Saturday, December 31, 2016

How To Survive On A Budget While Learning A New Skill

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.


Re-skilling lets you develop knowledge and experience for higher-paying jobs, but you need to sacrifice time and money in the meantime. Singapore has seen a surge in the number of disruptive business models, from ride-sharing apps like Uber to do-it-yourself property sites like Oh My Home. While this is all well and good for the consumer, this has resulted in several traditional jobs being threatened. On top of this, the slump in the shipping and oil and gas sectors have left many Singaporeans retrenched. With the current economic climate, it may be wise for Singaporeans to invest time and money in re-skilling, to become qualified for more opportunities.
 
What Does Re-Skilling Mean and What Will It Cost?
To “re-skill” is to develop new knowledge and experience to get another job. It is quite different from just upgrading your existing skills. In general, re-skilling becomes necessary when the industry you work in is no longer lucrative. For example, assembly line workers are now learning construction or computer coding skills, as it is now common for robotics to replace their former jobs. It can also involve expanding the scope of a job. Many web developers are also digital marketers these days, as DIY website makers like WordPress and Wix have lessened demand for scratch-built websites. The true cost of re-skilling is not the price of the education courses or SkillsFuture courses. The cost is often time. Depending on what you are learning, you might require anywhere from weeks to three years (a typical degree course) to pick up your new skills. After that, you may still have to accept a lower salary than what you previously had, at least for a few years. You might get only entry level pay, as you would be considered inexperienced. Here’s how to manage on a tight budget while you re-skill for another job:
 
Calculate Your New Expense Ratio
Your expense ratio is the measure of your monthly bills to your monthly income. If you need to pay S$2,000 a month (for your mortgage, education loan, children’s needs, and so forth), and you earn S$5,000 per month, you have an expense ratio of 50%. Odds are, your financial situation has changed. You may be working part-time while you study, or recently retrenched. Recalculate your expense ratios against your new income. An ideal expense ratio is 30% (but this may not be possible). Still, your first step should be to cut out expenses – such as gym memberships or club fees – until you get to an expense ratio that is around 50%, If you cannot do this, you may have to consider more drastic action such as getting rid of your car. It is dangerous to have an expense ratio above 50%, as this normally means you will not have enough to save and invest on top of covering your basic needs. Note that you do not have to make drastic cuts to lower your expense ration right away; you can gradually reduce costs over the months until it reaches an acceptable level.
 
Talk to Your Financial Advisor About Revising Insurance Premiums
Given the interruption in your financial situation, you may not be able to maintain the old premiums (remember your expense ratio?). Speak to your financial advisor about reducing your premiums, rather than risk allowing your policies to lapse. Some insurance policies may allow you a “premium holiday”, or your advisor can help you switch to a more manageable plan. If you have started to work on a contract basis, such as being a freelancer, you may also want to change the payment methods for your premiums. For example, if your monthly pay fluctuates, you may want to pay a lump sum at the start of the year, thus avoiding high premiums during dry spells.
 
Record Your Daily Expenditures
You will have to be more disciplined in the coming months, and the best way to do that is to record your daily transactions. If you don’t take note of how much you spend, you won’t be able to plan accordingly. There are many personal finance apps, such as Mint and Toshl, that help you do this for free. You don’t need to keep tight tabs on your spending forever. Just do it for at least a month, in order to get a clear sense of how much (or how little) you should be spending on a daily basis.
 
Consolidate Your Debts
Get a low-interest personal loan and use it to pay off all your existing credit cards and credit lines. For example, you could get a personal instalment loan at 4% per annum, and use it to pay off your various credit cards which cost 24% per annum. After you have done this, cancel your previous credit lines. You can have them back once you have repaid your personal instalment loan in full. When asked for the loan tenure, have the bank work out how much the personal loan will cost every month. The longer the loan tenure, the more interest you ultimately pay; but the lower the monthly repayments become. So when picking the loan tenure, consider your expense ratio. Do not rush to repay the loan, and accept a monthly repayment rate that you cannot cope with. If you cannot deal with unexpected emergencies, you will just end up using more credit again, thus undoing your efforts to lower your debt. Currently, HSBC Personal Loan has one of the lowest interest rates in Singapore at 4.5% p.a. (EIR 8.5% p.a.). They also offer a loan tenor of up to 7 years, which is longer than the 5-year tenor available at most banks.
 
