They say, ‘It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits.’ Truer words have not been spoken. Saving money isn’t just a good habit; it’s a necessity. While it is so easy to give into endless temptations to splurge, you must remember that if you save money today, it will save you tomorrow.
Here are 52 ways to save money that will help you manage your budget and cost of living in Singapore.
1. Eating out? Make sure to eat more for less.
If you love checking out restaurants across town, we have some excellent tips. Use dining apps like Eatigo to get up to 50% off on restaurants. With no coupons required and a long list of restaurants, you could be saving some major cash.
And here’s our last one (talk about a 3-in-1 tip!). If you are dining out with kids, then eat out at one of the many restaurants in Singapore that have the ‘kids dine free’ deal. You have many options to choose from. If it is a great breakfast you are looking for, then try Cafe Melba. For family pizza time, head to Pizza Hut, where with a Pizza Hut set meal, your kid’s meal is free. Here are some options for lunch and dinner: Smokey’s BBQ, Chili’s American Grill and Bar, Seoul Garden, The Bank Bar + Bistro, Brussel Sprouts, among others.
Dining cards: While dining, use the Citi Cash Back Card to enjoy an 8% cashback on all food bills. What’s more? You can also get discounts ranging between 10% and 25% when you dine at restaurants across the city, in addition to getting 1-for-1 buffets at select places.
2. Head to Johor Bahru for shopping
If you buy your groceries once a month in bulk, hop over to Johor Bahru in Malaysia for a weekend trip. Get amazing deals and the benefit of spending in a much stronger currency while shopping at TESCO, Carrefour, and Giant. Sample this: Daily hygiene supplies will come at about half the price at the outlets here.
However, don’t limit your trip to Johor Bahru to just buying groceries. There are numerous cafes and restaurants waiting to be explored. And pack in enough time for a day of pampering. Spa sessions, facials and haircuts are quite economical. In fact, you can get a complete makeover at rock-bottom prices at the salons there (lower than S$50!). Reason enough to make the trip?
Shopping Tip: Choose a weekday instead of a weekend to make this trip.
3. DIY make-up
Who doesn’t love cosmetics from Estee Lauder and MAC? They might brighten up your face but they sure do burn a hole in your pocket. Save a fortune and make skin-friendly, chemical-free cosmetics such as foundations and lipsticks at home.
4. Maintain two bank accounts, one for savings and one for expenses
The Bf Gf Money Blog recommends creating two bank accounts – one for saving and the other for expenditure. This way you will be sure of how much you are saving and then spend accordingly. They also suggest keeping your savings account a bit difficult to access (maybe have one which does not come with an ATM card?). We like!
And if you are looking for some great saving accounts, here are our recommendations.
5. Walk or bike
If your New Year resolution was to become fit, this is the perfect way. Walking is not only good for your heart but also your wallet. If the thought of walking for 20-30 minutes gives you the sweats, why not cover the distance in a shorter time on a bike?
But before you head out and buy a fancy bike (more costs!), rent one to see if you like it. Singapore has various bike rental services such as The Bicycle Hut and Hello, Bicycle!
If you want to be eco-friendly while being healthy, then opt for oBike, OFO or Mobike. These bicycle sharing services allow you to reserve a bike and unlock it through its app. At the end of the ride, just park the bike in a designated public bike parking area and lock it. All this just for S$0.50-1.00 for 30 minutes.
6. Use public transport smartly or try carpooling
If combining physical activity and work is not your thing, why not ditch your regular, fancy taxi service for the good old public bus or MRT? Various websites such as MyTransport.sg and phone apps like Bus SG will help you plan your travel comfortably.
And if you would still like to go the good old ‘taxi’ way, then try carpooling with neighbours or booking an UberPool or GrabShare. You save money and make new friends, so slight detours aren’t that bad an idea.
7. Get a S$10 massage
If your aching and exhausted body is asking for some pampering, don’t neglect it. But even indulgence can come at low costs.
You can now have a massage for S$10 only and even support a good cause while you do so. The Smart Local suggests getting a massage at the Singapore Association of The Visually Handicapped (SAVH), by qualified masseuses only for S$10 as opposed to the S$50-70 charged by spas and salons.
Where: Singapore Association of The Visually Handicapped, 47 Toa Payoh Rise, Singapore 298014. If that is too far, they also have a mobile massage team that can be booked for corporate offices, schools, events, and others.
