Most people try to be frugal in Singapore during the holidays, but this can be especially difficult when retailers have so many tempting deals for shoppers! Some people use the excuse of missing out on these special offers to spend—sometimes even more than necessary.
Here are five simple life hacks and expert tips to stay within budget and avoid overspending on your holiday shopping every year:
1. Make A Detailed List About Your Holiday Expenses
A list may seem to be a perennial tip for controlling your finances during the holidays, but it’s also among the most overlooked piece of advice. Don’t just write the items that you plan to buy for your friends and family. You should include the estimated price of each gift, the day and time you plan to buy it, and how you intend to pay for it (e.g. cash or credit card).
By making a list, you can avoid an impulse purchase that’s particularly based on emotions. You also save time and effort from randomly selecting items when you’re browsing at a shopping center or online store.
2. Secret Santa and Other Gift Ideas for Big Families
Do you have a large or extended family? It can be a pain in the neck to plan how you can save money on buying holiday presents for everyone each year. A nifty way of limiting your expenses requires an age limit for family members. You can exclude those who are more than 18 years old from your gift list. If that’s not possible, you can just cap the price for each person like not spending over $30.
You can also suggest a Secret Santa for this year. Each person picks a random name and buys a gift only for that person. It saves time and money for everyone, and you’re sure that nobody will judge you for not getting them anything for Christmas or New Year’s Day.
3. Use Your Credit Card’s Cycle Date to Your Advantage
Remember each of your credit cards’ closing dates and purchase items on the next day of every date. For instance, your card’s billing cycle ends during the 1st of each month, and you purchased an item on the 2nd day. The grace period for your payment due date typically ranges from two to three weeks after the closing date. In this case, let’s say that you need to pay your outstanding balance on the 22nd day of the month.
If you bought something on the 1st day and the bank included it to your bill, you only have 21 days to pay for it. On the other hand, you will have almost two months to pay for your purchase if you did it on the 2nd day. That’s because the item you bought will be added to the next month’s billing cycle and should be paid on the 22nd day of the following month.
You should only do this if you have self-discipline on making your purchases, as any uncontrolled transactions will just rack up unnecessary debt. Most people consider credit cards as an extension of their wallets, which is a huge mistake whether or not you have the available cash to pay for your transactions.
Take advantage of your cards’ cycle dates only when you need more time to repay the balance without interest fees. It’s also practical not to put all your outstanding balances on a single card if you have multiple cards, as this may be too burdensome to pay off a large amount within a short period of time.
4. Apply for a Personal Loan Instead of Withdrawing Cash from Credit Cards
Those who must spend on a big-ticket item during the holidays shouldn’t withdraw cash from their credit cards. A personal loan will be the better option because of lower rates. Licensed money lenders in Singapore aren’t allowed to impose interest fees that are higher than 4% every month. The average interest rate for cash advances cost $15 for every withdrawal or 5% to 6% of the amount, whichever is higher.
In addition, banks impose a daily interest rate that continues until you have fully paid the money. An ATM will also charge additional fees if you use a card from a different bank to withdraw money. The usual APR charged daily for cash advances ranges from 24% to almost 30%!
Personal loans are better because you only need to pay in installments for a specific number of months. Lenders may also provide a lower interest rate for those with a good credit score. You should only apply for a personal loan for sudden and unavoidable purchases that are not included in your budget.
5. Do a Price Match Among Different Retailers
Online and physical stores give rewards, discounts or other perks to customers who can find cheaper prices on the same products from a competitor. You will need to spend time and effort to pull this off. Some of the usual retailers that encourage price comparisons include Shopee, Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us and COURTs.
These stores try to set prices that are between 5% and 10% lower than their business rivals. If you’re successful in finding a cheaper price from other stores, you may be eligible for a special discount or item.
Being frugal in Singapore requires consistency and dedication. If there’s a compelling reason for you to overspend during the holidays, a personal loan from a licensed money lender will be a good option. Applying for a new loan during the holidays goes against the principles of frugality, so you should only think about borrowing cash when you’ve considered other options. Click here to know more about our loan products and interest rates.