3 Ways What You’re About to Buy is Going to Cost More Than the Retail Price

Joanne Poh


When Ah Beng wants to buy a new pointy orange comb, he checks the sticker price and is relieved to see it costs only $2. Sure he can afford $2! So he makes the purchase. But little does he know that it doesn’t stop at $2. Shortly after purchasing the comb, Ah Beng realises it’s of little use to him as he’s balding severely.

He decides to sign up for Yun Nam Haircare’s Herbology Haircare Package at $348. The treatments are successful, but he then discovers that the comb only styles his hair perfectly if he gets a good cut, so he starts going for monthly haircuts at Toni and Guy which cost him $50. That purchase of a $2 comb has led him to spend $950 in a year.

Don’t be too quick to shake your head muttering to yourself what an idiot Ah Beng is. Chances are, you too have been guilty of making purchases that ended up costing you a lot more money that you had planned for, such as in the following ways:


Accessories and add-ons for gadgets

So your laptop has breathed its last and it’s time to get a new one. But before you base your next gadget purchase solely on retail prices, don’t forget that many mobile gadgets require cases, bags and containers to protect them when they’re being used or transported from one place to another. In order to save money, it’s usually a good idea to buy a gadget that’s the same size as the one you’re replacing.

For instance, if you’ve been using a 13 inch Macbook and have a laptop sleeve that fits it, it’s probably a good idea to get another 13 inch Macbook so you won’t have to buy a new sleeve. Sleeves cost about $30 to $100.

When choosing sleeves or covers, opt for those that can be reused should you decide to replace your gadgets. For instance, instead of choosing an iPad case that fits the device like a glove, opt for a simple pouch that can be unzipped. That way, if you buy an iPad that’s slightly larger or smaller, you’ll be able to reuse the case.

Also be wary of buying devices that run on different systems as your old ones. If you have a PlayStation and later switch to Xbox, that also means that all your existing PlayStation games will become unusable. Those hoping to make the leap from Windows to Mac should be aware that they’ll have to buy Mac versions of applications like Microsoft Office.


Buying things to match

Picture this scenario. Your wife has just found the cutest Hello Kitty rug, gleefully purchasing it before realising that the interior of your home, which features very serious looking antique furniture handed down by your grandparents, would look dumb with a Hello Kitty rug.

Slowly, your wife starts making more and more Hello Kitty purchases so the rug won’t look so out of place. One day you wake up and discover that your entire flat has been turned into a shrine for Hello Kitty. This phenomenon is called a Diderot Effect, which results in buying multiple items to complement a prior purchase.

This also happens when you buy a clothing item that you have nothing to go with. You might be tempted to buy that getai-esque sequinned tube dress for just $20. But don’t forget that the go-go boots, chunky jewellery and garish make up will cost much more than that.


Maintenance costs

Your friend might have offered to give you her purebred poodle for free. But don’t be tricked into thinking you’re getting a good deal. Once you’re faced with the costs of feeding, training and grooming your new pet, you’ll come to realise that it is your friend who’ll be having the last laugh.

High maintenance products that require you to constantly pump money into to keep them running or looking good are a big drain on resources, so make sure you factor these extra costs into the price.

While cars tend to be the biggest culprits, appliances like portable air conditioning units and dishwashing machines can also be expensive to service and repair. High maintenance clothes that have to be dry-cleaned end up costing way more than you paid for them upfront, while designer bags must be sent to special bag-cleaning services if you get ink stains or spill something on them.

What costs other than the retail price do you consider when you’re about to make a 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.