How to save money in Singapore: 30 cash-saving hacks for families

money saving hacks
Struggling to save money in one of the world's most expensive cities? Use our cash-saving tips for smarter ways to keep enjoying the good life in Singapore!

We love living in this humming, cosmopolitan city: problem is there’s just so much in Singapore to see and do and SPEND our hard-earned cash on. If it feels like you’ve been splashing cash like it’s going out of fashion, we hear you. Never fear, we’ve got 30 money saving hacks for families sure to see you building up the coins in your piggy bank again without having to miss out on the cool stuff (or worse, cringe, earning a rep as the cheap one amongst your friends). It’s all about continuing your current lifestyle with a couple of savvy tweaks. You’ll actually feel the opposite of FOMO as your money stretches further than ever before. Save your pennies for a rainy day (or your next family holiday from Singapore). Here’s how…

How to order kopi like a local Honeykids Asia Singapore

We swapped our expensive skim latte for local kopi and we’re hooked!

1. Switch your brew from barista coffee to local kopi. At around $1.20 a cup, you can get your local caffeine hit for a fraction of the cost of that skim latte. Check out our guide to ordering local coffee and tea in Singapore to help you find your new fave. Pick up some kaya toast while you’re there because at $2.90 for breakfast you’re still winning!

2. Car-pooling will save you cash on ERP tolls, petrol and parking (up to $7 per hr in the CBD). Sharing school rides can also save busy mums a couple of sweaty pick-ups a week. Give GrabShare a try for a cheaper ride, and when using ride-sharing apps, always, always check notifications and messages for the latest promo code –these deals just keep getting better!

3. Babies grow in the blink of an eye, so why not save a few bucks on a stroller you’re only going to use for a few years and rent it instead?

Consider pre-loved goods to save cash.

Singapore has a growing second-hand scene. Photography courtesy of The Great Singapore Garage Sale.

4. Embrace pre-loved goods. There’s a thriving second-hand market for buying and selling in Singapore, for everything from baby bouncers, to well-loved micro-scooters and Marc Jacobs handbags. Check out the HoneyKids guide to second-hand shopping in Singapore to help you land some steals!

5. Have car, need petrol? Sign up in-store or online for the rewards programmes at Caltex, Esso, SPC and Shell and start accruing points to get you free fuel, free stuff and actual dollars off your bill. Team up your loyalty card with one of the best credit cards for petrol and you’ll be saving up to 20%!

6. Sign up for a PAssion card It’s just $15 for a 5 year membership ($12 for existing DBS/POSB customers) and the benefits are great, from cheaper shopping at Cold Storage, Marketplace, Giant, Guardian and more (both immediate savings and by earning Tapformore points every time you shop ($150 spend = $1 off)); to discounts on over 1000 merchants island-wide (our fave is 10% off at Gardens By the Bay). Don’t forget you’ll save $5 as it’s also an EZY-link card, and you can earn KrisFlyer miles (or convert your miles to points). No brainer!

7. Once the kids are safely transitioned from crib to bed, don’t bank on them sleeping in that toddler bed all the way up to their teen years. Our advice? Instead of buying a bed for every stage, get one that grows with them instead.

Eat more Asian greens, which are cheaper than imported vegetables like broccoli

Swap expensive imported veggies like broccoli for Asian greens. Even better, grab them from the wet market and you’re likely to get a handful of herbs thrown in for free!

8. Swap your imported organic broccoli for Asian greens. With year-round tropical temperatures, fresh local veg from the wet markets are cheap as chips (and even at the supermarket you’ll notice the price difference).

9. Eat more seafood and less red meat. A whole snapper not only looks impressive, but will feed the entire family for under $13 (freshly de-scaled and gutted at Fairprice Finest, of course) It’s better for you too! Our fave? Picking up a kilo of clams for under $4 at the supermarket to make a super impressive spaghetti vongole.

10. Okay, sometimes we can’t live without that decadent weekend roast beef. Our trick? Ask every passing overseas visitor to skip the boozy gift and to make a deposit of quality meat. Lamb is not a luxury item in Australia!

11. For just $20 a year ($25 for first-timers) pick up a Sentosa Islander Pass, and you’ll score unlimited free entry to Sentosa and great discounts on entertainment, dining, shopping and hotels. Make the most of that pass with our guide to Sentosa for families!

12. Have the kids take lunch to school in one of these stylish and environmentally-friendly sandwich bags. You don’t just save on packaging, you’re saving the planet too!

Satay at a Singapore hawker market

Never underestimate the power of the hawker centre when you want an affordable feast. Photography: Selina Altomonte

13. In the mood for takeaway lunch or dinner? Head to your local hawker centre. Not only will you save tons of money, you’ll discover all sorts of ridiculously amazing food you never knew you loved (it’s popiah for us!). Work your way through our guide to the 30 must-eat dishes in Singapore – we even have a printable checklist for you – and save expensive Western restaurants for special occasions.

