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3 Things Singaporeans Buy That End Up Becoming Useless Clutter

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Joanne Poh

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If you’ve ever gone crazy shopping at Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok or even at the Great Singapore Sale, you know what happened to all that stuff you bought. No, they did not become prized items in your wardrobe. Once those clothes went out of fashion, they went straight into the pile of junk that has for years been threatening to turn your home into a junkyard of forgotten dreams à la Pixar’s Inside Out.

Before buying anything, it’s worthwhile asking yourself if in a year or two this item that you would sell your kidneys to own (like this boy in China did for an iPad) now will just be another item left out for the karang guni man tomorrow. Here are three things that many Singaporeans horde.

 

Apparel

While we don’t want to be sexist, the fact remains that women in Singapore are far more prone to hoarding apparel than men—in spectacular fashion. I have a friend whose room is so overrun by the fruits of decades of shopping sprees that she sleeps under a canopy of dresses hanging over her bed. Her desk is cluttered not with books but with clothes, neatly folded into squares, that the closet did not have room for. While that’s an extreme case, there is a reason so many Singaporeans dream of having a walk-in closet.

A 2011 report pegged a disturbing 70% of Singaporeans as shopaholics. An overwhelming majority of retail outlets on the Orchard Road shopping strip hawk clothing and accessories, so it’s no wonder clothing is often the culprit behind a cluttered room. To make matters worse, the changing tides of fashion keep shoppers buying compulsively, and banishing whatever’s gone out of fashion to the back of their closets.

Solution: Used clothes tend to have awful resale value unless they are rare or designer items. If you have designer clothes or bags to sell, Carousell can be a good bet, although you’ll be besieged by lowballers. With flea markets starting to become popular again, you can always look to sell them there as well. Another option for handbags is to sell them to a second hand bag store, although you can expect to make a rather big loss.

 

Electronics

Singapore is one of the world’s most wired countries, especially when it comes to mobile devices. Several of my friends’ 80-year-old grandparents own smartphones and know how to send text messages. It’s not uncommon to see a family of five having dinner at restaurant, each of the three kids staring at his or her own tablet.

Unfortunately, this obsession with mobile technology also means that people replace their gadgets and mobile devices at an alarming rate. I’ve had the same smartphone for 2 years (a rather ancient Samsung Galaxy S) and I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve thrown it quizzical looks and asked why I don’t just get a new one.

What to do: A friend of mine sells his used gadgets on eBay or Carousell the moment he buys a new one. Don’t wait too long to sell your old tablets and smartphones as the value depreciates with time. While you might be tempted to trade in your phone, reselling online tends to be more worthwhile.

 

Baby / kid stuff

Raising children in Singapore is expensive, no doubt about it, but I sometimes wonder if young parents have overly high expectations when it comes to shopping for their kids. I was amazed to hear from a new mother that the price of prams could be as high as $2,000—and that many middle class parents choose to buy the most expensive pram on the market instead of settling for a regular $300 one because of the bells and whistles like cup holders and bag racks.

On my Facebook feed, it’s not uncommon to see young parents showing off their toddlers’ designer gear, clothes that will be outgrown in a year or two. I’ve been run over more than once by kids zipping around on their kickscooters, wheelies and what have you. Five years from now, all those items will have gone the way of Bing Bong.

What to do: If you plan to have multiple children, you can get a lot more mileage out of the clothing and toys you showered on your first kid. But once you’re sure you’re no longer going to have any more kids, it makes sense to pass the clothes on to another young parent who needs them more, and to resell the more expensive items.

Look at the clutter in your home. What does it consist of? 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.