In this new digital economy, middlemen are being reduced or completely bypassed, and technology is making it easier for producers/sellers and customers/buyers to deal directly with each other. The property market is no exception. In a previous article, I argued that unless property agents demonstrate value to their clients, their services will be more and more debased as technology makes transactions easier, more transparent, and so “boilerplate” that it’s possible for two parties to DIY the transaction. With Ohmyhome, this DIY route is made more feasible, and is completely free.
Making restaurant reservations via phone is something I try to avoid. I can’t tell you how many times people misspell my name (seriously, who would name their child String?), make errors notating the reservation, answer the phone with “jiang huayu, keyi ma?” (translation: “can you speak Mandarin?”), or don’t even answer the phone at all. With Quandoo, a restaurant booking app and web portal, I can make a reservation online or through their app at any time and I am even rewarded points for each booking I make and attend. These points can be redeemed for cash. (more…)
After flaunting her fabulous $10,000+ holiday in Japan, a colleague once asked me, “So where did you go during Christmas?” I told her that I went to the happiest country in Asia Pacific (ranked #1, by the UN), where the life expectancy is one of the highest in the world (ranked #3) thanks in part to the efficient and advanced healthcare system (ranked #2, by the EIU). There, I visited Asia’s Top Amusement Park (ranked #1, by TripAdvisor) and the World’s Best Zoo (ranked #3, by TripAdvisor), then had the world’s most affordable Michelin-star meal. In addition, finding my way around was easy because of the high-speed and reliable internet and WiFi (ranked #1, by Akamai) and the efficient public transport system. This place had it all – world renown theatres, museums, architecture, cuisine, street food, parks, the world’s best airport, and many other attractions… and you never had to worry about traveling alone or getting kidnapped by a cabby. And do you know what the best part is?... you’re already here.
In addition to getting free ebooks and audiobooks from National Library Board’s Overdrive (which has just increased borrowing limits), you can get tons of free books from Amazon which you can read on your phone using the free Kindle app. All you need is an Amazon account (does not require subscription to Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited). And with Amazon arriving in Singapore early next year, you might want to just create an account anyway. (more…)
Someone recently lamented that being frugal in this day and age when we’re surrounded by glamour, brands, labels, and extravagance is really really hard. “But what’s harder,” I told her, “is living pay cheque to pay cheque” which was essentially what my mum did, and it was not easy as a child seeing her trapped in a destructive cycle of wasteful spending coupled with a seemingly endless struggle to earn money while setting aside her health, relationships and other priorities. I opted for a different path. Having lived this way for decades now, here are some unexpected benefits that I’ve enjoyed from being frugal (remember that “frugal” does not mean being stingy or cheap; it means being value-conscious with your money). (more…)
Running a business nowadays is totally different from your parent’s generation. What worked so well in the past simply doesn’t work anymore, and more Singoprean companies are facing problems with overdue debt, manpower mismatch, industry and technology shifts, global competition, and an overall contraction in the economy. Combine all of that with the rapidly changing and uncertain business ecosystem, and it can be quite overwhelming. You feel like you are trying to juggle too many balls (or knives) at once. You are sick of hearing the words “disruption, “uber”, “kodak moment”, and “empathy”, and the last thing you need is to hear anecdotal advice or stories. Fortunately, there is real help out there, and it doesn’t cost much. In fact, it costs nothing at all.
Two words – rivalry and abuse – an LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) helps you to avoid these. Imagine you are single and own an HDB flat along with other assets. You have an accident, perhaps a fall where you injure your head and become mentally incapacitated. One of your children wants to care for you in your home, the other wants to sell your home and have you live in a facility. Once you are mentally unable to make decisions for yourself, where you end up, what happens to your flat, who has control over your finances, what type of care you receive and the lifestyle you live will depend on who you choose in your LPA. But if you didn’t make an LPA, either of your children could seek custody through the court. When there’s money or property involved or major disagreements regarding your care, it’s common for disputes to arise and it can get messy and ugly. (more…)
Last year, the average American family spent $830 (S$1178.60) for Christmas gifts. This year, that figure is expected to increase despite the sluggish economy, and the spending frenzy will soon begin on Black Friday (25 Nov). As mentioned throughout this site, being frugal does not equate to being cheap, nor does it mean focusing only on the price of something. Frugality is about ROI, or Return On Investments, in which investments could be money, time, effort, or other resources. The return, therefore, is determined by whether the purchase results in the outcomes, values, or goals you wish to achieve. And like everything in life, it’s not so black and white. For example, buying bottled water is cheaper and healthier than buying soda or a Starbucks coffee, but I personally would not consider it to be frugal because of the plastic waste it generates (which is not in line with my values) and because water is (mostly) free from the tap. So how would one achieve a frugal Christmas without looking like a cheapskate or compromising too much on one’s own personal values? (more…)
Do you have an opinion on the Trump presidency, or on our upcoming presidential elections? Do you feel strongly about a particular brand, product, service provider, or public figure? YouGov is a worldwide online survey platform that is completely legit, and I have been personally using it for almost a year. There are tons of survey sites that say they will pay you for your opinions or reviews, but beware that many of these are scams where instead of allowing you to earn money, you end up spending it (e.g., they may try to sell you something, such as a membership fee to continue taking their surveys). There are also scam sites that collect your personal data, including bank account details, and then sell it on the online black market. YouGov is neither of these, your information is confidential, and you can choose to have your payment sent via Paypal so they won’t have direct access to your bank account details. (more…)
As a Certified Financial Planner™, whenever I even mention the word “investment”, people are way too eager to ask about “stocks/equities”, “bonds”, and “funds/unit trusts”, thinking that these are the best, sure-fire way to financial security and financial freedom. But they are always surprised when I instead mentioned CPF. Although most people think CPF is a retirement tool, I’d like to think of CPF as an investment tool. What other investment is low-risk (or virtually no-risk) and has a guaranteed return of 2.5% up to 6%? What other investment is adjusted for inflation, is commission-free, is out of reach by creditors, and has an annuity payout that you cannot outlive? To learn more about CPF, please visit the CPF website. (more…)