Basics of Insurance

Basics of Insurance

Written by Letitia Jinghui Lean, edited by Jackie Tan and How To Adult. This was a guest post for How To Adult.

Self-sufficiency, or in easier terms, being able to cover your own ass just in case. What else does this remind you of? Yup, you guessed it – insurance. Think about having insurance as the ability to build your house from the ground after it gets blown away by the big, bad wolf. With insurance, you’ll save yourself the monetary stress!

A Guide To Student Loan Repayment

Student loan repayment guide

Written by Qiu Yiming, edited by Jackie Tan.

Many students in Singapore take up loans for the purpose of financing their higher education. This makes student loans fundamentally different from other consumer loans, which are made by households to purchase goods that would be consumed immediately. Taking student loan is, in some way, more similar to an investment – it helps borrowers to to gain knowledge and skills through their university education, which would enable them to perform better and gain higher earnings in the future.

Similar to all investment activities, taking student loans involves giving up resources and exposure to risks. Upon graduation, borrowers will face a substantial amount of debt, accumulated during the years of studies which has to be repaid regularly together with interest. Most students would want to repay the loans as soon as possible. After all, the longer you take to repay the loan, the more interest would be incurred, and the more you have to pay in the end. However, before you put all your extra salary into loan repayment, here are five considerations to make so you can make the best decision.

#1 How much money you need monthly to have a decent standard of living?

The first thing you need to consider is your monthly living expenses, which are the money you need to spend on necessities so as to have a decent standard of living. You can calculate this by referring to your past spending history, and make adjustments based on any changes your plan to make. The table below is a guide for you to calculate your monthly living expenses: 

Table for expense calculation
Example of a table you can set up to sum up your expenses.

#2 How much salary do you take home monthly?

After calculating how much you need to live, you also need to know how much you take home and how much you are left with. Your monthly take-home pay is calculated by subtracting your CPF contribution from your monthly salary, which is 20% and is up to a maximum of $1,200 per month.

Table that you can set up to calculate your take home pay. Remember: 20% of your monthly salary, and at the max of $1,200/month

#3 Saving for emergency situations

It is always important for you to have some savings for emergency situations. This way, you will be financially prepared to deal with unforeseen circumstances in the future. You may also consider other factors, such as whether your parents would lend you money should emergency situations arise, when deciding on how much you need to save. That said, you should not count on your parents to lend you money.

How much money you’ve left after putting money into savings

#4 Calculate your loan repayment period under different scenarios

The earlier you repay the loan, the less interest you incur, and the less you need to pay in total. There is, however, a tradeoff between your total loan repayment amount and your living standard. You either choose to take longer time and spend more on loan repayment while maintaining a decent living standard, or take shorter time and spend less on loan repayment, with little to spend on your other activities. To find the right balance, you can calculate and compare loan repayment period under different scenarios.

Here is a formula you can use to calculate your repayment period:

Seems daunting, but it’s a relatively simple equation.

PV (present value) is the total amount of debt you have; PMT (payment) is the monthly loan repayment you plan to make; I (interest) is the monthly effective interest rate; N is the total number of months you need to repay your loan. 

Simply insert your PV and I values, and try out different PMT values to obtain N. You can play around with the figures until you find something acceptable. 

There are several loan calculators out there; we used the loan calculator in this website: https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/finance/calculators/loancalculator.php)

#5 What is your personal preference?

Some people just dislike debt. The feeling of owing someone something adds psychological burden on them so it is better for them to repay their debt as soon as possible. If you are one of those people, consider a larger amount of monthly loan repayment (PMT), so you will have a smaller total number of payments (N) and get rid of your debt in a shorter period. If, however, you belong to the group of people who regard happiness and high living standard as very important, and do not mind holding debt for a long period of time, you may want to have a smaller monthly loan repayment, giving yourself extra money to spend on other activities. Do note that the longer you take to repay the loan, the more interest would be incurred on interest due to compounding effect, and the total amount you have to pay to get rid of debt may increase a lot in the end.

Debt is not always a bad thing. Student loans are investments in human capital and may be necessary for you to find good jobs. The repayment of student loans do create headache for some. To have a bigger picture and to make the most suitable choice, ask yourself these five questions when making your loan repayment plan!

If you have any more questions on personal finance and loans, why not ask our curated pool of trusted financial advisers?

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

4 Things To Consider Before Buying An Integrated Shield Plan

Things to consider before getting an Integrated Shield Plan

MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan that is administered by the Central Provident Fund to help pay hospital bills. Consumers can also opt to get Integrated Shield Plans, which is composed of Medishield Life and a second component that provides additional private insurance coverage for higher class wards in public and private hospitals. Higher class wards and private hospital wards can be quite pricey, and as such Integrated Shield Plans are very popular amongst Singaporeans – 68% of them have Integrated Shield Plans.

While Integrated Shield Plans are great, they nonetheless require more premiums per year and as such require careful thought before adding it on. In this article, fundMyLife lists the things to consider before getting an integrated shield plan.

