Category: Money management; personal finance

Money not spent, not yours

SG Wealth Builder

This is an article on an ancient money concept which you should not dismiss. You might have heard of the phrase “money not spent, not yours” What is the meaning of this phrase and does it even make sense? After all, if the money does not belong to you in the first place, how do you spend it? Let me share with you some insights of mine.

As a finance blogger, I do not advocate saving as a route to building wealth. I know, I know. The perennial thinking is that we should save for the rainy day, be frugal and practice good money habits. So, to encourage people not to save money would come across as weird, or even disrespectful to some people. In fact, it is almost criminal for a finance blogger to tell readers not to save. But read on if you think this article may be useful to your money journey.

In my life, I have come across many frugal people. In general, they are good people. I also have many friends who are generous and are successful in their careers despite being big spenders. Based on my observation of their character traits, I think I …

Civil service bonus

OUE

Against the backdrop of improving economic performance, Singapore government announced civil service bonus of 2 months, consisting of Annual Variable Component (AVC) of 1 month and Non-Pensionable Annual Allowance (NPAA) of 1 month. Lower-wage civil servants will get a minimum year-end AVC of $1,800.

Together with the mid-year Annual Variable Component (AVC) of 0.5 month, the total civil service bonus that will be paid to civil servants in 2017 is 2.5 months. This is excluding individual performance bonuses and other additional bonuses.

The civil service bonus was announced at a time when Singapore economy is undergoing a period of restructuring. Even though the economy expanded at a better than expected 3.5% for the first three quarters of 2017, labour demand remained uneven across sectors in 2017. The number of retrenchment for 2017 is expected to be much lower as compared to 2016, which hit a peak of 19,170, the highest since Great Financial Crisis.

Civil Service Bonus

The civil service bonus is widely used by the private sector as benchmark for staff bonuses. Usually, private companies tend to peg staff bonuses to civil service bonuses and reward staff who had performed well. Nonetheless, the private sector bonus also depends on how well the …

Choosing the best mortgage loan

overseas properties

The soaring SIBOR rates have created much havoc for many home owners as banks started to adjust upward their mortgage interest rates. I am one of those affected as my bank increased the interest by $200 per annual. More carnage is expected for the market as the Federal Reserve is expected to hike interest rates in a couple of weeks. Thankfully, my loan amount is not too big, so the impact of the upcoming Federal Reserve interest rate hike will be minimal. For many home owners, it is prudent to choose the best mortgage loan.

Incidentally, the lock-in period for my mortgage loan will end next month, so I am looking at refinancing or repricing my outstanding mortgage loan. Lets take a look at the important factors when choosing the best mortgage loan packages in the market. You won’t want to get ripped off by the banks.

My first consideration for a mortgage loan is actually the lock-in period. I am looking at 2-3 years of lock-in period because I aim to pay off my housing debt by then using my CPF savings. For the uninitiated, the term “lock-in” is a clause which restricts you from switching to another loan …

What does being an accredited investor mean in Singapore

DBS share price

In the course of my blog adventure, I am privileged to meet people who shared with me their financial insights unselfishly. From them, I gleaned some knowledge on Singapore’s finance sector from the perspective of a retail investor. One of the important lessons I learned is what does being an accredited investor really means in Singapore.

Before you skip this article, take note that being an accredited investor is NOT about taking financial courses to qualify for investing in risky products. It’s about how much money you have in your bank and your earning income bracket. 

Singapore economy

Under Securities and Futures Act Paragraph 4A, an accredited investor means[This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

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Time is money

After almost two months of waiting, my new car finally arrived last Friday. I was pretty excited because it is my family’s first new car. Previously, I had owned two pre-owned Japanese cars – my first car was Toyota Vios and subsequently, Nissan Latio. So after driving for 5 years, naturally my next car is another Japanese brand, this time its Honda City.

