Many of us pride ourselves on our frugality, but how frugal are you truly being?
Our ability to justify our expenditures is so strong that sometimes, all you may need is a little wake up call. Find out if you’re potentially wasting your budget on these 10 pointless purchases.
1. Underused subscriptions
Subscriptions can be sneaky budget eaters. They’re (seemingly) affordable, require low upfront financial commitment and conveniently debited from your account without you having to lift a finger.
Some are necessary, like mobile plans, WiFi and work-related software.. Outside of that, nothing is off limits for today’s subscription economy. Coffee machines? You got it. Fresh flowers? Of course. Cars? Just say the word. We haven’t even touched on the slew of media and entertainment subscriptions.
Though seemingly inexpensive, all your combined commitments tend to pile up – and that’s provided you haven’t forgotten about them in the first place.
Using subscriptions wisely allows you to take advantage of the convenience and financial flexibility offered. Check out our tips below on how to get savvier with your subscriptions.
- Run through your statements to audit all your running subscriptions
- Keep a spreadsheet of all your subscriptions along with their renewal dates
- Take advantage of family plans and share with friends/colleagues/family (Netflix, Spotify, Youtube premium etc.)
- If you’re using a free trial, set a reminder on your calendar a few days before the trial period ends
- Always disable the auto-renew function (for less necessary subscriptions)
- Use the Planner Bee app to easily track your subscription transactions (see image below)
2. Premium, branded goods
Sometimes, we splurge on premium goods simply because they’re worth the investment. Think car tyres or certain household appliances. On the flipside, some buyers fall prey to external validation and purchase name-brand goods just for the sake of the brand itself.
Try and catch yourself when you’re buying something that’s a little out of your budget. Why is this brand better than all the others in the market? Could I get this item for equal quality at a lower price?
Remember that not all branded products are associated with quality. Evaluate the products you buy and find ways to cut costs by using generic versions of the same product.
Groceries are a necessary expense. Because they’re an essential category, many are prone to paying extra for specialty ingredients, buying more than necessary, or forking out for cravings.
Think about it – how often do you toss out those wilted leafy greens or sprouted potatoes?
Below are some handy tips on how to not let your stomach guide your grocery shopping:
- Plan your cooking in advance
- Simplify your meals
- The golden rule: never grocery shop when hungry
- Opt for ingredients with longer shelf lives
- Buy local produce that’s in season
- Skip the grocery store – head to your local wet market instead
Don’t just stick to one grocer either! For larger purchases that you find yourself making on a recurring basis, do a little sleuthing to find the lowest possible price. For instance, a simple item like soda water is cheaper on EzBuy compared to FairPrice.
4. “Health” products
Be wary of skeptical health products with far-fetched claims. Think “detox” teas, overpriced collagen drinks, and fake supplements.
A closer look at the ingredient label would reveal that many health products are simply full of empty calories, with such minute traces of their active ingredients that it barely counts.
Likewise, the same goes for superfoods such as acai berries and kale. While it’s no doubt that they’re nutrient-dense and packed full of goodness, they’re also extremely expensive in comparison with equally healthy alternatives – the everyday fruits and vegetables available in our local markets.
Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. Always do your due diligence and compare nutritional profiles in accordance with their price and weightage.
5. Low quality, highly specific kitchen appliances
You’re only one online search away from a multitude of kitchen appliances. Waffle makers, air fryers, bread makers, pasta makers…the list goes on.
As with skincare and makeup, it’s worthwhile to adopt a minimalist ideal. Know which appliances you would realistically use often (if not on a daily basis), then invest more for high-quality versions of those appliances.
For instance, instead of buying a blender, handheld immersion blender and food processor – invest in a single high-powered blender that has the capacity to handle all functions. The clutter-free countertop certainly pays off too.
6. Daily coffee fix
We’re not urging you to do without your daily coffee(s). For many, they’re one of life’s small joys and a worthwhile investment for the productivity and efficiency it affords you.
Instead, you could opt for coffee from your local kopitiam instead which will easily cut a third of the price down. Home brewed coffee via pour overs, french press, cold brews or coffee makers could also save more money in the long run.
7. Home improvement projects and decor
We all want our homes to look good – doubly so now that we’re spending the entirety of our days within the same four walls.
When the interior designer within us yearns to unleash his or her creativity, it’s best to hold back before we start converting the balcony into a full-fledged garden or overhauling the entire living room. Home improvement projects can cost thousands, which can be a problem if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck to begin with.
You might also find yourself buying all manner of home decor from paintings to mirrors to sculptures. More often than not, these random buys end up looking more like display items rather than seamlessly integrating with your home.
Most interior designers will advise you to invest in furniture, lighting and perhaps a statement piece. More clutter will only take up space and make your home look less roomy.
8. Gym memberships and group class packages
For the avid gym goer and group class fanatic, your gym membership and class packages are non-negotiable.
However, if you’re hitting up the gym just to clock in a couple kilometres of jogging and some bodyweight workouts, you might want to rethink your $100 monthly gym membership. Exercises like jogging and bodyweight workouts could easily be done at home since there’s no equipment involved.
Yoga, HIIT,and other group classes can be highly rewarding too. But if you’re looking to cut down on costs wherever possible, try opting for YouTube or workout apps for guided classes. Some fitness platforms we like include:
9. Underutilised tech gadgets
Just as with kitchen appliances, there are highly specific and affordable tech gadgets abound.
Power banks, portable speakers, earphones, cameras and tripods – of all the gadgets in your possession at the moment, which actually see the light of day more than once a month?
Rather than letting your underutilised tech depreciate away in a cupboard somewhere, try reselling them on secondhand platforms like Carousell or Facebook marketplace.
10. Unnecessary skincare and beauty products
Given the sheer variety of skincare and beauty products, it’s easy to understand why so many tend to overspend on skincare. Truth is, you don’t need a 12-step skincare routine.
Stick to the bare minimum of essentials that work for you, and refrain from straying from your core staple products. Once you know which ingredients work for you, you can use sites like CosDNA to view the ingredient analysis of new products before purchasing.
If you’re dealing with stubborn skin conditions, consider investing in a consultation with a dermatologist. The one-time fee you pay will offset the money you would otherwise waste on ineffective products down the line.