SINGAPORE — Things are getting more expensive in Singapore.
You are probably aware that Singapore's core inflation hit a 13-year high in July. Core inflation, which excludes costs of private transport and accommodation, rose to 4.8 per cent, driven mainly by stronger increases in the prices of food, electricity and gas.
What's worse, prices look set to go up even more with the impending increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) to 8 per cent in 2023 and to 9% in 2024.
Some millennials are fighting inflation by using strategies that go beyond following standard budgeting advice as they adjust their lifestyles to tackle rising prices which shows no signs of abating in the near future.
This is part of a series where Yahoo Finance Singapore will focus on different aspects of millennials and their finances. In this last part, we hear from different millennials who share five practical tips on how they save money effectively.
Take the public transport or cycle
A portion of one’s monthly earnings or allowance has to be allocated for transportation. After all, we do need to travel around on a daily basis. Based on average concession fares for young adults, this can cost up to S$128 a month for unlimited bus and train rides.
However, for Caleb How, a 23-year-old undergraduate at the National University of Singapore (NUS), transport fees used to cost him nearly S$400 a month. That’s because How used to rely mainly on Grab rides whenever it was more convenient.
For instance, on days where he is running late for school, he would book a Grab ride in order to reach on time. But because he stays in the east side of Singapore and NUS is located in the west, the ride can cost up to S$30 during peak hours. If he takes a Grab thrice a week for a month, it would already cost him S$360 — more than half that of an adult concession fare.
“Nowadays, I make the effort to wake up earlier to take public transport. It might be a longer journey but at least I know that I am saving a lot of money in the long run,” How said.
“I’ve also recently started cycling whenever I need to go to a nearby place, which helps me to save even more money and get some exercise done too,” he added.
Cut down on bubble tea
Bubble tea is arguably one of the most popular beverages among Singaporeans. But with an average cup costing S$4 without any toppings, some might be thinking twice before making a purchase.
Renee Lee, 19, used to buy bubble tea at least twice a week as it was “great thirst quencher in the heat” and because she absolutely loved the black tapioca pearl toppings. However, as she is still taking money from her parents, she felt guilty that she would spend nearly S$30 just on bubble tea a week.
Now, in a bid to save money, Lee opts for cheaper options such as soya bean from Mr Bean or a bottle of juice from a convenience store. Sometimes, she also brings her own water bottle out.
“Cutting down on bubble tea has not just been beneficial for my health, but for my wallet too. I am now able to allocate money for more important things such as transport,” Lee shared.
Bring home-cooked food to the office or school
Similarly, 23-year old Lilian Tan, an intern at a local marketing firm, has had money woes regarding food. That’s because meals in her office area don’t come cheap. For instance, a plate of cai fan can already cost S$8 while a normal meal at a restaurant can cost S$15. Tan would also have to spend even more if she decides to have dinner with her friends after work.
“I found myself spending a lot of unnecessary money on food. Sometimes when I decide to get a drink too, I can easily spend nearly S$40 a day just on food,” said Tan.
As such, Tan has decided to bring in home-cooked food on most days and encourages other millennials to do the same. This way, she not only saves time on jostling with the lunch crowd to queue for food, but also saves money to spend on other things.
“Bringing home-cooked food to the office to eat for lunch has definitely allowed me to save so much cash. In fact, I will probably continue doing this when I go back to school for my final year after my internship has ended,” Tan added.
Go thrift shopping
If anything, millennials are always on the hunt to follow the latest fashion trends in a bid to stay relevant and cool. However, these clothing items are more often than not ridiculously expensive, with some even having a price tag of three digits.
Apart from shopping at more standard clothing stores like Uniqlo and H&M, Ian Wong, a 25-year-old marketing associate, suggests that youths can shop at thrift shops instead. Clothes here are priced on average at $5 and give off a more vintage look and feel.
“I first started thrifting two years ago and I have never looked back since. While the clothes may be second-handed, most of them are still as good as new, and more importantly they are really very cheap,” said Wong, who shared that he has saved at least $400 since he started thrifting.
Wong added: “Thrifting is also helpful for the environment since it essentially gives clothes a new lease of life.”
Shop only when there are sales
With the rise of e-commerce sites over the last few years, online shopping has definitely taken the world by storm. But that also means unnecessary spending since everything can be bought by just a tap on the screen.
Isabelle Chua, 22, a local undergraduate, used to shop for anything and everything on online shopping platforms without batting an eyelid, only to find out that she has racked up a huge bill at the end of the month.
To ease the burden, she suggests that millennials only shop during big campaigns such as year-end 10.10, 11.11 and 12.12 sales on platforms like Shopee and Lazada. During these sales, buyers can get up to S$50 cashback vouchers, supersized flash deals and free shipping.
Chua shared: “Shopping during a sale has really helped me to save money. A dress which costs S$40 is now only at S$18. I believe that these small savings over time can accumulate to a lot.”