My Cheapo Ways

For girls, buying skincare or makeup products take up quite a portion of our expenses. I used to be silly and buy my items from Watsons/Guardian at retail prices. How dumb! My solution? Qoo10! That’s why I’m a VIP member HAHA.

Here’s how I save:

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Biore Cleansing Oil Cotton Facial Sheets Refill Pack

  • Watsons retail price: $15.60
  • Watsons discount price: $12.50
  • Venus Beauty: $8.95
  • Qoo10: $6.90

 

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Innisfree No Sebum Mineral Powder

  • Retail price: $10.35
  • Qoo10: $6.90

WHAT?! HOW?!

Tip #1: Look out for items when they are on time sale, daily deal or group buy.

Tip #2: Get free shipping if possible.

Tip #3: Use shop coupon.

Tip #4: Use cart coupon.

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Tadaaaa!! 2 x mineral powders, 6 x facial sheet refill packs and 2 x eyebrow pencil for $60! That’s 10 items! $60 can only buy me <4 x facial sheet refill packs at retail price. Good job me!

I bought an endowment plan?!

Aiyo, bluryoungadult, don’t so blur can or not? Buy endowment plan where got good? You never read so many people say endowment plan not good meh? You still buy for what?

Well… It felt like the right decision then and tbh I’m not regretting it one bit! I did my homework, I weighed my options, I really thought long and hard, and I am prepared to handle the not-so-good outcomes.

I bought this endowment plan when I started work as a first baby step to investing and a means to diversify my then non-existent portfolio. So yes, it’s truly meant for savings, not for insurance. (Because come on, that’s not what endowment plans are for)

I started the long process by searching for all accessible endowment plans in the market on comparefirst website. I liked using comparefirst for this because it gave me the figures right away. No need to leave my contact details with a specific insurance company to later be bombarded by phone calls and pushy sales (no offence).

After collating the results, I then narrowed down the options with the following selection criteria:

  1. Guaranteed payout > total premium paid (I don’t care how good the non-guaranteed payout is because its NON-guaranteed!)
  2. Pay for a few years and let the money grow (5 years was the most common one)
  3. Long term outlook – more than 10 years since I’m still young

After reading forums and thinking long and hard, I settled. I settled for Tokio Marine TM Nest Egg (GIO).

Below is a summary of the benefit illustration:

  • Annual premium: $5,076
  • Total premium paid after 5 years: $25,380
  • Guaranteed payout after 15 years: $30,000
  • Total projected @ 3.25%: $35,273
  • Total projected @ 4.75%: $41,251

Probably peanuts to the seasoned investor. But for a newbie like me, why not?

Carouselling for $$$

I’m a lady and of course, I’m guilty of impulse buys. But to clarify, I’m not into branded goods and most of my friends see my room and go “you have so few things!”. So, my impulse buys are not that huge in size, in number or in monetary value.

Like many others out there, I sell these unwanted stuff on Carousell to get some money back. In the past 6 months, I sold 15 items on Carousell. One of them was a big ticket item (an instrument) while the rest were mainly clothes and books. Excluding the big ticket item, I got $170 for the rest.

I’m especially proud of an item which I bought overseas during a discount and now managed to sell at twice the price! Also sold a few freebies I got from shopping with some retailers (e.g. free foundation from Watsons).

From my experience, I think Carousell mostly appeals to young people. So far, the buyers purchasing my preloved clothes and books were mainly teenagers. Exclude that 1 auntie in her late 50s who came to my void deck to try a size M bodycon dress from Forever 21 when she’s usually a size XL :/ That was an odd experience. She obviously didn’t purchase the product in the end as the dress could not fit beyond her shoulders.

I’ve also bought a few items on there before. The secret to not getting cheated is to always check the seller’s feedback. Of course, there are ways to work around that so it’s still very much a gamble at the end of the day. I would never purchase items on it that cost more than $25 if I’m opting for mail. That’s how much I’m willing to get cheated of if it happens.

What tips do I have for selling on Carousell?

  1. Take nice photos, preferably with a white background
  2. Use as many search terms as you can in your item title
  3. Set realistic prices
  4. Answer to queries promptly
  5. Expect ppl to bargain for a cheaper price
  6. Consider giving discount if someone buys multiple items from you
  7. Consider postage rather than meet ups if you are a busy person – I tend to buy stamps from SAM machines and just drop the parcel off at a nearby postbox. No need to queue at the post office to get stamps anymore!
  8. Keep the receipts for the stamps and take photos/videos of you mailing the item as proof of postage

Items typically do not sell out quickly, so expect that some of your items are never gonna get sold. It might help to have a mental expiry date for these items. Say, if it doesn’t get sold in 1 year, donate it to the Salvation Army perhaps?

 

What I learnt since starting work

It’s nearly 2 years now since I started work. And boy, what a ride it has been. I’ve learnt so much and thought that I should pen them down. For my future self.

Loving what you do is super important

After working for a while, the job gets a little bit mundane. Having to drag oneself out of bed every morning is never easy. I can’t phantom how it’d feel like if I hate my job. It must be very depressing! I count myself lucky that while I dread the THOUGHT of having to do work, I actually love every moment while I’m doing it. And it makes waking up in the morning less arduous (but still, never easy).

