Back to basics: Here's how one young Singaporean cuts down on her expenses

To cut down on her expenses, Saeyeon has started cash-stuffing.
PHOTO: TikTok/Saeyeonbudgets

From paying $11 for a packet of 'cai fan' to a mad $72 for two raw chickens, it's hard to escape the reality of skyrocketing costs today.

While those may be extreme examples, inflation is just a difficult reality for many of us. 

However, one young Singaporean has found a rather novel (or old-school) way of dealing with it – by stuffing her money into envelopes. 

Inspired by some YouTube videos, this "cash-stuffing" money trend, which has its origins on TikTok, involves putting cash into different envelopes labelled for specific needs such as food, entertainment and transport. 

"You start out by budgeting your pay cheque and then decide whether you want to withdraw all the cash for stuffing or keep aside some in the bank for online transactions," explained student Saeyeon to AsiaOne. 

The notion is that being able to see what you are spending your money on should make it easier for you to control your expenditure, thus making you less likely to overspend. 

In recent months, the 23-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Saeyeon, says she had to cut down on entertainment-related expenses such as watching movies, channelling the money towards more essential items like food.

Saeyeon says she also chooses to eat at home more frequently.

Since starting her cash-stuffing journey in February 2021, she has managed to save $5,000.

This young Singaporean is not alone in trying to tighten her belt due to the rising cost of living. 

With home prices, petrol and food costs going up, AsiaOne conducted a survey in July to see just how well people were coping – and discovered that nearly three in four, or some 73.9 per cent of the 3,001 respondents across all age groups were concerned about the cost of living for the next six months. 

The two top main concerns of these respondents?

Rising costs of food, said 81 per cent of respondents, followed closely by the costs of daily necessities said 76.9 per cent of those polled. 

[Cost of Living Survey] AsiaOne conducted a survey in July to see how people are coping with the rising cost of living....

Posted by AsiaOne on Monday, September 12, 2022

Bye bye iPhone 14

In the survey, more than half – or some 55.3 per cent of respondents – shared that they would adjust to the rising cost of living by cutting back on non-essentials, which is what Saeyeon has been doing.

Upgrade to the latest iPhone 14? Probably not. 

Some 37.2 per cent said they will delay the replacement of hardware including handphones, while 35.6 per cent said they'll be looking up life hacks and discounts to save money. 

Interestingly enough, those between the ages of 25 and 44 were more likely to consider job hopping (25.7 per cent) or moonlighting (22.3 per cent) to increase their incomes to deal with rising cost of living. 

Those aged above 45 (28.1 per cent) said they would even contemplate delaying retirement.

Concerns about housing, jobs 

Going beyond daily expenses, the survey also showed that respondents aged between 25 and 44 were more likely to be concerned about the cost of housing, while those from 35 to 54 were worried about job security. 

On the survey findings, AsiaOne's head of research and analytics office Edmund Chua says that the cost of living is a "major concern" among most Singaporeans, especially those who are of working age. 

This group is at a life stage where they start to have more financial commitments including housing-related ones. 

On the flip side, respondents between the ages of 25 and 35, and those above 55 were more likely to think that cost of living is not a major concern because they have no major financial commitments.

In summary, Chua says that global events have contributed to a rise in prices of daily necessities like food and energy. 

"Given these results and the prevailing geopolitical headwinds, we expect concerns over costs of living to persist for at least another year," he adds.

ALSO READ: 1 dish and plain rice every meal, that's how this family fights rising food prices

claudiatan@asiaone.com