If You Paid For the Cheapest Version of These 3 Things, You Might be in Trouble

Joanne Poh



If you’re the sort of person who congratulates yourself on saving 20 cents on a box of cereal by walking to ValueDollar instead of getting it at NTUC, well, we could probably be friends. Every time I go to the supermarket the people around me complain that I always buy the house brand. But I’m sad to say that even I have to admit there are some things you just shouldn’t skimp on or try to buy the cheapest version of. Here are some things you should just fork out a bit more money for.


1. Dental treatment

Now I’m as big a fan as anybody else of going to polyclinics for routine checkups, simply because they’re so much cheaper than private. But when it comes to getting dental treatment, it’s probably better to go with a dentist you trust and whom you’ve worked with before, rather than just heading to the one who charges the least.

Notice that I say dental treatment and not checkups or cleaning. That’s because getting shoddy work done can result in your having to pay more money later on—fillings being the prime culprit. A good filling can stay in your mouth for 20 years or more (I have one like that). On the other hand, I’ve had friends who had to get a tooth filled multiple times because the darned filling just kept falling out. Getting fillings is not cheap, plus you also want one that blends in with the rest of the tooth, so see a good dentist to avoid having to go back.


2. Batteries

When you’re buying ketchup or soy sauce, you might quite validly opt to buy a cheaper brand in exchange for a worse taste. Hey, can’t always be buying the premium version, right? But when it comes to batteries, buying a crappier brand could effectively mean your batteries don’t last as long—which also means you actually end up paying more in order to power your appliances. In fact, batteries like Energizer and Duracell have been shown to last twice as long as generic brands.

But nobody in Singapore really cares about those types of batteries. Instead, the kinds of batteries we tend to try to save money on are the kind you buy at Sim Lim—like batteries for your camera or replacement batteries for your smartphone. The salesman will usually give you two options—either buy the original battery from Sony, Samsung or whatever, or buy the fake ones, usually at about half the price. Just know that buying the fake ones for an appliance you use a lot could mean you’ll be back at the shop not long after. Worse still, it could screw up your appliance and no original battery is going to be able to make up for that.


3. Education

In this day and age, lots of things can be self-taught. But if you’ve decided you’re going to pay somebody to teach you to do something, don’t automatically dial the number of the cheapest teacher. Incompetent teachers or an unsuitable course can result in your learning even less than if you had decided to just teach yourself. Not saying you need to go for the most expensive option—but in order to get your money’s worth, you should opt for a teacher who can at least offer you more than what you would gain by teaching yourself.

For example, if you want to learn to make pastries and so enrol in baking classes, the cheapest options might be lessons that are demo-only—meaning you watch the teacher from afar and don’t get to have a hands-on experience. In this case, you might end up learning even less than you would by watching videos on YouTube, which you can at least pause and repeat. The same goes for kids who attend tuition classes taught by incompetent tutors.

Have you ever tried to save money on something and ended up paying more? Let us know 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.