Category: SG Budget Babe

A Guide To Investing For Your Children

How can parents in Singapore open a joint investment account for their child? If you’re thinking of exploring this as a way to manage your children’s investments while also teaching them from young on how to invest in the financial markets, here’s how you can do it!

It hasn’t even been 10 years since I graduated, but university fees are already up by at least 30% from what I remember. In 20 years, how will that figure look like? 

The Straits Times ran a 2016 report on how getting a degree in Singapore is set to be costlier, and a later study showed how Singapore parents were spending an average of $21,000 on their child’s university education.

 

I’ve no qualms that we’ve to prepare for at least $100,000, if not more, by the time our child turns of age.


 

Why You Need To Invest For Your Child

 

Given the current economic climate and rising inflation, just saving money won’t even be enough. We’ll have to invest instead, and leverage on compound interest to get to where we need the money to be.

 

If not, even saving money alone might not be enough, not to mention the possibility of our work being made redundant by technology in the coming years. 

 

The problem is – as anyone who juggles between work, elderly parents and young children will tell you – there is barely enough time.

 

For a fuss-free solution that will take away the planning and monitoring involved otherwise, a managed portfolio like FSM MAPS might just work for you.

 

I spoke with John*, who has chosen this for his children’s portfolios, and the rationale behind why a managed solution – that allows him to focus on his career and family without having to worry about the market – works best for him.

 

(*Name has been changed to protect privacy.)

 

Background Profile

 

John is a successful high-flyer in the corporate world. As a father in his 40s, John has 3 young children (all of whom are under 8 years old). While he believes in saving for his children’s future, his main challenge is finding enough time to do all the research and portfolio management, given how his work demands most of his focus and energy.

 

As a result, he decided to open an account for each of them where he invests in a portfolio of unit trusts, ETFs and fixed income instruments.

 

Start Investing Early

 

John has been investing for his children ever since they were born, and even started up a beneficiary account with each of their names to separate the investments. By starting early, he was able to set a longer investment horizon of 15 to 20 years, which then gave him confidence to go for more mid to aggressive investments.

 

For my kids, I opt for a portfolio of 70% equities and 30% fixed income.

 

When they turn 18 or 21, he intends to give them their portfolio money, which can then go towards their university fees or serve as startup capital for a business of their own.

 

You can create beneficiary accounts for your children on FSMOne.

 

By starting early, you’ll have a longer investment horizon ahead, which can give you the confidence to opt for higher growth options that may not materialise (or can be volatile) in the short term. Closer to when your child turns of age, you can then move the money into safer, fixed-income instruments instead.

 

Choosing The Right Investment Strategy

 

There are many investment strategies that you can adopt, but the best approach will be the one that works for you and your personal circumstances.

 

During the day, I work as a General Manager in a listed company. My job, family and other responsibilities keep me busy enough so I don’t have enough time to keep tracking the stock markets.

 

He also didn’t want to risk jeopardising their portfolio with any emotional buy/sell stock decisions that he might make in the short-term, so he decided the best way for them would be a structured and disciplined approach.

 

Keep Fees Low

 

Investment fees can quickly eat into your returns, so look for low-cost investment solutions instead. (Read: How 1% in investment fees could mean giving up 1/3 of your future wealth)

 

The more fees you can eliminate, the more you’ll have for your actual investments.

 

John pays 0.5% portfolio management fees annually for FSMOne MAPS without having to pay any upfront sales charge, and as a result, he gets a holistic portfolio without any need for him to rebalance at the end of each year.


Invest A Fixed Sum Regularly

 

John started off with $1,000 as base capital for each of his kids, and continues to invests a fixed sum on the 8th of every month into each of their portfolios. Part of the base capital came from the Baby Bonus which he received from the government upon the birth of each child.

 

We made sure that their insurance are all covered before thinking about how much to allocate to the kids investments. After about 6 months, or when you feel the costs have stabilized, then you can think about adding to the capital injections if you’re comfortable with it.

 

Setting aside a fixed amount each month is the easiest way to build and enforce discipline.

 

For instance, while $500 each month may sound like a good start, but if you’re planning on having 4 children, that’s a total of $2,000. If you’re planning to have multiple kids, remember to set a sum that you can comfortably invest without having to draw down from your emergency savings.

