Category: SG Budget Babe

Is It Worth Switching To SIM-Only Family Telco Plans?

Pooling your SIM-only plans under a bundled family plan doesn’t just help you save money; it may well be the solution to wastage in your telco entitlements, as you can now cater to the different usage patterns of each family member. If you’ve kids, you can even add on parental controls to block access to websites that are deemed “inappropriate” for minors. What’s more, with just one combined bill to pay each month, the convenience is a huge bonus. Could a family telco plan be right for you? Read on to find out.

In an ideal world, I’d only be charged by my telco for the data or talk-time minutes I use each month. But in reality, there’s usually a lot of wastage when it comes to our telco mobile plans – I don’t generally use up my allocated call minutes, but my mother-in-law and husband makes phone calls more often than I do and end up paying more each month for exceeding theirs, almost every single time. I’m basically paying for talktime that I do not need, while they pay extra for theirs.

Paying for all that unused data / talktime while
other family members pay EXTRA for their over-consumption.

Well, what if I could “transfer” my excess minutes to them? 

With family or bundled telco plans, I just might be able to.

These are not new – the original incumbents of M1, Singtel and Starhub have already been offering such options for several years. However, the problem is that they mostly involve additional components like cable or fibre broadband (who needs these nowadays when you have Netflix or Disney+?), and is limited to only household members within the same residential address

That’s a problem for us, especially considering how we do not stay together with our in-laws.

But with the latest launch of Circles.Life’s Family Plan – a plan for up to 6 lines with individual SIM cards and no strings attached (nor contract lock-ups) – we now can.

Actual Starhub bill for TV, broadband and 1 mobile line (after 15% Club Hub discount). With this same budget, we can cover our Netflix subscription, home broadband AND get multiple mobile lines if we switch to Circles.Life’s Family Plan.

How you can save more money with a family telco plan

When you pool together your telco entitlements and share it with your other family members, you can not only save more money, but also avoid unexpected excess charges at the same time.

Circles.Life’s Family Plan, for instance, gives you 200GB of 4G data, 500 minutes of talk time and 200 SMSes. A minimum of 2 lines is needed to start, and you can share this with up to a maximum of 6 lines for as little as S$15 per line per month.

Share this with your parents, in-laws, children, domestic helpers or even just between you and your spouse. (You can technically even share this with your best friend, given how inclusive Circles.Life Family Plan is.)

Even DINK couples can make use of this, especially if you have 2 numbers (one for personal use and one for work) which would give you a total of 4 lines. 


Since everything will be consolidated into one bill, you’ll never have to worry about any family member missing their payments again. For those of you tired of constantly nagging your spouses or parents to remember to pay their bills, this will reduce much of that mental load!


What’s more, if you need more add-ons at any time, these can also be shared across your multiple lines (except for the parental controls, which is $5 per month over each line).

For parents, whether your kids already have their own line or you’re about to give your child a mobile phone for the first time, you can also add the Parental Controls feature over their line(s) to block inappropriate content for minors (such as those that are categorized as Adult Content, Hate and Intolerance, as well as Weapons and Violence). 

You can read more about how these filters work here; for Circles.Life, they work with a professional agency to expand on this list and maintain records beyond what IMDA provides.

Since every member’s bill is consolidated into one account, you’ll be able to have visibility over your child’s usage patterns as well. Hence, if you see that they’re spending too much time on data, you can gently talk to them about internet addiction – here are some tips you can check out. 

How To Save More Money By Using A SIM-Only Mobile Data Plan As A Household

I got my husband and in-laws to switch out of their contract plans to SIM-only plans several years ago, and it has definitely helped us to save at least 20% – 30% on our bills since.

And with family plans as an option now, I certainly wouldn’t say no if it can help us save more money. In summary, the case for switching to a family telco plan is pretty clear as it gives you the following benefits:

  • Cost savings – they’re generally cheaper vs. getting individual SIM-only plans
  • Avoids wastage – by pooling your data and talktime entitlements, family plans cater to the different usage patterns of each family member, thus avoiding the common case of paying for unused data or talktime while another person pays for exceeding theirs.

