Why Should Expats Invest In Singapore?

This question often comes up a lot. A lot of expats don’t even know if they can invest in Singapore, let alone if they should. Locals and PRs are automatically enrolled into CPF, which they can use to pay for medical, housing and have money set aside for retirement. Because us expats do not have access to this, I would encourage expats to start setting aside money for these areas; we already know how expensive medical can be (which can be tackled with insurance), and buying property is costly wherever you are, and we all need to set aside for when we retire (the earlier the better!) Investing helps to beat the rising cost of goods and services; you can usually estimate inflation at 2%, so in order to make sure your cash doesn’t lose buying power, you need to beat this rate. With a current account in Singapore gaining interest of 0.05%, you’re actually losing money by keeping it there.

But why invest in Singapore if we’re not from here? I’m going to list a few reasons why expats should invest in Singapore.

Singapore As A Business Hub

Singapore joined the ASEAN Economic Community on the very last day of 2015, and since then investors and business people alike have viewed Singapore as a safe and efficient entry point into South East Asia. Not only is our geographical location very advantageous, our technology and infrastructure is highly advanced in comparison to neighbouring countries. It is the world’s busiest port and a top location for investments in the Asia Pacific region. Singapore is often number 1 in many business surveys:

  • #1 Best business environment in the Asia Pacific and the world: Business Environment Rankings (BER) 2019, The Economist Intelligence Unit
  • #1 in the Asia Pacific and #5 in the world for Best global innovation: Global Innovation Index 2018
  • #1 in achieving human capital (knowledge, skills, and health) in the world: Human Capital Index 2019, World Bank

All these accolades prove that Singapore is a credible and reliable country for people to invest; most of the globe’s largest companies have a base here, and are very successful, so this is a good indication for individuals that this is the place to invest.

Stable Economy

This goes hand in hand with another great reason to invest in Singapore- our economy. Singapore has arguably the World’s most stable economy, with no foreign debt and a consistent positive surplus. As of last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore owns over US$270 Billion in assets, and Singapore dollars are backed by gold, silver and other assets (unlike other fiat currencies that are no longer backed by gold), meaning that Singapore’s dollar is one of the most stable. The MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) regulates foreign exchange rates, keeping it stable.

 This is in great contrast to neighbouring countries’ currencies, like two of the weakest in the world, Vietnamese Dong and Indonesia Rupiah. Internal and external conflicts, civil unrest and clashes, incorrect economic decisions of the government and dependence on raw materials cause further instability.

Imagine going for a coffee one day, it costs $2, the next it costs $10 and the day after it costs $5…does that sound like fun? Of course not- it’s not ideal to invest in a currency that changes on such a regular basis, especially if you want to exchange it into another currency.

For example, trading between Australian Dollars to Great British Pounds, Japanese Yen, US Dollars or Euro is often incredibly volatile (some of the highest volatility in the world), so do you really want to keep losing money every time you convert or transfer?!

Regulations

The government and laws that this country implements, give business people and investors peace of mind when they park their money here; anti-corruption laws are heavily enforced, and the MAS ensures that entities must hold licences to engage in fund management activities. That means that if you invest in something that is regulated by MAS, you have no risk of this company being a cowboy, blowing all your assets of being part of some Ponzi Scheme. So long as they are regulated, you are guaranteed transparency, anti-money laundering and no dodgy dealings. This is a great safety net for first-time investors to know about.

Tax Benefits

Many countries heavily tax investments and overseas residents. Singapore is involved in many tax treaties and avoids double taxation where possible. Capital Gains on investments from financial institutions are not taxed (unlike in countries such as India and Australia) and there are tax reliefs available to foreigners, especially if you’re investing and using things like an SRS account.

Looks Good On PR Application

This point might be very appealing for some; Permanent Residency. For those trying to obtain PR, this can really work in your favour. While the scoring process is shrouded in mystery, we know that financial ties to the country are big bonus points on the application. If you have invested in Singapore, with a financial institution, it shows that you are dedicated to growing your wealth here, and achieving your long-term financial goals in Singapore. Note that it doesn’t have to be a large sum, even if you’re regularly contributing small amounts, this is great too.