 

Choose The Best Investment Tool

 

“As a first-time parent, I found parenthood incredibly hard to get used to. That’s why for my two elder children, I wanted to outsource the investment work to fund managers instead, and so I invested into unit trusts.

 

We’ve gotten used to the demands of parenthood over the years, so when my third child was born, I changed my strategy by going with FSMOne Maps.”

 

As a result, John’s portfolio for his third child consists of 8 – 10 unit trusts and ETFs in total, spread out across 20% US equities, 25% Asian equities, 10% in digital economy plays and other themes. You can also view the managed portfolios here. (John’s portfolio is under the risk level option of moderately aggressive.)

 

The MAPS summary shows up when you open the account view so as to let you know how the portfolio is doing, within a single glance.

 

Consider A Beneficiary Portfolio For Your Child

 

John keeps his own investments (for retirement) separate from that of his children, by creating a beneficiary portfolio for each of his kids.

 

Although he is the main account holder, the assets are under each child’s name. This helps him to manage the investments easily at one glance whenever he logs into his account.

 

You can view the investments in each segregated portfolio by selecting the account you wish to check on.

 

Since it is not a joint account concept, his children cannot log in and check holdings. As they are still young, they do not yet know that this investment portfolio exists, either.

 

Once the child turns 18, the parent can transfer the assets to the child’s FSMOne account, and this is exactly what John intends to do.

 

Is FSMOne MAPS the best way to invest for your children?

 

As parents, our plates are almost always full. We’ve to spend time ferrying our kids around, helping them with their homework, and so much more. At the same time, we’ve to grow our careers, while also looking after our own parents, who are starting to grow old and weak.

 

Life can get in the way of your investment goals.

 

So to prevent that, a disciplined approach via FSMOne Maps can be incredibly useful. What’s more, they’re the only one that gives you the ability to set up beneficiary accounts for your children, making it even easier to manage and transfer your investments in due time.

 

*** Sponsored Message from FSMOne ***

 

Solutions for parents and investors

 

If you’re a parent looking to invest for your child, check out FSMOne’s Regular Savings Plans (RSPs) for unit trusts, ETFs, as well as managed portfolios under MAPS.

 

If you’re more hands-on and want more control over your choice of investments, you can also opt to create your own ETF portfolio from as little as $50 per month per ETF.

 

For a start, check out their awesome ETF Focus List featuring 50 picks across the US, Hong Kong and Singapore markets. Fees are also low at just 0.08% (subject to a minimum of SGD 1 for SGX stocks, USD 1 for US stocks, or HKD 5 for Hong Kong stocks).

 

With a team of portfolio managers and research analysts doing the heavy-lifting, and with minimum investment amounts as low as $1,000 and at annual portfolio management fees no more than 0.5% (that’s just $0.42 per month for $1,000 invested), investors would be able to focus on their work and family and be assured that their portfolios are being taken care of.

 

You can start an RSP into FSM MAPS from just $500 per month, thus providing investors like yourself a disciplined way to stay invested without having to fork out huge sums of investment monies on a monthly basis.

 

Check out FSMOne Maps here.

 

Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with FSMOne. John* is NOT a fictional character – he is a real-life customer of FSMOne who very kindly agreed to be interviewed for this piece.

Home Renovation On A Budget – How We Reduced Costs

With our first home finally done and completed, I’ll be adding more posts on this topic over the coming months, so do keep a lookout for those!

2020 threw a spanner in the works when Singapore entered the Circuit Breaker, which resulted in the last leg of our home renovations to be delayed for several months. With our renovation journey finally completed, I thought I’ll kick off this series with a few key tips on how we reduced our renovation costs for a start!

Our first home.

1. Draw up your renovation budget.


Your budget will vary based on the age of your house (newer, BTO flats or a resale flat that just MOP-ed can obviously cost you so much lesser in renovations), your design and materials used. If you’re buying an older resale flat like we did, you may need to factor in additional costs of rewiring the electrical circuits, pipe replacements, etc. 

We did a few things to arrive at an estimated budget:
  • Check online to get an idea of rough renovation costs for a similarly-sized resale flat like ours
  • Get a quotation from 3 – 4 ID firms
  • Break it down into renovation vs. furniture costs 
Based on these, we eventually drew up our renovation budget at $75,000 for a 4-room flat excluding furniture. It could have been lower, but there were some design elements that we didn’t want to compromise on (which included structural changes and significant hacking of walls) so we were willing to bear the extra cost for that.