As a wealth builder, I am fully aware that car is a form of liability, this is especially so in Singapore, a city state that discourages car ownership. Given that the cost of a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) is so high, it would seem like an unwise decision to purchase a new car at this moment. As a matter of fact, I bought my car at $105,000 and took a three year loan. Forking out so much money is not matter to be taken lightly and for sure it was not an impulse buy. My wife and I had been planning to buy a car for the past one year because my pre-owned car’s COE was about to end in 1.5 year time.

There were a few factors that prompted me to buy our new car. Firstly, …

The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When & the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy

SG Wealth Builder is excited to be given the opportunity to review the book “The Wealth Dragon Way: The Why, the When & the How to Become Infinitely Wealthy (April 2015; Paperback; ISBN: 978-1-119-07783-1). The authors of this work, John Lee and Vincent Wong, reveal intimate stories from their past, right up to the present day.

I like many of the key money principles defined in the book because they are aligned to my philosophies as well. I agree with the authors that money solves the problem that not having money creates. In life, we cannot deny the fact that money plays an important role in our society and in many cases, can help to solve many of our daily problems.

The current haze situation in Singapore drives home the importance of what money can do for you. If you have infants or elderly at home, would you not spare some cash to buy air purifiers so that your loved ones can have better quality of life? Conversely, if you are financially struggling and have been living from pay check to pay check, would you not feel guilty for not doing anything for your loved ones?

Wealth Dragon

Having money …

A nation in disgrace

OUE

Would you take our children to court if they do not support us when we are old and jobless? This was the question that I posed to my wife after I saw an article by a money blogger who regretted the way he treated his late father.  Apparently, he was not on good term with his father and was compelled by the family court to support his father under the Maintenance of Parents Act.

After reading his article, I could feel his remorse, but I was not impressed with him either. To be taken to court by parents is a shameful thing, especially in an Asian society like Singapore, where family disputes are often confined within homes. Because of dignity and face value, very few parents are inclined to haul their children to court for not supporting them. Those who did are usually driven to desperation and forced to make their children pay up.

SG Wealth Builder

The Maintenance of Parents Act was promulgated in 1995 to give parents above 60 years old who could not support themselves the legal means to claim maintenance from their children. The implementation of such an Act in a First World country like Singapore shows the lack

OCBC Open Account

More than 8,000 OCBC 360 Accounts opened using OCBC Open Account mobile application, 15% of total number opened 
Singapore, 29 September 2014 – OCBC Bank launched the first account opening application on smart phones in Singapore, on 2nd April 2014.  As the first bank in Singapore to do so, OCBC Bank continues to make banking simple and convenient with innovative products and services. With this simple-to-use app available on both ios and Android, customers can apply for the popular OCBC 360 Account on their mobile phones or tablets, without the need to visit a branch. Within six months, more than 8,000 accounts were opened via the OCBC Open Account app. This makes up around 15% of the total number of more than 60,000 OCBC 360 Accounts opened in the same period of time.
Amongst customers who have used this application to open their accounts, more than 80% are new-to-bank. They are mostly PMETs (professionals, managers, engineers and technicians), aged between 23 and 35 years old.
The OCBC Open Account app fits perfectly into the busy and hectic lifestyles of the PMETs as it has been designed to be simple and intuitive. It offers customers a seamless online account opening experience.

8 Things You Should Know About Your CPF Nomination

SG Wealth Builder

Below is an article published with permission from the CPF Board. Singaporeans should note the point that a Will does not cover the distribution of CPF savings after death. So please make your CPF nominations as soon as possible. You don’t want your loved ones to encounter complications over the distribution of your wealth after you are gone. What is the point of being rich but not able to transfer your wealth to your loved ones when you are not around?

A CPF nomination allows CPF members to specify who will receive their CPF savings, and how much each nominee should receive when they pass away. Here’s a list of FAQs to help you better understand it. Information on CPF nomination is also available at the CPF website.

SG Wealth Builder

SG Wealth Builder

Q1: What happens to my CPF monies if I pass away without making a CPF nomination?

