Spending a bit more in these scenarios can actually help Singaporeans save money in the long run.
Saving money is a matter of staving off immediate gratification, making wise decisions, and reducing your expense wherever you can.
When we are money-conscious, we are most likely to focus on reducing the amount we spend. However, just because an opportunity to save money pops us doesn’t mean we should take it. Sometimes, trying to save a little money ends up hurting your wallet instead.
Consider these 9 scenarios where it is worth it to pay more.
When You Need to Travel for Business
If you’re headed for an important meeting halfway around the world - one that could make or break your company - you’ll want to invest in a business class ticket.
Arriving clear-headed, refreshed and ready for your meeting is more important than saving a few thousand bucks. Jet lag can leave you fuzzy-headed, fatigued and listless, which doesn’t make a good first impression. That could cost you the deal. Or worse - you might agree to bad terms unwittingly, because your mental faculties aren’t at their best.
When You’re Need to Go for a Job Interview
So you’ve been shortlisted for an important interview which could land you your dream job.
If you decide to save a few bucks and take a bus or MRT ride to your interview, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Delays or breakdowns can make you late for your appointment, which casts a shadow over your chances. Also, your interview location might be unfamiliar to you, forcing you to waste time looking for the place.
The end result is, you could show up late, dishevelled, sweaty and stressed out. This will not only damage that all-important first impression; it will impact your interview performance. Should that happen, you’ll wish you booked yourself a nice, breezy Grab ride.
When You Need to Look Presentable
Say you need to dress up for a company event, but haven’t prepared any dress shirts. Instead of stressing out over having to track down an iron and spending hours struggling to iron your shirt - only to still end up looking like a discount store mannequin - go ahead and book yourself a professional laundry service.
Sure, you will be taking on an extra expenditure, but in return, you’ll save yourself time and the trouble of having to iron your own shirt and pants - or harassing your family member to do so for you.
Use the time you’ve saved to attend to other pressing needs - such as preparing adequately for your event. This, together with your professionally cleaned and pressed clothes, will help ensure you make a good impression.
(Obviously, this only applies if you don’t regularly do ironing, or don’t have access to someone who does.)
When You’re Not Sure of Your Travel Plans
When you need to plan a holiday but are not sure about your schedule, try booking your hotels on the refundable rate option. Yes, you’ll most likely have to pay slightly more for your bookings, but you’ll be able to cancel your reservations without penalty.
In fact, you can even take advantage of last-minute deals this way. Make refundable bookings for 3 or 4 hotels that are within your budget, and keep track of their prices as your holiday approaches. If you see one having a flash sale, cancel your earlier booking and re-book at the lowered rate.
If you manage to get the room, congratulations! Now you can cancel the other hotels and enjoy greater savings. If you didn’t get it (or cannot commit to a non-refundable term), you still have a few other options to fall back on.
Whichever hotel you eventually decide to go with, make sure you cancel the others before they become due.
Also, you should note that when you book a room, the amount will be blocked off from your credit card. This means your limit will be lowered until you cancel your bookings. Try getting a separate travel credit card so you can have more credit available for other expenses.
When You’re Visiting a New Country
Singaporeans are used to places being within easy reach, so you may think you’ll get around just as easily in a foreign land via public transport. However, this could cause you to overspend on your vacation.
Cities like New York and Paris and Tokyo are far larger and thus have much more complicated public transit systems. If you think you’ll be able to figure it out once you get there, well, just think about all those confused tourists you came across in our own MRT stations. You’ll eventually give up and book an expensive cab ride just to save what remains of your day.
Instead, try using travel planner sites or apps (such as Klook or Kkday), to book transport (and admission tickets!) to the attractions you want to visit. It’ll cost you more than public transport, sure, but you won’t have to sweat and fight on your vacation.
When You’re Trying to Get in Shape
When you’re committed to getting in shape, it is worthwhile hiring a personal instructor or a coach. An expert can help you start off on the right foot, avoid bad habits which can injure you, and generally set you up for success. You’re also more likely to stick with your routine, and power through the resistance and tough days you’ll inevitably encounter.
Ultimately, decide what learning how to do a proper bench press is worth to you - 4 years of recurring shoulder pain and little to no progress, or a couple of hundred bucks.
When You’re Trying to Grow Your Assets
Hiring a portfolio manager (or putting your money in managed funds) is seen as more affordable than going to an Independent Asset Manager. But if you crunch the numbers you may not be so quick to agree.
Fund managers typically charge a commission of around 2% for managing your money for you. If your entire portfolio is managed this way (perhaps through various stocks and bonds), you’re paying 2% of the total lifetime value of your assets - that’s a lot of money!
Instead, try getting an Independent Asset Manager to audit your portfolio, and advise you on any changes you should make. You’ll be paying per-hourly fees - just like any consultation service - but you only need to see them twice a year or so. Perhaps even more infrequently, if you take a conservative investing stance.
By doing this instead of leaving your portfolio to fund managers, you will be racking up savings that far outstrip the high-but-brief consultation fees.
When You’re Hungry
If you’re feeling particularly hungry, go ahead and buy yourself a larger portion at lunch. Spending an extra dollar or two to satisfy those hunger pangs will benefit your wallet in the long run.
This is because if you don’t eat your fill, you might find it difficult to focus on your work in the afternoon. And because willpower is a limited resource, you may find it impossible to do any more work until you spend more money on a mid-afternoon snack.
By then, you’ll be several dollars poorer, and behind on your work to boot.
Pro-tip: If you still feel hungry despite having eaten, make sure you aren’t just dehydrated. The body can sometimes mask dehydration with feelings of hunger, so keep your water bottle topped off.
When You’re Sleep Deprived
We spend one-third of our entire lives sleeping, so it’s surprising that we aren’t paying sleep the attention it rightly deserves. As one of the most sleep-deprived nations on the planet, maybe we aren’t staying in bed that much because we don’t like our mattresses.
Invest in a good quality mattress (within budget, of course), if you’re serious about improving your quality of life. Sleeping better will allow your body to function at peak performance, while also improving mood, memory and overall mental and emotional health.
Conversely, being chronically sleep deprived will adversely impact your health, causing you to miss out on social and professional opportunities, and increase your risk of serious illness down the line.
Good mattresses can be expensive, so try using your credit card installment plan to invest in one without losing sleep over large bills.
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By 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 optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.