As Chinese New Year fast approaches, and we launch into the year of the goat, it seems prudent to take a moment to consider 10 ways of embodying frugality – a trait I associate with this four-legged animal. I’ll be handing out hong baos to my friends’ children (little red envelopes of money) as is the custom, while at the same time keeping these 10 tips in mind.
1. Eat at a hawker centre or food court. A lot of food courts, have a surprising variety of dishes and its possible to eat cheaply and healthily. Go easy on the sauce (or better yet do without) and go for Thai stalls or soup dishes like Yong Tau Foo or Ba kut teh that can be enjoyed without rice or noodles.
2. Exercise outdoors for free. Both The Botanical Gardens and East Coast Park have outdoor gymn areas. Join or start a workout group or just go on your own. Twenty minutes exercise in Singapore’s humidity is 45 mins everywhere else!
3. Taxi tarrifs are on the rise, so to avoid extra surcharges, hail one between 9.30am and 6pm. If you’re going into the central city area, there’s also an additional charge between 5pm and midnight.
4. Wednesday night is Ladies night! Grab your besties and enjoy complimentary, free-flowing drinks in most of Singapore’s bars. Drink responsibly 🙂
5. Travel for free on the MRT! Until June 23rd you can travel for free until 7.45am, if you’re going to certain destinations in the central area. These include Bras Basah, Orchard, Esplanade, Marina Bay, Dhoby Ghaut and Bugis to name a few. The very helpful Land Transport Authority website gives some very helpful reasons as to why one might want to travel that early. These include and I quote ‘have a good workout at the gymn’ or ‘enjoy a leisurely breakfast with your colleagues’. Classic. Couldnt have said it better myself!
6. For useful, cute and colourful household items, Daiso is the number 1 spot. $2 for everything! I’ve had so many great buys – storage boxes, scissors, those counting clicker things, glass jars, screwdriver sets – everything still works and is intact. Gotta love Japanese quality. There are 11 branches in Singapore, central ones being B4 of Ion Orchard and 4th floor of Plaza Singapura.
7. Singaporeans like to book their holidays months in advance, so flights to popular destinations like Phuket and Pnomh Penh are usually snapped up, especially on public holidays. To bag a great deal, check out Jetstar’s sales and special offers page, and TigerAir’s special deals. They can also inspire you to travel to more unusually named destinations like Tiruchirapalli! B in GCSE geography but still no clue where that is…
8. For competitive prices you have to shop online and my latest find Qoo10 is a real gem. I’ve shopped mainly for baby stuff like stroller fans, stroller rain covers, and really good quality muslin cloths in different designs. But I’ve also seen lots of great stuff like wall clocks, shelves, beanbags, stationery, you name it. Redmart.com is another website my Singaporeans friends shop at, especially when they want to bulk buy and get good discounts. So if you’re a planner like me and you prefer to bulk buy your batteries (yep) then online is the way to go. And if you’re wondering whether an organic, paraben-free lifestyle is possible in Singapore – iherb.com!
9. Non-Asian books and magazines are sooooo expensive here! I tried to buy the UK edition of Glamour magazine which is normally £2. It was $18!!! That’s £9 y’all! What kind of import tax is that?! Paperbacks are slightly better, usually double the price. I left an attic full of books back in the UK so this is really painful. Now you could join the Singapore library, or….find a really great café that stocks international mags! I’ve got the amazing Book Café round the corner, which has shelves and shelves of glossies, brand spanking new fiction and months of past Sunday Times Magazines. Heaven. PS Café also has a good selection. So save that $18 and spend it by mossying on down to a café, ordering an ice cold mocha and relahhhhxing.
10. And my final tip is…shop during Chinese New Year. EVERYTHING is slashed and is well worth the wait.
Have a great New Year. Enjoy the four day weekend and God bless!
xoxoone between 9.30am and 6pm.