Budgeting

5 Household Expenses That Singaporeans Can Definitely Do Without

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Joanne Poh

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One of the most expensive things about living in Singapore is keeping a roof over your head. Apart from a hefty mortgage, many Singaporeans seriously underestimate how much it costs to upkeep your day-to-day home life—from paying for utilities and town council fees to servicing your air con and getting the house cleaned, you’ll soon learn just why you chose to stay with your parents for so long.

However, upon closer inspection, there are many household expenses that can be eliminated. If you’re balking at the cost of running your own household, here are a couple of things that need to go.

 

Cable TV

Unless you’re some crazed TV junkie who needs to know the Kardashians’ every move to stop yourself from getting spasms, there isn’t much you watch on cable TV that you can’t already stream or download on your laptop. In fact, cable TV is a huge waste of money in multigenerational households, because everyone ends up hiding in their rooms with their computers, while the only ones who watch TV in the living room are the parents who are usually watching non-cable Channel 8 drama serials anyway.

The most basic cable plans cos around $30, and that doesn’t include the price of adding on extra channels. Think about how much time you actually spend watching these channels—many people I know can go months without watching cable while still continuing to pay for it.

Alternative: There are a whole bunch of different alternatives for your TV needs, and if you’re sick and tired of getting ripped off by SingTel or Starhub, we’ve covered a pretty decent one here. You can also check out sites like Popcorn Time which are very reliable as well.

 

Land line

Most households have a landline, which is quite puzzling because these days nobody knows anybody’s landline number, and people tend to yak away on their mobile phones even at home. I can’t remember when was the last time I used my own landline. Most mobile phone packages enable you to receive free incoming calls, and in any case you can make free calls on Whatsapp or WeChat using your wifi connection.

When you call people overseas, you can either use Skype on your computer or talk on the phone using Skype credit, which is way cheaper than using a landline to do the same. Even worse if you subscribe to additional services like Caller ID, which is completely obsolete seeing as nobody but telemarketers has your landline number anyway.

Alternative: Free incoming calls on mobile phone; WhatsApp or WeChat calls; Skype

 

Newspaper subscription

That cosy afternoon scene in which you’re sipping coffee, fresh flowers adorning the table and sunlight gently streaming int through the windows as you leaf through the Sunday papers is one that will remain forever in your imagination. In reality, everybody reads the news on their smartphones as they rush to work in the MRT. Those pristine copies of the Straits Times and go straight into the arms of the karang guni man.

Alternative: Read the news online. Or on Facebook, which is where everyone really gets theirs.

 

Individual mobile data plans

If you’re living with your family or partner and each of you has a separate mobile data plan, you’re unknowingly spending too much.  The various mobile providers have rolled out plans that can save families a bit of money. For instance, Starhub lets you share your talk time and mobile data with your family members by applying for Shareplus Lines for them, meaning that one family member who’s always draining his data now gets to save a bit of money. SingTel’s MobileShare Supplementary Plan and M1’s Surfshare Supplementary Plan offer similar arrangements.

Alternative: Instead of each family member subscribing to a separate mobile data plan, put everyone on one supplementary plan.

 

Extended warranties

Most Singaporean homes have a ton of high tech gadgets, from high definition TV screens to bladeless fans. And when you buy such big ticket items, the guy at Best Denki or Harvey Norman is going to ask you whether you want to purchase an extended warranty. Well, guess what, purchasing an extended warranty is usually not the smartest financial decision. Basically, if you buy the extended warranty on everything you own, you’ll end up paying a lot more than you would to simply to get stuff fixed or replaced whenever necessary.

Alternative: Nothing. Just take care of your stuff properly!

What household expenses do you think are unnecessary? 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.

  • Vo Ice

    Really?! You are a lawyer?! And the best suggestion you have for cutting cable TV expenses is PIRACY! Wow. Why don’t you also suggest shoplifting to cut on grocery expenses while you are at a it.

    • james bomb

      you are free not to take her advice

    • Anonymous Inc

      She is not talking about piracy doofus. She’s talking about getting a monthly internet subscription with Apple TV or Netflix. *facepalm*