Make yourself indispensable

I like to reflect on what sets me apart from any other colleague, in order for me to stay relevant for the company. And I feel like I’ve fulfilled a satisfactory performance thus far in initiating projects (and along the way, being more experienced in certain aspects). It feels good to know that your efforts are appreciated, that your contributions made a difference and that you stand out from the rest.

Treat all your colleagues like how you’d like to be treated

Which means, avoid drama at all costs. I gotta say, I’m still guilty of this from time to time. But I’ve been trying my hardest to stop when I catch myself talking about someone else. With work, the line between gossip and discussion becomes blurred. It ain’t as straightforward as black vs white, I’m afraid.

Be open to criticism, but learn to protect yourself

There will always be space for improvement. And receiving criticisms never feel good. But I learnt to be more open to them because at least I know what I have to improve on. However, if the criticism isn’t doing me justice, I’ve learnt to stand up for myself and still be cordial about it.

Never stop learning

In my line of work, there’s never idling time. When you’re “free”, you hit the books to further your knowledge. It’s funny how you’ve read a chapter before but you always have something new to take away from it every time you revisit it.

I need to…

Till date, I’ve been taking each day as it comes. The only marker I have is when a project is successfully completed or the time I’ve been employed. I want to work towards have a clearer idea of my career progression and where I’d like to be at 1, 2 and 5 years from now.

 

 

Buy only when on sale

French pharmacies is the equivalent of candy stores to a child. Many of the raved (and not so cheap) skincare brands originate from France. So when a friend says she’s going to France for a holiday, it’s only normal for a girl to ask for certain things to be brought back. Here are some examples of the “must buys” in France.

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Bioderma Sensibio H20 500ml

Watsons: S$41.90

Guardian: S$41.90

Random French pharmacy: €12.60 = S$19.35 (less than half price!)

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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ 40ml

Watsons: S$38.90

Guardian: S$31.12 (on sale, original price S$38.90)

Random French pharmacy: €11.66 = S$17.90 (less than half price!)

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Caudalie Beauty Elixir 100ml

Sephora: S$67

Random French pharmacy: €30.10 = $46.20

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Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray, Twin Pack 300ml

Watsons: S$29.90 (on sale, original price S$53)

Guardian: S$29.90

Random French pharmacy: €13.08 = S$20.10

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Klorane Strengthening Serum 125ml

Guardian: S$108.90

Random French pharmacy: €32.70 = S$50.20 (less than half price!)

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-light SPF50+, 50ml

Watsons: S$46.90

Guardian: $37.52 (on sale, original price S$46.90)

Random French pharmacy: €13.34 = S$20.50 (less than half price!)

 

Having been to France myself and seeing the drastic price differences for the exact same products, I have never bought these products in Singapore at their retail prices before. I’d always wait for the sale at Guardian or Watsons to purchase them in bulk (ok, not cartons but at least 5 of the same product). However, it is still nowhere near the retail prices in France. Let’s just hope my friend has enough luggage space to bring these back for me!

This very same principle can be applied to investing as well I guess? So far what I’ve been trying to achieve is to wait for good stable companies (like the French dermatologically-proven products) to be “on sale”. Sometimes the sale will not as high as you’d like. But on a case-by-case basis, some stocks better just grab no matter how meagre the sale is. Almost like how you’re running low on the skincare product and you must purchase one ASAP during a not-so-good sale. But it’s still a sale anyway ain’t it?

Hold or sell?

I’m a newbie when it comes to investing. And I’m now in the midst of learning a lesson.

To test the water, I bought 1 lot of DBS shares at $15 in October last year. Kept telling myself that I’m gonna collect them dividends and I’m in for the long-term.

But last Wed, DBS share price rose to $20.83, the highest it has been since buying it. I started to falter – sell now to realise the profit or continue holding?

This makes me wonder – do experienced investors veer out of their investing principles when “the time is right” or do they stick to them no matter what? Do long-term investors sometimes become not-so-long-term investors?

My Whole Life Policy

Sequel to one of my very initial posts here. See why I have a whole life policy – hint: not my idea.

Just received the annual bonus letter from the insurance company. So for the sake of sharing, here you go.

  • Entry year: 2006
  • Entry age: 13
  • Sum assured: $100K
  • Yearly premium amount: $1,290
  • Premium paid till date: $15,480
  • Projected bonus (based on 5.25% return): $15,070
  • Actual accumulated bonus: $17,280
  • Actual surrender value: $16,940

Broke even 2 years earlier than anticipated as per the projection in the insurance document. Lucky me?

(I love House btw)

My 2017 $$$ Goals

Since my post a while back where I reviewed my goals for 2016, I just realised that I haven’t written about my goals for 2017! They’ve been set a long while ago in fact. So here they are – black = my goal, pink = what I achieved in 2016, green = current progress.