Spend Time With the Right Friends
Our friends influence our spending. If you hang around people who eat at pricey restaurants or go to town every weekend, you will end up spending just as much. It can be tricky dining out with friends who earn more, but the key is to limit your exposure. Don’t hang around them if you know you may be obliged to eat somewhere expensive. It can feel awkward when you have to pressure them to go somewhere cheaper, especially if they don’t enjoy it. Likewise, hobbies and lifestyle activities are infectious. When you are with people who enjoy the same things you do, be it scuba diving or golf, you will empower each other to spend on these things. The sooner you get back on your feet, the sooner you can resume your old lifestyle.
 
Do Groceries Online to Avoid Impulse Purchases
In order to save money on groceries, do not browse. Especially do not set foot in the supermarket, which is designed to cause you to spend impulsively. Instead, make your grocery list while looking inside your refrigerator, or in a quiet corner. Once the list is done, go online and order it, via sites like HonestBee or RedMart. Do not spend time browsing other products (that’s as bad as shopping). Order what’s on the list and be done with it.   

Friday, December 23, 2016

What Type Of HDB Flats Can Single Singaporeans Buy?

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.


Single Singaporeans looking to own their own HDB flats can choose between a BTO unit or purchasing a flat from the resale market.
So you’re single and living it up, and the next milestone is to get your own HDB flat. You can finally avoid the increasingly pointed questions from your parents and also get bumped up another rung on the “I’m An Adult” ladder. It wasn’t so long ago that owning an HDB flat was but a pipe dream for single Singaporeans. Back then, the best you could do was to rope in a parent as a co-lessee, and hope they don’t go nosing around too much while you’re away at work. Today, HDB rules have been tweaked to recognise that many Singaporeans are putting off marriage until they’re older and that singlehood is becoming a more acceptable lifestyle. So if getting your own home is high on your to-do list, here’s a quick guide to the options you have available to you.
 
What are the HDB Eligibility Requirements for Singles?
First things first, HDB flats are only available to Singaporeans or PRs. You have to be at least 35 years old if you’re applying as an unmarried or divorced individual. The only exception is if you are an orphan with no siblings; you may apply for your own flat upon turning 21. Unrelated singles who are 35 years or older can also jointly apply for an HDB flat – up to 4 such individuals can co-own a flat this way. The only other eligibility requirement is the EIP and SPR quota (used to encourage and maintain social cohesiveness). However, this is more likely to impact your flat’s location, rather than act as a hurdle against your eligibility to apply for one.
 
What HDB Flats Can Singles Buy?
As a single buyer, you have 2 choices when it comes to HDB apartments – 2-room BTO flat, or a resale HDB flat. The table below presents a quick summary of the pros and cons of both options.
Which HDB Flats Should Singles Get?
2-Room BTO Flat
HDB Resale Flat
More affordable
(approx S$90,000 to S$135,000)
More expensive
(approx S$270,000 to S$350,000)
Longer waiting time
(average 3 to 4 years)
Shorter waiting time
(You can complete your purchase in as little as 6 months)
Restricted to 2-room units (35 sqm to 45 sqm)
No restrictions in flat type, starting from 3-room flats (65 sqm and up)
Lower availability
Higher availability
Brand-new apartment
Pre-owned apartment
Full 99-year lease
Shorter lease period remaining
Cannot sub-let
Can sub-let
 
