Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How much does studying in the United Kingdom cost?

Have you wondered how much does it cost to study overseas? Find out more in the guest post by sgeducate below.

How much does studying in the United Kingdom cost?

An undergraduate degree from a foreign university has longed been seen as unattainable for the average Singaporean. Mind-boggling school fees, coupled with astronomical living expenses have made many cringe at the mere thought of sending their child overseas.  Indeed, such an experience does not come cheap. The United States, United Kingdom and Australia are popular study destinations, where the exchange rate rarely works in our favour.  Yet, speaking to several of my counterparts has made me realize that some overestimate the cost of an overseas education. So, how much does studying abroad really cost? In this article, we will look at the cost of studying in the UK.


United Kingdom

The cost of studying in the UK is dependent on location (London vs Non-London) and the course chosen. We will select two schools as a basis of comparison.

University of College London (Based in London):

Fees (2015 entry): £15,660 for most Arts/Humanities/Social-Sciences courses. £20,700 for most Science and Engineering programmes. £30,800 for Medicine.

Living Expenses (30-week academic year + Easter & Christmas vacation) 
1) Accommodation: £5850
2) Food: £2145
3) Travel: £888
4) Books/Equipment: £390
5) Leisure: £1950

Total Living Expenses: £11223

Based on the calculations above, a student studying in UCLwill have to fork out roughly (per year):

Arts/Humanities/Social-Sciences: £15,660 + £11223 = £26883 ≈ 56,240 SGD
Science/ Engineering: £20,700 + £11223 = £31923 ≈ 66,784 SGD
Medicine: £30,800 + £11223 = £42023 ≈ 87,905 SGD

For a three-year arts course in UCL, it will cost roughly 169K SGD.

University of Bristol:

Fees (2015/2016 entry): £15,200 for most Arts courses, £18300 for science courses and £18,300(first two years) + £33,900 (subsequent 3 years) for medicine.

Living Expenses (30-week academic year + Easter & Christmas vacation) 
1) Accommodation: £5460
2) Food: £1100
3) Travel: £750
4) Books/Equipment: £300
5) Leisure: £1500

Total Living Expenses: £9110

Based on the calculations above, a student studying in Bristol will have to fork out roughly (per year):

Arts: £15,200 + £9110 = £24310 ≈ 50,852 SGD
Science/ Engineering: £18,300 + £9110 = £27,410 ≈ 57,335 SGD
Medicine: £27,410 ≈ 57,335 (years 1 and 2) , £43010 ≈ 89,978 SGD ( each subsequent year)

For a three-year arts course in Bristol, it will cost roughly 153K SGD.

Evidently, based on the estimates above, studying in London is more expensive than studying in other cities. Having broken down the figures, I hope that you would have a better understanding of how much it costs to study in the UK.

*Do note that the above figures are based on estimations and information available on the websites of various Universities. Airfares have not been included in the calculations. Costs will vary depending on the school chosen, how one controls personal expenditure and changes in the exchange rate.

*This is a guest post by sgeducate. Republished with permission
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Monday, February 23, 2015

National CashFlow Competition 2015

Have you ever thought that you could have a glimpse of your future in Singapore and understand how making the right financial decisions can affect your life indefinitely? Do you think that making decisions on buying a house, buying insurance, investing in stocks, bonds and even starting a business is too much to handle? Are you confused about how economic events can affect your financial life?

As a young person growing up in Singapore, inevitably we will have concerns for the future. Now, with a newly designed board game called Asset Finesse™ (AF), we can experience making financial decisions for our future. The best thing is when we make a wrong decision, we can learn from it and not make the same mistake in our real lives.

I've been invited to play this game a couple of times now. This game has a realistic element to our lives in Singapore. It is a revelation of how our life will turn out in the future base on the financial decisions we make. For the first time in history, you too can experience this game through an annual financial board game competition called National CashFlow organised by NTU Interactive Investment Club (NTU IIC) and sponsored by Great Eastern Life Assurance Co Ltd.