Savings:

  • To save $30K in 2017. I saved $27K in 2016. Still working on this, fingers crossed.
  • To look for alternatives other than OCBC 360 for savings. I created the OCBC Frank Account in 2016 as my “spending” account for cash withdrawals and to qualify for the promo with OCBC Securities for  $15 minimum commission per trade. Purchased March 2017 Singapore Savings Bond which gives 2.38% interest. Opened CIMB FastSaver account (which gives 1% interest) during their $8 giveaway promo.. 

Spending:

  • To spend less than $1000 a month excluding monthly “filial piety fees” to my parents. My monthly spending ranged from $800 to $950 in 2016. I haven’t been great at keeping track of my daily expenses, but I make sure I only have $1000 in my OCBC Frank account to spend every month.
  • To source for an alternative credit card in anticipation of cancelling my OCBC 365 card once the annual fee waiver is no longer available. Planning to apply for the Standard Chartered Bank’s Unlimited Cashback Credit Card with the $138 credit on successful card application.

Insurance:

  • To take over all my insurance from my parents. Completed.
  • To review my insurances and ensure satisfactory coverage at <$180 per month. Completed.

Investment:

  • Increase my portfolio dividend yield to 4%. Started buying stocks in 2016 and based on the dividend history, the maximum dividend yield I’m expecting is 3.4%. Haven’t done much changes this year as the stocks on my watch list are currently overvalued.
  • Increase portfolio to $12K, with more investments in REITs. NIL change from 2016.

We’re now one quarter into 2017 already! That’s crazy.

 

 

Good lobang: cheap spectacles!

Most Singaporeans have myopia and require glasses or contact lenses. Like many others, I started wearing glasses in primary school and they were never cheap – at least $180 each as my parents always opt for the best lenses for me. ❤ Had to change them approx once every 2 years. So that’s more than $1000 spent on glasses in total till date!

Then while on holiday in UK many years ago, I made a pair online for $90 and I thought that’s the cheapest glasses I’d ever get in my life. They were of the wayfarer shape too, the trendy thing back then.

My latest (and most attas) pair cost me $300 (ouch), from an obscure ulu shop at the bottom of a HDB block. They were just plain classic black, in a bid to make myself look more professional and serious for my first job. (So I don’t look so fresh out of uni in order to gain people’s trust HAHA)

Recently, I’ve been itching to make a new pair for a change of look. Something more relatable and fresh. And I needed to update my prescription. I went to OWNDAYS, which is known for cheap glasses and express collection, but nothing caught my eye. (They weren’t exactly super cheap too).

Coincidentally, a friend of mine just made a new pair and she recommended me to this place called Mimeo. Googled it, found that they have rave reviews on Facebook and express collection too! So I made a trip down one weekend and OMG I was in paradise. It was non-stop trying on pair after pair, as all their styles were super trendy! The frames I saw range from $25 to $155. Basic lenses with express service cost only $30. I took a long time to choose as there were soooo many that I loved. I finally bought THE ONE for just $75!

Good lobang must share. Now I know where to go for my future prescription glasses 🙂

Integrated Shield Plan Rant

My dad is a skeptic. So when I told him that I’m considering changing over my integrated shield plan to something that is cheaper and offers better benefits (see here), he warned me that there is no free lunch in this world and advised for me to research thoroughly before making my decision. So I went to read up on Prudential and AXA shield and here’s what I found.

For private hospitalisation with rider that covers from the first dollar up, NTUC Income’s total premium over an average lifespan is actually slightly lesser than Prudential’s, while AXA is significantly cheaper than the two. I then told my dad about AXA and how it covers longer pre and post-hospitalisation periods. He gave me the same response, insinuating that there must be a catch somewhere to explain the lower premium rates.

And behold, my dad was right. After much searching through the depths of the inter web, I found out why AXA can afford to have their premiums so low despite the attractive benefits. That is:

“Letter of Guarantee (LOG) of up to S$100,000 at private hospitals if referred through our panel of Specialists”

As a layperson, reading this scares me.

Does it mean that to get LOG, I have to set an appointment with their specialist first before I can get admitted into the hospital? What if it’s really an emergency?

Would LOG still be issued if for example, I were to get admitted to Mount E first and then request to be seen by a Dr XXX that is listed in that panel? Because technically I wasn’t referred through him.

If I were to get admitted to a private hospital without going through the panel of specialists, my hospitalisation bill will be based on a reimbursement basis. Do I have sufficient emergency funds to cover the (not-so-affordable) private hospitalisation bill while awaiting reimbursement? And what is the success rate of reimbursement? Last thing I want to do while being ill is to worry about my finances.

I can imagine people worrying about this clause and opting to go to a restructured hospital instead to get the guaranteed LOG of $15,000 for a peace of mind even though they are eligible for private hospitalisation. This would then reduce the claims amount for the company as a whole, which I suppose is why they can keep their premium rates this low.

I’m quite interested to wait and see how the claiming process is like for people who are currently on the AXA Shield Plan A. Because this is a relatively new plan, there’s little information on the MOH website on the claims speed for AXA and there are very little anecdotal reviews on it on the internet.

So for now, I will continue to sit on my NTUC Enhanced Incomeshield Preferred. From age 50 till passing, I would opt for AXA Shield Plan B with the basic care rider. No questions about that. However, from now till then, I’m still undecided.