Sunday, December 11, 2016

Why These Common Superstitions In Singapore Make You Spend More's #1 personal finance comparison platform by transaction volume, provides consumers with timely money insights and aggregates the latest credit card offers and up-to-date personal loan deals.

Whether or not you believe in these common superstitions in Singapore, they make an impact on how you spend. There’s no denying that superstitions cost (or bring) significant amounts of money. Regardless of whether you believe in it, the fact is that other Singaporeans do. Some are so superstitious that they are willing to pay a premium for lucky things, or pay a hefty sum to avoid unlucky things. Here are the most common superstitions in Singapore, and how they affect your spending.
1. House Numbers
Chinese home buyers dislike the number four (which sounds like “death” in Chinese), but love the number eight (which sounds like the word for prosperity). Past studies have shown that, in Singapore, house numbers that contain the number four (e.g. Unit 44) have been sold for about 1.5% less. On the other hand, houses that feature the number eight tend to be sold for almost one per cent more. That’s a significant amount of money: assuming the subject is a S$350,000 flat, being unit #44 would cost the seller S$5,250. If it was unit #88, the seller might just make an additional $3,500. This means non-superstitious types should be in search of “unlucky” houses if they are looking for a discount! It could be great savings if it makes no psychological impact on them.
2. Car License Plates
As with houses, the notion of lucky and unlucky license plates affect car license plates. Now as it turns out, car license plates have a very established bidding system; you may not know it, but it involves huge sums. For example, with regard to vintage car license plates, someone recently paid S$355,000 for plate number S32H. With regard to “lucky” plate numbers, such as 8888, bid amounts have been known to reach between S$16,000 to S$18,000. Perhaps some drivers feel those 8’s are a valuable form of car “insurance”! On a somewhat related topic, car license plates get some Singaporeans to gamble more. Have you noticed that, when there’s a car accident, the radio announcement often pleads with motorists not to slow down and look? Well, that happens because some drivers slow down to write down license plate numbers. They want to use it for 4D or Toto!
3. Feng Shui Home Services
Feng Shui (wind and water, or Geomancy) plays a big role in Asia’s housing markets; Singapore is no different. In fact, not a lot of people realise that the Singapore Flyer had the direction of its rotation changed for Feng Shui reasons. It was changed to rotate toward the island, so that wealth would come inward rather than flow outward. Feng Shui believers are very particular about the facing of a house, as well as the placement of items such as furniture, beams, and windows. Feng Shui believers want to maximise the flow of chi (energy), which they believe affects their well-being and prosperity. As such, many people will consult a Feng Shui expert when moving into a new home. The price can range from a flat fee (S$200 to S$500 for a three-room flat) to a per-square-foot cost. The most famous Feng Shui masters in Singapore can charge up to S$2 per square foot. That would make even a tiny studio apartment cost S$1,000 for a consultation!
4. The 7th Month Housing Effect
During the Hungry Ghost Festival (the 7th Lunar Month), Singaporean Chinese believe that the souls of the departed return to visit. It’s a time for Taoists to venerate their ancestors, through various burnt offerings. One of the taboos, during this period, is scheduling renovations or moving into a new home. It’s thought that this confuses visiting spirits and rebukes the notion of cherishing the past. It’s a little ironic to be moving to a new home, at a time when you are supposed to revere your family’s past. Whatever the case, there is an actual impact on the housing market. Sales volumes fall because there are fewer buyers. Many property developers now refuse to launch at times close to 7th-month celebrations. Buyers who are not superstitious might be able to find a good deal on property during this time. Sometimes, a salesperson desperate to meet quotas might give them a better price, if they agree to buy at such an inauspicious time.
5. Li Chun Day Deposits
Have you ever noticed that, on a particular day of the Chinese New Year, the bank deposit machines get crowded? That would be due to Li Chun day, which marks the start of Spring. It falls between the 3rd and 4th of February. During this day, it’s considered to be auspicious to deposit money while wearing a red top. This symbolises fortune and financial security for the rest of the year. The most commonly deposited about it (you’ve probably guessed it by now) S$1,888. Not only must you wear a red top while doing it, you must make the deposit at the right time. A fortune teller can be paid (about S$20 if you find one hanging around near Fortune Centre), to tell you the correct time of deposit based on your birth star. This is a cause of many headaches, as people plead to swap places in line to make “their” timing!

Friday, December 9, 2016

3 Reasons 2016 Was A Terrible Year For Money In Singapore's #1 personal finance comparison platform by transaction volume, provides consumers with timely money insights and aggregates the latest credit card offers and up-to-date personal loan deals.