#1 Personal preferences for treatment

MediShield Life provides enough coverage to take care of large hospital bills in B2 or C class wards in public hospitals. In B2 or C class wards in public hospitals, you share a room with 6 and 8-10 beds respectively, without any TVs. These wards have natural ventilation, i.e. no air-con, and the patients are taken care of by a team of doctors. However, in an A/B1 ward in public hospitals and wards in private hospitals, you get to have your own bed or share with less patients. The wards are air-conditioned and you’d be taken care of by individual doctors.

One of the things to consider before getting an integrated shield plan – your personal preference. Figure adapted from Central Provident Fund website.

As the diagram above shows, there is a difference between B2/C and A/B1/private wards. However, it really depends on your personal preference. You can opt for B2/C wards if you do not mind the crowd and a lack of TV – a pair of earphones and a good book solve these issues. On top of that, you’d be spending most of your time recovering and sleeping anyways.

#2 Your current and future budget

It is important to consider not just your current budget, but your future budget as well as premiums of shield plans will increase as you get older. The increases are not trivial as you age. To illustrate this, we compiled integrated shield plan premiums for private hospital from the six insurance companies that offer them. In addition, if you are curious to know more, you can either go to the companies’ website or the Ministry of Health’s website. The Ministry of Health releases regularly updated information on MediShield and Integrated Shield Plans, including premiums and benefits.

Premiums for Private Hospital Plans from different insurers
A bar chart showing the increasing premiums for private hospital plans. Plans referred to: 1) Income Enhanced IncomeShield Preferred, 2) AIA HealthShield Gold Max A, 3) AXA Shield Plan A, 4) Great Eastern Supreme Health P Plus, 5) Aviva MyShield Plan 1, 6) Prudential PruShield A Premier. Some of the plans do not have information at certain age ranges.

As the illustration shows, the premiums increase over time, and most sharply after age 40. More specifically, the premiums increase between 50-70% when you are 41, from age 40, depending on which company. While we used private hospital shield plan premiums to illustrate this, the pattern is the same for plans for lower class wards as well. Your future ability to pay the ever-increasing premiums is important because there is a limit on how much your MediSave can cover the premium, which means you’ll need to fork out cash for the rest. The ability to pay is one of the more important things to consider before getting an Integrated Shield Plan.

#3 Riders

As the name suggests, riders are add-ons to enhance existing coverage by the Integrated Shield Plans. These riders are useful, as they can assist in reducing any deductible or co-insurance portions on the consumers’ hospital bills (subject to co-payment within limits).

In addition, there are two ways to get daily cash benefits using riders. One way is to be warded in a ward that is of a lower class than you were entitled to. Another way is to get daily cash benefit riders that specifically pay out daily cash benefits for every day you are hospitalized. Other riders include coverage for children’s illnesses and international hospitalization.

#4 Hospital bill sizes

Besides knowing your coverage, we feel that it is important to understand the average bill sizes across different hospitals and wards. We visited the website in the Ministry of Health, which display the rates for various hospitals in 2015. In the list, there are nine hospitals – Alexandra Hospital (AH), Changi General Hospital (CGH), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), National University Hospital (NUH), Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), Singapore General Hospital (SGH), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), and National Heart Center (NHC).

A comparison of average bill sizes from different hospitals. Source from Ministry of Health website.

Not surprisingly, the average bill sizes vary across different hospitals. While there is little difference between the average bill sizes between Class B2 and Class C, the difference is much more noticeable for between Class B1 and Class B2. Note that the bill sizes are on average, and do not reflect the bill for various medical conditions. For that, it is another major article topic in itself.

Conclusion

That’s all, folks! We hope that this article was useful in sharing the things to consider before getting an Integrated Shield Plan. It can be tricky to figure out what kind of coverage you need. As such, if you have any more questions on this plan, why not ask our curated pool of trusted financial advisers? They can definite advise on the things to consider before getting an integrated shield plan!

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

7 Ways Couples Can Manage Their Money Without Fighting

Manage money without fighting

Written by Daniel Tay, edited by Jackie Tan. 

Getting together as a couple presents not only a new lifestyle, but also new ways on managing their finances together. It is said that couples often prefer to manage their money like how their parents did. However, a couple’s unique situation may require a style different from their parents’. Money is a huge factor in a couple’s relationship, and managing them is a key to either breaking or making it. In this article, we present seven ways of managing a couple’s finances.

#1 To Each His/Her Own

Each person handles personal finances in separate accounts.

Barry is a widower whose ex-wife had cancer. To pay for her medical expenses, Barry depleted his savings, borrowed heavily on his credit cards, and took personal loans. While paying off his debts, he enters into a new relationship with Iris. They want to buy a property together. However, Barry might be unable to take any loan, having maxed out his borrowing facilities. Barry and Iris keep their finances separate until his finances become healthier.

This way also works when:

  1. One party’s finances are much more complex than the other, e.g., one party has multiple sources of income
  2. One party has secrets to hide
  3. Mutual trust is lacking between the two
  4. Both parties spend money very differently or are unsure of their long-term commitment to each other

What is required:

  1. Simple financial planning
  2. Sophisticated estate planning, due to individually owned assets

2) What’s Mine Is Yours

Combine all finances in joint accounts.