  • Convenience – simply pay all your bills at one time and avoid late fees because one member of the family got busy / lazy and forgot to pay on time.

With 200 GB and 500 minutes to split among the 5 people in my family, that’s 40 GB per person – I don’t even think we’ll end up in a situation where we exceed that. But just in case, I checked out how much it’ll cost if we were to add-on unlimited data and calls:

I can tell you this for sure – even at $110 per month ($22 per household member), that’s WAY cheaper than what we’re paying for on our individual SIM-only plans combined.

And lest you feel it is too much of a hassle to switch, Circles.Life wants you to know that switching is so easy that even a child can do it. They even got a child to show you how – click here to watch the video!

So if you’ve not considered family telco plans before, now you know why you totally should.

Head over here to check out more details and find out you can save with Circles.Life’s Family Plan. 

If you want to enjoy 3 months of unlimited data (worth $60) and free registration (worth $38) when you sign up, just let Circles.Life know that you’re my reader by using the promo code SGBUDGETBABE

Promo code valid until 30 November 2021.

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Circles.Life. All opinions are that of my own.

Which is the BEST Hospitalisation Insurance Now?

The days of $0 hospitalization bills – thanks to your insurer picking up the costs – are over. Read more about the recent changes here, which covers what they mean for consumers as well as what I recommend doing.A quick summary of changes include:Pay n…

Watch out for the Leverage Unwinding in 2021’s Markets

If you’ve been scratching your head over how 2021 has been shaping up thus far – what with the Gamestop-Reddit short-selling saga, the dizzyingly fast collapse of global finance firm Greensill Capital, and now Archegos Capital. 2021 has barely begun but we’ve already seen 3 major leverage unwinding events unfold thus far, and could there be more to bet?

Perhaps, and I won’t be surprised if they are.


How did leverage kill 3 companies?

For those of you who have been confused (or haven’t been following the news), I’ll do a quick summary of all 3 sagas.


A classic David-vs-Goliath plot that was started on Reddit, gathering the masses to target hedge funds who shorted the struggling retailer (the company was the second-most-shorted firm out of more than 6,000 companies listed on NASDAQ and NYSE). Led by Youtuber “Roaring Kitty” (or “DeepF*ckingValue” on Reddit, whose real identity is former trader Keith Gill), Redditors spelt out a detailed plan ver the course of several months to buy up GameStop’s stock and push up the price, which would punish the hedge funds and force them to cover their position by rushing to buy back shares, which would then push up the stock’s value even more (aka a “short squeeze”). The company’s stock price went from ~$40 to almost $400 in a matter of days, creating hordes of day-trader millionaires and extinguishing billions of dollars of bets against the firm placed by institutional investors. 

The appeal for the Redditors? Sticking it to the “evil” hedge funds and getting rich. Well, both happened. One hedge fund, Melvin Capital Management, lost at least $2 billion, while “Roaring Kitty” is now estimated to have made more than $13 million on his GameStop investment. Unfortunately, Keith Gill is now being sued for securities fraud, dragging his former employer MassMutual into the mess, and investigations are still underway.

Greensill Capital: 

The $3.5 billion company with 16 offices around the world (including in Singapore) filed for liquidation when it failed to secure the insurance to back $4.6 billion it was owed by businesses around the world. Note that the company (or Mr. Greensill himself) was held in such high esteem in the finance world that he reportedly helped Prime Minister David Cameron’s government set up a supply chain finance program in 2012, and claimed to have done the same for President Barack Obama in the United States.

The company offered “supply chain finance” solutions – a traditional form of lending which Mr. Greensill added an extra layer of complexity, by turning supplier invoices into short-term assets and put them into funds (similar to money market funds) for investors to buy. The money from investors helped to pay back the suppliers, and by shuffling around the risk (pushing some of it onto investors, insurance companies and other financial firms), Greensill’s business model has echoes of the asset-backed securitization that was at the heart of the 2008 financial crisis.  Its dazzlingly fast failure marks one of the most spectacular collapses of a global finance firm in over a decade. 

