The steoreotypical Singaporean uncle's main hobbies are gambling at the casino, buying 4D and Toto, drinking Tiger Beer at kopitiams and socialising at lup sup bars. Take that, anybody who accuses Singaporeans of being goodie two shoes.
Unfortunately, leading a life of vice can also get pretty expensive, so unless you're a mafia boss with a harem of pimps and drug dealers doing your bidding, try to reduce the incidences of indulging in the following.
While non-smokers like to lambast smokers for their cancer-causing habit, smokers maintain that smoking helps them de-stress. Well, to each his own. But there's no denying that smoking is a freaking expensive habit in Singapore.
A single pack of 20 cigarettes will set you back at least $10 to $14. And to make matters worse, forget about buying cigarettes in bulk in Malaysia. The customs officers are very diligent about weeding out cigarette smugglers.
Solution: E-cigarettes are unfortunately banned in Singapore. While quitting smoking is obviously the most economical solution, many people who've successfully quit have cited smoking e-cigarettes as an effective quitting strategy and then gradually cutting down the amount of nicotine used, however you'll have to find a way to get your hands on this illegal item here), for smokers determined to hang on to the habit, rollies are the most economical option.
In line with the recent trend of Singapore banning anything fun, you can no longer drink in public or buy drinks at 7-11 after 10:30pm.
This means that those alcoholics who want to get their fix need to pay exorbitant bar prices. We're talking about $15 to $20 for a pint of generic beer, which is more than what you'd pay almost anywhere else in the world.
Solution: Alcohol from the airport's duty free section and supermarkets remain the cheapest options, so stock up whenever you fly in to Changi Airport or do your groceries. It's still perfectly legal to drink outdoors before 10:30pm, so you have a good excuse to organise a picnic or barbecue and bust out the booze.
Technically, gambling should only cost money if your luck stinks. Except if you're Singaporean or a Singapore PR and want to gamble at one of the local integrated resorts.
By virtue of your nationality or PR status, you'll be made to fork out $100 to enter the casino, which as every gambler knows is a psychological handicap that could make you more desperate to win your money back, with disastrous results.
Solution: If you really must gamble, check out a floating casino instead. Entry fees are a fraction of what the IRs are charging, and you're often allowed to convert them into rolling chips, meaning it becomes almost free to enter so long as you gamble enough. If you're addicted, you could just go cold turkey and get a Casino Exclusion that prohibits you from entering the RWS and MBS casinos.
Shopping as a hobby
Regardless of what you think of those people who declare shopping as one of their favourite hobbies, you have to admit it's a pretty expensive activity to indulge in in Singapore. Our real estate prices are some of the world's most expensive, and of course, the cost gets passed on to you, dear shopper.
In addition, with minimal manufacturing capabilities, most of our products are imported. That's why you end up paying $60 for a made-in-Thailand dress at Far East Plaza, when the exact same item would cost you 200 baht ($8) at Chatuchak Market.
Solution: If shopping is seriously your main recreational activity, it might be time to get an actual hobby so you no longer have to spend your weekends in shopping malls. There's a whole host of martial arts gyms and yoga studios who'd gladly take your money so you can no longer spend it on clothes.
Eating out used to be fairly inexpensive in Singapore, but if you've been paying attention, you'll have realised that mid-range and high-end dining is getting more and more expensive.
Unless you're willing to confine all your culinary adventures to hawker centres (long queues at the good stalls) or food courts (bland, tasteless food at most chains), you'll have to contend with paying rising prices at your favourite restaurants.
Blame it on real estate prices and a public that's willing to pay disproportionate amounts just because a restaurant looks chic, but paying $5 to $7 for a cup of hipster coffee made by a barister who's dressed like he belongs on the cover of Nylon has become the norm.
Solution: Channel your foodieism into something useful by learning how to cook and then making meals at home. You'll soon realise that a lot of mid-range restaurants are serving mass made rubbish that you can make better on your own.
The article first appeared on MoneySmart
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