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I work in accounting and do balance sheets, budgets and cashflow @ work. In my free time, I apply what I learn in school and work to my personal finance and have learned quite a bit over the past 12 years. I feel I have reached a point where it would be really good to share some of the lessons I paid my tuition fees (ie lost $$), so that others could learn and benefit without paying those fees. =) I really think this would be a good way for me to contribute to society and hopefully help a few folks to get through in life.

Takingstock @

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I work in accounting and do balance sheets, budgets and cashflow @ work. In my free time, I apply what I learn in school and work to my personal finance and have learned quite a bit over the past 12 years. I feel I have reached a point where it would be really good to share some of the lessons I paid my tuition fees (ie lost $$), so that others could learn and benefit without paying those fees. =) I really think this would be a good way for me to contribute to society and hopefully help a few folks to get through in life.

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Takingstock @

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  • Questions (8)
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Investments

Stocks Discussion

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Answered 6d ago
I second stocks cafe. The data I can gather from it becomes essentially part of my own financial tracking process (which is still mainly excel).

Investments

Savings

Loans

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Answered 2w ago
How much experience do you have with investing? If nil or little, my suggestion is keep 3-5k as your investing budget while you learn it, the rest to earn some interest in a decent yield account while paying off the loan. Reasons - if you lose it all (worst case scenario), 3-5k is a tolerable amount. - decent yield bank account - keep the money safe, earn some interest, while you also learn to manage your money. It can be your emergency fund as well. - pay off the loan as it comes. I think tuition loans are a good kind of debt, not too high, and good purpose. Use the chance to learn how interest works, and imagine what 2% monthly on credit card outstanding balance can be like. This will help you in learning what is the balance you like in future loans like hdb loan, credit cards, or medical loans. My suggestion hits multiple purpose for your learning over money. Hope it helps.

Investments

Insurance

Endowment Policies

Savings

Stocks Discussion

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Answered 3w ago
Hmmm, just go with either 1) a regular savings plan into index funds or etfs, preferably in more global based indexes. The approach should be low fees (preferably below 1%), regular contribution, so at least you participate and get the average returns of the market. 2) something low risk like higher interest bank accounts (like ocbc 360, dbs multiplier and the like), and some Singapore savings bond. 3) a mix of both. Personally I keep my reserves and money required for short to medium term in (2), and allocate the remainder to some regular savings plan into stocks (1). You could do a simple allocation like 50:50, or maybe 33:66 and adjust thereafter accordingly. For index funds, go with US, global etc that does not particular focus on any industry or sector. The whole point is to participate in the average, so you get returns similar to the average (its not easy to beat the average).

Investments

General

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Answered 3w ago
Been using Stocks Cafe (paid for extra functions) for three years. I like it a lot, and use it throughout my daily life because 1) I put in fees and costs as accurately as possible, when doing trades / rebalancing, I always cross check my cost position (net of dividends) in the app to know the gain / loss before a buy / sell. I found that over the years, my Iocbc app is not showing me the real p&l, because I dont input my rights issue, or additional fees in there, so the quantity and cost can be "a bit off". 2) Its a one source stop for everything, including dividend history, and some data. Sometimes its easier to figure out how much dividends a stock pays per year, when it pays from the app's data, then it is to figure out different formats in investor relations or sgx. I actually use the dividend data to update ny spreadsheet of my dividend cashflow by month. 3) You can custom some columns of data when looking at portfolio, or watchlist, its good for me to have that, when thinking about certain investment decisions. The app even calculates certain risk measures like VaR and offers some simulation. 4) Some blogs and news are fed there. Nowadays I am more used to reading either some of the blogs, business news, rather than facebook. 5) Shared portfolios are available, and other general statistics. Sometimes you can see what others are buying / selling / holding, useful as a reference.

