Life in Singapore is already tough enough. Here are 5 ‘hacks’ to make things easier.

The best hacks don’t have to be online.

| Sulaiman Daud | Sponsored | January 26, 2021, 05:09 PM

Resourceful people have always been the best people to have in your life.

Whether it’s a friend in school who knew the best exam tips, your army buddy who could smuggle anything you needed into camp, or your colleague who knows Excel inside and out.

They always knew how to save precious time, or get you out of a tight spot.

We’re pretty sure you’re familiar with some basic “life hacks” floating around on the Internet. Like using a carabiner to carry lots of grocery bags:

Photo from Imgur.

Or placing your phone in an empty glass to act as a makeshift speaker at a party.

But we’re talking about the homegrown hacks that only a child of Singapore can really appreciate. The ones that make life just a little easier, especially around the festive period when preparations are hectic and stress is running high.

Hack one

In grand Chinese New Year tradition, doing housework on the day of the New Year itself is frowned upon, as one would be sweeping their fortune away.

Of course, this doesn’t mean one should avoid cleaning up altogether.

Instead of looking at spring cleaning as a boring chore, why not multi-task and look at it as part of a daily workout?

Mopping floors, scrubbing toilets and shifting furniture around so you can dust are all strenuous activities that will burn more than a few calories. And you can get a little creative too, like using buckets of water as weights, or a mop and two chairs as a pull-up bar.

In the month leading up to the New Year, set a schedule, keep to it, and you’ll have a little more leeway to enjoy all the awesome snacks.

Hack two

Another Chinese tradition is to pay off all your debts before the New Year is here.

It helps bring peace of mind and allows you to enjoy the holiday without worry, which is especially relevant if the people who lent you the money in the first place are your relatives. Imagine sitting down to dinner and trying to avoid that elephant in the room.

These days, making a money transfer couldn’t be easier. Depending on your bank, all you need is the relevant app on your smartphone. Tap in a few numbers, and it’s done, whether you’ve borrowed money from someone or have outstanding credit card bills.

But keeping track of your debts in the first place is a tricky business. You can make things easier for yourself by using a budget tracking app to keep tabs on your spending, or making a spreadsheet. Try Excel or Google Drive, whichever works best.

And if you’re the kind of person to dilly-dally when it comes to paying bills, do yourself a favour and check out the LifeSG app. You can conveniently access links to pay LTA fines and outstanding URA parking offences. After all, a debt to the government is still a debt.

The “Explore services” section of the app has these useful links, all in one spot.

Image provided by GovTech.

Hack three

There are a couple of theories behind the custom of staying up late the night before to ring in the new year.

You might hear that the longer one stays awake, the longer your parents will live (and in the words of Captain Picard, prosper too).

But according to ancient Chinese lore, this stems from the legend of the evil monster Nian, who crept into villages and carried off slumbering villagers to devour.

To counter this, the villagers kept the lights on and stayed up all night, watchful and on guard for the predator.

They would also scare it away with firecrackers and red paper decorations. Firecrackers are banned in modern Singapore, and your neighbours may not appreciate it, but some music would be acceptable.

Staying up all night may be tough, but perhaps it may be easier with some fun and games, like making it a trivia night. Throw some angbao money stakes in the mix and the *kaching* should incentivise everyone to stay awake.

If you need some inspiration for a Lunar New Year themed quiz to begin with, check out these interesting tidbits here by guessing the meaning of the icons on the angbaos.

Hack Four

Let’s be frank. When it comes to buying groceries, our mothers know best.

If it doesn’t come in pre-packaged form, then the variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats out there might confuse the average shopper, especially if most of our interaction with food these days is through a delivery app.

For the very best of steamboats, you could buy pre-packaged, ready-made ingredients. But prepare to disappoint your parents and any other previous generations.

After the flaming dumpster fire that was the year 2020, you deserve nothing but the best of steamboats. And with relaxed restrictions on the number of visitors, you can finally hold a decent reunion dinner.

The key to a great steamboat is one word - preparation.

  • Pre-slice your ingredients, like meat.
  • Prep raw ingredients a day in advance, leave them to marinate in the fridge.
  • Freeze other ingredients as necessary, because when the big day comes, most shops will be closed.
  • The stock itself can be slowly prepared, boiling ingredients like bones and shells to lend it additional flavour.

With the benefit of foresight, having the family together for a steamboat dinner will be a tummy-satisfying affair that can last the entire day.

Just make sure you keep to Covid-19 guidelines on the number of visitors.

Image from Pixabay.

Hack five

Being a Singaporean is not easy. We work hard, and try to get by. But things get a little easier when others share their own experiences, or useful tips to help out.

Get creative and be spotted sharing your own hacks for the festive season on your social channels, whether it helps to save time, or makes things easier.

Facebook posts and Instagrams spotted using the hashtag #LifeSGHacks will get S$5 Mr. Bean vouchers to top up their New Year goodies stash. The LifeSG folks at GovTech will leave a comment on your post if you are selected.

And only for a limited period before Chinese New Year, LifeSG will also give away limited edition red packets to those with the most creative #LifeSGHacks for Chinese New Year.

Remember, only public posts will qualify for these.

Image courtesy of GovTech.

Winning something for sharing what you already know? That’s the best hack of all.

Find out more here.

This sponsored article by GovTech gave the writer ways to gain more free time which he promptly spent on playing Stellaris.