5 things Singaporeans should always buy on the cheap

5 things Singaporeans should always buy on the cheap

This article is not about bashing on people who occasionally enjoy pampering themselves in the "high" life or treating themselves to luxury. In Singapore, we work hard, and it is only right we get to indulge in the things that make us happiest once in a while.

We're here to point out that there will be many times in your life that you will have the option to go with a cheaper option, and you can choose how to go about your buying decisions based on how important the purchase is to you.

We highlight five purchases where you should consider the cheaper alternative.

1. Jewellery

As a rule of thumb, unless you've got investment grade gemstones, we know most pawnshops tend to ignore or undervalue gemstones when purchasing second-hand jewellery.

When you buy jewellery, the value of it is exactly what the metal price is and what the gemstones are worth. It is a tough decision, and for a brave man, to buy a second-hand engagement ring. But other than that, we do not see any reason to buy expensive jewellery with high "making charges" and brand names attached to it.

Most people justify buying jewellery as an "investment" that they can sell in times of hardship. So we say, at least buy jewellery that have the best resale value!

2. Books/Textbooks

Singapore enjoys great varieties and choice of books and reading materials at our libraries. These are, of course, for a limited time, and most importantly, for free.

If you have to buy books and textbooks, second-hand stores tend to offer the cheapest option. We've bought and rented many books in the past, and never, on any occasion, did we find the quality of the product lacking.

It just does not make sense to buy books and textbooks brand new, read them once or use them for a semester, and then have to deal with storing them. Not that this problem is averted with used alternatives. But you've bought them cheap, and they served the same purpose as a brand new one would, and now you are more in-tuned with the second-hand market to offload them.

3. Homes

Whenever we buy homes, there may be significant variance in prices. This is regardless of whether it is a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat or a resale flat. Moreover, being in Singapore, we do not have to worry about our homes being located in a rough neighbourhood or left in a run-down state. All HDB estates are kept clean, sanitary and safe.

The difference in prices usually accounts for the level the unit is on, the size of the unit, its proximity to the MRT station or the view it offers. When we're buying a home to live in for the long-term, we should not be overly fixated on these details as the difference in price of units in the same estate could easily add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

4. Cars

Sure, that new-leather smell is amazing and that circular ornament divided into three equal parts at the front of the car defines sexy. But a car gets you and your family from one place to another regardless of how expensive it is.

The car also starts depreciating at a steep rate the second you step on its brand new accelerator. Just by going on SgCarMart's website, we found two comparable Honda Civics, one with approximately two years left on its COE going for $25,800 and another with approximately four years left on its COE going for $53,900. The difference is almost double.

You have to go to a reliable dealer and ensure that you test the car before you purchase second-hand ones. In fact, even engaging an acquaintance in the mechanic industry for a fee may save you a lot of trouble and money down the road.

5. Electronics

The value of electronics also depreciates steeply from the moment it is released. There are many examples to this, and we quote two examples below, where you can go the second-hand or the brand new route.

Anyone with a Playstation 4 will tell you that buying a brand new game is for suckers. All you have to do is wait three to six months and you'll start to see the price of games falling. At this point, you can buy it for a fraction of the original price when the game first came out.

When you purchase your next iPhone, you will do good to wait until a new model is out before buying an older version, which will be significantly cheaper even brand new.

Making sense of it

Not everyone will make the same decisions on which items they can or cannot accept a cheaper option and the five purchases listed above is not exhaustive.

In Singapore, there is a certain stigma with going to the pawn shop, buying second-hand or even trying to save "face" when purchasing a car or home. There's no shame in getting a good deal on a second-hand product or waiting a whole year to buy outdated, but still very usable, iPhones.

Technology is also making it easier to locate second-hand products via mobile apps and good deals via discount sites. Why not share with us, and other readers, what items you managed to buy on the cheap without compromising quality.

6 items S'poreans who want to save money shouldn't buy in S'pore


DollarsAndSense.sg is a website that provides bite-sized and relevant articles to help Singaporeans make better financial decisions.

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