Education

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Updated 3w ago
See if there a way you can attempt to juggle both? I dont know what your first major is, but from a practical point of view, having a business / finance / accounting background helps you in your future career... A lot. As an accountant / business partner, the examples I can quote: 1) you become a trusted / dependable resource that your boss like. Mgmt (ie CEO / CFO / COO) outlines the business strategy for the year... Having the background can help you see what the company direction is, and how it affects your job, be it to increase sales, improve returns / efficiency / cut out unprofitable or unsustainable offices, do research with better prospects / ROI. And you learn what direction you should be taking to stay in line with the corporate strategy. Likewise, what you shouldn't do unless you want to get fired. 2) you become a department head. Finance gives you a budget for upcoming year. As the department head, you will have to trim expenses or increase some sales / revenue to help offset, so that you dont affect the things / projects / staff you want to keep. Having the background helps you learn the rules of the game, and be in a better position to negotiate. Most of the big bosses know their numbers, and KPI and what they need to do to keep their job / get better bonuses. If you dont know the language of finance / accounting, its pretty much like they are talking in an alien language. There are few jobs with a supervisory or managerial role where you do not need to know your numbers. A doctor needs to know how much revenue an average patient generates, how many patients he needs to see a day for the clinic to break-even, and what are the good segments to operate in. A lawyer will also need to estimate how many hours he needs to put into a case, what his cost per hour is, whether the client can pay, and therefore estimate whether that client's case is profitable. A restaurant owner will need to know his margins, daily sales, and whether it makes sense to open a second branch and how likely it might be that it is profitable. Even in public policy, you could be handling like what is the budget MOF gives you, realistically how much subsidies you could be granting to folks, and how to set the bar as to whether this or that family should be granted public assistance based on the funding you receive. Knowing business / finance will help you pursue economically viable ventures, its always good. I talk to engineers who don't know why they exceed their budgets, what they need to do to manage their budgets, and how to cut the spending the bosses dont care about. Its a pain for me because after quite a while, they still dont get it. If they dont get their act together, they could very well be fired for buying stuff they are not supposed to be buying or things we deem as non-viable prospects to pursue anymore. Dont be one of them. End of the day, take it like knowing a third language so you can talk / discuss with very very important people.

Family

General

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Updated 3w ago
I saw an episode of "Till debt do us part", and the wife did an empty board and made her husband fill in the blanks for the bills. I think its a good idea if you attempt something similar. You could have the empty sheet start with - last last month (eg Nov) bank account closing balance - let her fill in the expenses for December - let her fill in the incoming cashflows be it your salary / interest / dividends - let her total up and get the ending balance - let her calculate the change in cash If your change in cash is negative (ie less cash than before), this exercise would be helpful in visualizing how far your cash would last If your change in cash is positive, ie there is savings, it would be more difficult to visualize how bad the situation would be, but if you want to make a point, you could raise an example of what if you got retrenched or into an accident tomorrow, and then she can think about how far that bank balance can go. Not too sure if it helps, but I think letting them do it one round, hands on, helps them see the picture in more clarity... I think 2020 will be a mild recession year slightly worse than 2019, not unbearable, but if you were to lose your job, it could be harder to find one that pays as well as your last job, so maybe you can use this to support the exercise. I did two budgets this year, one assuming normal pay with minimal increment, and one assuming 20% pay cut. Trust me, attempting the budget with 20% pay cut was horrifying, but I feel better knowing what to do if I did get a pay cut...