Young adults Harry and Gwen have been dating for years. They have similar personalities, hobbies, and life goals. They do almost everything together. Each cares deeply for the other’s family. As they make similar financial decisions, they decide to combine their resources in a single account.

This works when a couple:

  1. Want to seal their long-term commitment to each other
  2. Have shared hobbies, combined financial goals, and straightforward finances
  3. Are close to their families
  4. Have mutual trust

What it requires:

  1. Sophisticated financial planning
  2. Simple estate planning with joint ownership of assets
  3. Open communication about each other’s spending

#3 You’re My Equal

Each person owns an account and contributes equally to a joint account.

In Diana’s family, the women are strong-willed. In Steve’s family, men make the decisions. Unable to agree on their money management, Diana and Steve hold separate accounts. However, they need to pay for their house and daily household needs. They pay for these expenses from a joint account to which they contribute equally.

This works when a couple has:

  1. Some combined financial goals, but want some independence.
  2. Roughly the same income
  3. Moved in together and have shared household expenses or shared savings goals.

What it requires:

  1. Complex financial planning and estate planning

#4 I Pay, You Save

One person pays for everything. The other saves/invests all of his/her income.

Scott and Jean want to take up a full-time university course, but cannot do so simultaneously. They first accumulate savings, living on Scott’s earnings and saving all of Jean’s earnings. After building their savings and emergency fund, Jean goes for full-time study. By now, they are used to living on Scott’s salary. When Jean finishes her studies, she finds a job with income roughly equal to Scott’s salary. Scott then goes for his further studies.

This works when:

  1. One person earns much more than the other
  2. A couple goes single income in future, as it disciplines them to survive on one person’s income

What it requires:

  1. An income replacement plan for the one whose income pays for all the family expenses, in case she/he becomes unable to work
  2. Family emergency fund
  3. Disciplined spending
  4. Budgeting for leisure

5) The Fair Treatment

Each person contributes an amount proportionate to his/her income.

Henry, a scientist, earns a stable income. His wife Janet starts an interior design company. At first her projects are intermittent. Some months she earns nothing. Hank contributes more to their shared account. Janet contributes when she can. When Janet’s business flourishes, she takes over contributing more to pay for their shared expenses.

This works when:

  1. One person’s income is much higher than the other’s, and he/she is uncomfortable with the other contributing the same amount.
  2. Both have different lifestyles.
  3. One party is switching career, or starting a business.

6) Pay As You Use

Each person pays for the products/services that he/she use more.

Peter is a photojournalist. Mary-Jane is a fashion model. To look her best, she uses beauty products and services. She pays for their magazine subscriptions, including her beauty magazines and Peter’s photography journals. Peter buys cameras, lenses, computers, and photo-editing software. He pays for the family computer and related online services.

This works when one partner:

  1. Does not want to pay for the other’s hobby
  2. Has an expensive hobby, like shopping, collecting luxury items, travel etc
  3. Uses a household service much more than the other e.g. internet, cable TV, garden services, etc

7) The Japanese Method

One person holds all the money and gives the other an allowance.

Clark comes from a rural Indian village. He came to Singapore to work in a tech company. His wife Lois, a homemaker, grew up in Mumbai and immigrated to Singapore. Knowing little about finances, Clark gives his monthly salary to Lois who makes the financial decisions. Lois gives Clark a monthly allowance.

This is useful when only one party knows how to manage money.

Risks:

  1. If the one managing the money becomes unable to do so, the other could be at a loss as to what to do.
  2. If the breadwinner manages the money, the other might feel a power imbalance in the relationship.

What it requires:

  1. An income replacement plan for the breadwinner, in case s/he becomes unable to work
  2. Family emergency fund
  3. Insurance for the non income earner because if he/she falls ill, becomes disabled or gets into an accident, the breadwinner may have to pay for others to look after the children and household or take time off and a pay cut to do it

At the end of the day, each couple has to decide which method best suits their preference and situation. A couple does not have to stick with one way all the way, because situations do change. And these methods are not mutually exclusive as different ways can be combined for certain situations. In addition, couples should seek the advice of a holistic financial planner to optimize their assets.

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

What To Do After A Personal Accident (In Increasing Order Of Severity)

fundMyLife explores what to do after a personal accident

At the risk of sounding cliched, accidents can happen any time in your life, be it big or small. It ranges from spraining an ankle while running in MacRitchie Reservoir, to being crushed by a heavy container at work. How does one cope with life after these accidents? That’s where personal accident plans come in – to assist with outpatient medical expenses, provide assistance during recuperation, and – if death is involved – a peace of mind to tide loved ones through. We have written quite a bit about these plans in the past, but not what comes after. In this article, fundMyLife talks about what to do after a personal accident – in order of severity of injuries.

#1 Not dead, and okay

Chances are, you’re injured but the injury is not so bad that you need to be warded. For example, the earlier example where you sprain your ankle running in MacRitchie Reservoir. In this case, you can claim your out-patient treatment. On top of that, your mobility aids like wheelchairs or crutches are covered.

What to do after a personal accident that doesn’t hurt you too badly? Go get some rest. You’ll heal up soon enough.

