Opinion

4 Inconsiderate Ways Singaporeans Pressure Their Friends to Spend Money

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Joanne Poh

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One of the biggest reasons people end up wasting money is other people. You don’t see too many Singaporeans having a solitary beer at the bar or getting dressed up in designer clothes with nobody to impress. To make matters worse, there are many people in our midst who are pretty much oblivious to the fact that not everyone may share their carefree spending habits. Here are four things many Singaporeans are guilty of that make the people around them squirm uncontrollably as they reach for their wallets.

 

Over-ordering when dining in a group and then asking to split the bill equally

Dining out in Singapore is a fraught affair. There’s always that one person who wants to order every single appetizer on the menu and expects everyone to share. Even if you don’t explicitly agree to the order, and even if you don’t eat any of it, you’ll probably end up paying for it anyway when the bill arrives and your friends decide to split it equally between you.

This is especially troublesome when there’s alcohol involved and not everyone drinks. A friend of mine who doesn’t drink always has to remind her friends that she shouldn’t be paying for the expensive wine they ordered, which pisses her off because they otherwise just automatically expect her to pay her share.

 

Pressuring others to share cabs with them

Believe it or not, there are people who actually take the Night Rider buses late at night on the weekends. But people tend to react with surprise and even horror when they find out. I mean, why would you want to take the bus when you can take a post-midnight cab home for $25, right?

This problem gets worse when someone is your group lives near you and starts pressuring you to share a cab home with them. It’s hard to say that you prefer to take the bus when it means that person is going to have to pay double the taxi fare due to your frugality.

 

Urging people to replace their old stuff

In Singapore, people tend to replace their consumer goods with alarming regularity. The first time I went abroad as a child, I was surprised that cars elsewhere were so… old compared to Singaporeans’ shiny new vehicles. Discarding your smartphone for a new model every one or two years is the norm, as is buying new outfits to wear to the office on the regular basis. The men at one of my previous jobs used to try out each other’s tailors and compete to have the nicest ties.

So when you’re using an item that is, well, the tiniest bit old and shabby, be prepared to brush off numerous exhortations from baffled friends to just buy a new one. I’ve lost count of how many times people have told me to just buy a new smartphone (one of my former bosses harassed me to change my previous dumbphone), get a “nice” bag and replace my laptop with a MacBook Air since it’s so much lighter. The sad thing is, many people actually bow to the pressure and end up buying stuff they don’t need just to feel socially acceptable.

 

Choosing expensive places to hang out at without asking if others are fine with the price

Singapore is NOT a place where bar hopping makes sense. Not when a single drink can set you back $25. I’ve  had nights out where the people in my crew decided to go from bar to bar, paying $20+ each time for a drink. I’m not sure if spending $100 a night on drinks alone is considered normal nowadays, but I’m pretty sure that many people in the group would have preferred to spend less.

Even if you and your friends are used to dressing up to the nines and acting all glamorous, it’s always good form to ask if everyone is okay with the price when you’re about to patronise a costly establishment—especially if you’ve been going from place to place.

Have you ever ended up spending lots of money thanks to other people’s inconsiderate acts? Tell us about it 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.