Archegos Capital Management

How did Bill Hwang, a troubled trader who was charged by the SEC in 2012 for insider trading and manipulation of Chinese stocks, quietly amassed $10 billion of wealth under his new family office and grew to become bigger than many hedge funds by 2020?

By using total return swaps, which are contracts that gave him the upside associated with a stock investment without actually owning the securities. By leveraging his portfolio in this way, he was able to increase his positions without having to put up too much of the capital required to buy them. Archegos goes to the investment banks and buys a derivative against the stock that he wants to own, and if the price of the stock goes up, the bank will pay him; if the price of the stock goes down, then Archegos will have to pay the bank. On the back-end, the investment bank will generally purchase the underlying stock in order to hedge their position (so it is them who owns the stock and NOT Archegos). 

But Archegos’ exposure to momentum stocks like ViacomCBS, Discovery and GSX Techedu started to work against it as the shares of some of its concentrated positions, like GSX Techedu, declined almost simultaneously in recent weeks. This triggered margin calls, which led to the investment banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc) being the first to run for the gates by selling their shares, which caused the stock prices to plummet even further. (Imagine somewhat of the opposite of the “short squeeze” that hit GameStop.) Other investment banks who were late (Credit Suisse, Nomura) were left holding the losses.

What will happen next?

3 major leverage unwinding events in just 3 months alone, and the year isn’t over yet.

I’m not the only one who’s watching the leverage – even the Chinese government is becoming concerned, and is using this chance to deleverage after its economy accumulated much of its record debt after the global financial crisis in order to avoid the same fate of financial slumps that ravaged the West.

Amidst all these, macro risks like rising Treasury yields, interest rate volatility and a steepening yield curve are fast playing out. I’m not an expert in studying them, but we’ve all seen the impact they can have on the markets and causing stock prices to plummet in a matter of days.

Given how leveraged so many companies (even governments) are these days, I won’t be surprised if more of such incidents start to unwind. The fragile systemic risks are starting to play out, and all it’ll take is just one major catalyst for it to come crashing down. Who knows what, or when, that will be?

For retail investors, here’s what I’m doing:

  • Avoid leverage: leverage is great on the way up as it increases your profits, but in the same vein, it can quickly wipe you out with magnified losses on the way down if you’re not careful. Since I cannot predict when the next black swan event will be, or what may cause stock prices to drop, I’m choosing to just avoid leverage completely.

  • Watch out for buying opportunities: when stock prices of companies crash for non-fundamental reasons, these could present great buying opportunities if you have the power to hold for the long-term. Of course, you’ll need to know or have already prepared what the buying thesis is, in advance to that happening – otherwise a buy signal could present itself and you’d be clueless still.

  • Prepare your watchlist: when the 2020 crash happened, it took place so quickly that I didn’t have enough time to research and react fast enough. Hence, I deployed into companies that I had already researched on and already owned prior to the crash – Disney, Facebook, DBS, etc.

  • Have a liquid investment war-chest on standby: my biggest deployment of cash last year took place between March – April 2020. Did I have a crystal ball to tell me that was the bottom of the market crash? No, but when the market fell as sharply and as quickly as it did, my buying instincts were immediately triggered – and I was averaging in at different points since I couldn’t have known where the exact bottom was going to be. If the same opportunity happens again this year (or the next), I’ll be prepared.
No one knows what’s going to happen to the markets tomorrow. 

But in the meantime, I know my strategy and what I’d do if an opportunity presents itself, and I hope you do, too.

With love,
Budget Babe

How Does Your Risk Profile Affect Your Investments? Let DBS NAV Planner Show You

A key part of successful investing lies in being clear about your own risk appetite, and how to manage it in line with your investment decisions. But not only are most people often shy when it comes to talking about money with others, fewer are willing to admit their risk appetite – or even acknowledge that they might not have the risk tolerance that their peers do. 

