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4 Work-Related Costs in Singapore You Could be Spending Much Less On

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Joanne Poh

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Unless you’re Mother Teresa, the main reason you go work every day is to earn money. But spending the day at work can be an expense in itself. If your commute to your workplace is particularly long or you have few affordable food choices during lunchtime, the costs of going to work can escalate, which in turn eats into the salary amount you’re able to save or invest. Here are four work-related costs to be conscious of:

 

Meals

In many expensive cities like London and Paris, eating out during lunchtime is often too expensive for regular office workers, who rely on packed lunches prepared at home or an office cafeteria. In Singapore, on the other hand, employees rarely prepare their own lunches.

Unfortunately, cheap hawker and food court meals aren’t just unhealthy (although they’re getting healthier), they’re also getting less and less cheap. If you work in the CBD, you already know how stiff the competitive for seats can get, and how a meal and drink at Lau Pa Sat can now set you back more than $7. Food court chains like Kopitiam, Banquet and Food Republic are known for being on the expensive side.

If you are able to pack leftovers from dinner for lunch or throw together an easy salad or sandwich and bring your own water, you’ll lower the average cost of workday lunches and also save yourself from ingesting MSG every day. However, if you have no time or energy to do so, you might want to consider a meal subscription service that delivers healthy meals directly to your office.

 

Transport

How far you have to travel to get to work each morning and the mode of transport you use can have a significant impact on your monthly transport costs. While many Singaporeans would not think twice about taking up a job on the other side of the island if it paid more, the time and transport costs might make the offer less attractive in reality.

The vast majority of workers take the bus and MRT to work. While this is the cheapest option, taking public transport to a workplace that’s five MRT stops away costs a lot less than taking a combination of bus and MRT from Jurong to Changi would.

If your commute is a long one, you might want to consider purchasing one of SMRT’s monthly passes. A regular pass costs $120 while an off-peak pass costs $80. However the cost of the monthly passes is admittedly quite high, and you’ll have to regularly travel fairly long distances to make them a worthwhile purchase.

If you drive to work but balk at the high price of parking in the CBD and ERP charges, consider participating in the Park and Ride Scheme, which enables you to park your vehicle at carparks close to MRT stations and take the MRT the rest of the way. Season parking under the Park and Ride Scheme costs only $30 and can save you hundreds of dollars a month in parking charges.

If you often work late and end up taking a cab home, it’s a good idea to have a talk with your boss to see if you can make a transport and/or meal claim when you work beyond a certain hour.

 

Office attire

If you work in the corporate world, you are not going to be able to show up at work in the same outfit you wore over the weekend, unless you’re a Wolf of Wall Street wannabe. Building a corporate wardrobe can cost a considerable amount of money, especially if G2000 doesn’t look polished enough for your standards. Bespoke shirts cost a pretty penny in Singapore, and you’re usually looking at a cost of at least $120 per piece.

While no cost-conscious worker should be heading to Prada for their work essentials, those who are more familiar with the lay of the land on Orchard Road will know that certain fashion brands offer put-together office wear at a reasonable price.

Instead of heading to officewear retailers like G2000, which tend to be rather pricey, you can save a bit of money and a look a little more stylish by hitting up retailers of fast-fashion and trendy basics like Uniqlo and H&M. Find out how to get affordable officewear elsewhere on MoneySmart.

 

Stress-related spending

Splurging on a treat after a stressful day at work is something many Singaporeans are familiar with. Many of us work long hours and suffer from high levels of work stress, and we’re surrounded by shopping malls hurling exhortations to buy, buy, buy. If you find yourself spending tons of money outside of work and justifying these expenses by citing the need to mitigate work stress, take a step back and find alternative and more sustainable ways to deal with the stress.

In general, when you spend money to relieve stress, try to do so in ways that help you to improve your overall wellbeing, rather than offer only momentary relief from an unpleasant day at work. For instance, spending money on sports or exercise sessions will improve your mind and body, making stress easier to deal with. Conversely, splurging on a new outfit or a bottle of champagne can provide only short-term relief, and is not the most efficient use of your money.

What costs do you incur in the course of your work? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credits:
Ian Fuller

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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.