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Inflation has hit pretty hard recently with the prices of many things increasing, depleting our purchasing power.
This, coupled with the ongoing bear market eating away at our net worth, may induce some financial stress on some of us.
So I thought it could be helpful to share some tips on how to save money in our daily lives.
But before we get into them, I want to preface this post by saying that these tips aren’t going to help you save a life-changing sum of money.
Instead, they are meant to be simple tips that we can incorporate into our daily lives to shave off some expenses here and there.
1: Bring Your Own Food
This is probably one of the most common tips around for saving money if you don’t study or work from home and have to consume meals outside.
Food makes up a significant portion of most people’s expenses because it’s essential – we can’t get by without eating.
So it makes sense that if you’re able to minimise the amount of money you spend on food, your overall spending will be minimised as well.
Usually, the cheapest way to get food is to get it from home.
If you’re not paying for groceries, then your meals at home are basically free.
Assuming that you spend $5 per meal, 5 days per week, and 4 weeks per month, it means you spend $100 per month on food during school/work, and that’s how much you can potentially save.
$5 per meal is just an arbitrary figure – depending on where you work, the average cost of your meals might be higher or lower.
But even if you do pay for groceries at home, it should cost you less to prepare a meal at home from scratch than to get the same meal outside.
If you’re the type of person who can stand eating the same thing a few days in a row, meal prepping might be suitable for you.
There are tons of meal prep recipe ideas online that you can choose from.
If that isn’t your thing, you can also ask whoever prepares food at home to cook an extra portion for you the day before and pack that for your meal the next day.
2: Bring Your Own Container
If it’s too much of a hassle to bring your own food and you like to dabao (takeaway) your meals, you can consider bringing your own container.
Many stalls charge a surcharge for the containers used when you choose to dabao, so bringing your own container means you can avoid this.
Granted, this surcharge is usually only in the range of $0.20 – $0.50 per container, so the potential savings aren’t huge.
Even at $0.50 per container, if you dabao 1 meal per day, 5 days per week for 4 weeks per month, that adds up to $10 per month.
But other than monetary savings, bringing your own container also has a positive impact on the environment since you’ll be using less plastic.
3: Bring Your Own Drinks
For the final bring-your-own tip, it’s bringing your own drinks.
Having your own drink means you’re less likely to buy one when you’re out, and this will help you save some cash.
Even if you only spend $1.50 on drinks per day, at 5 days per week and 4 weeks per month, this adds up to $30.
If you need caffeine to start your day, instead of buying a drink on the way to school or work, you can consider making your own and having it at home before leaving.
You can also bring it with you in a tumbler if your mornings at home are too hectic to squeeze in time for a drink.
4: Early Trains
Moving on to transport-related tips, if you often commute in the morning by mass rapid transit (MRT), you can save on transport costs by travelling early.
By tapping into an MRT station before 745 am on weekdays, you will save $0.50 on transport fares.
If you take the train 5 days a week for 4 weeks a month, this adds up to savings of up to $10 a month.
5: Direct Route Transfers
Also related to public transport, transferring between bus and/or MRT services can help you save money.
Now that fares are calculated by distance, travelling from point A to B via the most direct route (ie shortest distance) should result in the lowest transport fares.
Some people may prefer to take a single bus or MRT to get to their destination even if it takes slightly longer because it’s more convenient.
By transferring to another bus/MRT, not only may your journey be shorter, but it will also be cheaper.
Here are some things to note when taking advantage of distance fares:
- Pay with the same stored value fare card
- Up to 5 transfers within a single journey
- Maximum journey duration of 2h
- Current bus service must not be the same number as the preceding bus service
- Multiple rail transfers are allowed with no additional boarding charges
- Up to 45 minutes is allowed for each transfer between MRT and bus services, or between different bus services
- Up to 15 minutes is allowed for transfers between different MRTs
- No exit and re-entry at the same MRT station. For Newton, Tampines and Bukit Panjang Stations, you will have to tap out and in within 15 minutes to make a transfer to the other line without incurring a new boarding charge.
Distance fares can help save transport costs not only for trips from point A to B, but also for round trips.
Let’s say you’re going to run a quick errand at the nearby mall from your house.
Multiple bus services travel from your house to the mall and vice versa, ie 100, 101, and 102.
You travel from your house to the mall on bus 100.
If you complete your errand quickly (<45 minutes), when you’re returning from the mall to your house, taking either bus 101 or 102 will result in a cheaper fare than taking bus 100.
Since you take different buses for both trips, it will be considered as a transfer, and you will not be charged a new boarding fare.
You can calculate your distance fare at LTA’s online far calculator.
6: Don’t Grab
The next 2 tips are for when you’re looking to book a private hire vehicle (PHV).
