Why Being Kiasu is a Winning Singaporean Trait That Saves You Money

Alexa Fang

Alexa Fang

Last updated 08 August, 2017

Being kiasu means you tend to win — from the small things like getting a good deal, to the bigger stuff like buying the home of your dreams.

Kiasu [/ˈkiːəsuː /]


[Informal] To be scared of losing and/or losing out; to compulsively want to be ahead of everyone else

If kiasu-ism doesn’t resonate with you to some degree, chances are you are not Singaporean. Maybe it hasn’t been the most extolled of Singaporean traits, but that’s because it’s too often associated with those who join queues for no reason other than because everyone else is in the queue – and they don’t want to miss out.

But being kiasu can stand you in good stead if you know how to exploit the trait. After all, if you have compulsive FOMO, it also means you start thinking and planning ahead of your peers in order to maximise the potential of things – and that can only be a good thing in our books.

You're More Likely to Have More Money

The 20s is the age of little responsibility when many feel they can splurge on avocado toasts and artisanal coffee. Not for the kiasu ones! When you have an I-don’t-wanna-lose-out mindset, you’ve already embarked on making your money grow.

You know the importance of saving early, and you take the extra step of choosing a bank that gives you a preferential interest rate when you commit to them by crediting your monthly salary with them, buy insurance products from them and use their credit card, among other things.

You’ve also parked your money with a good endowment plan with guaranteed returns. As a young executive, you can’t afford to put aside more than a small amount each month, but you know that even a humble S$200 is a beginning.

By the time you’re in your 30s, you would have a decent sum stashed away. In fact, because you’re so kiasu, you would have already thought of how to invest the returns you accumulated in your 20s!

You Always Score a Good Deal

Never mind the insane amount of spam in your inbox from receiving marketing mailers from almost any imaginable organisation. It means you’re always the first to know about great bargains like Starbucks 1-for-1 deals, Zalora credit card promotions, or Grab promo codes.

In fact, you’ve become so good at playing this game, you’ve memorised when some deals take place, such as which times of the year airlines such as Singapore Airlines announce their promotional ticket prices. Needless to say, you’re the first to go online to book the most sought-after flight timings.

All this translates into some nifty savings, and we’re pretty sure you’re popular among your group of friends, since they often get to leverage on the benefits, too.

You Get What You Want Faster

Before you even turn 21 years old, you’re already planning your dream home. For some people, that may be wishful thinking. To kiasu types, it’s called strategic planning.

Unless you want to live with your parents forever, there will be a point in the future when you’ll want to get your own place. Say you take a bank loan to finance your purchase – you’ll need to fork out a 20 per cent down payment on the property price, 15 per cent of which can come from your CPF savings and the other 5 per cent is paid with hard cash. Being the savvy strategic planner you are, you’re well aware of this and saving religiously, as well as aiming to maintain job stability so your CPF looks good.

When your peers are having to compromise on their first home because they can barely scrape together the down payment, you’re coolly shortlisting potential apartments since you have the funds to spare.

You're Ready for Anything

We’ve already established being kiasu can be a good thing. But it can be a downright blessing when a crisis happens. Not many people like to envision potential disasters, but you’ve fearlessly thought ahead to the what-ifs, and put in place contingency plans to handle unexpected events.

From having insurance to cover you from forking out thousands of dollars of your hard-earned cash should something like (touch wood) an accident happen, to having an emergency fund of liquid savings set aside in case of a rainy day, you have equipped yourself to tackle things head on.

You're More Likely to Be Successful

When you read about people who are very successful, traits like “laid-back” and “mellow” aren’t often used to describe them. That’s because in order to succeed, you need to want to be No 1 – and isn’t that what the core of being kiasu is about?

Take a cue from Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai, who once said, “There's no option for us to say that at the Olympics, we're just aiming for the bronze medal. We don’t say that. We want to do our very best to get the gold medal.”

Coupled with smarts, grit and luck, your intrinsic sense of wanting to be top of the game will stand you in good stead to race ahead of the pack!

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Alexa FangBy 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.

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.


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