Mala, Massages, and More: Singaporeans Share What They Copped With CDC Vouchers
Top Image: Zachary Tang / RICE File Photo

Singaporean households will be getting another batch of free money soon. The government is releasing more CDC vouchers, ostensibly meant to support small businesses and offset the rising cost of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

There is already evidence that the vouchers are serving their intended purpose for business owners, the economy, and especially for those tight on cash. But for the comfortably middle-class and above, there’s a whole range of little luxuries they’re treating themselves to with the vouchers.

What does that say about Singaporeans priorities, wants, and needs in this economy? What are the unconventional things people spend their CDC vouchers on?

RICE speaks to our readers to find out.

When the government sent out the first round of CDC vouchers, my natural reaction was to calculate what alcohol I could buy with that amount. When the second round of CDC vouchers was issued, I remember carrying a basket of groceries and alcohol to the Sheng Siong checkout counter, only to find out that I could no longer use my CDC vouchers to buy my ‘liquid therapy’.

— Andre, 38

I used the vouchers to buy cloth by the square metre at People’s Park Complex with the intention of using them to tailor trousers for the CNY period. 

Since the vouchers weren’t being utilised by my family and they released the 2024 tranche of vouchers at the start of the year, I found it a good opportunity for me to save some money on CNY shopping and support small Singaporean businesses at the same time.

— Sam, 22

Image: Courtesy of Sam

I normally spend my CDC vouchers at my favourite mala stall in Chinatown and get foot massages. The one I get in Chinatown costs only $25 per hour, but they don’t accept CDC vouchers. When I feel like pampering myself, I’ll go for a foot massage in my neighbourhood, which costs $38 per hour.

I also use them at the TCM for acupuncture sessions and for food items from a provision shop when I’m too lazy to walk to the supermarket. Generally, my CDC vouchers are mostly spent on necessities like food and occasionally the feel-good stuff. If only I could use them for online shopping…

— Helen, 54

I bought flowers for my girlfriend with my CDC vouchers after we fought. They just so happened to come out around the same time we had a big fight. So it’s more like the government bought flowers for her.

— Mel, 22

I make bracelets, so I spent some of my CDC vouchers on embroidery thread at a textile shop. It felt even more significant to me because I was using these bracelets to raise money for a good cause (I told my Instagram followers that if they sent me a receipt of them donating to a Palestinian mutual aid fund, I would make a bracelet for them for free). 

I’m financially stable enough that I don’t need the CDC vouchers per se, so it did make me feel better that I was using them on something that I enjoy and that gives me a sense of purpose.

— Sebastian, 23

Image: Courtesy of Sebastian

I found out from a social welfare organisation I was volunteering at that I could donate my CDC vouchers so I did so.

I’m lucky that my family was able to weather most of the costs of inflation in 2023, so I didn’t really need to tap into the vouchers to support household spending. I was deciding what to do with them and I thought about a few ways, like giving them all to my favourite hawkers to provide meals for the needy. But I learnt about the donation scheme and decided to do that instead.

— Ian, 42

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