It’s very apt that Singaporeans coined the term “blur sotong”, because there are quite a few unaware people in our midst, especially when it comes to spending. Money mysteriously disappears from our wallets without our even knowing about it.
In fact, according to a recent news report, the average Singaporean spends a whopping $50.62 per week or $202.48 per mont on mysterious, unplanned purchases. Amongst Singaporeans aged 45 to 54, the average amount of money lost on unplanned spending is $146.95 a week or a ridiculous $587.80 per month.
Seriously guys, if you care at all about your personal finances, you can’t just let your money continue disappearing from your wallet without knowing how it’s happening. If you’re going to waste money, you’d better make sure you at least know that it’s happening and enjoy the hell out of the moment. Here are the top three things Singaporeans spend on without even realising it.
According to the Straits Times report, the number one thing Singaporeans unintentionally spent money was snacking. We spend so much money eating out that it’s mind boggling to imagine that we’re even snacking in between. But spend a few hours walking along Orchard Road with a friend and you’ll see it’s true for a huge number of people.
When you’re thirsty, it’s all too easy to wander into 7-11 for a bottle of water. Then you end up buying a packet of Skittles or Ricola, just because it’s there, displayed enticingly by the counter for absent-minded people to pick up on the way out.
Snack outlets selling froyo, Old Chang Kee curry puffs and bubble tea are also big culprits of this mystery spending phenomenon. They’re cheery-looking, brightly coloured and, in the case of froyo, manned by fetching teenage girls. Before you know it, you’ve paid $6 for something that takes you 2 minutes to eat.
Tip: One big reason we end up buying snacks when we’re out is that we get hungry but it’s not mealtime yet. So we end up spending $2 here, $4 there on something to munch on. If that sounds like you, bring some cheaper, supermarket-bought snacks from home and keep them in your bag at all times so you can resort to them when you get peckish. A packet of almonds or a piece of fruit are easy and healthy options.
Singapore is so densely packed with shopping malls that it’s almost impossible to avoid buying something the minute you step out of the house.
Even if we don’t count those pushy sales people trying to hawk dead sea salt skincare products, we’re still bombarded with obnoxious mandopop blaring through the speakers of 10 shops at the same time everywhere we walk. Whether you’re in an MRT underpass, under an HDB block or walking to the office, every available sliver of space has been monetised.
As a result, Singaporeans don’t need special occasions like Christmas or Chinese New Year to go shopping. In fact, many office workers shop for clothes and accessories during lunchtime in the shops around Raffles Place MRT. Most people head to shopping malls when they want a restaurant meal, and these days even heartland malls like JEM have a decent selection of brands.
Tip: Avoid wandering around shopping malls at all costs. If you work at Shenton Way, head to the Chinatown shophouse area instead of Raffles Place during your lunch break. Try not to spend your weekends hanging out in shopping malls; pick a location like the Botanic Gardens or Tiong Bahru area to meet your friends instead. Schedule your free time so you don’t end up wasting it in shopping malls because you don’t know what else to do.
While going out for a drink after work is a deliberate way to spend your money and enjoy yourself, it’s easy to unconsciously spend money when it comes to coffee breaks during the work day. These short, 15 minute affairs are unmemorable, and happen when we decide to sneak downstairs and buy a cup of takeaway coffee up to the office.
For instance, I used to work in the CBD area, and some of my colleagues would buy a takeaway cup of Starbucks coffee whenever they needed a pick me up. That’s $5 to $6 a pop each time, on a beverage you don’t even get to enjoy because you’re hunched at your desk trying to stay awake.
Tip: We often take coffee breaks because we’re nodding off in front of the screen and need something to wake us up, or we’re just bored stiff at work. If you just want to get out of the office, you don’t need to spend $5 at Starbucks. Just buy a thermos flask and grab a few tea bags or some coffee from a pantry, and invite a colleague to take a walk with you downstairs.
What unplanned spending are you guilty of? Tell us in the comments!