It seems like 2016 had nothing but bad news for the Singapore economy. Here are three reasons behind the awful economic situation this year. You may have noticed that many Singaporeans are worried that the outlook in 2017 will be similar to 2016. Throughout the year, we’ve read about how jobs, businesses, and property were negatively impacted in 2016. Here’s a quick rundown of why 2016 was a bad year for money in Singapore, and why this will continue to be an issue next year:
Reason 1: The Slump in Oil Prices
The fall in oil prices started in 2014, but had an especially adverse effect this year. When oil becomes too cheap, even net importers (countries that import more oil than they export) such as Singapore could struggle. Falling oil prices cause trouble for us, because Singapore has deep penetration into the oil and gas industry. Our biggest businesses, such as SembCorp Marine and Keppel, generate their revenue from selling oil rigs and drill ships. Unfortunately, because the price of oil is too low, many companies that would buy oil rigs and drill ships have cancelled their orders. The highlight this year was the fall of a Brazilian oil and gas company, Sete Brasil. This company owed S$6.2 billion to Keppel, and S$7 billion to SembMarine. When Sete Brasil collapsed due to cheap oil, the damage was passed on to Singaporean companies. The continued slump in oil prices also means that oil companies are also not ordering new equipment. Around S$33 billion in value has been wiped out from Singapore’s oil and gas related companies. Problems in the oil industry will, in turn, affect Singapore’s financial sector. Many oil and gas companies are highly leveraged (they borrow a lot of money). This is because, even before they can extract the first drop of oil, oil companies need to pay significant upfront  costs. They need to pay explorers to find the oil, pay millions of dollars to lay the correct pipelines or delivery systems, hire the relevant crew (you have to pay someone a lot of money to leave home and work on an oil rig), and much more. As such, many oil and gas related industries borrow significant amounts from banks and financial institutions. When these companies go bankrupt or take serious losses, they have to restructure their debts (this often means paying back the banks more slowly, or even paying lower interest), or default (they can’t pay at all). This could lead to banks and financial institutions suffering significant losses, and lead to job layoffs in the industry. Not only are banks affected, investors are too. Many Singaporean investors who bought bonds in Swiber, an oil exploration company, saw losses ranging from several hundred thousand dollars to millions when the company went bust. However, Singapore’s losses are still not as severe as many nations dependent on oil revenue. Venezuela, which derived over 50% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from oil exports, is on the verge of total economic collapse. Likewise, Malaysia has seen its currency plunge as GDP shrink, as they are also major oil exporters. The reason for all this chaos is an oversupply of oil. In the United States of America, companies have found a way to extract oil from shale rock. This new abundance of oil puts them in competition with countries like Saudi Arabia, which want to remain the biggest oil suppliers in the world (for both economic and political reasons). They don’t want other countries to buy from America instead of from them. As such, countries in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are waging a war of attrition with the US. They continue to produce oil despite the abundance of it, in order to drive oil prices down (when the supply of a commodity exceeds the demand for it, the price of the commodity falls). OPEC is hoping that, as oil becomes unprofitable, their competition (shale oil extractors) will go bankrupt or give up. However, this has resulted in everyone – including the OPEC countries – losing huge amounts of money. Oil prices are likely to normalise only when one side (OPEC or shale oil extractors) gives up and cuts production. Until then a lot of countries, especially Singapore, will struggle. This is a major cause of our financial woes in 2016, and there is almost nothing Singaporeans can do about it.
Reason 2: Economic Slowdown in China
In order to understand this issue, you need to understand what a Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is. The PMI monitors how much companies are ordering, and is thus a general gauge of whether a particular sector is expanding or contracting. The more orders are being made, the more a given sector is growing. The most closely monitored PMI is the manufacturing PMI, because it is most indicative of a country’s overall growth or contraction (actually some economists will dispute that, but it is a general consensus). Now China’s manufacturing PMI has been terrible this year, at some points falling below a score of 50. Without getting into too much detail, a PMI of 50 indicates there is no change in growth. A PMI below 50 indicates that there is contraction. China’s PMI is a big deal because China imports a lot of raw materials. In particular, China imports a lot of crude oil (which doesn’t help the oil problem, see point 1), and iron ore. Countries that produce these commodities often have their GDPs affected by China, as Chinese companies are amongst their biggest customers. China’s PMI, however, indicates that the country’s growth is slowing. This means they no longer produce as much, and no longer need to buy as much raw material. Furthermore, there are signs that – even if China recovers – their period of explosive growth is over. They will no longer buy in quantities that they used to. Also, a more developed China will also mean an end to cheaply sourced goods in the long run (as a country becomes more developed, the cost of living increases and the prices of goods it produces will also go up). Furthermore, China will not be able to salvage the struggling oil industry, as they are not buying in the same quantities they used to. This is only scratching the surface of the weak economic data coming from China, and we don’t want to end up writing a textbook here; but it’s sufficient to know that, with China not buying as much as they used to, many companies are going to shrink. That will mean layoffs, as well as difficulty in expanding certain businesses.
Reason 3: A Growing Resentment Towards Free Trade
Events such as Brexit (the United Kingdom attempting to leave the European Union), and the election of protectionists such as Donald Trump, reflect a growing resentment toward free trade. The most immediate effect of this is the rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Singapore was counting on as a business opportunity for local companies. The TPP would have removed trade barriers, such as import tariffs, that allowed Singapore businesses to operate in other member states. A Singaporean business selling food products, for example, would have been able to market the same product in Peru, the United States, Canada, and so forth. This would have been a major boon to local business, as Singapore’s population is small and the pool of prospective customers within our borders is limited. However, one of the major entities in the TPP, the United States, has pulled out of it. This is out of fear that competing products from other TPP countries would be cheaper, and their domestic companies would lose out. While Singapore already has its own trade agreements with the 11 other nations in the TPP (barring Mexico and Canada), the TPP would have stimulated trade between them. This would have allowed Singapore to benefit. For example, increased trade between Japan and America would see Singapore’s ports rake in more business. Free trade seems to have lost its popularity, with poorer people in various countries accusing it of promoting unfair competition, and concentrating power in the hands of corporations. Should this sentiment continue, it will cause problems for Singapore, as we are an export based economy that needs free trade to thrive. It does not seem likely that all these issues can be resolved by 2017. They are also, for the most part, beyond our control. But remember that, while you cannot control what goes on in the world, you are in control of your own finances. Save conscientiously, and protect your wealth. You can still come out ahead in a rough economy.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Don't Miss The 12.12 Sales In Singapore On 12 December 2016's #1 personal finance comparison platform by transaction volume, provides consumers with timely money insights and aggregates the latest credit card offers and up-to-date personal loan deals.

