14 August 2014

4 Ways to Reduce Spending (aka Spend to Save?)

Spend to Save? That's a tagline that's such an oxymoron. But here goes with my 4 ways to reduce spending.

Credit Cards

Dr Wealth shared about 6 ways to reduce monthly expenses without compromising lifestyle. One idea was to use credit cards whenever we can so that we can score points and benefit from the card discounts. He also made an important point that this would go well only if one has the discipline to pay off in full each month, and not to allow ourselves to fall into the debt trap. It's really a silly idea to owe credit card debts. It's a downhill spiral that squeezes away our hard earned money paying interests. Worse, it's easily 24% per annum! I'm pretty disciplined.

I use a few Visa credit cards and found several to be good deals. The UOB One card and the Citibank Dividend card offer various cash rebates. Comes in the form of either a quarterly cash-back to offset the bills, or credits to offset the next payment at selected merchants. So I use the credit cards wherever possible for payments and have benefited substantively from these rebates. It all adds up. Worth a thought?

And, be stingy. Don't pay the annual card fees. The banks are going to hate me for this. Seek the waiver when the fee is due. Often, it's just a phone call away. Most banks have automated this process. I'm not even going to agree to pay half. They've always waived the fee, so long as there has been some spending. I'm 'ngiaow'.


We need to buy groceries and numerous household items on a regular basis, unless you're the type of family that doesn't even cook at home. One of my brothers is like that. He has a fetish about keeping the whole house clean, all the time. We say he's "ko tak". His kitchen is really a museum, for display only.

I believe the wider community of modern working class is almost certainly going to buy a lot of stuff from the supermarkets. Their omni-presence and ubiquity is really a blessed convenience. Thank god for urbanisation! Whether it's NTUC, Cold Storage or any of the smaller chains, I guess we'll shop. When spoilt for choice, parking convenience, store crowded-ness, cleanliness, variety and freshness of food are perhaps other considerations by which we differentiate them.

I would advise, go get the darn NTUC Fairprice Card if you're shopping at NTUC supermarkets frequently. The points really add up very quickly. And it gets bigger, the bigger your family is. The points are redeemable to offset against payments and can be done at their check-out lines. Quite convenient, really. Except, when the cashier happens to be blur. Which happens, often enough. The elderly aunties (cashiers), sometimes a bit lost with technology. Forgive them, they're earning a tough living. Try again with a different cashier next time. The money is still there. Or as my daughter would say, "Chill."

And speaking of "chill", for Cold Storage, use the Citibank Dividend Visa Card. It's a few percent worth of rebate.

I'm sure there are many more options like these.


Credit cards often have offers for restaurants. Many restaurants also offer their own membership cards. I mentioned before the pleasant surprise I had when I bought shares in Soup and Japan Foods. Both offer their store discount cards to shareholders. See (1) Soup Restaurant - Slurping with a Discount and (2) Japan Foods - Ajisen Discount. The discounts feel like a form of dividend aren't they? Slurp slurp.


And finally, transportation. Need to travel right? Our legs can only take us so far.

If you commute by train, you might want to sign up with Travel Smart Rewards.  It used to be called InSinc (see Insinc with the Times). Points are generated based on the time of travel on the MRT. These points are then spun in a snake-and-ladder game to generate prizes. Prizes are good and seems frequent enough. I've been receiving a few dollars a month. They have enabled a crediting arrangement so that the winnings can be credited into your bank account directly.

If you drive, then back to using your credit card. I get additional discounts when I use the Citibank Dividend Visa Card to pay for petrol at Shell stations, along with the Shell Card for points (redeemable rebates). I've a Shell station right round the corner, so that works really great for me. Again, there are various credit cards with similar arrangements with different petrol stations. Pick one that works for you.

Concluding Remarks

So there you have it, 4 ways to reduce spending. It's coming to lunch time. Time to go fetch my daughter and to run some errands. Let's see now, supermarket, lunch, petrol, and ...

Disclaimer: As far as buying the above shares go, study the companies carefully and make your own decision. The price may not be right. I'm not advocating a buy or sell. I bought Soup way back when it's price was far lower.

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