LOL Mondays: Buy First, Think Later…Or Don’t Think

Whether you use girl or boy math, a bargain is a bargain.

By Alywin Chew        6 November 2023

Ever heard of the adage, “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes”? 

Well, it’s not exactly correct. Because there’s another thing in life that qualifies as a certainty – we simply cannot resist a good bargain.

I’m sure you know what I mean. Nearly a year has gone by in the blink of an eye and we’re now in November, which you would probably agree is the best time of the year for retail therapy because of Singles’ Day and Black Friday.

Contrary to popular belief, we Singaporeans aren’t more obsessed with sniffing out good bargains compared to the rest of the world because we are kiasu. According to research, everyone loves a good bargain. It’s just how we’re wired. 

In fact, studies have shown that our brains get so excited by a bargain that we cannot think straight. And this is one of the reasons why we almost always end up buying things we don’t need

I’m sure all you guys out there would find this inability to think straight somewhat familiar. Remember those times in NS when the platoon sergeant would scream “OEI RECRUIT! SHAG CANNOT THINK IS IT?”

To non-Singaporeans who do not understand what this means, “shag” is actually Singaporean lingo for “extremely exhausted” and should not be confused with the British colloquial definition of, ahem, “bedroom action”.

I reckon it’s safe to say that most guys also won’t be able to think straight while performing the latter.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. There’s this description of a bargain I found online that I find to be very true – “a bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist.”

Just think about it. Most people don’t wait around for a sale to happen before buying something that is a need. I mean, can you imagine buying toothpaste only during Black Friday? What are you trying to do? Turn the occasion into White Friday?

That being said, it does seem wise to stock up on daily essentials during shopping festivals.  I have a friend who bought not one but FIVE cartons of tampons during Singles’ Day last year. 

You should’ve seen the sight of all those boxes stacked up in the storeroom.

It looked like a scene straight out of a period drama.

So, looking for the best way to save money during the sales frenzy this month? I’ll let you in on the secret – don’t bother scouring high and low for the best bargains. 

Just don’t buy anything. 

I know, I know. It’s hard to resist an amazing offer. It doesn’t help that the voice of unreason always pops up and tries to convince you that you should get the item you covet. 

I recently discovered that there are even terms for this so-called voice of unreason – “girl math” and “boy math”. 

To be clear, these “math concepts” are simply nonsensical means of self-justification. How do they work? Imagine a new TV that costs $365. According to this theory, the TV would cost you just $1 a day should you use it every day for a year. 

As such, the TV is practically free after a year.

If you think this makes sense, I reckon you might’ve been a platoon sergeant during your NSF days. Or maybe in your past life.

Because I swear platoon sergeants have their own mathematical theories.

Here’s one example from my NS days. 

(Context: we had just spent the past three hours doing rifle-cleaning)

Platoon sergeant: Pack up now, send arms and go to bed. Fall in at 7am for breakfast.

Trainee: Huh? But it’s already 3am! We need seven hours of uninterrupted sleep!

Platoon sergeant: Okay. Enlighten me. What is 3am plus seven hours?

Trainee: It means we should wake up at 10am.

Platoon sergeant: Wrong. The answer is two.

Trainee: Two? What do you mean?


LOL Mondays is an ongoing series of slice-of-life stories from freelance writer and NSman Alywin Chew. Look out for the humorous tales which will be posted every first Monday of the month, to help you drive away your Monday blues!

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