Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Why Cooking At Home Won't Save You Money (At The Start)

Many personal finance articles talk about how cooking at home in Singapore saves money. While it does in the long run, the initial costs can be high.
By now, you’ve read about a thousand personal finance articles that explain how cooking saves you money. And you’re probably wondering why so many Singaporeans – especially those short on cash – still eat at hawker centres so often. What a lot of these articles don’t talk about is that cooking involves a lot of initial costs, and may not save you money at first.


 
How Much Does It Cost to Cook at Home in Singapore?
When most people first work out the cost of a meal, the budget plan goes something like this:
    Mixed vegetables S$5
    Fish (two fillets) S$9
    Chicken (whole) S$8
    Cooking oil (2 litres) S$5
    Rice (5kg) S$12
All in, you can have enough food for three or four days for S$39, and the rice and oil will last much longer than that. But here’s the thing: that’s the way it works after you’ve been cooking for a while. If you have never cooked before, here’s what the budget really looks like at the start:
    Mixed vegetables, which your children refuse eat so you have to toss the previous batch, and buy new vegetables that they will eat – S$10
    Fish, of which you need three fillets, because you burned the previous one – S$27
    Roasted chicken from the coffee shop, because you gave the previous whole chicken to a neighbour, after realising you have no idea how to use that chopper, and would have just end up with badly shredded chicken due to your cutting skills – S$12
    Cooking oil price remains the same, but you’ll probably be using more of it due to errors. Also, you never knew a decent non-stick wok really can cost upward of S$30.
    Rice prices remain the same, but then you realise you’ll need a rice cooker, so you need to fork out an added S$50.
And right when you check the recipe book, you realise you also need six or seven different herbs, a blender, a convection cooker, a toaster-oven, flour, eggs, milk, cut chillies, etc., etc. Now over time, if you keep cooking, this will be less of a shock. You will gradually accumulate the equipment and spice cabinet that every decent cook has. But at the very beginning, the initial setup cost can be much higher than you imagine. It’s not as simple as the cooking shows or recipe books would suggest, especially if you’re cooking for a whole family. Some of the key factors to consider are:

Mistakes Cost Money
If you put sugar instead of salt in the soup, or leave a whole salmon on the pan for too long, you need to start from scratch. That’s an expensive mistake.

Your Family Might Not Like Your Cooking (Especially the Children)
It hurts when you bought and roasted a whole chicken, but your family finds your beginner-level cooking to be, well, inedible. Many people often give up because they get tired of trying to force their cooking on the family, especially the children.

Equipment Can Be Expensive, and Discount Versions are Worse
When it comes to cooking equipment, discounts are for those in the know. A cheap knife or wok can end up costing more money, when you throw them out and replace them. It’s more than likely, however, that an amateur chef will overspend on branded equipment.

The Biggest Cost is Time
Cooking is a skill that takes time to learn. It is not like riding a bicycle, which can be managed in a day or two. This is the number one cost that’s often overlooked. Every dish is different and represents a new learning curve. On top of that, consider that even experienced home cooks can take an hour to prepare a meal. If it’s your first time, you can expect to spend two to three hours on something as simple as lemon chicken and rice. Yes, you can prepare something quicker like sandwiches, but you can’t be having that for dinner all day, every day. And microwaved food doesn’t count as cooking! If you’re working, it may not be an option rush home from the office at 4 or 5 pm, in order to get dinner ready by 7:30 pm sharp. Don’t say you can pre-cook it in the morning, because it’s hard to do that also when you need to be at work by 9 am. Learning to cook also interrupts other opportunities, such as starting a side-business or doing a part-time job.
 
Those Who Need to Cook are Often the Least Inclined to Do So
If you’re financially stable and can afford the “start up costs”, it’s worth learning to cook. The savings will more than make up for the costs in the long run. However, families on a tight budget (e.g.S$1,200 a month) might not be able to afford the initial equipment; and they certainly can’t risk wasting food. When your budget for the day is S$3 a meal, a burned beef patty is something you’ll have to choke down, as you can’t afford to make another. This means that you should learn to cook while you have the time and money. Later on, if you ever get in a dire financial situation, you’ll have the means to save money via home cooked meals.
 
Cashback Credit Cards Can Help You Save on Home Cooking
If you want to save money on cooking, you can put your purchases on a cashback credit card. This way, you can earn back a small percentage of what you spend, especially if it gives rebates for supermarkets. The HSBC Advance Credit Card gives you 2.5% cashback on anything, capped at S$70 per month. Plus, you get a S$150 NTUC voucher when you apply for it through SingSaver.com.sg before 30 June 2017. This goes a long way into helping you offset the initial costs of learning to cook.