#2 Not dead, but temporarily disabled

Temporary disabilities leave your body intact, i.e. no limbs missing, but you are unable to function in your everyday job after the accident. That’s a relief. However, temporary disabilities come in two forms – total and partial. The difference between the two is the extent of your injuries that hinder your ability to carry out your work. As the terms suggest, the former is when you cannot carry out your tasks at all whereas the latter is when you can partially carry out your job.

In either case, the temporary disability feature of the personal accident plan kicks in and provides weekly cash payouts usually up to 104 weeks (that’s two years). Temporary disability benefits do not come as a lump sum. Note that you have to be employed in the first place to benefit from the weekly cash payouts, and that your temporary disability has to be longer than 7 days. With that, you can take your time to rest and recover. After recovery, you can get back to work as usual.

According to one of the advisers we interviewed, he regretted not taking a plan that had weekly payouts while he recuperated from an injury. He had to rely on his colleagues to get things done, until he recovered a few weeks later. However, he was grateful that his personal accident plan covered the outpatient treatment nonetheless.

#3 Not dead, but permanently disabled

Permanent total disabilities refer to conditions where you lose both of either limbs, lose your eyesight in both eyes, a combination of previous two, or loss of both hearing and speech. On the other hand, partial permanent disabilities are when you lose one of your limbs. The difference in the payout between the two types of permanent disabilities is huge, as the payout for partial permanent disabilities has a large variation.

It is useful to examine the compensation table by the insurance companies you get your plan from. For example, losing both eyes entitled you to full payout whereas losing only one eye will give you 50% of the sum insured.

As opposed to the weekly payout under temporary disability, permanent disability comes with a lump sum payment. This is where things become really serious. Depending on your disability, the world will be different for you now. All you have left is the sum of money to tide you through. What to do after a personal accident like this?

Coping with post-accident life really depends on the disability. If you lose eyesight in both eyes, you can no longer do computer work, for example. The next best course of action would be to attend courses that retrain you for gainful employment. Organizations like the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped offer courses for the visually handicapped to operate computers. On top of that, you will have to readjust your finances from not being able to do your previous job and/or lowered earning potential.

#4 Dead

This part is for the family member of the deceased. Now that a family member is deceased, what’s next? Hopefully, the loved one had a personal accident policy with death benefits. In addition, it is helpful to have a trusted financial adviser who can assist you with claims. For death claims, in general (don’t take our word for it – check the fine print from companies), you have to submit several documents to prove that there was a death and that you’re related to the deceased.

  1. Death claims form
  2. Death certificate
  3. Proof of relationship to deceased
  4. Copy of insurance policy

From our research, it usually takes 14 days for the company to get back to you regarding the status of the claims. After that, the claims officer will advise if there are any more documents required after processing.

Getting the money is the first of many parts, so what’s next? The lump sum of money will help in the short run, but ultimately you’ll need to figure your next move. Death of a loved one is tragic, and more so if he/she was the breadwinner.  While the lump sum may seem a lot, it is meant to cover monthly expenses and fixed monthly expenses like mortgage. That said, if you purchased mortgage insurance you can worry less about mortgage payments.

In general, your immediate aim is to settle any outstanding debts and managing a healthy cashflow for the family for the next few months. That means no unnecessary risks like investing that lump sum, especially products without liquidity (we’re looking at you, ILPs and endowments).

Conclusion

Regardless of whichever stage of injury you are in, personal accident plans come in handy to tide through difficult times. While we do not wish anyone to be in the fourth category, it is nonetheless wise to prepare yourself for the worst. In any case, we have come to the end of the article, and we hope that you now know what to do after a personal accident. If you’re still unsure about what you need, why not ask our curated pool of trusted financial advisers?

Been doing lots of research, but not sure who to engage to take the final step? Look no further! fundMyLife connects you to credible and incredible financial advisers privately and anonymously, based on the financial planning questions that you ask. We aim to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Basics of Financial Planning

Basics of Financial Planning

Written by Letitia Jinghui Lean, edited by Jackie Tan and How To Adult. This was a guest post for How To Adult.

Nothing in school ever prepares you for the tsunami of responsibilities that come with being an adult, you just get mercilessly thrown into the deep end. Suddenly, you’ve got bills to pay, budgeting to do, insurance to set up, and many other responsibilities that keep piling up!

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

The key is to take things one at a time, and breathe. In this article, we’re gonna simplify the mind-boggling concept of financial planning and provide baby steps you can take to set yourself up for financial success in the future.

Huh, simi ‘financial planning’ ?

It’s preparing for your future through evaluation of your current pay and desired financial future. By setting short-term and long-term goals, you’ll be better equipped and motivated to make good financial decisions and accumulate the wealth you need to meet said goals.

You could also think of it as building a house. A solid foundation is needed before everything else falls into place. Good financial planning also gives you that stable base, from which you can build your fortune to protect yourself and your family from the different types of personal disasters.

So, where do I start?

It is important to strategise. It is also equally important to remember that your strategy shouldn’t be set in stone. Your strategy should be up for re-evaluation and revision to match with the changing conditions throughout the years. You could start by:

Step 1: Determining your current financial situation

What is your current financial situation? This refers to your income, savings, expenses, debts and loans. If you are unsure, ask your parents – they’ll be sure to help! It’s good to have these information written out.

