Saving On Food
& Travel With Technology
Food – 2nd
Largest Household Expense
Food is the second
largest expenditure for the average Singaporean household after housing and it
accounts for 21% (or $1,118/month) of income. Yet few Singaporeans know that they
can utilize online resources to save on these expenses. In this article, we
would show you how reality as observed from the latest government survey and
the various methods to save money using modern technology.
The most authoritative
and comprehensive measure of household expenses would be the Household
Expenditure Survey (HES). HES is conducted every 5 years by the Department of
Statistics Singapore (Singstat) under the direct purview of the Prime Minister
Office. Singstat has the crucial task of informing the government of what is
happening in Singapore periodically with solid numbers.
The HES survey might
be slightly dated but it is highly reliable and provides clear representation
of the situation on the ground. The latest HES would be the one conducted from
2012 to 2013.
Food expenses have
increased steadily in absolute amount over the past 15 years from $798/month to
$949/month to $1,188/month. This is compounded 2.67% increment every year which
resulted in 48.8% increment over 15 years! This is partly due to inflation and
partly due to changing food consumption habit.
While we cannot do
anything about inflation at our level, we can certainly change our spending
habit with modern technology. Before we go further, we have to acknowledge that
there are 2 major components for food: Home Cooked and Dining Out.
This article would focus on Dining Out solutions to cut your spending
without compromising on quality. In fact, you might discover that this makes so
much sense that you might entrench these practices to your lifestyle. The other
component which we would be focusing on today would be on high class travel.
You would be surprised to find out that you can get quality experience at lower
price if you engage the right apps for it. One day you might even look back and
wonder how you survived without these modern conveniences.
Online Food Platform @ 0.67%
The key would be
online purchases. Singstat did another specialized survey within its HES
2012/13 for online purchases alone. This survey
is rather obscure and not as easy to find online. In order to save you the
trouble of reading the 15 page survey, I have summarized the key findings for
Singstat found out that richer households are more likely to embrace online
purchases. For example, HALF of the top 20% of household (the
multi-millionaires and billionaires among us) embraced online purchase. In
contrast, less than 10% of the bottom 20% of household embraced online
purchase. This is how the wealthy among us get more value for their purchase
and stay rich. One should always keep in mind that price is amount you pay
while value is what you get.
The other observation
would be that the younger generation are more receptive of online purchase.
This is dominated by Millennials between the working ages of 25-34 where 40.6%
of them admitted during the survey that they have purchased items online. So
for now, only the young and the rich had utilized online purchases.
The bigger question
would be what are they purchasing online? Well, the answer lies in the chart
Singstat found out
that Singaporeans use online purchase for travel as it is cheaper and more
convenient for price comparison. This should not come as a surprise for most of
us as travel websites like Agoda had emerged as the default holiday booking
platform for free and easy travel. What was more shocking is that we only spent
$7.50/month on food online. This is a mere 0.67% of our $1,118/month spending
on food. We can definitely do better than that. After knowing how we can dine
in style in a cost effective manner, we would look at how we can travel in
style in a similar manner too.
Groupon is a familiar
to most of you. The good news is that Groupon
is now available on your phone through its app. You can learn about promotions
and discounts of fine dining experience just by installing this app on your
Groupon provides good
deals periodically with high class restaurants that would like to boost its
sales but are forbidden from putting up a large ‘SALES’ sign in front of its
window. This would cause irreparable damage to their brand. Hence they have to
do so discretely but with enough marketing effort for it to reach its intended
audience. One such example would be High Society Cafe at Marina Bay Sands.
High Society Cafe
wants to grant a 34% discount for its diners to both retain existing clients
and to attract new well-heeled clients to its high class menu. So it is teaming
up with Groupon for its marketing strategy. It will still maintain its margin
with tourists who are willing to spend and have a steady stream of local
spenders who would pay 34% less for the same menu of goods. If you think about
it, this is effectively a buy 3 get 1 free discount. Besides these high end
dining experience for special occasion, there are also frequent discount for
non traditional dining experience such as the recent craze of Mookata buffet
for as low as $14/pax with StreetDeal.
After the fine dining
experience, let us explore our options when we travel. While it is standard
practice for local business to squeeze tourists no matter where we go to, we
can effectively avoid this tourist money trap. Let us take a family trip to
Paris and maybe visit the Eiffel Tower before the shopping trip. For such a
trip, it would be good to use Airbnb to find local home owners who are willing
to sublet an entire house for tourists. This would be much cheaper than renting
2-3 hotel rooms.
This is an example of
the Airbnb home rental which will give you 3 bedrooms and cost you less than
$500/night. This is quite a steal because it would cost you $500/night per room
if you go to a 5 star Paris hotel. You would get to see the photos of your
living environment with impartial ratings from prior clients. For this example,
the owner have a stellar 7 stars rating. If you are travelling as a couple, you
might want to check out web comparison sites such Trivago
They provide good discount from the menu price and these days only fools pay
the hotel’s menu price which is jacked up for the unsuspecting tourists.
We have covered ways
where you can save on travel and food with nimble application of technology.
The most important point is that quality is not compromised as we get more
value for our money. Remember price is what you pay but value is what you get.
Thank you for reading.