BTO 2-Room Flats Are Affordable, But Restricted in Size
The biggest advantage of getting a BTO flat is a financial one – BTOs are priced significantly cheaper than those on the resale market. However, unmarried individuals are restricted to 2-room* Flexi units only, even if there are multiple co-applicants. With 1 bedroom and 1 living room, the total floor space of such units ranges from 35 sqm to 45 sqm. Clearly, a 2-room HDB flat is small, but if you apply for one under the BTO scheme, you’ll be getting a brand-new apartment that you can renovate to suit your needs. For example, the current 35 square meter model has a sliding partition in lieu of a solid wall, allowing you to realise an open floor plan apartment. However, 2-room BTO flats are notoriously hard to get. As recently as November 2016, the balloting exercise counted 7 applicants for each available unit among singles. Then, there’s the waiting time. Even if you’re lucky enough to be successful in your ballot, you’ll still need to wait around 3 to 4 years for your flat to be built before you can move in. *When referring to HDB flats, always subtract ‘1’ from the name to determine how many bedrooms you’ll be getting. So a 3-room flat means 2 bedrooms + 1 living room, 4-room means 3 bedrooms + 1 living room, etc.
 
Resale Flats Are Available Immediately, But Cost Far More
If balloting (and waiting) for a BTO 2-room unit doesn’t appeal to you, you can try looking for a suitable apartment on the resale market. Singles – whether individually or jointly – can purchase any type of HDB resale they desire, provided they can afford it. The main disadvantage of buying a resale flat is the cost. At present, and reasonably for the next 30 years or so, the smallest resale HDB you can probably buy is a 3-room unit. (HDB flats have a minimum occupancy period of 5 years, and with current supply not yet meeting demand, it is unlikely you’ll find any 2-room units on the resale market anytime soon.) The prices of HDB resale flats have been steadily coming down, thanks to government cooling measures. This has helped put resale flats within reach of most single buyers. However, you should still expect to pay around S$270,000 to $360,000 for a 3-room HDB resale unit. If your resale flat has less than 60 years remaining on its lease, you’ll be limited in how long you can use your CPF to pay for your mortgage. This means that as your mortgage matures, you’ll have to pay more cash out of your pocket. Do bear this in mind when planning your finances. After you’ve located and purchased your own HDB resale flat, you’ll most likely have to/want to carry out some major renovation work. Anecdotal evidence suggests that you should budget S$30,000 for a 3-room flat, S$40,000 for a 4-room flat, and S$50,000 for a 5-room flat for renovation. As a single homeowner, you’ll undoubtedly find a resale flat more expensive to own. However, a resale unit offers you one financial advantage that a 2-room BTO does not. If you don’t need the extra rooms, you can rent them out to generate some additional income. Granted, there are pros and cons to sharing your home with renters, but don’t underestimate the financial possibilities that leasing can open up.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Is It Better To Pay Off Debt Or Save Money?

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.


When Singaporeans are juggling debt, which is the smarter thing to do – pay off debts quickly, or save money for emergencies? If you have debt and no savings, you may be torn as which of the two to settle first. Without savings you can’t cope with emergencies, but the longer you retain debt the more interest you pay. Here are some handy guidelines Singaporeans can use to strike a balance between the two.
 
Paying Off Debt Versus Building Your Savings
The argument for paying off debt first boils down to interest. The longer you retain debt, the more you pay in terms of interest rates. However, it is not advisable to go for long periods without savings. This is because, without savings, you could fall into a poverty cycle. For example, say you are eager to repay your credit card debt. You pay S$3,000 of your S$4,000 to rush repayment. This leaves you with just S$1,000 to live on. But what happens if you get into an accident or some sort of emergency, which costs you S$2,000? Chances are, you will again use credit cards for the funds, thus leaving you further in debt. Not balancing between saving and debt repayment often leads to situations where your pay cheque disappears as soon as you get it (all of it goes into debt repayment), but at the same time your debt doesn’t seem to go away. The key is to balance between the two, by looking at your situation. See which of these applies to you:
 