Your entire savings in all your CPF accounts will be distributed by the Public Trustee to your family members according to the intestacy law or the Certificate of Inheritance (for Muslims).  So, you need not worry about your CPF monies landing in the wrong hands even if you do not make …

Are Singaporeans really intelligent?

Her gullibility is not representative of intelligent Singaporeans – anonymous reader.The criticisms in response to my previous article reflected how shallow and ignorant most Singaporeans are when it comes to  issues on money management. Make no mistake, it is perfectly okay to have different views on money but I expect more substance from my readers when they comment in my blog. After all, I have been promoting best practices on money management for several years already. So I am disappointed and at the same time, surprised that many Singaporeans choose to indulge in self-glorification and refuse to accept the hard truth that we are not genetically engineered to be financially smart. Singaporeans forgotten the fact that the majority of our Chinese forefathers hailed from one of the provinces of China, Fujian. Our ancestors were mostly uneducated farmers and hence, most of us are endowed with intelligence lower than Hong Kongers and Taiwanese. This is a historical fact which cannot be changed, no matter whether you like it or not.

Several readers had dismissed Madam Goh’s unfortunate ordeal as an isolated case and loathed to accept that Singaporeans are gullible and not good at managing money. Without even following my blog,

My money portfolio mid-year report

After reading fellow blogger B’s article on his “Mid Year Goals Review”, I was inspired to craft this post. I think it is a good practice to note down the progress made in our financial journey because it can help to crystallize our thoughts and at the same time, provides visibility of our financial status. I am not the type of person who will track my daily or monthly expenses. Neither do I make long term planning for my personal finances. But I believe setting financial goals can help to chart our progress and highlight areas to improve.Health Insurance
Earlier this year, I reviewed my NTUC Enhanced Incomeshield and felt the need to upgrade my current Basic Plan to Private Plan. This was after I read from the news that public hospitals in Singapore are overcrowded nowadays due to the mass influx of foreigners. In fact, Changi General Hospital had to even set up temporary tents outside the hospital in order to address the shortage of hospital beds. I was told that if the beds in the public hospital are fully occupied, the hospital staff would transfer you to a private hospital for treatment. When this happened, you

The case of Madam Goh Kah Keow vindicated the merits of CPF Minimum Sum

‘I wish the banks had stopped me from withdrawing all my money!’ – lamented Madam Goh Kah Keow who lost $400,000 life savings to con artists from China.
I wish the banks had stopped me from withdrawing all my money. – See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/more-lifestyle-stories/story/400000-gone-day-20140629#2

In my previous post on the merits of CPF Minimum Sum, one of my readers Fred Khoo pointed out that the CPF Minimum Sum (MS) scheme is a national failure and that the government should not “lock up” Singaporeans’ CPF monies. Well, one thing for sure is that most Singaporeans would have strong opinions on the CPF scheme but it does not mean that the CPF MS scheme is a flop. Indeed, there are flaws and improvements that can be made to enhance the policy to better suit Singaporeans’ needs. However, it should be noted that the merits of CPF MS far out-weigh the flaws. The recent case of Madam Goh vindicated my point.

As a cleaner, Madam Goh lives alone in a studio flat. After working for 60 long years, she managed to scrimp and saved more than $400,000 of life savings. This is an amazing achievement as apparently, she is uneducated and

Singaporeans’ misconceptions on the CPF System

Personal finance

Last Saturday, there was a protest against the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system, drawing almost 3,000 people at Hong Lim Park. During the protest, the speakers demanded amongst many things, a better CPF interest payout, the allowance to draw out their CPF savings at 55 years old and to be able to opt out of CPF Life. The protest highlighted certain misconceptions on the CPF System which I find worrying for fellow Singaporeans. Obviously most Singaporeans don’t understand how to manage their monies.

