Opinion

3 Money Saving Tricks That are Totally Not Worth the Time and Effort

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Joanne Poh

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I’ve actually considered giving up shampoo because I read on the Internet that you could wash your hair with baking soda, which costs practically nothing, despite the obvious yucks factor. I can reuse one plastic water bottle for such a long time I’m probably drinking more plastic than water towards the end, all in the name of not spending $1.50 on another Ice Mountain.

But there are some things that are such a laborious waste of time and effort that even I would not do them in the name of saving money.

Unless you’re jobless-and-not-looking and hence have an unlimited amount of time, or are one of those extreme savers who collect rain water to flush their toilets with, don’t bother trying to save money in the following ways.

 

Taking the 7am MRT to save on train fare when you’re not a morning person

Only non-morning people can understand the agony of being jolted out of bed by your alarm when the sky is still dark.

While SMRT has been offering free rides to the CBD until 7:45am for quite some time now, the take-up rate hasn’t been higher simply because people value getting an extra hour of sleep more than they do their $1.50 train fare.

And that makes a lot of sense. If you’re not a morning person, it’s probably close to impossible for you to fall asleep at 10pm in order to enable you to get up early enough to catch the 7am train without stabbing yourself in the eyeballs.

Then there’s also the matter of whether your boss will let you leave the office earlier if you come in early. For most Singaporeans, the answer has been a resounding no. That means arriving at work an hour early essentially means you’re lengthening your work day by one hour—all to save $1.50? No thanks!

 

Going to multiple supermarkets to buy every item on your grocery list at the lowest price

Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re all for being price conscious when you do your groceries—so much so that we’ve done price comparisons between ValuDollar and NTUC Fairprice, as well as Mustafa and NTUC Fairprice. You would never see me buying my basic necessities at Cold Storage or, shudder, Market Place by Jason’s.

So, a little price comparison is a good thing. But I draw the line at going to multiple supermarkets on grocery day in order to pick up the cheapest item at each.

Grocery day is a regular activity, and it’s just not worthwhile wasting all that time every week (assuming you do your groceries weekly) just to save a grand total of $10 a month.

That Colgate toothpaste might cost $0.30 less at ValuDollar than at FairPrice, but if the ValuDollar is 15 minutes away, it’s really not worth the extra trip each time you want to buy toothpaste.

 

Taking that flight with a 17 hour layover when you’re using your annual leave to go on holiday

Okay, I admit I’m guilty of taking flights with ridiculously long layovers and sleeping on airport floors just to knock $200 off my air ticket prices. But hey, that’s because I have no annual leave and no holidays!

But for the rest of you lucky souls who actually get paid to go on vacation for a few days every year, it may not make sense to get on that cheap ass flight with a 17-hour layover in some airport in Saudi Arabia if it means you lose a day of your annual leave.

Your leave days are actually quite precious. If you were to quit your job tomorrow and were allowed to “clear leave” after your last day at the office, your employer would continue paying you for those days of leave even after you stopped going to the office. I can never understand why people allow themselves to lose leave that hasn’t been taken and can’t be rolled over, because they’re losing days for which they’re actually being paid.

If you are going to save $100 on your air ticket but that will in turn cost you an extra day of leave, ask yourself how much you’re being paid per day. If your salary is $4,000 and you work a 5 day week, you’re being paid over $200 for each day of work, and that’s also how much the day of leave you’re sacrificing is worth.

In addition, there are other disadvantages to picking flights with very long layovers. If the airline doesn’t provide you with a hotel (some do, so call before you book to check) for long layovers, you’ll have to fork out the cash for your own accommodation (thereby negating any savings you might have made on your air ticket) or spend the night in the airport.

In the latter scenario, assuming you return to work immediately after, you’re going to be very tired and very grumpy. Remember, most international airports are way crappier than Changi. You might even find yourself taking an additional day of leave so you can recover from your night sprawled across plastic airport seats.

In your opinion, what other money-saving tips are not worth the time and effort? 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.