Everest Gold

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The sound of Everest Gold is not exactly sound and safe at first notice but they are a new digital trading platform. You can trade gold digitally now, akin to a stock brokerage account. There are a number of articles out there from bloggers and online news that talks about Everest Gold.

Trying it out

To try it out, you do not need to put in any money. All you need is to use my referral code and your will be awarded 200k points which is approximately USD 20. These rewards can be used to subscribe for gold during their events.

  • No need for any transactions. Just make sure your details, bank accounts and everything is verified.
  • Referral is limited. Not sure if they will be bringing this back but in Oct 2020, the fee was 300k points which is approximately USD 40.

Referral

Use this link to find out more if you are interested at Everest Gold or use this referral code when you decide to sign up: TZLLE. Both of us will get more rewards for subscription.

History

A little dig up of the company. Everest Gold is a Singapore-based  fintech gold trading form. The creation of such a service is to digitise gold trading and makes it easy for both beginner and expert investors. It is suitable for anyone who have interest in gold trading. I personally have also tested their customer service team and response is pretty decent.

Everest Gold uses 999.9 pure investment grade gold. 1kg bard are from a refiner in switzerland. You can also download them from an app and investing starts from 1 gram. From what it seems, anyone can trade and liquidate almost immediately. Physical gold assets can also be collected from their depositories by submission of a request in-app.

Disclaimer

I do use this service and by signing up as a referrer, both you and I will get some benefits.

As with all investments, there are risks involved so please do your own diligence.

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes for other services at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/

The pictures were taken from the Everest Gold website for this article.

Grab Invest (Robo)

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During the earlier part of 2020, Grab announced an acquisition of a wealth start-up, Bento. The have since re-branded them to be GrabInvest. It looks like they have ambitious plans to expand into South East Asia with Singapore as its base. We have seen quite a number of new services and products that Grab has been rolling out. That is the benefits of having strong backers as well as a branding that aims to disrupt some industry. I’m not too sure how big they can become but they have been throwing marketing dollars for some time to build their brand. You can read more about the acquisition here at Bento As GrabInvest.

Invest, Save and Grab

It sounds like Grab is going to bring out the brand in their app once more. They probably want to integrate this into the Super App that we often hear about. The tag line is pretty effective I say.

Almost No Barrier to Entry

It takes only a small amount to start investing. I don’t think Syfe and StashAway has a minimum amount to start investing but this set them apart from the usual investing through micro-investing. I’m not too sure about the effectiveness though.

Saving Money

Each time you use the app to do certain actions, you get to choose an amount that will be used to invest automatically. Good habit though.

Spend

There is no lock-up for your funds so you can transfer your money back to the wallet anytime. Talk about flexibility.

Underlying Investments

Okay, looking at how things are. This is similar to the other robo-advisors as to their cash solutions. The underlying funds would be Fullerton Fund and UOB asset management. My guess is the usual short duration bonds or assets as close to cash funds. Due to the nature of the expected returns projected at 1.8% p.a., it is most likely the case.

Fees are simple at 0.45% p.a. Similar or higher than other solutions. If you ask me, I’ll go for Singlife account where you can deposit up to S$10k at 2.5% p.a. and it is SDIC protected. Micro-investing versus Singlife – Singlife wins hands down but integration wise and branding, Grab edges forward a little more.

Read about my previous post on Singlife here at Where to Park Your Funds? Singlife

For excess funds of more than S$10k, get into Dash and Earn. The first year will be at 2% p.a. capped at $20k. Then go for Tiq Gigantiq at 2%p.a. (For the first year) capped at S$10k. On the options available, I’ll give grab a miss unless I have too much spare cash in their wallet that I can’t take it out.

Conclusion

It seems like it is a hype for now. Other for convenience, I can’t find much differentiation from the rest of the many options available in the market except for convenience. It doesn’t help that Grab is trying to take over the world by trying to integrate everything. I don’t support a monopoly so that is a minus. However, I do think that there are other services which will show up on the app in the near future. Coupled with the fact that digital banking license will be announced in Q4 2020 or in 2021 should there be any delay. As a consumer, we should be happy about competition.

I do see more pros than cons though, given their history of data breaches and bad marketing. Also, I don’t see that they are MAS licensed or approved nor are they working with any financial institutions other than the mentioned fund houses or asset managers. On top of that, monies are held in custody of Grab. Reading their Terms and Conditions, it seemed like they got their own ass covered as compared to the consumer so I’m not too sure about that.

I still don’t see it on my Grab App even after updating the app so I’m wondering how buggy their app can be over time.

Disclaimer

This is not a sponsored post and purely my own opinion that I am writing about in my thoughts. If you like what you are seeing, do remember to check they out and do your diligence. Don’t be too fixated with what is the best.

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes for other services and products here at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/ for the services.

Images seen in this article were take off the relevant websites for illustration purposes only.

The Price to Owning a Car

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Whenever we touch on the topic of owning cars in Singapore, there will always be a ruckus. The ambitious demands of ourselves would deem that we wish to own a car, a branded German Luxury for most. However, as much reasoning that we give, owning a car here is as good a depreciating asset or in more negative context, a liability. Owning a car isn’t exactly rocket science but there are some things to take note and the extra costs that comes in regularly. A piece of transportation that brings you from A to B, that’s something everyone appreciates if you have the luxury to do so.

