6 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Ways to save money on your wedding
Don’t let your big day burden you with debt.

The average cost of a wedding in Singapore can be more than an entire year’s salary of a new university graduate. This one event can be quite burdensome for a young couple, particularly if they have just started working. Parents may offer to help pay for a portion of the wedding, but this too can result in future burdens to the parents as they head into their retirement years. As mentioned in the previous post, having a great wedding is not correlated in any way to having a great marriage; however, it may set the couple back financially. If you have opted to take the more frugal route, but still want to have a beautiful, “proper”, and memorable wedding, here are some ideas on how to cut costs way down on your big day: (more…)

Why a Frugal Wedding May Mean a Happier Marriage

weddings singapore
A good wedding does not guarantee a good marriage.

The wedding season is upon us, and if I could offer newly engaged couples one piece of advice, it would be to not focus so much on the wedding itself. Although many have dreamed about and waited years for this one momentous event, there are a few good reasons why you should opt for a more frugal and less extravagant wedding. It may even lead to a happier marriage.

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How the Singapore CPF compares to US Social Security

CPF may have some issues, but it's nothing like the US Social Security system, and that's a good thing!
CPF may have some issues, but it’s nothing like the US Social Security system, and that’s a good thing!

There have been many articles and blogs lately about the fairness and viability of the Singapore CPF. As a new PR to Singapore, I know that I have much more to learn and understand on this topic; in no way do I claim to be an expert in it. But I am quite familiar with the US Social Security scheme, its current status and future viability. Since one blogger in particular has compared the two retirement schemes, skewing his findings in favor of these western schemes, I would like to shed some light on some of the “heart truths” about the US Social Security system (all backed by references, of course).

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Possibly the Best Father’s Day Gift Ever

father's day
Giving memories and experiences can be more meaningful (to both parties) than simply giving stuff.

One of the biggest regrets in my life is that I never really got to know my grandmother while she was alive, although she was the one who primarily raised me. By the time I was a know-it-all teenager, she started showing signs of dementia. At that time, I thought there was nothing more that I could learn from her. I didn’t place enough value on her stories, knowledge, and experience, but instead placed too much importance on my academic pursuits. She passed away shortly after I completed my graduate studies. Even if she had lived longer, by that time, it was simply too late to get to know her; she had completely forgotten me. What I wish I did differently: (more…)

How the Cost of Living in Singapore Compares to the US (part 4)

drug cost
The cost of healthcare is rising, but how does it compare to other places?

4. Healthcare: My personal experience with healthcare in the two countries is somewhat limited, but I have researched various healthcare issues from different angles in my ongoing attempt to live frugally. As an adult, I have never been warded in either country. But I have had plenty of outpatient and pharmacy visits. Healthcare is a very broad topic, so I will divide it into four separate categories – outpatient & urgent care, inpatient care, medications, and healthcare insurance.

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How the Cost of Living in Singapore Compares to the US (part 3)

China traffic jam
There are many tradeoffs with being a car-centric country.

3. Transportation: Cars cost more here than in any other place in the world. But for the vast majority of people, it is not necessary to own a car, as Singapore’s public transportation system is consistently ranked as one of the best in terms of being convenient, reliable, and reasonably priced. And with the small land mass, you don’t have to travel far to get to your destination. I’ve lived in various parts of the US, and you definitely cannot get very far without a car there. In addition, being a car-centric country comes with many tradeoffs.

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How the Cost of Living in Singapore Compares to the US (part 2)

housing rental mortgage cost in Singapore
Yes, housing here is expensive, but how does it really compare to other places?

2. Housing: Housing (both renting and owning) is definitely cheaper in the vast majority of places in the US when compared to Singapore, but to get a more even comparison, we have to limit our scope to major metropolitan cities in the US, particularly those with limited land mass, such as New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. In these places, current rental prices and monthly mortgage payments are actually quite comparable to Singapore. The lifestyle in these places are also similar, with more residents living in flats, instead of in landed property, and many flats offering additional amenities (e.g., pools, playgrounds, gyms, etc.). However, as with the previous post on the subject of food, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison without mentioning the various tradeoffs and the difference between public and private housing. (more…)

How the Cost of Living in Singapore Compares to the US

Singapore currency
Prices in Singapore may be higher than in the US, but there are good reasons for it.

I’m writing this post partially in response to the article that ran on 20 May, 2014 in The Straits Times entitled “Five things in Singapore that are cheaper than other cities“, to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranking published earlier this year which cited Singapore as the “World’s Most Expensive City“, and to the many comments these two articles generated. As an American, I believe that living in Singapore in some ways is more challenging than living in the US, and there are many basic things that are more expensive here. Because of this, people are always asking me why I chose to move here and become a PR, especially when they find out that as a US citizen, I still have to pay US taxes (the US taxes worldwide income and at a higher rate compared to Singapore). Safety and being closer to my cultural roots were definitely some of my initial reasons, but as I continued to live here, other reasons started to outweigh these initial reasons, which include health, environmental, ecological, and monetary reasons.

And what surprises people most is that since moving here, my husband and I have been able to save more (as a percentage of income), despite being double taxed. But it has only been through diligent planning and budgeting that we’re able to achieve this. Also, we’ve had to drastically change our way of living. Though people may see this as a sacrifice, I see it as being more environmentally and ecologically conscious. I am very aware that this way of living is not for everyone, so this post doesn’t attempt to speak for all Americans. So from my own perspective, this is how living expenses in Singapore compare to the US: (more…)

Candy Crush: Crushing Your Wallet

Candy Crush Saga
“Free-to-play” games can be quite costly.

I’ve been stuck on Level 290 in Candy Crush for a while now; I even took a 2+ month hiatus because I got so frustrated with the level. I came really, really close to beating it, with just one move left, but could not bring myself to pay money for extra moves. Many people (about one-third of players) will eventually give in and end up buying extra lives, moves, or boosters. While these purchases are rather small, usually no more than a couple of dollars, with 590 levels, these small purchases can and do add up. So how much do people spend on this “free” app?

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Where to Get a Cheap, Effective, Quality Massage without the Sales Pitch

Cheap effective quality massage
Fuss-free massages don’t have to be expensive.

After being a massage virgin until the ripe age of 32, I never thought I would be someone who would need regular visits to a massage therapist. But once I experienced how good it made me feel and how truly therapeutic it was, I decided to make it part of my monthly wellness budget. Many of my friends told me that in order to get a good quality massage, you would have to buy a spa package, which could cost over $1000. They told me that I could go for a one-time promotional trial, typically priced at $30 to $50, but most places that offer these trials will not let you leave until they use hard selling tactics to get you to buy their expensive packages. Personally, I’ve visited a few of these places to try their services and successfully avoided their hard sells (please refer to my previous post entitled “How to Get Out of a Hard Sell“). But instead of constantly having to go from one promo to the next, fortunately, I found a place that not only refrains from any hard selling, but also offers quality massages at an extremely affordable price. (more…)