All of us can join this competition regardless whether we are studying or working.

What Is National CashFlow Competition 2015?

National CashFlow Competition (NCF) 2015, is the largest annual event proudly presented to you by NTU-IIC. This year, the committee is happy to introduce a newly designed board game, Asset Finesse™ (AF). This board game is suitable for anyone who seeks to understand the economics of Singapore as well as learn to appreciate the uniqueness of a small but powerful country. More importantly, it provides players with a fun-learning experience about finance in general.

There will be 3 categories:

  1. Secondary - For Secondary Schools in Singapore
  2. Tertiary - For JCs, Polys and ITEs
  3. Open - For undergraduates and any members of the public 

On the day itself, all categories will compete separately at the preliminary round (participants only have to go through one round). Winner from each table at the preliminary round will then proceed to the final round.

Highlights of Asset Finesse:

  • Singapore context -> CPF token, HDB flat, baby bonus
  • Economy cards -> The economy state will keep changing throughout the game (thriving, steady, flat and poor outlook)
  • Objective: accumulate net assets of 200k 
  • Insurance events such as natural disaster/fire/illness -> highlight the importance of having an insurance 

What can you look forward to?

  • Get to play the newly created board game, Asset Finesse™
  • Be INTRODUCED to the fundamentals of the various investment platforms
  • Be TRAINED in financial literacy-- read financial statements and manage your assets
  • HONE your skills in accounting, wealth management and investing in a risk-free environment
  • Look forward to a FUN learning experience with our enthusiastic and dynamic facilitators​
  • FREE Goodie Bags, ATTRACTIVE prizes, NEW friends and MANY MORE​ waiting for you!
The top three prizes will be given to winners from EACH category. Other participants will be entitled to lucky draw prizes as well as goodie bags.

First prize is a 13-inch MacBook Air!!

Details​ of the Actual Day Event

Date: Saturday, 21st March 2015
Time: 0930 to 2000 hrs
Venue: Great Eastern Centre, Centre for Excellence (Raffles Place)

Registration Fees: $10 per participant
(You will be entitled to free event T-shirt, free Goodie bag and stand a chance to win Macbook Air)

Training Sessions

Participants are welcome to come down for a FREE training session conducted by the NCF team. The details of the public training session are as follow:
Date:    Saturday, 28th February 2015
Time:   1000 to 1200 hrs (1st session) or 1230 to 1430 hrs (2nd session)
Venue: S4-SR3
             Nanyang Business School
             50 Nanyang Avenue, Nanyang Technological University, 639798

Note: Register for this training session via

A mass training session will also be conducted for all participants one week prior to the actual event day. The details are as follow:
Date: Saturday, 14th March 2015
Time: 0900 to 1200 hrs (Secondary School Category)
          1400 to 1700 hrs (Tertiary/Open Category)

Venue: Great Eastern Centre, Centre for Excellence (Raffles Place)


Wait no longer! Sign up now by clicking on the link below and get ready for a day of fun!​

Registration deadline: 12th March 2015, 2359 HRS

For more updates and details, do visit their Facebook page at​ or their website at

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Personal Message To My Readers

I have been so busy the past 2 weeks that I didn't manage to write a proper post for this week. As such, I thought of just writing a personal message to all of you here during my lunch break at work.

I am mostly anonymous on my blog but in recent times, I've started to slowly meet up with people out there and reveal my true identity. More and more people have come to know of my blog and while talking to a few friends recently, I mentioned its getting more scary that people all around me are reading the stuff that I write. I have friends and family members coming to tell me that their friends are also reading my blog and I see my own friends sharing my posts on Facebook as well. One of the most surprising thing was I got to know that one of my articles was actually used as reading materials in a local university.

The articles I write caters mainly to young people as what many of you might have realised. I know that finance topics can be quite complicated so I always try to keep things simple. I like simplicity in life.

This year, I will be even more busier with events, writing more articles, more networking sessions and meet ups and speaking engagements. I would never have imagined that I would get involve in all these 2 years ago. A passion, which started the blog, to reach out to young people, had created opportunities for me. I had the chance to meet up with high profile and influential people which was a humbling learning experience for me.