Can Be Accessed Anywhere

One of the main questions I hear when I’m planning investments in SG is, “What if I move back to my home country? Will I still be able to access my money?”. The simple answer is yes; whatever money you have invested in Singapore belongs to you, regardless to where you are. Top up or withdraw with ease whilst abroad. This, paired with the strong and stable currency, means that if you move abroad later, you may also see the upside potential to your SGD going further in a different country. Win-win!

I do think that there are many more reasons why investing in Singapore is an excellent idea for expats, but that’s for another day. For more information on SRS, PR Applications and how investments work in Singapore, feel free to contact me using the comment section, or by scanning the QR code below.

How To Have A Healthy Conversation Without Mentioning Covid

We’ve been stuck in this situation now for almost two years (I know, I can’t believe it), and how Covid is affecting the world can be a lot to take sometimes. I definitely get down about how things are, especially because I’m unable to see my family. But then I also feel a huge amount of guilt, because I still have my health, my husband, my job and thankfully all my family are well and safe. I know that many people are not that lucky; those that have lost family members, lost jobs, got covid themselves, stuck abroad etc…so I feel that the pandemic can affect me two-fold; feeling sorry for myself but then feeling worse for others and feeling guilty that I ever felt sorry for myself. (Have I talked about my feelings enough yet?)

Not only has Covid-19 majorly affected peoples’ mental health, it’s affected the way we communicate. Lockdowns meant that we didn’t have many new topics to chat about, most things were online so we lost that personal touch and, arguably the worst thing…we can’t seem to have a conversation without talking about COVID! So, let’s cut the chit-chat and let’s explore ways that we can have healthy conversation without bringing up 2021’s ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’…Covid-19.

Be Open Minded

It’s often difficult to talk to someone you may feel is not on the same page as you or someone who has different opinions to you, but try to be understanding of people’s situations. We all deal with stress differently, so if we all try and take other’s perspectives into account, it can lead to a healthy conversation that is not closed off or filled with animosity. Conversations are there to put us in a good mood; we are social creatures and communication mentally stimulates us. If you’re unsure of what conversation topics to start with, try finding some common ground. Even if it’s just the weather, or discussing an object in a common space, this is a good way to start and allows you both to openly talk and feel more comfortable.

Be Observant and Listen

Everybody wants to feel heard. Everyone appreciates a listening ear and no one really likes to feel like they’re being ignored or talked over. To be an active listener, try to ignore any distractions in the room; talk in a neutral environment; focus on what they are saying, not how you’re going to respond and don’t rush the conversation. Observe the other person’s body-language and facial expressions. This is great if you’re running out of stuff to talk about as well, you can comment on something they’re wearing (nicely) and ask them more about it.

  Practicing good listening also can lead to better, more valuable conversations. You can keep this going by asking open-ended questions, use affirmations to validate the other person when you agree, and always try to show an interest in what the other person is saying.

Change The Topic

When someone else brings up Covid, and you would really rather not talk about it, there are some ways you can steer the conversation away. You can use the topic to ask if anyone has learnt any new hobbies or skills, share your experiences or ask how people are handling working from home. If you’re having this conversation over a video call, take the opportunity to ask for a house tour or ask about things in the zoom, to steer the conversation away from the C word. You can talk about current pop-culture references; we’ve all upped our Netflix intake over this period, so talk about Too Hot To Handle, Squid Game or The Circle…or whatever you’ve been watching!

Here are some conversation starters if you’re getting a bit stuck:

  • Have you learnt any new recipes lately?
  • Are you working on any new projects?
  • How are your family?
  • Have you been reading anything good right now?
  • Where do you normally go for a stroll/bike ride?
  • What have you been doing to wind down in the evening?

I’m sure that one of these will land, and then you can use your other tools to build your conversation from there.