2. Decide if you will go for an ID or via a direct contractor.


The latter will be cheaper, but you’ll have to be reasonably design-savvy in order to pull it off. And having gotten a quote from a direct contractor as well, we felt the difference was worth paying for.

We deliberated for a long time over this, but eventually went with an ID firm (Interior Signature Studio) because we didn’t have the luxury of time to keep checking on the subcontractors in person and ensuring the quality of their work. In fact, during the whole process, our ID was on-site almost every other day, whereas we only had time to visit less than 5 times throughout!

No regrets, because our ID team contributed in many ways that added value to our renovation process, and were instrumental during the touch-ups as well.

3. Opting for vinyl over tiles.


Vinyl flooring and epoxy are much cheaper than tiles, but we eventually decided on tiles for the wet areas (toilets, kitchen and living room) and went with vinyl flooring for all of the rooms + storeroom. 

This saved us a considerable sum of money vs. if we had done 100% tiles.

4. Do you REALLY need a feature wall?


I’ll be the first to admit that I never quite understood the hype over having a feature wall. Yes, it looks nice, but what if your budget doesn’t allow for it?

We considered whether to use wallpaper for the feature wall instead of tiles, but eventually ditched the idea completely and let our ceiling-to-floor bookshelf do the talking as the focal piece in our living room. As a bookworm, I LOVED this.

For the children’s room, we opted for paint to create a feature wall instead, and that reduced our costs significantly as well.

We used paint to create the feature wall in Nate’s room, and IKEA furniture pieces which would allow us the flexibility to easily transform this room as Nate grows up.

5. Replace built-in carpentry with furniture.


Carpentry costs are one of the main reasons for expensive renovation quotes, so if your ID is suggesting a lot of carpentry work, you might want to be wary.

Luckily for us, our ID shared the same sentiments, and so we opted for carpentry only in the following areas:
  • A ceiling-to-floor feature bookshelf in the living room
  • Kitchen cabinets 
  • Vanity in the master bathroom (due to lack of space)
  • Shoe cabinet behind the door (due to the odd shape and size)
  • A suspended bookshelf in the study room
This reduced our original quote by close to 15%, and if I hadn’t insisted on the feature bookshelf, it would have been even cheaper 😛 but you can’t argue with a bookworm!

Another built-in feature we eliminated was the oven as it would cost us a lot more to buy and maintain, so we opted for a portable oven instead.

6. Avoid false ceilings and cove lights.


While these look gorgeous in designs, the cost didn’t make sense for us to go with it, and cleaning would be a b*tch, so we eliminated them completely. 

Check out the sleek (marble-like) compact tabletop by EDL and the gorgeous backsplash!

7. Using EDL Compact instead of real marble for our kitchen


I had a very specific design in mind for my kitchen (elegant white marble with tiffany cupboards), but marble is not only costly, it is also difficult to care for given its porous nature which is easily prone to stains and scratches. 

Thankfully, we were introduced to EDL, who offered us a far more affordable solution in the form of their 10mm EDL Compact Marble – this had a homogeneous white matching core (the first, and only one in the market) which had the sleek and clean look I was going for. In addition, they had a 6mm option for us to use as the backsplash, so we could pull off a coordinated look throughout. 

In terms of durability, the EDL Compact Marble is even hardier than real marble, and is resistant to moisture, high pressure, heat, scratches and stains! We’ve been using just a damp cloth with warm water to clean our countertop, and the maintenance is so fuss-free that I truly love it. The best part? I could achieve the modern, elegant marble design I had in mind at a mere fraction of real marble cost 😀

Our choice of EDL Compact (white marble) and laminates.

8. Using laminates instead of real wood


My parents’ house heavily featured wooden furniture which I loved, but the issue was that over the years, termites feasted on them and we had to replace most of our wooden furniture in the end. It was not only gross, but also extremely inconvenient because there were so much rotten wood and wood chippings all over the floor.

So when it came to my own house, as much as I wanted a wooden, MUJI-style look, we decided to opt for laminates instead of real wood for the carpentry.

We went with EDL laminates, because some of the other suppliers we explored only sold theirs in standard 4 x 8 ft sizing (the size of a HDB door), which meant that we would have ugly joint lines for our ceiling-to-floor carpentry (bookshelf and master bedroom wardrobe). EDL had 10 ft laminates, which solved this problem for us, and their prices were extremely competitive so it was a no-brainer.

