5 expensive habits Singaporeans should consider breaking in 2018

5 expensive habits Singaporeans should consider breaking in 2018
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Anyone who claims they have no bad habits is lying, or at a job interview. We've all got some nasty little habits we'd rather nobody knew about. For some of us, it's flicking boogers out the window. For a select few, it's taking upskirt videos and decapitating cats.

But some habits, other than being gross or downright criminal, are also expensive. Here are five expensive habits that are costing you money, and that you should make it a resolution to break in 2018:

1. Retail therapy

You wake up on a sunny Saturday morning, and there's no work. What are you going to do with a glorious weekend's worth of free time? If the first thing that crosses your mind is "shopping", you've got a bad habit you need to break.

Recreational shopping is one of the worst hobbies you can have, so tell yourself you'll go cold turkey and find other activities to fill the space. Online shopping also counts as retail therapy, so if you constantly find yourself drifting to your favourite online shopping sites, block them on your browser and find other things to do online… trolling on forums or creating memes are totally free. Just saying.

2. Forgetting to pay your bills

When you fail to pay your credit card bills in full, you get slapped with very high interest that can make your initial sum quickly bloat beyond recognition. If you don't manage to pay even the minimum sum, you also get hit with a late payment charge. Ouch.

This means you need a pretty damn good reason to not pay your bills in full and on time-like losing your life savings in an internet love scam or something equally as sordid. Forgetting is not a good reason. To make sure you never forget again, automate all your bill payments which can be made by GIRO. If you do have bills that you're struggling to pay off, consider taking a personal loan to pay off your high interest debt and then pay that down in monthly instalments at a much lower interest rate.

3. Getting too little sleep

On any given day, we make many poor decisions. And most of these poor decisions are the result of stress and fatigue.

Let's say you stay up till 2am surfing Facebook in bed, and as a result wake up late for work the next day. You miss the feeder bus to the MRT station, an in order to avoid being late to work, you call a Grab or Uber. Before rushing into work, you grab a coffee at the Starbucks outlet downstairs so you can stay awake throughout the day.

A lot of unnecessary stress can be avoided by adhering to a strict bedtime and practising good sleep hygiene.

4. Poor time management

Convenience is something Singaporeans are more than willing to pay for. Whether we're spending money to have food delivered to our doorsteps, buying groceries online or paying someone to clean our homes, convenience is often more important than cost.

This intense need for convenience is often exacerbated by poor time management. When we always feel like we're playing catch-up or there are too many things to do in a day, we're more likely to resort to eating out instead of cooking at home, or jumping into an Uber or Grab instead of taking the train.

Improving your level of time management often leads to cost-savings. Making a meal plan and streamlining your grocery shopping process can save you from having to eat out every day, and working efficiently so you can leave work on time can reduce your reliance on Uber/Grab.

5. Continuing to pay for subscriptions you no longer use

The percentage of Singaporeans with expensive gym memberships is not representative of the number of people who actually regularly make it to the gym.

Likewise, the number of people with subscriptions to local newspapers is not representative of the number of people who actually consider them an unbiased source of news.

If you have any memberships or subscriptions you're under-utilising, do yourself a favour and cancel them. You'll instantly save money each and every month, while undergoing zero lifestyle changes.

This article was first published in MoneySmart.

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