                Honesty Is the Best Policy

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to share how you’re feeling. If you don’t want to talk about the pandemic, you can firmly state that you simply do not wish to discuss it and that you want to talk about other things. This may be necessary if you feel that the other person does not share the same views with you when it comes to the rules, restrictions, vaccines or how the government is handling it. It’s not worth getting into arguments over things that you cannot change, so sometimes it’s best to just…not talk about the topic at all.

I know that all of these things are always easier said than done, but implementing a few of these tools and techniques can improve your conversations and relationships with others around you. Not only that, it can improve your mindset, making you feel calmer and in control of your discussions. I hope this has helped even one person- being mindful about these things, particularly being an active listener, has really helped me over this tough period. Stay safe everyone and we can get through this.

How To Eat Healthy On A Budget In Singapore

So we all know that hawker centres, although cheap, are not the healthiest, and buying ‘free from’ or organic food can be ridiculously expensive. So is there a way to find a happy medium…by making healthier choices but still not overspending? Here are a few top tips I have for you!

Less Rice

When you’re ordering at the cai fan stall (the one where you can pick and choose what you want), ask for less rice, brown rice or no rice at all! That way you don’t overeat processed carbohydrates and you can fill up on healthy stuff, like boiled vegetables or steamed fish. Even if you they don’t give you less rice, you can use the excess rice to soak up the extra sauce and oil! And all this for just a few bucks.

Cook At Home

This is an obvious choice; cooking at home means that you know what you’re putting into your body and the quantities of food you’re using. But sometimes produce can be pretty pricey, especially if you’re ordering your groceries online. But there are ways you can save the pennies when buying your weekly shop;

  Do a bulk-buy of dried food such as beans, lentils, rice and even herbs and spices. Keep track of how much of these you have. These good can keep for a very long time and you normally don’t need huge amounts with every meal, meaning they will last longer!

  Buy your fruit from fruit stalls- it’s way cheaper than the supermarket and often riper and juicier (check out my article ‘Random Money Hacks I Do’, where I talk about buying fruit at night).

  Not only that, you can start buying your meat and vegetables at wet markets; if you go later on in the day, there are often discounts and deals to be had!

  Get protein from non-meat products such as tofu, which is so cheap in Singapore. Top Tip- press the tofu by layering it in between kitchen roll and putting a plate with a heavy weight on top of it. This will squeeze out all the water. Once all the water has been squeezed out, you can marinate it in whatever you like…honey, soy, chilli, you name it! Then all it needs it a quick roast in the oven (or air fryer) and you’ve got a juicy, tasty meatless protein for dinner.

Healthy Cheap Restaurants

If you do want to eat out on a budget but still want to eat something fresh and healthy, there are loads of places you can try! Smol do great tasty grain bowls that are affordable and have vegan options, Green Dot has all veggie bentos there are easy on your wallet, Simply Wrapps has cheap and affordable healthy options and the Soup Spoon have classic and delicious soup and salad at a reasonable price.

So check it out! Explore with your cooking! Venture into the hawker centre! Just because you want to eat healthily, doesn’t mean your relationship with food has to be boring or with a scarcity mentality. Live life and enjoy!

Sex And The City…And Broke!

How Sex And The City Warped Women’s Relationship With Money

Samantha…Charlotte…Miranda…Carrie…we all had a favourite. But I think it’s safe to say that a lot of the episodes have not aged well (think of those episodes with Samantha dating a woman, or someone of a different race and how that was tackled…yikes!), but the point that sticks out to me the most is how toxic most of the character’s relationship is with money, particularly Carrie’s. So here is my deep-dive into this sticky topic of this show’s glorification of bad money habits.

