How to Save Money in Singapore?

How to Save Money In Singapore

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While having lunch with the Gf one day, I brought up Budget Babe’s recent post on how she managed to save 50% more than the previous record she set for herself.  Amazed by her money-saving superpowers, we discussed the topic extensively and we started asking ourselves how we can save money in Singapore , the smart way, without living like a monk. Coming up with solutions and ideas proved to be challenging as we find that many of our suggestions don’t really tackle the big costs of living in Singapore.  However, we believe that every little bit helps and we have decided to compile a list on how one can save money in our costly city.

 

We plan to add more ideas to this list and grow it over time.  We invite YOU to chip in your ideas in the comments section.  If we think that your idea is awesome, we will add it to the list and reference it to you.  Let’s help one another out, fellow Singaporeans!

 

So you want to save more money, build up a CPF warchest like AK, and retire like a King?  Let’s start with these money-saving habits!

 

2 bank accounts

1. Create Two Bank Accounts

 

Creating 2 bank accounts is one of the advice often given to fresh grads who have just started working.  As a a fresh grad receiving paltry allowance or working part-time for most of your life, getting those $3k pay checks from your first job makes you feel like you hit jackpot.  Very soon, you will find yourself withdrawing money from ATMs constantly or chalking up debt on your credit card with little heed to your overall cash outflow.

To put a leash on your spending, create 2 bank accounts.  One for saving, and one for expenditure.  So when you get your pay check, you deposit X% of your salary into your savings account before putting the remainder into your expenditure account.  This will not only force you to budget your spending, but it also helps to increase your awareness on what you are spending on.

Preferably, your account for savings must be one that is rather inconvenient to access.  Make it difficult for yourself to draw money out that account.  Hint: choose a bank that doesn’t have that many ATMs lying around Singapore.

This method probably requires some queuing at banks and submitting paperwork at the start but it will be all worthwhile in the long run.  Try it out!

 

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2. Don’t buy a car. Seriously.

 

Singapore is ranked the world’s most expensive city by the Economist Intelligence Unit.  The biggest contributing factor is, surprise surprise, none other than the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) that comes along with a car purchase. Data shows that COE prices are now between  $45-55K per car purchase.  If you really want to save money in Singapore, not buying a car could be the best decision ever.

To put things in perspective, the price of a Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 (Classic) in Singapore is the same as a Porche 911 in North America, same as a Maserati in America or a Mercedes Benz SLK in Canada. (See this article.)  I don’t know about you, but I find that insane.  And we haven’t even started counting in maintenance, parking, insurance…

So if you are stretching your salary by buying a car, you probably have no business buying one in the first place.  We live in a small city with well-connected public transport like buses and trains. Modern cab hailing apps like GrabTaxi or Uber also makes traveling a breeze.  BTW, have you seen our MRT map of the future?  Perhaps it’s wiser to think twice before committing a large part of your fortune to a depreciating asset.

 

East_Coast_Park_2,_Mar_06

3. Enjoy Free Parks and Walks – (Stay away from shopping malls!)

 

We live in an urbanised environment – buildings, flats, offices… and shopping malls.  Couples on dates are likely to find themselves ending up in shopping malls, shopping for designer clothes, bags or drinking expensive coffee or eating in an upscale restaurant.  Shopping centre or Town-related activities can deal a hefty blow to your wallet!  Watch out!

Instead, couples, or friends looking to head out of the house can turn to nature-related activities.  It’s mostly free! And it’s probably more healthy as well!

Singapore has quite a selection of parks, walks and nature reserves for you to enjoy.  So instead of spending your time loiterring in shopping malls, head on out to the great outdoors! Have a jog! Have a walk! And soak in some vitamin D!

Here’s a List of Parks, Walks and Nature Reserves you can enjoy:

 

East Coast Park

Sembawang Park

West Coast Park

Mount Faber

Telok Blangah Hill Park

Hort Park

Southern Ridges

Punggol Park

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

MacRitchie Reservoir

Lower Pierce Reservoir

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Pulau Ubin

Coney Island

( Feel free to comment below to add on to this list!)

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4. Best Time to Watch Movies and Saving Tips

 

Remember a time when movie tickets used to cost $5 a piece?  Yeah… I don’t either…LOL!  But with the latest blockbuster hits showing up at theaters every fortnightly, anyone who’s ever tried booking movie tickets on a weekend know hows watching movies is a popular past-time here.

With so many couples spending their time watching movies, The Gf and I would like to share these simple methods to save money in Singapore while catching your favourite movie:

  • Watch your movie on a weekday before 6pm for cheaper rates.  Buy straight over the counter to save $$$ on booking fees.
  • If you want to watch on a Sunday –  make use of M1 Movie Sunday Rewards. 1 for 1 tickets for first 450 customers!
  • NS Men, use your Safra cards to get Movie Perks Everyday or a Weekend 1 for 1 Promotion.
  • Take note of any credit card + movie tickets promotional offers as such promotions change from time to time.

