We do deserve some self-pampering from time to time, but to make it a habit can be quite a drain on the budget. Here are 7 of the most popular things Singaporeans are known to regularly splurge on, why they should be given up, and what are the alternatives that are as good.
Sixteenth-century English poet Thomas Tusser hit it right on the head when he wrote, “A fool and his money are soon parted” to describe anyone who spends carelessly so that he finds himself broke or deep in debt. Admit it or not, we have had our “foolish moments” from time to time, splurging on things that we can do without in the name of self-pampering.
Mind you, that is not a totally bad idea, as there will be instances when we deserve to eat at a fancy restaurant with friends or loved ones, or to buy that super-limited edition pair of kicks as a reward for an achievement or to celebrate a special occasion. The harm comes when we spend too much and on a regular basis that it affects our financial stability to the point where it’s a struggle trying to make it to the next salary period.
What makes this situation more worrying is that we might not be even aware that we are spending our hard-earned money on things just because we have grown accustomed to doing it, or because it’s the in thing among your friends.
Think about it: Would it hurt you or ruin your day if you stop buying your favorite stuff and instead go for alternatives that are less expensive but have similar qualities? Or better yet, keep your money for something more worthwhile? You may be surprised by how much you may end up with by the end of the month.
So what are these money-draining things that you can actually forgo with just the right self-control and frame of mind, and you end up the better for it? Here is a list of the more popular items most Singaporeans waste their money on.
1. BRANDED COFFEE
Most of us will need our morning caffeine fix to jumpstart the day, but spending S$5 or more for a cuppa? Every day? That could add up to S$100 a month, and S$1,200 a year. And that’s not including the weekends or the after-office gathering that usually ends with another cup.
Sure, branded coffee is served in a cool and comfy setting, and has those nice designs on top. But when you get right down to it, you buy coffee for its taste and the kick it gives you. So why not go for the less expensive brands that offer the same quality and can be had for just S$3 or even less? You can even invest in a good coffeemaker and brew your own cuppa.
2. BOTTLED WATER
Sold for S$1 to S$1.20, bottled water is sadly the new addiction among Singaporeans just because it doesn’t seem cool carrying a water bottle with you at the office or someplace else. Okay, you can be forgiven for not preferring to drink straight from the public tap and thinking that a dollar or so won’t hurt your wallet.
The thing is, you buy bottled water about twice a day, which comes to about S$60 a month and S$730 a year—a substantial amount. If you want to save, start teaching yourself that carrying a water bottle isn’t uncool, it’s practical. And our tap water is very much safe to drink.
3. GYM MEMBERSHIP
How often do you really go the gym to work out so you can fulfil your New Year’s resolution to lose weight? For a lot of people, the answer is “from time to time.” Unfortunately, your monthly membership dues remain constant even if you don’t visit the gym regularly - and that’s a total waste of your hard-earned money.
If what you really want is to get fit, you can do so at home and just download fitness apps for free. All you need is a commitment to becoming fit, and that works with or without a gym membership.
4. MULTIVITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS
Okay, so you feel great because you are regularly taking multivitamins. But you will notice also that it’s taking quite a chunk out of your monthly budget.
If you really want to be healthy, all you need is to eat a balanced diet that includes nutrient-dense food, get enough sleep, exercise, and lead a clean life (no smoking, minimal alcohol intake). A healthy body is capable of producing the nutrients it needs to function efficiently. Note also that even if you take vitamins but neglect your body’s health, you still won’t feel fine.
5. CABLE CHANNEL PACKAGES
Just like those big packs of assorted chocolates that may seem inexpensive but include some varieties that you don’t eat and end up in the trash bin, bundled cable TV will have channels that you won’t watch at all. So you’re basically paying for things that you don’t like, and that’s a total waste of money.
The trend nowadays is streaming service through internet platforms. You pay for what you want to watch, and what makes it even better is you can literally bring the TV show with you as it can be streamed to your mobile device.
6. CREDICT CARDS WITH HIGH INTEREST RATES
Not all credit cards are created equal. For whatever reason, some credit cards charge higher interest rates compared to others, and because you have been using them for quite some time, you somehow don’t mind the extra cost of paying for their interests.
But that should not be the case, as there are equally great credit cards just waiting to be tapped. If you’re not sure which card to go for, here are some tips on how to choose a credit card that will be of much help.
7. BRAND NEW STUFF
Whether it’s clothes, shoes, furniture, or home décor, most of us understandably will like to get them brand-new because we believe they have the highest quality and also for the thought that nobody has used them before. For this reason, we don’t mind forking over loads of dollars.
But if you’re trying to save as much as you can, there’s an alternative that has taken Singapore by storm, and it’s called second-hand shopping. With just a little effort, you can find a lot of great thrift stores that offer used furniture, vintage accessories, and of course, pre-loved clothing.
A good example is the Salvation Army Family Thrift Store outlets in Serangoon and Bukit Timah that fashion junkies will love with their one-off designer coats, vintage shoes, and even ‘70s sunnies.
By realizing how much money you are unnecessarily spending on these items, you will have taken the first step into becoming a wiser spender. The next move, of course, is to actually give them up, and that can now be easily done with the alternatives that are as good - if not actually better.