The EDL showroom has so many choices of laminates that we took 2 hours just to decide!

9. Buy bathroom accessories and other items from Taobao.


During the 11.11 sale (back in 2019), I carted out quite a lot of items from Taobao. Here’s a quick list of some Taobao items in our house:
  • Dressing table
  • $9 x 2 bathroom towel racks
  • A $60 black-and-gold rain shower 
  • 2 x toilet roll holders
  • A $42 white-and-gold bathroom tap (we paid only $38 for it, and saw the same piece retailing for $280+ at a local shop)
  • $64 for 2 x Curtain blinds (liaised with the seller for customization of width and length to fit our windows)
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to save the Taobao links as it was from over a year ago, so apologies that I couldn’t share it here! There were minimal delivery fees as my husband and I were physically in China, so we brought it back on the airplane with us 😀

Our rain shower set from Taobao.

10. Buy cheap furniture from IKEA and Johor Bahru


We bought the following from JB, and our ID even followed us on the trip to ensure it would fit the design theme:
  • $480 Wooden dining table + TV console set (this was a splurge by my husband)
  • $700 Leather sofa
While IKEA is a great place for budget furniture, it is also common knowledge that IKEA stuff doesn’t last, especially since a lot of their shelving units are made from particleboards instead of solid, durable wood. As such, we went with IKEA items for furniture that we felt we would likely be changing in the next few years as our family grows. Over our 3 IKEA trips, we eventually went home with the following:
Another furniture piece worth mentioning is our $600 Inkagu mattress. We first tried the mattress-in-a-box concept when we bought our matrimonial bed (at my in-laws’ place) and considered between Noa vs. Haylee vs. HipVan (Sleep) vs. Sonno as well, but eventually decided on Inkagu after trying it out.

The verdict? We loved it so much that we got a second Inkagu mattress for our own home, and although I certainly wish we were sponsored to say this, we aren’t at all!

You can see how we hacked away (and had to rebuild) the wall here to access the children’s room, so that added to our cost (but was worth the splurge). Also featured: the full-length laminated wardrobe without any ugly joint lines, thanks to EDL, and our awesome $600 Inkagu mattress! I highly recommend it!


11. Go for energy-efficient appliances.


There are some things that you DON’T want to save on, because a penny saved now could easily be dollars spent in the future to repair or upkeep. As a result, we bought the following energy-efficient appliances:
  • Mitsubishi Electric air conditioning units 
  • LG washing machine
  • Hitachi refrigerator
These were all bought during a warehouse sale, so we enjoyed even more savings as a result. As for our kitchen, we went with a $1,000 Techno induction hob from Hoe Kee for safety reasons (didn’t want Nate playing with fire) but not the hood, since we generally don’t do much frying. 

I’ll update in a subsequent post on our total bill, so do keep a lookout for that! 
For those of you embarking on your own renovation journey soon (especially if you’re also renovating a resale HDB like we did), I hope this post was useful to you guys! 

With love,

Budget Babe

Tiger Brokers Review: Invest Better With These Mobile Tools

If you’re not already using the Tiger Brokers app, you’re missing out. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, the app’s comprehensive suite of FA and TA tools will definitely impress. You can also get financial ratios at a glance, stock news based on your watchlist, earnings calendars, stock ideas, and more.

Most brokerage apps suck. Their UI and UX generally are terrible and some of the older ones are just a complicated sea of numbers, greens and reds that it makes your head spin.

Enter Tiger Brokers. I first reviewed this up-and-rising fintech player back in July, and have been using it for the majority of my trades ever since. With its low fees (they had the lowest charges, up until another online brokerage started offering commission-free trades) and user experience on both their app (desktop and mobile), no other player comes close.

(Read my review here, and you’ll see why it was a no-brainer for me to switch over.)

Trust me, it is worth downloading the app – even if you’re not going to be making any trades on it. Here are some reasons why:

Stock Screener

Discover → Opportunity → Customize Filters 

I generally use this to screen quickly for stock ideas that fit my criteria.



You could screen for potentially undervalued stocks using P/E or P/B ratios, or focus more on fundamental factors such as the company’s margins, debt levels, growth rates, etc.

Get News Updates On Your Stocks

Have you always wished there was an app that could deliver personalised news updates on all the stocks you own or are currently watching?