Situation #1: You Have Debt You Cannot Repay in 1 Year
If you cannot repay the entire debt within the year, it is generally a good idea to repay the debt more slowly (admittedly paying more interest) while still building up savings. As a typical example, consider your housing loan: Say you owe S$200,000 on your HDB flat. You have managed to accumulate savings of S$15,000 over time. Your mortgage interest rate is 2.6 per cent per annum (this is extremely low, as a mortgage often has the lowest interest of any debt). You could try to speed up your home loan repayment, by immediately putting all S$15,000 into your mortgage repayments. But what would that leave you? Before rushing repayment, your position is (S$200,000 in debt – S$15,000 repayment) – S$185,000. If you were to put all S$15,000 into repayment, your net position would be (S$185,000 in debt – S$0 in assets)…still – S$185,000. Your net position has not changed at all. The only difference is that now, you also do not have savings to deal with emergencies. This is the reason why most people do not want to accelerate home loan repayments. You can apply the same concept to other forms of debt. If you cannot repay a debt in its entirety, and you would take more than a year to do so, then you will need a balanced approach. Set aside 50% of your monthly income. Of this amount, put 20% into savings, and the remaining 30% into debt repayments. For example: if you earn S$4,000 a month after CPF and taxes, you might put S$800 a month in savings, and S$1,200 into debt repayment. The exact ratio will differ based on how much you owe and the interest rate, so speak to a Financial Advisor for further help. Nonetheless, keep in mind that for debts you cannot repay quickly, you should maintain a savings plan while paying them off.
 
Situation #2: You Have a High-Interest Debt That You Cannot Repay in 1 Year
High interest rate debts include credit card debts. In these situations, you will need to restructure your debt obligations. Take a lower interest rate to pay off the high interest debt, and then save while paying off the cheaper loan. For example: Say you owe S$10,000 in credit card debt, which has an interest rate of 24% per annum. You could take out a personal loan of S$10,000 at 6% per annum, and pay off the credit card debt with it. You would then proceed to save while paying off the personal loan, as in Situation 1. The key is to get a personal loan with the lowest interest rate, and one of the best in the market right now is the HSBC Personal Loan. Singaporeans who apply through SingSaver.com.sg enjoy an exclusive low rate of 4.5% p.a. (EIR 8.5% p.a.), plus a waiver of S$88 processing fees and S$50 cashback.  
 
Situation #3: You Are Able to Pay the Entire Debt in 6 Months or Less
If you are able to pay off the debt in a relatively short period (six months is a general guideline), it often makes sense to pay the debt before saving. In fact, many banks offer interest-free balance transfers for up to six months, making this quite viable. However, if you choose this route, you must be disciplined and pay off the debt as soon as possible. Also, you should consider your circumstances. If there is a chance that you will need money urgently in the near future, you might still choose to save and pay off the debt slowly.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Focus On Quality S-REITs

Golden Picks: Suntec: 1st tranche - $1.65 (filled last week)  2nd tranche - $1.60

CCT: 1st tranche - $1.515 (filled last week)  2nd tranche - $1.47

FCT: 1st tranche - $1.905 (filled last week)  2nd tranche - $1.86




Bonus Picks:
Singtel: 1st tranche - $3.65 2nd tranche - $3.60

CMT: 1st tranche - $1.90 2nd tranche - $1.86

MCT: 1st tranche - $1.40 2nd tranche - $1.36



(All comments made in this blog are purely my own views and analysis, they may be wrong and readers are wiser to do their own due diligence. I am not held responsible for any losses incurred, at the end of the day its your own money your own decisions.)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The 5 Best Ways To Spend Your Year-End Bonus In Singapore

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.





Here’s how you can use your year-end bonus to meet long-term goals while treating yourself for working so hard. We know, we know. You’ve worked hard for your money, and now you want to treat yourself. We wholeheartedly agree, but we’d be remiss in our duty if we didn’t urge you to include your year-end bonus into your overall budget. Failing to plan what to do with your bonus makes you fall prey to mental accounting, a cognitive bias that makes your brain go fuzzy around unexpected money. Before you know it, you’ll have spent a month’s salary (or more) on unwise purchases that get in the way of your goals.
 
