Simplicity is Worthy

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Little known ways to beat the high cost living in Singapore as an expat

How to live sustainability without worrying about the high cost of living?

12 ways of living frugally yet intentionally for better future experience

The following ways consist of a ‘mild’ minimalism concept that focuses on de-clutter your spaces. However, do not mistake minimalism as purely de-cluttering your space. It is not about empty spaces and a white wall. It reduces our distraction to a minimum and devotes our energy to things that valuable to us.

Personally, becoming minimalist according to what works well to you would be the best. In my case, I found minimalism fascinating because not only it optimizes my overall focus, but it does help our mother nature as well as living intentionally which encourages me to save in Singapore. After all, spending money on experience such as traveling, or investing in yourself would lead to better mental and physical well-being.  

Singapore is one of the cities with a high cost of living. Unlike Singapore citizen or Permanent Residence, being an ex-pat, you do not have the privilege to receive government financial supports. So, how do I live sustainability when I could not even save with my existing income? Well, you can! By practicing these 12 simple yet effective ways, you could have gone on a holiday and spend on adventurous experience! According to Fumio Sasaki, why wait till retirement age to experience contentment when you could experience it now?

1. Provide a shopping list

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Jeremy Smith, Unsplash

For instance, despite I am living with my four lovely roommates, I prepare three meals per day without costing much. The drawback is you will be eating repetitive meals, but the good side is you can save, live healthily, and de-clutter your fridge too! How awesome is that! It is obvious how one could outweigh another easily if you think rationally.

2. Buy in bulk

grocery pixabay

I do not encourage buying in bulk as it will build the habit of cluttering your home and it is the opposite way of living sustainability. However, be selective when buying bulk such as toothpaste, body shower, shampoos would help in saving.

 What about the food? The supermarket sells food in a bundle and they are the real deal. True, I do not encourage food to be bought in bulk for two reasons. First, buying in bulk affects the freshness of the food, and food that has long shelf life such as canned foods are not healthy and clutter your fridge. Therefore, if you intend to live healthily and sustainability, try not to do so.  

3. Download saving money apps

Benjamin Sow, Unsplash

Plenty of apps you can utilize such as Money Manager, Monny, and Spendee. I have been using Money Manager for a year and it works perfectly fine. The first step is to determine your total incomes and provide a monthly expenses budget for yourself. Divide the rest into various categories that include insurance fund, emergency fund, miscellaneous fund, investment fund, savings fund, and traveling fund too! I love traveling, I am sure you do. By doing so, you could keep track of monthly expenses and determine effective ways to reduce them gradually. Those are just examples. You can divide your expenses according to what best for you.

4. Hanging around thrifty people

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Kevin, Unsplash

Here is what I think,

Hanging with people who are more likely to spend would influence you in some way to spend your hard-earned money. The same goes for hanging with thrifty people, they will influence you in saving money and use them for a better experience! They might even share tricks and tips too! People that you are hanging around play important roles in your behavior of spending.   

5. Daily projects to get distracted or even sell any reusable items online/ apps(Carousell/ eBay)

Have you ever felt like scrolling Shopee, Lazada, Qoo10, or Fairprice apps during your leisure time? Well, probably just window shopping due to current circumstances? Why not distract yourself with daily projects such as cleaning the house and figure out disposable items to be reuse, blogging (like me), or even selling any reusable items online? There are perfect apps for you to sell reusable items such as Carousell or E-bay. It helps you in getting extra bucks and maximize your home space.   

6. Utilize the internet

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Mollie, Unsplash

Avoid local TV subscriptions, instead, choose to pay for broadband internet for about S$50 and watch online streaming channels such as Netflix. Always opt for a DIY workout rather than subscribe to a gym membership. It is like killing two birds with one stone! Some pointed out by subscribing to a gym membership, it will encourage you to work out since you have paid for it. In my opinion, it is your determination and perseverance that counts regardless of whether you pay for it.

7. Get cheaper medication abroad. Any other option? Stay healthy (Prevention is better than cure, as cheesy as it sounds)

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Adam, Unsplash

When I first land in Singapore, I bought an ointment for blister in a pharmacy and it costs me S$58! It was the first and the last time I would buy any medication in Singapore. I have learned to either bring my medication or keep them every time consulting a doctor for future use. Nonetheless, staying healthy through your diet, daily exercises, and avoid bad habits such as smoking and drinking would help in saving a few bucks in your pocket.

8. 3 R’s (recycle, reuse, reduce) as cliché as it sounds


Reuse everything you can even water used to wash rice and vegetables! It reduces water bills like a miracle. Use water bottle – heavily emphasize on using own bottle rather than buying plastic bottle. Recycle or reuse any plastics, glasses, papers, even a big biscuit tin can. The most convenient way to do that would be dividing into two categories, recyclable items, and disposable items.

 9. Public transport over Grab or Gojek

Bus and MRT are the cheapest options. Despite Grab has pretty good deals, your transportation expenses would eventually add up. Singapore has a good public transportation system that could reach anywhere, so make use of it. As a sustainable person, you can make a difference in reducing pollution.

10. Embrace local foods and even better cook your meal during the weekend!

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Joyce, Unsplash

Hidden local stores in Singapore are cheap and delicious! Eat wherever the locals eat, and you will eventually save money. If you are a good cook, like me, you can opt to prepare meals during the weekend. In my case, I could prepare one type of vegetables and meat for estimation of S$2.50 and I could cook several times with the same ingredients.

Here is the tricky part, you will bound to eat the same dishes again but well, you intend to save money and spend on valuable experiences, so why not?   

For those coffee craving lovers, making your coffee can make you feel like a real barista at home. If you are feeling a little lazy, you could always grab Kopi at the local store and some of them could be surprisingly delicious. Try to avoid buying coffee in Starbuck because every purchase of drinks can get expensive over time.

11. Restrain from buying wants rather than needs such as clothes, accessories, unless necessary

If you have come this far, you might want to avoid buying the wants. As tempting as they should be, you can almost go on a great holiday just by reducing those purchases! Besides, you could de-clutter your rented space.

12. Change bad habits – Drinking alcohol and smoking doesn’t help in the long run if you intend to travel and live to experience life.

 Singapore government has imposed tax on alcoholic drinks and cigarettes. You may think twice before having a glass of wine or beer at the pub. It may be hard to overcome these bad habits, however, it is better to take initiative to reduce them gradually. Plus, staying healthy (Step 7) is one of the ways in increasing your saving too!

 Here is what I think,

Saving comes first before saving the earth or leading better well-being, but why not practice ways that could help in saving our money, protecting our earth, and lead better life at the same time?

Sure, they could be inconvenient at times. However, every single action brings tremendous results. Same goes to every single bad action bring disastrous consequence in long term. 

I hope this guide helps you in saving few bucks and living sustainability in Singapore. Comment below if you have some tips in saving money and conserve the environment.

Have a nice day!


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