As much as we would like to save more of our hard-earned income, spending habits can be a hard thing to change. Saving money, however, doesn't mean you have to stop yourself from indulging in the things and experiences you enjoy.
There are plenty of options for trimming expenses without feeling like you’re depriving yourself, which isn’t the point anyway. It’s about spending your money in ways that reflect your priorities in life.
With that in mind, here are 7 ways to cut costs but still enjoy your favourite everyday experiences.
1. Wait for sales and buy only what you need
No matter how tempted you are when you see the latest release of a sports hoodie or an eyeshadow palette, hold back. Once the rush of euphoria dies down, ask yourself if there is a real need to make these purchases before you pull out your wallet. If you still think so, aim for the sales.
Set reminders on your phone so you can start planning your purchases ahead of major sale events like Singles Day or Black Friday. For your day-to-day items, it may be a bit of a stretch to wait till festive sales. Instead, take note of the weekly discounts at the shops and supermarkets that you frequent so that you will always get the best deals like a true-blue Singaporean.
2. Buy early bird tickets
Like the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. Be an early bird. Whether it’s a festival, concert or any other event ticket, once you’ve decided to go, don’t procrastinate. Early bird tickets are often limited in numbers and as soon as tickets go on sale, they can be snapped up real quick even if it is many months before the event. Grab them while they are cheap for substantial savings.
Or, you could literally be an early bird. When you travel and fly at early hours of the day, your flight tickets are usually much cheaper. Here’s the perk: you get to reach your destination early and can start exploring before the crowds come.
3. Look for free parking
These are few and far between, but yes, free parking still exists! A weekend night out can easily chalk up a hefty bill. If you are hanging out in the city centre, parking fees can even go beyond $8!
Save where you can by checking out free carparks in Singapore and plan your route before you head out. If the free carparks aren’t anywhere near where you are going, consider cheaper parking as your next best option, which can be found in older shopping malls or outdoor parking spaces that are nearby.
4. Turn dinner leftovers into work lunches
Not packing lunch to work because you’re intimidated by early mornings and the effort that goes into cute cartoon bentos? Forget about those. Make the most of your cooking time in the evening by whipping up 2 meals at one go – dinner and lunch for the next day. This way, you get to save time and money.
Assuming you have a lunch budget of $5, that’s at least $100 saved each month! Simply pack what’s left and store it in the fridge. Then all you need to do is grab and go. Try curries, pasta and stew for flavour-packed leftover meals.
5. Save on utility bills
This is an obvious one. But do you know which household appliance has the highest energy consumption? In Singapore, it’s most likely the air conditioner. Instead of using it for the entire night, setting a timer to cool the room for 2 to 4 hours can help you save a big sum on utilities.
Other than the usual tips like switching off your appliances when they are not in use, it is also useful to look at your utilities bill in more detail. Not just the amount payable but also the consumption graphs, which can help you understand how much you are using in comparison with your neighbours. If you are way above average, putting those energy-saving tips into action will help you see significant results.
6. Borrow books from the library instead of buying them
With a 16-storey National Library and 26 Public Libraries on our little island, you can probably find one that’s near your home or workplace. Some of these libraries are in the heart of town, which make them easily accessible. Browse through aisle after aisle of books and have a never-ending supply of new ones at no cost to you.
If you are strapped for time, download the NLB Mobile app for access to a wide variety of electronic reading materials. Some of the titles, especially the popular ones, have more copies available online as opposed to just 2 to 3 physical copies at a nearby library. If the idea of having a little home library still appeals to you, the money saved from borrowing instead of buying for your daily reads can be put into building a collection of just your favourite titles.
7. Switch from cable TV plans to internet streaming services
Many Singaporeans have shifted to video streaming services because of the availability of attractive content at a lower price. If you find that you are not making full use of the programmes in your cable TV plan, you too may want to consider making a switch.
There are also many free options. For example, you can find quality programmes on YouTube or Toggle, a local online streaming service, which offers local dramas and infotainment. Alternatively, try on-demand paid streaming services like Netflix and Viu for a wide range of International or Asian programmes. You can even download shows onto your device to watch them offline and save on data. With prices starting at $6.98 per month, it’s a steal compared to cable TV.
BONUS: Make small and regular top-ups to your CPF
As you get better at saving money, put it to good use! Top up your CPF account to grow your savings with attractive interest rates. By saving as little as $2 a day, you can increase your savings to more than $8,000 in 10 years*. What’s more, you get to enjoy tax relief when you make cash top-ups to yourself or your loved ones’ Special Account or Retirement Account^. Find out more about top-ups here.
*Based on base interest of 4% p.a. on your Special Account (SA). Terms and conditions apply.
^Cash top-ups can be made to any recipient who is Singaporean or a permanent resident. You can enjoy tax relief of up to $7,000 per calendar year if you are topping up for yourself and additional tax relief of up to $7,000 per calendar year if you are topping up for your parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, grandparents-in-law, spouse and siblings. For other terms and conditions on tax relief, please refer to the section on the benefits of topping up here.