Own or Grab?

Hands down, taking grab rides, gojek or comfort taxis wins owning a private car. It gives one the luxury of leaving home at any time and going anywhere without any restriction or so to say no stress. That comes with a price like any other thing.

Perhaps for a start, what are the tax and pricing related to car?

1) Open Market Value (OMV)

OMV is the price paid or payable when a vehicle is imported in Singapore. The Customs assesses the price and is inclusive of purchase price, freight, insurance and all charges. Different cars have different OMV.

2) Additional Registration Fee (ARF)

ARF is the tax payable when you register a vehicle. ARF is based on a percentage of the OMV. This is just another layer of tax on top of all other fees and taxes.

3) Excise Duty & GST

You need to pay customers excise duty to import and register a car and motorcycle or scooter. There is also a 7% GST payable to Singapore Customs based on the total cost of importing the vehicle.

4) Certificate of Entitlement (COE)

All vehicle in Singapore will require a COE. In order to register your vehicle, you need to place a bid for a COE in the different category. Once you have a successful bid, you get to own a vehicle to use on the road for a maximum period of 10 years. This is the upfront costs apart from all the taxes and fees.

5) Finally, the margins (The P&L)

After paying for all the taxes and fees, the companies who sell these cars need to cover their overheads, costs and make a margin on it.

The other costs

Now that you have paid for the car and you manage to drive it home. No, wait. Before you do that, you need to have a valid driving license.

Driving License

This costs roughly from $800 to $3000 depending on how good of a driver you are and if you take a private lessons or a driving school. The school definitely provides you with an all encompassing structured lesson but it also costs more. If you fail to get your driving license on the first try. That means more practical lessons and more cost. The upside to this is that, there is no expiry once you obtained your driving license until you are deemed too old. You will be required to complete a renewal test to ensure that you are fit to drive.

Car Insurance

In order to drive on the roads, you need to have a valid car insurance. The cost of insurance is renewed annually and depends on your age and type of car you own. You can have a comprehensive plan or a basic plan but in my opinion, you just need to go for the most comprehensive plan to get yourself covered.

Road Tax

Once you have paid for your car insurance, you will need to pay for your road tax. How is your road tax calculated?

a. Engine Capacity – The larger your engine’s capacity, the higher the amount of road tax (Payable 6 months or 12 months)

b. Age of your vehicle – Vehicles that are more than 10 years incur surcharge of 10-50% on top of the standard road tax. (For cars renewing beyond the initial 10 years of COE)

If you forget to pay your road tax, you will be liable for late payment and also for infringement since you are not allowed on the road. Yikes, more bills.

Car Loan

At the start of the article, I discussed about the price of buying a car. You can now loan up to 60% of the total cost of the sale of the car. Depending on the interest rate you can get, (Maybe around 1.88% p.a. at this point) that will be the additional interest payable on your loan amount.

Not too sure about you but it seems like the costs are piling up even before driving it on the roads.

The maintenance costs

It does seems like it doesn’t make sense to own a car anymore now but I still need to add on the maintenance cost during the 10 year life of owning the car.

Maintenance/Servicing

The initial 3 to 5 years should be an added benefit that your dealer will throw in when you buy that car. But take note that this is just purely servicing, meaning engine oil change and those point checks and tyre rotation. Any wear and tear are still liable to be charged at their retail price.

Typical servicing starts around the 1km, 5km, 10km mark or around 3-5 months depending on which comes earlier. I mean, if the car is new there wouldn’t be an issue. But if you don’t bring your car back to the dealer then the warranty that they gave you would be voided.

Inspection check

During the first 3 year of owning your car, before you renew your road tax, you do not need to bring your car to a registered inspection company such as VICOM or STA. After the third year, you have to do so to ensure that you do not change certain aspects of your car when you drive on the roads. It is a small cost but it does take some time to do so. After the initial 3 years, you have to go for an inspection once every 2 years until your 10 year mark is up. For cars more than 10 years, you have to do so annually.

Car Battery Change

If you do not own an electric car, you need to change your car battery 1.5 – 2 years regularly. Depending on what kind of car you drive, the number of batteries and type will also differ in price.

Wear and Tear/ Repairs

Any wear and tear (e.g. brake pads, windscreen wipers, tyre balding, rim change, air compressors, solenoid, repairs and more) will incur cost. After all, you need to make sure your car lasts for as long as it can given how expensive they are. Your tyres need to change every 3-5 years depending on how you drive your car and there may be small damages or even faulty electronics due to wear and tear. Also, our climate is pretty warm and heat will wear most stuff out when exposed over time.

Parking and Fines

Anywhere you stop your car, you need to enter a carpark. Parking your cars comes with a cost. You can’t just stop anywhere you want. If you get a parking ticket, that amount will pay for your 1 month’s parking budget.

Take note of red light and speeding cameras. Any breaches will set you back a few hundred dollars with demerit points. In the worst case scenario, you may be charged and your driving license taken away.

Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) and New Changes

Paying tolls have never been easier. (Sarcasm) Going through expressways and roads during peak period will set you back a few bucks per day when you drive through these to ease traffic flow. These will be replaced by a satellite distance-based ERP system in the near future.

