Budgeting

How to Get Drunk on a Budget in Singapore

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Joanne Poh

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Cracking open the can of cold beer at the end of a challenging day at work could cost… more than an hour’s worth of your salary. Alcohol is one of many items on a long list of things that cost a bomb in Singapore.

But let’s face it, it makes life so much more bearable, especially when you’ve spent the entire evening staring at the grey walls of your office cubicle or had an MRT seat snatched from right under your ass. Don’t let a couple of drinks stop you from ever retiring or keep you running on the hamster wheel for the rest of your life. Here are a couple of tips for those who enjoy their booze but have lightweight wallets.

 

Consider drinking at hawker centres or BYOB

If you’re very fussy about the ambience or the chic factor of your drinking holes, be prepared to pay the price, as bars and clubs are generally too expensive for low income folks to even consider. The standard price of a puny half pint of beer hovers at around $10 at a mid-range establishment, while it is not uncommon to pay upwards of $15 for a cocktail.

The cheapest place to have a sit down beer is the humble hawker centre. A big bottle of beer, good for three to four mugs, should cost around $6. Singaporeans who think they are too sophisticated for such an environment should open their eyes and realise that lots of upper middle income folks and expats have now downgraded to hawker centre drinking. Just check out the Holland Village Food Centre early in the evening. The Good Beer Company at Chinatown Food Centre serves up craft beer at $6 a pint, effectively about 50% less than you would pay at other craft beer joints.

Another economical alternative is to BYOB or get it from a supermarket or 7-11 and drink in a public spot like the famous Read Bridge at Clarke Quay. Thanks to the new liquor laws, you only have until 10:30pm to do this, though.

 

Buy drinks in larger volumes

If every person in your party of five is ordering a half pint each, you could probably save a ton of money by ordering one or two jugs instead. In order to encourage their patrons to drink more, bars usually charge less per millilitre when you buy your alcohol in larger per unit quantities.

This generally means going for jugs or, if you’re in a large group, towers, rather than having everyone order individual glasses. In general, a glass of house wine will cost you more per person than a cheap bottle shared between four people.

Of course, it’s easy to go overboard and end up drinking and spending way more than you intended, as usually happens when two people decide to share a beer tower between them. Some discretion and consciousness about how much you intend to drink is required to make this work.

 

Drink early, but don’t assume happy hour will be cheap

In general, the earlier you drink, the less you pay. Many happy hour deals end at 8pm, so if you’re the sort of person who has flexible hours or regularly knocks off at 6pm on the dot, you have no time to waste.

However, it would be fatal to assume that happy hour is always a good deal. Always compare prices, as some bars’ happy hour deals will still have you paying more than regular price at a different place. For instance, beers at Orgo go for $12 during happy hour, making them more expensive than Five Izakaya’s regular price of $5++.

 

Choose cheaper beers

We all know the consequences of drinking crappy wine, unless our brains have tried to erase the traumatic memories. But when it comes to beer, price is not as reflective of quality. Certain brands of beer are consistently cheaper than others simply because of where they come from or the supplier’s mark-up.

While at many bars Tiger tends to be the cheapest available offering, look out for Southeast Asian brands like Anchor and Singha, which are often cheaper and taste pretty decent.

How do you save money on alcohol other than by not drinking? Share your secrets 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.