Sunday, July 14, 2019

Updates on Life after 1 month plus of not blogging

Its been 1 month plus since my last post on 29 May. Many things were keeping me busy in life and I've been keeping things to myself struggling to understand what I was thinking about life myself. The whole of June I was still busy with work while planning for a Japan trip the whole of the month. I was so looking forward to the trip in end of June that everyday I went home after work its about more research on the trip itself. I've always wanted to go Japan and finally made the dream come true with a short 5 days trip to Tokyo. It was an eye opening experience.

Walking around Shinjuku in Tokyo

I came back from the trip around 2 weeks ago and was back to the usual busyness of work and life. I didn't have the energy to do anything after work and weekends is mostly spent with the same routine of spending time with my fiancee on Saturday and exercise on Sunday plus spend time with my family. There are lots of things to plan for our big day next year which is getting closer each day. I also had catch up with my friends as well.

Life is full of surprises in a sense that there are always ups and downs. For me, its no different and I struggle to keep myself happy on some days and sink into gloominess. It gets worse and worse when I see the struggles in my life and also in other people's life. I get worried on certain occasions about health, money and so on. Many things have happened in the past 2 years seeing some loved ones gone, some in poor health and this worries me a lot. I no longer focus so much on money anymore as I felt life is getting shorter and shorter. I do hope this feeling is normal and I'm not the only one who feels this way.

One of the reasons I stopped blogging for so long is because of all these negative emotions and I wanted to hide it and to be alone. In the 5 years of starting this blog, I don't think I have stopped for so long before. Now, I feel better and ready to take on life challenges again and wanted to share this episode in my life with all of you. If you're also facing life challenges and feel that life is hard, do not give up as you will definitely be stronger after this. Life is not always smooth sailing and there will always be problems to deal with. Yes we may get tired so we need some time to relax and recharge again. In this instance, spending money on good food and going overseas may be the best thing to do.

For work, its always busy even after 9 months on my new job. This is my 3rd job and its the most hectic among all my jobs so far but its also the job I find most meaningful to do. I've been tasked with big projects to really change things which I feel happy to take on. The working environment has been good and people are generally nicer here in the healthcare sector. This is also the 3rd industry I've changed to and its interesting to learn new things and see how different industries in Singapore operate.

For investments, its been a good year even with the trade war still ongoing. Stocks have went up crazily and with my portfolio made up of mostly blue chips and REITs, it benefited a lot. My portfolio is already up 11.3% for the year and I've started to sold some of the stocks such as Frasers L&I and Starhill global REIT. One of my favorite stock, Ascendas Hospitality trust is having a merger with Ascott residence trust and I think the offer is quite decent. In any case, I've held this stock for many years with almost 100% return on investments already including dividends received. This is the highest dividend yielding stock in my portfolio at 8.4% for many years. Its a pity I can't get that kind of dividend yield anymore if the deal goes through.

I do feel life is short and I want to enjoy fully what life has to offer. Someone younger than me and whom I'm close to passed on a few years back and till now its still hard to accept the loss. There are other things that happened but I shall not mention here. Life situations has changed my view towards it and I hope its a good change for now.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Most Cost Effective Way To Plan Your Travel Without Compromising on Quality

Travelling is the most common hobby which we as Singaporeans have. I see most people travel at least once a year and increasingly people are travelling multiple times a year. I love travelling also and its really to see more of the world outside as we live in a really small city in Singapore.

In this article, I'll share how I plan my travel for this coming year and some tips you could follow to really get some good deals out there. Its not about getting the cheapest option to travel as it would mean compromising on quality but its about finding the most cost effective way to plan a good relaxing travel experience.

Booking the flight

When it comes to travelling, booking the flight is always the first step. I use the website skyscanner to search for flight to the destination I want. Its easy just key in your destination and dates and click search and this website will search for the best flight across almost all airlines in the world. You can also filter base on your budget, preference for direct or transfer flights or the airlines you want.


Flexible on your dates? You can also choose to find the lowest flight tickets for the whole month by searching using the whole month as shown below:


After selecting the month (eg June), click search and it will show you a calendar view of the lowest flights available for the whole month:


That's it. You can find the best deal for your flight by using the method above.

Another tip is all airlines have several promotions at certain periods. You can subscribe to email alerts on the airlines website and you will get notified when there are promotions ongoing.


Booking the Hotel

The next major step for your travel plan is to find a good hotel to stay in. Trivago is a good website I always use to find the best deals out there. This website search for hotels in any destinations and then compares the best price across all other hotel websites such as Expedia, booking.com, hotels.com, Agoda and many more. Most of us may just search our hotels on one website such as Expedia but with Trivago, you can compare across all websites with just a click.

