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31 hacks to make your life easier

We gathered the best insider tips and tricks to win at life

Ever wondered where to go for the cheapest drinks in town or how to land a taxi during those pesky peak hours? Don't worry, we've got your back and are here to answer your every day queries. 

Food and drinks

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1. Nab a free hash brown from McD's

What if we told you there’s a way to be woken up in the morning – and score a free hash brown from the Golden Arches? Enter the McDonald’s Surprise Alarm. The app is essentially a daily alarm clock. But when it rings – you can only set one buzz time – you’ll be rewarded with a treat from McDonald’s that you can redeem at a later date. (And don’t you worry: the ‘surprise’ here refers to the goodie, not the alarm.)

2. Wine and dine in a supermarket aisle

Put those ambles through the supermarket dreaming up home-cooked dinner possibilities to better use – with booze. Isetan Scotts and Jurong East have both carved out tiny Kaku-Uchi bars to sip on sake and grab a quick bite. You're encouraged to buy a pastry, don or sushi from any of the stalls flanking either supermarket to have with your rice wines by the glass ($7-$15/90ml) and bottle ($28-$57/720ml). You can even pick something up from the store's shelves and have it rung up to munch on at the bars.

At the Scotts outpost of Kaku-Uchi, freezing cold gusts of refrigerated air blast at you, so order your sake warm, and hug yourself to re-live those wintry holidays to Japan. 

3. Score a better deal on your cuppa

If you’ve stared at a Starbucks menu long enough, you’d know that the volume of a single Venti cup (710 mililitres) is equivalent to two Tall drinks (355 mililitres each). But a Venti costs much less than a pair of Talls. So if you’re there with a friend, do your math and ask your barista (nicely) to split a Venti beverage into two Tall cups. This hack works best during non-peak periods, although you can very simply request for an extra Tall cup and divvy up the drink yourselves.

4. Save cash on Japanese meals

If you’re looking to eat big on the cheap and you pander towards Japanese cuisine, get on J Passport. It’s a membership – it also comes with an app – that serves you deals at Japanese restaurants, from ramen-yas to shabu-shabu joints to izakayas. Think of it as a Groupon for Nippon-philes. Offers range from the usual (20 percent off) to the drool-worthy ($3.10 Santouka ramen bowls, anyone?). So that’s your lunch plans sorted.

Cheapest ways to drink
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Cheapest ways to drink

5. Beer

At FIVE Izakaya, the clue to its prices is in its name. Kronenbourg 1664 pale lager pours for $5 a half-pint all night, as do house sakes (30ml), yumeshu (30ml) and red and white (120ml) wines. 

6. Spirits

To enjoy low-cost booze inside Drinks and Co’s Club Street shophouse space, you’ll need to top up for corkage so you meet a minimum spend of $65 a bottle. Still, don’t let that stop you from popping in before a BYO party to pick up a measure of Tequila Blue ($55), Aivy vodka ($59), or Pampero Blanco rum ($68). Wines are also a steal, starting at $22 a bottle.

7. Wine

Those throngs that flock to Wine Connection’s bistros are on to something. Bottles from Down Under go for as low as $35, while a selection of New Zealand, Spanish and Australian labels make up the housepour list, poured out for just $7 a glass, all night long, no happy hour required.

8. Cocktails

While prices for craft cocktails have slowly inched downwards, there’s still no beating FOC’s prices. The Spanish restaurant’s bartender, Dario Knox, is one of the city’s most creative drinks minds, but you won’t find yourself paying a premium for cocktails like the gin-based Madame Butterfly ($13.50), citrusy cachaça Night in Rio ($14.50), or chilli padi-spiked Blacked Out in Bangkok ($15.50).

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By: Natasha Hong

City living

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9. How to dump your kids while shopping/eating

You love your little ones, but sometimes you crave some peace and quiet when you’re out running errands. Japanese supermarket Meidi-ya has thought of that, which is why it’s set up a kids’ corner with a TV screening cartoon shows to keep them occupied while you shop.

Similarly, Japanese dining/retail concept Emporium Shokuhin at Marina Square has a playground with toys, whiteboards and that all-important TV, while all three branches of steamboat specialist Hai Di Lao also have children's areas. And if you’re hoping to get a workout in without being disturbed by the tykes, boutique gym Amore's Tampines branch has a Kid-Fit Club, where they can do some arts and craft, read, or even play some video games – a win-win situation.

