3 Seemingly Harmless Habits That Could be Making You Poorer

harmless habits that make you poorer

Joanne Poh



If your hobbies are gambling or shopping, you’re probably beyond the pale. Thanks to people like you, we have the CPF minimum sum. But even if you’re shaking your head in disapproval at those degenerates, we’re sorry to inform you that you just might have some sneaky little habits that are every bit as money-sucking, just in a more subtle way.


1. Not getting enough sleep

I’m aware that there are some people out there who think sleeping is a waste of time, and pride themselves on their ability to get by on as little as possible. These are also the people that have given Singaporeans a reputation for not exactly being the world’s friendliest people.

Even if you can “get by” after chugging 20 gallons of coffee, having permanent sleep debt can  have some pretty damn pernicious effects on your body.

Remember how great you felt the last time you went on leave and slept 12 hours? That feeling is supposed to be “normal” by the standards of a well-rested human being. If you struggle to resist the temptation to stab yourself in the face when the alarm goes off each morning, you’re unknowingly ruining your mood, your health and your wellbeing every single day. A busy day feels so much more stressful, the sun feels so much hotter and your colleagues are so much more annoying when you’re sleep-deprived.

Many of the things sleep-deprived people have to do in order to wake themselves up and stay alive cost money. That coffee you gulp down to stop yourself from falling asleep at work, that cab you take cos you don’t have the energy to elbow people out of the way on the MRT, the doctor’s visits because you’re always getting the flu all cost money. Plus, because you’re unlikely to be able to perform at your professional best when every day is a battle not to fall asleep in front of your boss, you night not do as well career-wise, despite all those extra hours you put in at the office.


2. Being disorganised

If your bedroom makes Chernobyl look like Disneyland and it takes you two hours to find a stapler at the office, your problems with staying organised could be costing you more money than you think. I have this problem too, and it’s caused me to have to replace lots of stuff just because I couldn’t find mine, from parking coupons to umbrellas.

The thing is, saving money actually requires lots of discipline and organisational skills. Making lunch to take with you to the office, knowing where to go for happy hour instead of dawdling until it’s too late and booking air tickets at a good price all require you to use your brain and actually do some planning in advance.

The same goes for investing. Unsurprisingly, good investors spend a lot of time educating themselves about their options and watching the market for a good opportunity. If you aren’t willing to put in the time to actually find out how to get a good return on your money, don’t expect to get the best returns.

If you’re averse to planning, think about the money it saves you. While many frugal people might fool you into thinking they live carefree, hippieish lives, in reality once they get home they’re already doing research on the next deal.


3. Wearing uncomfortable shoes

If you’ve ever felt like you were being sent back in time to the days when Chinese women engaged in foot-binding, you already know how distracting wearing uncomfortable shoes can be. Even if you had grand plans to take the MRT home, walk an extra 5 minutes to go to the hawker centre away from the expensive cafes in the city or buy groceries so you wouldn’t have to eat out, all your plans go to the dogs when you choose to wear shoes that kill your feet.

One of my friends who frequents casinos swears by wearing comfortable shoes. The rationale is that casino gambling requires discipline, a lot of walking around and observing games until a good one comes along. If you’re wearing uncomfortable shoes, you won’t want to walk around and take your time before deciding what to play, choosing instead to just sit down at the nearest table—even if you’re losing money and ought to stop.

You might not be a fan of gambling but the same principle applies in real life. Even if you have the discipline and the foresight to plan ahead, wearing shoes that hurt makes convenience your top priority, and you’ll end up paying for it.

Do you have any bad habits that cost you money? Let us know in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.