With prices of oil nearly five-times what they were a few years ago when anyone talking of oil above USD30 a barrel was thought to be sleep talking, it is obvious that most ordinary folks have to be careful abut how they spend their money.
This is especially where food is concerned. Everyone can do without entertainment, holidays, new clothes or gadgets but not food as all of us have to replenish our stomachs every day.
Hence it’s not surprising that led by the media, everyone and his grandfather are talking about where to get good and cheap food/meals.
The Consumers’ Association of Singapore (Case) as well as our august Straits Times have listed where meals under this or that sum can be had. The public have, in blogs and letters to Forum, given tips on how to stretch the food dollar.
Big deal, I think, every time I come across such listings and tips. Come on people, get real.
Yah, so I can get wonton mee at $1.50 in Chai Chee, chicken rice at $1.20 in Woodlands and mixed vegetable rice also at $1.50 in the depths of one-room depression land.
But how much time, petrol or other travelling $ I have to invest to get from where I am to where these splendidly low priced meals could be had? For the really poor who can’t afford to get out of their neighbourhood, it’s just like hearing Marie Antoinette asked why the peasants didn’t eat cake, when she was told they had no bread!
For the mobile me, what other inconvenience must I subject myself to, to save perhaps as much as 50% of what I would normally pay should I go slumming and eat meals of under $5!
Even worse are those pundits who give food-money saving tips by suggesting bulk purchase. That’s really penny wise, pound foolish, simply impractial.
Take this online letter to the Straits Times, purportedly directed at retirees (tho how many retirees actually go online is another matter): “Buy in bulk. Do the maths before you buy, especially at the supermarket. It makes more sense to buy a 10kg bag of rice at $27.60 than a 5kg bag at $14.60. ”
Immediately be4 that, the writer advocated, “opt for public transport. Just avoid peak hours”.
‘allo sister! U think all of us live on top of a supermarket or have one as a neighbour..izzit? The fact is, if I travel by bus or MRT, I won’t be able to hump a 10kg bag of rice home, since bus and MRT stops don’t have a habit of popping up outside a supermarket, even if it’s NTUC Fairprice.
Besides the total savings of $1.60 for the trouble will not cover my two-way bus or MRT journey and certainly not the medical fees or money for oinment, should I pull a muscle or two carrying the rice.
Of course I can take a taxi but considering that one-flag down already wipes out all the savings, where are the purported savings?
That’s not taking into account that I have to fork upfront an extra $13 for the additional 5kg of rice long be4 I am ready to eat it. Even in highly inflationary times, 13 bucks in my pocket are probably more useful than 5kg of rice in waiting in the bin, when by the time I get to eating it, it could be full of weavals. Besides taking up space in my store-room.
So, while I am a glutton for bargains, I don’t just bite because someone says “cheap, cheap” especially when that someone is just another bird-brain.