Carrie’s Unrealistic Salary

This one really irks me. In the show, especially at the beginning, Carrie is a columnist who hasn’t really hit the peak of her career yet; she lives in a beautiful apartment in Manhattan, wears designer clothes, brunches and buys designer shoes on a regular basis. This is in no sense realistic for a woman on a freelance journalist’s salary. For people watching in the 90’s, it painted an improbable picture for those wanting to go in a creative line of work. Sex and the City was debuted in 1998. It was reported that females in the US that year were earning $591 per week (US Dept. of Labour). After taxes, that’s not much over $30,000…doesn’t really sound enough to live on in central NY. Not only that, most freelancers I know have more than one stream of income. I find it very hard to believe that Carrie only had one stream of income of only a few hundred bucks per article…

Carrie’s Problem with Spending

“I like my money right where I can see it- hanging in my closet.” Oh Carrie, what a terrible mindset to have. And it wasn’t hidden in the show that Carrie, and the rest of the girls for that matter, had a spending problem, and didn’t really care when it came to saving her money. This was definitely a major plot hole throughout the show, especially after dissecting Carrie’s salary above. How did Carrie manage to brunch with the girls on a weekly basis, order takeout all the time (it was a weird point the show was trying to make, that working women should focus on their career and needn’t bother learning to cook), take taxis everywhere (erm hello! Cabs in NY are so expensive and inconvenient!), go to cool and exclusive clubs in the city and buy all the clothes she wanted on that low-income salary?! It is baffling to me that the show continued for as long as it did without ever getting pulled up on this massive flaw.

Carrie’s Credit Card Issues

Uh oh, this is how Carrie spent so much, she had massive credit card bills. An article was published in 2016 by The Financial Diet (which, by the way, I highly recommend, I love their articles and videos), that calculated Carrie Bradshaw spent about $3,600 a month on non-essential expenses. This is astounding for someone earning $2,364 a month! Leaving Miss Bradshaw in a deficit of $1,236 per month! No wonder she had to take out credit cards to fund her lifestyle! Don’t get me wrong, credit cards are not a bad thing and definitely can be used in a financially healthy lifestyle, but only if you can pay off the bill before accruing any interest. This responsible usage of credit cards is not portrayed in Sex and the City. The show taught viewers to be reckless with their credit card spending, because at least you can buy the things you want. In one episode, Carrie is declined a bank loan because of her financial track record. She admits that she paid off over $40,000 in credit card loans- oh my. Credit card debt is mentioned a few times in the show but it’s definitely just brushed off as a bit of a joke. Also can we just remember when Carrie was left $1,000 on the nightstand because the guy thought she was an escort and she uses that money to pay off a bill! Which brings me onto my next topic..

The Girls’ Relationship with Money and Men

For me, this is the most problematic message that the show portrayed. Throughout the show, the girls express the need for finding a rich, affluent man, to where it’s pretty much a goal for them. Take Charlotte for example, her quest for love was always paired with a pursuit of finding a wealthy husband. When she finally divorces her 1st husband Trey, he left her a very expensive apartment and a ring worth a few tens of thousands of dollars, so that she can still live comfortably. Interesting to note that she sells this ring to pay for Carrie’s house deposit, just as an aside. But it perpetuated the very dangerous and abysmal message that women will always need men to provide for them financially, because women simply cannot plan their finances by themselves. Another example of this is when Carrie lets her boyfriend Aiden buy her apartment (???) and then approaches another ex to pay for her down-payment?! The whole thing is farcical and a bit psychotic if you ask me. And this is a theme throughout the show, where Miranda seems to be the only woman who doesn’t really care how much her husband is earning or expecting him to pay for her. All the other girls crave a man buying them things and spoiling them. Even less-problematic scenes perpetuate this, like Carrie walking into the walk-in closet Big made for her and there’s a pair of shoes waiting for her, or when Samantha continues to date that guy in his 70s, just because he’s wealthy.

Glorifying Frivolous Lifestyles

While I do enjoy the show and think it is great for easy viewing, it’s mindful to note that this show glorifies living beyond your means. The girls are obsessed with brands and labels, and will happily spend a few thousand on a Birkin, even though they definitely cannot afford it. The show insinuates that looking the part is much better than actually being the part, and if you want to make it in the Big City, you got to spend the dough. Its light-hearted outlook on very serious matters such as debt, not having savings and relying on others for money, downplays the harsh reality of how detrimental these money mistakes can be. Not only that, it encourages women in their early to mid-30s to spend all their paycheque on fancy bars and dining, instead of setting some money aside for the future. Not only that, the picture it paints of living in an expensive city is definitely through rose-tinted glasses, and we should be mindful that city life may not always be as fun as the show portrays.