Strike a Balance Between Short-term and Long-term Goals
You don’t have to take an all or nothing approach. Instead, try dividing your bonus to cover all bases – i.e., make progress on your financial obligations, build up long-term savings, and also meet short-term or immediate needs. Try a 50:30:20 ratio, where you put 50% of your bonus into debt repayment, 30% into savings (such as your emergency fund, or your SRS account) and 20% to spend any way you like. If you don’t have any debt (good job, keep it up!) then feel free to focus on savings/retirement planning, and rewarding yourself. A good guide for this would be to put 60% into savings and 40% for fun. Besides having fun, here are the 5 best ways to spend your year-end bonus:
 
1. Pay Off Your Credit Card Debts
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the first thing you need to tackle is your high-interest debts. For most Singaporeans, the Number 1 source for this is credit card balances. As recently as June 2015, unsecured debt among Singaporeans (a class of debt that includes credit cards and loans) continued to rise. This means that more people are owing more money. You know that credit card interest rates are high; they can reach 28% or more, depending on how you use the credit assigned to you. But what does that mean in practical terms? It means this: according to the Rule of 72, the amount of money you owe today will double in just over 2.5 years. Trust us, you never want to get into a situation where you have to do deep and complicated calculations just to know if you can afford an extra piece of tofu for dinner tonight. So if you have outstanding credit card debt, pay it down with your bonus.
 
2. Start or Top-up Your Emergency Fund
Assuming you have little to no bad debts, the next highest-priority item on your list should be to start or top-up your emergency fund. Individual needs may vary, but a good rule is to set aside 6 months of your monthly expenditure. That may seem like a lot, but if your annual bonus is around 2 months, you’ll be able to accumulate this in as little as 3 years. Also, you’ll want this money to be easily accessible, so make sure you keep your emergency fund liquid (i.e., in cash form, or easily cashed out with negligible penalties or fees). As with any large goal, tackle your 6-month emergency fund target by breaking it down into smaller, achievable steps. Even then, the most important thing is to start your emergency fund as soon as you can. During an unforeseen event, S$1,000 is much more useful than S$0.
 
3. Book Your Child’s PSLE Preparatory Courses
If your child is due to take their PSLE in the coming year, then you’ll want to reserve your bonus to pay for their preparatory camps or supplementary courses. We’re not trying to scare you into giving up your children up for adoption, but PSLE preparation courses can cost anywhere from S$500 to S$1,500… per subject. Multiply that by 4 (for each of the compulsory subjects that will be examined) and you’ll understand why parents get so anxious about their children’s scores. Hint: giving up the annual family holiday may have had something to do with it. Depending on your child’s aptitude, you may only need to send her for one or two courses. But with everyone and (literally) their grandmothers sending your child’s classmates for supplementary lessons every chance they get, how comfortable are you leaving your children out? Luckily, there are some ways you can reduce your expenses on supplementary classes. Booking the workshops early is a good practice, as you can eliminate the chance of exceeding your budget should you miss the intake of your intended learning centre.
 
4. Pay Your Insurance Premiums (and Other Bills) in Advance
If you have ongoing insurance plans, paying your premiums for the coming year will save you money. Most insurers give you a slight discount if you pay your premiums on a yearly basis, versus say quarterly or monthly. This translates into savings over the long run that can quickly add up, depending on the type of plan and the age of the insured. In the case of an Investment-Linked Plan, the discounts are used to buy more units. Another advantage of pre-paying your premiums is that you can avoid forced termination of your plan. If you are unable to pay your premiums and your plan is terminated early, you’ll often lose a large part of the premiums you have paid up. You can apply the same practice to your regular bills as well. Pre-pay by estimating your monthly expenditure for each service or utility, then multiply by 12. This will save you from late or re-connection fees, and also takes the pressure off you should you find yourself staring down unemployment. (Or if you simply want to go on a hiatus.)
 
