Times are tough – we could all do with saving a few pennies right now. Want to know how? Check out these budget tips for how your family can save money.
Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive countries to live in, fact. And, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, so many people are suffering financial distress. With many businesses out of action and countless employees having to take salary reductions, it’s a difficult time for sure. While we can’t wave our magic wands and make everyone’s money worries disappear, what we can do is share some cash-saving tips we’ve picked up along the way. Arm yourself with this advice on how to save money during the circuit breaker and beyond. In the meantime we’re sending you love and hope (with lashings of soap, naturally).
SAVE MONEY AT HOME
As much as we love AC here in Singapore (in fact, it’s nicknamed the air-conditioned nation), it can certainly rack up the dinero on your energy bill. Experts advise keeping the temperature at 25° for the most efficiency. Better yet, switch it off all together, or try not using it at night while you sleep. You may also want to consider opening the windows and getting those fans blowing instead. Keeping your curtains and blinds closed on really hot days can also help keep your home cooler. Oh, and be sure to get your AC serviced every three to six months to keep it ticketyboo.
Use less water
Cutting down on your water usage can also pay dividends. Fix leaks, take shorter showers, only boil as much water as you need in your kettle and don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth. It all helps!
Use reusable supplies where possible
Rather than buying disposable beauty and household products, switch to reusable ones instead. Think: bamboo breast pads, reusable face wipes for makeup removal, reusable dish cloths and more.
Look at your laundry
Laundry powder and detergent is super concentrated, so be sure to use the minimum suggested amount to help you rack up the pennies. Other tips? Ditch the tumble dryer and line dry clothes instead. And, if you tend to use the handwashing cycle on your machine, clean those delicates manually instead – you’ll save a surprising amount of water in the process.
FOOD AND DRINK
Get the most out of your groceries
Food waste makes our eyes twitch. How much guilt do you feel if you’ve ever had to chuck out fresh produce because it’s gone yuck before you had a chance to use it? With that in mind, we’ve pulled together our fave food storage hacks so you can get lots of life out of your fresh fruit and veggies. They really work!
Don’t buy bottled water
Don’t spend precious cash on bottled water – save money by filling a reusable water bottle instead. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be helping save the planet by cutting down on single-use plastic.
Cut down on takeaways
Eating out certainly isn’t an option right now during the circuit breaker, but thankfully lots of restaurants and cafes are still delivering. However, while it might save you on cooking time, takeout food costs. And it mounts up fast. Save money by cutting back on how often you order delivery or takeout.
Plan your meals
We’re firm believers in planning our meals in advance – it means we stick to a list while we’re out at the supermarket (on our solo jaunts, obvs) or putting in our online orders. That saves you money, as you’re likely to spend less money than people who only decide what to buy on a whim. Trust us, the savings can be big on this one. Bonus: it also helps prevent food waste.
It might be a bit more effort, but shopping around can bag you some bargains. Different supermarkets will have different promotions at any one time, so if you see your favourite buys on offer, buy them (but please don’t stockpile!). Some shops may charge considerably more for the same products too, or they may be a lot cheaper online. Don’t be afraid to try own-brand items too.
CLOTHES AND FUN STUFF
Sell used baby clothes
We know it, you know it: babies grow up in the blink of an eye. Translation: those adorable outfits sometimes only get a couple of wears before you’re onto the next size up. While selling second-hand goods can take a little bit of time to list, it’s a great way to add to the savings pot. Make sure what you’re selling is in fab condition, is stain-free and has lots of life left.
Get wise to gifts
Start thinking ahead to loved ones’ birthdays, or any holidays you celebrate as a family. That way, you can take advantage of sales and special offers and get the most bang for your buck. And the recipient will be none the wiser that you bagged their pressie as a bargain!
Organise a swap night
If you’re in need of new clothes yourself, or love books but find they eat a chunk out of your bank account, organise a swap session instead. Get together a group of friends (post circuit breaker) and play swapsies. Not only will you get rid of clothes you’ve fallen out of love with (we love a clearout!), but you’ll also get some ‘new’ pieces in the process. All without spending money. Winner!
Set gift limits with friends and family
Birthday and holidays can be very expensive. Especially if you’ve got a large family! To help save money, consider setting limits for how much to spend, or only buying for kids and not parents. Or, for even more cash-saving hacks, do a ‘Secret Santa’ option during the holidays so you only have to buy one present.
Love your library
Yes, we know libraries are closed right now. But they’re a great way of keeping up your reading habit and getting through your TBR list without spending a cent. We love ’em! Check out our fave libraries for kids in our article, then start counting down to when you can visit. In the meantime, check out the NLB’s site for access to electronic resources and free newspapers.
Sleep on it
It’s no secret we love a spot of online shopping. It’s all too easy to Add to Basket and hit the buy button! Instead, try and impose the 24-Hour Rule. Seen some gorgeous shoes or new jeans? Give it a day to think over, so that you avoid impulse buying.
Don’t get stung by delivery fees
You know the deal: you see it, you want it, you add to basket, you see the delivery fee, you change your mind. Where possible, avoid paying high delivery fees for only a couple of products by getting other people in on the order. Perhaps a friend, colleague or neighbour wants to get in on the action? Can’t hurt to ask! (You may have to wait a few weeks until you start with this one, though.)
Pay your credit card off each month
Eugh, credit card interest is the WORST. Avoid paying all that interest by paying off your credit card bill in full each month. Getting into the practice of only buying what you can afford to pay back will also help avoid nasty charges. Don’t forget to shop around for 0% interest fees and balance transfer fees too to ensure you don’t get stung.
Set reminders for your bills
How many times have you been stung with a late-payment fee? Avoid charges by setting up regular automatic payments of your household bills or setting up reminders on your phone so it doesn’t slip your mind.
Get yourself a piggy bank
Put all your coins (or anything less than 50 cents, perhaps) into an old-school piggy bank. Not only will it free up your wallet space and lighten the load, but by the end of the year you’ll have a nice tidy sum! Get your kids to do the same to teach them how to think like a saver.
Better yet, save money quicker by setting up an automatic payment to a separate savings account. Work out a budget, then pop whatever you can afford per week or per month. It will rack up in no time. If the kids get pocket money, you may want to encourage them to start saving too. It’ll be good practice for adulting!
Do you need your gym membership?
Hands up: how often do you use your gym membership (in normal circumstances, anyway!)? Look at your lifestyle choices and see if you can make adjustments to save money. For instance, does your condo have a gym you can use for free rather than paying for a membership elsewhere? Can you run outside instead for free? Perhaps you can get walk to work instead of taking the bus, or cycle instead. If there’s anything the circuit breaker has taught us, it’s how to get creative with our exercise regimens!
Cut the car out
Do you really need a car? The public transport system is so efficient here in Singapore that many families are able to do without their own set of wheels. If you do own a car though, would another model be more efficient and therefore cheaper to run? It’s worth considering!
Entertain at home
While we can’t do it right now, during normal times there’s no doubt that eating out, heading to the cinema, or taking the kids out for a whole day of activities can cost a tidy sum. Save money by cutting back on how often you do that, and instead entertain at home. You’re already a pro at it, thanks to the circuit breaker! Have a family movie night, or a board game tournament, or a dinner party with friends where you all bring a plate and a bottle. All the fun, less expense!
Reach out to your child’s school
Many international schools in Singapore are offering reductions and refunds on school fees, bus transport costs and more due to the pandemic. Be sure to check in with your child’s school to see if you are eligible for any savings.
Got any more suggestions on how to save money? Let us know!