How I go cashless in Singapore

I don’t get what’s the big deal about going cashless in Singapore. Since April this year, I’ve gone completely without cash, and that is a real time-saver.

I admit, the first few times I chose to leave home without it (cash), I was filled with anxiety. What if I needed to buy something and they don’t accept NETS or card? How will I pay for it?

My solution was to remind myself that ATMs are ubiquitous, and I can easily withdraw money anywhere else.

I’ve never had to.

Then again, I’m a special breed of people, because I don’t buy things. More on that later.

One of the fears that people have about going cashless is that they fear that they would not be able to keep track of what they’re spending their money on.

This is unfounded.

Actually, going cashless better helps you to keep track of what you’re spending your money on because every transaction is recorded online or in your bank statement.

If you’re worried that you don’t know where your money is going, let me tell you that you have that problem even now when you’re using cash. The problem is that you don’t even track your expenses today. That’s why you don’t know where your money goes.

I started tracking my expenses back in 2007. First on an Excel spreadsheet, and later, on an expense tracking app on my phone. Every month, I check my transactions against my app to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Nowadays, I have 10 to 15 transactions a month.

What are they?

  • Mortgage payments
  • Conservancy fees
  • Insurance premiums
  • Long-term savings / investments
  • SP Services
  • Mobile and internet subscription (all in a single bill)
  • EZ-Link GIRO top-up

Sometimes I have 1 or 2 more miscellaneous payments. But that’s about it.

All my payments are automated by GIRO. That includes my bills and my EZ-Link card top up.

Because I track my expenses every month, I know exactly where all my money is going.

That’s the first secret. The second secret is this:

I don’t buy anything.

I don’t eat out because I get free food delivered to my home every day. My neighbours share with me their excess food that they can’t or don’t want to finish. I share with them my excess food — those that they will want to eat or cook. Since I have more than enough food at home, I don’t see the point of eating out.

I’ve only spent $8 on food this whole year, and that was in January and February.

I don’t buy clothes because I get it all for free. When I was growing up, I often received hand-me-downs from relatives when they grew too big or too small for their clothes. Now I get hand-me-downs from people who throw away their clothes not just because they outgrew them, but because they bought too much and have no space in their wardrobe; because they felt like a change of clothes, or because the clothes they had are no longer in fashion.

Did you know that Singaporeans, on average, buy 34 articles of clothing a year, and throw away 27? To be fair, I do the same. The only difference is that I don’t buy the clothes. I mean, why buy something if I’m going to discard it soon? There are better ways to spend money… like buying a home that I’m going to use for many more years to come. I hope.

In summary, I don’t worry about any cashless push, because I’m already cashless.

I don’t worry about not knowing where my money goes, because I track my expenses and I know exactly where it goes.

I don’t worry about money, because I get everything for free.

I’m freegan.


One thought on “How I go cashless in Singapore

  1. Hi Daniel,

    Your story is very inspiring to us! Reducing wastage as much as possible and even sharing it with those in need:)

    So, we are very interested to feature you through Ministry of culture, community and youth’s (MCCY) SG Care movement. I’m Meixuan from their appointed advertising agency, contacting you on behalf of MCCY.

    SG Care is a movement by the ministry to encourage Singaporeans to carry out daily acts of care, volunteerism or participating in ground up activities.

    After reading your story, we hope to feature you on our FB Page, hoping to inspire more people to care more. Be it between human, animals or the environment.

    We really hope to hear from you soon.


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