Savings

Lifestyle

Loans

Bank Account

Insurance

Fresh Graduates

Debt

POSB

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Answered 3w ago
These are what I did and gradually find them to be good practice 1) Have two bank accounts (but if you cant keep two accounts afloat with the minimum balance, just go with one to reduce bank fees). Your salary goes to the main account (which should be high interest like OCBC 360 or DBS multiplier). You set a monthly / weekly transfer of your own spending allowance to the 2nd / spending account, you just need to keep a small balance fee enough to fulfil minimum balance and a bit of buffer. For me, I find two accounts practical, because I am very visual, and can spend if I don't know what's the limit. But when I see remaining balance = 50, and I still have to make that 50 last till next Monday, I will be mindful and control even what I eat to make sure it can last till Monday. 2) Do a budget and track your expenses. If its your first time doing it, start with 1-3 mths of past bank statements / records etc then build a mthly average. As you get better, stage 2 is 12 mths / full year budget. I split into two parts coz you just started working, and realistically you will find your spending pattern change, so it might not be a good use of your time going through less relevant stuff, and the second part is certain times dont happen monthly (eg Valentine's Day, Father / Mother Day, CNY, dental, health checks, maybe insurance, maybe taxes, vacations) - realistically the full year budget should incorporate for these type of spending. 3) Set up savings goal or some mechanism to leave money in your main account to handle the bills / wants. You should always maintain a healthy balance and not go to overdraft, or insufficient funds. When you get hit with $10 for bounced check / rejected giro deduction, it adds up and these are fees you can avoid and save. For me, I work out what my annual insurance / vacation costs are, set a savings goal to save for it - eg if I budget 9000 for annual insurance costs, 9000 / 12 = 750, I start the goal with 3x 750 =2250, and set it to save 750 monthly on the day after pay day. This is just setting aside money until when you need, which I will release from the savings goal into the floating balance to pay the bills. I do the same, and save 500 per mth for vacation, even though it hasnt happened, so when I do want to take one, I see what's available and plan the trip accordingly. 4) in terms of emergency fund, try to set aside at least 10-15% initially until you stabilize your finances. Realistically, the emergency funds should be like 3-6 mths of your necessary allowances, but there will be a limit to how much you can carve out at first. Start small and be prudent. For me, my emergency fund should be ideally 36,000 which is 6x6k, and covers 6 months of mortgage, allowances, utilities, some spending and 1/2 year insurance bills - it doesnt have travel or cover drinks so its really very barebones because it covers the things I must pay for and cant skimp further. 5) in your budget, always balance it to make sure full year, income = full year expenses and some savings. I would recommend the minimum savings be 10%, but I can do 40% (includes 15% for doing srs and cpf top-up). Start small and adjust as you get more comfortable. Honestly 20+% shouldnt be difficult once you started three works into work, and 35% I feel is the ideal spot - because one you get used to not living beyond your means (and have to go into credit card debt), you can afford some nice stuff once in a while, and yes there are times certain things will throw you off track. 6) Get hospitalization insurance, then work to cover other aspects as you scale up along. 7) after you cover emergency and necessary insurance, then I suggest regular savings plan, just stash them to save for the future, be it retirement, wedding, whatever. My first rsp was BCIP into CMT and when those quarterly dividends started flowing in, I was so happy at a time I was facing possible retrenchment. For 2020, I think I have dividends / interest to cover abit of monthly expenses so that can be like my allowance in case my job is threatened again. It will allow the emergency funds to last longer if I use these dividends to supplement for paying the bills. I think thats enough for the day.

Credit Card

Savings

Property

Debt

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Updated 3w ago
Stay calm, if you make 7.3k and owe 10k, I would say the situation is still manageable. Really, I have been dealing with cases of friends who owe more than 6 months of their salary on credit card. If I put myself in your shoes, I would do this 1) cut all credit cards so that you stop using it. 2) find a way to lower the interest rate... I just checked the unsecured loans from posb / ocbc can be as high as 21% per year, so its only a little better than credit card interest of 26% per year. - If you havent activated using cpf to pay the home loan / mortgage, it might be the best alternative - paying 2.5% is a lot better than paying 26%. if you are paying for the mortgage with cpf and still need to cough out half your pay, clearly the house is way beyond your means. - if you dont have a kind family member willing to lend you the money to pay off credit card, you probably have to find the cheapest loan around (but that might not be easy) - you might have to check around but ask the bank what charges apply, whether the interest is compounded daily, and if you meet all the criteria, what is the total fees / charges / interest to be paid altogether if you want to pay within 1 year... It would be good if that's less than 1k a year, but if its 2k or more, it not much better off than the credit card (2k / 10k) is still 20% effective interest rate. 3) just doing a sanity check here, it would seem that 7300 is your net take-home pay (or is it 7300 -1200 = 6100?) the former seems more likely since it would pass the debt servicing ratio for the bank to lend you mortgage in the first place. So I would go with that. Are you paying for the mortgage alone, and not with your partner? Using half your income to service a mortgage is rather straining... I am still struggling to figure how you passed that debt servicing ratio thing, but the house is probably too expensive for you. In the long run, thats gonna be something you will need to address because the issue will likely come back to you. I would think 40% of your take-home pay (= 2920), would the maximum you can comfortably afford to service the mortgage. 4) 730 (10%) - 1095 (15%) should the range that I would figure to make monthly payment back to the credit line (after denying the credit cards). Assuming you dont get a credit line, mthly interest on the credit card is about 200. If you paid 730 to it on time (and not adding further spend on it), monthly principal paid = 530+, and you could clear it in about 20 mths. If you could do 1100 per mth, then monthly principal paid down would be 1100 - 200 = 900, and you could clear it off in 11 mths or so assuming no further new spend on the credit card. try to aim for 18 mths or less which is moderately long already. 5) you will need to find ways to cut your spending to squeeze out the 730 - 1100. Seriously. Cut extra mobile phone charges, sports channel, netflix, shopping, travel, eating out, or even cars. You cant get out of this easily without going through some austerity. Personally I think the main issue is you got a house that you cant afford anymore. You will need to look and think (long term) if you might need to downgrade. While I dont expect interest rates to go up in 2020, with where you are at, probably another 0.5% increase in interest rates could push you over into foreclosure. Here's a list of usual culprits that you might need to cut or put off for a really long time: A) having a house that's too expensive for you B) owning a car C) gambling or women D) travel or shopping E) loss of income from job downgrade / loss I do think (A) is most likely but the others could be contributing factors. Other helpful points to address spending issue: I) set up a spending bank account which you have atm access. Your salary stays in your main account, and you only transfer 730 (10%) or less to this spending account which is your allowance. Cut the atm access off everything else. You can only spend within your allowance. II) lower the ongoing interest costs. III) cut the bad habits and replace with better / lower cost ones. You clearly cant afford to keep them up anyway. IV) make more money (but you are already drawing quite a good pay, which I dont think you can get paid overtime for). V) find some stuff to sell, but in this case, I still would ask if that might be your house. You will eventually run out of things to sell, but the key priority is to clear the debt and spend within your means. Hang in there. Note: I put in the credit line option coz you wont qualify for debt consolidation loan that has lower rates. You can only qualify for debt consolidation loan if you owe at least 12 mths of your salary, which you are not so bad yet. The serious cases start from owing more than 12 mths of your salary which the only easy way out is applying for voluntary bankruptcy.

