Opinion

3 Random Lifestyle Purchases That Singaporeans Think Make Them Cooler, But Actually Cost a Ton of Money in the Long Run

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Joanne Poh

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Despite our world-class education system, some Singaporeans seem prone to doing things without thinking. Whether it’s those parents putting their kids through thousands of dollars of tuition sessions without even knowing whether they’re useful, or the WeChat prostitute scams hot blooded males fall prey to, a lack of critical thinking and street smarts definitely costs people money.

This unthinking, monkey-see monkey-do approach to spending money is especially evident when it comes to lifestyle spending. People tend to be judged based on how much money they make and how Instagrammable their photos are, which leads to lots of them trying to maintain glamorous lifestyles they can’t really afford. No wonder overspending is the biggest culprit behind credit card debt.

The worst lifestyle purchases are those that continue making you bleed money long after you put down the initial sum. These buys are like the gift that never stops giving, except that what you receive is an ever-growing hole in your wallet.

Here are three random lifestyle purchases that cost Singaporeans a lot of money over time.

 

Pets

The other day I walked by a pet grooming shop in the neighbourhood and nearly had a seizure when I saw a poor little dog with a pink fringe and a rainbow coloured tail. Some Singaporeans have the very unfortunate habit of treating pets like fashion accessories. Yesterday, it was pugs that were popular, today it’s French bulldogs.

Although pre-screening rules have helped to lower the incidences of impulse buying of pets, it still happens. While many pets end up abandoned or at the SPCA, there are others who continue to live out the rest of their days in deplorable conditions.

Not naming names, but I know people who rear dogs in small flats and apartments and confine the animals to a cage or tiny fenced-in area all day, simply because they do not want the animals messing up the house.

Pets are not only a long-term commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but can also cost a lot of money over the long run, especially when they get old and require more veterinary attention.

But even before your beloved pooch or kittycat gets old, you’ve got consider other factors such as exercise and grooming. Remember that animals aren’t allowed on the MRT or buses, so if you don’t have a car you’ve got to be prepared to fork out the money for a cab or an Uber each time you want to take your pet for a leisurely stroll at East Coast Park or to the vet for a checkup.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to welcome a pet into the family. But make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons and not just because Taylor Swift has cats or something.

 

Gym membership

The biggest problem with gym memberships is that the show must go on, and you must keep paying whether or not you actually visit the gym. Many gyms sell their memberships in blocks of two years, which means you’ll be paying thousands of bucks even if you break your leg and can’t work out or (more likely) lose that initial burst of motivation and revert to your flabby old self.

Then there’s that other niggling little risk that the gym might go the way of California Fitness and close down, leaving you high and dry.

It still amazes me that so many Singaporeans are very willing to plonk down thousands of dollars worth of cash for a gym membership they later end up wasting. I chalk it up to the fact that so many people here, especially professionals working in the CBD, have expensive gym memberships that it’s practically the norm. If everyone else is signing up for gym memberships, you’re less likely to question the wisdom of doing so yourself.

Well, the majority of my gym membership card-carrying friends also struggle to find time to go to the gym, with many going less than once a month.

Singaporeans should be aware that signing on as a member of a premium gym is really quite expensive, considering you can work out very cheaply at the ActiveSG gyms. If you’re going to get utility out of paying so much, you have to be quite a regular gym goer, which is where most people fail.

 

Car

If you’re one of those Singaporeans with a wheelchair bound elderly family member you need to ferry around or a travelling salesman/real estate agent/tuition teacher/insurance agent, you’re excused. Ditto if your commute to work takes more than an hour or you live far away from the nearest MRT station.

But for most other people, car ownership is more often than not a lifestyle statement. Let’s face it, many guys buy fast cars because they think it will show they’ve “made it in life” or make them more attractive to women. A lot of people drive cars because they believe it’s befitting of their status, since public transport is for commoners.

If that sounds like you, be aware that you’re paying a high price to look cool. The exorbitant price of cars in Singapore means that for many people, taking a taxi or Uber everywhere might be even cheaper than having your own set of wheels.

Do you have any of the above? Tell us why you decided to take on the expense 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.