Mainstream society reigns supreme in Singapore. Doing something as “edgy” as cycling to work gets you raised eyebrows (“not hot meh?”), while bringing your own lunch to work makes colleagues wonder if you’re trying to avoid spending your lunch hour with them. So obviously it doesn’t take much for your lifestyle to be considered “alternative”.
Still, seeing how the average Singaporean suffers from a high level of household debt, and our materialistic society has some part to play in the poor retirement-readiness of the working population, you might want to think twice before doing what everyone else is doing.
You might not be ready to join the freak brigade just yet, but here are five lifestyle choices that are considered alternative in Singapore, but can actually be good for your finances.
Being pescetarian is like being vegetarian with the option to eat fish and seafood. In meat-crazy Singapore, that can be a bit of a downer. Go out for dinner with your friends and you’re often forced to order the vegetarian pasta by default. When your friends ask you out for dinner you have to think twice. Sushi’s fine, but if it’s Korean barbecue, you’re forced to give it a miss.
On the bright side, your difficult dietary choices can save you quite a bit of money. The meatless dishes are usually the cheapest ones on the menu, and cooking at home is much less expensive if you don’t eat meat.
Alcohol is hideously expensive in Singapore. Every time some cocktail bar tries to charge me $25 for a drink I need to reach for smelling salts.
If you’re a teetotaler, be prepared to be asked by thousands of people just why you don’t drink alcohol, especially if you’re a guy. But you’ll have the last laugh, because your life is going to be a lot cheaper and you won’t be losing a large chunk of your income to the vice tax… unless you’ve got other vices that is.
Just take one look at the number of shopping malls in Singapore and it’s not hard to see that people here just love to consume. And we’re not talking about shopaholics, but otherwise normal people who replace their smartphones with shiny new ones every year or two, or folks whose kids own more than three video gaming consoles.
The minimalist, on the other hand, tries to buy as little as possible. A true minimalist does not dress like he stepped out of a Muji catalogue, but re-wears the same outfits again and again so he doesn’t have to buy more.
Once upon a time, the Singapore government was very disapproving of the hippie movement, which they saw as the ultimate evil that would overturn society and reduce everyone to unproductive, promiscuous wastrels with a penchant for recreational drugs and a disdain for good old Asian values.
Any concern for the environment seems to have died with the hippie movement, and most people these days just don’t care enough to use energy saving bulbs, not leave the air-con on all night or stop asking for a million plastic bags at the supermarket.
But if you try to live in an eco-conscious way, you could actually end up saving money. You make a conscious effort to consume less, recycle what you have and create less waste. That might translate to not buying so many clothes that you cast aside 6 months later or choosing fresh over pre-made food at the supermarket.
5. DIY enthusiast
There is no Home Depot in Singapore, and although you have local brands like Home-Fix and Selffix, you don’t really get people trying to dig their own swimming pools in their back yards or attempting to do their own plumbing. But Singaporeans who have a DIY mentality can end up saving some money.
For instance, these guys grow vegetables in their HDB flats and actually manage to feed their families with their produce. Some owners have taken to making their own furniture and painting their own rooms.
But more importantly, having a DIY mentality encourages you to try to fix things on your own instead of giving up and buying new stuff. Even learning how to cook instead of relying on others to feed you or making Christmas gifts for your colleagues by hand instead of buying deserves applause and can save you a few bucks.
Would you consider adopting any of the above lifestyles? Tell us in the comments!