5. Start a Supplementary Retirement Scheme Account
It is never too early to start your retirement planning – just ask the 6 in 10 Singaporeans that start saving only at age 45, only to realise they don’t have adequate funds. If you don’t know where to start, consider putting your bonus into a Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) account for 3 financial advantages. Firstly, your SRS contributions count towards your tax deductibles, so you instantly save money, especially if you’re in a high tax bracket. Next, you can use your SRS monies for investment, giving you a chance to beat the inflation rate and reap higher returns. Lastly, at age 62 (the earliest draw-down age allowed) only 50% of your SRS monies will be taxed. You can also spread out your SRS withdrawal period over 10 years, which means you could well pay S$0* tax on your entire SRS amount. (*Quick explainer: Assume you have S$400,000 in your SRS at age 62, and you draw down S$40,000 per year for the next 10 years. You’ll be taxed on S$20,000 (50% of S$40,000). However, the tax rate is 0% for the first S$20,000, which means you won’t have to pay any taxes at all.) One caveat though: the SRS contribution rate is capped at a yearly limit of S$15,300 for Singaporeans and PRs, and S$35,700 for foreigners, so you can give up your fantasy of squirrelling your entire wealth away from the taxman.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Be Sensitive To Valuations When Trading S-REITs

 
S-REITs
13 Dec
Closing Price
NAV
Valuation
Suntec REIT
$1.725
$2.10
17.9% undervalued
CapitaLand Commercial Trust
$1.54
$1.72
10.5% undervalued
Frasers Centrepoint Trust
$1.92
$1.93
Fairly-valued
CapitaLand Mall Trust
$1.945
$1.86
4.7% overvalued
Mapletree Commercial Trust
$1.42
$1.32
7.5% overvalued
Ascendas REIT
$2.39
$2.03
17.7% overvalued


Looking at their valuations, Suntec REIT and CapitaLand Commercial Trust have significant 'upside potential' since they seem to be grossly undervalued. Personally, I am not touching Mapletree Commercial Trust and Ascendas REIT for now as they have more room to fall as the Fed starts to normalise interest rates.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Get Ready To FIFO S-REITs After Fed Rate Hike (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, click here

The previous post on this topic focused on retail & commercial S-REIT. This post focuses on industrial S-REITs.


Ascendas REIT:
  1. Gearing: 34.2%
  2. Weighted average debt expiry: 3.8 years
  3. WALE: 3.7 years (Singapore portfolio: 3.5 years Australia portfolio: 5.1 years)
  4. Interest coverage: 5.3 times
  5. All-in annual debt costs: 3%
  6. Percentage of total borrowings hedged on fixed rates: 77.6%
  7. Credit rating by Moody's: A3 Stable

Mapletree Logistics Trust:
  1. Gearing: 37.6%
  2. Weighted average debt expiry: 3.5 years
  3. Debt maturity profile: 2017-15% 2018-16% 2019-14% 2020-17% 2021-16%
  4. WALE: 4.1 years
  5. Interest coverage: 5.7 times
  6. All-in annual debt costs: 2.3%
  7. Percentage of total borrowings hedged on fixed rates: 81%
  8. Credit rating by Moody's: 'Baa1' with stable outlook

Mapletree Industrial Trust:
  1. Gearing: 29%
  2. Weighted average debt expiry: 3.5 years
  3. Debt maturity profile: 2017-17.4% 2018-17.4% 2019-27.4% 2020-8.7% 2021-9.4%
  4. WALE: 2.8 years
  5. Interest coverage: 8 times
  6. All-in annual debt costs: 2.6%
  7. Percentage of total borrowings on fixed rates: 68.6%
  8. Credit rating by Fitch: 'BBB+' with stable outlook

Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust:
  1. Gearing: 28.2%
  2. Debt maturity profile: No refinancing needs in 2017 and 2018
  3. WALE: 6.6 years
  4. Interest coverage: 7.5 times
  5. All-in annual debt costs: 2.8%

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Why These Common Superstitions In Singapore Make You Spend More

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.

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!

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