Alcoholics trying to stay sober should definitely not display artistic Absolut Vodka posters on their walls. People trying to lose weight have no business stocking their fridges with Krispy Kreme.
So why oh why do Singaporeans tell themselves they want to save money, often going so far as to declare a shopping fast on Facebook, only to be caught two seconds later browsing Qoo10 / Zalora / ASOS / Carousell?
If your environment doesn’t encourage you to achieve your savings goals or, in fact, sets you up for failure, you should really be doing something about it. First identify the root of your spending issues, and then make the following changes.
Eat out too much? Keep your kitchen well-stocked
Singaporeans are notorious for eating out too much and cooking at home way too little. But seriously, who can blame them? A couple of years ago, when HDB asked for suggestions as to how they should be designing the next generation of flats, some Singaporeans even suggested removing the kitchen, since “nobody cooks anyway”.
Well if your kitchen is the cleanest room in the house and the only thing you have in your fridge are Krispy Kreme donuts, it’s no wonder you’re not cooking more. In order to encourage yourself to eat at home more often, you need to keep your kitchen well-stocked.
While this entails doing groceries regularly to a certain extent, there are other things you can keep for a long time and which you should buy in bulk, perhaps on that weekend trip to JB. Stuff like pasta, rice, dried noodles, dried herbs and many types of sauces can be kept almost forever. Plus, buying groceries regularly means you get to use your credit card regularly – especially if it has grocery-related benefits.
You also want to invest in devices like a rice cooker, blender, pestle or whisk if the reason you’re too lazy to cook is because you practically have to prepare all your ingredients by hand or try to heat them up in the only saucepan that exists in the entire house. Seriously guys, you can save so much by eating at home regularly, and also save yourself from an early death if you’ve been eating hawker food every day.
Maintain a minimalist wardrobe where everything matches so you aren’t forced to buy so much clothing
The problem with clothes is that they always need to be matched with something else. That one shirt you bought can cause you to get sucked into a spiral of retail hell as you search for pants and shoes that match… unless you plan on wearing nothing but the shirt that is.
An eclectic style can be one of the most expensive to pull off. I mean if you buy a sequined tube dress à la getai, you cannot possibly forgo the gogo boots as well.
If you’re trying to cut down on clothes-related spending, you need to maintain a minimalist wardrobe where everything matches. Choose a few key pieces you love, preferably of similar or matchable colours, and then match everything else around them. When you buy something new, ask if it matches these other pieces.
Make it easier to enjoy your cheap hobbies than your expensive ones
Okay, so maybe you have expensive tastes. A fun weekend to you involves a morning of horse riding at the Singapore Saddle Club, followed by a jiu jitsu session at the gym. In the evening, you trawl the internet for DSLR lenses to add to your collection.
But come on. If you’re completely honest with yourself, there must be some cheap things you like to do, too. It’s just that the expensive hobbies always seem to take precedence.
Spending on hobbies and leisure can take a big chunk out of your savings. If that’s the case for you, you want to identify your more inexpensive interests, and then modify your home environment so you’re encouraged to explore them more.
For instance, if you’ve been telling yourself you’ll start running but never end up doing it, you want to keep your running shoes right by the door, so they practically kick you in the face when you arrive at home. If you’ve been wanting to practise yoga at home, roll your mat out and put it right by your bed. If you’re trying to learn how to play the guitar, stick a chord chart on your wall to inspire yourself.
If you’re not deliberate about how you want to spend your time, there’s a high chance more expensive activities will start enticing you. That’s because expensive hobbies are often promoted by big industries, and the people who make money out of them will do anything to keep them visible and looking glamorous.
In order to divert your attention towards less glamorous, less expensive hobbies that you’ve deliberately chosen, you’ll need to place yourself in an environment where you’re inspired to spend your time in cheaper ways.
How have you adjusted your environment in order to make yourself spend less? Share your tips in the comments!