An old friend that I’ve known since primary school is getting married this weekend, exactly one week from my own anniversary. Whether to get married, and more importantly, who to marry, is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make. Marriage can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on your well-being, happiness, fulfillment in life, health, and of course, your finances. On the flip side, getting divorced is ranked as one of the top traumatic, stressful, and financially devastating events.
I married young, right after graduating uni. And while many “young marriages” lead to divorce, I’m grateful that ours has stayed strong after all these years. It has been a critical component of many positive outcomes we’ve seen in our lives. I owe a lot of its strength and success to this one very unconventional thing we do as a couple. When I tell people, it often shocks them (don’t worry, it’s not kinky).
By now, everyone knows you can make side/extra income from “freelance” driving with Uber. There are already 20,000+ drivers for Uber in Singapore, and this community is rapidly growing. You’ve probably already met a handful of people who are seriously considering becoming an Uber driver. Besides having another source for income, more flexibility and control over your time, here are some additional benefits of being an Uber driver that few people know about.
Taxes are not evil. As humans, our progress, survival, and even wellbeing depend on benefiting from and contributing to a group. And in a sense, taxes are the “membership fee” to belonging to this kind of organised society, where a government is put in charge of certain civil aspects of society that cannot be entrusted to the private sector, such as utilities, healthcare, education, environmental protection, security, and defense. But with any group, some members are tasked with contributing more while others are bigger recipients, yet at any time, these tables can be turned. This article attempts to simplify the various tax reliefs available for individuals, many of which are put in place to benefit families and the “sandwich generation”.
“I don’t know what resources are out there” and “Why can’t the government just make things easier to understand?” are two common complaints I hear from the public across all ages, races, occupations, and gender. It has becoming increasing apparent that government schemes, like all messages, cannot be successfully communicated without addressing the UI/UX (user interface/user experience) issues. And yes, I do agree that there needs to be a better way to disseminate information in a more clear and easy-to-understand fashion. But to be fair, just saying “this is too complicated and until they make it easier, I give up” is a bit like saying speaking Mandarin is hard or driving is complicated, yet so many people do it all the time. We too, need do our part to facilitate our own understanding through repeated exposure, practice, and patience. And this is my attempt to help in this process:
I was recently invited to a grand opening of a restaurant in Singapore. As part of the grand opening celebration, the restaurant was providing free food and beer. But the food was mostly “junk food”. Most people were happy with free flow beer, but since I don’t drink anymore and I didn’t consider the “junk food” to be a proper meal, I stayed a bit to revel in the atmosphere, and then left to have dinner. (more…)
I’ve been asked this by some couples who are full-time professionals, and my opinion on this is somewhat unconventional among my peers. I grew up in the West, and having a live-in maid was only an option for the very wealthy. This is because domestic workers in the West get the same employment rights as other workers, such as overtime pay, paid time off, sick leave, health insurance, Social Security (similar to CPF), and regular holidays. Having a maid in Singapore, however, is far more affordable as cheap migrant labor is abundant in Southeast Asia, and they don’t have the same employment rights. (more…)
It seems that work-life balance is something more and more people are striving for these days. I recently attended a “work-life balance” seminar especially aimed towards women, which was given by a government-supported agency. I was hoping to learn another expert’s view on this. Unfortunately, the expert failed to ask an essential question before tackling how to achieve this balance. (more…)
The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is the sole national trade union centre in Singapore that is affiliated with 60 trade unions and 1 taxi association. The membership is open to anyone age 16 and older, except personnel from Singapore Police Force, Singapore Prisons, Auxiliary Police bodies, foreign domestic workers and full-time students. For my family, the membership is definitely worth it; in fact, it pays for itself. Here’s what you get by paying their annual membership fee of $117: (more…)
Jobs give us a source of income, a sense of security, a structure to our day, a means of networking and social connections, and an identity. But since all things come with a price, it is important to sometimes reflect on what we are exchanging for these career benefits. More importantly, we need to ask ourselves if the exchange is (or continues to be) fair, meaningful, and consensual. Often a relationship, particularly an employer-employee relationship, starts out as fair, meaningful, and consensual for both parties, but over time, can morph into a lopsided or even exploitative relationship. In fact, this happens very naturally and very commonly in a capitalistic society, though it does not need to be this way as there are many businesses that practice “conscious capitalism”.
In this year’s May Day Rally, NTUC Chief Lim Swee Say said that employers “need to make better use of every worker, and treat every worker better” while telling employees not to take the tight labour market (i.e., more jobs than workers) for granted. May Day (a.k.a. International Workers’ Day) began as a movement of employees seeking better working conditions, hours, and protection from their employers. This was at a time when many employers exploited their employees, often forcing them to work very long hours (12+) in dangerous working conditions. Unfortunately, much of this still goes on in the developing nations. Last week was the one year anniversary of Bangladesh garment factory collapse, in which more than 1000 people died. Some would even say that there are remnants of this kind of exploitation in many developed nations… Although there have been many labour laws passed since the first May Day, for the purpose of protecting the rights of employees, we still need to do our part to protect ourselves and not assume that our employer has our best interest in mind. Here are 4 ways of protecting yourself: (more…)