SingSaver.com.sgSingapore'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.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Why Do Some Companies Like Gong Cha Change Their Name?

It’s often discomforting when companies like Gong Cha change their name, but there are very good business reasons behind it.
You might think it’s a terrible idea for a company like Gong Cha to change their name. They’ve been in business for a few years and developed a cult following in Singapore. To change their name would be a waste of all the marketing and branding they’ve spent on. Sometimes however, there’s a good reason for businesses to change their name.

Companies Change Their Names More Often Than You Think
It’s an exercise called re-branding. It happens quite often, and sometimes it’s so subtle you don’t notice it. For example, not a lot of people noticed that, back in 2011, Starbucks changed its name. It’s no longer Starbucks Coffee, but Starbucks Corp. At present, the local Gong Cha (bubble tea makers) is planning to change its name to LiHO starting in June.
But Why?
Gong Cha is a franchise, and the Singaporean owner of the franchise is RTG Holdings. Recently however, the parent company of Gong Cha (called Royal Tea Taiwan) was bought by Gong Cha Korea. The new owners of the Gong Cha name are imposing new restrictions on franchise owners. We don’t know what these are, but we do know that some companies forbid franchise holders from operating other types of businesses. For example, if you buy the franchise for a famous chain of pizza restaurants. The parent company of said restaurant may not want you owning other fast food franchises. Regardless, RTG Holdings seems to be splitting from the Gong Cha franchise and going their own way. As such, they need a new name, and the Hokkien name “Li Ho” is meant to sound more Singaporean. Some other reasons companies change their names are:
    Name no longer represents the company
    Corporate mergers and acquisitions
    Copyright reasons, or overly generic names
    Negative publicity
    Tax reasons
Name No Longer Represents the Company
Starbucks dropped the “coffee” from its name because it’s no longer just a coffee company. Starbucks long ago started to sell pastries, tea, chocolate, and countless other non-coffee related products. Another example would be Sony, which up to 1958 was called the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation. It wouldn’t have made sense for Sony to retain the name, as by that point it was no longer just operating in Tokyo, nor was it focused on telecommunications anymore. Sometimes, the company takes on the name of its most famous product. For example, recruitment firm TMP Worldwide changed its name to Monster Worldwide, as they are best known for running the jobs portal Monster.com.
Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions
Sometimes, companies merge or are bought over. This can result in a name change. When AXA became the majority shareholder in National Mutual (a major insurer) in 1999, National Mutual simply took the name of its parent company. McAfee Associates and Network General merged in 1997, and the new company was called Network Associates International. However, the name changed back to McAfee in around 2004, as the anti-virus software remains their best-known product.
Copyright Reasons or Overly Generic Names
Some names are so generic, they are impossible to copyright. For example, petrol giant Amoco Corp. used to be called Standard Oil Company. Sometimes, the name is so generic that customers can’t tell if it refers to a specific company, or to an entire industry. United Parcel Service (UPS) for example, used to be called American Messenger Company. It also causes problems with regard to online marketing. If you call your education company “Singapore Tuition Agency”, you can bet it’ll get lost in a sea of similar terms during a Google search.
Negative Publicity
Some companies change their name because they’ve acquired a bad reputation, and they don’t feel the name is salvageable. For example, Philip Morris (a tobacco company) caused controversy when it changed its name to Altria – many protested that it was trying to hide tobacco industry involvement in different areas, such as when it donated to political campaigns. Notably, the name change helped to protect companies like Kraft, of which Philip Mor…oops, Altria, is a major shareholder. (Yes, the same Kraft you find in supermarkets). Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its official name to KFC not just for convenience; they wanted to avoid mention of the word “fried”. In Sim Lim Square, many of the blacklisted scam stores repeatedly changed their name, to avoid being identified after their name popped up in the news.
Tax Reasons
We absolutely don’t condone any sort of tax evasion or avoidance. But that being said, some companies repeatedly close down and re-open under a slightly different name, to get tax benefits. It’s common, in most countries, for new companies to get lower taxes in the first few years of business. This is to give them time to get on their feet (most new businesses run at a loss for the first year). Some small companies decide to “extend” these tax breaks, by repeatedly closing and re-opening with a variant name. For example, a restaurant named River Valley might close down after two years, and then re-open as New River Valley. Two years later, they close down and re-open as River Valley Restaurant, and then later as River Valley Family Restaurant, and so on. Besides getting tax breaks, this might also qualify the business for repeated grants and lower interest loans. (Until the authorities notice, and decide to make an example of the owners). What do you think about Gong Cha rebranding to LiHO? Are you looking forward to it, or would you rather Gong Cha stay the same? Tell us in the comments!


