Opinion

Singaporeans Need to Stop Wasting Money by Doing These 3 Mindless Things

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Joanne Poh

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In spite of our “world class education system”, Singaporeans aren’t always that good at using their brains. They know that this country is expensive, yet most people’s idea of taking charge of their financial future is to complain incessantly… and then get that $8 artisanal coffee/sign their kid up for horseriding lessons/go on that luxury skiing trip to Niseko anyway.

Sure, we’re not asking you to make yourself look bad on Instagram by giving up the luxuries you live for. But sometimes just trying not to behave like a mindless zombie for a few minutes can actually save you some money. Here are some ways Singaporeans waste money simply because they’re too lazy to think.

 

1. Buying things from 7-11 when there’s a supermarket nearby

It drives me crazy when I see people walk into 7-11 and buy something that costs way less at NTUC 5 metres away. Perhaps they don’t realise that 7-11 marks up the prices of its goods a lot because it offers the convenience of being open 24-7. The same item at 7-11 can cost a hell lot less at NTUC or Cold Storage. For instance, did you know a bottle of Ice Mountain costs almost 3 times more than it does at Cold Storage?

So if you’re walking around at 3am and dying of thirst, paying extra for a bottle of water is justified, since you won’t be able to get one anywhere else. But in the middle of the day when all the shops are open, and there’s a supermarket within 10 metres of the 7-11?

For instance, at Holland Village there’s a Cold Storage right beside the MRT station, yet people flock to the 7-11 a few metres away. The 7-11 at Centrepoint is also doing a roaring a trade even in the daytime despite the fact that there’s a Cold Storage just a few doors down. And Marina Square’s huge 7-11 is matched only by its huge Cold Storage.

Here’s a bit of price comparison just so you know:

  • 6pack of Tiger beer: $19.50 (7-11) / $17.15 (NTUC & Cold Storage)
  • Can of Tiger beer, 500ml: $5.40 (7-11) / $4.40 (NTUC) / $4.70 (Cold Storage)
  • Pack of Fishermans Friend: $2.30 (7-11) / $1.60 (NTUC) / $1.70 (Cold Storage)
  • Bottle of Ice Mountain, 600 ml: $1.60 (7-11) / $0.55 (Cold Storage)
  • Bottle of Evian, 500 ml: $2 (7-11) / $1.55 (Cold Storage)

 

2. Not selecting the right mobile phone plan

Most Gen Yers get their first mobile phone plans when they’re still students, the bill being footed by mum and dad. When they grow up, they just take over the plan and start paying out of their own pockets… without knowing what they’re paying for.

Unfortunately, many don’t seem to realise that inheriting a mobile plan isn’t like inheriting a genetic disease—you aren’t stuck with it for life, you know.

Yet most of the people I know live in fear of exhausting their mobile plan’s data allotment and being charged exorbitant fees for excess data. A friend of mine recently resorted to disappearing from WhatsApp for two week because he was out of data, which in our day and age is tantamount to moving into a Tibetan cave.

If you insist on streaming Korean drama serials on your daily MRT rides or rely on Instagram for most of your income, do yourself a favour and get a mobile phone plan that gives you tons of data. On the other hand, if you only know how to use your smartphone to make calls and send SMSes, you can probably afford to downgrade.

We’ve covered this elsewhere on MoneySmart, so it looks like your brain gets to take  a rest this time.

 

3. Using the same credit card for everything

As someone who creates actual spreadsheets to keep track of which credit card to use for what, I die a little inside whenever I see my friends, some of whom have a wallet full of relatively exclusive credit cards, always reach for the same card to pay for everything.

By carrying around a bunch of credit cards, you’re already setting yourself up for a lot of inconvenience if you somehow leave your wallet in a taxi or get robbed. In addition, you put yourself through the hassle of calling up the banks each month to try to wheedle them into waiving your annual fees. The least you could do to make it all worthwhile is to try to get some benefits out of your cards, right?

You don’t even have to do that much brainwork because we’ve got you covered here at MoneySmart! Just browse our very nifty little credit card comparison section and you’ll be on your way to saving quite a bit for doing nothing.

Have you ever wasted money because your brain just wasn’t functioning? 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.

  • Ryan

    I’m actually quite interested in how you go about using spreadsheets for your credit card usage..