They may not be the ones tearing up the boardrooms at Raffles Place or making millions in the world of commerce. But the ubiquitous Singaporean auntie is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to saving money.
While younger Singaporeans grumble about how cutthroat the environment here is, aunties thrive in a competitive arena. They are the ultimate survivors, single-handedly battling the escalating cost of living one sale at a time. Here are a few life lessons Singaporeans can learn from the auntie next door.
Things are always cheaper in HDB estates
If your first port of call is Orchard Road whenever you need to buy something, the aunties disapprove. Any self-respecting auntie knows stuff isn’t cheap at NTUC. Instead she heads to VallueDollar or, even better, grocery or provision shops in HDB estates, where household items can be purchased for up to 30 percent less. Whether you need to buy small furniture items, a loaf of bread or a new case for your smartphone, remember that it is probably cheaper close to home.
Comparison shop like crazy
The average auntie probably does more number crunching than a banker. Aunties can tell when the price of detergent rises by 5 cents. And if you were stupid enough to buy a box of cereal at Cold Storage, chances are the auntie next door can tell you just how much you wasted by not getting it at Valuedollar instead.
Aunties know that shops just want your money, so they comparison shop like crazy to determine where they can get each basic necessity by paying the least possible amount. If you’re the sort of person who just buys the first item in the first store you walk into, doing a bit of comparison shopping would definitely benefit you.
Share deals with your friends
Aunties are bargain-hunters at heart and they’re not ashamed to admit it. When they spot a sale on Seng Choon Farm eggs, they let the world know—anyone from the maid next door to their mahjong kakis gets informed of the discovery. And they are rewarded by likewise receiving news from their friends about all the latest deals.
He who gives also ends up receiving, and if you often share deals with your friends, whether they be tip-offs about Groupons or information about happy hour deals, your friends will soon get in on the action and begin acting as your informants too.
Wasting food is a crime
Fail to finish the food on your plate and a well-meaning auntie is likely to immediately warn you that every grain of rice left behind is going to manifest as a pimple on your future spouse’s face. The average Singaporean wastes 116 kg of food a year. That works out to about one plate of economy rice a day. If you eat everything on your plate, you might find your food expenditure decreasing.
My cooking is better than the restaurant’s
Aunties take great pride in their cooking skills and are often seen scoffing at the food served up at lacklustre restaurants, believing their own culinary skills to be superior to even the most highly qualified chefs. As a result, many aunties love cooking at home, and they expect every guest at their dining table to eat every morsel on their plates, or else.
Sadly, the average Singaporean barely has time to cook and lacks cooking skills anyway, which is why Singaporeans spend more money eating out than any other country in the Asia Pacific.
Hand me downs
To an auntie, having more kids does not mean more trips to Toys R Us. It means you get to reuse outgrown clothes and toys by handing them down from one child to another. While you might not exactly be raiding your ancestors’ closets for your next outfit, there’s something to be said about passing on and inheriting used items rather than always running out and buying new ones.
For instance, there is really no reason to buy a brand new smartphone for everyone in your household when most people have old ones lying around ready to be given away or sold cheaply.
If something is broke, fix it
On the list of aunties’ hidden talents is the ability to wield a needle and thread to solve even the most embarrassing of clothing woes. Instead of throwing away those leopard print shirts that have gotten a bit frayed or lost a few buttons, just fire up a sewing machine and they’re good to go for another ten years.
This DIY mentality can save you a bit of money, too. For starters, instead of tossing out those $200 headphones because one side has stopped working, search Youtube for tutorials on how to repair them.
What life lessons have you learnt from the aunties in your life? Share them with us in the comments!
Eystein Mack Alnæs