Save money on your last-minute Christmas shopping with these 12.12 sales in Singapore! If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping – maybe because you were wondering how to buy the perfect gifts – you should definitely mark down 12 December in your calendar. Making up the holy trifecta of online shopping mega-sales, (together with Single’s Day on 11 November and Black Friday Weekend sale from 25 to 27 November) the 12.12 sale is another great opportunity to earn discounts, savings and cashback while doing your shopping. Here’s a run-down of the deals we know of so far. As always, we’ll keep this page updated with more details as we find them, so remember to check back often!
1. Shopback – 12.12 Online Fever
Everybody’s favourite cashback shopping site will give you up to 28% cashback and 80% discounts on 12.12. With its growing merchant partnerships, there are bound to be some great finds in fashion, travel and food. In the run-up to 12.12, Shopback is having a 12 Days of Christmas-type deal, with one particular product each day earning you S$12 Super Cashback per transaction. Yep that’s S$12, not 12%!
How to Make the Most of It
Stalk the Shopback page for their daily Super Cashback item, and if you see any products you need, go ahead and purchase them. Not only will you be stocking up on essentials, the generous cashback rate will also help you build up your Shopback account. That way, you’ll have a ready pool of savings that you can use to offset your online shopping spree come 12 December.
2. Lazada – Online Revolution
Lazada’s 12.12 Online Revolution sale may very well make the stress of leaving your shopping till the last minute worth it. Capping off a month-long online mega-sale extravaganza that started with Single’s Day, the e-commerce site is already advertising shopping discounts of up to 90% on selected products. We expect more widespread price slashes once 12.12 rolls around. If you’re stressing out about what gift to buy for the various people in your life, Lazada has helpfully organised their offers according to different personalities. Check out the Deals Made for You section for some inspiration.
How to Make the Most of It
Get S$5 knocked off your total bill when you spend more than S$50; just use the code FREE5 at checkout. Another way you can save money is on delivery fees, as Lazada has extended free delivery storewide for economy delivery. Local merchants are usually able to fulfil orders within 5 days, so if you can find all your Christmas gifts from Singapore-based sellers, you can get all your presents delivered without having to pay delivery fees. And if you have ran out of vouchers, don’t forget you can pick up some more with the Wheel-y Good Deals spin-to-win game.
3. Zalora – Online Fever
If you need another reason to buy new shoes (or bags, or dresses, or sunglasses, or… you get the idea), then you’ll want to check out Zalora’s 12.12 Online Fever sale. The fashion retailer will be having discounts across more than 500 local and international brands, so there’s surely something for you and everyone on your Christmas list. We’re talking discounts and special prices on brands such as Zalora, Aldo, Melissa, Mango, Superdry, Herschel, Topman… And these are only the labels that have been revealed so far.
How to Make the Most of It
Zalora offers free 30-day returns, free delivery above S$40 and cash on delivery, making it easy to shop without worries. Take advantage of the 12.12 scratch-and-win promotion to score some instant prizes, such as Zalora shopping vouchers, cab ride discounts and movie tickets. You will also have a chance to win up to S$1,000 in shopping vouchers. All you have to do is to share the promotional video with your Facebook network to get an online ticket. Don’t forget to use a Citibank credit card and get an extra 15% off a minimum spend of S$100 when you use the code CITISHOP. With the Citi Rewards Visa Credit Card, you get an an extra 20% off minimum spend of S$120. All you need to do is use the voucher code MERRYCITI20 when you check out! 


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