Not to fret, there’s a solution now. Singapore’s first digital advisory tool is not only free to use, but also helps to empower its users and provide personalized investment guidance for everyone (especially if you’re totally clueless on how to make your money work harder for you). With their latest upgrade, you can now also use the DBS NAV Planner to not only find out your risk profile, but also get customized suggestions to help you find your ideal investments. Here’s how.

Investing is a very personal journey, which explains why what works for your friend (or that YouTube guru you follow) may not necessarily work for you. 

That is why the process of understanding yourself – including your risk levels, how much loss you’re able to stomach without giving up, and how you generally react to market volatility – will determine the type of tools suitable for you, such as:

  • Regular shares savings plans – (see my list here)
  • Robo-advisors – such as DBS digiPortfolio which combines human expertise (by portfolio managers) with technology (for scale and efficiency)
  • Unit trusts
  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
  • Equities

But how do you decide what to invest in?

Financial planners or wealth managers can help you with this, but if you’re someone who gets uncomfortable at the thought of being transparent with a financial or wealth planner in person, I get it that it can be hard to open up in real life and talk to someone about the actual state of your finances.

In that case, fully digitalised journeys like this, that can still give you guidance based on your personal data, would help to remove that barrier. 

For instance, let’s say you have $10,000 to invest right now, but you don’t feel like disclosing that information to someone in real life.

You can also ask DBS NAV Planner the question instead by tapping on “Plan” –> “Investments”: 

I was then prompted to complete my profile, which included going through a Risk Profiling Questionnaire and Customer Knowledge Assessment to confirm my personal investment profile and style.

This is where you’ll be asked questions that help you understand your risk profile, investment goals, level of investment knowledge, etc. Pretty much similar to what a wealth manager would also ask you in real life in order to get a sense of where you are now and where you hope to be in the (near) future…except that this is now done via entirely digital means.

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In order to recommend suitable investment products for me, DBS NAV Planner had to first assess my risk level, my investment objective (mine is currently laser-focused on growing my wealth), investment preference (to review my portfolio annually), knowledge level when it comes to investments, and more.

With all of my answers, it then confirmed my risk level as Level 4. Sharp-eyed readers should be able to spot that DBS NAV Planner’s analysis of my risk level is pretty spot on, given that I’ve been talking about how I do NOT believe in using leverage or investment loans due to the risks involved.

The 5 risk ratings presented:

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Now, if you’re a low risk-taker and get emotional when you lose money, you should note that investing in products like ETFs and equities could in fact work against you – because you’re likely to run for the hills and liquidate to “cut loss” when the market undergoes a correction or a crash.

On the other hand, if you can stomach market volatility (like me), then the low rates from low-risk products like bonds and endowment plans don’t make much sense either, since you could be getting a lot more bang for your buck.

Once DBS NAV Planner knows who you are and what you hope to achieve with your money, it can now show you a variety of different products which you can use to Make Your Money Work Harder. Mine, for instance, looked like this:

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Note: if your risk appetite changes later on, you can always edit your risk profile (click on the pencil icon in the image above) to get more relevant solutions recommended for you. For instance, this might happen as you may be more conservative now, but as you get the hang of the markets, your risk tolerance appetite may grow.

If you’ve enabled SGFinDex on your app, the data can also be integrated with your consolidated assets, debts and cashflow across your different banks.

The app will also customize and show you its entire library of funds available which suit your investment profile. Truth be told, I was impressed by the wide range of products available, given that this is on a digital platform rather than in-person with the bank’s wealth planning manager.

For instance, if I were use my CPF or SRS to invest, it showed me some of the recommended funds available based on my profile:

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Now, if you’ve ever been through an in-person wealth planning process, this should not look too foreign to you. 

So imagine having your own wealth planning manager on your phone, who’ll not only walk you through what investing is all about, but also help to customize and recommend suitable options for you. The best part? The entire journey is fully digital, so you can take your own sweet time to browse through the different product solutions, without feeling pressured to make a decision right there and then.

