Singaporean money-saving tips
Money is an essential part of our lives - and saving money should always be on everyone’s minds. For most young Singaporeans, there seems to be so much we need to save for - our HDB, our wedding, our future.
As we plan our entire lives to ensure we'll have enough, we found some tips from our friends at the Ministry of Finance, who are tasked with budgeting national finances - except on a far, far greater scale. Given that they've been able to keep Singapore successfully in the black for the past few decades, there’s nowhere better we can start picking a few tips from!
1. Know where to find the best taxi promo codes
Spare yourself the agony of debating for the hundredth time if it’s worth taking a cab, because when a promo code is keyed in, the answer is always yes. There are tons of places where you can find Uber/Grab promo codes, and they’re not just limited to the ones you get informed of via email.
Head over to FB Messenger and make friends with TaxiBot, your friendly neighbourhood taxi promo code bot, or pop down to Telegram and join the group @sgcabpromos to receive the latest codes straight to your phone.
2. Use Chrome extension Honey to get online shopping deals
Image credit: CNET
Picture this scenario: you’re browsing online shopping sites, and you’ve got some items in the cart that are tempting you to click ‘Check Out’ ASAP. However, there’s something keeping you from following through - maybe a hope for discount codes, or exorbitant shipping fees.
If that sounds familiar to you, it’s time to install the Chrome extension Honey.
Honey scours the Internet to find discount codes, free shipping promotions, and other sweet deals on your online shopping. By spending judiciously, you get the most out of your money - and that’s something our government does as well. With the help of data analytics, government agencies compare prices for similar products on a centralised procurement platform to ensure that they get the best deals for the people.
3. Use the 20-50-30 principle
We all know that feeling of getting our paychecks and wanting to splurge on everything we see, although we *know* this isn’t sustainable in the long run.
It’s important for us to prepare for a rainy day by planning our finances ahead to save up, much like how it's compulsory for the government to run rigorous exercises every year to project revenue and plan expenditure while saving excess funds to build up its reserves.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to saving is the 20-50-30 principle. A minimum of 20% of your income should go to your savings, 50% on necessities like utilities and groceries, and a maximum of 30% for miscellaneous expenses, like fancy dinners or a new handbag.
4. Use your car as advertising space
Image credit: Movo
If you’re looking for ways to boost your own income, your car might just be what can help you with this.
When we talk about earning money from your car, most people think about becoming an Uber/Grab driver. But here’s an alternative idea - why not turn it into a moving advertisement? With services like Movo, get your vehicle decked out in advertising decals and get up to $300/month by "decorating" your car and not doing much else.
Similarly, the government constantly studies new options for revenue, to prepare for rising and new needs in areas like healthcare, infrastructure and transport.
5. Pamper yourself at restaurants and beauticians at trainee prices
Image credit: @wangjay95
You don't need to burn a hole in your wallet to treat yourself to an atas meal. All you need is the know-how on where to go in Singapore to find great deals.
Looking for a manicure? Pay a visit to the heartland nail parlours that cost way less than what you’d pay in town. Need a haircut? Snip Avenue’s rates start from as low as $3.80. Want a semi-fine dining dinner? Head over to The Top Table, where students from Temasek Polytechnic hone their craft - you'll get restaurant-quality food for a fraction of the price.
6. Use rental services like StyleTheory instead of buying
Image credit: @styletheorysg
As we get older and life gets busier, we find ourselves in need of newer, and nicer, clothes for different occasions. A dress from the neighbourhood mall just doesn’t quite cut it any more, but shelling out cash every time we need a new outfit takes a toll on the wallet.
Rather than spending money on designer pieces that you may only wear once or twice, why not rent them? StyleTheory offers a service where you can get 3 pieces of designer clothing (worth up to $600 each) for $129/month. You can wear the clothes till you’re done with them, and then return the pieces for some new ones!
Clothing rentals aside, Singapore has lots of other rental services available, from DSLRs to pool floats - so do your research before making a purchase.
7. Get a bank account that lets you set specific savings goals
Image credit: OCBC
Our nation practices a “jar-ing” method, with money from the Budget going into distinctly separate jars such as healthcare and infrastructure, to take care of our ageing population. This is one of the most effective ways of keeping your savings on track: by consciously putting your money into ‘jars’ for each item you’re saving up for.
Rather than lumping all your money into one bank account, get a bank account that lets you create sub-accounts or saving goals. Both OCBC and Maybank offer such features, and it allows me to divide up my money and see how much I have saved towards each of my goals.
For my budget in 2017, I’m focusing on saving up for a trip to Japan - prioritising your goals allows you to then be more effective about where your money goes.
8. Buy and sell secondhand clothes on Refash
We’ve talked about renting clothes for special occasions, but sometimes, you’ve just got to buy the pieces. Your solution, my friends, comes in the form of Refash. Refash sells pre-loved items with minimum fuss, allowing you to list items and sell them on their site or through their stores. They handle all the buyer enquiries and will even send you the necessary supplies to ship your stuff!
It’s a bit of a different approach to selling second-hand clothes, but just like how the government is making use of alternative methods such as hackathons and crowdsourcing to ensure they get the best value for innovative investments, you too can get creative in refreshing your wardrobe.
Head over to their website to start buying and selling, or check out their physical stores at City Plaza, PoMo, and Orchard Gateway.
9. Eat out for a fraction of the price
Image credit: @tepoygabe
There are also lots of places in Singapore with pretty sweet dinnertime deals - like 25% off your mains when you grab an early dinner at Nassim Hill, or $3++ salmon sashimi at the Standing Sushi Bar on Mondays and Thursdays.
Knowing how to buy and shop smartly is one of the most important ways to saving money. The more you save, the more money you have to invest either financially or in yourself. So, always keep an eye out for great deals that stretch your dollar further.
10. Go for free classes at SportsHub
Image credit: True Yoga
Not many people know this, but you can go for exercise classes for free over at Singapore Sports Hub. Get involved in their Experience Sports-Fit sessions, and you’ll be sweating your way to a fitter bod without having to cough up expensive class fees.
They’ve got a whole variety of classes, like zumba, kickboxing and yoga. All you need to do is just sign up and show up! Head over to their website to find out more - it’s the first step to working out and getting in shape without spending a cent.
Whether it’s saving up for a rainy day, or prioritising what to focus on when we’re planning our budgets, we can use Ministry of Finance's core principles to keep us more prince (or princess) than pauper.
MOF manages Singapore’s budget with present and future needs in mind, ensuring we have enough to spend for the year while keeping responsible rainy day funds locked away. They balance short-term spending with saving and long-term goals. For example, would it be better to give out GST vouchers yearly? Or would it be better spent on developing new programmes to help those in need? What’s the right balance and trade-offs to be made?
This same guiding logic that they used can be applied to our lives - and it’s a tricky balance, but as long as they continue budgeting carefully, spending judiciously, and prioritising, Singapore's in pretty darn fine hands.
This post was brought to you in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.