Step 2: Deciding on your financial goals

What do you wish to accomplish or own? It goes beyond saving money for that big-item purchase. Talk to your family or partner to get their advice. Ultimately, only you can decide on your goals and differentiate between your needs and wants.

Step 3: Identifying possible courses of action and alternatives

How can you achieve your goals? Here is where you become well-versed with different strategies. You could evaluate the benefits and risks of various solutions, and even get some answers from the Internet.

Step 4: Implement your financial action plan

When can you start? It’s time for you to select, plan and take action. Consult your financial advisor as they could speed up the process and help you make better decisions too.


If all these seem overwhelming, that’s because it is. It isn’t the easiest thing in the world, cus’ it actually takes plenty of time, effort and commitment – but it’s all for a better future.

In order to get a head-start on the financial planning process, here are some tried-and-tested strategies that others have used. Some of these points have already been touched on in our other posts, but hey – that just reiterates the importance of it, huh?

Set up a budget

Aha, if you’re wondering what this means, head on over to our ‘5 Budgeting Tips’ article. In this day and age, people still underestimate the impact of this strategy. You’ll be better equipped to cut down on unnecessary expenditure and direct your resources to where you want it to go, when you understand your cash flow.

Segregate your expenses into 3 categories: non-negotiables (eg. taxes, debt payments), important (eg. groceries and bills) and discretionary (eg. entertainment, shopping). You’ll be able to better prioritise – helping you achieve your financial goals!

You could even download free applications such as SeedlyPocket Expense and Expensify to help track your cash flow with ease. You’ll be surprised at how much you spend on unnecessary items! And yes, that refers to that pair of jeans adding on to your collection.

Create an emergency savings fund

As we’ve discussed in our ‘Save Money with 5 Simple Steps’ article, life is unexpected and anything can happen. It’s always good to be kiasu and start saving for that rainy day that could happen at any time (touch wood).

Separate your savings and spendings accounts

As mentioned by Kenneth Lou of Seedly during our Official Launch Party, it’s always good to separate your savings and spendings. You’ll be able to use every single cent of your spendings account, but never from your savings.

Easier said than done, but you could always automate the channelling of your finances into these 2 accounts by setting up a GIRO account. Let the bank do the hard work, while you watch your money grow! Thank you, compound interest.

You should aim to allocate less than half of your monthly salary to your spending account for all fixed and variable expenses (eg. bills, food, and entertainment), and the remaining amount towards your savings and investments. If you’d like to take it up a notch, set aside a small fixed percentage of your salary to invest – and work on making it grow from there.

Get insurance for yourself and your loved ones

As much as we’d like to be – nobody is invincible on this earth. So, if anything happens (touch wood, again), at least you’ll have insurance as a safety net, or a form of financial protection for you and your loved ones.

Get yourself a trusted insurance agent to help you with the purchase to avoid falling into the pitfalls and deathtraps of greedy money-sucking institutions. Or even suspicious ‘friends’ who are suddenly invested in your life and want to treat you to coffee, upon graduation.

Read financial websites

Get acquainted with websites such as Seedly and DollarsAndSense and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Yes, even those chat-bots on websites can be quite useful. Educate yourself to become financially literate, so as to be able to make better decisions as well.

Whether you’re a hustling millennial working hard to attain your dreams, or just plain sian about adulting – look for a trusted financial advisor. They should able to help you understand and work out the nitty-gritty details of good financial planning.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going! The earlier you start on financial planning, the faster you’ll be able to meet your goals and achieve your dreams. Go ahead, it’s time to turn those dreams into a reality.

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

4 Ways To Spot An Investment Scam

Tell-tale signs of an investment scam

Written by Daniel Tay, edited by Jackie Tan. 

Anyone who ventures into investing will definitely come across an investment scam at some point. But how do you know if an investment is a scam? There is no way of actually confirming whether something is an investment scam or not. The only way to know for sure is when it finally falls through. But by then, it’s too late. However, there are a few tell-tale signs that the investment opportunity you encounter might actually be an investment scam:

#1 Extraordinarily high and consistent returns

In investing, there are two emotions that dominate – fear and greed. Investment scams prey upon both these emotions. They offer extraordinarily high returns to entice the greedy, and limit the opportunity to tempt those who fear missing out.

Beware of any scheme offering returns such as 2% a month. Anything above 12-15% a year bears a serious looking into, especially if it promises that amount every year. To attract you to these high returns, a common sales pitch describes how inflation is eating up all your money, and how the returns from traditional investments aren’t high enough.

#2 No concrete proof of where the money comes and goes

Find out where the money is being invested and where the returns come from. As a rule of thumb, 12-15% p.a. returns can consistently be generated from stock markets only in good years. Anything higher than that, and you’d have to ask how they do it, and why they’re asking you, a relatively small-time investor, instead of a bank or an institutional investor, for money.

Even if they can tell you where the money comes from, it does not mean that is where they are putting the money. For example, there is a company which conducts regular tours for its investors to a third-world country. They show the investors a fenced-off area, guarded by purported military, which is where property is supposed to be developed.

