Sticking to a Budget in Singapore

by Alexandra Sheehan

When I was living in Singapore, I got really sick of spending money. It felt as though I was constantly opening my wallet and watching those pastel coloured bills fly away at a surprisingly rapid rate. I kissed those hard earned dollars good-bye far too often for my liking.

As time went on, I found that my projected money management plans were far from my spending reality. Singapore is such a consumer-based country, so it is hard to find things to do at a reasonable price. And forget about free! I’m not sure if I came across a single free event during my whole time there.My spending numbers kept going up, so I started looking for ways to harness the fleeing mentality of my money. I got creative. I turned to the number one research resource, Google, and got to work. That amount of time spent in front of my computer was worth it! I soon found myself with a plethora of knowledge about sticking to a budget in Singapore.

Avoid the malls

I know this is quite an impossible idea to try and wrap your head around. How is it possible to avoid shopping malls in Singapore when there are at least four of them at every major intersection and public transportation hub? Seriously, this is one of the most important pieces of advice I can provide.

I’ll admit that forgoing the malls completely is impossible. Unless you’re a hermit. Assuming that you’re not, avoiding unnecessary spending at the mall can be easier than you might think. Limit your stops at the malls to once a week, and go with specific items in mind. Then, get in and get out. Don’t meander around, don’t ride the escalators, don’t stop for a bite to eat. Just don’t. Buy what you need and leave, and you’ll be much happier when you look in your wallet later.

Hawker centers

When I first heard the term “hawker centre,” I didn’t really know what to expect. I sort of envisioned this marketplace with vendors yelling at and harassing potential customers. I pictured fierce competition amongst the vendors’ fight for buyers’ attention.

This is not the case. What I can say about hawker centres is that they have the best food I have tried in Singapore. Don’t expect a fine dining environment, and make sure you remember to bring wipes. You’ll find yourself munching on some of the best chicken curry, sans utensils. It is a common practice to eat with your hands at the hawker centres.

The best part about eating at the hawker centres is the amazing food that is available within a serious budget. Treat yourself to an entire meal for less than $3 SGD! Often times, the food here is cheaper than at fast food restaurants, with a quality that supersedes the competition by far.

Become a coupon clipper

When I say coupons, your mind may go immediately to those weekly newsletters and the time-consuming task of cutting out promises of saving some cash for a grand total savings of about two dollars. That’s not what I’m talking about.

Websites like Living Social, Groupon and others offer awesome deals on all sorts of things. Sign up for the daily deal emails and start saving money! Gym memberships are known to be quite pricy in Singapore, and you can often find reduced rates through these coupon sites. Other common deals include dinners, tickets to events, excursions, etc. Another added bonus to using these coupons is that you may find yourself doing something you never even knew existed!

Hit the park

While free activities and attractions are not the most abundant in the tiny country of Singapore, there are still a few places worth checking out without an admission fee. The Botanical Gardens are within easy reach and offer beautiful scenery. There are also several nature reserves and parks in the outlying regions where you can observe the native wildlife and enjoy the natural tropical landscape.

Walking the streets of Chinatown and Little India is free of cost as well. Simply exploring and observing the people in the area is entertainment enough for me, and it requires no spending! Although it may be hard to resist when you see the delicious food and beautiful items for purchase.

Saving money and living in Singapore definitely don’t go hand in hand. However, there are ways to get the most out of your expat experience here while still being able to save some cash. It just takes a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness, and you’re sure to have a good time for free! What are some of your tips for sticking to a budget while living in Singapore?

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