Best Resources For Retirement Planning In Singapore (These Are Free Too)

In 2014, a survey by DBS bank showed that over 76% of the participants said that their key long-term financial goal is to have sufficient for retirement. Why are these people not ready? Perhaps time and awareness are the factors.

Majority of people think that saving for retirement can wait until you are more stable later on in life. Some may get caught up with their spending patterns and life events such as celebrating weddings and raising children.

There is never a “great” time to start planning for your retirement. But, there are good advantages if you started early. However, if you are starting late today then, you will have to work harder to grow your retirement fund. Moreover, you cannot afford to lose money anymore so; you must avoid investments with higher risks.

After shedding a light into the importance of retirement planning earlier on, here are the best yet free resources for retiring in Singapore (aside from the fantastic Money Digest) :

1. RETIREMENT CALCULATOR BY AVIVA

Aviva is a British multinational insurance company that provides services across 16 countries. Since they have a branch in Singapore, their website features a retirement calculator that tells you how much money you need to live comfortably in your golden years. Also, it takes expected inflation into account. Personally, I found Aviva’s Retirement Calculator as easy and user-friendly but I still want to get more information out of it.

Get it here.

2. CPF RETIREMENT SAVINGS INTERACTIVE CALCULATOR

As I said, I seek more functionality from the above retirement calculator. Which is why I continued my search. In my conquest I found a comprehensive retirement calculator that is validated and created by Central Provident Fund (CPF).

CPF is a social security savings plan that has provided the working Singaporeans with confidence and a sense of security for their retirement years. A part from this, they offer online guides and resources such as the Retirement Savings Interactive Calculator. This calculator allows you to assign values for your current age, desired retirement age, desired retirement income, return of investment, and so on. The results will show the number of years you need to save and the cumulative savings necessary to age gracefully. Furthermore, it provides charts and graphs to enable you to understand the numbers more.

Get it here.

3. VANGUARD RETIREMENT INSIGHTS

A premier international website for retirement information is owned by the Vanguard Group – an American investment company. Vanguard’s retirement resources are divided into three categories namely: saving for retirement, nearing retirement, and living in retirement. They provide tips, guidance, and advice using simple terms that would not require a genius to understand. Additionally, it offers retirement planning tools such as creating a realistic retirement budget.

Browse it here. 

4. HSBC SINGAPORE RETIREMENT PLANNING

Going local, you may browse through the articles by HSBC Singapore. These articles feature detailed information about the future retirees in Singapore, 8 steps to have a confident retirement, and a guide to retirement planning. Also, it includes localized researched statistics, charts, tables, and graphs. But, I cannot deny the fact that it advertises HSBC’s own retirement services too.

Browse it here.

 

Image Credits: pixabay.com (License: CC0 Public Domain)

Image Credits: pixabay.com (License: CC0 Public Domain)

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A Safer Way to Shop Online

MatchMove Featured

You can’t deny that shopping is one of Singapore’s favourite pastimes. With online retail giants setting up basecamp on our shores including the likes of Zalora, Lazada and Rakuten among others, consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to the goods and services we can purchase from the comfort of our own homes.

But are you aware of the security risks involved when using your credit or debit card to shop online?

 

Getting the facts

MatchMove 1Singapore’s online shopping industry is projected to reach US$3.45 billion in 2015. While this is only a tiny fraction of the US$525 billion for the entire Asia Pacific region, the average Singaporean spends around US$1,800 annually. The yearly increase in online spending is also a healthy sign of the rapidly growing popularity of e-commerce in Singapore.

However, in tandem with the meteoric rise of online shopping in Asia over the last few years, authorities have also reported a surge in online scams and credit card fraud. Last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore claimed that businesses lost an estimated US$1.6 billion due to cybercrimes, a marginal sum when compared to the global losses of over US$400 billion.

But it has never happened to me before.. so I’m safe, right?

Well, not exactly. Do you know whether the website you are buying from is compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)? Have you ever let a website save your credit card information for the sake of convenience and a faster checkout?

In 2014, less than a third (28.6%) of online merchants managed to remain fully PCI compliant less than a year after getting their certification. This means that even though a website’s security may have been validated before, this doesn’t mean their current business processes or newly adopted systems are PCI compliant.

One of the largest global online retailers, eBay, fell victim to a security breach last year when a handful of their employee accounts were compromised and used to gain access to their customer database. Just last month, Google found a vulnerability in the Android operating system that allows hackers to access the phone’s data remotely via a multimedia message.

With the rise in cybercrime, consumers need to find a way to protect themselves when shopping online.

