Back in the old days, people did everything themselves—from mending holes in their shirts to cooking their own meals. As the country grew more prosperous and more modern, people started losing many of the skills that had helped their ancestors survive.
The irony is that as the cost of living in Singapore rises these days and ordinary people get squeezed more tightly, a lot of the skills people used to have are becoming more useful than ever. Here are some DIY courses that can help reduce the cost of living and make you a more self-reliant person.
1. Air Con Maintenance
Virtually everyone in Singapore has an air con, famously dubbed by Lee Kuan Yew as the greatest invention of all time. Whether you only turn it on when the weather makes you start seeing stars or can’t fall asleep without it, there’s no denying that air con servicing is a pain. If you have multiple air con units at home, the cost can really add up.
Where?: ITE College West runs a 20 hour air-conditioning maintenance course that you can pay for in full using your SkillsFuture credit.
2. Car Maintenance
If you’re a driver who’s trying to save money, good luck. Each time something goes wrong with your car, you drive to the workshop with that sinking feeling that the mechanic is once again going to fleece you of hundreds or thousands of dollars. And there’s nothing you can do because you have no idea what’s going on. Take a course in car maintenance and at the very least, you’ll be able to save a bit of money on routine oil changes and the like.
Where?: Community centres run car maintenance workshops from time to time–Geylang West CC and Bedok CC have courses lined up in April and May. For something more comprehensive, ITE College West has a part-time course in Automotive Technology, which will enable you to troubleshoot and do basic car servicing.
If you have an interesting body shape or tend to be shorter than average, you’re probably no stranger to the need to make clothing alterations. And every now and then we all experience annoying little holes or tears that could be easily fixed if only we didn’t have to pay $5 just to get the tailor at the market to do it. If like me you didn’t have the privilege of taking home ec back in lower sec, you can still pick up a few sewing skills by watching YouTube or enrolling in a basic sewing class. If you’re really ambitious, you might want to take things one step further by learning how to sew from patterns, which means you might even be able to make your own clothes from scratch.
Where?: Community centres tend to run the cheapest and most basic sewing classes at about $65 for a full course.
You might not be able to cultivate a pumpkin patch or similar in Singapore, but you can supplement your diet with organic vegetables grown in your flat if you know how. Fresh herbs like basil aren’t that cheap to buy at the supermarket and can be quite easily grown on your windowsill, while vegetables like kang kong can be grown on your balcony. The problem is that getting into gardening usually involves quite a bit of wasted money at the start as you struggle to keep your plants alive.
Where?: Kampong Glam CC is conducting an organic vegetable growing workshop in April for $48. Eco City Hydroponics runs a WDA-approved (SkillsFuture credit… cha-ching!) one-day hydroponics course for $198, which includes a kit that you can use at home. The Landscape Industry Association runs gardening courses for beginners at $430 for 6 sessions of 2 hours.
Much has been said about the money-saving benefits of being able to cook, so we shan’t belabour the point. Cooking classes come in all shapes and sizes, from the ridiculously expensive and insanely exotic to cheap basic classes that teach you to make simple foods.
Where?: Community centres tend to run numerous inexpensive cooking classes at about $20 to $25 per session. Project Dignity runs an affordable WSQ cooking course that teaches you how to prepare Malay dishes like mee rebus, mee siam and laksa, all on your SkillsFuture credit if you wish.
6. Beer Brewing
While many people might not think learning how to brew beer a necessity, if you routinely spend tons of money on a heavily-taxed post-work pint, learning to brew your own beer helps to keep your money out of the government’s coffers.
Where?: HomeBrew Co-Op conducts 1-day and 4-day beer brewing workshops.
Have you ever taken a course that ended up saving you money in the long run? Let us know in the comments!