Savings

Career

Salary

SG Budget Babe

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Updated 4w ago
50% for stuff that gives me tax reliefs, be it CPF top-up, or SRS. 30% will go towards my savings goal for investments. Then I dip into the savings goal when the stocks / reits I want to top-up when there is a sale or decent offer / good rights issues. 10% will go to my Rewards / travel / spending fund. 10% will go towards Family via Angpows.

Family

CPF

Retirement

CPF SA

Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Updated 4w ago
Kudos to taking the initiative to future planning! Simplifying my answer into two parts to help address your dilemma 1) if your OA balance is more than 20k (to earn the extra 1% interest), then focus on transferring the interest earned on OA balance earned for the year, at end of January . 2) learn investing and use some of your CPF OA to do some safe investments. Transfer the dividends generated from the investments to SA . Given that the contributions and interest from MA will flow to OA (after the MA hits BHS cap, and SA reaches FRS cap), your OA balance will actually grow pretty fast after you hit both caps. Given the lack of details, I think these two principles, help provide a guiding point which helps to ensure the OA balance is healthy and tries to help you fulfill both goals. If you are up for longer explanation for the rationale, then here goes: A) The simple method of only transferring the interest earned will self-adjust based on how much you contribute to cpf and how much you deplete it for home payments. This should keep your OA amounts healthy for emergencies (eg sustaining mortgage payments during retrenchment, touch wood), and sufficient to grow for the education costs within your means. B) The investing approach advice comes from my real life approach. My current CPF investments are Mapletree Commercial, Parkway Life and VICOM, and the expected dividend yield for 2020 is about 4.7%, which is almost twice of the CPF OA interest rate. I think if you make use of the balances to focus on a sustainable dividend approach, and sensible investing, it will only benefit you in time. Once you hit the FRS balance, you can think of withdrawing these investments at 55 and transferring to your CDP for a small fee, and these dividends become your future pocket money that provides for your retirement on top of the CPF life payout. C) Personally I would have first wanted to tell you to take advantage of the tax relief on RSTU, but I thought that from you asking specifically on cpf transfer might mean that you are tight on cash in some way. If you aren't, please do consider taking advantage of the RSTU. D) Sometimes I find focusing on reaching a specific amount can be stressful as you start thinking about how to optimize, whether you lose out by doing this or not. Instead, I would recommend you to start thinking of cycles like - making use of the MA contributions and interest (to SA / OA) once it exceeds BHS - only transferring the interest and dividends Personally I have a lot of cycles (one other is using the dividends from SRS for RSPs). The benefit of thinking in cycles it that they will eventually grow larger, and even be self sustaining when bad things happen that may force you to cut your cashflow to that activity. This gives me a lot of peace as they can be rather resilient, and its only a matter of whether the cycle is going fast or slow, as long as they keep turning, I think I am good. hope it helps.
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