Should you choose to invest with DBS thereafter, don’t forget that eligible investments can also help you clock up higher interest on your DBS Multiplier account (such as the above lump-sum cash investments into unit trusts).

Remember that it is also equally important for you to review your investments at each different life stage to see what’s working for you and what’s not. With DBS NAV Planner, you can easily track all your finances in one place, including getting an overview of your savings, insurance, investments and tracking your net worth within seconds.

So why not check out DBS NAV Planner‘s Digital Advisory today to learn more about your own investment profile, and see how it can help you find the right investments tied back to your own needs and objectives? Using your own unique data, it’ll be able to make some suggestions which you might find useful for your own wealth-building journey.

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Start investing today with confidence using your DBS NAV Planner. DBS has not only built Singapore’s first digital advisory tool, but also put the widest range of products available on a digital platform here. Download the DBS NAV Planner now and take control of your own finances.

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with DBS. All opinions are that of my own.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

How to Buy Bitcoin (or other Cryptocurrency)? Updated Guide in 2021

If you’re not already in cryptocurrencies…WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I don’t always give tips, but I went ahead to blatantly talk about buying Bitcoin and/or Ethereum last year (and even hosted a webinar) when governments around the world were printing money. If you acted on that, congratulations! You’re probably up by at least 600% now, if not more. If you didn’t…then I hope the last few months have shown you the huge potential that exists in this space.  

While risks similarly abound, I still maintain my position (since 2017) that I’m bullish about cryptocurrencies in the long run, and that everyone still have some in their investment portfolio. Opinions vary on how much percentage exposure you should have, but as long as it is an amount that you’re comfortable with (i.e. it doesn’t make you lose sleep, especially given the volatility of the crypto markets), that’s good enough.

A number of you have been asking me about which brokerages to buy crypto on, so I thought I’ll do an updated guide here today – since my last guide (Coinbase) is super outdated by now.

While this is by no means a comprehensive guide to how you may purchase or get your hands on crypto, I have shortlisted several popular methods instead that should suffice to help you get there.

For context, I have had accounts across all the 4 recommended platforms that I’ve listed below for several years now, and have ranked them in order of complexity – for beginners to the more sophisticated users. While I also have accounts on other platforms (e.g. Kucoin, Huobi, Kraken, HitBTC, etc), I find that they may not always be suitable for the majority of retail investors, and hence have not included them in this list. 

1. Coinbase

Level: Beginner / Noobs

This is ONLY for those who are beginners and hoping to have some (not a lot) exposure to crypto. The benefits of Coinbase and why I’d recommend them are:

  • easy user interface and set upyou can get started within minutes, and the user interface is limited to only a select number of cryptocurrencies so it makes it less confusing for pure beginners to get started. 

  • convenient just pay via your linked debit or credit card

  • fairly secureCoinbase maintains 98% or more of their customers’ digital currency in cold storage, with the remainder in secure hot servers to serve the liquidity needs. All digital currency that Coinbase holds in its online hot storage is insured, which means if Coinbase were to suffer a breach of its online hot storage, the insurance policy would pay out to cover any customer funds lost as a result.

  • no need for a separate cold wallet – you can choose to safely store your crypto in their “vault” for higher security, without having to go through the hassle of buying and setting up your own cold / hardware wallet

  • unlikely to close downthey’re not only profitable, but also a listed company which adds onto my next point of…

  • higher perceived trustsince it was one of the first providers in the market and has been around for ages

On the whole, Coinbase is great for beginners, and I have many friends who simply wish to buy and hold a small amount without having to go through the hassle of too many technical set-ups, logins or multiple wallets. 

If you’re keen on setting up Coinbase, you can sign up at to get USD 10, or you can read my detailed guide here.

The problem with Coinbase is that because your purchases are via your linked debit/credit card, the processing fees can go up to ~4% easily, which can be a huge turn-off if you’re getting serious about crypto and intend to use higher capital sums to invest. As a trading platform, its limited access of alts aren’t anything fantastic either.

