Life goes in cycles, predictable yet uncontrollable; just like the markets, but markets give you a second chance
Friday, May 27, 2016
Random thoughts: Acceptance and compassion is negatively correlated with misery
Articles from Singsaver
A few days ago, I received an email from Katrina asking if they could contribute articles on my blog. Initially, I thought if they are asking if I could contribute articles to their website, which I gladly agree, as I thought about increasing traffic flow to my blog.
When I learned it is the other way round, I told Katrina honestly that my traffic is not worth it.
Anyway, a deal is a deal. I make no money from this. Purely a re-post of 2 articles out of 5. I have some issues with some other articles so I decided to only repost these two.
One is about traveling, how to make the most value out of it. Another is common myths about wealth creation, which I think they correctly point out ( or at least I agree)
I visited their site and it is very professionally done, with comparison with various credit cards, etc.
Enjoy!! By the way, my average view per post is about 600... Yawn... Yeah... That low... Katrina if u are reading this, hope u are not sobing LOL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SingSaver.com.sg MARKET VIEWS & INSIGHTS:
TUESDAY 24 MAY 2016
SINGAPORE, 24 MAY 2016 –SingSaver.com.sg, Singapore’s #1 financial comparison platform and a part of the CompareAsiaGroup, is pleased to present this week’s repository of opinion editorials and stories crafted by SingSaver.com.sg:
EDITORIAL #1 OF 2
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON HOTELS WITHOUT SACRIFICING COMFORT
Here are 7 ways Singaporeans can save money on hotel rooms without downgrading to budget hotels. Sure, we all know you can save on hotels by getting the cheapest room available. But for those of us who like the luxury of working toilets and have issues with bedbugs, it’s about getting a good hotel for less. Therein lies a true challenge. Here’s how you can sleep well, and have enough left over to shop, dine, and sightsee:
1. Use Dreamcheaper After You Book Your Room
After you book a refundable room, check out DreamCheaper.com. This website tracks the price of the hotel room – when the room price falls, it will rebook the room at the cheaper price, and cancel your old reservation. You don’t need to do anything besides wait for the site to capture the lowest price point. The potential discount is highly variable – you might end up saving just $30, or you might save $300. It depends on how low the price happens to fall. Still, it does mean you can nab a discount on even a five-star hotel.
2. Experiment with Different Travel Dates
If possible, plan to travel during a range of different dates (or just plan so far ahead that you can experiment with different times). Hotel prices in each city follow their own price cycles. In New York City for example, the cheaper rates tend to be available in July, whereas Paris tends to have cheaper rates in January. December tends to be expensive everywhere, plus there are hordes of tourists; avoid this month if you can. Don’t take our word for it – experiment with various booking sites and see for yourself. You should also sign up for notifications from sites like The Luxe Nomad. This will update you on flash discounts from top hotels when they occur.
3. Use Your Air Miles or Credit Card’s Hotel Discounts
Some hotels accept frequent flyer miles just like airlines do. If you have a lot of miles to let go of, you can use them to book overnight stays. For example, Citi Miles earned from the can be redeemed for Asia Miles, which you can then use to book accommodations anywhere in the world. According to the Asia Miles website, an overnight stay at a Bali resort in July starts at 17,750 Asia Miles. Citi Miles can also be converted to IHG Rewards Points and Hilton HHonors Points. If you can’t wait til you’ve earned enough points for a free room, you can use still use your points for free WiFi, free breakfast, or free additional guests. Either way, you save quite a bit of money. You should also check if your air miles credit card offers hotel discounts. For instance, cardmembers get access to the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection, which grants them preferential rates, VIP status, and free room upgrades at over 900 luxury hotels. As an alternative, check if you have a concierge service on your existing credit card. The is one credit card that has such services. Call the concierge ask them to help you find a good luxury hotel rate. The concierge service has significant bargaining power, as they may refer hundreds to guests to the hotel on a regular basis.
4. Check for Bundled Packages
If you are already booking a flight on sites like Expedia, check out how much it would cost to add a hotel. When accommodations or rental cars are added, the site may “bundle” them and give you a discount. This may be cheaper than booking the hotels on other travel sites.
5. Do Not Use the Room Phone Except to Call Reception
If you must use the telephone in the room, check the prices first. The rates for your room’s landline can easily go up to $12 a minute. You really can be charged $180 for a 15-minute call to your friend. Yes, it’s more expensive than even the wi-fi, and there’s no logical reason for the pricing and no good reason to be using it.
6. Buy a Prepaid Unlimited-Data SIM Card Instead of Using Hotel WiFi
Most luxury hotels still charge for WiFi unlike their cheaper counterparts. It’s just a frustrating fact of higher-end accommodations. Before you pay for it, check the prices of prepaid sim cards, particularly those with unlimited data. If you can tether your laptop to your mobile (or you have a tablet that can use a sim card), it may be cheaper than paying the hotel rate. If you don’t need to be online much, consider ducking into a WiFi-enabled cafe or mall when you need to send the occasional e-mail. The prices for hotel wi-fi can be exorbitant: in North America and many parts of Asia, fees can be up to $50 a day, and in Europe high-end hotels may charge up to $30 a day.
