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3 Ways Singaporeans Sneakily Indulge Their Vices on a Budget

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Joanne Poh

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It’s not easy maintaining vices in Singapore, as the government seems intent on making Singaporeans pay for their poisons. Drinking after 10:30pm is now restricted to bars, shutting out the hawker centre and 7-11 crowd. Cigarettes are outrageously expensive. And gambling at the casinos costs a whopping $100 for Singapore citizens. But as with all things, there are cheaper and more expensive ways to do the same thing.

 

Beer

So it’s 11pm and your friends want to drink. The only problem is, with kopitiams unable to dispense their $6 bottles of beer and 7-11 on lockdown, the only way to get your fix is to patronise an overpriced bar, where you’ll pay upwards of $10 for a pathetic glass of Tiger.

It might sound insane to the uninitiated, but it’s actually totally possible to brew your own beer in Singapore. And yes, it’s legal, so long as you don’t produce more than 30 litres a month or try to turn it into a business. Beer brewing kits are actually quite readily available in Singapore. For an initial upfront investment of about $200, you’ll get to brew beer at a cost of about $2 per litre, which is 4-5 times cheaper than beer at bars.

Obviously, brewing your own beer takes some skill, so expect your first few attempts to yield crap. Over time, however, you’ll get a better idea of what works. And that’s when the fun starts.

 

Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are banned in Singapore, and with cigarettes taxed so heavily they cost double the price they do in other developed countries, smokers here have a very expensive habit on their hands. We’re not encouraging you to go out and take up smoking because it’s now affordable, but if you’re not ready to quit despite the sky high prices, it might be time to convert to being a smoker of rollies.

Abandoning ready-made cigarettes and switching to loose tobacco, rolling paper and filters reduces the cost of your smoking habit to as little as 1/10th. Be wary of the fact that some doctors warn that rollies could be worse for your health than regular cigarettes.

You might also find your smoking less, since you will no longer have the convenience of just being able to hoick a cigarette out of a pack. If you replace all your pre-made cigarettes with rollies, you could be saving yourself hundreds of dollars a month.

 

Casinos

Simply to step into the MBS or RWS casinos, a Singapore citizen or PR would have to fork out a cool $100. Being down $100 even before you sit down at a table does not a fun gambling night make. That’s why hordes of aunties and uncles turn to floating casinos like Leisure World which, after an initial slump following the opening of Singapore’s land casinos, are now enjoying renewed popularity.

A floating casino, which takes you out into international waters off Batam where there are no rules against gambling, is typically packed to the gills with Singaporean aunties and uncles jostling for a spot at the baccarat table. On Leisure World, entry is officially $43, but here’s the catch—if you swap your cash for a certain amount of rolling chips (chips that must be used and cannot be redeemed for cash directly), you get a $23 rebate and your ticket price ends up being only $20. In addiiton, the minimum bet at the tables can be as low as $2, so even if you lose, you lose slowly.

Sure, it’s troublesome having to travel to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal for the arduous ride out to sea, but if you really want to gamble you get to save $80 right off the bat when you pick Leisure World over MBS or RWS.

What are your vices and how much money do they cost you? Tell us 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.