Preventing online fraud

MatchMove 2You can take precautionary measures to minimise the risk of fraud, but there is only one guaranteed way to prevent it – that is to stop using your credit or debit card to shop online altogether. Sounds impossible? Well, there are many other methods you can pay for goods online that don’t necessarily require you to use your credit card.

MatchMove Pay is one such solution that lets consumers shop online using a virtual MasterCard or American Express® Virtual Pay prepaid card. The concept of a prepaid credit card is commonplace in the USA but seldom talked about here in Singapore. MatchMove Pay takes it one step further by enabling anyone to get their own virtual prepaid card online or on mobile instantly.

How does it work?

Consumers top-up their MatchMove card only when they have something to buy. This can be done via secured top-up channels including the ATM, your bank’s online banking website and others. After adding funds, simply use the prepaid card to checkout your online purchases. It’s safer than a debit card because it is not linked to your bank account and works just like any credit card.

MatchMove 3

So even if a hacker manages to gain access to your MatchMove card details, they wouldn’t be able to use it without any funds. What’s more, MatchMove provides an additional layer of security through a dynamic card verification code (CVC) feature which generates a unique code every time you checkout a purchase.

There are also other benefits for using MatchMove Pay including monthly cash rebates of up to 50%, attractive lifestyle and travel offers, and a soon-to-be-launched loyalty rewards programme.

Is MatchMove reliable?

The company is invested in by Japan’s third largest credit card issuer, Credit Saison, an affiliate of the Mizuho Financial Group. MatchMove is also an official card issuer for MasterCard and American Express® and work closely with these financial institution to ensure the customer’s lifestyle needs and security are well taken care of. But don’t just take our word for it, find out what MatchMove users have to say:

MatchMove 4

Register Now to Receive Free $5 Credit!

Signup for a free MatchMove MasterCard wallet by clicking on this link to receive a $5 credit in your account. Limited to the first 100 Money Digest readers who register before 31 August 2015. All eligible signups will receive the $5 credit directly into your MatchMove wallet account by 7 September 2015.

(This article is brought to you by MatchMove Singapore)

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Things You Should Not Be Spending Too Much On

As all the expenses adult life throws at you outpour, it can be difficult to manage your finances regardless of how much you make. One of the best ways to improve your situation is to trim your daily costs. Figure out what exactly you are paying for by knowing which things you are spending too much on.

1. FOOD

If you have been eating restaurant food almost everyday because you do not cook much then, you really need to cutback on your food expenses. Here are some viable suggestions:

a. If eating out is unavoidable, you must eat smart by making healthier and cheaper choices in just 5 ways.

b. When you are shopping and cooking at home, think about these awesome veggies and fruit hacks that will help you to be healthy and to save more.

c. Just because the food is deemed or claimed as healthy – that does not mean it always is. For example, most diet often has enough protein intakes already but some people still add the protein powder. By doing so, the person is at risk of excess protein, which is actually bad for the health. When your normal eating diet is protein sufficient then, save on expensive medical bills by skipping the protein powder.

2. HANDPHONE INSURANCE

Yes! It is better safe than sorry but some of the Smartphone mishaps can be fixed or even prevented for less. Spare yourself some money and time by subtracting handphone insurance and Smartphone repair to your expenses. Here are some viable suggestions:

a. Instead of paying 3-4 months of handphone insurance because you are scared of water damage, a well-reviewed waterproof case will only cost you S$21.

b. With continued use; your charger may not fit as well into the port as it did before. The simple way to fix it is to use a sharp toothpick to remove the lint and dirt from the port. Clean the rest of your phone by using cotton swab/ cotton buds/ cotton tips with drops of distilled water on it.

c. Overtime, you may experience hearing an inferior sound when you plug the earphones into the “jack” (usually on the upper-right hand corner of the phone). To fix this audio quality, stick a cotton swab into the jack and use it to clear out any dirt.

3. GREETING CARDS

I know everyone would agree that those stores bought greeting cards are too pricey for its materials. A minimum of S$4 per card (i.e., price of a common brand) for every occasion and for every special someone can add to your expenses fast. Do not get me started with the price of famed Hallmark cards!

A frugal alternative is to print free greeting cards that are available online. I personally recommend the free printable cards, invitations, and envelopes from greetingsisland.com.

4. DIAMOND RINGS

Since wedding and engagement are events that happen once in a lifetime, people often rationalize their spending for the diamond rings. Jewelry, in general, is an expensive category in itself. Expensive jewelry plus an emotional event can result to overspending. If you try to spend less, you will feel guilty and cheap. Fortunately, you can negotiate with the prices by knowing the 4 C’s namely carat, clarity, color, and cut.

