Light-hearted Sunday post (really, trust me), the post is more interesting that the title and maybe you can pick up a tidbit for awesome savings. Seemed like many of you have enjoyed the previous time-hack post. Thought I’ll follow up with a money-hack post this time.

Economics was one of the subjects that I took while I was in school. Needless to say, I couldn’t quite appreciate the topic as much as I could now. As I move through different phases in life, many times I get the “Aha!” moment as I suddenly made the (hopefully positive) connection between what I was experiencing now and what I had read in textbooks.

What is Imperfect Market?

Definition taken from Investopedia –

A market where information is not quickly disclosed to all participants in it and where the matching of buyers and sellers isn’t immediate. Generally speaking, it is any market that does not adhere rigidly to perfect information flow and provide instantly available buyers and sellers.

Ahem. Which I can simply take to include the entire world we live in – thank you very much – since perfect and immediate flow of information is impossible. Don’t think too much into the underlying mechanics alright? I’m a very simple man.

The next and obvious point is that he or she who has more information would then be able to exploit the imperfect market and get the best deal possible to his or her knowledge. If information is very updated, then we can take advantage of time-critical situations.

Really Meh? Show Me Examples!

If you are asking this question in your mind, that is fantastic! Always question everything! I’ll quickly quote three examples that I from my experiences.

1. McCormick Crushed Red Pepper

crushed red pepper

I can whip up really delicious aglio-olio spaghetti. So much so that my wife and I almost never ever order this when dining outside because we are usually disappointed by what we’re served. As an unintended side-effect, we consume A LOT of crushed red pepper.

If you buy it at NTUC or order it through a online platform like RedMart (which I have a $10 credit for you if you join via my link at the top, see Freebies), it will set you back by about $6. Is there a cheaper option?

ToTT is a culinary destination that aspires to transform food shopping into a gastronomic adventure by offering an unparalleled range of kitchenware products. Basically, everything to do with cooking, they have it there. Skip over the “branded” products and you can find really awesome deals for “brand-less” cookware because they sell generic products to F&B establishments. I stocked my entire kitchen from ToTT when I moved into my current apartment.

Interesting, they also sell cooking ingredients such as crushed red pepper, by McCormick.

a) RedMart – 42g @ $6.00
b) ToTT – 368g @ @13.20 (before discount)

I’ll do the Maths for you. Basically I’m getting the same thing at 75% discount. Enough said.

2. Swanston Toiletries


(Image Credit :

Many people get their toiletries from NTUC, Watson, Guardian Pharmacy. I get them from Swanston at Chinatown’s People’s Park Complex. Why? Because they are ridiculously cheap. I’ve always been puzzled by how they are able to sell seemingly similar products at prices that can range up to 50% cheaper. Industry insiders have explained that they can do so because their products are parallel imported and not meant to be for sale in Singapore in the first place.

3. Mega Discount Store

Yes, I know. The store name sounded shady to me too when I first checked them out. Most of my home appliances were bought from them when I moved in.

Remember the retail price tag you saw on that washing machine at Courts? Or that oven at Best Denki? Or that TV at Harvey Norman? You never ever have to pay that price.

For every single appliance that I wanted, I can get it at a lower price via Mega Discount Store. All I had to do was to call in, quote the item’s name and model, and I could get it. The more items that I bundled and bought together, the higher the amount of discount I can get. I called all over Singapore, wrote up a list of the cheapest price for each appliance that I wanted, and gave it to Mega Discount Store. I told them that if they could match the prices for all the items, I will buy everything from them. As far as I can recall, it was easily 10-20% savings.

If you think this kind of behavior is only restricted to mass consumer markets, I can recount a funny experience for you.

I went into a really upscale furniture store located in Park Mall when my wife and I were scouting for the perfect sofa for our living room. Obviously, I didn’t like the price tag. The conversation was really surreal as the sales person offered a discount when I said it was too expensive.

Even after the “discount”, I acted reluctant just to force him to “show hand”. He relented and asked me what was my budget, and eventually agreed to match it! The process of getting my own apartment and setting up our home was an amazing eye-opener in so many ways.

Savings vs Time Spent

The world is inherently an imperfect market, and will always be. These examples I’ve recounted above are open secrets and have been around for the longest time. Therefore, he or she who has better/more information would then be able to exploit the imperfect market and get the best deal possible to his or her knowledge. This is why my quest for knowledge and information is never-ending.

As BULLy the BEAR has rightfully pointed out, time is a resource that is just as important, if not more important than money. Time may have to be expended in exchange for monetary savings. Is it worth it? Like him, I concur that I’m not necessarily frugal with money nowadays, but I’m increasingly frugal with time. A result of increasing age? Haha!


Individual experience with the above mentioned retailers may differ and I am not responsible for how they are operating now. I am only quoting from past experience!