So if you have higher capital and you’re looking for a provider with more competitive rates and fees, then I doubt you’ll find Coinbase suitable. In that case, you can consider other alternatives such as:

2. Gemini

Level: Amateurs to Intermediate 

If you’re thinking of building up a sizeable amount of exposure to crypto assets and/or for the long term, then Gemini might be a better platform for you. 

What’s more, if you’re based in Singapore, it is also currently the only exchange where you can easily sell Bitcoin for SGD and transfer your proceeds via FAST to your local bank with zero fees. 

Other benefits include:

  • pretty secure, both in terms of reputation (founded by the Winklevoss twins) as well as technical set-up and processes (it is the world’s first cryptocurrency exchange and custodian to be certified as SOC 1 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 2 compliant).

  • local bank transfers via FAST – deposit or withdraw SGD via FAST transfers, which are handled on the back-end by their partner Xfers

  • fairly competitive rates and fees – if you use Gemini ActiveTrader, the fees are 0.35% taker and 0.25% maker. 

However, note that there is occasionally a premium for BTC-SGD prices, so if you’re fussed about always getting the best possible rates, then you may want to check and compare right before your point of purchase each time. (But so far in the past few years, any premium that we’ve paid have often turned out to be negligible considering how much the underlying assets have run up since.) Or, you could simply use TT via USD for purchasing, and then sell and withdraw in SGD.

If you wish to sign up for Gemini, you can click here for my referral link to get $10.

But if you want an even more cost-effective platform based in Singapore and also get access to more alt coins, then you may prefer…

3. Coinhako

Level: Amateurs to Intermediate

The benefits of Coinhako are that, it being a Singapore start-up, offers:

  • local bank transfers – without you having to set up and link a separate Xfers account
  • access to a variety of alts – more than Gemini and Coinbase
  • is useful as an all-in-one platform for buy/sell/trading – if you’re not too bothered about finding the most cost-effective one

Everything is also in SGD, which I’m sure appeals to investors in Singapore who prefer seeing it in local currency (not that it matters though, since crypto operates across the globe…).

However, its fees at 1% are still considered high, especially when you’re trading. If that doesn’t deter you and you need a referral code for Coinhako, here’s mine.

I’ve saved the best platform (in my opinion) for the last, and that’s…

4. Binance

Level: Intermediate to Professional

If you have larger amounts to invest and/or are thinking of doing other more “complex” stuff like staking in the crypto world, then you should definitely be using Binance.

It offers one of the best access to alt coins, as well as other crypto instruments such as staking, launchpads and token sales.

More importantly, it is one of the most cost-effective platforms in terms of fees, and definitely lowest compared to Coinbase and Gemini. 
  • fees: 0.1%
  • Binance.SG fees: 0.6%
The downside of using Binance is that selling to fiat can be pretty complex, which is why I wouldn’t recommend it to pure beginners who are only looking to build up a small stake. And if you’re in Singapore, Binance.SG has fiat-to-crypto partners (Xfers) now so you can convert fund via SGD directly and sell to withdraw your Bitcoin into SGD as well.

Between and Binance.SG, I prefer the former because the SG interface only has a small basket of crypto-currencies, although its interface is definitely easier to use for those who are super new to the crypto world.

If you wish to sign up for Binance, you can click here for my referral link.

P.S. How many of you remember the days when we bought BNB coins for just $3 – $7?! I’m frankly in shock that it has now crossed $500…even though I’ve never had a doubt that Binance was going to stick around for the long-term and grow to become a leading crypto platform, I never would have imagined that its valuation would rocket to such levels. But I guess that’s just another example of some of the craziness (and insane gains) that can happen in the crypto world 😉

I hope you guys found this guide useful in helping you decide which brokerage to go with. Personally, I find myself using 3 of the above brokerages more frequently, and in this manner:
  • Coinbase – only for buying minute amounts of crypto e.g. when I’m out or overseas and the ones which I don’t mind not storing in my own hardware wallet. If I need to make a purchase urgently, it’ll be via Coinbase.

  • Gemini – to deposit so I can buy or sell Bitcoin / Ethereum.

