Years ago, scientists discovered that spending on experiences instead of material goods makes you happier. Instead of cutting back their spending on designer handbags, Singaporeans have used their advice to justify splurging on five star staycations, shopping trips in Europe and champagne parties on yachts.
Sure, there's nothing wrong with spending a bit of money on experiences, especially if not wanting to spend is causing you to become part of the furniture at home.
But that doesn't give you licence to spend lavishly on experiences that aren't worth the money, nor does it mean you no longer need to exercise some discretion when choosing which experiences to partake in.
Here are three types of experiences that many Singaporeans end up paying good money for, but that really aren't worth it.
Weddings of people you aren't close to
The ideal wedding in a tiny country town might be a small, intimate one where only the couple's nearest and dearest are present. But this doesn't apply in Singapore 99% of the time.
It's often standard practice to invite virtually everyone a person has ever hung out with more than once, which is why you and your entire primary 1 class can get invited to the wedding of a classmate you haven't seen in over 20 years. After the wedding's over, the next time you and this person will ever meet again in person is probably at either of your funerals.
If you've ever gotten the feeling you were being invited just to make up the numbers, at the last minute so you could fill up the extra tables or simply because you were one of the 40 people in the bride or groom's primary school/secondary school/JC class, it's safe to bow out, especially since each wedding banquet you show up at is probably going to cost at least $100.
Holidays with people you're iffy about
Every now and then, against your better judgement, you find yourself sitting on a plane next to someone who's so high-maintenance they've already sent the air stewardess back and forth three times with their drink request.
Deep down, you know the fur is going to fly at some point during this holiday, sometime after the 48th hour you've spent together.
Travelling with friends is surprisingly difficult if your personalities clash or you just aren't compatible enough to spend extended amounts of time together.
Yet when that friend asked you to join him or her on a trip to Tokyo/New York/Hong Kong, you jumped at the chance. It seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up, especially since you hadn't been on holiday in a year and didn't have anybody else to travel with.
Seriously, don't go on vacation with people you don't enjoy travelling with. Any tension is magnified tenfold when you're in each other's hair 24 hours a day for days or weeks on end. Then there's also the risk that your budgets are so different that one of you will always be feeling ripped off.
You're better off planning your own vacation and then asking more compatible people to join you, or going on your own.
Restaurants that are out of your budget
Dining out is a social activity 99% of the time. That means you're not 100% in control of where exactly you choose to spend your money.
If you're not the sort of person who's okay with spending $80 on a meal or $30 on cocktails, you might run into trouble, as many Singaporeans aren't very budget conscious. Many people don't really think about whether a restaurant or bar they've picked is going to be too expensive for their friends.
That means the onus is on you to check the location on every invitation you receive to see if it's a place that's out of your budget. If it is, all is not lost. You're always free to suggest a cheaper place in the area, and if you're only meeting one or two friends there's no reason why they wouldn't want to accommodate your budget unless they secretly hate you or you insist on only tabaoing one curry puff from Old Chang Kee.
If it's a big group you're meeting for dinner and you don't want to bow out of the outing altogether, you do have the option of either skipping the meal and then showing up only for drinks, or eating at home and then ordering a small side or drink.
The worst thing you can do is show up without doing your homework and then forking out a sum of money you can't afford for food you didn't enjoy that much anyway.
MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.