I know this is an old show but those watching (i.e., me) are now adults trying to build their careers and be smart with their finances, and shows like Sex and the City, Emily in Paris and 90210 do not portray sensible spending habits. I’m not bashing these shows, or telling you to avoid them, just merely pointing out their flaws and how to look at them objectively.

Make Your Money Green As Well As Your Lifestyle!

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people are concerned about climate change; over the past few years we’ve seen very obvious and drastic changes to our ecosystems that it almost too blatant to ignore…flooding, wildfires, mass extinctions…all of these have a negative impact on our environment.

Many of us try to do our part (recycling, using less plastic, swapping disposable for reusable), but what about our money? Money is green in colour, but is it by nature? If you have read my previous articles about cryptocurrency, you know that I am a bit apprehensive of investing in this type of asset because of the environmental implications. According to Digiconomist, a single Bitcoin transaction has, on average, a carbon footprint of 549.74 kgCO2 – the equivalent to 91,624 hours of watching YouTube. And of course, people are also concerned with industries such as gas, coal and oil, and would prefer not to invest their money in these kinds of industries.

 Companies themselves seem to be moving further away from unsustainable processes. Singapore was the first South-East Asian country to introduce carbon tax in 2019. The country has plans to increase the levy at faster rates, to tackle Singapore’s growing concern with climate change.

“We think it’s necessary so as to put the right incentive for industries and for companies to look at the way they’re making things and the way they’re producing things,”, Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, commented.

This is all great news, and is an exciting future for Singapore on its journey to become greener. Companies and industries are sure to follow suit, so how can we ensure that our money and investments do so also, whilst still maintaining a positive portfolio?

The first thing you can do is invest in green power investments; there are plenty of industries utilising wind power, hydro power and even solar power, which you can invest in. Water energy seems to be the go-to for sustainability, so why not invest in energy producers with notable hydropower in their portfolios, such as PG&E and Brookfield Renewable Partners. Today, projects such as China’s massive Three Gorges Dam can supply electricity to between 70 million and 80 million households. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydropower is the most cost-efficient means of generating electricity, so this is a lucrative and exciting tech to invest in. China is also the leader in wind energy right now, so if this kind of renewable energy interests you, check out General Electric or Vestas Wind Systems.

Prevention is also key when moving forward to create a greener world, so you may want to look at companies in waste management, green transportation or even pollution controls. These companies aim to minimise the affect humans’ inevitable impact have on the environment, and are going to be around for a long time. We are always looking for new ways to minimise our carbon footprint, be it minimising car emissions, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants or improving recycling facilities.

So We Should Stop Investing In Oil And Gas?

This is not a black and white topic, there are many things to take note of with oil and gas industries. While oil and gas is not sustainable, environmental policies, like the tax I mentioned before, it has pushed large oil and gas companies to move further in this direction. Many investment managers prioritise green funds, causing oil and gas companies to improve their business models to be greener. Look at their business models, it is easy to see that some are greener than others. In fact, several large oil companies are among the global leaders in promoting a tax on greenhouse gases and investing in energy sources that will help the world transition away from oil. Choosing the firms with the best environmental records and practices is another way of looking at green investments.

I’m not the biggest expert when it comes to green energy, but I would like to think that I am doing my part for the environment. It’s very simple to make small changes in your portfolio to make it greener, and I wouldn’t even rush to withdraw anything in oil and gas, and these companies offer sustainable investment returns, and are improving their business models to be more environmentally friendly.

How To Staycay On A Budget!

Even though the lockdown rules have eased a bit here in Singapore, it still looks like we won’t be able to travel out the country for a while. So why not go on a staycation! There are loads of options here in Singapore, so if you want to plan a staycay that isn’t going to break the bank…this is the right article for you! Here are 5 top tips to plan a Staycay on a Budget!

