Budgeting

Don’t Leave the House Without These 4 Things That Can Save You Money

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Joanne Poh

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The good old days when a night out on the town could cost less than $20 have gone the way of the dodo. Popping out to buy a small item in Singapore usually ends up costing you way more—after buying food to curb the stomach pangs from trekking across the huge malls on Orchard Road and grabbing a quick coffee, you then miss your bus.

Since it’s raining and the next bus is going to come in the next century, you catch a taxi before remembering that it’s going to cost you $20 to get back to your home deep in the heartlands. Should have just bought the damned thing online.

While I’m a proponent of travelling light, if you bring these four items with you wherever you go, you might find your sojourns into the city becoming a little less expensive.

 

Water bottle

In Singapore’s heat, humidity and sometimes haze, drinking enough fluids not only keeps you alive but also stops you from feeling irritable and uncomfortable. I’ve lost count of the number of times the person I was with had to duck into a 7-11 to buy a bottle of water or a Slurpee. A cup of fruit juice at a food court in the city can cost close to $3, while a coffee at a cafe is in the region of $5 to $6 these days. In addition, many restaurants have stopped serving water for free—here’s a list so you know whom to avoid.

Bring your own water bottle when you go out and you’ll never have to worry about any of the above ever again. If you’ve got a million and one errands to run, being able to sit on a bench and have a drink of water gives you a lot more stamina at no additional cost.

 

Umbrella

There’s a reason you see so many Singaporeans hiding in the shade of their umbrellas even when there isn’t a drop of rain to be seen. The weather in Singapore makes walking under the sun at midday an exhausting affair, even if just for a few minutes. If the nearest MRT station to your home is a 10 minute walk away and you’re sweating profusely the whole way, don’t be surprised if you end up spending more money on a cold drink just so you can replenish the fluids in your body and sit in the air con for a while.

The only time Singapore isn’t hot and humid is when it’s pouring with rain. And anybody who’s ever had to take a bus after getting drenched knows there’s a reason the bus drivers all look like they’re wearing five layers of clothing in there. One look at the completely-frosted-over windows of a ridiculously air conditioned bus and you know it’s going to be a long ride. I’ve actually had to get off buses because the air con was too damned cold. Add to that the prospect of getting drenched on the walk from the bus or MRT station to home and even the most resolute of souls would just give up and take a taxi.

Carry an umbrella and you’ll be able to weather the idiosyncrasies of our climate a little better. This makes taking public transport a little less unpleasant, and helps you to withstand the temptation of jumping into a taxi.

 

Kick scooter

If you’re a driver, you must have noticed the phenomenon of adults on kick scooters, thanks to the number of times you’ve almost run over one of them zipping past at a zebra crossing. It seems kick scooters are no longer just for kids. Many Singaporean adults are now whizzing around on two tiny wheels—and not just because they think it’s cool. A surprising number of people use kick scooters simply because it’s a much faster way to get from Point A to Point B. Distances of around 5 km are actually quite a breeze on a kick scooter.

If you live a 15 minute walk from the MRT, a kick scooter can easily shave 10 minutes off your commute. You can also take foldable kick scooters on the bus and MRT. One of the biggest bugbears of commuters on public transport is the amount of time it takes to get to the MRT station, and kick scooters solve this problem—more convenience and more time saved means less of a need to take taxis or buy a car.

 

Snacks

As far as I know, most Singaporeans don’t like to eat alone. Heck, I even saw a thread on a local forum once entitled “Do you dare to eat lunch alone”? So if you see a Singaporean gritting his teeth and sitting down to have a bite on his own, he probably got too hungry while he was out shopping and had no other choice. The irony is that if he could have just kept his hunger pangs at bay for another hour or two, he would have gone home and sat down to a much cheaper home cooked meal.

The solution is to always bring a small, preferably healthy snack with you so that when you’re hungry you don’t have to resort to eating out. A bag of dried seaweed, nuts or some fruit are inexpensive and healthy. Nibble on these when you’re out and you’ll find that you make it back in time for dinner a lot more often.

Which items do you never leave home with? 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.