Many people will tell you that Singapore’s great for the rich, but not so great if you’re not making tons of money.
While the rich get to frolic in a playground filled with luxury boutiques and fine dining restaurants, the sandwiched middle class and lower income group fret about how they can afford to give themselves and their families a comfortable (or merely tolerable) life, while still having enough money for retirement.
Unless they have a genuine, burning desire to own a Ferrari, chances are most middle income Singaporeans are actually totally capable of planning successfully for their financial future and retirement, while continuing to enjoy a fairly comfortable life.
Of course, you might not be able to eat caviar every day, but it doesn’t mean you need to live a joyless existence without room for fun, friends and a treat every now and then, either. Here are some tips for scaling down while still enjoying life.
Instead of depriving yourself, focus on things you can save money on painlessly
If your idea of spending less means flushing the toilet once a week to save water and eating only cai png with no meat, it’s no wonder you think not having millions automatically means misery.
When trying to reduce your spending, the first things that should go are the things you don’t even notice or that you don’t benefit from, but that you’re paying money for anyway.
This includes things like an expensive mobile data plan when you don’t need that much data, and spa packages, gym memberships or magazine subscriptions that you rarely use. If your home loan interest rates are no longer competitive, refinance (don’t know what home loan interest rates look like these days? Check for free using MoneySmart’s refinancing wizard).
Then you can move on to cutting out things that you spend money on but that don’t give you much joy, like clothes bought on impulse and never worn or yoga classes your SO drags you to but that you hate to attend.
Accept that you may have to acquire new skills in order to live comfortably
Mr Perfect doesn’t have to worry about money problems because he’s a go-getter with an excellent work ethic, a burning passion for his lucrative job and, oh, an IQ of 180 and a first class honours degree in his field.
Well guess what, none of us is Mr Perfect. That also means most of us have some areas in which we can improve in order to help ourselves live more comfortable lives.
On the career front, that means there are things we could be doing to boost our careers and help us get better at our jobs and move on to bigger, brighter things.
But it doesn’t stop there. On the home front, we might have to acquire some new skills, just so we stop having to pay other people to do stuff for us.
Cooking is a basic skill every Singaporean who cares about their health and wallet should have, but that many unfortunately don’t. Learning to ride a motorcycle can give you a lower cost way to move around, especially after midnight, while knowing how to properly store food and give your air conditioning unit a regular cleaning will help you become a bit more self-reliant.
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Think critically before spending
Not wasting money isn’t about torturing yourself—it’s about thinking critically before you spend.
Most of us frequently fall prey to lapses in judgement when we buy stuff. When you get pressured by a salesperson to buy something, make a purchase you later regret, get overcharged for something because you didn’t do enough research or fork out the cash for something because of peer pressure, you’re spending money in ways that don’t benefit you or make your life better.
These are the areas that you want to spend less in, simply by planning ahead, thinking twice or thrice before you decide to pay for something, and always asking yourself whether spending that money will make you happier. It’s as simple as that.
This story first appeared on Moneysmart, 11 January 2017.