I’ve been using Tiger Brokers mobile app to do exactly this, and pull up my own amalgamated newsfeed based on stocks that I’ve put on my watchlist (you’ll have to add stocks to your watchlist first of course!).


Community → News → Watchlist


Makes it super easy to monitor what’s happening in your universe of stocks, doesn’t it?


If you’re searching for news on a specific stock instead, you can go to 

Quotes → (Select Stock) → News

This is where you can retrieve the latest updates on the company, their regulatory filings, and more.


Get New Stock Ideas 

As investors, we’re always looking for new stock ideas that could become the next multi-bagger winner. 


On the app, you can look for stock ideas based on a multitude of criteria. If you prefer to invest in an emerging industry, you’ll also be able to find lists of SAAS stocks, cloud industry stocks, etc.


Discover → Hot → Hot Collections

There’s even a list of stocks that went up “10X in 10 years” since the 2008 crisis, if you prefer to invest in long-term leaders with a stronger track record.



For those of you who are fans of Benjamin Graham’s Net-Net strategy, you can also find the stocks that fit the criteria under Discover → Opportunity → Quant Screening


Investors who use a growth momentum strategy will like the Tiger Labs feature as well, which shows you stocks that currently fits the respective strategies. Just tap on Discover → Hot → Tiger Labs and then select the strategy that you want to view stocks for.



Prefer trading instead? Check out the top winners (or losers) in the past XX days (set your period) to see which are the trending stocks of late. 


Discover → Opportunity → Periodic Gainers & Losers


Otherwise, another way you can try is to go into Discover → Market Scanner to spot huge movements in your specified stock market, which will show you what stocks have been trending. Who knows, you might just find your next winning trade idea here.


If you want to know what other users on Tiger Brokers have added to their watchlists, you can also check out Discover → Hot → Most Watched



Analyse Your Stocks Before Buying

While the mobile app cannot replace my own desktop research, it is nonetheless a quick way for me to get the latest snapshot of the company’s fundamentals at any time.


For those of you who prefer to buy when the stock is near its historical low (potentially undervalued), you can conduct a quick check by tapping on


Quotes → (Select Stock) → Analysis


Set the period that you want to view the historical P/E ratios for, so you can compare it against the current P/E value.



When I see P/E values are at its historical high, I will then go back to the stock to re-evaluate its growth potential. This then helps me to decide whether to buy now, or to just buy a small position first and reserve some bullets for later in the event that P/E trends back down to its average levels.


For instance, while Tencent’s share price today may seem high (especially if you’ve tracked it for several years now like I did), the truth is that it is still not at where it used to be, prior to the video game approval challenges it faced with the Chinese government in 2018. Looking at the historical P/E can help an investor to overcome price-anchoring bias and average in at reasonable valuations, even if share prices have run up.


What’s more, you can also check for other metrics such as profitability, solvency, turnover and growth. Instead of having to calculate the CAGR yourself, you can also use the app for a quick check under 


Quotes → (Select Stock) → Company → Financial Analysis → Growth Rate


Of course, for larger investment positions I generally prefer to do my own calculations to make sure they’re accurate, but the app offers a quick and easy way to screen or do a refresher before I click the buy button.


And if you’re concerned about political tensions affecting your investments, you can go into Main Business Segments or tap on Region instead (still under Financial Analysis) to see where the company derives its revenue from. This can then give you a better idea of whether the company might be exposed to any specific country geo-political risks, currency devaluation, or other macro-economic factors. Worried about whether Apple shares will crash if China blocks iPhone sales in retaliation? At 15% revenue, the impact will be felt, but anything more than a 15% drop in share price could hint at overreaction in the markets given present revenue contribution levels.


Discover → Calendar → Corporate Actions Calendar


Some people prefer to buy right before the earnings date, whereas others (like me) prefer to avoid speculation and buy after earnings announcements where we’ll have more information to work with. Over here at the “Corporate Actions Calendar” we’ll be able to check for upcoming earnings, dividends and new IPOs.



Technical Indicators To Help You Time Your Entry/Exit

Many brokerage apps lack in-depth charting tools, and even for the ones that offer some TA, the choice of indicators offered are hardly anything to shout about.

So it was a pleasant surprise when I saw that Tiger Brokers offered a wide range of technical analysis indicators, including MA, RSI, CCI and even KJP???

I generally rely more on FA metrics to determine my entries, but whenever I’m queuing for a stock, I cannot resist the temptation to check whether it is overbought or oversold. 

