Anybody who was born and bred in Singapore knows that Singaporeans waste a lot of money (we’re probably the nation with the highest per-capita number of Chanel bags).
But time is another commodity we just don’t seem to have enough of—long working hours (or for kids, tuition-packed schedules) induce us to spend money on conveniences like cars and maids.
Sure, you could save money by taking the feeder bus-and-MRT combination to work, but it’d cost you an extra hour each day. You could do all your household chores on your own, but then that’d be your only non-work activity.
We don’t claim to have a magic answer that’ll immediately make you a time-rich man or lady of leisure while still saving money, but here are a few little hacks that can make your life a wee bit more convenient, and perhaps slightly less expensive, too.
1. Maintain a list of cheap activities
If your social life is making you poorer, remember that people who have to spend lots of money to have fun are just unimaginative—yes, even in expensive Singapore.
A bunch of good, cheap entertainment options have probably entered your mind at some point or other, but you never remember them when it’s 7pm on a weeknight and your friends want to meet directly from work.
Keep a list of cheap activities on your smartphone (museums, parks, affordable eats, happy hour deals and so on), and anytime you’ve got a social engagement coming up pull it out so you can organise something cheap.
2. Grow herbs in your kitchen
While a few garang Singaporeans have actually managed to satisfy some of their dietary needs by growing vegetables in their HDB flats, for the majority of Singaporeans, the thought of doing anything agricultural makes their eyes glaze over.
Still, if you often cook with herbs like basil or mint, it’s super easy to grow them even in the hot and humid weather here. And because you only use small quantities each time you cook, you won’t have to grow a crapload to be able to fulfil most of your needs. It’s annoying enough that supermarkets only sell herbs in huge bunches and you end up throwing out most of them after using what you need.
After the initial time costs of actually procuring the plant, you won’t have to do much and will actually save time by not having to shop for herbs at the supermarket. They don’t need too much care—check out this guide to get started.
3. Pay your bills automatically by GIRO
I have no idea how some people can spend up to an hour every month logging into their iBanking accounts surrounded by stacks of bills and then paying them one by one. There are few things that are a bigger waste of time.
Whenever you have the option to, always opt to pay your bills by GIRO, whether they be utilities bills, credit card bills, tax bills or whatever. That’ll ensure you avoid getting fined for paying late, too.
4. Always shop with a list
If you need to buy a pencil but your shopping strategy is to launch yourself onto Orchard Road and then walk around aimlessly till you chance upon a stationery shop by dint of sheer serendipity, don’t be surprised if you return eight hours later with five new outfits, a Star Wars lego set and no pencil.
Understand that the more time you spend in shopping malls, the more you spend, and never shop without a list. Whether you’re going to the supermarket or looking for Christmas gifts, always have a game plan, and stick to it.
5. Never cook just one portion
Singaporeans who work full-time hardly cook at home. Heck, some people even live in homes without kitchens. So if you do cook, we applaud you. Save even more time and money by always making sure you never cook one single meal or portion each time you fire up the stove.
If you’re making dinner, be sure to pack something away for lunch the next day. If you’re particularly industrious, spend an hour on Sunday evening packing away lunches for the next few days at work. You’ll not only save money, you’ll also save yourself almost an hour of queuing for lunch if you work in a congested area like the CBD.
6. Keep your travel toiletry bag stocked at all times
Being residents of a microstate, it’s pretty easy for us to get out of the country. Singaporeans are known for making frequent overseas holidays, and you never know when your friends might rope you in on a road trip to Malaysia or a weekend getaway to Bangkok.
Keep your toiletry bag stocked with necessities at all times. Instead of purchasing the more expensive travel sized face wash, moisturisers, soaps and shampoos, buy empty reusable bottles, which are cheaper in the long run. If hotel shampoo turns your mane into a bird’s nest, you’ll want to fill these small bottles with your favourite concoction.
This way, you shave your packing time in half (because let’s face it, hunting for everything that goes into your toiletry bag takes up a lot of time), and you won’t have to resort to wasting time and money buying necessities you forgot to pack in at the airport or risk getting items confiscated at customs.
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