 

Great-Singapore-Sale-save money

5. Stock up your clothes during GSS

 

A simple way to save money in Singapore is to take advantage of the sales period.  And in this case, the Great Singapore Sale (GSS), which lasts for the month of June.  (Some stores may start earlier in May!)

Although there’s plenty of criticism that the GSS is just a marketing ploy to get us consumers to spend more, we have to admit that it does bring some benefits to us bargain hunters.  An experience bargain hunter would know where to sniff out the REAL DEALS from a sea of gimmicks.

Another criticism about the GSS is that most brands would simply dig out old warehouse stocks to clear them in a sale.  These goods are usually out-of-date or not fashionable anymore.  But if you aren’t a fashionista… and that blouse or pants looks good on you… Who cares, right?  Let the fashion-conscious follow the trends and fork out extra $$$ to keep-up-to-date. Bargain hunters like us dress in ‘classic’ styles so we can take advantage of such sales.

Stock up your wardrobe during the GSS.  That requires some longer-term thinking: Is that pair of jeans you are wearing getting tattered?  Are the soles of your shoes getting worn out?  If they are, you may want to consider buying your apparel replacements during this period as standby.  Then when your old clothes are worn out beyond saving, you can take out your standby stash and wear.

You won’t have to succumb to any last-minute emergency shopping – which can be quite expensive.

 

swanston

6. Buy Toiletries from Swanston

 

Singaporean ladies should know this place by now.  Swanston is where you can go to stock up on all your body-care necessities like sanitary pads, soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc.  This place is heaven for bargain hunters.  Products sold at Swanson are almost 40-50% cheaper than those same products sold at NTUC, Giant or other bigger commercial outlets.

Drop by there on a weekend or after work, and you will see throngs of ladies.  They will be carrying baskets loaded with a year’s supply of sanitary pads and other toiletries.  As for the guys who plan to go there, there’s toiletries for you as well; So don’t worry!

**Swanston is located at 32 New Market Rd, Singapore 050032.  It’s located above People’s Park Complex Food Centre. Level 2.**

(Swanston photo taken from cavinteo.blogspot.com)

warehouse sale

7. Warehouse Sales

 

Here’s a tip: When you read the papers, keep an eye out for adverts regarding warehouse sales.  Every now and then there will be one that may be relevant to you.

Use the warehouse sales opportunity to load up on products you need.  For example, if you are going on a backpacking trip at the end of the year and foresee that you will have to buy some winter gear or some backpacking gear, look out for a warehouse sale that will give you the chance to pick up such items cheaply.

Here are some pages you can follow to keep an eye out for bargains:

Warehouse Sales Singapore ( Facebook Page )

Offer Station

singpromos.com

Everydayonsales.com

 

used textbooks

8. Buy Used Textbooks from Carousel

 

Students, listen up! Instead of buying textbooks from the school bookshop, check Carousel first to see if there’s anyone selling used textbooks.  It doesn’t matter that it is a second hand book… You probably won’t be using it after the next semester anyway!

( Actually… I have bought textbooks but never really used them in my tertiary years… The most useful textbook for me is one that I have been using to prop up my desktop monitor for about 10 years…)

Of course, after your semester, you can simply sell those books over Carousel again!

 

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9. Pack leftover dinner for office lunch

 

Do you work in the Central Business District (CBD) area?  If you do, (like most Singaporeans), you might find trying to save money for lunch a big challenge.  A simple meal in the CBD areas could go up to about $10 on average.

Try packing your leftover dinner for lunch.  This tip is most suitable for working class adults whose families tend to cook too much food for dinner.

Don’t let the food go to waste!  Pack it up and bring it for office lunch the next day.  Eat in the comfort of your office instead of rushing and squeezing with all the other workers out there.

(Photo taken from AromaCookery.com)

 

Johor_Bahru_City

10. Just go to Johor Bahru ( JB )

 

I know this post is about saving money in Singapore but heck… let’s face it… our city is darn expensive!  Just visit our neighbours in JB over the weekend.  Eat some seafood.  Pump some petrol.  Buy some goodies.  After all, we must take advantage of the stronger Sing dollar.  Sorry Malaysians!!!

 

 

money-no-enough

Money No Enough – A funny Singaporean movie with a theme about money woes and our materialistic culture. 

 

Final Words on How to Save Money In Singapore

 

Trying to save money in Singapore , the most costly city in the world, can be quite the challenge.  But nothing is impossible.  All you need to do is take small actions every day.  Cultivate this actions into a habit… and soon, you will find yourself living way below your means.

Saving is a crucial step to building wealth. Start this habit early!

