In this day and age, there are plenty of ways people can be tempted to spend their hard-earned money. From the latest gadgets to popular restaurants, cities like Singapore are international hubs of growing consumerism. These habits are easily incorporated into our existing lifestyles, and most of the time we hardly take a second look at what we’re actually spending on.
By taking these things into stricter account, we could actually be saving more than we currently are. We review three common expenses which are often treated as necessities, but in fact, are not.
Television pundits refer to the period between now and the early 2000s as the “golden age of television”. From HBO’s The Sopranos to Netflix’s House of Cards, television has been moving off the actual box into the realm of the internet. Online streaming giant Netflix entered the Singapore market in early 2016, with its basic package being priced at SG$10.98 and more premium packages at SG$13.98 and SG$16.98 respectively. If we take the mid-priced package as an example, a year’s subscription would cost you a total of SG$167.76.
Watching TV shows isn’t really a necessity, but we recognise that it’s an enjoyable activity that helps after a long day at work. However, if you are paying a premium price for multiple streaming services and cable TV, it may be wise to pick your favourite to save a little bit on your entertainment bill. Such savings can then go to the occasional trip to the movies instead.
Our previous article on gym memberships reviewed the most popular fitness chains in Singapore and their respective strengths and weaknesses. Gym memberships are popular amongst young professionals, and gyms in the CBD are generally packed during after work hours.
Taking Fitness First (Singapore’s largest chain) as an example, members report paying an average of SG$170 – SG$200 per month depending on the length of their contract. A 12-month contract at SG$170 will set you back SG$2,040 per year.
Singapore’s focus on being a green city has resulted in plenty of parks and other recreational spots throughout the island. What they lack in air-conditioning they make up for in natural beauty and the fresh sea breeze. Instead of signing up for a gym membership, you could consider taking a walk, run, or cycle in one of our many parks and park connectors.
It cannot be denied – Singapore is a haven of wonderful local and international cuisine. Flavours explode at every corner, hampered only by the size of their hawker stalls and coveted “healthier choice” ratings. Whilst the local food is generally affordable, the country has also been hit by café fever in the last several years, with dozens of similarly styled brunch places offering eggs benedict, waffles, roasts, and the like at a stunning SG$20 – SG$30 per serving.
Fine dining has also taken off, with Michelin’s entry into Singapore causing even longer lines for food that can go from SG$80 and up to SG$300 per person. Without taking fine dining into account, if you spend SG$50 dining out every weekend for the entire year, that adds up to $2,600 annually.
It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to good food, and we all like to treat ourselves once in a while. That’s just it – if we keep these treats to an occasional occurrence instead of a constant flow of café dates, it’s possible to cut outside dining expenses in half (or more). Cooking is also a much cheaper option and has the added benefit of being healthier – depending on how you prepare the ingredients of course.
These are just a few of the expenditures we can be more diligent about to increase our savings. When added up, the figures above come up to a significant SG$4,807.76 per year. If this was invested into an exchange-traded fund (ETF) or any other kind of investment, it would have made some amount of interest ranging from 0.5% to 6.5% and up. It’s important to enjoy the fruits of our labour, but prudent spending and investing can go a long way towards the future.