Since we’re all adulting and are paying bills like the real adults we are, it’s important to know how to save so you don’t end up living paycheck to paycheck. But you might find it hard to do that because on top of paying for your Netflix subscription, you also have to pay for household expenses because, well, adult responsibilities.
Did you know that families in Singapore spend nearly $700 per month on household expenses on average? That’s nearly 15 per cent of the average household monthly income.
If you’ve been struggling to reduce your household expenses without much success, maybe that’s because you haven’t been following the latest lifestyle and household happenings. But it turns out there are some new trends which actually have the potential to help you save more than a pretty penny.
Ready to reduce your household expenses, and try out some new trends while you’re at it? Well then, check out these best new ways for saving money at home.
Check Before You Buy
With Amazon now big enough to set entire cities’ hearts aflutter just by looking in their general direction, it’s clear that online shopping is the new normal. When you have the ability to buy everything that you need (and more than an item or two you don’t) with just a few taps, how can you not indulge in your favourite cyber sales?
Online shopping is perfect for impulse buys. But that’s also the easiest way to fritter away your hard-earned money, especially when what you ordered turns out to be a dud. Yes, you can (and should) check the reviews, but how do you know they’re not generated by some spam bot?
Easy. Run the feedback through websites like ReviewMeta.com, which analyses the reviews on an e-commerce site to tell you if they’re real and trustworthy. That way, you can make sure that 34th pair of crystal-studded slippers is really as comfy as rumoured.
Shop at Zero-Waste Stores
Most of us don’t give a thought to all the plastic and cardboard that come with our groceries, but these packaging materials don’t come free. Not only do they contribute to environmental degradation, they also drive up the cost of our favourite products.
For a taste of how much the packaging you discard really costs, do your grocery shopping for the week at one of Singapore’s zero-waste stores. Not only will you be surprised at how much less common foodstuffs cost without all the fancy packaging, you will also be able to purchase only what you need, further reducing your grocery bill.
Go Pure Data
When was the last time you took a serious look at your phone bill? We bet at least half of you reading this are wasting hard-earned dollars on your severely under-utilised mobile plans.
With Internet data services being as reliable and ubiquitous as they are nowadays, is there still a need to pay for talk-time and SMSes? In fact, when was the last time you made an honest-to-goodness telephone call that was routed through a switchboard?
Making the switch to data-only mobile plans is a good idea because 1) you save money on services you don’t need and 2) you’re almost guaranteed to get more data, which saves you from expensive data-top-ups or excess charges.
Make Your Own Coffee or Tea
No task is more Herculean—or routine—than fighting off the mid-afternoon sleep attacks that begin just as that pesky report is due. Craving just a few more hours of energy to make it through the day, we dutifully scrounge up a couple of dollars for that cup of cold brew.
But other than the privilege of worshipping at the altar of commercialism, there’s really no reason to fork out the equivalent of two hawker centre meals just for a pick-me up, especially when you can brew your very own coffee or tea right at home.
The equipment you need (really nothing more complicated that a container with some sorta net) can be easily bought for the price of two or three cups of that fancy beverage, but you’ll soon be saving so much money you’ll forget this embarrassment ever happened.
Learn to Love the Crock-pot
Some things bear repeating because it’s true. Learning to cook your own meals can save you significant amounts of money, replacing expensive lunches and food delivery meals with more reasonably priced options. And with fancy equipment like sous-vide circulators, going home cooked doesn’t mean giving up restaurant quality meals.
But our mothers were already producing melt-off-the-bone dishes more delicate than a Frenchman’s cheeks long before sous-vide ever entered the common vernacular. And all she had was the humble crock-pot.
Because sous-vide is nothing but cooking food at low heat over a long period, a slow cooker can give you the same delectable results. Simply look up some recipes, throw together the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed slow cooker, crank it on and let time do its thing.
You’ll save money and enjoy delicious, convenient one-pot meals at the same time.
Switch to House Brands
House brands aren’t a new invention, having been around as soon as supermarkets realised excess raw materials leftover from the manufacturing process can be used to create products with respectable quality and margins.
However, households are still stubbornly paying more for the branded stuff, ignoring the savings they could gain by switching to house brands.
Yes, quality is important, but it’s simply silly to pay more for branded versions of certain everyday products. Consider house brands for toilet paper, tissues, over-the-counter medicines, pantry staples, jams and spreads and even frozen and canned food items — and watch your savings rack up.
Concoct Your Own Cleaning Products
What you’re pouring out of that bottle of commercial cleanser isn’t magic. Rather, it’s stuff that cause chemical reactions, those that you can use to achieve a cleaner house.
But do you know where chemicals originally come from? That’s right, nature, and it turns out some of our everyday foodstuffs or pantry ingredients can be combined to remove stains or eliminate bad odours — just as effectively as off-the-shelf products.
We’re talking about recipes like vinegar and salt, which can be used to polish brass. And for an all-purpose cleaner and deodoriser, just combine baking soda and warm water. Need to remove pesky water rings? Non-gel toothpaste (i.e., the white parts) and baking soda will do the trick. You can find tons more DIY recipes all over the Internet.
No, playing at pre-ball Cinderella isn’t the point here. Making your own cleaning products using all natural ingredients can easily slash your household bills by tens of dollars. More importantly, avoiding commercial cleaners can reduce your chances of suffering irritation or allergic reactions, saving you from a dermatologist bill. And perhaps best of all, it’s gentler on Mother Earth.
Ditch Your Electricity Provider
The Open Electricity Market now has 13 electricity vendors available to meet the energy needs of Singaporean households, and its launch has been rolled out progressively since November 2018. With this fierce level of competition, you can bet there’re savings to be had. Afraid that switching to a retailer might affect your electricity supply? Don’t fret, SP Group will continue to operate the national power grid and deliver electricity to everyone, so there’d be no disruptions during the transition.
Have a look at the rates and packages being offered by the contenders and suss out what you feel is the best deal for you. You can easily do so here, but note that you’ll have to wait till the scheme is rolled out to your geographical area.
Image: Screengrab from Open Electricity Market
Our career issue also comes with bonus money tips, like how to negotiate for a higher salary, what you need to know about prepping for retirement in Singapore, and money things to consider before becoming a freelancer.
Text: Chip Chen