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4 Ways Singaporeans Get Tricked into Overspending at Shopping Malls

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Joanne Poh

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Walking around shopping malls is a classic Singaporean past-time that’s not changing any time soon. Shopping malls provide free air conditioning, lots of food options and a myriad ways to help you part with your cash—everything a true blue Singaporean could ask for.

That’s why so many Singaporeans get manipulated by shopping malls into spending all their hard-earned cash. More people are in credit card debt, and it’s not because of medical bills or failed businesses—overspending is the biggest reason Singaporeans end up in financial trouble.

The next time you set foot in a shopping mall, be wise to these four ways we get tricked into buying stuff we don’t need.

 

1. Falling for shops’ psychological tricks

So you walked into that shop, fell in love with that pair of shoes and decided the price was right. So you bought it—sure, the purchase made you bust your budget for the month, but it was a conscious decision, right?

Well, guess what, retailers actually employ numerous psychological tricks to fool you into thinking you’ve made an objective purchasing decision, when really, they’ve just done a whole bunch of things to push you into making it.

Everything from pricing a product at $79 instead of $80 and dangling buy-3-get-1-free offers to issuing you with a loyalty card and offering free perks like clothing alteration is designed to push you one inch closer to the edge.

 

2. Buying something just because it’s on sale

If you’ve ever been to one of those electronics fairs at Expo or, worse, a Mango sale, you know how it feels to queue for ages and fight the crowds just to get into the store. If you don’t buy anything, it feels like you’ve wasted your day.

Worse still, when you look at the prices of discounted goods, it can feel like you’re losing money if you don’t make a purchase. That $1,099 flat screen TV is now selling for $699? That means you can save $400 by buying it, and if you don’t buy it, you LOSE $400! Right? Right?

And so you end up running around desperately searching for something to buy so as to take full advantage of the sale. Of course, the ones who really benefit here are retailers, but don’t tell that guy who just elbowed you out of the way to grab the last GoPro on the shelf.

 

3. Spending money just because you have a voucher

During the Christmas season, it’s very common to receive vouchers as gifts, particularly at the workplace. I mean, would you rather receive a $20 NTUC Fairprice voucher from your Secret Santa at the office, or another lame novelty mug?

Unfortunately, vouchers sometimes force us to spend more money on stuff we don’t need just because we don’t want the voucher to go to waste.

This happens especially when you receive a small voucher at a place where products are generally expensive. A $10 voucher to spend at Takashimaya is a lot less useful than a $10 Fairprice voucher, though it might sound sexier.

 

4. Buying crap to meet your credit card’s minimum spending requirements

We unabashedly love credit cards and think they’re great if you religiously pay your bills off in full every month. Because—perks/cashback/air miles!

But one annoying aspect of using credit cards is the fact that to qualify for perks, you often need to meet certain minimum spending requirements.

For instance, the OCBC FRANK credit card offers a very generous 6% cash rebate on online spending and 3% to 5% cash rebate on entertainment, including bars and cinemas. The catch is that you have to spend a minimum of $400 a month excluding online transactions and NETS FlashPay Auto Top-Ups.

When the end of the billing month rolls around, you might find yourself spending money needlessly just so you can meet the minimum spending requirements… all to get $10 of cashback.

When was the last time you bought something, only to later regret it? Share your stories 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.