For hotels, besides the price as a comparison, I always emphasize on the location as well as the reviews. To me, staying in a good location will save time and also good reviews means a better stay and better travelling experience. With Trivago, you can sort the hotels by ratings and even see them on a map view.


After you find a hotel in a good location with good reviews, just select view deal and it will take you to the website which has the best deal to book your hotel.

Getting good hotel deals doesn't just stop here. If you own credit cards, banks do offer special deals for hotel bookings also. For example, Citibank card holders get 10% off hotel bookings on Expedia with any Citi card. Do note you can get this offer only if you book through the URL www.expedia.com.sg/citibank with promo code CITIEXPSG. I'm sure other bank credit cards do have such promo also so do check out the banks website for more information.

*Apply for Citi Cash Back card and get $300 worth of vouchers here



Buying travel insurance

The next thing to consider is travel insurance. To me this is quite important to get a peace of mind and its not too expensive also. NTUC is so far my favorite travel insurance as I've made claims before due to an unexpected cancellation of trip and they refunded me for all the expenses I incurred on flights and all that. NTUC almost always have discount on their travel insurance plans. The highest I've seen is 45% discount while most of the time is around 30%-40% discount.

FWD is another increasingly popular travel insurance which you can consider. They are the cheapest so far in the market but I'm not sure how good the claim process is? If you've claimed travel insurance from FWD before, do leave a comment below to share your good or bad experiences.


Getting internet in a foreign country

Wifi/data is extremely important for us now who can't live without our phones. Its also important when we need to use it to navigate around in a foreign country. If you're travelling in a group, you can consider Changi Recommends portable Wifi device which is quite affordable in my opinion. This device can connect multiple devices at a time to use the internet. Its as low as $4 for Asian countries including Japan and sometimes they offer promo with 2 free days off which they have currently. The best thing about Changi Wifi is you can collect and return the device  at the airport in all terminals.

Another alternative is to use your own Telco's mobile roaming plans. Singtel offers data roaming at $5-$12 per month for 1GB of data in up to 9 different countries. If you're travelling to multiple countries, this is a good choice. Starhub also has this happy prepaid card which has data roaming plans you can choose. I used this when I went to Australia 2 years back and it was quite affordable with good coverage.


Book travel attractions and transportation on Klook

While you're planning your travel, you would also need to book transportation or maybe local travel packages to enjoy your travel experience more. I always book any additional travel plans I need through Klook where I get can discounted tickets to attractions and transportation options.

For example, if you're going to Tokyo, you can book the train tickets on Klook at a discount and collect at Tokyo's airports on the day you arrive. You can also book Disneyland tickets in advance at a discount.

If you're new to Klook, you can get $5 immediately on Klook using my link here. Now you can book your travel experiences easily without any hassle.




Get additional cash back on Shopback

To push it even further, we can get additional cash back through Shopback. Shopback is my favourite cash back site to use not just for travel but for online shopping and almost any other things as well.

You can get cash back on flight bookings, hotel bookings as well. Look at all the places you can get cashback below:


I've got almost $50 in my Shopback account for me to cash out so far. You can use my lin6k to sign up and get $5 in your account straight away. I get $5 in return too.


Summary

Planning for travel becomes easier with all the resources out there. Let me summarise the complete travel plan below:

1. Search flights on skyscanner
2. Search for hotels using trivago or check your bank credit card privileges
3. Buy travel insurance with discount
4. Get wifi/data with Changi wifi or your Telco's data roam
5. Book travel attractions and transportation with Klook ($5 giveaway here)
6. Use credit card to pay for all the above to earn miles or cashback (Get $300 worth of vouchers when you apply here)
7. Get additional cashback with Shopback ($5 giveaway here)

That's a comprehensive travel plan! Any other ideas? Leave your comments below.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Latest Comparison of High Interest Savings Accounts in Singapore - May 2019

There have been numerous changes to the banks' interest rates in Singapore lately. As interest rates rises for loans, good news for savers who have savings in the bank as the interest we can get on our savings account is increasing as well.

However, the interest on normal savings account is still not increasing but the banks have come up with more creative ways to attract customers and offer higher interest with some small conditions. Let's take a look at which are the best high interest rates account in Singapore today?


OCBC 360

This is the bank account which I have most of my money in right now. They have revised their interest rates upwards without me not having to do any additional thing from before so those who already own this account will be happy to hear that as well.