7. Join the Loyalty Programme
Most four and five-star hotels will have loyalty programmes. In the case of chain hotels, these programmes will extend to many different countries. You can get a better deal from these than even online bookings – the key is to ensure you use the same hotel(s), and often.On top of the stated benefits, many hotels will give you little bonuses when they become available. For example, if there is a corner room that’s a little more spacious, or a room with a better view, you are more likely to get it. The biggest benefit is, of course, savings. If you are part of the loyalty program, you will often get the lowest rates right off the bat.
WHY FINANCIAL ADVICE FOR RICH SINGAPOREANS WON’T WORK FOR YOU
It might be inspiring to follow the footsteps of rich Singaporeans, but the financial advice that works for them may be completely wrong for you. There’s a lot of financial advice flying around Singapore right now. Some of it is even accurate – assuming you already have a six digit figure in your bank account, or want to turn money into less money. The fact is, what works for some people won’t work for others. The investment methods of a multi-millionaire can break a median wage earner, and what’s wise for the average Joe could be a waste of money for richer people.
Here are some bits of advice that aren’t healthy unless you’re rich:
1. Invest in Unregulated, Exotic Assets Like Art, Wine, or Jewellery
This is not as dubious as it sounds. These assets do have value, in that they have a low correlation to stock and bond markets. In other words, when stock or bond prices are crashing, rare art or wine may still hold its value. It’s a form of diversification. Unfortunately, these assets work far better for the rich than for the average person because they require large amounts of capital. Art investments, for example, often start at S$50,000. For an investor with $10 million in the bank, this is not a significant sum. The investor could put twice that amount into an art collection, and it would only account for about one per cent of said bank account. Should his $50,000 art investment fall in value by 10 per cent (a S$5,000 loss), it would be a trivial loss to him.But to the average person, who have perhaps S$100,000 after a decade of scrimping, S$50,000 accounts for half of everything they’ve saved. A 10 per cent drop in value would cause significant pain (would you consider it irrelevant if you lost $5,000 right now?). In the event that something goes wrong, such as the art being damaged, the financial damage could take years to repair.
Simply put, the wealthy can tolerate losses that the average person cannot. Exotic investments work for the wealthy, because many of these investments are volatile, and can deliver unexpectedly huge rewards. When a work of art shoots up to 10 times its value, the aforementioned wealthy investor only risked one per cent of his wealth to reap those rewards. If the investment fails, the loss is no big deal. But when the investment accounts for half of your wealth, or can break you if it fails, it is simply not something you can afford. So no matter how many incredible stories you hear about art, stamps, wine, or other exotic assets, remember it’s something to aspire to. Don’t jump into it right away – focus on building your wealth first, and one day it might be a good deal for you too. As a rule of thumb, it is not safe to invest more than five per cent of your wealth in high risk ventures of any sort. If you only have $10,000 to your name, you can afford to put maybe $500 into something risky.
2. Property is the Best Investment, So Buy a Second House As Soon As You Can
Property is indeed a great investment…if you have sufficient holding power. When you purchase a property, the interest rate on the property loan fluctuates. There are no perpetual, fixed interest rates in Singapore. This means that monthly repayments can go up quite unexpectedly, and you have to be able to cope with it. Some investors may claim you will be renting out the house, which will more than cover the cost of repayments. But there is no guarantee of this. At the current time, for example, rental prices in Singapore have fallen by 9.1 per cent since 2013, while property loan rates have risen significantly. This is not to say the strategy or buying to rent out does not work; it means that aspiring landlords need to have sufficient wealth to handle vacancies, or periods when rental income is insufficient to cover monthly repayments. If the monthly repayments become too much, you will be forced to sell. But what if the property market happens to be in a downturn, such as the present?
Recently a St. Regis Residences penthouse, which was bought in 2007, sold for a record loss of $15.8 million. So it is not true that, whenever you sell your property, you will make a profit. You have to be able to sell the property when the market is doing well, or at least not during a downturn. This means you must have the funds to keep paying the property taxes*, mortgage, and maintenance until the market improves. If you don’t have the funds to do that, it could mean selling at a loss. All in, property is a great asset to the wealthy but can be a serious liability if you’re over-leveraged. Just because you are in a position to (barely) afford a second house, it doesn’t mean you should rush out and buy one. But if you have several million in the bank, then even a downturn is just an opportunity for you to buy cheap. Remember that there is an Additional Buyers Stamp Duty (ABSD) of seven per cent on your second home, if you are a Singaporean citizen. This means a $1 million condo will cost you an additional $70,000. Will you still make a profit when you sell the house, after paying property loan interests and this hefty tax?