For instance, you can see how a trader who acted on the buy signal for Carnival on 12 – 13 November using the KDJ indicator (the point where the blue J-line dipped below the rest, indicating oversold zone) and then selling today (with the J-line above the rest, indicating overbought zones) would then have earned at least 40% in profits in just 2 weeks!

A wide variety of FREE investment tools

With all these free tools available on Tiger Brokers, there’s little reason why you shouldn’t download it to make full use of its benefits. Having access to optimal tools for data and trend analysis can greatly improve the quality of your trade decisions.

Especially if your current brokerage app still sucks 😛

For investors trading the Singapore, US, Hong Kong and China market, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better tool than Tiger Brokers. They also recently opened up access to the Australia markets, so that’s something else to celebrate.

Sign up here if you’ll like to get access to Tiger Brokers!

——

Disclosure: A thank you goes to Tiger Brokers, who not only sponsored this post, but also helped to confirm that I’m using their tools and features in the right manner (before I recommend it to you guys here). All opinions are that of my own, based on my trading experience with Tiger Brokers. Please feel free to click on my affiliate links if you’ll like to sign up for an account! 

How To Track All Your Finances In One Place – ft. DBS NAV Planner

SGFinDex is finally LIVE! For those of you who haven’t caught the announcement, with the recent launch of SGFinDex, this is a game changer because your financial data across 7 major banks and 3 government institutions (CPF, IRAS and HDB) can now be consolidated in one place.

Say goodbye to spreadsheets and tedious monthly tracking across all your different cards and banks, just because they weren’t talking to each other before.

With your SingPass, you can now easily track all your finances in one place.

One of the easiest ways to do that would be through the DBS NAV Planner (which I’ve been using since 2018 – see here). With SGFinDex, the tool has become even more savvy to help me NAVigate my finances (get the pun?) now that I can also pull data from all my other banks.


I’ve an account with almost all of the major banks in Singapore except two, so you can just imagine how much of a headache it has been to manage multiple logins each month and put it into my own spreadsheet…


By bringing together everything – from my income, cash, CPF, property and investments to my expenses and loans – the DBS NAV Planner gives me a bird-eye view of my financial health in a single glance. And if you’re into planning like I am, then you’re gonna love its other features too.


Ever since I was able to sync up my information across the other banks, I’ve been using DBS NAV Planner to track my assets vs. liabilities and net worth. Here’s how:


Track Your Net Worth


I’ve always said that your net worth doesn’t define you, but hey, it still won’t hurt to track it because how else are you gonna get a picture of your overall financial health otherwise?


Plus, there’s also that huge sense of accomplishment you can get when you see yourself improving year on year. 


Like how my net worth was negative when I first graduated (read this for tips on clearing your tuition fee loan here), but when I finally paid it off in two years, that feeling of freedom was incredible.


And just like how I’ve been advocating you guys invest in stocks of companies with good balance sheets, you’d also want to make sure your own personal balance sheet looks rock solid.


That means your assets should ideally be more than your liabilities. 


A quick way to check this is on your DBS NAV Planner, this where you can get a quick consolidated overview of your assets (other banks + CPF + cash + investments) minus liabilities (HDB housing loan or any other debts).


Using this chart, you can also see your historical assets and liabilities – and keep track of how your net worth has (hopefully) grown. Neat.

Map your retirement money


Once you’ve taken in account your full assets and liabilities, you can check out the Map Your Money feature. This is a pretty useful tool to help you picture what your financial future could look like.


This provides an interactive chart that pulls your data from across the different banks that you’ve linked, to give you an overall idea of whether you’re on track to meeting your financial goals.

You can see here that if I were to retire at 56, I’ll be getting monthly inflows from my investments and CPF to finance my spending.


And this is how I can change my financial future pretty significantly when I bring my investment returns up (from 6%) to 10% per annum instead:

You can play around with the different settings and inputs to get a more accurate plan, or see what your future impact will look like if you were to do things any differently. This can help you visualize the impact of your actions today on your financial health tomorrow, so you know what best to do.


Track your investment portfolio


If you have any unit trusts, CPF-IS or SRS – from DBS or any of the other financial institutions SGFinDex can retrieve info from – you’ll be able to see it here.