8. Cheap laundry
Is your monthly laundry bill giving you nightmares? Ditch your servicer for Piing. Recommended by The Singapore Smart Spenders Facebook group, Piing is cost effective, efficient, and has frequent cashback promos so you can have a few rounds of free laundry cleaning. Yay! The other one to try is KnockKnock.
Tip: Keep an eye out for offer coupons. Your first laundry order usually comes with 20% off.
9. Save on renovation costs, shop online
Doing up your home? In times like these, it is easy to shoot over your budget without even planning to. Shopping online is one great way to save and get a wide variety to choose from. Check out Castlery, HipVan and FortyTwo. We also recommend you browse through ezbuy. It has an interesting collection of sofas, beds, tables and cabinets. And wait, you can buy your plumbing fixtures and home décor here as well.
Top Tip: A yearly Prime membership fee of S$99 on ezbuy will allow you to buy multiple items for a flat shipping fee of just S$2.99 per shipping.
10. Head to the bakeries later in the day
Most bakeries and cake shops offer yummylicious items at a huge discount towards the end of the day since they will sell freshly baked goodies the next day. Grab bread at reduced prices at Bread Talk or Swee Heng and drool-worthy pastries at rock bottom prices at most cafes of luxurious hotels such as Grand Hyatt Singapore and Hilton Hotel Singapore. Dessert sorted?
11. Get a cheap haircut
If your salon costs are making you wanting the Stone Age back, don’t worry. You can get the salon experience and a fine haircut for almost half your regular rate. Head to Kimage Hairdressing School at Marina Square and get a decent haircut by one of the trainees there, as recommended by Frugal in Singapore. Other services provided are hair perming, straightening, colouring, and scalp treatments.
12. Shop at the Great Singapore/Black Friday/Cyber Monday/CNY Sale
If you want to buy an expensive gadget or a fancy designer bag, don’t rush into it. Wait for the Great Singapore Sale (June to August), and you will be surprised at how much you end up saving! If you are lucky, you might end up getting your dream phone or designer jewellery at a staggering 70% off!
While that is the upcoming sale season, you must also keep an eye out for other dates when stores go on sale. Key among them are Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Also through the year, smaller sales on Valentine’s Day that could bring in offers on jewellery or luxury items, while National Day deals could be on apparel, accessories, or other interesting items.
Dates for the upcoming GSS: 9 June to 13 August 2017
13. Rent fashion; don’t buy
We all have been in the situation when we stare at a wardrobe full of clothes and say in despair, “I have nothing to wear!” This can be extremely annoying when there is a special occasion coming up (remember your friend’s wedding?).
Ditch buying those super expensive designer dresses and rent one instead. This way, you will not have to compromise on the dress you want nor will you need to repeat dresses. Many rental services such as Style Lease and Rent A Dress are available across Singapore. Book an appointment to visit them or order online. Psst…they also have sales, so keep a close eye.
14. Use buy and sell apps
Declutter! Or better still buy almost new, or barely used things at low prices. These apps are a jewel box if you use them right. It would be so cool to sell that old guitar, which is taking up so much space in your house at a great deal, or buy a bicycle that is in a fabulous condition for 1/4th of the original price! Download Carousell, Shoppee, letgo, or Gumtree now!
15. Cut down on book costs
A shout-out to all the book lovers! If you calculate how much you spend on buying books every year, you would be surprised. While we approve of all the book buying (we do!), we have some tips to save money.
- There are various websites and outlets that sell second-hand textbooks, foreign language books, and many rare books you generally wouldn’t find in a bookstore. Check out UsedBooks.sg and Carousell.
- If you have an e-book reader, go that route to save costs. You can also borrow an e-book from the library to see if you love reading that way.
- Still prefer the old route? Then buy from the book depository that offers free delivery worldwide.
- Lastly, try the good old community library and pick up your books.
16. Make use of toy rental services
Kids outgrow everything so fast – be it clothes or toys! Instead of heading to the fancy toy shop in the mall every other month to buy super expensive toys for your tiny tot, make use of toy libraries scattered all over Singapore. Tots Toy Library and Toy Library Association (Singapore) are just two examples.
17. Get discounted tickets on Klook
Love exploring the island’s many attractions, from Universal Studios to the S.E.A Aquarium? Then before you book your tickets, get up to 60% discounts on Klook.