Fuel Costs

Finally, you need fuel to run your vehicle. Basically, everyone is a price taker. You can’t not fuel up your car. Not having fuel in your car will do your vehicle more harm than good. After all, you are supposed to own some form of flexibility with a car.

Conclusion

Don’t feel that owning a car is beyond your reach now. There are different ways to do so. To always weigh the pros and cons about owning a vehicle, you will find the answer clearly but we still see a lot of vehicles on the roads. This part of our brain is unexplainable, the comfort and flexibility of owning a car outweighs all that reasoning. I have also read about the other options to owning a car but it really depends on individuals.

a. Lease (Instead of owning it, you pay a fixed cost per month for leasing the car)

b. Drive for a private hire (You get to moonlight during your free time but perhaps not so ideal during this covid-19 situation)

c. Own a car and lease it out/rent it via apps. This will cut your cost in owning a car

d. Take the public transport and Grab/Gojek. Times are different now, we are not at the mercy of Nazi Taxi Drivers.

Personally, I just am thankful during times when it rains. I get the comfort of going to somewhere at whichever time I wish without getting drenched. There isn’t any worries of price surge or cancellation. That said.

Disclaimer

This is not a sponsored post and purely my own opinion that I am writing about in my thoughts. If you like what you are seeing, do remember to check they out and do your diligence. Don’t be too fixated with what is the best.

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes for other services and products here at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/ for the services.

Images seen in this article were take off the relevant websites for illustration purposes only.

Value and the concept of Perceived Value

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Value is a very interesting concept. In the world of investing and valuation of companies, there is no one size fit of the valuation of a company. This also create an inefficiency into the market where there are enough buyers sellers to take in price and also to sell out. This is also a great definition to split up what buyers and sellers view certain companies or certain things. This is extremely interesting for me – Over the years there is no doubt brands bring out a certain stature in beings. (Beings as in humans) In Singapore – The last 10 years have seen a big bunch of folks growing with affluent wealth significantly.

Perspective

Let me just put things into perspective – many might know what a KIA Picanto is. Just about 7-8 years ago, COE prices were sky rocketing to above S$80k. The brand new Picanto actually cost cost to a S$100k here and I actually do know some people who own these. With the same S$100k, you can actually get a Toyota Vios or a car with a smaller engine such as the Toyota Yaris (Which is a sportier hatchback). To some, owning a car is just not feasible or it just doesn’t make sense. This is where things get interesting. For S$120k, you can almost get into the entry level continental cars such as Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen. Driving an Audi versus a KIA – what perceived value do you now have?

Concept

Before beginning on the concept, i need to have a disclaimer that I am not a qualified psychologist nor am I a specialist. I just find that stuff like Feng Shui, Human Psychology, Behaviours and Ideas are built on a single platform. This platform is known as Common Sense. While it is easy to understand, many may not practically use or realise until much later.

For me, I think that it is necessary to always stay an open mind. There isn’t really such a thing as a one man show, it is always a team effort to succeed in a project.

A Story to tell about

Side tracking a little about team effort. This reminds me about a story. I knew something who was working as a Management Associate working in a bank many years ago. The selfish bugger intentions were to let the higher ups know that he single handedly solved and produced many solutions for the bank. In reality, he simply used his intern or ex-intern to do so. In summary, he took all their work and claimed the full credit. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps for the money? Most likely that is the case.

Currently, he heads a department but he is an empty shell. This is simply because he gives no credit to those below him. That’s no way a good boss should behave. He is no role model and in no capacity to lead people.

Value

It is precisely because different people view value differently, the variation of behaviour changes from one to another. Even family members do not behave or think the same. This “unique” behaviour is partly why there are so many inefficiencies in the equity market. At any point in time, there are sellers and buyers in the market. That was how a buyer and seller market was formed. Then came the “trend followers” – Because everyone enters into a position, they create a buy volume or trend which pushes the momentum of the company. Often, that is translated to share price as well. However, always remember that the price on the stock market is the sentiment of an investor, not the situation which the company is in.

Herding

Over time, people behaviour will naturally act as a herd. When the momentum is to buy or sell, a natural phenomenon is to follow. If you follow, it doesn’t feel like you are missing out. This theory actually touches an emotional aspect of our being that we do not like to be left out. That sounds a little needy but as humans, we are generally weak in such situations. Hence, the word “FOMO” appeared. It means Fear Of Missing Out especially when cryptocurrency coins started to increase exponentially to 100x or 1000x. No one likes to miss out on a good deal.

Not saying yes to everything

Well, I can’t really say much about when is good time to buy unless you are an insider. That being said, it is illegal because it is not a level playing field. Eventually, you will be exposed so make money the right way. I guess that only successes and failures bring experiences.

You can’t just buy anything and everything. There’s the existence of curating for a reason. You have to understand and know what are you buying certain stuffs for and what is your exit strategy.

There are things eventually that you can take risks on and some you don’t. That does not mean that it is not a bad thing. I am an advocate that if there is something new that is worth investing or exploring. Try it out with an open mind. You can be disappointed for 99 times but it only take 1 opportunity to get it right.

