I started wearing contacts a little more than a decade ago. It was at that time that lots of online shops for contacts started appearing in the US. Besides convenience, buying online was also less expensive, but when I moved here, I was surprised that very few people purchased their contacts online (only about 5% in Singapore, as compared to 50% in the States). Seechic, a new online eyewear store, wants to change this and bring you the same convenience and savings as I got from when I was living in the US. But they take it one step further – they give you a FREE eye checkup!
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…)
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:
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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).
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…)
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…)