Image Credits: pixabay.com (License: CC0 Public Domain)

Image Credits: pixabay.com (License: CC0 Public Domain)

Now, you may ask the local jeweler if he or she is willing to change the setting of the ring for a discount or even for free. That will surely lower down the overall amount.

Sources: 1 & 2

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10 countries beyond Southeast Asia you may consider visiting next

Deciding on a country to visit can be a perpetual headache, especially when group consensus is needed. Indeed, given that there are 195 countries in the world today, reading up on the attributes of each country and comparing the alternatives can be painfully time-consuming. Determining whether a travel destination fits your personal preference is another uphill task.

However, with plummeting airfares and the plethora of fun-filled and enriching tourist activities available, it makes economic sense to take full advantage of them to gain maximum exposure to the world and widen one’s horizon.

Thus, this article aims to shorten this search-and-evaluate process by cherry-picking 10 popular destinations that appeal to most folks. It is specifically useful for potential tourists who plan to venture beyond the Southeast Asian territories and want to make the most out of their limited holiday budget.

Click to enlarge:

country

Is Italy next on your bucket list?

The Almafi Coast

The Almafi Coast, Italy (Image credit: http://benvenutoamalficoasttours.blogspot.sg)

Should you visit The Almafi Coast or Cinque Terre? Both are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. BENVENUTOLIMOS has done a comparison for you here.

Disclaimer: Individual experiences may differ and this flowchart is not meant to be exhaustive.

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How to Allocate your Portfolio

How to allocate your portfolio

(This article is brought to you by Some Ideas on Investing in Singapore)

I’m going to share some of the ways that you can allocate your portfolio according to the different amounts of money that you are able to invest (those above your emergency fund and not needed for any big-ticket purchases).

Straits Times has done a similar article on this topic, How to invest if you have $20k or more (19 Jul), but I disagree with some of their recommendations (especially since I don’t really like the idea of unit trusts and prefer index funds)

 

If you have around:

$10,000 (or less) to invest….

  • 100% Index funds or ETFs

You can place your money in index funds or an exchange-traded funds (ETFs), the latter can be bought and sold on the SGX like shares, but some of the funds are specified Special Investing Products (SIPs) and would require you to meet some criteria. This would give you diversification as investing in the fund will give you exposure to the different shares in the fund.

For example, investing in an index fund that tracks the Straits Times Index (STI) will spread your capital across the 30 shares that make up the STI, according to the size of the market cap of each company as the STI is a capitalization-weighted index.

$50,000 to invest….

  • 60% Index funds or ETFs 40% Stocks or REITs

Instead of investing in index funds or ETFs, if you are more adventurous, you can try investing in individual companies or REITs (but I think it’s still good to keep a good part of your portfolio in index funds or ETFs). Picking out individual companies will require a bit more time to research the companies on your own to pick out the good from the rest. The ability to pick out good companies will require some experience to master, but the potential returns will be much better than investing in index funds or ETFs if done well, but don’t try to do so if you’re not willing to put in time to learn and research as you may end up only paying “tuition fees”.

$100,000 (or more) to invest….

  • 70% Stocks or REITs 20% Bonds 10% Cash

With this amount, you may be able to purchase all of the 30 shares in the STI on your own to avoid the expense ratios of index funds and ETFs and another advantage would be getting dividends as the companies pay them instead of waiting for the funds to pay them out. You may still incur some minimum brokerage charges if you try this, but if held over a long enough period, this would be cheaper than using index funds or ETFs.

Another advantage of not using index funds and ETFs at this point is the ability to buy shares that you think may outperform the market. Let’s say you think that the finance sector may not do so well in Singapore, you can cut out the finance stocks, such as DBS, UOB and OCBC, and go for the companies that you think will outperform the market.

You may also want to keep some of your portfolio in bonds and cash as well to better protect your portfolio should the market enter a downturn, you still have an income and cash to take advantage of the drop in share prices to buy into the market at the cheaper prices.

I think that this is a good way to invest if you have above $100,000, unless you have amounts in the millions in which case I have not much idea of how to invest in that region.

Summary

Overall I support index funds and ETFs as a good way for people with smaller portfolios to be able to access a wide diversification across different shares in the index that the fund covers. (You can see my post on indexing at: Thoughts on Indexing) As your portfolio grows, you may want to move into individual shares as they offer the potential for better returns and with your larger investment, it would make more sense to spend more time researching the companies (amount earned over time is higher).

When investing in the market, you may also want to practice dollar-cost averaging to ensure that you do not enter the market at too high a price and get your fingers burnt when the market drops, but don’t invest too small amounts such that you spend a large amount of your money on minimum brokerage fees. While it’s good to diversify to reduce your exposure to any one company, investing in too many companies dilutes the returns of the “winners” that you have chosen.

 

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