15 Undisputed Cheapskate Moves Singaporeans Love to Make

Jeff Cuellar



No one in the world knows the secret art of being a tightwad better than Singaporeans. We have an intuitive knack for finding ways to get everyday products and services – for free. This special skill is in our blood.

When you consider that Singapore is the world’s most expensive city, it kind of makes sense that Singaporeans would be pretty damn good at finding ways to get free sh*t.

It’s like evolution on a national scale – with Singaporeans becoming tightwads in order to “adapt” to ridiculously high prices.

Here are 15 undisputed cheapskate moves that Singaporeans love to make:


#1 Taking Home Restaurant Condiments

C’mon, admit that you take these babies home!

Singaporeans put Genghis Khan to shame with the way they pillage packets of chili sauce, sugar, salt, and ketchup from restaurants. If it’s in a packet – it’s fair game for penny-pinching Singaporeans.


#2 Taking Home Office Stationery

Ever wonder where all the office pens go?

Pens, staples, post-it notes, printer paper, note pads, markers, highlighters, and any other form of office stationery are up grabs once the boss leaves the office. Hmm… that stapler looks nice.


#3 Taking Home Extra Tissue for Personal Use

Always take what you need… for the next 3 days.

Want to know why most restaurants don’t have tissue dispensers? Singaporeans – that’s why! Thankfully, some restaurants and fast food chains (McDonald’s) have yet to figure that one out.


#4 Stealing Toilet Paper

If it’s not locked in a dispenser, it’s fair game!

Isn’t it amazing that restrooms have to “lock” toilet paper in dispensers? What’s even more amazing that some restrooms don’t even offer toilet paper – because thieves run off with the whole roll!


#5 “Borrowing” Books From Work (by Borrow I Mean Stealing)

Yeah, half of those books aren’t even mine.

Many workplaces have book shelves full of personal development books. Let’s be honest, you’re not going to pay $30-$40 SGD for them. So you borrow them for an “indefinite” amount of time.


#6 “Borrowing” Company Software for Personal Use

I make it a point to “borrow” Office 2000 from every company I work for.

“Borrowing” company software (ex. Windows Office 2010 or Photoshop) that’s just lying around the office for your personal use is another move that saves cheapskates hundreds of dollars.


#7 Making Claims for Taxi Fares and Dinner When Working “Late” (Not Really)

Don’t need a receipt Uncle, my company doesn’t check their claims – just pays them.

Working “late” is something all of us have done. But some cheapskates “fudge” the numbers by claiming more than they’re entitled to because face it, no one ever checks these things out.


#8 Claiming Overtime Hours for “Work” (aka Facebook and YouTube)

That’s right boss, I was hard at work last night – so, about that overtime…

No one likes working late – unless you’re not really “working” and just staying back at the office to watch YouTube or surf Facebook. Plus, 1.5X the hourly rate for overtime is a good reward for staying late to reach level 350 on Candy Crush Saga.


#9 Boarding the Back Of the Bus to Avoid Paying the Fare

Nothing like “tapping out” at Orchard for a “discounted” trip to Bugis!

Public transportation fares are increasing and buses getting even more overcrowded each year. For a cheapskate, that’s perfect, because it provides a convenient excuse and distraction to board the bus exit doors to avoid paying the fare!


#10 Using “Free” Shuttle Services

If it ain’t free, it ain’t for me.

In Singapore, the most in-the-know cheapskates are masters of using “free” shuttle services to their advantage. It doesn’t matter whether the shuttle belongs to a hospital, tech centre, shopping centre, or school – if it saves them $1 or $2 dollars on using public transport, it’s “worth” it.


#11 Stealing Cutlery from Planes, Restaurants, and Hotels

These would look better on MY kitchen table.

Cutlery isn’t particularly expensive. You can buy a fork and spoon for a few dollars at IKEA. But why pay that much money when you can just get such items for “free” when you fly, go to a restaurant, or stay at a fancy hotel? Just don’t steal en masse like the Chinese tourists on an SIA flight.


#12 Taking Home Hotel Toiletries

You bet your ass I’m taking all of this stuff home!

A Singaporean who doesn’t take home ever hotel toiletry available in a hotel bathroom is a shame to his countrymen. Hotels expect Singaporeans to take home their hotel toiletries the same way the government expect them to serve National Service (NS).


 #13 “Sharing” Buffet Meals and Free Flow Drinks

Sharing is caring right?

It’s no secret that buffet meals are notoriously expensive in Singapore. So what do Singaporeans do about it? They share their meals and “free flow” drinks when the staff isn’t watching – not because they want to be kind, but because they want to save money!


 #14 Sitting In Cafes to Study and Use the Wifi Without Buying a Damn Thing

Free air-conditioning and wifi – what could be better?

The kiasu force is strong in Singapore’s youth, especially when it comes to hijacking tables at Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to use the wifi – without having to buy a damn thing!


 #15 Scrounging Up Coupons for Free Stuff

You don’t get these too often. But when you do, you sure as hell use them!

Be honest. When you see fast food coupon sheets or promotional coupons in the mail area that someone threw away – you swoop down and scoop up those coupons the same way an owl clutches a mouse in its talons.


Any cheapskate moves you want to add to this list? Tell us all about them here!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.

Comments (6)

  1. #16 Not purchasing an app from the mobile store, camping until it’s free during a promo. Good thing Qanvast is free… for now.

  2. Petty (and not-so-petty, in the case of software) theft, in other words. Putting ourselves above those around us. Are those the cultural traits we want to pass on to the next generation?

    It’s been said that a democratic government takes its values from the citizens that elected it, whereas an authoritarian one imposes its values on its subjects. Which are we, and which would we rather be?

  3. In short, Singaporeans are dishonest, sneaky thieves.

    1. Puzzling that you pass such a tactless and sweeping comment about Singaporeans. Is this not practiced else whre?

  4. Board from the exit door of the bus? Only dimwits and stupid dumb asses like you do that.

    1. Do you actually know why? It’s not because of the stupid dumb asses thingy. It’s because they use a fare-value card every time they board by the front door. This card will deduct the journey amount when you exit at the back of the bus. By boarding from the exit, they escape the bus driver’s attention, especially if the bus is crowded.

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