The conditions is simple for this account. Let me summarise it:
  1. Salary credit of at least $2000 to OCBC 360 and you will get 1.2% on first $35,000 and 2% on next $35,000. 
  2. Spend at least $500 on OCBC credit cards and get 0.3% on first $35,000 and 0.6% on next $35,000
  3. Increase account balance by at least $500 as compared to the previous month, get 0.3% on first $35,000 and 0.6% on next $35,000
  4. Insure or invest with OCBC Bank and get 0.6% on first $35,000 and 1.2% on next $35,000

In summary, those who hold more than $35,000 to $70,000 in OCBC 360 account will enjoy much higher interest than before. As you can see, just by having salary credit will earn you 2% for the next $35,000 in the bank account which is quite a decent interest rate to me.

$70,000 savings in OCBC 360 account with salary credit will get you interest of $1120 per year just like that. This is close to $100 per month free money.


CIMB Fastsaver

For those who have extra cash lying around, CIMB fastsaver account is a no frails account which gives up to 1.5% interest with no conditions at all.  It was 1% previously for first $50,000 in the account but they revised it to include 1.5% for the next $25,000.
  • First $50,000 - 1% p.a.
  • Above S$50,000 to S$75,000 - 1.5% p.a.
  • Above $75,000 - 0.6% p.a.
This is quite a good account which I am using also. No salary credit, no credit card spend or anything required at all to earn that higher interest.


Standard Chartered Bonus$aver - $100 account opening special

The next account gives pretty high interest for those who can meet its conditions. With salary credit of at least $3000 and spending of $500 per month on a SCB card linked to the bonus$aver account, you can get 1.78% interest on the first $100,000. If you can spend $2000 per month with the salary credit, then you get a very substantial total interest rate of 2.78%. 
  • Salary credit of at least $3000 with monthly credit card spend of $500 - 1.78% p.a.
  • Salary credit of at least $3000 with monthly credit card spend of $2000 - 2.78% p.a.
Furthermore, there is a special account opening deal of $100 cash when you open an account. You can apply for the bank account through this link to get your deal. This deal is in partnership with Singsaver. 


You can pair this savings account with the SCB unlimited card to get additional unlimited 1.5% cashback on all eligible spends. You can apply for the card here and get $100 cash + up to S$120 cashback from SCB. 


DBS Multiplier Account

The last account worth mentioning is the DBS multiplier account. Previously, they only give higher interest for the first $50,000 in the bank account but this has been revised to $100,000. However, there are certain conditions and it may be a little complicated for those who are new to this account.

Getting higher interest on the first $50,000 is easy as we just have to have our salary credited and have another category such as credit card spend. This will earn us at least 1.55% on the first $50,000 only. For the next $50,000 to earn higher interest, we'll have to have our salary credited plus additional 3 or more categories such as credit card spend, home loan installment, investment or insurance. You can get a minimum of 2% interest on $100,000 in your bank account if you meet the above salary credit + 3 or more other categories. Otherwise, in my opinion, the OCBC 360 still works better to get higher interest for the first $75,000 without having to meet so many categories.


Best Cashback Credit Card

Apart from getting higher interest on our savings in our bank accounts, we can also get cashback for our spending with cashback credit cards. I saw this promo by Singsaver on the Citi Cash Back card which they are giving out $300 NTUC, Taka or Grab codes for new customers. This is surprisingly quite a generous offer to give out $300 worth of vouchers.

Citi cashback credit card offers 8% cashback on Dining, Groceries, Petrol & Grab rides daily, worldwide with a min. spend of S$888 per statement month. You can apply for the Citi cashback card here to claim your offer or view other cashback cards available here.


The offer ends on 9 June 2019. In this battle of the cards, you can get an additional $50 if you "choose" (apply & get approved) for the winning card. You can also get a chance to win a trip to Tokyo per battle! 

All you need to do is: 
1) Apply & get approved for the winning card 
2) Click on "Submit to Win" and write why you think the card will win.

Click on the above image to find out more!

Let your money roll!

I've always try to make the best out of my money with all the deals out there. The interest which I get on a high interest bank account such as the OCBC 360 is far better than what I would get in a normal savings account. It just takes the initial setup to open the bank account and thereafter the interest will be credited to my savings account on a monthly basis. I can get more than $100 in interest per month just like that.

Pairing the high interest savings account with cash back credit cards is a smart way to make our money work harder for us. Hope this article helped you in searching for the best savings account and cashback credit cards out there with the deals you can get at this moment.

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