Opinion

3 Ways Frugal Singaporeans End Up Wasting Money Without Realising It

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Joanne Poh

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Singapore has two faces. On the one hand, you have affluent people popping champagne at Catalunya before riding off into the sunset to their luxury condos. On the other hand, you have bargain hunting aunties elbowing their way in and out of MRT cabins and then burning up the floor at Giant. This article is going to be relevant only to people who identify more with the second group of persons, although persons who try to appear like they belong in the first group but actually should be in the second are also welcome.

We all get that Singapore is expensive, and trying to save a few bucks here and there can sound like the logical thing to do. But many times, well-meaning frugal Singaporeans shoot themselves in the foot by doing something that ends up costing them even more money. Here are some of worst.

 

Eating hawker food every day

Whenever anyone points out the high cost of living in Singapore, there’s a 99% chance someone will butt in and protest that there’s cheap hawker food. If you work in the CBD, when any of your colleagues mentions that they’re trying to save money, chances are that means eating at hawker centres every day during lunch.

If you’re one of those people who enjoys hawker meals three times a day, you might be saving a few bucks each day, but as you get older your poor food choices are going to bite back. Singaporeans are living longer, but at the same time more are suffering from health issues like diabetes and colorectal cancer. In a country notorious for being averse to welfare, getting struck down by serious health problems can even lead to medical bankruptcy. In the short term, having persistent flus and feeling sluggish all day can put a serious dent in your productivity and quality of life.

 

Not maintaining their vehicles

Cars in Singapore aren’t just expensive to buy, they’re also expensive to maintain. When you’re at the showroom getting sweet-talked by a car salesman, the only things you can visualise are the babes on your arm or zipping down the highway with the top down and the wind in your hair.

In reality, owning a car means you’re probably going to be spending more time chatting up Ah Tiong at the workshop as he services your car than luring beautiful women into your new chariot. Between oil changes, tyre rotations and replacements and cleaning the engine, you’re looking at expenses of over $1,000 a month.

It can be tempting to just cut corners and not get your car maintained as often as you should. After all, those worn out tyres won’t really affect you when you’re crawling along at 3km/h in peak hour traffic, right? Unfortunately, not looking after your car increases the likelihood of major failures. For instance, if you’re too lazy to change your oil, your engine could screw up big time, which will most certainly cost you thousands of dollars.

 

Getting addicted to Groupon

When Groupon first came on the scene, many people got addicted to browsing the site. There was one period in the not-too-distant-past when you could see at least three screens open to the Groupon site at any office.

Virtually anyone who’s bought more than 10 groupons can probably cite at least one bad experience, whether it was being unable to make an appointment for the massage they booked or plain forgetting to use their coupons until the expiry date had passed.

In fact, in my first year of using Groupon I probably forgot to use at least 30% of my groupons. In addition, the thought of “saving 90% on the original price” led me to make some very questionable purchasing decisions, including one for golf lessons (what was I thinking?!) which I never used. Some of the dining groupons I’ve bought have resulted in my eating at lousy restaurants.

In short, unless you are very careful, going nuts on Groupon is not going to save you any money, no matter how many ‘deals’ you think you’re getting.

Have any of your attempts to be frugal backfired? Tell us about them in the comments!

Image Credits:
William Cho

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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.

  • Ng Wee Loon

    You can be healthy and frugal at hawker centres and coffeeshops. Food choices are available and can be changed even when eating at a hawker centre.

    I especially like mixed vegetable rice. Of course you can’t control the amount of salt and sugar, etc they use. But these are unlikely to kill you in the long run if you have a balanced diet.

  • Selina Lim

    I don’t think car maintenance can reach 1k per month…

    • ralph

      that
      include daily gas up..

  • vmgunz

    I do not agree that hawker food means unhealthy.. There are plenty of healthy food options in hawker center.

  • Boon

    Don’t buy car unless you have no place else to spend your money. We spend more than 8hrs working, 8hrs sleeping. That left another 8hrs for rest and relax. Most of the time we spend less than 2hrs per day with our car. Which mean most Singaporeans buy car just to wash and park at carpark.

    • Jamie Bobini

      Wash car is exercise.

  • tehtarikrox

    hawker fare can cost a bomb in the long run. how often do you see $2 fishball noodle or $2.50 chicken rice? seldom. well, thank god these prices are still available in jurong area where i work. However, if you work in cbd area and want to eat healthy and save money, why dont you just pack food to work? leftover from dinners or even cook some simple dish early in the mrng. despite the cheap prices i get in my area, I pack food to work at least 3 times a week.

    However, I do spend my money elsewhere. LOL. like escape rooms. but all that being said, it is about how we keep track of our expenses n do not spend more than we earn.

  • Nick

    This article is awfully written and lack real insights. Seriously, hawker food, car maintenance and coupon??!! *faint*