We’re all getting a 5% pay cut this month, and perhaps for the next few months as well! I know this is an exaggeration but recent inflation figures seem to imply so: our purchasing power is being eroded by higher prices these days. I reckon the best way to fight inflation, as we all know, is to be frugal and spend less. But what if we do need to spend? Well, I certainly believe there’s a smart way to shop and a not-so-smart way. So, I’ve been doing some reading and applying some of the tips and tricks in the “smart money tips” books I’ve been devouring:
Haggle: Bargaining for a lower price just doesn’t seem to be a very Singaporean thing. I know because I found it so difficult to do so when I first stayed in China. Bargaining was the norm there at fresh food markets, small goods stores and copy or fake branded goods markets but we Singaporeans were always so shy about it. I learnt a thing or two from my friends of other nationalities. As long as you’re firm and polite all the way through the haggling, it really can be a very good way to save a few bucks.
I tried this recently when shopping for a piano teacher for my 2 kids. I did my own internet research first and requested for a lowering of rates based on the lowest rates quoted. The teacher eventually agreed to reduce her price. Hey, bargaining actually works in Singapore! Try it out especially for services and small shops. If they won’t budget on price, ask to throw in a freebie. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Stock ahead: If you’re like me and don’t really like window shopping, this is something that might work. Make a list of friends or relatives whom you have to buy presents for, be it for birthdays, mother’s days or the like. Shop at genuine sales and stock up ahead when you see something that the potential recipient might like. Please don’t wait till the day before. You’d probably end up with something expensive and very run-of-the-mill. This can apply to bulk purchase of non-perishable household goods, granted of course you don’t mind the storage. However, if you’re like me and may forget what you’ve bought, it might not work.
Try out first: Remember the gym membership or facial package you bought that was used only once in a blue moon? Or maybe the newest gadget that has been lying around untouched? When buying something that involves a change in your lifestyle, always try it out first to see if it’s really for you. This is especially true for services. Be brutally honest and don’t buy something just because everyone else has it. You may even consider paying for the trial but request that the payments be used to offset the full package if you eventually take it up.
Don’t buy it: Being “face-loving” Asians, we often scoff at using hand-me-downs or borrowing something. Let’s face it – recycling is big in many developed countries. Thrift markets and even toy recycling centres are thriving in the United States and Europe. We are seriously lagging behind on this concept. When you need the occasional camping tent or sleeping mat, don’t just buy it. Open your mouth and ask around. A friend or relative may be able to loan it to you just for that one-off camping trip your child has to go.
Whenever I want to spend money on something, I will allow myself a week or two to question if it can really provide me the joy or value that I think it would. Can something else I already have provide me with the same? Maybe there’s a masochistic streak in me, but I find it rather enjoyable challenging myself!
So, in it all, I hope you have fun too! Life’s a drab if you keep counting every penny.
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