Many people believe that you need to be extremely frugal and be constantly looking for bargains when it comes to saving money. While that could indeed help to grow your savings, surviving on cup noodles and shopping exclusively at the Valu$ store is a questionable way to live.
Instead of going to those extremes, why not make some simple lifestyle tweaks to save on your everyday expenses? Although the immediate savings may seem less impressive, they will add up in the long run, especially if you manage to reduce recurring costs like your household utility bills, etc.
So if you’re looking for ways to trim your budget and expenses, here are 9 ways you can #Switch2Save money:
1. Switch From Barista Coffee to Kopi
The average cost of a cup of coffee at a cafe is about $6. In comparison, a cup of kopi from a hawker centre or local kopitiam averages around $1.50. If you’re a caffeine addict or a coffee person, switching to a local cup of coffee will save you loads.
Assuming that you drink a $6 cup of coffee once a day, five cups a week, and 20 cups a month, that’s 240 cups a year. The average cost you spend on coffee in a year is $1,440.
In contrast, you’ll only spend $360 per year if you drank a cup of kopi each day – that’s four times less!
2. Take Public Transport (or Walk/Cycle) Instead of Taxi/Grab
Yes, public transport is mostly packed and yes, it suffers from occasional breakdowns.
But people often forget how good and efficient Singapore’s public transport is. Not only that, but it’s also clean and super affordable.
What’s more, public transport helps to save the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel burning.
So, while taxis and Grab rides are more comfortable and faster, they are also much more expensive.
For example, the flag-down fare for standard taxis is from $3.20 to $3.90. Additionally, you need to pay 22 to 25 cents for every 400m for every 1km travelled, and between 22 and 25 cents for every 350m if the distance is 10km or more.
That’s not all. If you travel during peak hours (between 6 to 9 am on weekdays), there would be an additional 25% charge on the metered fare. Lastly, you’ll also be charged 22 to 25 cents for every 45 seconds.
All in all, the taxi fare would easily be above $10 for a single ride, whereas you would probably be spending less than $2.50 per trip via public transport.
Want to further save on your transport fare? Depending on where you live and how often you commute to the office, you may even want to consider walking or cycling. Not only does it trim down your expenses, but it’s also healthier for you.
3. Refinance Your Existing Home Loan to a New One
Amongst all the financial commitments, your monthly home loan repayments is probably the biggest.
So, with interest rates at a historic low, why not refinance your home loan? Refinancing will help to lower your monthly repayments, reduce the amount of interest you need to pay, and help pay off your loan faster.
For example, you may refinance your current HDB loan (e.g. 2.6%) to a bank loan with a lower interest rate (e.g. 1.5%). Though the 1.1% difference may not seem significant, it makes a world of difference when you work out how much you can save in actual dollars and cents. On average, most homeowners who refinance save up to $250 to $350 per month!
4. Switch From Old Fluorescent/Incandescent Lights to LED
Most homes come with fluorescent or incandescent lights installed. A regular incandescent light consumes about 60 watts and has a lifespan of about 1,200 hours. Meanwhile, a standard fluorescent light fairs a bit better, consuming about 15 watts and lasts about 8,000 hours.
Though LED lights are a bit more expensive, they are the most energy-efficient; consuming only 12 watts and they last over 25,000 hours, which is three times longer than the average fluorescent light.
Not only is this a good move for the environment but swapping your old fluorescent/incandescent lights to energy-efficient LED ones will also trim your energy consumption (and thus, bills) by half (or more). You also save money from buying new light bulbs as you don’t have to replace the lights as often.
5. Shop Pre-Loved Instead of Brand New
One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to support the circular economy and buy pre-loved or secondhand goods.
Not only would you save money, but just like buying a resale property, you may be getting something at a steal if the item is in tip-top condition.
Whether it’s books, video games, furniture, cars or tools, someone else’s trash could be your treasure and there are plenty of good bargains if you know where to look.
6. Eat at Hawker Centres Instead of Restaurants
Why pay $15 for a meal at a restaurant when you can spend less than half of that at a hawker centre?
A haven for food lovers, hawker centres not only have a wide variety of food options, but they’re also affordable. Furthermore, hawker centres are also great outing venues for meeting your friends and family.
7. Dine-in Instead of Out
If you want to further trim on your food expenses, you can opt to cook your own meals instead of eating out. It would help if you cleaned up afterwards, but it’s still cheaper than eating at a hawker centre.
For comparison sake, say that a meal at a hawker centre is around $5 and you eat three meals a day. You would spend $15 per day and $105 per week.
$105 is probably enough to spend on your monthly groceries. What’s even better, is that there are even more ways to save and get more bang for your buck when you shop for your ingredients, such as coupons, buying in bulk or during promotions.
Apart from that, since you get to decide the ingredients and the amount of oil and seasoning to use, it’s also healthier and more hygienic. Plus, you could also invite your friends and family over for some bonding time.
8. Swap Soft Drinks for Water
When pairing a drink with your meal, swap out the sugary drinks for good ol’ water.
Remember that excessive consumption of sugary beverages like soft drinks may lead to health problems such as diabetes, which is one of the most common chronic diseases in Singapore. But on top of that, not only is plain water the healthiest drink for keeping you well hydrated, it is also the cheapest!
If you’re dining at a restaurant, there’s usually free refillable water, so take advantage of that. Even if the water is chargeable, it will be cheaper than other drinks.
9. Spend Your Weekends at the Park Instead of Malls
Instead of going to the mall and spending your weekends jostling between crowds or shopping, why not visit a public park?
While Singapore may not have dove-white mountains or mesmerising lavender fields, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any beautiful natural landscapes and public parks.
From nature reserves and reservoir parks to coastal islands and man-made attractions, there are many beautiful parks located throughout Singapore that are great venues to exercise and spend quality time with your family, friends and loved ones. Best yet, they cost little to nothing!
Need More Financial Guidance?
When it comes to skipping that cup of Starbucks and buying kopi instead, you’ll have to rely on self-discipline and maybe helpful reminders from your friends and family. But as mentioned, your mortgage is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — financial commitments that you’ll make, and that’s where PropertyGuru Finance can help!
If you’re ready to make the #Switch2Save and refinance your home loan, our Home Finance advisors’ doors are ready to offer free consultation and advice. We can help you compare mortgage rates, provide personalised recommendations and address any questions or concerns you may have. We’ll even handle the paperwork so you won’t have to lift a finger!
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