10. How to shower on the go

Go-getters who ain't got no time to make a stopover at home while you conquer the world, here's one way you can freshen up. Singaporeans can sign up for ActiveSG and get $100 worth of free credits in the first year. But even if you're not into sports, you can use your credits for a gym or swim session at any of the sport centres island-wide, then nip in for a quick shower. No one's gonna stop you from using the bathrooms, either. 

11. Get tested for HIV anonymously

Most clinics offer HIV tests, but if you wish to do it anonymously, there are ten places that don’t require you to submit your name, NRIC number or contact number. These include Tanjong Pagar Medical Clinic, Anteh Dispensary in Geylang, Dr Soh Family Clinic in Jurong and Doctors Clinic and Surgery in Woodlands. The full list can be found on the Health Promotion Board website, and for further information or support, visit Action for AIDS. Remember: the earlier the virus is discovered, the higher the chances are of delaying the symptoms.

12. Grab the cheapest movie tickets

If you're not a student, full-time National Serviceman, senior citizen or a kid under 12 – they're entitled to straight-up discounts – then listen up. The cheapest movie tickets you can buy are for shows on Monday to Thursday. The three major theatres (Shaw Theatres, Golden Village and Cathay Cineplexes) offer standard tickets from $8.50 to $9. That's $2.50 to $5 less than what you’d pay on weekends. And better yet: since all of us have friends who own a SAFRA card, 'borrow' theirs for one-for-one ticket deals at Shaw Theatres on the weekend. 

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13. Charge your phone when you're out

After taking one too many #foodstagram shots, your phone is finally out of juice. But no worries, concierge counters at malls like City Square, Funan and Tampines 1 can help you charge up your device, while ION allows shoppers to borrow complimentary portable power banks. Topshop has cubbyholes with a charger in each, while Singapore Power has launched around 200 charging stations across the country at places like selected NTUC FairPrice supermarkets, hospitals and NUS. 

14. Always land a cab during rush hour

You don't need us to tell you Singapore has a serious problem with cabs. Add the CBD rush hour (and rain) to the mix and you're more likely to hitch a ride to the Moon. Here’s a quick fix that only requires a small fee: fire up a taxi booking app like ComfortDelGro, and in the 'Pick-up point' field, enter 'Extra $5' (or whatever amount you’re comfortable with; we found $5 works best). Your ride will be with you in no time.

15. Be a 'social media influenza'

Whoops, we mean 'influencer'. First, you'll need to hit at least five figures on Instagram. Document every 'avo on toast' and latte you consume, and never leave home without a full face of makeup. Up your selfie game and rope in a friend who's handy with a camera to snap those #OOTD shots (pro tip: if it ain't a selfie, don't you dare look at the camera).

You may follow as many people as you like, but please cut them off once they follow back – this is crucial in determining how many people love you for your looks and who's sticking around out of courtesy. And end every Instagram post with a 'Thanks, [brand name] for the cool new [product name]! Grab your [product name] today, and don’t forget to quote "INFLUENZA721" for a 15 percent discount! #blessed #[brand name]'.

16. Slalom past 'slow-walkers'

God knows we have plenty of those in this city, lumbering down pavements at the speed of a geriatric tortoise with one wooden foot and a fluid notion of time. Oh, and an umbrella. You can't stop 'em, but you can pull their leg – literally and figuratively. Carry a bicycle bell around (you can get one at Daiso), and start ringing away when you see a saunter of them in front of you. They'll instinctively part, like the Red Sea. And you can mosey on ahead of them without so much as issuing a frustrated 'Eskew, eskew please!'

Apps to dial down the road rage
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Apps to dial down the road rage

17. Street Directory (iOS), Singapore Map (Android)

Screw Google Maps and Apple Maps. This is the best mapping app for the city. You heard us. It's got bus timings, route recommendations that are far more accurate than the two big ones, and, here's the kicker: you can tap on any building to bring up a directory of the tenants there, with opening hours and contact details all at your fingertips. Boom.

18. TraffiCam SG (iOS), SG Traffic Cam (Android)

The app culls feeds from the Land Transport Authority's many traffic cameras around the island to give you a real-time 'eye in the sky' view of major roads and expressways, making it easy to assess the traffic situation.

19. Park-a-Lot { SG } (iOS/Android)

Not the handsomest app around, but it'll solve your parking woes. Park-a-Lot is a comprehensive catalogue of all the car parks in town. You can check out the available lots (only for car parks within buildings), arrange them by price or location, and save your favourite ones.

20. Waze (iOS/Android) 

In a nutshell: crowd-sourced traffic data. Fellow users – dubbed 'Wazers' – pin unfavourable traffic conditions (jams, collisions, broken-down vehicles) on the in-built map and attach short descriptions so you know what's up. We like how active the users are, so don't be a lazy SOB. Go ahead and return the love.

