A Hidden Neighborhood Thrift Shop Worth Checking Out

20160324_150821
This shop is a hidden gem and very easy to miss.

Although this shop has been around for nearly a decade, many people (even those who pass by it daily) may not be aware of its existence. This is in part due to the fact that it is both a thrift shop and a church. Yes, the two businesses share the same building and the same entrance. The Rock of Salvation Church congregation meets in the back room of the thrift shop. The shop has plenty of clothing, accessories, and bric-a-brac, some furniture, and many small home appliances. Here’s why I think this thrift shop is worth checking out:

(more…)

Why Qoo10 Is Better than Amazon – A Complete Guide to Qoo10

coupon event
Here are 10 reasons why Qoo10’s marketplace beats Amazon’s.

While in the US, Amazon was my go-to online marketplace for just about anything I wanted to buy at a competitive price – clothes, furniture, books, household goods, electronics, personal care items, and even food – but here in Singapore, we have something just as good as Amazon (and in many ways, even better than Amazon). We have Qoo10 (pronounced Q-ten). Like Amazon, Qoo10 has a wide range of products, there are sales and “daily deals” that entice you to buy using the scarcity tactic, and you can also shop via their app. And also like Amazon, you can use coupons. So why do I think it’s better? Here are 10 reasons. (more…)

The Best Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make

TPblessing_ceremony
This is not your “traditional Chinese wedding”…. or is it? (photo by Wikipedia)

When people ask me what was the best financial decision I’ve ever made, I start by telling them my second best decision – I chose to have an extremely simple, no-frills, stress-free wedding. Just how simple? Our guest list consisted of the minimum required to get married – five persons (i.e., 2 witnesses, 1 officiant, 1 bride, and 1 groom). As a young couple, my husband and I both came from humble beginnings, were burdened with a substantial amount of debt from education loans, and were just starting our careers. So it didn’t make sense for us to splurge on a one-day event, which would have required us to dip into our emergency fund, or borrow from family members (or worse, from our future selves). Doing so would have made us unprepared for a future crisis or would obligated us to comply with the “suggestions” of family members who would be bankrolling the wedding. The goal was to have a good and long-lasting marriage, and it seemed that having an extravagant wedding would not achieve it; in fact, it may even undermine this goal. I also imagined that if we ever needed to ask for financial help, no one would come to our aid simply because we invited them to a spectacular wedding. On the contrary, it is very likely that no one will even remember the wedding a year later. I also thought that having a grand wedding might result in anticlimatic, impractical expectations, and possible disappointment later in the marriage. I’d rather have a cheap wedding and a rich marriage, than the other way around. (more…)

My Personal Path to Frugality and How You Can Convert Your Children

pathway
The 7 things that led me to a path of frugality and financial freedom.

This month I turn 37 years old. It’s been nearly 2 decades living the frugal life. I don’t count the years I lived with my parents, as frugality was not by choice (we were simply poor and had to skimp & scrimp). But once I was on my own and working, making more in my first full-time job than either of my parents made after a lifetime of achievement in their respective careers, my level of consumption really didn’t increase much. On the other hand, my peers, even the ones who grew up poor like I did, chose a different path. I was recently asked why I remained frugal while those around me didn’t. And after much reflection, here’s what I realised (these are also some things that have “converted” some profligate spenders into more value-conscious frugaltarians): (more…)

Dissecting the Price-gouging Menu

view
You don’t have to dine at an expensive restaurant to enjoy this view.

Ever wonder why some restaurants have single page menus and others are like phone directories or catalogues? Expensive restaurants and international chain restaurants commonly use marketing techniques with one thing in mind – to get you to spend more or order their highly profitable items. When it comes to value, they usually won’t have your interest in mind. This is a continuation of the last post, in which I listed many of these tricks. In this post, I will go further into detail using an infographic to reveal the various techniques used to coax you into spending more and I will give additional examples. Please note that these are generalisations and that not all expensive restaurants will employ these tactics. (more…)

Are you Being Fooled by Restaurant Menus?