I always say that finding your passion in life is important. It does attract opportunities into your life and it also attract successful people into your life. Money comes after that. Talking about money, just this 2 months alone, my estimated passive and extra income is set to cross over 1.5k now.

Some of you may be experiencing financial difficulties in your family which made you realise the importance of financial planning. Some of you may have gotten yourself into financial problems because of bad financial decisions in the past. But, no matter how big your problem is, always remember to look ahead to a better future. Change the way you think, change your lifestyle, choose wisely the people whom you associate with and you'll be on your way to success.

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Here's wishing everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai!! Enjoy the reunion, the gatherings and the holidays!!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Readers' Challenge - Increasing Your Active and Passive Income

In the previous readers' challenge, I gave a challenge to save 50% of your income by setting up an automatic fund transfer. However, saving money has its limits if our income is too low. Therefore, increasing income is also important. But don't get me wrong. You still must focus on saving money if you've not done so. If you already have the habit of saving, then increasing income is the next step for you.

There are many ways to increase our income both in active and passive terms. Active income means the income we earn from our active work where we exchange time for money. Passive income means the income we earn from money working for us. Hence, we can basically earn money in two ways, we work for money or money working for us.

Increasing your Active and Passive Income

Increasing income is not as straight forward as saving money. It takes time to build up our capacity to earn more. But, once we have built it up, it becomes easier and easier.

Here are some ways which I think can potentially increase our income:

1. Upgrade your Professional Skills 

Upgrading our skills set is probably the most basic thing that we can do to increase our active income. Taking up relevant certification courses will enhance our profile which may get us a higher paying job.

2. Learn Communication Skills

Certification will only help us to gain entry into a job. Whether we will excel in our career will depend a lot on how we interact with people. Do you interact well with your boss? If you're a manager do you interact well with your staff? In our work, we probably can't do everything alone and have to depend on some of our other colleagues to get a job done. Good communication skills will definitely help us to work better with other people.

3. Expand your Network

The people we know in our lives will determine our future. Building up meaningful relationships with people in our industry may prove to be useful somewhere in the future. If you choose the right network to build upon, your chances of success can increase a lot.

4. Discover and Build on your Passion

Passion is a powerful force. I've written a few articles on passion in my blog and am an advocate of finding your passion in life. Passion makes us excel in the things we do. We spend hours upon hours on something we are passionate about. A person who's passionate in art will spend many hours drawing. A person who's passionate in sports will spend many hours training and sweating it out. The end result is they become so good at it that people notice their talents and approach them. They get opportunities from everywhere.

If you've yet to discover your passion in life, take some time off your busy schedule and think about your interest. What are the things in life that makes you excited? Keep searching and never give up. Finding your true passion will make your life more meaningful instead of just living everyday without a purpose.

The Challenge - Start another Stream of Income 

Focusing on increasing our current income is important but have you thought of starting another stream of income? Some of my friends I know still teach tuition apart from their full time job. Some are doing their own freelance jobs such as selling property or even health products. Others like me are blogging and writing which happens to earn some money apart from the passion which started it.

Doing a side line job is a good way to have another stream of income. But, the problem is it takes up our time and time is limited in our lives. We still need time for our family, our friends and our own rest and recreation needs.

Apart from doing a side line job which is an active income, we can start another stream of income by creating passive income. Passive income is money working for you. This can be done through investing in property and collecting rent from tenants, investing in stocks and collecting dividends, creating a product/intellectual property and collecting royalties.

Actions to take for this challenge

1. Start a side line job if you have the time

Apart from teaching tuition, those of you who like to write can also be freelance writers who get paid perfor every article written. Those who can do web site designing can also be freelance web designers. Or you can even be a freelance translator, proofreader etc. Check out Elance for freelance job opportunities.

