It’s the festive season and after a year of Covid, things are almost back to normal.

Yet, it shouldn’t be. Remember the lessons the circuit breaker taught us? About what – or rather who – is important, how less is more and how it was a good time to learn to differentiate between want and need?

We’ve lived through this pandemic and 2021 seems bright, with the Covid-19 vaccine on the horizon and Phase 3 peeking out over the clouds. So some enthusiasm to get back on our feet and get going is understandable, and welcome!

But our mindset should still be attuned to the new normal.

With so many choices available to us as consumers, making spending decisions often pose a challenge. With the lessons we’ve learnt this year, we can and should be more conscious of our choices when it comes to consumption.

Here are five ways to change our spending for the better:

A better way to watching movies

Self improvement tips on wise spending
Image source: Viddsee / StoriesTogether Originals

Instead of hitting the cinemas or clicking on Netflix, why not support these inspiring Singaporean short films and documentaries instead? These original short films and anthologies are part of Viddsee’s StoriesTogether regional initiative, which aims to give hope to others through the magic of the moving picture.

Available on both Viddsee’s own website and YouTube, these videos cover a range of genres and topics, such as mental health awareness, broken families, vulnerable seniors and children, at-risk youth, and more.

The films are free to watch, so it’s a great choice for a night-in for those on a budget. But if you are moved by what you see, consider spending your dollars on making a donation.

All donations go to the Community Chest, and will help ensure that every needy person has the opportunity to live a life of dignity within a caring and inclusive society.

A better way to order food

Order responsibly is a good way to spend your money wisely
Peranakan chef Gabriel Chong. Image source: The Social Kitchen Singapore

When it comes to ordering in or dining out, Singaporeans are definitely spoiled for choice. But wait a minute, why not first check how your dollar can be stretched beyond just filling your tummy or getting your makan cravings satisfied?

You can order food from Singapore heritage brands at The Social Kitchen and help support a social enterprise that provides employment to disadvantaged individuals. Dine in at the restaurant itself at the YMCA in Orchard Road, or order online and have the meal delivered right to your doorstep.

The social enterprise is also working with other charities, organisations and individuals on another initiative called 1000 for 100 to provide hot meals to low-income families. If you believe that no child should go hungry, simply pick a charity and The Social Kitchen will do the cooking and delivering of nutritious meals for you.

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You can also check out Singapore’s first social enterprise food court – Dignity Kitchen, which works with the disadvantaged and disabled to offer quality food and service to the public. With Christmas round the corner, consider pre-ordering your festive goodies from its halal-certified bakery, to get your festive treats straight from the heart.

Alternatively, the Professor Brawn cafe at The Enabling Village and Pathlight School has a Christmas menu available. If you drop by the Bistro for lunch or dinner at The Enabling Village on Thursdays to Saturdays, you could also check out The Art Faculty’s pop-up store for some gift ideas.

You can also consider the Iron Supper Club, a social enterprise that trains and employs differently-abled employees for the F&B industry. Up to half its staff comprises people on the autism spectrum and other intellectual disabilities; these special-needs servers take on roles like cashier, server, waiter or cleaning steward.

From pan-seared Norwegian salmon with herb roasted potatoes, soft shell crab spaghetti, to grilled Australian ribeye beef steak topped with demi-glace sauce, check out the menu to dine in or order online!

A better way to cook at home

Cooking at home will safe some money
Image source: Max La Manna

For those who love to cook and prepare your own meals, nothing is more enjoyable than seeing people you care for tuck into your latest dish. But did you know that you can put more thought to minimising waste in your cooking?

Max La Manna is a low-waste chef, award-winning author and presenter for BBC Earth. His work encourages more awareness of the food we put on our plate, where it comes from and what happens when we waste it.

For the past three years, Max has almost totally eliminated food waste from his cooking. Check out his Instagram for newbie-friendly videos of his easy and mouth-watering recipes that use parts of ingredients that we normally would throw away.

To save your money on ingredients, learn some of his zero-waste tips and tricks to eliminate food and plastic wastage in your home and kitchen!

A better way to shop – online and off

i'mable gift market - self improvement tips
Image source: SG Enable

Be honest, did you overspend during the Black Friday sales that just passed? If so, you might have fallen into the trap of binge-buying during sales and leaving behind a greater carbon footprint than you would have realised.

Before you spend spend spend, spend time instead on educating yourself and you may just discover many interesting facts about your favourite brands. For example, did you know that fashion brand H&M recently vowed to use 100% recycled or sustainable materials by 2030 and or that shoemaker Anothersole has pledged to feed a child in need with every pair of shoes sold?

Making a conscious purchase can be exceptionally rewarding when you know that the gifts you’re buying for your loved ones supports a disabled artisan’s hard work. From Dec 5 to Dec 12, check out SG Enable’s Virtual i’mable Gift Market where 30 vendors from various non-profit, social and commercial enterprises are offering products ranging from festive gifts and bakes to fashion, home and living.

There are also a series of virtual workshops and activities to take part in.

After all, we are not against buying things that we need, but let’s try to make smart choices by tapping on the available resources and knowledge.

Remember, retail therapy isn’t always the best solution to cheering yourself up. Sometimes, knowing what you’ve bought for yourself has helped someone else can give you a rush too.

Even better, you can choose to keep your wallets intact and opt for healthier activities of getting outside to hike, walk, camp… whatever takes your fancy!

A better way to entertain yourself

Riding for the disabled
Image source: Riding for the Disabled Association Singapore

Even while having fun, we can make a difference. You can engage in fun activities and do good in the process. Check out SG Cares Giving Week, which brings together 100 partners as well as people islandwide to give of their time, talent, treasures, and voices to do their part contributing to a City of Good.

With a whole list of free events that give back to the community, it’s time to plan your time for your weekends and days off to recharge yourself spiritually and mentally.

If exercise is your thing, celebrate the season of giving by giving yourself the chance to do good and burn some calories with the annual Santa Run for Wishes! The annual run has returned with a brand-new virtual format and exciting family-friendly activities.

Choose from the 2km, 5km, 10km, or 50km race categories and spread a little Christmas cheer while you pound the pavement. All proceeds from the race go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with critical illnesses.

For better or for worse, this year has given us a great opportunity for us to make a change to our lifestyles and mindsets. As we come to the end of the year, let’s be thankful for the lessons we’ve learnt and take a little more thought before making decisions on how we choose to consume.

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