3. Follow Your Passion and the Money Will Follow
You should certainly quit your job to follow your passion, if you have enough money to survive for a year or two without it. We are not being cynical, and suggesting your passion will never make money (although as a matter of fact, some passions are less lucrative than others). Rather, it is that passion is difficult to maintain under financial stress. Following your passion, and building a viable business around it, requires drive and inspiration. The question is, how inspired will you be when you’re down to the last 80 cents in your bank account, and haven’t had lunch in two days? If following your passion requires you to think creatively, or be upbeat and sell, can you maintain those qualities while stressed out about missing mortgage payments?
The fact is, most people can’t. That’s why the ones who strike out to start their own business, follow their passions, etc. have a better chance of succeeding when they already have a source of wealth.
Poverty depletes energy. Few people can focus on creating a great painting, coding an incredible app, or delivering a moving speech when they are pressed by financial troubles.This doesn’t mean that you can’t follow your passions if you’re not a millionaire. It just means that if you don’t have the money, you can’t start following your passions right now. At the very least, build up enough savings to last you a year or two. Give your passions the best possible chance to survive and succeed. And if you do have a lot of money, by all means follow your passions. That’s (a) the point of having money, and (b) when a wealthy person turns their passion into a business, a lot of people buy into it; they will relate it to your success.
Accurate Financial Advice is Never General
The key thing to remember is that there’s no “one size fits all” approach to personal finance. What works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s doubly true when they’re in an income bracket several levels above or below you. If you are earning a median wage right now (around S$3,700) a month, you can be sure that some forms of financial advice you’ll get (eg. invest in REITs) are good for you, but ridiculous for someone earning S$1,200 a month. Just remember it works both ways. The personal finance approaches devised for the rich, which get so much media attention, may be the same approaches that utterly destroy your savings. Get a proper wealth manager to look at your situation, and dispense advice. Whether you choose to pay them and keep them on later is up to you. But it still beats looking at the rich and trying to imitate them.
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SingSaver.com.sg is Singapore’s #1 financial comparison platform. Launched in May 2015, SingSaver.com.sg is committed to helping consumers find the right financial product with easy-to-use self-serve comparison tools. SingSaver.com.sg provides free, quick and easily accessible resources to help consumers understand personal finance products in Singapore including credit cards, personal loans and insurance. In a constantly changing financial landscape, SingSaver.com.sg strives to provide consumers with detailed and accurate data and insights so they can make the best choice before applying for the financial products that suit their needs.
CompareAsiaGroup is Asia’s leading financial comparison platform. The Group helps people across Asia save money and make better choices about personal finance with comprehensive, free, and independent online comparison tools for insurance, credit cards, personal loans and other financial products. CompareAsiaGroup partners with Asia’s leading financial institutions to compare over 1,500 products. Launched in 2014, the Group employs 200 financial experts and technologists and has a presence in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Rohith Murthy, Co-founder and Managing Director, SingSaver.com.sg
Rohith Murthy is the Managing Director of SingSaver.com.sg. His core duties include leading teams in all verticals including commercial, business development and financial performance.. Prior to co-founding SingSaver.com.sg, Rohith was Head of Digital Banking at Citibank for Central and Eastern Europe where he led various e-channel initiatives including Internet, mobile, phone banking, ATMs and the digitisation of branches. During his ten year tenure, Citibank was awarded Best Consumer and Corporate Internet Bank by Global Finance magazine in 2011 and 2012. Rohith holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Honors) degree in Computer Engineering from National University of Singapore where he graduated on a full scholarship.
Prashant Aggarwal, Chief Commercial Officer, CompareAsiaGroup
Prashant joined CompareAsiaGroup in April 2016 after a stellar 18 years in technology and finance where he spent 12 years with the world’s top credit card brands – American Express and Visa. Prashant kicked off his career with Oracle Corp in New Delhi and Sydney as Project Manager for Shared Services Implementation. In 2004, Prashant joined American Express in Sydney as Director – Head of Consulting for Japan and the Asia Pacific rim. In 2008, Prashant was promoted to Director for Account Development for Greater China and two years later, took on the challenge of Director – Head of Multinational Relationships for Japan and the Asia Pacific region. After an impressive eight-year stint with American Express, Prashant joined Visa as Senior Business Leader – Head of Commercial Products for all of Southeast Asia. Prashant is a Permanent Resident of Singapore with residence in Sydney.
Sam Allen, Chief Executive Officer, CompareAsiaGroup
Before joining CompareAsiaGroup as Chief Executive Officer, Sam spent 9 years at KKR where he was a Director in KKR’s portfolio operations team and a member of the Asia Leadership Team. Sam worked with KKR’s portfolio companies across Asia, acting as an advisor, board member, and interim executive. Prior to KKR, Sam worked at McKinsey & Company and at AT&T Wireless. Sam holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.
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