But it’s very easy to just hire a few locals, give them military uniforms and weapons to pretend to guard the place.

#3 You can smell the greed

Often, you are invited to a preview or seminar where you’re given details of the investment. Present in the audience are existing investors of the scheme. They are often called upon to testify that the scheme works for them.

Sometimes these investors receive a cut for referring new investors into the scheme. If you’re observant enough, you can smell the greed in the air. Turn around and walk away as fast as you can!

#4 The company involved is in the MAS Investor Alert List

Often, the scam company will claim that it is regulated or approved by MAS in order to fool you into thinking that they are legitimate. To counter this, MAS maintains an Investor Alert List that lists unregulated persons who “may be wrongly perceived as being licensed or authorized by MAS”. In other words, the list contains companies and people who claim that they are MAS-approved, but are actually not.

If the company you want to invest with is on this list, don’t do it. There’s a good bet that it’s a real risk of a scam.

Check, check, check

Before committing to any form of investment, always do your research. It helps to check the background of the company owner and do an online search of the company. Even stocks of suspicious companies on the Singapore Stock Exchange can be suspended, so don’t be careless in checking!

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Singapore Scams Discussion Facebook group is a good place to discuss scam-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

Here’s What You Need To Know About Personal Accidents During Travel

Personal accidents during travel

Exploring the world is a wonderful thing. New sights, new sounds…but also new dangers. You might experience injuries, or even worse, die. Touch wood, touch wood. However, that’s where your insurance plans come in to provide that peace of mind be it for yourself or your family. In this article, fundMyLife lists the things to know about personal accidents during travel and plans that cover them.

#1 Call your adviser when things get bad

When things go south, you should call your financial advisers to see what options you have, assuming you purchased a travel insurance/personal accident plan from him or her. If you bought travel insurance directly from the insurance company, there should be an international 24/7 hotline for you to call. The reason for that is to ascertain what you can and cannot do in an emergency. For example, some plans have emergency evacuation covers that you can claim if you ever need to be flown.

Getting into a personal accident during travel is stressful and understandably you want to seek treatment ASAP. However, knowing what claimable treatment options you have will mean a difference between a peace of mind or an unexpectedly expensive trip. Haven’t found a trustworthy financial adviser? We gotchu fam.

#2 Document, document, document

If you ever get into an accident overseas, don’t forget to document everything. As the number of fraudulent claims increase over the years, it is increasingly important to prove that your accident happened. From medical reports to pictures of the scene of accident, it makes sense to keep as much evidence as you can. While you might in distress and/or pain, it pays to take the extra effort and willpower to make sure you have black and white down. You wouldn’t want your case to be thrown out from a lack of documentation or proof.

#3 Evacuations

Evacuations occur when there are no medical facilities in your current location that can provide the required treatment. You will then be transported to the nearest place where you can seek treatment. The nature of evacuations differ depending on your location, and consequently cost differently as well. For example, if you’re stuck in the mountains, a helicopter will fly you out. However, take note that the doctor in charge decides whether you get evacuation, and requires the agreement of the insurance company. In addition to evacuation, there is also repatriation where you return home to receive treatment.

How much does it cost? Evacuations can be surprisingly expensive, as it requires accompanying doctors, nurses, medical equipment and supplies, etc. According to a harrowing account of a family whose father experienced a heart attack while holidaying in Japan, the bill amounted to $250,000. As such, make sure you have enough cover for emergency evacuations and repatriation. On another note, make sure you purchase plans that covers preexisting conditions if you have preexisting conditions. In the case of the father with heart attack, his travel insurance did not cover anything as he had a pre-existing heart condition.

#4 Exclusions

As with all plans, there are exclusions as well. Firstly, there are exclusions in several countries that have high risks of danger. If you experience personal accidents during travel in those regions, you will not get any payout. Those countries have relatively higher risks of war/terrorism, e.g., Afghanistan, Iran, etc.

That said, it does not mean that you’re in danger wherever you are in the country. After all, parts of these countries are inherently much safer than other parts. For example, you would visit Herat but not, say, Taliban-infested Kabul. However, you will have to purchase insurance that provides war and terrorism cover in those areas which mainstream insurance companies normally exclude.

Secondly, plans have exclusions for relatively dangerous activities which are mentioned in the fine print. For example, travel plans do not usually cover activities such as bungee jumping, hiking or trekking above 3500m above sea level,  diving deeper than 30m. If you intend to take part in such dangerous activities, it is important to buy insurance that specifically covers them.

Have a safe and fun trip!

Be careful during your travels! Safety should always come first. That said, it is always good to know the important details if personal accidents during travel ever happen nonetheless. If you want a reliable financial advisers to be there for you when you experience personal accidents during travel, head on to our main site and ask our credible and incredible pool of financial advisers!

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

5 Things to Consider Before Buying A Personal Accident Plan

Things to note before getting a personal accident plan

What is a personal accident plan?