Shopping

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21. Spruce up on the go – for free

Makeup counters at Sephora have an endless supply of remover, wipes and touch-up materials for a quick fix. The beauty sales people know how to apply the products, so you shouldn't feel obliged to purchase on the spot. If you're clueless on how to use something (or just playing dumb), ask them to help and you'll have a pro red lip or winged liner in no time. Also, Sephora has nail varnish remover so you can clean up your chipped polish, which wasn't a good look even when Lindsay Lohan was famous. 

22. How to spot a fake bag

If you're thinking about buying that new 'It' bag off Carousell, needless to say, do your homework first. Look out for these three universal things that will clue you in on the bag's authenticity: the zipper, serial number and lining. The linings usually vary across different sizes of the same model, so you should know how they look and feel. And if you know the format of the serial number of the model, that's brilliant. If you don't, study the indentation of the stamped digits – they should be even and not too deep. For the zippers, most designers use a high-quality brand like YKK, EP, Lampos and Riri, which also indicate its edition and the era in which it was made. 

23. Be ripped off by razor blades no more

You know how it works. The handles are cheap, but the blades themselves cost a Greek god’s ransom. Which means, if you're like us, you’ll deal with the razor burn from rusty blades just to save the cash. But with Shave It Club, you won't have to. Subscribe to the service and you'll receive a free handle and, every month, a set of five five-blade refills – all delivered to your doorstep for $15.90 a month. Sure beats queueing up only to fork out $25 for some fancy-shmancy Gillette one. Membership to the Club also entitles you to perks at a few grooming salons, cafés and men’s specialty stores around town.

24. Shop designer goods at a steal

The grandmama of multi-label designer fashion, Club21, opened an outlet store in IMM last September, so you can get your Marc Jacobs swag without breaking the bank. Called simply Outlet by Club21, the 2,500-square-foot store stocks menswear, womenswear and accessories – new items arrive every fortnight – with prices around 60 percent lower than its boutiques. Besides Marc Jacobs, the brands on offer include: Blackbarrett, Calvin Klein Platinum, DKNY and Paul Smith.

Tool rental services in Singapore
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Tool rental services in Singapore

25. IKEA

Hit up the customer service counter at the Alexandra outlet to rent a heavy-duty power drill ($200/deposit for five-day loans), or Tampines branch for a FIXA hammer drill or screwdriver ($150/deposit for one-week loans). IKEA estimates an average waiting time of seven to ten days, so book ahead. 

26. Residents' Committees (RCS)

Those RCs in your HDB estate aren't just there for karaoke nights and origami classes. The People's Association has just rolled out Resource Centres at 450 RCs islandwide, stocked with ladders, screwdrivers and spanners for free three- to five-day loans. Give them a call before heading down to check on its availability.

27. Rent Tycoons

The 'Tools and Equipments' category on this peer-to-peer lending portal lists a good number of specialised gear, so if you're looking for a hammer drill that cleaves through concrete like butter ($20/day), a ladder ($8/day), or even an air-conditioner washer ($35/day), you'll probably find it here.

28. Research home renovation

We’re not talking about homeware blogs or Pinterest mood boards. Tile x Tile is a crowd-sourced platform that allows homeowners – not interior design firms! – to post their renovation projects so others can find out the nitty-gritty: design and furniture costs, contractors and designers, square-footage, and so on. There are also starred ratings for the each company involved in the renovation. And as these posts are written by the homeowners themselves, it’s far more trustworthy than something that’s been run through the hype machine.

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By: Time Out Singapore editors
Shop at three in the morning
Photo: Carsten Reisinger
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Shop at three in the morning

29. All and sundry

The NTUC FairPrice Xtra (#03-42) in nex is massive, and has a range of products to match its size. From washing machines to BBQ pits to fresh produce, you’ll find it here – it’s open all through the night. Oh, and spend $150 and you’ll get free delivery, too.

30. Buy flowers

Forgot that your anniversary’s tomorrow? We got you. 24Hrs City Florist opens from 9am to 6am (the next morning) every day, so you can make a furtive trip over to pick up a last-minute bouquet. Remember: it's way better than invoking the wrath of a woman scorned. The store also offers basket and vase arrangements, grand opening flowers and more.

31. Stock your pet supplies

Should you feel the urge to buy a pet fish late at night (ahh, the wonders of alcohol), Polyart Aquarium is your only bet. But seriously, the store is open 24/7 to cater to pet owners who have an emergency – like a broken filter – at hand, and need it fixed pronto.

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By: Time Out Singapore editors

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