3 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Big Ticket Purchase

Joanne Poh


Don’t buy things you can’t afford, says just about everyone whose life motto isn’t YOLO. But what happens when you really, really need (or want) something that’s just too darned expensive? Maybe your smartphone went the way of the dinosaurs and you desperately need a new one, but the only phone you can afford right now still has a keypad containing only 10 digits, a star and a hex.

Perhaps the last spectacular MRT breakdown was the last straw and you’ve decided you’d prefer dying trying to pay for a car than go through that crap again. While we’re big fans of delaying gratification or rethinking your desires, if you really, really need to buy something that’s out of your reach, here are a few things that can lower the cost.


Buy on the secondhand market

If you own a car, there’s a high chance you bought it on the secondhand market. But few people think of buying used when it comes to other items such as smartphones, gym equipment, musical instruments and furniture—unless they have downloaded the Carousell app, which proves that someone out there is selling just about anything you can imagine.

Buying secondhand doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to end up with a flea-infested version of the item you desire. People often sell brand new or hardly-used items online. Here are some apps and websites you should check before you give up and pay retail price.


Head to fairs and expos

If you really can’t find what you want on the resale market, hold your horses. Don’t head to the nearest retail store and eagerly hand over your hard-earned cash just yet. If it’s a fairly big ticket item, there’s a high chance there’s some kind of fair or expo that’s selling it, and that means you might be able to get a huge discount on the retail price. Whether you need a new sofa or a laptop that actually works, hit up one of these fairs before making a buying decision.


Buy online

Just because brick and mortar retailers are selling an item at $x doesn’t mean everyone else is. There’s a very high chance you’ll be able to find the same item at a cheaper price online—even when you factor in shipping. The Singapore dollar has been performing strongly for quite some time, and that has given us a great advantage when buying online in foreign currency.

In addition, shipping costs have actually been falling. For instance, Amazon offers free shipping to Singapore on certain items with its Global Saver Shipping programme, while iHerb frequently offers free shipping on orders above 40 USD. Here are some online stores to check when you’re comparison shopping.

  • Amazon – many electronic items and US skincare products can be found here at a fraction of the Singapore retail price, even if you have to use vPost to ship your buys back.
  • ASOS – fashion items from their in-house brand as well as other international brands are often sold at a discount, and shipping is free for orders over $50.
  • iHerb – health supplements, many skincare and bodycare products as well as some grocery items cost a fraction of the price here.

Where do you usually look before making a big purchase? 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.