  1. Determine Your Budget

You can’t work around a budget if you don’t have a budget, right? But how much should you set aside for your staycation? Well, for those that read by budgeting articles before, you will already know that you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly income on your ‘wants’ (going out, drinks, food, hobbies etc.). So work with this figure- if you are planning on splurging out on your staycation, you may have to tighten the rest of the things you do for that month. If you want to calculate a figure, a quarter of this 30% should be your max. That way, you still have cash left over for the rest of the month.

2. Pick Off-Peak Times

Once you’ve determined your budget, it’s time to maximise your budget as much as possible. Try not to pick your staycation on expensive dates, such as National Day, CNY, Hari Raya etc. Pick off-peak timings. Not only will this be cheaper for you, but it will also be easier when booking, as public holidays sell out fast! If you can book during the week instead of the weekend, due to your schedule- then even better for you!

3. Plan Free Activities

Depending on where you’re staying in Singapore, you can find lots of different free things to do! Say for example you’re staying at Marina Bay Sands, you can walk around Gardens By The Bay for free, check out The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple or walk round Henderson Waves!

 If you’re staying in Sentosa, there’s a tonne of fun, cheap or even free stuff to do! Have a picnic on the beach, check out the Sentosa Trails or explore the Southernmost Tip of Asia!

4. BYOB

Everyone knows that alcoholic drinks are really expensive in Singapore. I almost can’t wait to visit the UK just so I can order a glass of wine that doesn’t break the bank! So, instead of splurging at MBS or the Fullerton, why not bring your own bottles? Last time I stayed at Marina Bay Sands; I brought my own bottle of red wine to enjoy in the room.

5. Make The Most Of The Facilities

This may not seem like a budgeting tip per say, but, hear me out. If you don’t have a pool at your place, or a gym, or a sauna, make the most of it! It’s included in your staycation, so you may as well use it while you can, especially if you normally have to pay for gym or pool access when you’re not on staycay! Not only that, if you can get a hotel that has breakfast included, make sure you don’t miss it! That’s one more meal out you don’t have to pay for.

I hope these tips show that you can plan a successful staycation without having to spends lots of going out, meals, drinks and activities. I’m not saying don’t spend at all! But there are definitely ways to cut costs…enjoy and stay safe!

Project Dignity Giveaway!

I wanted to use my latest article to give a shoutout to Project Dignity (https://projectdignity.sg/). Project Dignity is a collective that is on a mission to give dignity to those disadvantaged and differently-able, by providing them with opportunities to work and a chance to help them find their vocation and passion.

Project Dignity provide sponsored training for unemployed adults with special needs and place them with their employment partners within the F&B, hospitality and retail sectors. They want every person who walks out of their outlets to project a sense of dignity through earning an honest living. They are empowered with skills, employment and most of all, the opportunity to be a productive member of society.

They currently have four ventures; Dignity Kitchen, Dignity Learn, Dignity Mama and Dignity Outreach.

Dignity Kitchen is an air-conditioned food court as well as food delivery service. Currently situated in Serangoon, the 7 stalls are manned by the differently-abled and disadvantaged. Lunch treats for the elderly from nursing homes are provided by this programme across Singapore every day.

Dignity Learn, an inclusive training centre, provides hawker culinary courses for the public. They also run a 22-day Train-and-Place programme for adults with special needs seeking employment. 

Dignity Outreach combines team bonding with impact, offering corporate entities an avenue to engage achieving team building objectives whilst giving back to the community. At the same time, it accelerates Project Dignity’s goal of social inclusion and integration with marginalised peoples. 

Dignity Mama stores are retail book stores selling upcycled and preowned books. They are located in local hospitals and are managed by caregivers together with young adults with special needs. 

This is not a charity- it is a social enterprise; a social business with clear goals in helping disadvantaged people get the skills they desire. I feel that this company is really admirable, as they are trying to break many stigmas here in Singapore, and instead of separation, promote integration. That’s why this month I am doing a giveaway for vouchers to Dignity Kitchen on 69 Boon Keng Road.