As the biggest player in this space in Singapore, most of us probably think of Grab when we need to book a ride.
But as everyone knows, Grab has been consistently increasing the fares of their rides.
While you’re likely to be able to get a ride when you need it, chances are that you’re paying more than you need to if you use Grab.
You should always compare prices with other ride-hailing apps like Gojek, TADA, and RYDE to find the best price.
In my experience, TADA is usually slightly cheaper, especially when ride fares are on a price surge.
If prices are still more expensive than you were hoping for, you can also consider riding with a regular taxi.
You can book a taxi via the Comfort app or you can flag one from the road/taxi stand.
I previously wrote a post about my experience with the price difference between a Grab ride and a taxi ride – you can check it out here if you’re interested.
7: Money Walks
I don’t know what exactly goes into the price algorithm for ride-hailing, but I know that it’s affected by both the pickup and drop-off location.
When you book a ride from or to a location that is popular, the fare is higher than if the locations you select aren’t as popular.
It may also be affected by the actual distance of the ride between the 2 locations, but again, I can’t say for sure.
But whenever you’re trying to book a ride, you can try changing the pickup and drop-off locations to other nearby locations and see how the fare changes.
From my experience, I’m usually able to reduce the cost of rides by about $1.
For example, if you stay in an HDB estate, change between the various neighbouring blocks.
In the case of shopping malls, you can change between different entrances or neighbouring malls.
I previously wrote a post about this, you can check it out here if you’re interested.
ShopBack is a great shopping app that awards cashback to users for making purchases they were going to make anyway.
If you shop at a merchant that is partnered with ShopBack, you can earn varying amounts of cashback on your purchase.
For in-person purchases, all you have to do is make payment in-store with a card you’ve linked to ShopBack.
For online purchases, all you have to do is click through to the merchant via ShopBack – either the mobile app or the website (if you’re using a desktop).
Then, make payment with a card that you’ve linked to ShopBack.
It also comes with a handy Chrome extension that you can use for a more fluid experience.
ShopBack also sells vouchers for a variety of services like Grab, foodpanda, TADA, and more, where you can again earn cashback by purchasing these vouchers.
This is helpful if you’re going to use these services anyway and don’t happen to have any other voucher code to use – you’re guaranteed to have some amount of savings by purchasing a voucher via ShopBack.
All cashback earned on ShopBack can be withdrawn into your bank account as long as you have at least $10 of cashback earned.
If you don’t already use ShopBack, you can signup with my referral link here.
9: Go Cashless
Whenever you make payments, you probably have a few different payment options – cash, QR, card, etc.
These payment methods are not equal.
Choosing a cashless mode of payment means you most probably have a way to earn some type of reward for your payment while paying in cash gets you nothing.
The most obvious way to earn rewards with cashless payment is via a card, preferably a credit card.
Depending on the card you use and the type of transaction you’re making, you can earn either cashback, points, or miles.
All of them have monetary value, so it helps to offset your purchase.
When it comes to QR payments, not all QR codes are equal either.
ShopBack Pay and FavePay QRs allow you to earn credit card rewards because you can link a credit card to these payment methods.
GrabPay and ShopeePay QRs allow you to earn points/coins in their respective ecosystems that also have a monetary value.
PayNow QRs typically don’t earn rewards, but there is a way to do so – via Grab.
Grab supports PayNow QRs, and even though the transaction itself will not earn GrabRewards points like GrabPay QRs, you can still earn cashback by topping up your GrabPay wallet with an appropriate card.
The following cards are eligible for rewards when you top up your GrabPay wallet:
- AMEX High Flyer (only for business owners) – 1.8 miles per dollar
- UOB Absolute – 1.7% cashback
- AMEX True Cashback – 1.5% cashback
- Standard Chartered Debit Card (Jumpstart account) – 1% cashback
The bottom line is that choosing a cashless mode of payment presents you with an opportunity to earn some type of reward that can help offset your purchase.
10: Buy In Bulk
Finally, when it comes to buying things, buying in bulk often saves you money.
This is a common concept when it comes to grocery shopping – items tend to cost less per unit if you compare one with larger packaging to one with smaller packaging.
This is often done for imperishables because they have a long enough shelf life such that you can use them up before they go bad.
But it doesn’t need to apply only to groceries.
Think about shopping as well, ie for clothes.
When shops run promotions, the discount is usually better when you purchase more pieces of clothing or your total bill hits a certain amount.
If there are a few pieces of clothing that you want to buy, consider waiting until a sale hits and buying all of them at the same time to take advantage of such discounts.
We’re in rough economic waters now, and every bit of savings can help – even if they may be small in amount.
Hopefully, this post was able to help you find some ways to save an extra bit of cash in your daily life.
Which tip did you think was the most helpful? Let me know in the comments below!