Higher returns, higher risks

According to the CPF website, an additional 1% interest will continue to be paid on the first $60,000 of a member’s combined balances, with up to $20,000 from the Ordinary Account (OA). The additional interest received on the OA will go into the member’s Special Account or Retirement Account to enhance his retirement savings.
Personal finance
If a member is above 55 years old and participates in the CPF LIFE scheme, the additional 1% interest will still be earned on his combined balances, which includes the savings used for CPF LIFE. Savings in the Special and Medisave Account (SMA) currently earn either 4% or the 12-month average yield of 10-year Singapore Government Securities (10YSGS) plus

How to get your CPF monies before you turn 55

Recently, there are a lot of debates on the merits of CPF Minimum Sum (MS) Scheme. Many Singaporeans are upset that the CPF MS has increased yet again and there are certainly anxiety among Singaporeans who are concerned whether they are able to retire comfortably. This has prompted Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin to come out and defend the CPF system.Well, let us be clear what CPF MS is all about. According to the CPF website, “The CPF Minimum Sum (MS) Scheme provides members with a monthly income to support a basic standard of living during retirement. For members who are unable to set aside the full MS in cash, their property bought with their CPF savings will be automatically pledged, for up to half of their MS. Members may also join CPF LIFE with their MS so that they may have a stream of income for life. Alternatively, they may continue to keep their MS with the CPF Board to earn 4% interest per annum currently. The interest rate is revised yearly.”
The reason why many Singaporeans are disgruntled over the rising CPF MS is because they thought that their savings would be locked in their CPF account forever

Facing death

SRS

When you are facing death, what is the last thing on your mind? In a recent radio report by UFM100.3, it was revealed that two thoughts commonly fill the mind of dying people. On their death beds, most dying people worried that they would become a financial burden to their families and many were concerned on how their families could cope financially after their passing on.

As a wealth builder in Singapore, I think the survey was quite accurate because when facing death, probably you would not be thinking of how much money you have in your bank accounts nor would you be concerned about the assets that you would leave behind. Very likely, it is the thought of not being able to see your loved ones again that made the pain of death so unbearable.

Are they going to suffer as a result of your prolonged stay in hospital? How are they going to cope if you are the sole breadwinner? These are perhaps some of the worries that most dying people have in their last journey.

facing death

Death is an inevitable journey that everyone would go through and everyone is equal, regardless whether you are rich or poor. Yet

Singaporeans are self-centred and money-face

career

There was an online article written by a foreigner who described her experiences living in Singapore. Not too long ago, she came here with high expectations of Singapore and our culture. After some time, she was indeed happy with her life here, until she became pregnant recently.

She complained that nobody gave up the reserved seats in the train. Once, when she almost fainted at the train platform, nobody came forward to help her. She felt disappointed by Singaporeans’ lack of empathy and compassion.Being a local and having lived in Singapore for 34 years, I can concur with her that Singaporeans are basically self-centered and very money-face.

Life

When her article was published, a lot of Singaporeans came forward to dispute her views and threw brick bats at her. Many claimed that what she wrote was based on an isolated incident and argued that it was unfair to judge us based on that single incident. Many also threw up lame excuses to justify our lack of compassion. There are very few locals who supported her views and many just dismissed her accusation as baseless.

When we come across such an article, instead of doing self-reflections, we are always quick to go

New measures on property loan

investment linked policy

Over the weekend, the government rolled out new measures on property loan to curb excessive borrowings by property investors. The new ruling requires lenders to take into consideration of the debtor’s other existing loans when granting property loans.

The aim is to strengthen credit practices by financial institutions and encourage financial prudence among borrowers. The central bank will also refine rules related to the application of the existing Loan-to-Value (LTV) limits on housing loans. These refinements seek to ensure the effectiveness of the LTV limits that were put in place to cool investment demand in the housing market. In particular, they aim to prevent circumvention of the tighter LTV limits on second and subsequent housing loans.

The question at the back of investors’ mind will be whether the new measure will be the ultimate needle to burst the housing bubble. My take is that this new measure will not have any significant effect on the housing market.

