At times, it seems like all the money-saving advice you read online condemns you to a lifetime of comparison shopping at NTUC.
If you’re just an average joe who hasn’t completely denounced the outside world and started living off the land, chances are you’ve got numerous opportunities to save moneys in ways that won’t make a discernible difference to your lifestyle.
Here are four relatively painless ways to save an extra $200 a month without feeling like you’re suffering.
1. Bring Your Own Lunch And Coffee To Work
I’m a firm believer in spending only on things that improve your life.
And for most office workers, lunchtime means desperately trying to find a table that hasn’t already been “choped” by other people’s tissue packets or queuing for 45 minutes at a restaurant and then wolfing down lunch in 15 minutes.
Getting a coffee means nipping down to Starbucks when your boss isn’t looking and paying $6 for a “coffee” that slowly turns cold on your desk.
Packing your own lunch isn’t that hard. Bring leftovers from the night before, make Subway-style sandwiches or throw together hearty pasta salads. With practice you should be able to whip up a few days’ worth of food at a time.
Considering most lunches in the CBD cost at least $5 even at hawker centres, not including drinks, you can probably save at least a few dollars a day.
With a moka pot you can brew your own coffee for a few cents a day and bring it to work in a thermos flask.
2. Replace Subscriptions With Free Alternatives
This article is about saving money in a painless manner. So I’m not going to convince you to watch local TV programmes after you cancel your cable TV subscription.
The trick is to get rid of the subscriptions you hardly use or can replace with a free or cheap alternative.
If you are a member of a fancy gym but need a tour every time you show up there, you’re not alone—the majority of people who sign up for gym memberships don’t actually end up using them. Use the $2.50 ClubFITT gyms instead, or don’t use them—whatever, at least you won’t be paying for anything.
If you subscribe to newspapers or magazines, cancel them since you rely on Facebook for all your news anyway, right? Or you could read them online or at Kinokuniya.
3. Optimise Your Commutes
Not only is commuting during peak hour even less fun than being whipped repeatedly, it is also more expensive if you drive or take cabs.
If you work in the CBD, you might be paying something like $5 in ERP charges to get to the office at 9 am.
On the other hand, getting to the office at 9:30 am can make that figure drop to $1. Plus, because the jam dissipates quickly after 9, you get to work in half the time.
If your boss is the nice, reasonable sort, you might be able to negotiate a later start time. Or you could just try coming in late anyway and see if he notices or minds (at your own risk).
If you stay out past midnight, take a NightRider home instead of a cab and instantly save at least $20.
4. Refinance Or Pay Off Your Loans
If you have taken out a home loan, you should always be on the lookout for refinancing opportunities.
Let’s use the very modest (and probably fictional, since they don’t seem to exist anymore) example of a $300,000 HDB flat.
If you can lower your interest rate by just 2%, you pay $6,000 less in interest.
While that might make a mere dent in your monthly expenses, paying off your credit card debt will have more of an immediate impact—so much so, in fact, that it’s worth starving for a few months just so you can pay off all your debt at one shot.
If you’re not sure about refinancing, you can always enquire on sites like MoneySmart and use their Refinancing Wizard to find out what package is suitable for you.
Do you have any money saving tips to share? Let us know in the comments!