18. Buy a Sentosa Islander Pass
Fan of the beach bum life? The S$25 (subsequently S$20) Sentosa Islander Pass gives you unlimited access to Sentosa and is a great bargain. Entry fees if you drive in is already S$7, so buy the pass instead and enjoy a world full of fun and activities with your family.
19. Ditch the one gym membership
We all know people who have a gym membership but never use them. Paying huge annual fees at fitness centres is unnecessary since you can invest that money elsewhere. There are many ways to stay fit that cost nothing. Jog at the park close to your house or swim at the pool in your condo.
Saving tip: If you like variety in your fitness routine and believe working out at gyms brings in discipline, look up GuavaPass. A monthly membership gives access to unlimited fitness classes across the island.
20. Invest in a coffee machine
If picking up your favourite coffee (costing an average of S$5) from the fancy coffee shop on your way to work every morning is burning a hole in your pocket (monthly around S$125), here is a great alternative.
We know you love your coffee. So, here’s what you can do. Buy a nice coffee machine that is a one-time investment and enjoy delicious coffee every day. All you need to invest in are coffee beans (good ones too cost under S$30 per kg).
Saving Tip: Don’t shy away from big one-time purchases, if it enables you to save more money in the long term.
21. DIY gifts
Whether it’s a birthday party you are going to or a Chinese New Year dinner, bringing a personalised gift made by you will touch hearts. Wind chimes, bookmarks, jewellery boxes, ang baos – the list of simple, customised gifts you could make at home is endless. It will not only save money and bring you satisfaction but also ensure that the person has something unique and special.
Where to shop for your DIY gifts: Daiso, Spotlight, Golden Dragon, Overjoyed, PaperMarket
22. Eat smartly
If you cook dinner every evening, it is a good idea to cook extra. Pack it and carry it as lunch the next day. If you find repeating items unappetizing, it is a great idea to try and make a new dish with the same ingredients.
For example, cut some extra veggies that you will be using for making pasta for dinner and use them to cook a quick stir-fry the next morning and pack it for lunch.
23. Hang out with judicious spenders a.k.a frugal friends
We all know a few people who spend money like it is their last day in the world. What you need to do is stay away from those people! Having frugal friends who, when accompanying you for shopping, will ask you twice if you really need an item is a great way to save money.
24. Don’t shop when you are sad
Shopping might give you the much-needed high when you are feeling low but it is only temporary. Studies show that shopping gives you short-term happiness and only adds to your depression then as you are left with a hole in your pocket. So, the next time you are sad, don’t go on an impromptu shopping spree.
Related: Can Money Buy You Happiness?
25. Buying China? Shop at Spode Dish factory in Malaysia to cut costs
If you are planning to buy some ‘fine’ china for a while now but are held back every time you see those scary price tags at malls, fret not. Here is how you can get some great stuff at not-so-high prices. Blogger Jen from ‘Little Dean Fam’ suggests heading to Spode Dish factory in Malaysia.
She says, “I was looking for a set of everyday dishes and anything else was a bonus in my mind. Spode is a European brand that outsources production to Malaysia. Their retail cost is pretty high but we got some amazing deals.” The blue and white plates here will remind you of the classic Royal Delft style.
26. Save on movies
Many of us love watching movies. However, sometimes the exorbitant weekend ticket rates can dampen the mood.
So here are some tips to save money:
- Pick a weekday. If it is one of your favourite movies, how about booking a weekday show?
- If you are a cinema lover, then you already have the OCBC Frank Credit Card. Oh, wait! You don’t? Then here’s why you should get it. With the OCBC Frank Credit Card, you get 5% cash rebates on weekends and 3% off on weekdays. And all the fun isn’t just limited to movies. You can use them for plays and gaming. It is capped at S$60 every month, though.
- Also, if you want to watch a movie on a Sunday, check out the M1 Movie Sunday Rewards. 1 for 1 tickets for first 450 customers. This is available at the Shaw theatres.
- Safra members should know this, and I hope you’re taking advantage of it. 1-for-1 movies on weekends at Shaw theatres! This is far easier to redeem than the M1 promotion too.
27. Try the obvious
Sometimes, doing some fairly obvious things will help in saving money. Here are some interesting ideas:
- Leave your wallet at home sometimes – especially when you’re out for a walk close by. No money = no temptation! This is an easy one to try.
