Opinion

4 Singaporean Phenomena That are Making You Poorer

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Joanne Poh

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One of the hallmarks of meritocracy is that if you don’t make it in life, it’s your fault. Or is it? There are many factors, some within and some outside our control, that conspire daily to make us poorer.

Here are four things that are secretly hurting your wallet:

 

MRT breakdowns

MRT breakdowns are more than just an annoyance. They also have a hugely negative effect on productivity.

Nobody’s in the mood to work efficiently when they’re an hour late to work thanks to yet another breakdown. Everyone’s work-life balance and morale goes down a notch when they waste hours trying to get out of a breakdown and then find their way to their destination. Those breakdowns could be affecting your performance at work without your knowing it.

What’s more, every time the train breaks down, Grab and Uber surge pricing goes through the roof.

Given the fact that MRT breakdowns are pretty much inevitable, we owe it to ourselves to be prepared to get stuck.

If you’re rushing to work on the train, bring a long some paperwork to complete, a book to read or a personal project to finish so you don’t waste time glaring at other passengers if the train breaks down.

 

Addiction to social media

Lack of time is one of the deadliest money suckers in Singapore. We are willing to pay more for the convenience of zipping home in a Grab car, to have food and groceries delivered to our homes and to have someone else do our housework.

But why are we so time-starved? Long hours spent at work are a common culprit. But another is our addiction to social media.

You have only to peek into an MRT cabin to see the number of people scrolling through endless Facebook feeds on their smartphones. These are the same people who later complain they have no time to read, when they could be doing so right there on the MRT.

Using mobile devices in bed is also partly to blame for the fact that we’re one of the world’s most sleep-deprived nations.

With the average Singaporean spending 3 hours and 12 minutes on their mobile phones, quitting social media would probably mean more free time to cook, take public transport, DIY whenever it would save us money and get a good night’s sleep.

 

Using shopping and eating to cure boredom

Staying entertained in Singapore usually costs money. Meeting a friend for a drink after work is never just that.

You usually end up dining together, because nobody wants to wait till they get home at 11pm to eat. A restaurant meal and an artisanal coffee or cocktail can easily add up to $50, which is a heavy price to pay every single time you need company.

And with malls everywhere you turn, it’s no wonder many people go shopping because they have nothing better to do on weekends.

Being thrifty while not dying of boredom can be a challenge in Singapore, but it’s by no means impossible.

But it does take a thick skin and a bit of creativity to organise inexpensive outings like picnics, barbecues, museum visits, badminton matches or whatever.

 

Kiasu parenting

There is no question that raising children in Singapore is expensive. But the cult of kiasu parenting is no doubt making it worse.

I’m not sure how many 12-year-olds you hang out with, but the life of a 12-year-old in 2018 is very different from yours when you were that age.

So many kids these days are so over-scheduled with tuition and enrichment classes and have so little time for play that they end each day exhausted. With the little free time they have, they’re more likely to be liking their friends’ posts on Instagram than actually having a life.

What’s more, more and more parents are enrolling their kids in pre-school enrichment classes in the belief that they’ll be giving their kid a headstart in life by doing so.

If you’re a parent or about to become one, it’s important to take a step back and assess objectively whether your child really needs so many tuition classes, a new iPhone and those fencing/horse riding lessons, or if you’re just getting swept up in a kiasu parenting frenzy and freaking out that your child will get left behind.

Have any of the above phenomena made you waste money? 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.