  • Binance – for trading, as well as to buy Bitcoin and transact other alts. In recent years, I also can now use it for staking and launchpools…I’ve gotten a few “free” coins in this way till date!
If you’ve any other methods of investing or trading crypto better, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
With love,
Budget Babe

The Problem with Buy Now, Pay Later

After my recent review on Grab’s newest PayLater service, I decided to delve in deeper into the wider Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) scene and check out what their competitors are offering. This opened up an entire Pandora Box, and to be frank, I was caught …

Did you invest in Econ Healthcare’s IPO?

When it comes to investing on SGX, I’m not a fan of companies who delist only to re-list again later. Which is why I avoid their IPO, and tell you guys I have “no comment” if you were one of those who asked me about whether the IPO is worth subscribing…

Should You Use BNPL When You Shop? A Guide By Grab

Buy Now, Pay Later. Are BNPL services worth using, and what are the possible repercussions? Learn how to use it right in order to maximize your cashflow, and what to avoid so that you don’t end up busting your budget or running into late fees.

Traditionally, you could either pay for a purchase in full or via monthly instalments.

Payments via instalments are not new – the banks and credit cards companies have been offering this for decades, earning as they charge you late fees and hefty interest rates (~25% p.a. on average) for missing payments.

How does BNPL work?

In contrast, BNPL players operate in that space in between where they offer short-term payment plans that allow consumers to make a purchase and split the cost by paying for it in several instalments over time. 

If you’ve already been disciplined in repaying the instalment plans offered by your credit card issuer, then BNPL services might be an attractive alternative since there are lower fees involved. However, for the less financially-disciplined, BNPL services may soon prove to be a double-edged sword. 

So if you’re not disciplined enough, then you should avoid all that trouble by simply paying upfront.

Historically, financial services that offer installments are an easy way for people to get into financial trouble, as they end up spending more than what they can actually afford. My mom used to do this ALL THE TIME, and it frustrated me to no end seeing her buy stuff like $4000 vacuum cleaners just because she could split it up across several months (or years) on her credit card instalment plan. If you asked me, it gave her a false sense of financial security because given her income, her rate of spending was just shocking.

But I also wanted to point out that ultimately, BNPL is a financial service at your disposal.

If you’re savvy enough to know how to use it well, then you can use it to your benefit. 

Pros and cons of BNPL

What most BNPL services don’t tell you

Most BNPL providers will gladly tell you about the discounts or cashback you can get while using their services, or that it costs you nothing to use them. (In case you are curious, it’s possible for a BNPL service to be interest free because e-commerce merchants pay these providers a commission to tap on this service.) 

They emphasize 0% interest and no hidden fees. Or that by splitting the cost into several instalments, you pay lesser upfront. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the full story.

As some consumers have come to realize, BNPL services do have fees involved for the customer…when you fail to make your payments on time.

And if you charged that to your credit card for the next few months without first making sure that you’ll have enough to afford the item in the first place…you might even find yourself having to deal with $100 credit card late fees and ~25% p.a. interest rates on the amount overdue.

Which is why while there are many service providers to choose from, I personally will only choose and recommend those that have satisfactory safeguards in place to protect consumers from the problems highlighted earlier.

And when I say “satisfactory safeguards”, I mean that by SGBB’s standards, not as a factual assessment of whether the measures implemented are good enough.

This means that only BNPL providers who

    • conduct responsible marketing communications that educate consumers on both the benefits and downsides of using their service
    • do not charge high fees for missed payments (or if they do, then communicating these fees upfront in a transparent manner is equally important)
    • impose a lower maximum amount – to prevent consumers from overspending

will fit my criteria.

At this moment, I find that PayLater by Grab ticks these boxes.