Even for information that might not be part of SGFinDex (e.g. from your CDP, robo-advisory investments or assets in other brokerages), you can still enter them on DBS NAV Planner for a more accurate view of your net worth. Once that’s done, its market price feed feature will automatically pull the latest price and update the value of your shareholdings for you. That way, you’ll always be able to plan based on your most updated financial status. 


The Straits Times reported that the next phase of SGFinDex will include your CDP holdings, so I’m looking forward to that!


Even if you’ve yet to start investing, the app can help provide you pretty good insights on how much money is going in and out of your accounts. Which is why all of us will probably love the next feature:


Cashflow

(aka Money In vs. Money Out)

Positive cashflow is simply when you have more money inflows (e.g. salary, dividends, rental income) than your money outflows (e.g. shopping, mortgage repayments) every month.


On this tab, it also gives me insights such as whether my shopping expenses are higher/lower than my monthly average.

If your transactions are mainly through DBS or POSB cards (I recommend their Live Fresh card), it also helps categorize your spending for you. Helpful if you’re not one to track all your expenses manually.



If your boss were to suddenly cut your pay or axe your role tomorrow, how long can you survive before you’re wiped out? Your Emergency Savings tab shows you whether you’re in good shape to withstand an income hit.


Very important when you have dependents, or when you have fixed liabilities (like your mortgage or car loan) to repay each month.

Pretty nifty features, aren’t they?

Go ahead and try it out for yourself as well!


In your DBS or POSB digibank app, just tap on Plan to get started.

You’ll be immediately greeted with an overview of your state of emergency savings, insurance and investments.


In other words, do you have enough for a rainy day? Are you sufficiently covered financially if an unfortunate event were to strike? Are you growing your money through investments, or just letting it erode by keeping it in cash?


Note that you’ll need to manually fill in your insurance coverage levels and investments outside of Unit Trusts, CPFIS and SRS that can be pulled through SGFinDex.

The app identifies your protection gaps for you after you’ve keyed in your data. (Yeah, I know I’m still short on one area – I’m already working with my agent towards getting that next year.)

The DBS NAV Planner is available even for non-DBS customers, so there’s no reason why you cannot use this tool to plan your own finances.

  

Go ahead and download the DBS NAV Planner now.


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


How I bought Critical Illness insurance at just 1/3 the price of a regular CI plan

It is no secret that critical illness coverage – while essential – doesn’t come cheap. Which is why when I saw FWD’s latest Big 3 Critical Illness insurance, with premiums from as low as 1/3 the price of regular CI plans*, my husband and I immediately applied for it. So if you’ve been wanting to increase your CI coverage like us, but found the premiums too expensive, you might also find this plan helpful.

A few weeks ago, my dad was recently diagnosed with yet another critical illness. The cost of long-term care isn’t cheap, which meant that our financial responsibilities had just gotten even heavier, and that led to our decision to increase our CI protection levels in case anything happens to either of us.

But adding to our CI riders on our life policy didn’t seem like a viable option for our budget, given how much the premiums cost us.

So we decided to layer our coverage by adding FWD Big 3 Critical Illness insurance instead, which protects us against the 3 most common critical illnesses affecting Singaporeans – cancer, heart attack and stroke. As the plan provides coverage for all stages of cancer and even early conditions for heart attack and stroke, it can serve as both ECI and CI.

At just one-third of the price of a regular CI plan, it was a no-brainer for us.

Review of FWD Big 3 Critical Illness Insurance

Cancer, stroke and heart attacks comprise 90% of critical illness claims in Singapore (based on data collected across the 9 major insurance players here).

Given how advanced medical science has made it possible for many diseases to be diagnosed earlier, there is now a stronger reason to get early CI insurance so that you may qualify for a payout and use the money for treatment. 

Within my own circle of friends, I have already seen a few of them get diagnosed with cancer (stage 1 or 2) even though they were only in their 20s and 30s. Most of them were healthy and exercised regularly, so it was a shock when it happened. A few of them even had to stop working in order to focus on their recovery. 

It is scary to imagine what it would have been like if they didn’t have early CI insurance to help pay for the treatment cost and living expenses then. 

But as we all know, early CI protection plans don’t come cheap. To give you an idea of how the costs look like:


So FWD’s claim that their plan is one-third the price of a regular CI plan does indeed hold true, at least in my case.
From as little as $18.51 per month for $50,000 coverage, this plan allows me to top up my coverage without having to pay too much. 

