There are times when I think I’m being frugal, but when I look back, I realise I was not. In fact, I was far from it. I’ve failed many times in the past at being frugal. And it’s still a work in progress today. So what does it mean to be frugal? If this is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, and you’re not doing these things, then you may be doing it all wrong.
I’ve salvaged furniture from the dumpster, and have even saved some imperfect but still-edible produce. But as someone who tries to be frugal, I passed on freeganism because it conflicted with some of my values. To be clear, frugality (as defined by the Reddit community) is “the mental approach we each take when considering our resource allocations – time, money, convenience, and many other factors.” Freeganism, while its origins began with anti-consumerism and veganism, has steered into the direction of not spending at any cost and living on the discarded excess of society. It has recently garnered much media attention in Singapore. So why can freegan thinking lead to unhealthy behaviours? (more…)
As a uni student, I couldn’t even afford to buy used textbooks. Instead, I would borrow them from the library for 3 weeks, renew for another 3 weeks, then return them to do it all over again. The cost of textbooks can be a financial burden. I used to wonder why older students couldn’t just pass their textbooks down to younger students. “It’s not that easy,” people would say. Well now it is, at least for primary- and secondary-school textbooks. The FairPrice textbook sharing programme, now in its 35th year, has just gone digital. It is now an online platform and mobile app, making it super convenient and easy to donate and request books.
My husband still feels very uneasy being on a plane. Telling him that more people die by falling down ladders or by fireworks accidents than by plane crashes doesn’t help. The odds of dying in a plane crash are 11 million to 1 (similar to TOTO), but that still doesn’t comfort him. As complicated beings, sometimes we worry about things that don’t make sense and are unlikely to happen. Yet there are some things that are very likely to occur that we don’t think twice about. Here’s a comparison of what people commonly worry about versus what they ought to worry about.
Did you know that most “broken” appliances only need a minor repair to become functioning again, and often this fix takes less than 20 minutes? I have saved countless appliances just by replacing a fuse, cleaning out coils (from a refrigerator), replacing hinges, soldering a joint where 2 wires came loose, or swapping motherboards (for a mobile phone and a dryer). These repairs may sound complicated, but most are really pretty simple. All these repairs took just a bit of my time, a bit of money (the cost of the part), but saved me from having to buy a new appliance altogether.
An old friend that I’ve known since primary school is getting married this weekend, exactly one week from my own anniversary. Whether to get married, and more importantly, who to marry, is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make. Marriage can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on your well-being, happiness, fulfillment in life, health, and of course, your finances. On the flip side, getting divorced is ranked as one of the top traumatic, stressful, and financially devastating events.
I married young, right after graduating uni. And while many “young marriages” lead to divorce, I’m grateful that ours has stayed strong after all these years. It has been a critical component of many positive outcomes we’ve seen in our lives. I owe a lot of its strength and success to this one very unconventional thing we do as a couple. When I tell people, it often shocks them (don’t worry, it’s not kinky).
Change is uncomfortable but necessary for growth. Although emerging technologies have disrupted many jobs, they have also opened up new careers that didn’t exist before. When doctors now enter medical school, they are told that much of what they learn will be obsolete within a few years of graduation. The rate of change in this world is accelerating, and everything we know or are comfortable with has a shorter “expiration date”. These are just the circumstances we live in today, whether we like it or not. And although we may have already finished our formal education and started our careers, we now need to become lifetime learners, acquiring new skills while we are still gainfully employed. This allows us to remain relevant despite the widening digital divide and rapidly changing employment landscape.
In addition to getting free ebooks and audiobooks from National Library Board’s Overdrive (which has just increased borrowing limits), you can get tons of free books from Amazon which you can read on your phone using the free Kindle app. All you need is an Amazon account (does not require subscription to Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited). And with Amazon arriving in Singapore early next year, you might want to just create an account anyway. (more…)
Someone recently lamented that being frugal in this day and age when we’re surrounded by glamour, brands, labels, and extravagance is really really hard. “But what’s harder,” I told her, “is living pay cheque to pay cheque” which was essentially what my mum did, and it was not easy as a child seeing her trapped in a destructive cycle of wasteful spending coupled with a seemingly endless struggle to earn money while setting aside her health, relationships and other priorities. I opted for a different path. Having lived this way for decades now, here are some unexpected benefits that I’ve enjoyed from being frugal (remember that “frugal” does not mean being stingy or cheap; it means being value-conscious with your money). (more…)
We’ve all been there. You’re trying to meet a deadline, your boss just scolded you, your significant other says “we need to talk”, your children are quarreling, and you accidentally delete an important file…. We’ve all had the experience of being bombarded with a series of mishaps, and all we want to do is vent out our frustrations and anger at someone – anyone. If it’s not personally directed, is it ok to gripe, complain, and curse? Perhaps, but our venting may cost us in ways we may later regret. (more…)