What Grab wants you to know

Our non-negotiable take is that you should only use BNPL services if you

  • have money to pay for your entire purchase upfront (this can be money that you already have in your savings, or stable income that you are confident will come in within the next few months)
  • use your debit card to function like a credit card without any of its associated fees (e.g. late payment fees or interest)
  • looking for a way to spread out your purchase over a few months using BNPL services to maximise your credit card rewards (e.g. not bust your cashback reward cap)

Don’t use BNPL just because you’re drawn by the attractive discounts or merchant offers. You’ll need to make sure you exercise financial responsibility when you choose to buy now and pay later.

Avoid financial ruin from late fees and missed payments by making sure you have set aside money (or even a reminder) to pay off your bills on time. With Grab, you can do this by automating payments from your GrabPay balance or linked (debit/credit) card. 

How you can use BNPL to your advantage

I’ve talked about how much I love the DBS Live Fresh cardwhich offers up to 5% for online spend and Visa contactless payments. 

However, the catch is that the cashback is capped to $20 a month per category, so whenever I pay for or accumulate anything more than $400 via either method, I won’t be getting cashback on the entire amount spent.

Imagine I need to buy a $1,500 mobility scooter for my dad and a new $648 Samsung replacement phone this month. Putting that all on my card is just silly, because I’ll only get the maximum cashback of $40 in total, which means my effective cashback rate has dropped to a mere 1.86%.

But with BNPL, I can change this since I get to control how much I spend each month on my card.

Using Grab PayLater, I can now split that $500 SecretLab chair into 4 instalments of $125 each. This leaves me with $275 more to spend online before I hit $400 for the online spend category on my DBS Live Fresh Card.

Repeating the same hack for a Samsung Galaxy A52 phone in stores means I pay $162 this month, leaving me with $238 left to spend via Visa contactless payment – and this is easily hit with my bi-monthly grocery trips to the supermarket.

This way, I’ve effectively used BNPL to get 5% cashback for the next 4 months – that’s a total of $40 x 4 = $120 i.e. 4 times more cashback than what I would have otherwise gotten if I had paid in full upfront.

On top of that, I could earn 5,000 GrabReward points when I make my first PayLater online transaction and benefit from their monthly points booster campaigns (like the Grab Power Up challenge).

Since I already have enough cash in my bank account to pay for the SecretLab chair and Samsung phone upfront, spreading out the purchase using BNPL and have automating monthly payments via my linked card becomes a wiser move…since I won’t be missing any payments or incurring late fees as a result.

That’s how you can make BNPL work for you.

TLDR: Use financial products (like BNPL) well

Just like how using a credit card offers more benefits than paying via a debit card, products like BNPL also have a role to play in the financial ecosystem.

The key here is that consumers are educated on how to use them right, and what NOT to do.

If you find yourself having to download a new, separate mobile app just so you can BNPL (and where the app constantly bombards you with merchant offers and promos to encourage you to spend), then you may want to seriously think about whether having that app could entice you to spend more.

I prefer Grab’s PayLater out of all the BNPL choices right now, simply because there’s no need for me to download another app for it – the majority of users in Singapore already have the Grab app on our phones for ride-hailing, food delivery or GrabPay wallet as part of our everyday life.

Furthermore, Grab’s PayLater users are also required to set up automated payments so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to pay, just ensure you have enough in your account if you are linking your debit card. 

For those who miss your monthly payment, your PayLater account will be deactivated to prevent further snowballing. Each time you reactivate it, a S$10 admin fee will be charged. (If you asked me, that’s not too bad…)

What other tips do you have when it comes to using BNPL?

Share with me in the comments below.

This post is written in collaboration with Grab Singapore. All opinions are that of my own.


Sponsored Message

Grab launched PayLater as an alternative to traditional financial services to provide customers the flexibility to make interest-free payments over 4 instalments or at the end of the following month. We do not charge any interest, which means you will never pay more than the amount of your purchase as long as payments are made on time. In the event that you’re late to pay, your PayLater account will be deactivated, and we charge a $10 admin fee for each reactivation.. 

As a financial provider focused on providing accessible, convenient and transparent services for our customers, Grab hopes that PayLater will help more consumers to manage their cashflow better and get more out of their monthly spend. Explore PayLater under the Payments tab in your Grab app today.