Singaporeans often complain that living in the little red dot is an exorbitant affair. Indeed, if there’s truly a constant in our lives, it’ll have to be ever-rising prices. Little surprise that Singaporeans are an entrepreneurial lot when it comes to saving moolah.
Every dollar saved is an accomplishment alright, but instead of simply scrimping and saving to the last cent, why not take a step back and figure out where most of our money actually gets spent on?
We all know Singaporeans are big spenders when it comes to food, petrol, housing and casual gambling (think the long queues of people waiting their turn to buy 4D or TOTO), but did you realise that we’re spending loads on these 5 things too?
1. Fine Dining
Living in a sumptuous melting pot of culinary influences, Singaporeans are self-professed gastronomes in our own right. With so much great food for cheap at various hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts, it is a mystery why people still splurge on dinners at fancy restaurants and extravagant feasts. According to a survey conducted by Mastercard in 2014, at least 12% of Singaporean respondents planned to dine out at more expensive venues. As the top spenders for dining in the region, perhaps we should pause to consider the marginal cost curve between spending more and our overall stomach fulfillment. The occasional splurge is fine, but maybe we ought to stop pampering our stomachs too much!
2. Video Games
From backbone issues to “gamer’s wrist”, It’s clear that video game addiction can afflict serious bodily harm. But it’s not just your health you’re wasting away – it’s your savings too. With so many games running on a Pay-to-play or pay-to-win scheme, it’s deceptively easy to let your kiasuness run amok. Singapore tops the list of annual spending per player for games in SEA, with Singaporeans spending an average of a whooping $250 each person last year on games across all platforms. That is more than 5 times as much as the next highest-spending country. That people would transmute cold hard cash into virtual currency remains a baffling mystery to me.
One trap that many players might accidentally fall into is storing their credit card information in the game server and chalking up tons of bills when caught up in the passion of the game. People are less inclined to pause and rethink their spending habits when their credit card information is already stored in the server!
3. Home Renovation
All of us want to live in a dream home with a unique flair, but dreams, left ungrounded, will leave everything going up in smoke. With housing prices skyrocketing in Singapore, an astronomical 5 to 6 figure sum for renovations is the last thing anybody needs. A survey conducted by Qanvast pins the average renovation sum for HDB flats at $56 000, with the highest amount at $220 000.
Instead of commissioning a professional renovator, get creative and go all-DIY instead. The savings you can get from going DIY can go up into the thousands!
4. Medical Bills
It’s oft-said that the greatest wealth is health, but keeping this wealth commands a hefty price tag in Singapore. With more Singaporeans contracting various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, more Singaporeans will find themselves having to spend on expensive medicine/medical procedures. A simple case of influenza or sore throat might easily set you back $20 – $30, heart surgery costs a staggering $1100 to $1500, while hospital admission for asthma will cost $150 on average. All those fees will certainly give you a financial and literal headache.
Sadly to say, these fees are an inevitable part of life, and the only way of skimping on them is to always stay healthy! Drink up and eat more apples everybody.
On hindsight, this one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Singaporeans are an awfully pragmatic bunch, and sometimes that means we get a tad too overzealous in making sure everything goes our way. In SingStat’s 2012/2013 Household Expenditure Survey, Singaporeans were spending extravagantly on term life insurance, health insurance, motor-vehicle insurance and travel insurance. Being well-covered certainly is a good thing, but do go through your finances and plan strategically to ensure that you will be able to keep up with the monthly payments required.
Saving up for a rainy day is a great practice, but all that financial shrewdness won’t amount to much if we do not keep track of our daily expenses. Keeping watch on what we spend on makes sure we make the best out of what we have. As with anything, always remember – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!