Disclaimer

This is purely my own opinion that I am writing about in my thoughts. If you like what you are seeing, do remember to check they out and do your diligence. There is no one size fits all investment strategy.

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes here at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/ for the services.

Images seen in this article were take off the relevant websites for illustration purposes only.

New Rules and guide to Price Transparency

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There has been a spike in digital transformation globally and in Singapore, this process has been drastically pushed forward in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the push on online sales, we are bound to see sellers who game the system. So recently, there is some new rules around price transparency and it is going to protect consumer. All retailer will have to comply as the rules will be effective 1 Nov 2020.

The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) has issues guidelines on price transparency and you can find out more here at CCCS Guideline on Price Transparency

There are four very simple points:

a. Drip Pricing – Display a headline price that omits mandatory charges and pre-ticked optional add-ons when the final price is higher.

Summary: Mandatory charges has to be inclusive and displayed together with the headline price. When add-ons are optional, it should not be pre-ticked and it should never be. Should there be pre-ticked options, it should be displayed prominently, disclose the price and Terms & Conditions.

The Objective: You can now raise complains should a retailer fail to comply with the above. By pre-ticking optional adds ons, it actually shows how sneaky a retailer is. Also, if a Nintendo Switch is going for $250 in the headline price. When you include other fees and charges such as shipping, handling and etc….it becomes $500. This is not allowed anymore.

b. Price Comparison – Compare prices with competitors to reflect a competitive price or price advantage.

Summary: Retailers have to ensure goods or services used for marketing comparisons are similar or equivalent by trading norms. Proof or record reference prices to price that it isn’t fake or misleading in nature. Periodically, retailers should check reference prices and amend the comparison accordingly.

Objective: If a competitor starts to say that another house is pricier, they can’t do that now. If they use a price that was aeons ago, that is against the rules too. Using an apple to compare against an orange doesn’t cut it as well. On a personal level, I just think that there is going to be so much fruitless argument on this topic. I can already see what retailers are going to use to argue their actions about what is the norm.

c. Discounts – Offering a price discount for goods and/or service

Summary: Retailers have to use genuine previous prices when making comparisons, record evidence of past sales and prices. If there is a time period of discount, it should be real and stated prominently

Objective: We often see a Usual Price and Discount Price but a lot of those U.P. was never really the Usual Selling Price. The classic, but 1 for $5 and 2 for $10 is finally not allowed anymore. They didn’t say anything about 1 for $5 and 2 for $20 though but I’m pretty sure that is illegal. Often, we see limited period sale to engage consumers in panic buying and scarcity but the truth is that there is none or available for an extended duration instead. Some unscrupulous retailers also advertised her products at a low price with no stock or supply. The whole idea is most likely to attract leads and cross sell other products. All these are not allowed anymore.

d. Use of the Term “Free” – Enticing consumers “Free” products and services to entice them to try it out and eventually buy it.

Summary: Include and specify all fees and costs clearly and prominently with the the free representation. If there is a free trial (Period), there is a need to inform consumers before the end of the free trial and provide clear instructions on how to cancel or stop the deduction.

Objective: There will be retailers who are out there to make consumers pay for goods and/or service that were supposed to be “free”. Some retailers might increase the price or reduce the quality of a product or service to recover the cost of “free”. In my opinion, that isn’t free. Including the free service into part of the package price is not allowed although how are we to know that is the case? Similar to point (c), some retailers might offer some free product or service when they don’t have or do not intend to do so.

My Thoughts

Overall, it is great to see that there is some form of price ruling around how retailers market to consumers but if one is naive enough, it still doesn’t help. Although the specifications are there, it sounds almost like “I told you not to do this” and when they get caught, they will get smacked with charges and fines. I don’t see how consumers are being protected more but instead I see more unscrupulous retailers would argue their way out of this.

Disclaimer

This is not a sponsored post. This is purely my own opinion after using their service and/or products. If you like what you are seeing, do remember to check they out and do your diligence. There is no one size fits all investment strategy.

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes here at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/ for the services.

Images seen in this article were take off the relevant websites for illustration purposes only.

What Will I Invest with S$10,000

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I realised that such posts actually attract more viewership as compared to technical breakdowns. I get it that most people want a quick and fast way to read content and download views. The first 3 seconds of every post will most likely decide if the reader would like to continue reading, be skeptical or just scoff at it. In my earlier posts, I talked about having an emergency fund. It takes time to build such things so don’t forget, the little things count.

In this article, I’m going to discuss more about what to invest and why especially for folks who just got out of school. When I graduated, I remember vividly that it seemed to be pretty hard to save money. A few years on, I realised what constituted the bulk of my spending and why I could not save more. These life experiences cannot be bought so I would say the money spend networking and forging friendships are my human capital.

Going back in Time

Going back to 5 years ago, there wasn’t many choices to invest extra funds into. It was the standard brokerages, fund houses or at most bank/custodian brokerages. There wasn’t a lot of tools to invest in and let’s be honest, the retail bankers can’t be too bothered with a S$10,000 fund. It just isn’t worth their time. So, like many others who preaches, I shall say it again – If you do not care about your own money, no one will. I remember I used to buy funds via FundSupermart, trading some Forex with CMC Markets/Saxo Capital and used Standard Chartered Brokerages to buy US/SGD equities. Nothing fancy that you can really do though.

