Category: Budgeting

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The Most Important Takeaway Message Regarding the Singapore 2016 Budget

budget
The 2016 Budget – what was missing and what you need to know.
(Photo by GotCredit)

It’s “budget season”, and it seems that everyone wants a piece of the proverbial “surplus pie”. Businesses, particularly SMEs, want more support as they face a downturn in the economy, while families want more assistance as society becomes more complex and social matters become more demanding. Budget 2016 has a whole slew of new grants, credits, schemes and other initiatives to address both sides. I’ll go over some of these in this article, and also list a few very crucial things that I think the budget was missing. Finally I’ll conclude with one BIG takeaway message that summarises what this budget should mean for you, your business and your family. (more…)

The Best Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make

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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…)

Why Money Resolutions Fail

luxury cars singapore
Who’s driving these luxury cars? The answer may surprise you.

It’s that of year again when we, with all our good intentions, list all the various health, self-improvement, and financial goals that we aim to achieve in the coming 12 months. Each year, the same New Year’s resolutions appear – make healthier food choices, exercise regularly, spend less, save more – yet most resolutions are broken within the first 2 weeks. It seems that we all know exactly what we need to do, but the knowledge-behavioural gap is wide, and translating what we know into actions is where we fail. So here are some ways in which this gap might be lessened, at least when it comes to meeting our financial goals. (more…)

Does Owning a Car in Singapore Even Make Sense?

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Once you’ve paid that big price tag, don’t forget that you have other expenses that really add up.

As the price of COE premiums fall (Cat A prices now at $61,000), some of my colleagues are considering buying a car. One of them decided to buy a used car with 3 years remaining on the COE (her old car was recently scrapped after 10 years). She’s in her 50s and figured that in 3 years time, she would either be semi-retired or have flexi-work arrangements, so she thought 3 years was more than adequate. But when she told me the price she paid on this supposed “good deal” ($35,000+), I was shocked and wondered if she had done the math. So I decided to in this post. (more…)

Easy Hacks to Lower Your Utility Bill

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How much are these vampire devices costing you?

This year, your January utility bill should reflect a lower price for the electricity tariff, which is now $0.2329/kWh (a decrease of $0.0199/kWh from December). This lower tariff will be in effect until 31 March, where it will be reviewed again by EMA (Energy Market Authority). The new lower tariff translates into an average monthly savings of $7.93 for families living in four-room HDB flats. Though the savings is great news for everyone, it may give people the false idea that they are actually consuming less energy. We should all still do our part to practice good energy-saving habits for the benefit of the environment as well as our savings account. Here are a few easy hacks to further lower your energy bill. (more…)

To Seniors: 5 Reasons Why Renting is the Better Choice

National Day rally singapore 2014
Sorry, Prime Minister Lee, but I disagree with you – home ownership is not always a good thing!

When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong listed the various ways in which a “cash poor” senior can get extra income from his/her home in retirement, he said, “It is better if you keep your property. Even if you rent out the whole flat, it does not matter, it is yours, and you can fall back on it for your old age, just in case anything happens.” I disagree, though I understand and appreciate where he’s coming from. He’s worried that many people who end up selling and cashing out their property would not be able to appropriately ration the lump sum earnings and make their windfall last throughout the remainder of their lifetime. This is why he put constraints on taking lump sum withdrawals of one’s CPF. Additionally, owning a home provides some assurance that you will have shelter, which is a basic need. But in the case of selling your own property, I believe if you are prudent with your money (perhaps you can buy an annuity with the proceeds, or just keep it liquid in an account), the option to cash out your property should be a viable consideration for seniors.

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

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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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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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