Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Tips to Reduce Cost of Living (PM Lee's & SG Budget Babe's version)

PM Lee shared some tips during his NDP Rally Speech this year (2018). While I applaud the government for some of their initiatives - Medishield Life and CareShield - which I find are fantastic improvements, many of the tips that our dear PM shared didn't seem to be particularly useful for middle-income households like mine.



Here's a summary of PM Lee's tips:

To save money on utilities:

  • Be mindful of water and electricity usage
  • For lower income families, U-Save rebates are provided to help offset some of the costs

To save on mobile phone expenses:

  • Watch your data usage and download using home Wi-Fi instead of 4G
  • Tap on Wireless@SG when it is available outside

To save on infant milk formula

  • Breastfeed
  • All infant formulas sold in Singapore meets the nutritional needs of the children and brands should not matter

For cheaper food options

  • Look for economical options. Stalls in new hawker centres will offer one option priced at $3 or less.
While all these tips are fine and dandy, I can't help but feel many of these are quite...redundant? It is either stuff that we already know, or oversimplified such that it doesn't address other costs involved. And all that talk about households having only had one land line ($8 / month) vs. today where every family member owns a smartphone was quite redundant, because it isn't as though we can go back to living like a dinosaur!

Since I belong to the middle-income household range (where CHAS and other subsidies don't really help us much), we need to find other ways to cut down on expenses and cope with costs of living instead.




Here's SG Budget Babe's tips instead for the middle-income sandwiched generation:

To save money on utilities:

  • Switch to energy-efficient appliances such as LED light bulbs.
  • Install curtains and dark blinds to block the sunlight and heat, keeping your house cooler.
  • Set your air-con to switch off after a few hours and your fan to switch on thereafter, in order to circulate the cold air around the room for the rest of the night after you've fallen asleep. 
  • Store hot water in a thermos flask instead of reboiling it multiple times a day.
  • Take shorter showers. Brush your teeth with a cup of water instead of letting the water run.

To save on mobile phone expenses:

  • Switch to a SIM-only plan. I like Circles.Life, MyRepublic and Zero for their cheaper rates which typically offer more value-for-money than our 3 local incumbents. 
    • Circles.Life has always been extremely affordable, especially if you don't need too much talktime, or can do your calls over Whatsapp.
    • MyRepublic currently offers the best deal, where $35 gets you 7GB and unlimited talktime every month. If you're signing up with their broadband, you get another 3GB on top of the 7GB!
  • Don't go for the newest phone models, which typically are hyped up and cost a lot more. See if you can buy off Carousell instead, or get an older model from an Ah Beng mobile phone shop.
    • Want an iPhone? Then be prepared to fork out over $1000 for it, in which case you're not entitled to complain about how expensive mobile phones are anymore, since you made the choice to go for a more expensive option. 



To save on infant milk formula

  • Breastfeeding is great, but PM Lee seems to not have factored in other costs such as:
    • Lactation consultation sessions for when your baby is unable to latch well
    • Jaundice phototherapy treatments (common among Asian babies who are breastfed)
    • Breast pumps and parts (especially for working mothers)
    • Breastmilk bags, bottles, cooler pads
    • Lactation massage (for cases of oversupply, or to clear engorged ducts)
    • Nipple creams (for cracked nipples, which happens quite often to breastfeeding mothers)
    • Milk bottles and teats, which need to be changed every few months as your baby grows (to help the mother preserve her sanity as another family member takes over some of the feeding sessions)
    • Steriliser - whether hot water, steam or UV steriliser 
    • Milk boosters - fish papaya soup, fenugreek supplements, lactation cookies, etc
    • Calcium or post-natal supplements - so that we consume enough nutrients to produce nutritious breastmilk for our growing babies
  • All infant formulas sold in Singapore meets the nutritional needs of the children and brands should not matter
    • I'd rather say to go for the more affordable brands like Australia Gold or Aptamil, instead of the more expensive brands that are constantly advertised to us.
    • After your kid turns one years of age, you can switch them to goat or cow milk, which is still cheaper than formula milk.
  • Buy from Malaysia (at your own risk).
I would also like to add to our dear PM Lee that infant milk formula is not the most expensive cost for many of us parents - have you seen the costs of infantcare?! At $1000 and up a month, that is WAY more than what milk powder will cost us, and what worries us more. 

Being a SAHM (stay at home mother) is also not always an option for some families, considering how the rising costs of living has made a dual-income household almost mandatory in order for most people to be able to cope. In my household, all 4 of us work (includes my in-laws, who intend to work until they hit retirement age or until no one is willing to hire them anymore) in order to keep up!

For cheaper food options

  • Eat hawker food (but don't keep going for the hipster ones, DUH) and avoid cafes or restaurants if you cannot afford it.
  • Cut down on snacks and drinks outside.
    • Try tracking how much your snacks and bubble tea is costing you and you'll be surprised. I realised this after tracking every one of my expenses, and found that my snacks cost almost as much as my hawker meals sometimes!
  • Make your own meals at home and prep them to bring to work. Even better, share with a colleague and take turns cooking!


Other tips

What other tips do you have for reducing the cost of living in Singapore? 

With love,
Budget Babe


    1 comment:

    1. a lot of things can be saved since cheaper options are usually available. Question is do you wish to live in this manner and watch out for every cts. If this is the lifestyle what one desires, then by all means go ahead. For myself, jus live within my means will suffice for now.

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