How to not ‘rely so heavily on govt support’ while still living your best life

So we’re all getting some cash payouts from the government but somehow after Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong’s speech about it, you’re feeling bad about it.

During his big budget announcements yesterday, he mentioned that the government was committed to helping the people and that they “provided comprehensive support last year” and are doing so again this year. But he also made us all feel like leaches by adding that he hopes “all Singaporeans understand that it is not fiscally sustainable to rely so heavily on Government support year after year to cope with inflation.”

He then urged everyone to “press on” with restructuring, transformation, productivity and upgrading skills at every opportunity. Oof, so many big words.

You have pride, you have feelings and you long to be a better person someday. Somebody who doesn’t have to depend on the government, despite crazy increases in inflation and cost of living.

Well, that day is today. But don’t worry, we’ve got some advice on how to downsize your expenses, but not at the cost of making you look like a cheapskate.

Fo example, you probably work in the city center where you’re eating more-than-S$10 lunch set at nice restaurants every day. Why does it have to be so extreme? If you still want to look high SES (that’s “socio-economic status”) and like someone who has their shit together – without spending much, we have all the tips.

Starter pack

Consider becoming self-reliant an adventure. And, as with any adventure, you need some basic essentials. We recommend getting a lunchbox and a reusable coffee cup or tumbler. Make sure that these are airtight, spill-proof, heat-retaining and all that jazz because it will save you from future disappointment. You might have to lay out some cash for this but there are plenty of affordable options out there. For the lunchbox, we recommend getting a container that can hold a standard serving of food from a hawker center.

Got some loose change? Get yourself a lunch bag to complete the look.

Reconnaissance time

Whip out Google Maps, it’s time for some planning. First, map out where the nearest MRT station is from your office and also where the next nearest one is. You’ll see why you need this info later.

While you’re at it, scope out where the nearest convenience store (preferably 7-Eleven), and all the hawker centers and coffee shops around your office are.

Photo: Coconuts

Photo: Coconuts

They say everyone needs an exit plan right? Well, this is your exit plan from relying too much on government payouts into finding financial freedom!

Get a cheap smartwatch

I used to scoff at apps that help convert your daily steps to rewards but seeing how my friend who walks 10km a day acquired shitloads of “coins” on various apps – enough that she could exchange them for supermarket vouchers, I’m sold now.

Apps like Lumihealth (iOS only) and Healthy 365 are available to download if you want to start monetising your daily exercise. Yes, CDC vouchers are great but earning more vouchers on your own is self-made success, if I say so myself.

Remember the map reconnaissance activity earlier? Here’s the plan, when you commute to work, go about it in your usual way – stop at the nearest station and walk because no one wants to turn up to the office all sweaty and gross. But once the work day is done, clock in those steps for rewards by walking to the second nearest station. You can get fit while getting the rewards, win-win.

Convenience stores and coffeeshops are your best friends

Shake Shack around the corner from your office? That hip coffee place makes really good S$7 lattes? Cool, but no one can (and should) be spending S$15 or more for lunch everyday in this economy.

Photo: Coconuts

Photo: Coconuts

Swap your lattes for coffee from 7-Eleven. Oatside, an oat milk brand born in Singapore, now stocks pocket-sized cartons in 7-Eleven – and there’s an oat latte flavour which is creamy and malty and perfect for the first caffeine hit of the day. Pssst, each pack only sets you back a dollar. Flex your plant-based street cred and solidarity by bringing these babies into the office. You’ll be sure to hear “Oh she care about plant milk, how bold” and “Who is she, local oat milk is so in right now” from envious colleagues. We’re 100% sure.

Just need good ol’ black coffee? Get it from the same place – just use your newly acquired coffee tumbler instead of the paper cups. No one will know it’s convenience store coffee, plus it’s actually pretty decent and Coconuts-approved.

We don’t have to tell you how good (and how much cheaper) hawker food can be compared to dining at restaurants and eateries in the city. Find your local coffeeshop joint, become a regular customer and chances are you’ll get special treatment from the aunties and uncles, or at least they treat you a lot nicer. We get our fix of flattery from the drinks stall uncle at our local joint and we’re not complaining.

Don’t gatekeep hidden gems in your area

While busy recce-ing how much more you can save money just around your office, you’ll definitely chance upon some hidden gems. What do you do with this knowledge? Share it, of course because we should move away from “protectionism”, as DPM Lawrence Wong said in his speech yesterday.

Photo: Coconuts

Photo: Coconuts

If you really open your eyes, you’ll discover perfect places where you can save money while maintaining your image. For example, I disappeared into Hook On Books for a bit during work. It’s a bookshop specializing in Chinese books right by our office but it also has a hidden cafe inside that serves the best homemade mala chee cheong fun for S$5.50. When I emerged from the Ghibli-esque wonderland back to go back to work, I felt refreshed and like a new person – and I also shared with my colleagues.


Look the part

Now that you can eat like someone who has it all together on a reasonable budget, it’s time to look the part. If you want to appear fashionable (despite your financial difficulties) the keyword is: monochrome. According to some highly regarded fashion magazines, “a monochrome look is an immaculate balance of laid-back and polished.” I don’t know what it means in fashionspeak but words like “immaculate balance” and “polished” sound very aspirational to me and I feel like this is what I want for myself.

Photo: File photo

Photo: File photo

Everyone shops at Uniqlo, so why be ashamed about it? Their clothes come in sensible colors, are very versatile and, most importantly, affordable. Start with a palette and pick the different pieces from there. If you’re going for blue, then choose tops, pants and/or jackets in blue – it doesn’t have to be the same hue and it’s okay if there are five different shades of blue on your body – let’s call it the eccentric and polished look, nailing the Pantone obsession just right. After this, you can dedicate a color for each office day ie. Blue Monday, Black Friday.

If I’m not allowed to “rely so heavily” on the government to cope with this goddamn inflation, then I’m going to depend on my wit, resourcefulness, 7-Eleven and Google Maps.

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