Moving forward 2020

With the current options we have available, traditional investments seems really cool. (At least it is for me) I really like the options out there for me to pick and choose. You can Insurance Tech, Robo Advisors, Cryptocurrency, Real Estate Block-chains, ETFs, Leveraged Equities/Indexes and many more. With the upcoming digital bank in Singapore, I think that this is going to be great for consumers. The key problem now is to get more people interested in their own personal finances.

What to do with S$10k?

We are going to take away the cash solutions for this since this is on the assumption that cash funds are kept away in a safe place. With the new funds, this is money that you can afford to lose. I used to know something who likes to take a punt, he would leverage and buy options on the same counter without considering the risk. Well, he wanted to win big but eventually his portfolio became pathetic and he lost his job while these options expired and markets dropped. The objective of sharing this story is to always abide by your investment discipline.

I am reminded of the rules:

  • No one has the crystal ball and you will never know when the markets decide to be green or red.
  • A small amount of leverage is fine but not when it is concentrated into one counter. Remember to diversify but not over diversify.
  • Always use option to your advantage, not to speculate.
  • When you lose to the market, blame no one but yourself because no one forced you to invest. You can keep cash and seek cash solutions but if your cash deflate, that’s on you and no one else.

With a S$10k portfolio, I would split it up into a few tranches.

Robo Advisors

  1. Robo Advisors are a great tool if you do not know what to buy or when to buy. The whole idea is to buy when markets go up or down. The entry level for robo investing is so low that anyone can invest. Let’s also be real, all platforms have a cost upkeep so fees are unavoidable. For this I would Assign at least S$6k (~60% – 70%) into such funds and this forms the Core part of the long term portfolio
    1. The first option can be Endowus (USD ETFs) which i discussed before here at Endowus
    2. The second option can be Stash Away (USD ETFs) which i discussed before here at Stash Away
    3. The third option can be Syfe (For SGD related equities or the Global Equity Portfolio) which i discussed before here at Syfe

Now, you must not forget to top up your investment on a monthly basis. Treat that as a form of savings. The earlier you save, the faster your will reach your retirement goals.

From the robo advisor portfolio construction, you can choose a partial bond|equity balanced fund. This is where your bond exposure comes in. Do not waste your time with SGS or SSB during this period because they returns are not great.

Cryptocurrency

2. They say that trend is your friend. The trend now with all the hype is about Cryptocurrency. I can’t help but would add a small amount to the portfolio. They are supposed to act different as compared to fiat currencies. For this I would assign at least S$1k (~10%-15%) and i consider these as alternative asset class.

    1. The first option is to buy Bitcoins. They are by far the largest Cap in the Crypto World.
    2. The second option is to get a foot in to Crypto.com. I previously discussed about this as well here at Crypto.com App/

Funds

3. Personally, I like income or dividend equities or funds. If you are more risk adverse i would suggest to put some money into the PIMCO income funds. They are just the best in class for bonds. Depending on what you like, the average dividends is roughly around 3-4% p.a. For this, I would assign at least S$2.5k (~25%-35%) and these are supposed to be a stable source of dividend funds.

Trading

4. Finally, what fun is there if you leave everything in the Core Portfolio. The balance 15% of funds (~S$1.5k) can be use to buy in specific equity counters in the SGX. (for e.g. bank stocks or reits whenever there is a market pullback) If you really wish to fully invest these monies, just put them back into the Robos or ETFs.

What other options would you do or suggest to do? Feel free to comment. The whole idea of writing is to really share about opinions and you never know when an idea strikes you.

Disclaimer

This is not a sponsored post. This is purely my own opinion after using their service and/or products. If you like what you are seeing, do remember to check they out and do your diligence. There is no one size fits all investment strategy.

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes here at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/ for the services.

Images seen in this article were take off the relevant websites for illustration purposes only.

Electricity Retailer – Open Electricity Market (Saving on your bills)

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The Singapore electricity market decentralised some time around 2015 and that made way for the big commercial companies to change their electricity supplier. The bulk of electricity are consumed by the business/commercial companies. As an estimate, the ratio of consumption is probably around 65/35 in terms of consumption. The Open Electricity Market started out in phases since November 2018. There was a trial run for 100k households and small businesses in the Jurong Area in April 2018 and these guys get to save at least 30% off the electricity bills! That is such a good deal and a first mover advantage.

The Start of OEM

Since November 2018, it was a phased launch to open up the entire Singapore to all residential households and smaller businesses. By May 2019, Singaporeans can choose the electricity retailer of their choice. It is interesting and unique to see this happening in this small island because SP Group is the monopoly in such nationwide infrastructure. I used to know nothing about the electricity market until such an initiative was discovered. The fact that SP Group remains as the electricity grid provider and transmission lines is indeed unique only to Singapore.

What this means is that all generation in Singapore has to go through the National Grid and in return, the power supply remains consistent, stable and reliable. Not much of a difference I would say.