As its name suggests, a personal accident plan helps immensely to cope with injuries, death, and disabilities – temporary or otherwise – that occur from accidents. Another advantage of personal accident plan is that it complements hospitalization plans. Sometimes, you get injuries bad enough to require treatment, but not bad enough to warrant hospitalization. If you’re not hospitalized, your hospitalization plan is not used. That’s where the personal accident plan comes in for the out-patient treatment and consultation.

Insurance companies define “accidents” as an unforeseeable event that causes injury immediately upon incidence, with violent motion and external means involved. Despite the standard definition of what an accident constitutes, personal accident plans come in variations, each containing unique features. As such, there are a few considerations to make when purchasing this particular plan. In this article, fundMyLife lists what you have to consider before getting them.

#1 Personal lifestyle

The lifestyle you lead affects the risk of you getting injured. For example, do you engage in sports? Chances are that you take part in some form of physical activity. And when the “physical” in physical activity gets too intense, you may end up injuring yourself. For example, a simple soccer game may end up a broken ankle of someone tackles you the wrong way. On the other end of the physical spectrum, we have non-contact sports like golf. Heck, even playing golf – one of the safest sports around – can also result in accidents such as getting hit by a golf club. If you lead a physically intense lifestyle, you might want to consider more coverage.

Important note: getting hit in the head during a game constitutes an accident, but suffering a golf elbow from prolonged swings does not qualify for a payout since it is not an accident that you got golf elbow.

#2 How you travel

Since it’s a point about travel, we decided to lump two (similar) things together:

  1. Overseas travel
  2. Mode of transport

If you’re going overseas, make sure you look through the fine print to see what you are and are not qualified for if you get into an accident overseas. If you also find yourself travelling often and/or for a long time, it is important to consider plans that have a cover period long enough for your travel duration. This is because some plans have a duration limit for overseas travel.

You should consider plans that suit your mode of transport in your daily travel. Motorcycles, cycling, and personal mobility devices are riskier than, say, driving a car or taking a public transport (train breakdowns notwithstanding). There are specific plans out there that cover riders and passengers.

#3 Who you are truly buying it for

While the ‘personal’ in personal accident plan implies that it’s just for yourself, as mentioned the plan helps with lost income during recovery. In the worst case scenario, where you die from the accident, the lump sum payment will tide your family over (assuming you’ve dependents). As such, it’s important to factor in the amount and current standard of living when deciding coverage amount.

Some plans also allow you to purchase family plans. If you have a family, you should consider getting a personal accident plan that can cover your children since children can get into accidents quite easily. There are personal accident plans that come with discounted premiums for your children.

#4 Type of occupation

Due to the nature of work and location, your occupation carries a certain level of risk. Even if you work in an office where everything is presumably safe, you still can get into an accident. However, not all occupations are the same. Insurance companies’ plans have their respective classifications, but these classifications follow very similar guidelines. In general, there are four categories of occupations:

  1. [Low risk] Persons in clerical and administrative jobs. Example: clerks, office staff, authors, doctors, teachers, students.
  2. [Medium risk] Persons in skilled or semi-skilled non-hazardous work and administrative work in an industrial setting. Also includes supervisory jobs of manual skilled work. Example: foreman, hairstylists, photographers, waitstaff, lab workers.
  3. [High risk] Persons engaged in jobs that requires heavy machines, manual labor, and/or exposure to hazard. Example: carpenter, technicians, mechanics, chefs.
  4. [Very high risk] Persons engaged in jobs with heavy manual labor and highly hazardous conditions. Example: firefighters, police, woodworkers, armed security staff.

Bear in mind that our list is not exhaustive, but it means to give you a rough idea of the occupational categories. As such, bear in mind that your occupation will affect your premiums. In general, the riskier the job the higher the premiums. Some plans even have exclusions for occupations in the fourth category.

Bonus fact: Personal accident plans do not cover repetitive motion injury due to, well, repetitive motion in the office. In addition, getting a bad back due to poor seating ergonomics is not covered either so get a good chair!

#5 Person servicing the personal accident plan

A good claims experience makes a huge difference. It is between feeling a hole in your pocket for a long time in uncertainty, or stepping out of the doctor’s office confident that you don’t have to worry about money. As such, it is important to find a good financial services representative who can handle your claims when the time comes (hopefully never). However, given how low the premiums are, sometimes insurance company representatives relationship managers, or even your own financial advisers can be quite unmotivated to service you if their heart is not in the right place.

Hence, it is crucial to find someone trust who has your back whenever and wherever you are. You should consider engaging someone from a pool of highly curated financial advisers.

Conclusion

That’s all folks. We hope the article helped in shedding light on factors to consider when buying a personal accident plan. It takes only one accident to burn a hole in your wallet so be prepared always!

Still confused? If you have any burning questions to ask about financial planning, head on to our main site and ask our credible and incredible pool of financial advisers!

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.

5 Alternate Side Income Streams for Anyone With Internet

side income streams featured image

By Cindy Teh, edited by Jackie Tan. Cindy is part of fundMyLife, the platform that connects financial planning questions to the right advisers.

Let’s face it. In this day and age, having a single source of income is no longer enough. After paying rent and bills, what else is left? Setting up multiple income streams is the smart thing to do, no matter how old you are. Here, fundMyLife would like to explore slightly different (may be weird but completely legal) ways of making a little extra cash on the side.

