Singaporeans can save so much money and time by creating a budget around gifts for family, friends, and colleagues.
Admit it, we don't really think about gift-shopping until the occasion calls for it (most of the time, that means a day or two before). As a result, we don't budget for it, so on bigger occasions, we find ourselves short of cash and highly irritated.
Now that 2016 is almost ending, around the corner are Christmas, birthdays, office parties, and weddings. You may be anticipating your year-end bonus, but it’s very likely that as soon as you say hello to it, it’s time to say goodbye as a chunk of it will go to other people in the form of ang pows, spa vouchers, and perhaps even a diamond bracelet for your other half.
Well, friends, readiness is all. You budget for everything from insurance and utilities to holidays, why not gifts, too? They are just as inevitable.
Fact: Everyone you know and love has one. There’s no running away from birthdays. At the very least, you have your immediate family — mum, dad, siblings (let’s say two of them). Then there’s your significant other.
Keeping it very real, the people you really care about in your extended family are probably your grandparents and let’s say five aunts/uncles/cousins. Moving into your office, there’s no excuse for not chipping into your boss’ gift, and there must be at least three colleagues you love enough to call friends.
Last but not least, your friends. This could go from one to any number. Let’s go with 10 (real friends, not Facebook friends). That gives us a grand total of 32 birthday gifts to buy each year, at least, or three on average every month.
The amount spent could run the gamut from S$10 for a shared gift to S$1,000 for your spouse or parents. Our advice: Don’t wait for Facebook to send you birthday notifications.
Amount to Budget: From S$50 per month
Sure, Singaporeans are getting married later these days, but they are still getting married. As you know, ang pows are the gift of choice, and the perennial question is: How much?
The jury is still out on the official amount, but it seems fair to consider two factors: (1) Your relationship with the bride and/or groom; and (2) The venue at which the wedding is being held. Is it a lunch or dinner? Is it a five-star hotel or ROM ceremony? Does it involve a plane ride?
And then there’s the small matter of looking good for the occasion, but there are ways to nail your wedding guest style for under S$150.
Amount to Budget: From S$80 - S$228 per wedding
Baby Showers & Kids’ Birthdays
Last year, 42,185 babies were born in Singapore. Assuming every one of those babies had a shower thrown for them, there would have been about 115 little soirees each month. The odds are you attended one or two last year.
My close friends can be counted with both hands. Half of them are married and have children. Between them, there are seven kids. I love shopping for kids’ stuff — miniature things are simply adorable. Although, it must be said that small things don’t necessarily come with a small price tag.
Amount to Budget: From S$30 per child
All The Days That Celebrate Loved Ones (On Top of Birthdays)
Think Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. These are the Big Three. Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday of May, and Father’s Day follows hot on its heel on the third Sunday of June.
It’s not uncommon for siblings to have a sort of unspoken competition when it comes to showering mum and dad with love over these two months, lavishing them with gifts and fancy meals. But come on, if you know your folks, you’ll know there’s nothing they’d hate more than extravagance (they’ve taught you better).
Valentine’s Day — well, that’s a different kettle of fish altogether. Whether you’re required to buy an impressive gift, if at all, is reliant solely on your relationship status and what your other half values. We can’t say we believe in shelling out thrice the usual amount for flowers just because it’s February 14, but hey, we’re not the ones who face the possibility of having to sleep on the sofa.
Amount to Budget: From S$200 a year
We can’t stress enough the importance of planning early. If you insist of shopping at the eleventh hour, we can’t help you. Sales galore are coming our way. There’s Black Friday, there’s Single’s Day and all other year-end clearance sales.
Start by drawing up a list of who has been nice and deserving of a present this year. Have a good idea of what you’d like to buy for each of those people on the list. Don’t forget the Secret Santa gifts and stocking stuffers. You’d be surprised at the gifts you can actually get for under S$10 that is not a bar of Cadbury chocolate.
Amount to budget: From S$500
Budget Around S$1,400 a Year in Gifts
Depending on how active your social life is, you can expect to spend around S$1,400 in gifts for your loved ones. Of course, with careful planning, you don’t have to spend this much.
Keep an eye out for great buys during the Great Singapore Sale (it happens around the same time, after all), or use your credit card for online shopping discounts or to snag a good weekend brunch deal. You could definitely opt to celebrate at home and in style at half the cost. Order in — options abound with the food delivery services we have at our fingertips.
In fact, we think gift-shopping warrants its own designated credit card. Not only does it help you keep track of your spending, but it also lets you save through rebates and rewards. There are nearly a hundred options in Singapore, but we found some fabulous credit cards for women and some great online shopping credit cards to start. Try the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card, so you can earn 10 points for your local and online purchases.
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By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she's having croissant, she thinks in French. "31 Rue Cambon" is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.