money in Singapore. Bonus: It has a range of outdoor and barbecue equipment for your next cookout.

Zener DIY Store
Address: 1 Claymore Dr., #01-07/08/09, Orchard Towers, 229594
Tel: 6735 4910
Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mon. to Fri.)

3. DIY Essentials

This store is great for tools and the staff know their DIY. Source everything you could possibly need for home repairs or to spruce up your space – and even get how-to advice from its friendly staff. It also provides services such as painting, key duplication and home improvement works.

DIY Essentials
Address: 2 Serangoon Rd., #B1-01/02, Tekka Place, 218227
Tel: 6293 1301 
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (daily)

4. Handyman Centre

This store is advertised as “Singapore’s most unique and interesting hardware and DIY centre”, and that’s no lie. It is a treasure trove of rare or hard-to-find items, and you’ll also find knives and swords nestled amidst power tools and precision engineering equipment. The staff understand DIY and can give useful advice.

Handyman Centre
Address: 304 Orchard Rd., #03-01, Lucky Plaza, 238863
Tel: 6737 9592
Opening hours: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. to Sat.); 12:30 to 4 p.m. (Sun.)

5. Hoe Kee Hardware

With five showrooms in western, eastern and central Singapore, Hoe Kee specialises in bathroom fixtures, kitchen fixtures and appliances, ceiling fans, and washers and dryers, making it a good choice if you are renovating your home, overhauling your kitchen or toilet, or replacing worn-out appliances. It can be contacted on WhatsApp if you need quick information about its products.

Hoe Kee Hardware
Address: Multiple locations
Tel: See website
Opening hours: See website

6. Horme Hardware

Horme Hardware has five stores islandwide, including one concept store. Its flagship store at Ubi is one of the biggest DIY hardware stores in Singapore, carrying a huge selection of supplies including fasteners, drills, paints and power tools. You can also order items on its website and enjoy free shipping on orders of more than $100, or opt for self pick-up.

Horme Hardware
Address: Multiple locations
Tel: See website
Opening hours: See website

7. Kai Lim Merchants

Kai Lim is one of Singapore’s oldest hardware stores, with a cavernous showroom filled with supplies for all sorts of DIY projects, from carpentry work, painting and decorating to tiling and wiring. The family-run business also enables you to place quick orders on its website for delivery the next day, or collection within an hour.

Kai Lim Merchants
Address:  369 Changi Rd., 419969
Tel: 6742 3333
Opening hours: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Mon. to Sat.)

By Joanne Poh, for The Finder Issue 307, June 2021

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