Instead of making impulse purchases, here’s what you should do with your GST voucher instead.
If you are aged 21 or above, with an annual income of $26,000 or below in 2015, then you stand to benefit from the S$200 GST voucher announced during Budget 2016. This is on top of the regular GST cash voucher of up to S$300, which you can claim in August.
It’s hard to decide what to do with the cash you get. While it’s not enough to transform your life, it’s not insignificant enough to waste on an impulse purchase either. So here’s what you should consider spending it on instead:
1. Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt
If you have outstanding credit card debts, this is the first place that the voucher should go. Remember that credit card interest compounds at around 2% per month, so eliminating a few hundred dollars can mean saving thousands over the course of a year.
You might want to accompany this with a budget plan of some sort, so the next time you get GST relief you can feel less guilty about spending it on 200 hats for your online character.
2. Go to the Dentist
No one likes going to the dentist. It’s scary, it’s expensive, and you’re writhing in pain while pinned to a chair for over an hour. But if you leave those cavities to grow, well, let’s just say a root canal costs S$400 to S$1,200+. Look up the costs of dental health yourself.
Also, most people haven’t checked if their insurance policy (or their employee benefits) include dental care. Chances are, the answer is no. So use that GST voucher as a preventive measure.
3. Buy All the Presents for the Year
Work out how many birthday or Christmas presents you’ll need for the rest of the year. Now go buy them all once and label them.
Besides helping to remind you of the occasion (just arrange them according to the date they are required), you won’t overspend by needing to buy something at the last minute. You even have some time to subtly work out what presents everyone once.
4. Sign Up for a Skills Upgrading Course
Some skills courses are quite affordable, and can be covered in whole by the GST voucher. If you check whether your employer has subsidised rates–and many do–you could even cover the costs of the more expensive skills programmes.
The best investment is always yourself. If your $300 course gives you even a $50 raise, you will more than make up the amount in six months, and know that your boss is a complete cheapskate. Over the course of your career, any raise that you get pays out month after month, so this one time investment goes a long way.
5. Use it to Network
Set up lunch or dinner appointments with fellow professionals, or just successful people you’d like to meet. Most successful people love to talk about their jobs by the way, or to tell you their inevitable rags-to-riches stories. If you throw in the prospect of a free lunch or dinner, they might be flattered enough to oblige.
This is an especially good spend for freelancers and other self-employed types, as you are also prospecting for clients. Just remember to have a decent name card on hand. If you don’t, then spend on that first.
6. Buy Your First Shares
You can buy blue chip shares for as little as $100 a month. You just need to use the bank instead of a stockbroker–look for blue chip investment programmes from local banks and sign up.
Alternatively, SGX has made it possible to buy smaller lots of shares (lots of 100), so you might be able to first your first lot from a broker. Just be sure to get good financial advice before deciding what to buy, or else you’re just wasting your money.
7. Do Over Your Resume
If you are between jobs or thinking of a change, use the GST voucher for a do-over. Get a professional to shoot your pics (if that’s necessary in your line of work), or drop by career consultancies for a review. If your English is not the best, do consider paying someone to redraft your resume for the jobs you’re looking at.
The next step is to spend on everything you need to make a splash at interviews–new shoes, new tie, new haircut, and the works. Sometimes, simply spending on yourself to feel more confident can give you the edge that you need.
By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.