If there are power outages or blackouts, the whole responsibility still lies with SP Group and you have to contact their 24-hour hotline. These outages has nothing to do with the generation firms. So the key question is still, how is it that these retailers can provide a lower pricing as compared to regulated tariff. (Electricity Rate Tariff is revised every January, April, July and Oct)

Electricity Retailer

From digging up articles and information online as well as speaking with the respective retailers, the simple answer to this question is:

Regulated tariff was formulated. It is similar to how Airlines price their seats which oil prices play a part in that calculation. From only buying electricity from SP Group (It takes in and calculate the 2.5 months of Brent Oil in USD) as part of the formula.

The retailer price, however depends on the bring of electricity they buy from the wholesale market (www.emcsg.com) and from their portfolio in Electricity Futures.(Which is traded in SGX) As a result of a different formulation, this allows the retailers to price in roughly about 15-25% cheaper as compared to the Regulated Tariff.

There is an interesting write up that talks about how prices are cheaper from Ohm Energy here Ohm Market Outlook. Of course, there are also retailers who are willing to absorb all costs to get more customers. As long as there are no hidden costs, we stand to benefit.

The Power to Choose

Now, for the exciting part. there are a 12 choices to choose from. We, as consumers should benefit from the increase in competition from different retailers. I will try my best to let everyone know what are the things to look out for before you switch to a retailer:

Not just the Price

a. First thing first – Do not sweat the small stuff. Cheap does not mean that it is good. Cheap is just the first step to getting your attention. Prices can be compared at the Price Comparison Website which is the official comparison website at Compare

Good Reviews Online

b. Check out the reviews first. You can go to Facebook, Google, Retailers’ website, Value Champion, SeedlyReviews and many more. Do not underestimate the power of reviews. Don’t let cheap cover your eyes.

This retailer penalises you for forgetting to renew your contract at 5% off the tariff.(What a rip-off! I’m sure there are a few more of such retailers around) A friend of mine told me that Geneco, Tuas power and Union Power renewed their contract at 10% off regulated tariff so please check your contracts.

Renewal Clauses

c. Look at the renewal clauses. It is extremely troublesome to keep switching retailers once every 6/12 months. Some retailers are just out there to rip consumers off by renewing you on a bad renewal contract if you forget. You have to write these guys off permanently.

Choice of Billing

d. What do you prefer? Consolidated fuss-free billing or more separate billing?

What Type of Plans?

e. No perfect plans. Just what s more comfortable for you.

  1. If you want to be paying cheaper than Regulated Tariff then go for the Discount off Tariff price plans. The cons is that if the tariff goes higher, your rate may be higher as well.
  2. If you wish to have some form of fixed pricing, then go for the Fixed Price plans. The cons is that if the tariff goes lower, then your rate will remain at the fixed rate.

Fees and Hidden Charges

f. Take note of Fees and Charges. If you want to just take on a long term contract, make sure you do know the criteria if you can transfer your contract to a new address without incurring an ETF or other fees.

  1. For example Early Termination Fees if you terminate your contract Early.
  2. Late Payment Charges
  3. Transmission Loss Charges
  4. Extra fee for Hard Copy bills
  5. Fee charges for failed payment (Credit Card/Debit Card)
  6. Fee charges for failed GIRO application
  7. Admin Fee if you failed to provide the proper documents to a retailer

Consumer Safeguards

g. There are consumer safeguards so there is no need to worry that your lights will go off. It’s just that it is going to be a little troublesome if anyone goes bust. You can read more about these safeguards here: Consumer Safeguards

It is a no-brainer and there is no catch. Just switch and you are on your way to cheaper bills. You just need to be wary about the retailer you choose from. There are no risks – What you have is literally a financial contract on a rate you agree to sign up on for a certain period. (If you decide to go on a contract plan) If you wish to go on a no commitment, no contract plan, you can check out Ohm Energy. They are one of the rare retailers who offer such plans.

Who did i choose?

Personally, I really prefer Ohm Energy. You can check them out here at Ohm Energy.

Positive and Good Reviews

A. The reviews are literally positive and they look rather solid. They are also Most Popular at Seedly Reviews.

Great Customer Service

B. The customer service seems to be the center of all the buzz which I really like. When I have a query, the response that i get from the customer care is quick and concise. Not quite what I have seen elsewhere.

Nice Colours and Branding. Even the Name Sounds Cool

C. The branding is just appealing to me and everything is done online. I am so done with roadshow salesperson. They are just out there for a single purpose.

Renewal Bonus

D. When you renew, they have a renewal bonus and also they renewal you at the market rate during the renewal period. That is fair.

Referral Program and more Savings!

F. You can also refer as many friends as you want. That is S$20 for both referrer and referee with no cap. Thumbs Up!

Consolidated Bills

G. Consolidate SP Billing with them means that the payment arrangement, Security Deposit, Hard copy bills all remains the same. That is really easy.

Trial Period

H. For New Customers, they have a three month trial period to try them out. If you decide to switch out before then, there are no fees involved. That gives me confidence about how much they are willing to let you “Try them out”.

If you do select Ohm, do remember to use my referral code: OHMREF3F28B7 (Input into the promocode field and click apply at Step 3 of the application)

Disclaimer

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes for other services at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/

The pictures were taken from the respective retailer and EMA/OEM website for this article.