14. Another good food hack perfect for the late-night diner: sushi from Cold Storage is half price right before closing time. Bakeries will also heavily discount or even give away stock at the end of the day. Bargain!

15. Sign up for ShopBack to get up to 30% cash back when shopping at faves like Honestbee, ASOS, Sephora, Expedia, Lazada, Cotton On and iHerb (and hundreds more). It’s easy peasy – you just start at the ShopBack site to shop online with your usual retailers, and a percentage of your spend goes into your account, which you can redeem down the track. We racked up over $100 with just a few months. Winning!

Invest in an annual pass to your favourite Singapore attractions

If your family loves going to a particular attraction, invest in an annual pass to enjoy discounts and extra perks.

16. Every family enjoys a good day out. By signing up with family memberships , you’ll take advantage of heavily reduced entrance fees for key attractions in Singapore like the Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and Universal Studios. Winner!

17. It’s a competitive credit card market in Singapore, so all companies offer great rewards to lure customers. Shop around for the cards that offer incentives that float your boat: shopping vouchers, cash back, air-miles, dining discounts or cheaper groceries. Takashimaya Voucher, yes please!

18. Seriously need a massage? Get into traditional Chinese massage. Not only do these dudes know their pressure points, you’ll walk away feeling relaxed just knowing you’ve shelled out around a third of the price at a spa. Luurrve reflexology right now.

19. We’re always on the hunt for things to do with kids, whether it’s swimming classes, art-jamming or music lessons. But these classes do come at a cost, sometimes a steep one.  Social Weaver has just the solution – Kinderpass! Pay a flat rate each month and your little ones can try their hand at a variety of workshops, music and art classes, and also a trip to their favourite play areas. It’s a great way to expose the kiddos to a variety of new learning experiences! You can also filter the activities according to location, age of child and type of activity, so you save on lengthy research time.

Singapore kids indoor play centres

Bring the kids to see FUTURE WORLD at the ArtScience Museum on a Friday and they’ll get in for free! Photography: Selina Altomonte

20. Want to bring the kids to check out the amazing FUTURE WORLD exhibit at the ArtScience Museum? Head over on a Friday and with every paying adult, up to four kids under 12 will enjoy free entry under the Family Fridays at the ArtScience Museum programme. You’ll also get 10% off at the museum shop!

21. Movie buffs will know that by world standards, a trip to the cinema is relatively cheap in Singapore. Make your night with Ryan Gosling even more wallet-friendly by watching websites for deals. SAFRA members get 1 for 1 tix on weekends.

22. The IKEA family card is free and entitles you to member prices (which can be as much as 30% off), one point for every $1 spent to redeem in vouchers, free tea and coffee and 30% off meals in the restaurant.

23. Public pools have a one-time entry fee ($0.80-$2.60) with killer water playgrounds, wading pools and even lazy rivers. Or skip the pool altogether and cool off at one of the many free water play areas dotted around the island.

Make your own monsters! If your kids love craft, load up on supplies at Daiso for $2 a pop!

A good old crafternoon at home is just as much fun as a potentially pricey day out. Load up on craft supplies at Daiso for $2 a pop! Photography courtesy of Ladyland.

24. Kids churn through crafting supplies faster than you can sprinkle glitter. If you shop at Daiso, you won’t mind, as at $2 an item, you can afford to let their creative juices flow. You’ll also find home-cleaning supplies like the natural-bristle brushes and that amazing magic eraser sponge for cleaning scuffed walls.

25. For non-perishable products, take a leaf from the US and buy in bulk from hypermarkets like Fairprice Warehouse Club and BigBox. Split haul with your friends if you must as it’s super affordable.

26. If you’re forking out a small fortune on international school fees, you’ll be pleased to know about the rise of affordable international schools and alternatives in Singapore – a school move might be right for you.

Go for a bike ride at East Coast Park

Drop the expensive gym membership and pick up the bikes to get fit as a family.

27. Drop the gym/pilates studio and do a spot of DIY exercise. If you live in a condo and have a gym or pool at your disposal, it’s a no-brainer. Beg, borrow or steal a Fitbit and head out in the cool of night with a friend for a power walk around your neighbourhood. Or head to good old East Coast Park for an active family day out. Bring the bikes or load up the bike sharing app and hop on for as low as $0.50 per 30 minutes to burn off energy.

28. Go bargain shopping in Johor Bahru to source everything from high street and designer fashion, to grocery hyper-marts and local eats, all at a fraction of the cost in Singapore. And you’ll feel like you’ve had a Malaysian city break!

29. Going out for lunch with the kiddos? Get in on these great Kids Eat Free deals at some of our fave family-friendly spots including Jamie’s Italian and Cafe Melba!

30. And remember, you don’t need to fork out a small fortune to keep the kids entertained on weekends. Check out our list of fun and free activities for kids in Singapore and make sure you’ve tried them all!

Illustration: Nathania Tirtaputra for HoneyKids Asia

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