SINGAPORE – Things are getting more and more expensive in Singapore.
You probably know that Singapore’s core inflation hit a 13-year high in July. Core inflation, which excludes the cost of private transportation and accommodation, rose to 4.8 percent, mainly due to stronger hikes in food, electricity and gas prices.
Worse, prices are likely to rise further with the upcoming increase in the goods and services tax (GST) to 8 percent in 2023 and 9 percent in 2024.
Some millennials are fighting inflation by adopting strategies that go beyond following standard budgeting advice as they adjust their lifestyles to counter rising prices that aren’t about to abate anytime soon.
This is part of a series in which Yahoo Finance Singapore will focus on various aspects of Millennials and their finances. In this final part, we hear from several millennials who share five practical tips on how to save money effectively.
Take public transport or bike
Part of the monthly income or pocket money must be used for transport. After all, we have to drive around every day. Based on average young adult discounted fares, this can cost up to S$128 per month for unlimited bus and train travel.
However, for Caleb How, a 23-year-old student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), transportation fees used to cost him almost S$400 a month. That’s because How used to rely primarily on Grab rides when it was more convenient.
For example, on days when he is late for school, he would book a Grab ride to be on time. However, as it is to the east of Singapore and NUS is to the west, it can cost up to S$30 at peak times. If he takes a grab three times a week for a month, that will already cost him S$360 – more than half of an adult concession fare.
“Nowadays I try to get up earlier to take public transport. It might be a longer journey, but at least I know I’m saving a lot of money in the long run,” How said.
“I’ve also recently started riding my bike when I need somewhere nearby, which helps me save even more money and also gets me some exercise,” he added.
Cut down on bubble tea
Bubble tea is arguably one of the most popular drinks among Singaporeans. But with an average mug costing S$4 without toppings, some might think twice before making a purchase.
Renee Lee, 19, used to buy bubble tea at least twice a week because it was “a great thirst quencher in the heat” and because she absolutely loved the black tapioca pearl toppings. However, as she still takes money from her parents, she felt guilty that she would spend almost S$30 a week just for bubble tea.
To save money, Lee is now opting for cheaper options like soybeans from Mr Bean or a bottle of juice from a supermarket. Sometimes she also brings her own water bottle.
“Reducing bubble tea has not only been good for my health but also for my wallet. I can now allocate money for more important things like transportation,” Lee shared.
Bring home-cooked food to the office or school
Similarly, 23-year-old Lilian Tan, an intern at a local marketing firm, had money issues related to groceries. That’s because meals in their office space don’t come cheap. For example a plate with Cai fan can cost as little as S$8, while a normal meal in a restaurant can cost S$15. Tan would also have to spend even more if she decided to have dinner with her friends after work.
“I found that I was spending a lot of money on food unnecessarily. Sometimes, if I decide to have a drink as well, I can easily spend close to S$40 a day just on food,” Tan said.
Because of this, Tan has decided to bring home-cooked food most days and encourages other millennials to do the same. This not only saves her time jostling with the lunch crowd to queue for the meal, but also saves money that she can spend on other things.
“By bringing home-cooked food to the office for lunch, I’ve definitely saved so much money. In fact, I will probably continue to do so when I go back to school after my internship ends for my senior year,” Tan added.
Go thrift shopping
If anything, millennials are always on the lookout for the latest fashion trends to stay relevant and cool. However, most of the time these garments are ridiculously expensive, some even running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As well as shopping at standard clothing stores like Uniqlo and H&M, Ian Wong, a 25-year-old marketing executive, suggests teens could shop at thrift stores instead. Clothing here averages $5 and has a vintage look and feel.
“I started thrift two years ago and have never looked back since. Even though the clothes are second-hand, most are still as good as new, and more importantly, they’re actually very cheap,” said Wong, who shared that he’s saved at least $400 since joining started saving.
Wong added, “Frugality is also good for the environment as it essentially brings clothes to life.”
Shop only when there are discounts
With the rise of ecommerce websites in recent years, online shopping has definitely taken the world by storm. But that also means unnecessary spending, as everything can be purchased with a simple tap of the screen.
Isabelle Chua, 22, a local student, used to shop online for all sorts of things without batting an eyelid, only to find out that by the end of the month she had racked up a huge bill.
To ease the strain, she suggests millennials only shop during big campaigns like the 10/10, 11/11, and 12/12 sales on platforms like Shopee and Lazada. During these sales, shoppers can receive cashback coupons worth up to S$50, oversized flash offers and free shipping.
Chua shared, “Shopping during a sale has really helped me save money. A dress that costs S$40 is now only S$18. I believe these small savings can add up to a lot over time.”
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