5 vices that cost Singaporeans big money

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.

Smoking

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.

Vices that are costing Singaporeans big money

  • Smoking

    Smokers maintain that smoking helps them de-stress. Well, to each his own. But there's no denying that smoking is an expensive habit in Singapore.

  • Smoking

    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.

  • Excessive drinking

    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.

  • Excessive drinking

    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 when you do your groceries.

  • Excessive drinking

    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.

  • Casino gambling

    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.

  • Casino gambling

    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.

  • Casino gambling

    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.

  • 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.

  • Shopping as a hobby

    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.

  • Shopping as a hobby

    If shopping is seriously your main recreational activity, it might be time to get an actual hobby. There's a host of martial arts gyms and yoga studios so you can no longer spend money on clothes.

  • Gluttony

    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.

  • Gluttony

    Unless you're willing to confine all your culinary adventures to hawker centres or food courts, you'll have to contend with paying rising prices at your favourite restaurants.

  • Gluttony

    Channel your foodieism into something useful by learning how to cook and then making meals at home.

Excessive drinking

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.

Casino gambling

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.

How Singaporeans can lower their cost of living

  • Nobody ever said Singapore was a cheap place to live in. But some things here are more expensive than others, and getting a cheap meal isn't impossible so long as you don't expect to be sitting in air conditioned comfort and waited on hand and foot.
  • Renting out unused rooms on your property to defray the cost of living can generate some passive income for yourself.
  • If you live in private property, rent out your place on a short-term basis on Airbnb whenever you go on holiday, so you earn some spare cash while you travel.
  • Go to polyclinics for basic medical and dental help (unless you employer pays for this). The $10.70 you pay for a consultation at a polyclinic is 1/3 the price you'd pay at a private clinic. The medicines also tend to be cheaper.
  • Use your $500 SkillsFuture and your $100 ActiveSG credit.
  • If you have kids of school-going age, check if they qualify for Edusave Bursaries and Awards and the Good Progress Award. The household income cap for the Edusave Merit Bursary is $6,000 as of 2015.
  • Anybody planning to buy HDB property needs to understand the different CPF Housing Grants.
  • Meals at mid-range to high-end restaurants have escalated in price over the past decades. While $10 could get you a decent restaurant meal in the 90s, these days you'll need to budget about $25 to $30.
  • On the other hand, while hawker food prices have not risen as quickly, and picking hawker centres instead of restaurants when you eat out means greater savings than before.
  • Public transport is way cheaper than driving, even if you rely mostly on taxis.
  • Alcohol is ridiculously expensive, but drinking in the streets is actually allowed before 10:30pm. Buying a beer from 7-11 instead of imbibing it at an overpriced Clarke Quay bar will save you almost $20.

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.

Gluttony

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.

How much do Singapore households really spend each month?

  • Average Singaporean households spend the largest portion of their monthly income, or 25.1 per cent, on food and beverage.
  • An average Singapore households spend about $156, or 3.3 per cent, on clothing and footwear.
  • Housing and related expenses take up 14.5 per cent of Singaporean households' monthly income.
  • The low figure could be due to the fact that most households would be utilizing their CPF money for their monthly home loan instalment.
  • 5.5 per cent of the monthly income of Singaporean households is spent on healthcare.
  • At $811 a month, transport expenses is more than 17 per cent of total expenditure of households, and ranked 2nd highest behind food.
  • This high figure could have been affected due to the high cost of car ownership, but could be realistic even for a household that does not own a car.
  • 4.6 per cent of income, or $217, a month is spent on communication.
  • Singaporean households spend about $399, or 8.4 per cent, on recreation and culture.
  • Educational services take up 6.6 per cent.
  • 13.9 per cent of household expenditure in Singapore is spent on miscellaneous goods and services such as social support services, insurance expenses, personal care services and expenditure on alcohol and tobacco.

The article first appeared on MoneySmart

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