Does not involve walking dolls with hands for heads, we promise!

Once you actually start thinking this through, there are about a million ways to make money. You could clean somebody’s house, set up a stall at flea markets, work at Starbucks on weekends, walk someone’s dog, drive Uber/Grab…the list goes on. So, we’ve decided to only focus on things you could do from home, as long as you have an internet connection. We’ve also ranked this list in terms of conventionality; from the obvious, to the you-can’t-be-serious (we are!).

Without further ado, fML presents…

#1 Freelancing

Sell any skills you have online. Graphic designer? Provide design services. Fast typist? Do data entry. Good at organising things? Become a virtual assistant.

But that’s obvious, right?

Well, you could also be a Date Concierge and help busy couples plan romantic dream dates. Or a Calligrapher, if you have sweet handwriting skills. How about working as a Baby Name Consultant? (fyi, the baby names consulting business mentioned in link has closed down. More customers for you, I guess!)

Side note, “Lucifer” is a banned baby name in New Zealand. And Sweden doesn’t allow kids to be named “Superman”.

Freelancing means you could work from home.

#2 Writing

This is such a BROAD industry that it deserves its own point. You can write for corporate companies, social media, blogs, or help university students with essays/assignments…

OR you could write love/breakup letters, poetry, and ahem, adult content (read: sex). The possibilities are endless. You could write about topics YOU know a lot about, like food, gaming, TV series, shopping, fishing… Or you could write How-To guides e.g. How To Fake MC / How To Cook Chicken Rice / How To Lose Weight / How To Tie A Tie… You could also write product reviews for products you’ve bought, or fake reviews (note: this is ILLEGAL most of the time).

Today I’m gonna write about how much I LOVE BANANAS!

#3 Online teaching

Tutor people in any subject you’re good at, from Algebra to HTML to the Piano. Work whenever you want. Impart knowledge. Empower humans. Save the world. Find a cure for cancer. Go to Mars. Woah…that escalated quickly. Okay, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s go back to teaching online. Besides tutoring, you can also create courses for sites like Udemy, OpenLearning, and Teachable. You’ll need some technical skills so you could record yourself, or your computer screen, and edit the footage into short bite-sized videos for students.

The difference between online tutoring and creating courses online is that for tutoring – you only get paid when you’re teaching. So the money’s gonna stop if you take a break from tutoring. For online courses, you’ll have to invest quite a bit of time upfront in designing your course, filming it, and then promoting it. But you only have to do it once! Then sit back and collect the money as people start signing up for your class.

We’re sure you can charge more than that.

#4 Cryptocurrency

We get that this is a contentious topic. As with any kind of investment, there are always risks involved when you play with money. Make sure you do your research before sinking cash into anything, and always only spend what you can afford to lose. #commonsensefinancialadvice

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the various ways you can make money from the hottest buzzword of the year. We’re not going to explore all of them, just the easiest methods. First of all, there are thousands of cryptocurrencies around. The most well-known ones are Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

The easiest way to make money with crypto is to buy and hold, aka long-term investment. You buy x amount of coins and hold it for months, years, however long you like, and cash out when you decide the returns are big enough.

Another method is to trade crypto, but you’ll need a certain level of knowledge and expertise in the market to make money. You also have to keep a constant eye on global crypto news/trends and what’s happening in the industry.

One more thing you could do is to take part in ICOs, which is like an IPO where companies sell their shares to the public. With ICOs, you buy coins at the offering stage, and sell them if/when their prices go up. You could also choose to invest in companies/products/technology you truly believe in and want to support, then reap the benefits when these companies become more established down the line. While a successful ICO could raise millions of dollars, ICOs are also known as the “wild west” of the crypto world. They are unregulated, which means scams and fraud could happen. There have been cases where ICO startups vanished after collecting money from investors, so make sure you do your homework before opening your wallet! [editor: do your own due diligence!]

Or win/lose all your crypto in a bet. We won’t judge.

#5 Sell your hair (seriously lol)

We’re not kidding. Ask Google! I’ll wait. Yup, now that you’re back from your search, let me tell you that the best wigs and hair extensions are made from real hair. Hair is also good for cleaning up oil spills, and erm, gardening. You do need to have long, healthy, unprocessed hair to make real money though. Someone sold their hair on this site for US$4,000…Looks like we’re all in the wrong line of business.

Rapunzel could have made so much money and shaved (pun) time off washing her hair in the mornings…

See, if you get a little creative, you could turn anything into a money-making machine. Start building your multiple streams of income, and look forward to retiring early! Or at least, go on a few new overseas adventures, and maybe have a couple more kids (the government didn’t pay us to say this). We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading and in the process, discover some ideas to help with your finances. Get inspired and go kick some ass, ladies and gentlemen!

fundMyLife is a platform that aims to empower Singaporeans to make financial decisions confidently. We also connect consumers to the right financial planners in a private and anonymous manner, based on their financial planning questions.

Follow us on our fundMyLife Facebook page to get exciting updates and your dose of finance knowledge! Alternatively, the Insurance Discussion SG Facebook group is a good place to discuss insurance-related topics with fellow Singaporeans.