Category: Budgeting

Get the best value for your money

Is There a Cost to Working?

Operating costs in business
Factoring in your operating costs, how much do you really earn?

Everyone knows that there are operating cost in running a business, but rarely do people consider how much is actually spent on their own personal overhead, that is, the cost associated with working or other money-generating activities. For many businesses, how overhead is managed and controlled is often what makes or breaks their bottom line. Many important business decision are based on operating costs, yet so few people consider what their own personal operating costs are and whether these costs, compared to their earnings, make their income-generating pursuits worthwhile.

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The Myth of Home Ownership in Singapore, and Why I Choose to Rent

Owning vs renting a home
Many home owners in Singapore are, in reality, renters as they do not really own their homes .

Although I own properties overseas, I am a renter here in Singapore. People keep telling me that “renting is just like flushing your money down a toilet”. When I ask these people whether they rent or own, they proudly proclaim “own, of course!” But do they really own their home? Most people who purchase a home, do so with a mortgage, a word that originates from Latin meaning “death pledge” because it often took the entire life of a person to fulfill the pledge. Until recently, a person in Singapore could buy a home with 5% of its value in cash, 15% in CPF funds, while the rest (80%) is lent by a bank. For a BTO, the rules used to allow for 10% down and while the other 90% was financed. The amount financed, of course, comes with interest. So let’s dissect what is actually owned. (more…)

How to Get Out of a Hard Sell at Spas & Wellness Centres

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You don’t have to avoid spas simply because of the hard selling of packages.

I was so naive and unprepared when I went for my first beauty/wellness service at a Singapore spa. In the US, I had only been to one other spa prior to moving here. My spa experiences between the two countries were like night and day, mainly because in the US, hard selling is not common. To be honest, I had never encountered a hard sell before in my life… that is, until I bought two vouchers from Groupon.sg, one for a massage and another for a slimming session. The steeply discounted offers enticed me to try out their services. However, I soon realized that such promotional offers were a company’s bait, and that I naively took the bait and was about to get lured in. The slimming centre salesperson employed tactics like guilt, shame, pressure, and even ridicule. The massage centre salesperson was slightly nicer, but still tried her best to wear me out and waste my time. But I stayed strong and left both places with my dignity and wallet intact. Others weren’t so lucky. Since that first eye-opening experience, I’ve visited and tried out a handful of other spas. Each time, I would bravely walk into the lion’s den with my voucher in hand, and then leave the centre unscathed. I have heard a variety of pitches, been yelled at a few times, and endured different hard selling techniques, all while testing out my own techniques of countering, deflecting, and avoiding the hard sell. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

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Budget-friendly Buffets in Singapore – Part 1: Chinese & Vegetarian Cuisine

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Budget-friendly buffets, all priced around $15 or less!

While these buffets may not have the same offerings or variety that a buffet at a five-star hotel would have, you can still find great food, decent variety, and be able to have your fill without breaking the bank. You won’t need a voucher or a 1-for-1 credit card promotion, as these buffets are all around $15 or less. For some other buffets, such as “The Line” at Shangri-La or “Carousel” at Royal Plaza, you will have to spend three to four times the amount, but that doesn’t usually result in three to four times better quality in food.

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What You’ll Find at New2U Thrift Store

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New2U Thrift Store during their end-of-the-month sale.

I have a friend in the States named Michael who is a multimillionaire. When attending formal events, he can definitely make an impression, as he is typically one of the best dressed people in the room. He is often mistaken for a celebrity or a model. You’ll never guess that he, like me, grew up in poverty. You’ll also never guess that 90% of his outfits (as well as 90% of mine) were purchased second-hand, most commonly from thrift stores. People always wonder why he doesn’t just pay full price and buy whatever he wants at a typical department store. After all, he can definitely afford it. But Michael, like many other multimillionaires, lives a fairly conservative lifestyle. You’ve probably heard that Warren Buffet still lives in the same house he bought in 1958 for $31,500. Just because these individuals make 100 or 10,000 times more than your average Joe, doesn’t mean that they spend that much more. Most of their money gets invested back into their business or other profit-generating opportunity. These people are constantly looking for value in all things, getting the most and the very best from the least amount spent or invested. That’s how they started on their path to becoming rich in the first place. (more…)

Why I Hate Coach, Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Longchamp, and Louis Vuitton Designer Handbags

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Designer handbags are commonly seen at Daiso.

I have never seen so many designer bags until I moved here. They are surprisingly ubiquitous, popular among the youth, the elderly, working adults, and metrosexual males. I’ve even seen them carried by ladies in full-length burkas. Despite their high price tag, they are so common here. You don’t have to be at Orchard or the CBD to spot them, you’ll find them even while shopping at Daiso! So why do I hate them? (more…)