As the world slowly comes out of lockdown, Singapore is gradually opening up, setting up possible green lane arrangements and cross border travel. While things are far from normal – and looking to stay that way for a while – what’s clear is we’re going to have to get used to less in-person interactions and spend a lot more time at home entertaining ourselves. Say goodbye to impromptu midnight supper meet-ups and hello to more Zoom-esque socialising and dating. Forget Gold Class movies, instead, you’ll be catching the latest blockbuster from the comfort of your couch, and if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to commit to setting up your own mini-gym and office space.
You're allowed to splurge
The four walls you call home, it’s going to be your all-in-one space for the foreseeable future. So instead of treating it like a hotel where you pass through, invest in the equipment (and the tech toys) to make it your all-in-one entertainment center so you can “go out” without going out. If you’ve ever needed to justify buying big-ticket items like a Thermomix, know that its ability to chop, steam, blend and sous-vide (plus more) will pay off in just a month’s worth of use. That massage chair from OSIM, it’ll cost less than a 20-session massage package. And if you’re used to catching a movie every week, re-create the experience at home and invest in a Sonos sound system. If you rather watch movies from your bed, the new iPad Pro delivers crystal clear images. So do the math, pull up a list of things you need (and like to have) and treat yourself. Just as it’s important to stay healthy and safe, it's important to have the tools (and the little luxuries) to do so. If you rather pay items off in stages, make sure you use a credit card with a 0% instalment plan like the OCBC Cashflo Card and consider applying for a card like DBS Live Fresh for 5 per cent cashback on online and contactless spends.
Get bougee about your home-cooked meals
With dining out in limbo – plexiglass dividers, mandated group size – dining in will be a thing for the coming year, at least. While gourmet meals come together easily for professional chefs, half the work is in getting the right ingredients (and some fancy equipment). With a growing number of top-shelf suppliers, re-creating your favourite burrata salad with a side of pancetta at non-restaurant prices is now a possibility. Little Farms delivers its shelves of primarily Aussie organic goodness for free for orders over $100, while veggie subscription boxes like Goodness Graciously curate a selection of organic greens (like four angle beans, red spinach) grown on a farm in Johor Bahru to be delivered weekly, then there’s Grammi by Michelin chef Beppe De Vito where you can order full Italian meals, or just the ingredients to re-create your favourite comfort meals.
Become your own barista
If you’re big on lattes and don’t think twice about shelling out $4-$5 per cup, that adds up on a daily basis. If you have just one coffee every workday, in a month you’re spending at least $80-$100 on your morning cuppa. In a year, that’s basically an air ticket to New York. If you can’t justify splurging on a Slayer machine, a failsafe purchase is Nespresso’s all-in-one Lattissima Range of coffee machines ($368, free delivery for purchases over $70) with coffee pods that start from $0.70. In three to four months, you’ll recoup your initial investment, and now, there’s no stopping how many coffees you can have a day. And who knows, you might just pick up some wicked barista skills.
Step up your cybersecurity
As the shift to online purchases has accelerated - a recent Facebook survey found at least 44% of digital consumers across Southeast Asia have spent more on packaged and fresh groceries online in April 2020, of which 80 per cent plan to continue this practice - so has the opportunity for security breaches and identity theft. With so much of your life now happening online, taking steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim of cyber crimes is essential. Strong passwords, keeping your Wi-Fi spot locked, regularly updating software and cycling through social media privacy security options should be done immediately. Take things a step further and purchase a VPN (Nord VPN, IP Vanish, Express VPN) to mask the IP address of your device. With a secured connection your data is encrypted and less likely to be harvested for annoying, re-targeting ads, essentially keeping you safer online. Look out especially for a "kill switch" feature which kills your internet connection if your VPN connection is dropped, thus keeping your data invisible from others.
Shop better with a VPN
Which leads us to the next point, with your IP address masked, this means there’s a whole lot more you can do online. Everything from shopping for cheaper on foreign websites, watching country-only specific shows, and giving you a steadier bandwidth signal so if you’re gaming you’re not being sabotaged by a spotty connection. If you're unsure if you really need a VPN, sign-up for one that gives a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test drive the service.
The W(O)FH we all need
With gyms and spas slated to open only in Phase Two, there should be no further procrastination on putting together a home fitness spot. For the same price of a yearly gym membership (anywhere from $90 per month), you’ll be able to kit out your workout space as you like and still walk away with some spare cash. Be it a full-on functional fitness rig set-up, a rowing machine, an adjustable weight vest for squats or just treating yourself to that extra thick yoga mat you’ve been eyeing for a while, check what Movement First has on offer (free delivery from $150) and get them to install your equipment securely (from $100) so there’s no chance of an accident happening.
Buying peace of mind
With more time spent at home, having an accident insurance plan that covers for small mishaps is prudent planning. For an affordable price of $0.33 per day (MSIG has annual plans from $123.05), you’ll be covered even in cases of small accidents like a shoulder injury, a fall in the bathroom or third-degree burns. Aside from medical care, there are inclusions for care by a TCM or chiropractic practitioner. Additionally, insurers like Aviva also provide a weekly temporary disablement benefit of $200 every seven days (up to 104 weeks) if you’re unable to work or earn an income due to an accident.
Taking care of you
Now, more than ever it’s important to focus on your health, both physical and mental. If the coming months looks uncertain and you’re unsure where you’ll be workwise by the end of the year, consider purchasing an International Health Insurance plan from providers like MSIG, FWD, or Liberty. Different from Singapore-based insurance plans, an international plan travels with you and gives access to local health care services, emergency rooms and repatriation if needed. Some add-ons that you won’t find in work-issued insurance plans include major dental surgery, inpatient and outpatient psychiatric treatment, and outpatient tests like MRIs, giving you comprehensive coverage so your healthcare will be one less thing on your mind.