 

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10 Comments

  1. Choon Yuan

    Hi,

    Here are more ways:

    1) Buy term instead of whole life/endowment, lower expenses

    2) Building on the credit card promotion, I plan my expenses along with the credit card promotions; getting up to 15% rebates on my daily expenses. For reference: http://investmoolah.blogspot.sg/2015/08/get-15-16-rebate-for-your-first-500.html

    3) For watching movies, I use HSBC revolution where the GV movie tix are the cheapest and the best part I get a free luggage bag and a one time $20 rebate for signing the card. How good is that!

    Reply
    1. Jerry (Post author)

      Hi Choon Yuan,

      1) I personally bought whole life plan. That was when I first graduated and didn’t know much about finance. Thanks for bringing it up, I will re-look at it again.

      2 &3) Keeping up with all these credit card promotions are kind of a hassle to me… I shall forward all credit card related matters to the Gf!

      Reply
  2. GMGH

    Hi BfGf,

    I think your first two points are the best points that would save one lots of money. Those are actually quite game changing mindset and lifestyle choices, which is why they make the biggest impact.

    Many of the other suggestions are good too, but they are shifting current expenditures to more wallet-friendly alternative.

    #4 and #8 are interesting points. For #4, there is also the stay at home and free (mostly illegal, but not always) and cheap (Netflix in SG! and many other alternatives with the use of a VPN). Investing in a decent screen and a sound system would also help enhance your other computer / home-entertainment experiences! However, I do know that some people just refuse to watch movies if it isn’t at the cinema and if it isn’t “newly released”.

    For #8, I know some people who just CANNOT use a textbook that is anything less than 8/10. Because their expectations are high, they will always pay a premium for their books, even if secondhand. For people who don’t mind textbooks that have been beat-up a little, dog-earred, highlighted and maybe even an edition or 2 (or more!) off from the current edition, basement bargains are aplenty!

    I think it is about having a mindset and framework about appreciating the utility of an activity or purchase and linking it to the price paid to determine its value. From there, any activity or purchase will immediately and naturally jumpstart your brain and start evaluating the best option that will make both you and your wallet happy!

    While many of the good things in life are free (oxygen), we all know from personal experience that throwing money at things almost certainly can enhance an experience and make things easier / better. In the end, it is about conscious compromise.

    Reply
    1. Jerry (Post author)

      Hi GMGH. I can’t recommend illegal alternative for #4…ahem! LOL. But ya… Netflix! I forgot about that!

      2nd hand textbooks are good enough. Who continues revising their textbooks after the exams?

      Yes, once we learn how to appreciate the small but good things in life, we won’t link purchase price to value anymore.

      Reply
  3. Tacomob

    Great list of practical ideas.
    One idea that comes to my mind would be to start being conscious of and then grateful for what we already have.
    Generally, the higher our level of gratitude, the lower our level of materialism and consumerism.
    Always make it a treat. Even when you eat. Try next time to eat your food with your non-dominant hand. By that, you free yourself from mindless consumption, saving you money as you would buy less food.

    Reply
    1. Jerry (Post author)

      Oh yes, the gratitude mindset is great! Thanks for bringing it up!

      But eating with your non-dominant hand?! That’s very uncomfortable! Do you seriously do that man?

      Reply
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  5. Michelle

    Here’s more ways to save money.

    1) Use the ActiveSG $ to use the public gyms and swimming pools instead of signing up for a private gym membership.

    2) Try to cook your meals at home. If not, eat at coffeeshops instead of foodcourts. Nowadays foodcourts like Food Republic can cost twice the price for a meal at the coffeeshop. If there is a choice of foodcourts, try to visit Kopitiam foodcourt which has a discount card. It gives 10% discount.

    3) To save on public transport. This is a good website to calculate the fare. By trying possible bus/train routes, you will be surprised that the amount will be different.
    http://www.mytransport.sg/

    Reply
  6. Dave

    I would say that increasing your income will be the best way. Rather than changing your lifestyle to save the money, why not change the mindset to earn more money.

    With more income flowing in, if you choose to save the 50%, you will get more savings and you do not need to compromise on your lifestyle.

    Reply
  7. May

    1) Purchase from online websites such as Qoo10, shopee, eatigo etc. Make use of coupons from these websites and their daily time sales where you can get items cheaper than retail rates.

    2) Earn cashback through your online purchases via shopback. List of merchants on shopback includes foodpanda, lazada, deliveroo, expedia, hotels.com, uber and many more. Cashback can be withdrawn to your bank account.
    Sign up using Shopback link and get $10 cashback from 1st purchase: http://www.shopback.sg/?raf=WNipkx

    Sign up for online services such as honestbee (groceries) and uber/grab (transport) via the following links will give you credit up to $10 to offset for first time purchase:
    Honestbee:https://honestbee.sg/r/MAYG0880
    Uber:https://www.uber.com/invite/mayg317ue
    Grab:https://invite.grab.co/may8078019901

    Reply

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