- Carry bottled water with you on walks
- Skip the window shopping in malls
- Set a ‘shopping free’ fortnight every alternate month
28. Ditch dining out with friends every weekend and organise a potluck
Instead of having your weekend catch-ups at fancy hotels or bars, why not organise a potluck at home? This way everyone gets one dish and you have loads of options. Apart from saving money, you also spend more quality time in the comfort of your home.
29. Book holiday homes over hotels while travelling
If you are planning a trip abroad, ditch expensive, impersonal hotels for holiday homes. Your options are many – Airbnb, HomeAway, 9flats, Flipkey, and the likes. Not only do they cost cheaper, they also come with a kitchen so you can whip up easy meals and save on food costs too!
Travel card: For every S$1 spent on your DBS Altitude Card on your travel accommodation bookings, you will earn 3 miles. The best part is that the miles never expire!
30. Make use of happy hours
If you can win a competition to guzzle down your beer the fastest, here are two magic words – Happy Hours. Most of the bars, however hip they may be, have at least a few hours each day when the drinks are cheaper.
Make use of those. Women can drink their hearts out on ladies’ night organised by most bars at least once a week.
31. Review your health/life insurance plan
You will be surprised how much you can save if you change your plan without compromising on the benefits.
32. Kick the butt
Cigarette smoking is not only injurious to your health but also to your wallet. A single pack of cigarette costs around S$13. So, if you smoke one pack daily and decide to quit, you can save around S$400 each month! Think of everything else that you can buy with it, and it will sound like a sweet deal.
33. Save electricity and water costs
We are all too busy to switch off the aircon or the bathroom lights! Apart from helping the planet, you can help yourself too by cutting down your electricity bills. It is simple: Switch them off, when not in use. Also try the timer feature on your aircon the next time you let it run through the night!
And we have tips to bring down your water bill too. Check them out here. Showering like you have a date every evening isn’t a great idea as well!
34. Make a list before grocery shopping
Those tempting aisles of the flashy supermarket can make you spend on unnecessary items easily. To avoid being distracted, make sure you have a list of items you need before you enter the supermarket.
This will not only save cost but will also ensure you buy everything you need. Also, a well-proven rule is to eat before you shop.
35. Baking soda and vinegar cleans the universe
Blogger June from Mamawearpapashirt swears by this cleaning concoction, in comparison to expensive supermarket cleaners. “I substitute half of my washing powder with baking soda, which also helps to make the cleaning more efficient,” she says. At S$1.80 for a 454g box of baking soda, it doesn’t get cheaper than this! Add S$2.60 to this for a large 473ml bottle of vinegar, and you’re equipped with an ultra-cheap washing solution that will last super long!
36. Plan your travel in advance
We all know booking flight tickets and making hotel bookings much in advance can make a lot of difference in the cost. So, save yourself a fortune and plan your travel so you can make bookings early.
Travel websites like TripAdvisor, Skyscanner, and Expedia release data on the best time to book flights. Keep an eye out for them and book your tickets several weeks earlier.
37. Save on phone bills while travelling
If you are travelling abroad, it is wise to not opt for international roaming. Instead, use free apps like Skype and Viber to talk to people back home. If you need to have an offline calling service, it is a good idea to buy a local SIM card of the country you are in.
38. Make baby food
We know you want the best for your baby. That’s why you invest heavily into organic food packs for the tiny tot. However, making and storing baby food at home isn’t rocket science and you will be surprised at how much you can save if you do so. Plus, nothing beats the satisfaction that hand-made food gives.
So, make baby food and store them in ice trays that allow you to also manage portions for the little one and still not head to the kitchen every day.
39. Maintain electrical appliances
It is a good idea to buy annual maintenance contracts for appliances such as aircon, water purifiers, and refrigerators to extend their lifespan. Don’t try to save costs here as the repairs or replacements will be a bigger expense.
And if you still want to replace your old electrical appliances, then go for the display sets, instead of a new one. You could get discounts of around 40% on these units.
Shopping tip: Use the OCBC Titanium Rewards when purchasing your electronic gadgets and appliances. The card gives you a generous 10x points per dollar, which is also equivalent to 4 miles per dollar.
40. Buy in bulk
When possible, make sure you buy your groceries and housekeeping items in bulk as it will be cheaper. Buying a huge refill pack of your regular cleanser will definitely be more cost effective than a smaller pack.
However, don’t be tempted to buy a bigger and cheaper jar of salsa sauce if you are hardly going to use it. Always remember, ‘A bargain isn’t a bargain unless it’s something you need.’