2. Learn how to invest to create passive income

You can invest in virtually everything. You can be an investor in a business, invest in stocks, invest in properties etc. One thing to take note of is to invest in something within your circle of competence. Putting your money into something you are not familiar with is never a good idea.

3. Learn to create your own products/intellectual property. 

A good way to start exploring is to know what you are interested in. Examples of people who have created their own products are book authors who have the passion to write on specific topics, singers who record their own album, artist who create stunning art pieces.

4. Sell your own Stuff

There are many avenues to sell any kind of products online now. Got some unwanted clothes, gadgets, accessories that you want to sell? You can try this app called Carousell where you can sell virtually anything. It is quite popular now that I hear many of my friends talking about it. You can just make a couple of hundred dollars just by selling your unwanted stuffs at home.

Are you ready to take up the challenge? Try some of the ideas above and you'll be on your way to a richer life.

Enjoyed my articles? 
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Related Posts:
1. Readers' Challenge - Cutting Down Your Expenses in 2015 To Save 50% of Your Money
2. Make Money Investing For Passive Income

Thursday, February 5, 2015

CPF Advisory Panel's Recommendations - 3 Basic Options You Need To Know

The first round of changes to the CPF system has been announced just a few days ago. From what I see, most of the changes are just renaming of the terms which were used previously with a few other additional flexibility to the system. This was indeed what a lot of people want for the system, to have more flexibility in handling their CPF monies. Let's take a look at the changes recommended.

The changes can be sum up into 3 different options as below:

1. Basic Retirement Sum (BRS)

It was previously not known to many people that they can actually pledge their property to leave just half of the minimum sum and draw out the rest in cash. Many people are still confused by the word minimum sum which has been completely removed in this round of changes. So, if you're still confused by what the term minimum sum means, you don't have to crack your head about it any more. Just forget about it.

The BRS will be set at $80,500 and be increased 3% every year from 2017 to 2020. If you set aside this BRS of $80,500 at age 55, the basic payout you'll be eligible at age 65 is about $650 to $700 for life. Your property will still be pledged in this instance. This BRS sum is half of the Full retirement sum below.

2. Full Retirement Sum (FRS)

Now, this is where the word minimum sum is replaced. The FRS is what we called the Minimum sum previously. This amount will be set at $161,000 for those turning 55 in 2016. If you set aside this amount at age 65, you can expect a full payout of $1200 to $1300 a month for life. If you do not pledge your property, most likely you'll be under this option.

3. Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS)

This is a new initiative which is being recommended. The amount is set at a maximum of  $241,500 (3x the Basic Retirement Sum). This means anyone who wants to top up extra either from their excess CPF or cash to their CPF Life (Retirement Account) can do so to enjoy higher payouts at the payout eligibility age of 65. If they top up to the maximum of $241,500 by age 65, they can expect to receive $1750 to $1900 per month for life.

There you go, 3 basic options that you need to know for the changes to the CPF system. Besides the 3 basic options, there are also other additional details which you may want to take note of:

1. Flexibility to withdraw your Retirement account savings at age 65

If you turn 55 from 2013 or later, you can withdraw up to 20% of your Retirement Account savings at age 65. This is inclusive of the $5000 that can be withdrawn from age 55.

2. Draw down age is renamed to Payout eligibility age 

The payout eligibility age is at age 65. This is the time where you can start getting monthy payouts from your CPF account depending on the amount you have set before (BRS, FRS or ERS).

3. Start your payouts later, up to age 70

There is an option to start receiving monthly payouts at a later age. The advantage is every year you defer the payouts, monthly payouts permanently increase by 6-7%.

4. Top up your spouse’s CPF so that he/she can also have higher payout

Any amount you have above your Basic Retirement sum can be transferred to your spouse's special or Retirement account if you choose to.


The 3 basic options basically allows us to decide how much we want as payout for retirement when we reach age 65. You can receive about $650-$700 per month under the BRS, $1200-$1300 per month under the FRS and a maximum of $1750-$1900 per month under the ERS.

