“Gotta steal to eat, gotta eat to live,” went that song in Disney’s Aladdin, and we can’t say we didn’t sympathise with him. Food is something everyone, no matter how frugal, has to spend money on (unlike clothes that don’t smell or personal hygiene).
Singaporeans, long beleaguered by the rising cost of living, finally have something to celebrate. In case you haven’t heard, FairPrice has opened Singapore’s first warehouse club.
Warehouse clubs are already all the rage in the US (Costco, anyone?), Australia and Japan, and are where you can get groceries at lower-than-retail prices.
The drawbacks are that you have to pay a membership fee, buy in bulk and travel to far-flung destinations. At last, Singapore’s small size has produced a benefit—the furthest they managed to set up the warehouse club was Joo Koon.
There’s never been a better time to revise your grocery budget than now. Here are three New Year’s resolutions every money-saving Singaporean should make when it comes to how much they spend on groceries:
1. Join the club
Even if you’ve always dismissed country club memberships as a waste of money, this is one club that you’ll want to join.
How to join: Print out this form, fill it up and then show up in person at the Warehouse Club or any FairPrice outlet.
How much does it cost?: $35 a year for NTUC members, $50 a year for the rest of us.
2. Make list-making a part of your life
The thing about warehouse clubs is that many of the items are sold in bulk. That means you can forget about buying one can of Coke—try 12 instead. That and the fact that it’s located all the way at Joo Koon Circle means you can’t exactly just “drop by” to “pick up” an item or two.
This means you’ll need to be hyper organised on each trip. Here are at least two lists you’ll want to maintain:
- meal plans with ingredient lists, and
- shopping lists
How often you head to the warehouse club depends on how far away you live and how much time you have, but bear in mind that parking charges are going to cost you.
Since the first two hours are free if you spend at least $100, keep an eye on how much your purchases cost.
3. Determine which credit card is best
Anyone who’s a fan of strategically using credit cards to get cash rebates and rewards knows that the rules are always changing. Your go-to credit card for grocery shopping may get dethroned in a matter of months.
In 2015, commit to reviewing your credit cards every 6 months to determine which is the best credit card for grocery shopping. This is especially pertinent as the major credit card providers that dish out supermarket rebates have to date been silent on the issue of the warehouse club.
4. Work out what’s cheaper to buy at the Warehouse Club and what’s not
If you live in Joo Koon, good for you. You deserve something to make up for living at the end of the world, so feel free to visit the Warehouse Club regularly for all your daily essentials.
On the other hand, if you live in Changi, driving 40 km to the Warehouse Club is going to feel just like driving up to JB (which is still cheaper) for groceries. While you can buy certain things in bulk and live off them for a few months, you can’t do the same for perishables.
With regard to items that you still have to buy at your regular supermarket, commit to organising your trips at the start of each week according to your meal plan in order to minimise the number of trips you have to make. There’s nothing more annoying than going all the way to the supermarket just to pick up that one ingredient you forgot.
5. Organise regular trips
Don’t let your warehouse club membership end up like your gym membership—unused. Organise regular trips with friends and family so you get the most out of your card.
If you don’t have a car, involving others is going to be even more crucial, as taking the MRT is bad enough without having to lug around jumbo packs of toilet paper.
If you have three friends who are warehouse club members, taking public transport there and sharing a cab back can still be worthwhile if each person is buying a lot. If one of you has a car, the rest can just contribute to the cost of petrol.
Are you planning to join the Warehouse Club? Let us know why in the comments!