41. Shop at wet markets
If you are looking for groceries that are fresh and economical, head to the nearest wet market. Make sure you go early in the morning to get the best stock. If you’ve been in Singapore and not visited a wet market yet, explore the Chinatown Wet Market and Tekka Market first.
Chinatown Wet Market: 335 Smith St, Chinatown Complex (U/C), Singapore 050335
Tekka Market: 665 Buffalo Rd, L1 Tekka Centre, Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 210665
42. Use credit cards judiciously
An average Singaporean has around four credit cards. This means loads of benefits, freebies, and offers. However, make sure you utilise them fully. Cashback credit cards offer great cash rebates, travel credit cards offer air miles, and reward credit cards offer reward points on every expense charged to the card. Using these, you can save money on dining, travel, and shopping. Make sure you don’t let your points expire.
43. Shop online for your pet
Vanillapup.com, a blog for dog lovers to discover new products, dog-friendly hangouts, helpful tips & advice, and exclusive deals, cleverly points out, ‘Things are usually more expensive at the clinic. Do a quick price comparison on your phone before giving your money away!’ Sometimes, if you shop right, you can get a dog supplement at almost half the price online.
44. Shop at flea markets
It is great to shop global brands from sparkling malls but a lot of them cost an arm and a leg these days. Why not find a great bargain at the local flea markets. After all, these markets offer unique items at economical prices.
Every month on a Friday night, the Red Dot Design Museum Singapore organises an inventive marketplace – MAAD, Market of Artists and Designers – for Singapore’s art and design community to showcase their creations.
How to get there: Take the MRT and get off at Tanjong Pagar Station. Look out for directional signs for Red Dot Traffic building at the station and take Exit B. The museum is a five-minute walk from there.
45. Don’t delay credit card bill payments
Credit cards work like magic until you don’t mess around with your monthly bill payments. To avoid paying exorbitant interest rates, it is the best to pay the entire credit card bill (and not just the minimum amount) every month.
46. Get a pet insurance to save on vet bills
Vanillapup.com recommends you check out pet insurances like PetCare by Liberty Insurance and Happy Tails underwritten by MSIG Singapore and distributed by AON Singapore. With a small annual fee, you may enjoy significant savings when it comes to vet bills for your pet.
47. Reuse, reuse, reuse!
Think again before throwing away that old bed sheet. You can cut it into a tablecloth or if nothing else, make cleaning rags from it!
How about using an old ladder as a bookshelf, or old, empty CD cases to organise small items. There are so many ways to reuse old stuff that you will end up asking yourself, “Why did I not think of this!” So, it’s time to get creative.
48. Invest in travel insurance
You really don’t want to end up broke in a foreign land. If you come across a health hazard during your vacation or business trip, or if you lose your luggage, you are going to royally miss buying a travel insurance. So, you might think that you are saving money by not buying one but you really aren’t. Make sure you study in detail the offerings by each travel insurance company and then take a call of which travel insurance suits you the most.
49. Ditch travel tours
Travelling across South East Asia? Save money and ditch travel tours. Spend some time reading up on the destination and designing your own itinerary. If you need advice, look around for local guides away from the city centres to show you around the region. But stay away from booking tours and save money.
Expert tip: Up your flexibility by choosing a self-drive car with GPS.
50. Entertainment can be free
Not every entertainment option needs to dig a deep, deep hole in your pocket. If you’re looking for ways to save money, bubble time in Botanic Gardens or making sand castles in the East Coast Park come at no costs and unlimited fun. From free water parks to free shopping, we have you covered.
51. Shop online and use cashback sites
Love shopping online? With so many sales and no travel costs, if you have to buy, then online is the way to go. Most shopaholics (count us in!) vouch for this. However, our top tip here is to use cashback sites like Shopback.com to save money. And use the credit card to pay as well. Get rewards, save money, and shop!
Bonus tip: On your HSBC Advance Visa Platinum, get 10x reward points on online, local dining and entertainment transactions.
52. Be grateful
If you are happy with what you have, you won’t feel the compelling need to buy more. So, don’t let the lure of materialism get to you. Be thankful since gratitude goes a long way.
That’s all folks! 52 smart and creative ways to save money! While these may look like really tiny things if seen individually, they do make a huge difference if seen collectively. Whoever said this, got it right – “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
Have more money saving tips you think we definitely have to add? Let us know!