Leisure of Life

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It has been almost 6 months since I have started working from home. The wife, not so much, roughly about four months or so. We have gone past the two months of Circuit Breaker and food delivery. At Phase 2, we are glad not to eat our lunch and/or dinner in a container box. Cooking at home regularly has also come off, though that was way better than ordering delivery. By working from home, we actually spend more time whacking away at our computer. That includes lunch time and after dinner. Depending on how you look at it, it can mean more productivity or we just can’t really draw a line to when is work time and home time.

Exploring Singapore – National Gallery Singapore

This is brought some delight to us. First, the mood in the National Gallery is soft and quiet. There was literally no rush walking in the Gallery. By taking some time off our work, we brought our little one to visit and rediscover Singapore little by little. While looking through the artifacts and history of Singapore, I did felt a sense of pride to call Singapore Home. Second, I really like it when it is quiet and the National Gallery provides that serene form of art. No noise was coming out from anywhere and we could just walk where ever we wanted.

In my previous post which you can access here. (https://lifejourney.blog/2020/08/04/ndp-2020-promotion-1-year-free-membership-for-gallery-insider/) The Gallery Insider is still available to all Singaporeans for one year so do visit them before end of October 2020. It is a worthwhile visit and stop by the Courtyard Cafe (Level 1) for some drinks and snacks. They make pretty good food and snacks. Blueberry cheese muffin, pandan kaya coconut cake and the fried wantons are my top choice. Local and Western delights are available – It is much better than most places.

The Corner Grill

To end the day, we must always do what a true blue Singaporean does. Find a good and decent hideout for a nice hot dinner for a good meal. It is rare that we have such “me” time and we found some hidden gems in the alley of 1 Ann Siang Hill. Hidden within the red and black shop houses and sloped roads, right at the intersection of Club Street lies The Corner Grill. The restaurant brings the impression that they serve quality food over quantity and I truly respect that. Link here: https://www.facebook.com/thecornergrill.sg

Still, we ordered too much for dinner and will definitely come back in the near future.

Fried Onions

For Starters, the Onion Stickles make a perfect appetiser. The complement is the mild but savory curry sauce which went really well with the thinly sliced onions.

Lobster Roll

The classic lobster burger which you once ate at the market grill or Pince and Pints somehow just tastes awful. Biting into the Lobster Roll at The Corner Grill, it is a sequence of experiential taste which starts with the freshness of the seawater, followed by the buttery creaminess of the sauce and tender warm lobster meat with the toasted bun. Simplicity at its best.

Pork Chop!

One of the classic highlights would be their Pork Chop which they really should rename it as a Tomahawk Chop or Pork Steak bone taste perfectly pinkish. This is cooked/grilled slightly Pinkish and well charred. The whole Pork Chop weighs around 300g and is easily the best thing I had during the last 6 months. The condiments compliment so well with the Pork Chop that I have nothing to say but to go try it. I also never knew olives, fig, onions and cauliflower tastes so good when preserved and mixed

Lemon Tarts

Desserts turn out as a surprise with Lemon tarts. They were not too sweet and perfect to end the palate. I’ll let the picture tell the story.

It is one of those rare times that we took time to explore and find good food but it has indeed been a great Friday today.

By chance, during a chat with the owners, The Corner Grill license was approved two days before the Circuit Breaker rules were announced. With the current Phase 2 ongoing, their business has been affected. I do hope they can manage to tide through this phase. The quality of ingredients is definitely a high standard but I am guessing that they have too much on their plate at the moment.

Support Local. Support our Food Culture. You can’t miss quality once you try it.

Disclaimer

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes for other services at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/

The pictures were taken from The Corner Grill website for this article.

Wellnex & My-Insurer Platform

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Something interesting came in my way last week. I managed to speak with the General Manager of Wellnex (Link here if you are interested to find out – https://www.wellnex-singapore.com/) and My-insurer. (Link here – https://www.my-insurer.net/) They are in the field of Insurtech field – Insurance Technology. (Something that works differently as compared to the traditional agents who sells you an insurance) I’ll say that they are more of a 99.co or property guru in Insurance style but with a tad more zest as all interactions and details are done digitally so it is as good as meeting the customer face to face. Given current Covid situation, I’m not sure if I want to meet anyone face to face for a 2-3 hour chat about personal finance.

It isn’t a sponsored post. I’m very strict with the way things are being done regarding a sponsored post. As the way it is, I’m happy to write and type whatever my views are and trash whatever I find is trashy. In any case, my-insurer has a separate wellnex platform – which is more of a deals, news, more information kind of portal where businesses and writers can create and post articles.

The Wellnex Interface

In terms of user-interface, it is simple – no frills but also nothing fancy. The whole idea is to create content, display them out and get people to read them. Hopefully, some people actually think that my content is worth reading. I am a firm believer of things taking time to grow organically. Spending marketing dollars on stuff is what companies who have cash to burn does. Usually it comes with a price, there is always a catch or ROI to it – Then the marketing dollars will eventually be reduced or some others suckered into buying into it and spending even more marketing dollars.

Data Trustmark

Sometime last week, i received an email from them stating that they have achieved the Trust-mark for Data Protection so you can be sure that there is a standard or ISO for dealing and protection the data that you store with them. I’ll say that is a good job considering that they hold key to agents and customer data.