I suppose more changes will be announced on a later date. With the 3 options and the flexibility to withdraw 20% of our retirement savings at age 65, I think in a sense, it does make the system more flexible. The basic purpose of the CPF to provide for retirement needs still applies. Let's see what other changes will be announced in due course.

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Related Posts:
1. Queries on CPF minimum sum - Pledging your property
2. Changes to the CPF - CPF Focus Group Discussion
3. Return our CPF?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Your Love Relationship and The Stock Market

Do you remember the last time you fell in love with someone you like? What were the emotions you experienced? You would probably feel excited but at the same time tensed. You may even feel happy but at the same time think how can this be real? Some people say relationships are only exciting during the so called honeymoon period and  becomes less exciting and more comfortable after some time. So how do all these relates to our journey investing in the stock market?

The stock market is full of emotions. It is more complicated than a love relationship between 2 person and even more complicated than a love triangle situation. The stock market is made up of emotions of hundreds of thousands and even millions of people. How does it look like in a chart?


There are so much emotions as you can see from the chart above. Its like an emotional roller coaster ride. Every investor will go through the stages of excitement, thrill, fear, panic, hope and optimism. Let's take a look at the stages a new investor would probably go through:

1. Excitement


Most new investors who want to start investing would start with excitement. Its like they really fall in love with the stock market. Out of the people I met so far, I've never seen anyone who starts investing without feeling excited. However, when there is excitement, most would forget that they need to be logical as well. This happens in a love relationship as well. It seems like when we fall in love, we forget all about our brains.

2. Thrill

This is the so called honeymoon period in a relationship. The thrill to meet one another everyday. The thrill to talk to one another everyday. This emotion is much more exciting than the excitement phase. For investing, new investors get the thrill when they make some money from the stocks they buy. The stocks start to go up and they see their portfolio increase from $100 profit to $1000 profit to $10,000 profit. This is the thrill which is very real.

3. Fear


Thrill and excitement dies off after awhile for most of the events in our lives. The dream job which you thought would last you for the next 10 years becomes boring after just 1 year. The excitement and thrill of owning that new gadget dies off after awhile. The thrill of a new relationship becomes more comfortable and mundane after sometime when you realise that your partner may not be that perfect. This is the real test for us. For investing, the stocks you bought is losing money. It does not seem as perfect as what you imagined it to be. Now you might be thinking, should I sell or should I average down and buy more? It is very hard to make a decision when you have fear.

4. Panic

After fear comes panic where we make rash decisions. For love relationships, we may end up quarrelling and breaking up. There are lots of hurts involved when we make panic decisions. For investing, we lose so much money that we just sell the stocks away, not thinking whether is it the right thing to do?

In relationships, you'll realise that there are no perfect people out there. In investing, you'll realise that there are no guaranteed money making stocks out there. This is the stage where we really need to calm ourselves down and think carefully on why we started the relationship or invested in that stock in the first place? The partner you chose to be with may not be that perfect now but he or she is probably the same person whom you first knew. The stocks which you bought may be going down a lot in price but it may still be the same company which you know is strong. The fundamentals may still be good.

If you calm yourself down now and make the right decisions, you may realise that the partner you have is still good and you can invest more time and fall in love all over again. If you think that the stocks you bought seems to be still fundamentally stable, you can invest more and average down the price.

On the other hand, if you've thought about it carefully and think that the situation is different from the first time you encountered, then you should cut loss and move on. This applies for both relationships and investing in the stock market.

5. Hope and Optimism

If you've made the right decisions in point 4 above, then hope and optimism comes into your life. Your relationship with your partner becomes stronger now as you put in more effort for it. The investments you average down is going back up and you start seeing profits.


There are also times when we have to cut loss for our investments. If we know we invested for the wrong reasons in the first place or we are not sure why we invested in that particular stock, cutting loss will let us have a new beginning with clearer direction for our portfolio.

For relationships, sometimes a break up may be inevitable if both are really not compatible. In this case, its better to move on where there will always be hope for a better future.

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Related Posts:
1. Investing during a market crash