To participate, follow these instructions:

  1. Read this article
  2. Visit my Instagram @danniteboul
  3. Like my Giveaway post
  4. Tag a friend and mention which of the 4 ventures you like the most
  5. Multiple tag/comments gives you multiple entries!

There will be 4 prizes!

Winner: $40 Vouchers

2nd Prize: $30 Vouchers

3rd Prize: $20 Vouchers

4th Prize: $10 Voucher

I am so happy to be supporting this cause and I hope you will all be as equally happy. Have fun participating in my giveaway!

(Please note you must be in Singapore to participate)

Random Money Hacks That I Do!

Singapore is an expensive country, I won’t lie. But, there are very simple and sneaky ways of cutting costs and useful money hacks that makes Singapore that little bit less expensive.

  • Buying Stuff on Shopee and TaoBao

To me, this seems like an obvious one, but I noticed that loads of people don’t do this. I think maybe people think that, because most of the stock comes from China, it won’t be good quality…but that’s not the case! I’ll tell you a little story. I’m getting married in a month (just ROM, the real ceremony will be next year in Malta), and I wanted a dress. I found a beautiful blingy dress in Far East Plaza…$300. I got the exact same dress from TaoBao for less than $70! And I don’t mean it was a good knock-off…I mean it was exactly the same! What a steal.

  • Doing My Nails at Home

This leads on from my previous point of buying stuff on Shopee…over circuit breaker last year I taught myself how to do manicures, gels, extensions, the whole thing. Getting your nails done in a salon in SG can be very expensive, especially when you want gems or patterns done. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and learnt to do it myself. I bought a lamp and a kit off of Shopee and now I always buy my nail accessories from there; there’s so much choice and they’re so cheap. I save hundreds of dollars (maybe even a thousand!) doing mani-pedis at home.

  • Using Fave or Entertainer

These apps are great when you know you have an activity or meal coming up that you know might be expensive. Entertainer is great for restaurants and Fave is great for activities, such as boat rental, massages, haircuts, museum tickets…you name it! You can buy tickets from these websites at discounted price instead of buying directly from the attractions or restaurants themselves. One thing I will say is that meals and restaurants are a safe bet, sometimes it’s a bit hit and miss with treatments. Top Tip: get used to hearing the hard sell.

  • Shop at MBS

Ok, now you’re probably thinking- erm, Danni, Marina Bay Sands is very expensive, why are you suggesting I shop there? Well, here’s what I do; I got an MBS membership card, it’s free to sign up. Then, every time I buy something in one of the shops, I collect points. The points wrack up very quickly, and I spend the points when I do a slightly bigger shop. I normally shop at places like Sephora and Zara; these shops aren’t as pricey as the other shops at MBS but I get the extra bonus points instead of shopping in say Orchard or Somerset. Not only that, pro-tip! If you shop at Sephora too you can wrack up Sephora points and MBS points at the same time! You can also use these points at the restaurants too!

  • Buy Fruit at Night

I stopped buying fruit off RedMart when I realised, they either went bad very quickly or took weeks to ripen. So now I buy fruit from those local fruit stalls. This tip is especially great for durian but it works for all fruit- the vendors always drop the prices drastically at night. This is because they don’t want to have to throw all their stock away at the end of the night. This means you also have a better chance for bartering.

  • TimeZone

Yes, yes, you’ve heard me go on about this place loads- I love TimeZone. If you love games and want to win some good stuff, this place is great. The kitchen items here are particularly great. Instead of buying expensive slow cookers, grills and hot pots, I got all mine from TimeZone! The coffee machine is next on my list.

So, there you have it, 6 random things I do to save money. These hacks may not work for everyone, but tis is what I do and it works for me. I hope it helps somewhat and you can take away something useful from this!

You Could Be Paying 4 Times Too Much For Insurance!

Hospital plans are an absolute must in Singapore; with the average hospital bill being approximately $40,000, you must ensure that you are covered. Many expats want an international plan, as it often seems like there are more benefits. But, did you know that most international plans are around 4 times the price of local ones?

