Leave Your Wallet At Home. Here’s How We Did It For 6 Days

With some inconvenience, but plenty of cheap and not-so-cheap thrills.

Tuesday: An easy ride

I kick things off by booking a Grab car to head to my appointment. I’m not-so-secretly thrilled that this challenge coincides with a $5 off per ride promo on the app. Instead of having lunch out, I head back to the office in my second Grab ride for the day (I survived almost entirely on private car hire apps for this experiment) and order a Japanese bento set via Deliveroo (www.deliveroo.com.sg). The $3.50 delivery fee alone is probably what a thrifty person with a tiny appetite spends on lunch, but I’m a regular user of food delivery services, so I’ve accepted delivery fees as a necessary evil.

At work, I set up the i-banking app on my phone — I’m going for a hotpot dinner and was planning to get a friend to pay first, then transfer the money to her with the app. It turns out to be a treat from one of my friends to celebrate a new job. It pays to have good pals — literally.

Used wallet: 0 times

Wednesday: Rookie Mistake

I wake up with a brill plan (or so I thought). I’d split my journey to work into two trips to capitalise on the Grab $5 off promo, and tapow lunch on the way there. So a ride that usually costs $14 ($9 with the discount) is $8 and $10 respectively (I paid a total of $8 for the entire journey with the discount). I save, er, $1 and $3.50 on my lunch delivery fee (assuming I ordered from Uber Eats or Deliveroo)! But the café I buy food from only accepts cash or card. Should’ve thought this through. I reach for my wallet in shame (I keep it with me for emergencies. Food counts as an emergency.)

On the way home from work, I’m super hangry and this traffic jam ain’t helping. So I get myself a poke bowl via Deliveroo en route. The food will arrive just after I get home, and I don’t have to spend time queuing up at the kopitiam to buy dinner — and the time saved is worth paying three times more than a usual meal.

Later that night, I realise we’re out of detergent. Doubt the mama shop downstairs has any form of e-payment. So I Redmart (www.redmart.com) it instead. I also pick up a cute collar for my puppy from an online store that I stumbled upon on Instagram. No wallet needed — as long as you remember your credit card deets.

Used wallet: 1 time

Thursday: Free’s A Crowd

A colleague orders for us lunch from Salad Stop via Uber Eats. Instead of reaching for cash to pay her back, I offer to pay for her dinner (at 8 DAYS, Thursday nights are desktop dining nights — damn you, deadlines). We go Mexican — Guzman Y Gomez on Uber Eats — and we need to taco ’bout how it serendipitously worked out to the same price as lunch. My colleague and I are now even Stevens.

As the work night wears on, my eyelids start to feel heavy. I perk up instantly when I receive a text: “After-work drinks?” My excitement is fleeting: How to pay for my drinks at a bar? Then a friend declares it’s on his tab, and I book my ride and hightail it to Boat Quay quicker than you can say, “Freeloader!”

Used wallet: 0 times

Friday: TGI…Have Spare Cash. Luckily.

I’ve been taking so many Grab rides this week (I usually use both Grab and Uber, except in times of awesome discounts from either one), I make a mental note to myself to buy 4D if I run into the same driver twice. I’m starting to feel the pinch from ordering takeout every day, so I try to find something easier on the (e-)wallet for lunch — vegetarian grub from Green Dot. It’s not exactly food court prices, but due to a mix-up with my order, I wind up with a $5 off credit. The universe wants me to succeed at this challenge!

Then comes the trickiest part so far: Friday night dinner and drinks. The cacophonous Club Street isn’t the place to even attempt to ask about e-wallet options, so I reluctantly pay for dinner and drinks with cash. Okay, maybe the universe doesn’t condone Friday nights out. Pfft.

Used wallet: 2 times

Saturday: Ruff On The Wallet

To feel like I’m brunching at a real café instead of Uber Eats-ing eggs and pancakes, I lay the table with our best placemats and, er, transfer the food from the disposable containers to actual plates. I’d signed up for Lazada’s LiveUp membership (www.lazada.com.sg), which gives you a limited-time free Netflix subscription, among rebates from e-tailers like Redmart and Lazada. I binge-watch Terrace House: Aloha State all afternoon, until Japan’s answer to Big Brother ends on a cruel cliffhanger.

Severe withdrawal symptoms set in. I. Need. Retail. Therapy. I recall seeing a DBS PayLah sign at Zara before, so with e-wallet in phone, I’m off. “Never heard of it before,” is the sales staff’s curt reply as I’m about to pay for my haul. I contemplate purchasing on the Zara app instead. But like a true-blue shopaholic, I cave in and reach for my credit card. Signed, sealed, shamed.

I attempt to make up for it by going to a free pets event at CHIJmes. Prices for Uber and Grab are sky-high (it’s the weekend after all), so I take the MRT for the first time this week. I’d already flouted the no-wallet rule today anyway, might as well use my EZ-link card. After a free dog obedience workshop, I Grab home. That night, I convince my partner that we haven’t had a date night in a long time. Yes, he knows about this challenge. He pays. My turn next week, I promise. Kinda.

Used wallet: 2 times.

Sunday: Keep Wallet And Carry On

I’m about to step out for a haircut when the stylist informs me they’re only accepting cash today. Of all days! I can’t schlep around with an unkempt mane for another day so I borrow cash from my partner. Technically, it’s not my wallet that I’ve used, right? I return the moolah to him using the DBS PayLah app.

After my haircut, I join the line to get a drink from a coconut dessert kiosk. And then I remember. Damn. I cross the road for an Americano at Starbucks instead — they accept Apple Pay. This Apple Pay noob fumbles a bit with the phone, though the baristas seem to be used to this. I’m dreading having to use a food delivery service for dinner yet again (I blame my fickle tastebuds) when I stumble upon an Apple Pay sign at Plain Vanilla cafe. Done. With a salad and pumpkin tart in tow, I Grab home.

Used wallet: 0.5 times.


Is going wallet-less possible?

Veg out at home on weekends, or forget about going wallet-less. Weekdays? It may be, if you don’t encounter any out-of-the-ordinary expenditure, like, going to the doctor. The good thing about going the way of e-payments is that I’d have clear records of my spending. The con? Receiving the credit card bill. Of course, there are cheaper options besides those I’ve tried (with more popping up every day) so not spending more than usual when you go cash- and card-less is still possible if you do your homework beforehand. 

Photo: Kelvin Chia

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