You can choose between $50,000, $100,000 and $200,000 of coverage for cancer, heart attack and stroke. There’s no need for any medical examination; all you need to do is answer a simple health declaration when you’re applying for the policy online. It took me less than 10 minutes to complete my application.


The plan is available for those aged 18 to 65, with the option to renew the policy until you’re 85You also have the option to add on an enhanced heart disorder rider and/or enhanced neurological rider for more coverage, if you need that.

Here’s how the annual premiums for $100,000 coverage (non-smoker) looks like:

Age 30
Age 40
Age 50
Male
$253
$322
$771
Female
$314
$453
$910

The premiums are indeed the most affordable on the market right now for this much coverage.

Premiums are not level

Unlike CI coverage that is bought on a level term or whole life plan, the premiums for this term contract are not flat throughout.

This means that premiums may increase in subsequent years. But that said, the premium charged by FWD will be the same as the premium charged to other people of the same age, gender, sum insured and smoke status as yourself on the day your policy is renewed.

As long as you continue to renew your policy before the deadline each year, FWD will not ask for any health declarations again in subsequent years, and any chances in your health status for renewals will not affect the policy’s coverage.

What’s not covered

The exclusions for this policy are pretty straightforward. No benefits will be paid in the event that:

  • you are diagnosed within the waiting period (90 days from policy issue date)
  • it is caused by a pre-existing condition
  • fraudulent or inaccurate data was submitted during your policy application

Unfortunately, those who already have an existing FWD Cancer insurance policy are not eligible to purchase FWD 3 Critical Illness insurance.

A standalone or a complementary plan?

Critical illnesses can strike at any point of our lives, although it is often the most painful when it happens at a stage where our financial liabilities are the highest. That said, you should consider getting comprehensive critical illness coverage for as long as possible.

This means that this plan should not be used as a substitute for your life policy, but as a complement to it. Your foundation should still be built on a broader critical illness and life policy which can cover you for multiple critical illnesses instead of just cancer, heart attacks or strokes.

For those of you with greater financial responsibilities and/or dependents, the maximum coverage of $200,000 and $20,000 death benefit from this FWD plan may not be sufficient on its own.

Thus, it will be helpful for you to combine this with other plans, which is what I did.

Your payment preferences can also affect your decision. If you want premiums to be level throughout your policy term, then this may not be suitable for you, as premiums may be higher than a similar regular CI plan at older ages. 

Once you’ve settled your base policies and you wish to top up your coverage at each point where your financial responsibilities increase, standalone plans like FWD Big 3 Critical Illness insurance can be a powerful tool to add to your arsenal of insurance weapons. 

With such affordable premiums, I see this as the most cost-efficient way to top up our existing CI coverage for common conditions without having to pay excessive premiums that would otherwise bust our budget.

Who the plan could be good for

In general, I can see this plan being beneficial for almost anyone.

Fresh graduates with a limited budget should find this useful as a convenient coverage against CI before committing to a typical CI plan that is usually more expensive. (Back in the early days of this blog when I was younger and earning a lower income, I wrote about how I chose to forgo critical illness insurance for the time being because I simply didn’t have enough budget for it. This plan solves that problem.) Once your income grows and stabilises, you can then opt to add on a whole life + CI policy.

Working adults / The Sandwiched Generation who have to juggle between your young children, your own financial responsibilities and your elderly parents. With your income being used to support several dependents, a financial hit in the form of critical illness will be even more painful to everyone. Getting covered for it will ensure that you’ll likely be able to pay for treatments while still supporting your loved ones financially, even if you have to stop working for a while to focus on recovery.


Most of you should find this useful, either as a standalone policy or to complement your existing ones.

If you too, think it could be a good addition to your insurance portfolio, head over to FWD’s website here to find out more. You can also read the policy contract terms here first, like I did.

Get a quote here.

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with FWD. All opinions are that of my own. The information is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. As my life circumstances differ from yours, you should seek advice from a licensed representative for customised advice on your financial needs. 

This FWD plan is protected up to specified limits by SDIC. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. 

Information is accurate as at 8 November 2020. 

* FWD Big 3 Critical Illness insurance provides critical illness coverage from as low as 1/3 the price of a regular critical illness plan. This base plan comparison is for All stage Cancer, late stage Stroke and late stage Heart attack against similar plans (not identical) in the market and is accurate as of 25 June 2020.