For the past two years (I can’t believe it’s been that long), we have been unable to leave Singapore due to Covid-19. This means that less people are able to travel freely to their home countries or on holiday, so why pay for an international insurance policy during this period?

The pros of an international policy are that you are covered worldwide at the same amount of coverage as you would in Singapore. However, this often means that the coverage you are offered is slightly lesser than local plans. Local hospital plans are often able to provide customers with maximum coverage, because there is not that extra risk of claiming abroad. Not only that, claiming through a local company is often a lot easier than with an international one, as you can directly contact your agent who is in the same time zone as you, instead of calling a hotline based abroad.

But what if I am hospitalised abroad and a have a local health insurance? Not to worry- did you know that most local plans cover hospitalisation abroad if it is due to an accident or emergency? But, if you are planning to be hospitalised abroad, I would suggest using a top-up insurance from that country, or a travel insurance.

Not only that, if boarders open it’s very easy to switch from a local plan to an international one. So, what is the point of paying for an international plan when you’re not going abroad?!

I did a comparison for myself on different insurance policies. I am currently 27, non-smoker, and I am paying $1,192 per year for a hospital plan that covers private hospitals. I am covered for $2,000,000 per policy year, and I can go to panel and non-panel doctors so long as I pre-authorise (something which very few companies offer). This is with a local company. When I check international plans, some are offering worldwide coverage of $1,000,000 for double the price. Some are offering $2,5000,000 coverage for over four times the price, of over $5,015 a year. This to me, seems like a no brainer to go for a local plan during this period than an international one.

As an expat, I feel that the term ‘international insurance’ is very alluring and may seem like the best option. But, if you delve a little deeper, read in between the lines and compare costing, it is quite often an unnecessary expense. Comment or contact me if you want to know how I planned my health insurance!

Investment vs Insurance- Which is More Important?

Whether we like it or not, when we become adults, we have to start thinking about our personal finances and planning our future. For those who have not been taught about finances (I know pretty much none of us learnt this in school), planning finances could be a daunting task. The words ‘investment’ and ‘insurance’ often fill people with dread; is it a scam? Why should I spend my money on that? Do I need it?

The long and short of it is, both are important and you need both. But is one more important than the other? Let’s look at both and see for ourselves.

There are lots of kinds of insurance products but they all cover one thing- loss. The whole point of insurance is that it covers us if something goes wrong. This may be a hospitalisation, a disability, an illness, or some other kind of liability that would set us back financially. It is meant for protection; protecting us from the adverse effects of not being able to work or financial hardships. Many people think that planning for these things, such as death or disability, is a morbid topic and a worst-case scenario. But good health is never guaranteed, and it’s always best to get these things sorted before it’s too late. Insurance products also become more expensive as you get older, so it’s best to start early, so that these payments don’t interfere with any of your future life stages like purchasing a house or sending your kids to school.

Investing is all about growing money for our future- we can either plan for a passive income stream, so that we don’t have to rely on work so much. Or, we can plan for capital gains, so that we have a nice chunk of money when we want it. The idea of making money with not necessarily putting too much effort in (check out my articles about passive investing), is an attractive one. And, if we make all this money, why do we even need insurance?

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is, it is unwise to have one without the other; investment increases our upsides, but insurance protects our downside. If you invest without being insured, you run the risk of losing it all should you fall sick or become hospitalised (also, can I just say, it’s very naïve to think you will stay healthy forever), especially if your investments are not enough to pay for your bills. If you just insure yourself without investing, you are selling yourself short, only planning for the bad things that can happen, and not planning for the good times ahead. It also means that you may have to constantly work and never be able to retire. Neither insurance nor investments will work on their own; you need to plan and review both in order to be financially successful.

A very important thing to take note of is that investments take a long time to accumulate, especially if you cannot set aside a lot of money to invest. Insurance policies cover you pretty much as soon as you get them. So, it’s always important to sort your insurance out first; once you are protected you can focus on growing your money.

But do remember that investing and insurance is never fixed and one-size-fits all. You need to constantly review your finances in order to keep up with your changing needs!