Some steps that we may have overlooked in busy Singapore
Singapore is one of the most expensive cities to live in. However, the advantages of living in Singapore are many and it remains one of the most coveted cities in the world despite the high living costs.
In this era of global warming and climate change, it behooves everyone to do their part to conserve resources starting from the home. These habits should be adopted and will make a significant change in your bottom line.
To ameliorate these high-cost factors, one could exercise some effort to cut corners so to speak but legally of course. It requires us to be mindful of our way of living.
Here are a few suggestions (by no means exhaustive);
1 Water Usage —
Water is not cheap. In Singapore, water is not only imported and they incur costs to be purified. There are also treatment costs to produce water from our local catchment areas and unconventional sources, specifically Newater and desalinated water. In addition, there are storage and distribution costs to the population and the factories.
Considering the fact that Singapore cannot be reliant on the neighboring countries to supply water, it is our national duty to ‘save’ ourselves in times of urgency. Here are some ways, common but often overlooked.
1) Do not wash dishes under running water. At best, it could be a steady stream and the dishes could be soaked in a bigger container.
2) Wipe food off plates before soaping all dishes. It is cleaner hence is easier and faster to wash.
3) Oily pots and pans should be presoaked with soap water to make them easier to wash.
4) If you have a garden, collect rainwater which you can use to wash the backyard and toilet floors. Water can also be used for watering indoor plants and washing cars.
However, collected water should be utilized within two days to avoid breeding mosquitoes.
5) Use a cup when brushing teeth and a basin for washing your face which also collects water.
2 Electricity Usage
1) Use air-con only on very unbearably hot days. It should be set at 25 to 27 degrees in summer to ensure maximum energy efficiency. Switch to fans as far as possible. Also, set the timer on air-cons to be more precise.
2) Switch off all appliances when not in use.
3) Use LED (light-emitting diode) lights which save up to 90% compared to the traditional bulbs when using the same light output. Reasons:
a) LED panel lighting is highly energy-efficient and can save around 90% electricity as compared to incandescent lights and 50% as compared to CFLs(Compact Fluorescent lamps)
b) Reduce “light pollution” as the LED light is highly focused and so there is less scattered light in the environment.
c) LED lights do emit negligible heat to the environment because of their high efficiency to convert electricity to light. Consequently, they are good for plant growth as they do not add heat to the environment like conventional bulbs.
d)There is less emission of greenhouse gases.
e)They also do not contain some mercury like CFLs. CFLs contain about 4 mg of mercury which may be released if the latter is broken.
f) LED lights may last between 35,000 and 50,000 hours. This means that it would take a long time before the next replacement. It degrades and dims over time and is very safe.
4) Solar light is free energy and worth exploring. If they are charged adequately in direct sunlight, they will automatically function after dusk. They are dependent on weather conditions so may not be so bright after a cloudy or rainy day due to inadequate charging.
They are simple to install as they could be left out in the sun to charge but rechargeable batteries are used. Generally, the lights are less powerful but they provide great ambiance lights for the garden and walkway. They do not last as long as LED lights and need to be cleaned so that sunlight can be absorbed.
3 Cutting expenses on a daily basis
1 Choosing water as the beverage over cafe’s coffee and tea. Water is healthy and cheap. It is not only a very good habit to hydrate yourself, but it also makes your occasional trip to the cafe a rare and enjoyable one. Assuming that it cost $1 a bottle and you are bottling from home, that would be a saving of $350 a year.
2 Search for good buys on the internet using mobile apps. Whether it is goods or services, the internet offers innumerable websites where you can shop for things economically. Many enterprises have a presence on the internet as mobile apps which may be downloaded and you can find great deals ranging from clothes to food to services, etc.
The Fave mobile app has fave deals and fave pay. Fave deals offer discounted prices of items from many categories. These are pre-paid purchases that customers can redeem online or at physical stores.
Fave pay allows you to pay quickly at participating stores by scanning the store’s QR code with your smartphone and receive instant cashback. At the same time, you may earn partner cashback as much as 20% which is applied automatically on your next purchase at the same partner outlet. It does have an expiry date.
Grab App has many options that range from affordable travel rides to having your food delivered to your doorstep, saving time, petrol, and parking. You may also have a whole host of household necessities delivered to your home without hassle. Each Grabpay transaction will earn you more Grabreward points which can be used to redeem more goodies.
In Singapore (and several Asian countries), Carousell App is a marvelous platform that enables a user to sell underutilized or unused stuff that can generate some cash for customers. You may also come across good bargains from other sellers. It is really a win-win situation for buyers and sellers and helps save money.
4 Use your Credit cards wisely.
Knowing your budget and spending within your means enables you to save money.
Credit cards are a great convenience when it comes to payment. You can pay online, not carry a wad of dollars in your wallet and earn reward points. Many cards give cashback on purchase and some convert your spending into miles for your travel purposes.
All this is to your benefit if you spend within your means and pay off the outstanding balance by the due date. Otherwise, the amount one owes can become a runaway train. This snowball effect can lead to poor credit scores.
As a clear example, we have a bank’s credit card whose interest rate is 25% a year (many banks have increased their rates).
Assuming, your credit card bill is $5000 and the minimum sum is $50 a month.
You have decided to only pay the minimum sum of $50. Any unpaid balance and interest continue to be charged. At this rate, you would take 14.5 years to pay off and the total amount would be $13,500 or 3 X the original debt!
If you don’t pay the minimum sum by the due date, there will be a late fee and finance charge added to your next bill that attracts interest.
In addition, be aware that a credit card has an annual fee subscription(though the first year is free) and this is added to your bill. It may be reversed out if you contact your bank. Replacement cards also may be charged and any advance withdrawal of cash also attracts fees.
In short, credit cards are for short-term payments and not long-term loans. Being mindful of how a credit card works can help one to tap on its conveniences and benefits without getting into financial trouble.
5 Remortgage your housing loan
Unless you are flushed with cash, most people in Singaporeans are on a housing loan as the cost of housing is exorbitant by any world standard. It is not uncommon as we are busy with our daily lives, that payments are drawn from our accounts to pay off the loan without us realizing that we could pay the loan at a cheaper, prevailing rate.
Refinancing your house saves money as you may get a lower interest rate or reduce the loan term without changing the amount much. The best person to speak with is your bank officer.
6 Take care of your health
Health is Wealth as they say. Though you may be covered by insurance that protects you from the inevitable, taking care of your health in all the ways that we already know goes a long way to save costs.
In conclusion, it is about living smart with your money. This list is by no means exhaustive but they are practical everyday activities that we could perform to reduce unnecessary high bills. Living in Singapore may be expensive but not exercising caution in the way we live our lives can make it expensive anywhere we stay in the world.