Expensive restaurants use marketing tricks to influence your decisions. (photo by Enoch Lai)

If you’re a frugal person like me, you want value when it comes to dining out. For me, this doesn’t mean cheap food – I want good, nutritious, and satisfying food or an amazing experience but at the lowest possible price. A lot of restaurants now put their menus online, but many of them will leave the price out or it will be an older menu, from say 2009, so you really have no idea how much things cost until you get there. I really don’t like surprises when it comes to paying for things, so here are some common menu techniques to tell if the restaurant you are considering is going to charge exorbitantly high prices. And if you happen to find yourself at an expensive restaurant, you can also use these techniques to find the most value-conscious menu choice (i.e., highly popular but low profit menu items) while avoiding the restaurant’s “breadwinners” (i.e., high profit menu items).

(more…)

How to Invest in Ponzi Schemes

ponzi
How can you spot a Singapore ponzi scheme? (photo by ArrrRTeDUarD)

Ponzi schemes are when funds obtained from new investors are used to pay off existing investors in a continuously growing “pyramid” type structure. Named after Charles Ponzi, who promised a 50% return on $150 in 90 days ($225), these schemes have been around for almost one hundred years. With the low interest rates earned from deposit accounts, many Singaporeans are looking for “alternative investments” that guarantee huge returns. Thus in the past few years, ponzi schemes, many of which promise no-risk double digit returns, have been on the rise. There are definitely big profits to be made in ponzi schemes (not just for the organisers/originators); those who were the early investors and participants who had already exited with their money (their original principal plus any interest or dividend) will benefit from the scheme, so long as they exit before the scheme becomes unsustainable. Many ponzi schemes can go on for several years,  so there’s certainly ample opportunity to cash out and exit before the scheme implodes. What then is the problem with investing in a ponzi? (more…)

Frugal yet Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

vday
What marketers want you to buy for Valentine’s Day. (photo by frankieleon)

Nowadays, it’s very easy to express love through buying things – at least this is what marketers and movie-makers want you to do. They make it almost brainless to pick up a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, a mass-produced greeting card, or even a piece of jewelry. These kinds of gifts are seen as “traditional” and “customary”, but are they thoughtful or merely reflexive and primarily driven by expectations and marketing? There are many ways to express love, often in ways that are more meaningful than spending lots of money, such as contributing your time, expressing your sincerity, and exercising your creativity. (more…)

How Lucky Will You Be This Year

dice
Life is filled with blessings, but expect to have disasters once in a while.

The start of the New Lunar Year (4714) will soon be upon us, and many are eagerly seeking forecasts and predictions from “Grand Masters” to find out what the year of the Red Fire Monkey will bring. This is also one of the busiest times for Singapore Pools, as ticket sales dramatically increase with the annual $12 million TOTO Hong Bao Draw. These are entertaining ways that sort of give us a sense of how lucky we are or will be in the coming year. And it’s fun and easy to daydream and fantasize about what you would do with the winnings. But what are your odds of winning?

(more…)

Purchase Life Insurance Directly (Commission-Free) to Save Money

[Photo credit: Got Credit]
If only insurance was as simple as hitting a computer key…. well, now it is!
(Photo by Got Credit)
Insurance is an asset-protection instrument, and with all the uncertainties in life, it’s good to have some protection against the inevitable tragedies one will face such as disability, critical illness, dependent care needs, and death. Despite its importance, most Singaporeans don’t have a life insurance coverage of any kind. Out of all the reasons cited for this, two of the top reasons were “the intimidating process” and “apprehension toward agents”. I definitely can relate to these two concerns, as I have been personally lied to by multiple insurance agents, who were unaware that I had Certified Financial Planning (CFP) education and experience. Well now there’s a way to circumvent the agent, to compare multiple insurance products (and not just the ones your agent suggests) and purchase insurance directly (commission-free).

(more…)