Property investment

To put things into perspective, the current housing situation is not truly due to demand and supply dynamics. The private home market has witnessed huge gains in prices in recent years because of the hot money flowing from foreign countries such as United

Buying insurance

AIA Triple Critical Cover

Attached below is a comment from one of my readers in response to my post “Why I don’t believe in financial adviser”. I feel that there is a need to clarify my position and let my readers know more about my background.

I work in the aviation industry and has never worked in the financial sector before. The articles in this blog are a collection of my thoughts and personal experiences. Readers must not misconstrue the articles in this blog as financial advice.

My thinking is that you don’t have to be a qualified financial analyst in order to point out the inherent flaws in our financial industry. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can do so.

Insurance
For many years, job titles like “financial advisers” or “financial consultants” have been too loosely used in Singapore by many insurance agents who are only interested in selling expensive whole-life insurance policies. Instead of educating the public on buying term and investing the rest, these FA often hard-sell unit trusts, investment-linked and whole-life insurances to customers. They often target customers’ desire to become rich and retire early.
Very often, the customers’ interest and needs are not met or aligned at all. To make

Why I don’t believe in financial advisors

My impression of financial advisors has never been good. Generally, if you managed to pass a few MAS exam papers after graduating from the university, you can work in the banks or financial institutes as financial consultants, advisors or planners.
Most of these so-called financial advisors are nothing more than salesperson interested in selling you only unit trusts and expensive insurance policies. Typically, they would first calculate your retirement needs and then systematically work on your fear of having insufficient monies in your twilight years. Once they managed to convince you that you are under insured or inadequately invested, they will then hard sell you expensive financial products.
All these years, I have witnessed too many of such sales tactics. Although I will not say these tactics are unethical, what I want to point out is that too often, these financial advisors don’t add value to consumers. Instead of addressing the needs of customers, many financial advisors sold financial products in order to earn higher commissions.

Focus on value-add, not sales
Most of the financial advisors in Singapore don’t receive fixed salaries and draw their incomes based purely on commission fees. This means that they have to sell expensive financial

Loan shark harassment scams in Singapore

A few days ago, Mediacorp Channel 8 reported that a number of Singaporeans were tricked by con artists into paying ten of thousands dollars. Apparently the scammers sent text messages to the victims and claimed that they owed loan sharks a sum of money and if they don’t pay up, they threatened to harass them.
Several of the victims were gullible enough to fall prey into their tricks even though they did not owed loan sharks any debts. This is because they thought that their identification cards might have been manipulated and used by strangers or tenants to borrow money from loan sharks illegally. Three days later, the culprits were caught by the police and hauled to the court.

SG Wealth Builder

Greed and Fear
This is not the first case of Singaporeans losing their hard-earned monies to con artists, who usually play on our greed and fear. One of the tactics most commonly used is to focus on many Singaporeans’ desire to become rich quick in Singapore. Not too long ago, many greedy Singaporeans lost several millions after investing in dubious gold buy-back schemes. The root cause for their investment losses is mainly because of their lack of understanding of gold

Money Talks with Spouse

SRS
Recently, my wife and myself reviewed our financial health and done some financial planning. We reviewed our household incomes, savings, monthly expenses, insurances and our child’s endowment plan.

I always enjoy these money talks with my spouse because during these sessions, we would set realistic goals and aligned our monetary values. This process also forced us to think through areas we did not do well and motivated us to improve further.

Who said money is not important in a relationship?
Many couples tend to underestimate the role of money in a relationship. Some even claimed that a relationship based solely on love is sustainable and that money should never stand in the way of two people who love each other deeply.

