4 Daily Habits That Cost Singaporeans Thousands of Dollars

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 12 October, 2016

Singaporeans are wasting thousands of dollars in 2016, simply by not watching these everyday habits.

You've probably heard the fable of the merchant and the king, which goes something like this. In return for performing a task, a merchant asked the king for a gold coin for every square on a chessboard.

The only caveat is that each square after the first one must contain twice as many coins as the one immediately before. The king agreed, thinking the debt would be easily paid. He made it halfway through the chessboard before he lost his entire kingdom to the merchant.

In much the same way, the ill effects from our everyday habits can add up until it becomes too much to handle. Are you and your wallet falling prey to the following bad habits?

not getting sleep

1. Not Getting Enough Sleep: Up to Thousands in Missed Promotions

Singapore is among the most sleep-deprived nations in the world. It sounds like a wry joke about how Singaporeans must win at everything, but this finding should raise alarms.

Chronic sleep deprivation has been found to cause (among other items on a long list) high blood pressure, obesity, cognitive impairment, mood instability, weakened immune systems, and increased chance of accidents.

Being sleep deprived will make you fall sick more often. Besides paying to see the doctor, you'll also miss out on work. Even if you do make it into the office, you're more likely to make mistakes, forget important details, hand in shoddy work, and fall asleep right in front of your boss. (We aren't kidding about that last one).

How likely do you think someone who displays such behaviours in the office will be promoted?

What It Will Cost You:

From tens of dollars in doctor's bills to thousands of dollars a year in missed promotions.

2. Ignoring Your Bills: Up to Hundreds in Nonsense Charges

When you receive your bills, do you: a) ignore them, b) open them up and glance at the total, or c) open them up and go through every item line by line.

There are two ways not paying attention to your bills can cost you money. Firstly, if you ignore your bills, you run the risk of racking up late payments. Credit card companies are merciless about this – as long as you're late in paying, even by one day, a late charge will automatically be applied to your account.

At $60 to $80 per late charge, you can see how quickly your bills can add up. This gets worse if you use multiple credit facilities. And yes, interest is applied on these charges too.

Sure, you can call up your bank and try to get your late charge reversed, but that'll work only if you are even aware of the late charges.

Many Singaporeans have a habit of looking only at the total amount to be paid on their bills. That's how Singtel managed to put nonsense charges on their customers bills, until the more vigilant amongst us caught on.

That's why the only sensible answer to the question we posed earlier is c). When you get your bills, open them up immediately and check through every item. Mark out any discrepancies you find with a highlighter, and set a time to call your service provider and get it sorted out.

What It Will Cost You:

Anywhere between a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, depending on how long you let these recurring charges continue.

skipping dental visits

3. Avoiding Your Dentist: Up to Thousands on Dental Treatments

Conventional wisdom has us brushing our teeth twice a day. Sometimes we may even floss and gargle. That's enough to keep our teeth nice and healthy, right?

You may have heard that brushing alone is not enough, but did you know that incorrect brushing also causes problems in the long run? From brushing too hard and using overly harsh toothpaste to not replacing your toothbrush in a timely manner, our everyday habits can hasten damage to our pearly whites.

For many common dental problems, pain is the among the last signs that something is wrong – hence the dental industry's guidelines state that we should visit the dentist twice a year, at least.

Heeding this advice will save not just your teeth, but also your money. Outside of routine procedures, major dental work can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Although Medisave can be used for approved dental procedures, claim limits are capped at $750 for Medisave and $480 for Medishield Life – hardly enough to cover the cost of your bills.

What It Will Cost You:

Up to thousands of dollars, according to the treatment you require.

4. Not Comparison Shopping: Up to Hundreds on Big-Ticket Items

A recent study conducted by British think tank RSA found that human beings are not hardwired for financial prudence. Among its findings, the organisation named cognitive overload as a risk factor in poor financial capabilities.

Cognitive overload causes you to opt for the easiest solution, instead of taking the time and effort to shop around and compare prices. This not only makes you miss out on discounts and deals, it can also mean you may end up with an unsuitable and unsatisfying purchase.

Personal financial products such as credit cards, insurance policies, personal loans and mortgage financing are complicated and come with myriad terms and conditions. It may be overwhelming – even intimidating – to sort through all the fine print and understand exactly what you are signing up for.

However, being rash when signing up for these schemes can put you at a serious disadvantage. You can end up paying thousands of dollar more in high-interest fees or lose money because of hefty cancellation penalties.

What It Will Cost You:

Choosing a branded snack or drink over generic substitutes cost just a few bucks extra. But being impulsive with big-ticket items will cost you significantly more, whether by wiping out your savings, or eating into future funds through rollover debt.

Read This Next:

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Alevin ChanBy Alevin Chan

A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.


An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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