ION Orchard or Paragon are what many shoppers in Singapore think of when they want to drop some cash. Well, if you like throwing money at designer handbags with fancy European-sounding names but that are actually made by Chinese factory workers, be our guest.
But for Singaporeans on a budget, there's nowhere you'd rather be less. In fact, you'll want to avoid standard malls and shops in favour of these five places that anyone trying to survive this country on a budget must know about.
Before you buy anything, always check if Daiso has it first. The Japanese chain where everything is sold at $2 carries a ridiculously wide range of products, from chefs' knives to cellphone covers. Some items are downright bizarre, which is always fun.
Obviously, you should have reasonable expectations when it comes to quality-you don't buy a pair of flip flops there expecting it to outlive you. But some items at Daiso really offer fabulous value (these are my personal favourites).
The real Singapore institution here is Mustafa Centre, and you're not Singaporean until you've wandered around in there at 1am.
While Mustafa is best known for its massive grocery section, you can also buy Rolex watches, Singapore is a Fine City tshirts and dummy CCTV cameras (I kid you not). In case you get lost (and you will get lost), someone created a guide to the maze that is Mustafa.
As discussed in an earlier article, groceries and toiletries aren't necessarily cheaper at Mustafa-many items are cheaper than the sticker price at NTUC FairPrice, but the latter often discounts items which can then bring prices even lower than Mustafa's. (Prices are still competitive compared to higher end supermarkets like Cold Storage and Jasons.)
Still, it's one of the best places to get higher end or hard-to-find food items like quinoa or that elusive green tea KitKat. You'll also be hard-pressed to find better deals on items like perfume and watches.
FairPrice Budget, Sheng Siong and ValuDollar
Any budget conscious Singaporean knows Cold Storage isn't the cheapest place to do the groceries. That's why Fairprice tends to be most people's default choice. It also helps that the island is crawling with Fairprice outlets.
But if you really want to save money, there are even cheaper options available in the form of ValuDollar (check out how ridiculously cheap their products are here), Sheng Siong and the new FairPrice budget shops.
The catch is that you might need to travel further from home, since these stores tend to be nestled in more inaccessible suburban areas where rent is cheaper.
Anchorpoint, IMM, Changi City Point
No matter what the advantages of being frugal are, nobody under the age of 60 wants to be seen wearing that $3 uncle singlet and Tai Sing slippers all the time.
At times, and especially when it comes to apparel, you don't want to buy the absolute cheapest item available, and that's okay.
But that doesn't mean you get a free pass to swipe your credit card on Orchard Road.
To avoid paying full price for your upper-mid range items, head to Anchorpoint, IMM and Changi City Point, which are outlet malls where you can get lots of brands at deep discounts. For instance, at IMM you can find brands like Agnes B, Coach and The Body Shop.
Bugis Street market and *SCAPE
Once upon a time, teenagers hit up Far East Plaza for affordable yet hip (well, to teenagers who liked to wear JNCO jeans anyway) clothes. Over the years, prices at Far East Plaza have crept steadily upwards as retailers started abandoning cheaper products sourced from China and Thailand in favour of more expensive Korean imports.
That's why teenagers have moved on to greener pastures, most notably *SCAPE. In addition, the Bugis Street market remains a favourite for its affordable, trendy clothing.
Now, if you're on the wrong side of 20, why would you want to shop at these places? Well, prices at shops targeted at teens tend to be lower, and even if you don't think you'll be hitting the streets in overalls or wedgie shorts anytime soon, don't write them off before you've had a look, because there's quite a bit that's wearable even at the ripe old age of 21.
The article first appeared on MoneySmart.
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