SingSaver.com.sgSingapore'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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How To Save Money If Your Flight Gets Delayed Or Rescheduled

Delayed flights don’t always happen, but they can cost you a lot when they do. Here’s how Singaporeans can save money if their flights get rescheduled.
Airlines are notorious for last minute changes. This can happen due to overbooking, weather conditions, or even changes in airport charges. Getting your flight delayed or rescheduled can be quite a headache. Besides affecting your travel plans, flight changes will also impact your wallet, especially if it gets pushed back by 12 or more hours. Here’s how to save money when it happens.


Demand to Get Compensated
Airlines generally have a “don’t ask, don’t give” policy. You have to take the initiative, and demand compensation from your airline. Never trust them to do it of their own accord. One advantage to pressuring the airline is that, even if you don’t get compensated in cash, you might get a freebie. This can be a discount on your next flight with them (assuming you want to use them again), or complimentary items from their catalogue. Do note that your airline’s actual legal obligations may be different. For example, some of them clearly specify that you accept the risk of flight changes, and that they’re not obliged to offer any compensation (check the terms and conditions before you buy). However, some good airlines may offer compensation anyway, as a matter of maintaining good customer relations. If you don’t ask and push for it however, you tend to get nothing.
 
Check If Your Travel Insurance Covers Flight Delays
Many travellers, amid a haze of anger and exhaustion, tend to forget about their travel insurance – which can come free with the right credit card. Remember, travel insurance isn’t just about medical expenses and lost luggage. Some policies also cover delays. While most travel insurance policies do not cover schedule changes, some cover delays or cancellations in case of bad weather or if the delay is more than 24 hours. If you’re uncertain, call to ask. And if you haven’t gone on your trip yet, consider buying a policy that covers these circumstances. If you’re self-employed, being unable to go home and run your business for a day or two can cost a lot of money.
 
Call Your Airline Directly to Settle Things
Here’s a special tip from us: the automated instructions that airlines send out are often a waste of time. When your flight is rescheduled, always call the airline directly and raise your issues. You’ll sometimes be able to book an alternative flight on the call, faster than the other people standing in line. You may also get alternatives that are not immediately offered on automated instructions – for example, you may be given the opportunity to leave three days later, but with full compensation for a hotel room (if you’re on vacation and not in a rush to get home, this might be even better than an alternative flight tomorrow, with no accommodations for tonight).
 
Call Your Credit Card Concierge
Sometimes, the delay would just cost you too much. Perhaps you have a concert to attend, and you already paid for the tickets. Or perhaps you have a vital business meeting to get to. If your airline can’t move fast enough, your last resort can be your credit card concierge (if you have one). Call them and let them know your situation; they’re often able to get you last minute flights, which you can’t get on your own. As an aside, the same concierge can also be asked to help with accommodations. For example, get the concierge to look for the cheapest hotel that’s close to the airport; this will save you having to Google things on top your current problem.
 
Using Airbnb? See If Your Host Can Extend Your Stay
Some Airbnb hosts will be open to giving you an extension, if there are no other guests after you. This could be cheaper than looking for a last minute hotel, so always be sure to ask.
 
Ask Friends For Help
Obviously, the first choice should be friends who happen to live at your travel destination. See if anyone can put you up for a night or two if your flight gets rescheduled for the following day. However, don’t forget to call home and use your friends’ contacts. For all you know, your best friend back home has a former colleague who lives near you; or perhaps mum and dad know a distant cousin who’s in the area. It’s not a guarantee, but you may just have a shot at saving on a hotel room. As an aside, try to make friends abroad, wherever you go. It’s good for your social life, and very helpful in situations like these.
 
Check Flight Prices Before Accepting a Refund
If your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, you may be entitled to a refund. When this happens, the airline will often give you a choice between an alternative flight or accepting the refund. When you are given this choice, always check the price of booking with another airline. You will sometimes save money by taking the refund and booking a new, cheaper flight, rather than taking the existing airline’s alternative.  


SingSaver.com.sgSingapore'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.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...