4 Singaporean Practices That are a Complete Waste of Money

Joanne Poh



Despite constantly complaining about the high cost of living and acting like passive aggressive  trolls whenever financial issues are discussed online, Singaporeans are often guilty of some rather baffling practices that cost them huge amounts of money, even when they can’t afford to.

We’re all for spending money you do have on things that benefit you in a meaningful way. But these four expensive Singaporean practices are either not worth the price people pay for them, or don’t bring the benefits people think they will.  In fact, very often, Singaporeans spend on them simply because everyone else is doing it.


1. Pre-wedding photoshoot

For many Singaporean couples, getting married means they have to get the whole shebang—pre-wedding photoshoot, solemnisation package, gatecrashing and wedding banquet.

But few question the origins of the pre-wedding photoshoot or realise that in most countries, photos are only taken on the day of the actual wedding and it’s deemed pretty weird to dress up in wedding attire months before your wedding or fly to destinations where you are most definitely not going to get married just so pictures can be taken there.

With pre-wedding photoshoots costing thousands of dollars, and overseas ones that can cost ten thousand and beyond, Singaporeans should ask themselves whether they really need to buy into this practice.


2. Five star hotel buffets

There’s nothing a Singaporean loves more than food, and the thought of being able to eat as much as you can possibly stuff down your throat is a very enticing thought for many.

So much so that Singaporeans are willing to pay upwards of $100 to dine at five star hotel buffets. Sure, the food is good, but buffets are seldom a cost-effective choice. For much less than $100, you can have a very good, multiple-course dinner at an upper mid-range to high-end restaurant. That is, unless you have the Entertainer app, which gives you a 1-for-1 entry into some buffets, which essentially halves the cost.

Regardless, Singaporeans still love paying exorbitant prices to pile their plates high with food, only to leave with bulging bellies and regrets that they overate.


3. 5 year car loans

Singapore is one of the most expensive places in the world to own a car, and while our median income isn’t that high, many Singaporeans think nothing of getting the heftiest possible car loan and taking 5 years to pay them off.

A car loan often has car buyers paying back hundreds of dollars a month in cash—a hefty financial commitment. While cheap second hand cars can be purchased for $2,000 or $3,000 in countries like Australia or Canada, in Singapore even the cheapest possible vehicle will cost you several times that amount thanks to the COE.

Unfortunately, purchasing a $100,000 car when you earn $4,000 a month is not a wise decision, but many Singaporeans overstretch themselves because a 5 year loan removes the need to cough up such a large amount of cash upfront.


4. Middle income earners carrying high end designer bags

While you’ll find women with Pradas on their arms in every developed country, Singapore is one of the countries with the highest proportion of middle income earners carrying high end designer bags, some even paying for them in instalments.

It is not uncommon to see an employee earning $2,500 to $4,000 a month forking out cash equivalent to 1-2 months’ worth of salary in order to pay for a Prada or Chanel. Ironically, in France or Italy where these brands originate, it is very rare for someone earning an equivalent salary to spend that much on designer items.

To put things in perspective, a Chanel 2.55 is considered a very high end item in France and only very wealthy people are seen carrying the bag. In contrast, a great many of my female friends, most of whom are middle income employees, have the very same bag.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Singaporeans have expensive taste.

What other expensive practices do Singaporeans engage in? 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.