What I really do like about them is that, they have no requirement for me to have at least one post per week or anything of that sort. There isn’t a fee that they pay to me or I need to pay them for using their application to post articles as they wish to stay neutral and free from conflict of interest. That is respectable for a business who work on that ethics. Not many companies are true to what they preach.

Help one another / Refer a good deal

If you own a company or wish to share some deals, do reach out to these folks out there. Perhaps, they can add more marketing value for space or reach or impressions as the marketing guys call it. After all, the idea is to get what you have out there so people know and talks about it.

The whole idea that I wish to do is to create a space where people enjoy reading articles about finance. Perhaps, get them excited about finding out what is out there. What is the current trend? Sometimes, even finding a good deal or good idea will come back. Though I did not start out as early as so many other bloggers did, it is never too late.

Eventually, finding out and working together as online bloggers is something I wish to build in the community. I started out reading financial blogs for many years. In the process, I procrastinated about building one as it takes up too much time. However, the circuit breaker forced me to take on something that I have put off for many years. I hope I will grow my project to a sizable one in the near future.

Disclaimer

These are just solely opinions of mine. Different people have different needs, requirement, financial situation and views. For me, this is what I would do if I would like to build my blog. The main aim to to get more viewership and subscribers to keep the lights running.

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes here at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/ for the services.

The pictures were taken from Wellnex website for this article.

Term or Participating Life Plans?

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Term Insurance or Participating Whole Life Insurance? This is the question that I often ask and discuss with my other half. Typically, people seek value when they buy or invest in something. For insurance, value seekers would prefer a cash value. Cash value is what you have contributed over the insurance tenor. These sum of money, deducting the cost of insurance, the fees, commissions, salary and what nots will be invested by the insurance company Fund Managers (Whether they choose in-house or external fund houses) – In short they are known as participating life insurance.

Term and Whole Life Insurance

Term Insurance are policies that do not have a cash value. They are typically cheaper than Whole Life Plans (Otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to get term insurance). For example, they cost $200 per annum for a coverage of $200K and it depends on your age at point of inception. They may or may not be renewable yearly, meaning that the premiums will increase with age and each individual health condition.

In my personal opinion, I think that a Whole Life Plan is really expensive. You pay premiums and the first three years, there is literally no value to your assets. Then your participating underlying investments are handled by someone else who tries their best to beat benchmark and regardless, they get paid in fees and costs.

Buy Term, Invest the Rest?

There is a famous saying, buy term and invest the rest. Well, I don’t have a view on that. It really depends if you want to leave some legacy behind for your family/kids/relatives or it may even be transitory. For e.g. used to cover debts such as a new house, a new car or assets. In order not to complicate matters, I’ll leave illness out of the equation and discuss solely on the death benefit. Generally, you need to cover your liabilities so that in the event of death, your family members not only are rid of their stress and pressure from the loss of a loved one as well as the financial aspect of it. To a certain extent, I believe in covering at least 2x of your liabilities so that there is comfort in dealing with more financial freedom.

The other stuffs to take note of

For a typical household, i believe that health insurance is the first thing you need to seek coverage on, followed by life plans but everyone’s scenario is different. In finance, there is a phase that all of us has to go through which is also the toughest and it is called wealth building. I’ll leave it for discussion on a separate day but my point is, you buy insurance based on what you can afford and not because it is cheap or time is not on your side.

For me, I take the approach of covering term as well as whole life plans. The hybrid style works for me as I am pretty savvy with financial contracts and insurance. In my own time, I am qualified advisor for insurance and more qualified than many out there but I never once worked for any insurance company. Though finance is my forte but there are too many products and innovation in this field that you cant keep up. So, you need to have someone in there to guide you along. It is annoying to talk to agents so you need to have someone you trust.

Let me just plant some ideas – If it make sense. It isn’t all encompassing but just to point things out.

Term Life:

A. A Substitute for liabilities (Housing loan, car loan, personal loan, student loan)

B. A transition phase which you do not mind protecting until that period is over. As term has no value, it is similar to a no-contract telco plan and you can get rid of it anytime (if the time period is short)

C. Supplement for a shortage of coverage that you have for your whole life.

Whole Life Plan:

A. It’s just for lazy people. Buy/Save and pay the premium for a period of time. Leave it there.

B. Buy at a young age and the premiums stay really really low which is smart. Consider your finances too as you need it to be as affordable until you have served the payment term.

C. If you have a young kid or elderly who are not working. You, are the income holder needs to be insured. When you are gone, the young kid and elderly will not be able to work to give you an income.

Above all, health is of the utmost importance. You will never know when or what hits you. Even then, your state of mind will be in a mess. So, no matter how prepared you are, no one will ever be prepared. All these little steps and conversations must eventually turn into real action. When shit comes, it comes and there is no point saying “I should have”. Don’t just listen to your agent out there. Seek alternative, ask and learn. No will will care more about your money more than you will – These life skills will bring value to your own life and frankly I can’t see a life with no planning and no one should.

Disclaimer

These are just solely opinions of mine. Different people have different needs, requirement, financial situation and views. For me, this is what I would do if I need to deal with buying insurance for myself and my family. There is no one size fits all – different strokes for different folks.

If you like what I am sharing or if it resonates with you, do use my referral codes here at https://lifejourney.blog/contact/ for the services.

The pictures were taken from the website for this article.