In Singapore’s context, I would say this sort of thinking can land a couple in deep trouble, at least financially. The high cost of living in Singaporea means that any relationship without a good financial foundation would likely end in disaster. Personally, I have seen many couples broke up because of money issues.
retirement

Many times, the couples were clueless about each other financial health and habits. They fail to realize the powerful impact on a relationship that can be

Singaporeans – Stupid or Smart?

gold price
There are many ways to become rich in Singapore and investing in gold is one of the way to build your wealth. In Singapore, there is generally low awareness on how to invest in gold. Because of this, there is increasing trend of Singaporeans fallen prey to gold scams.

Recently, the Straits Times published an article stating that 180 investors had inked a petition urging government to take action against Gold Guarantee (TGG). Apparently these investors turned up at Hong Lim Park and signed the petition urging the authorities to expedite investigations into the gold buyback firm. One of the victims even claimed his family lost almost close to one million dollars on TGG. It seems that a lot of Singaporeans had lost huge amount of money after investing in gold buy-back schemes offered by TGG.

Gold bullion

Greed or Stupidity?
Readers may remember that last year, I wrote an article “The wrong way to invest” on The Genneva Gold Trading, which also offered similar gold buyback scheme to investors at ridiculous yield rates. Many investors also lost huge sum of money in that fiasco. Prior to that, there was the Minibond case which also involved multi-million dollars investment losses. Sometimes I

5 Ways to Cut Your Credit Card Interest Payments

By guest contributor, David Silverstone from Credit Card Insider

Credit cards interest rates are wreaking havoc on many Americans’ lives. The minute you leave a balance on these accounts, you’ll notice that debts continue to increase because of the interest payments, even if you aren’t adding to the debt. Over the years, you will end up paying so much in interest that you are paying much more for purchases than they originally cost. There are several ways of reducing debt, including at least five ways to lower the amount of interest you are paying.

Pay the Bills Early
The first thing you can do is make payments early. If you wait until you receive statements, you are giving their credit card issuers extra days to charge more interest.

Make Smaller Payments on a Frequent Basis
Rather than wait until you have a large sum of money to pay toward your balances, you would be better off making smaller payments on a more frequent basis when you have the money available. A good time to employ this strategy is right after you receive your paycheck. This has the result of reducing the time that interest payments can be compounded daily.

Make

So you want to become rich in Singapore?

CPF

In my previous blog, I mentioned about how to become rich in Singapore. One of my readers, Eric, replied that most Singaporeans faced the “need” to be “rich” now rather than in their fifties. While I agreed that most youth nowadays want instant gratification and quick results, I cannot agree that being rich is a “need”. Rather, the desire to be rich is a “want”, rather than a “need”. It is important that readers differentiate the difference between needs and wants. I shall proceed to elaborate.

In life, we can have many “wants”. We can desire for new and bigger cars. We can for desire designer-style apartments. We can desire to have a European honeymoon. Nothing wrong with these desires. But it is important to note that these are not essentials to our life. They are merely “wants” rather than “needs”.

rich

For example, in Singapore, if you need a car for certain valid reasons, you can buy a pre-owned car rather than paying through the nose for a brand new car. If you don’t have the sufficient fund to go for a European honeymoon after your wedding, then probably the best option is to plan for a short trip instead.  …

Importance of Emergency Fund

CPF
In my previous posts, I have written about the need for Opportunity Fund, which is meant for investing purposes. In life, we should also consider building up an Emergency Fund, which is a reasonable amount of money set aside for rainy days.
Many people live their lives as if nothing bad will ever happen to them. It is as if buying a car and not buying an insurance, expecting no incidents or accidents. Such a thinking is so unrealistic as we know that life has its share of downturns. Without an emergency fund, any setback might potentially spiral into serious financial problem for you and your family.
An Emergency Fund is considered more important than Opportunity Fund as the former is a safety net and is deemed as the shock absorber of life. Without Emergency Fund as your cash cushion, you are taking a gamble. I believe we should build up an emergency fund as soon as possible because the fund gives us time to adjust without drastically altering our lifestyles.

money

Although many people are convinced that an emergency fund is necessary, many still procrastinate building up such fund. Common complaint is that the money would be sitting in the