Sunday, October 14, 2018

What People Misunderstood About My Combo Savings Strategy

When my recent article got published on Yahoo Money Matters (Link Here if you are interested), there were many attacks remarks on the comments section and also on the social media and hardwarezone forum in particular to the way I save on things.

They think that by being able to get to where I am today, I must have scrimped on things so badly in order to amass such a high percentage of savings even though I am the sole breadwinner of the family and our family have two young children.

At least 50% of the crowd thinks the maths doesn't add up, or they must think I live a misery life that I am missing out on most of the "fun" things in life.

The other 50% of the crowd thinks I must have a high income equivalent to a scholar working for the government.

Everywhere on the comments was an assault.

Almost none was complimentary or at least try to believe that it is true.

That is where I know that we here in the financial blogosphere are the minority outlier who believes things can happen for a reason.

There are many people who I felt had misunderstood when I say that we have to be aware on the things that we buy in order to accumulate more savings at our end.

Savers folks like us do not scrimp on non-discretionary items that we have to spend on.

We spend by being smart about buying them and looking for every value that we can buy.

For instance, I have two young kids at home who obviously need the most important things in their lives right now - Diapers and Milk Powders.

That doesn't mean we do away without them by depriving them of these things but rather we try to source for these items that have the same quality yet cheaper alternative.

In my earlier years for instance, I would buy them over at our neighbourhood country whenever we visited JB on the weekends when we had our short trip travel. With a strong SGD equivalent when  converted to Ringgit, the price that we pay for these items would have halved the amount that we pay in Singapore for the same imported items.

We did the same whenever we had the chance for our frequent travel to Bangkok.

Over the past few months where we did not travel anywhere, we would purchase them through Redmart, an online grocery shopping portal which takes the inconvenience out of the way for us for bulky items like rice, oil, tissue roll paper, diapers, etc.

To add spice to the convenience deal, we also sprung up a few combo savings strategy which resulted in very decent savings at the end of the day.

1.) The first is through logging in to Shopback, a great e-commerce online shopping platform that partners with so many merchants that you literally have to use them.

p.s: if you are a first time user, you can sign up using the link here and immediately redeem yourself a $5 reward start.

$230.89 - That is the amount of cash rebates I get in recent months through my routine mandatory item purchases
2.) Once I logged into my Shopback, I will activate the rebate to get into Redmart and does my routine shopping option. 

I usually choose bulky items such as rice (they have a great japanese rice at affordable price which I highly recommend), oil and diapers which I am too lazy to carry outside since we are car-less people.

Redmart often has a promo-tie with Citibank credit card which you are entitled to around 8.8% off your spend ($12 off with minimum $135 spend). Again, I buy mostly items that can last a few months ahead so I just store and add them up accordingly.

CITIUP12 - My favorite code
3.) In addition to the above, by being smart about using the right credit card and in the above case Citibank card, I'll get an additional 8% cashback that goes back into my citicard (see tie-up link above).

4.) Last but not least, Redmart also has a partnership tie-up with Live-Up where it gives you further perks benefits by just signing up an account with them. They currently have a free 60 days trial with a free 2 months Netflix if you sign up an account with them, after which you'd be charged $28.80/year.

But just look at the savings I have over the past month with them, it's easily over $50 and I have redeemed my initial charges with them.

My Combo Savings Strategy

My final purchase would look something like this:

I purchased something that's worth around $135 (you will get around the same amount if you purchase them at your usual grocery stores) and get the below combo savings deducted:

$135 x [1% (through Shopback for existing Redmart customer) + 8.8% (Citi promo tie-up on almost every Cyber-Tuesday) + 8% (additional Citi cashback reward) + 5% (Live-up) = $30.78

This translates to a savings of about 22.8% for almost every time I purchased via Redmart over the past few months.

My Combo Savings Strategy
Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, savings is about being smart about buying things.

The first being able whether to segregate between discretionary vs non-discretionary items.

And the second to the extent of being able to extract the most value out of the things that you buy.

That's how I get my relatively high savings rate even until today, we save what we need to save and not what most people misunderstood by being stingy on things.

I hope that gives some clarification about things.

Thanks for reading.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

What Would You Do For 10% Raise In Salary?

I stumbled upon this article (Link Here) which they gathered about 1,200 Americans people to survey what would these people give up in order to get a 10% immediate raise in their salary. 

The question is of course, hypothetical in nature and by no means reflects an opinion which we might personally have it ourselves but I thought it’s still an interesting exercise to ponder about just for fun. 

To add some spice to this, I’ve picked up a few questions which I thought was interesting to have, and I have added my own opinions on the questions. 

You can let me know your own thoughts in the comments below. 

Working Related

1.) 55.9% would work an extra 10 hours per week for life 

B: To be frank, an extra 10 hours per week isn’t exactly a lot because it translates into about 2 hours per day which technically means you are working for about 10 hours in total. This is probably the reason why most would go for it given that they are probably already doing that. For me, I wouldn’t vote for this because I am literally buying an extra time with money, which I am already deprived of for most of the day. Working an extra time means lesser time to do other activities that we love and this is not in line with the financial independence concept that I pursue. Of course, if you are already doing the work that you love, then this just adds a spice dimension to it and I don’t see why not. 

2.) 50.4% would work one day every weekend for the next year 

B: This is not much different from the question above given that you are essentially buying time for money with the only exception that you only have to do it for a year and that’s it (compared to the above where you have to work for life). Literally speaking, the majority of these people who have voted yes for this could have find a weekend job and work for it. It doesn’t make sense for them to wait for the reality to kick in. Personally for my case, I wouldn’t vote for this as well because weekends are my treasure days where the family could be together doing common activities. 

3.) 15.27% would give up all of their paid vacation days for the next five years 

B: Generally speaking, we have about 14-18 paid leave in a calendar year so from a mathematical point of view, the monetary benefits seem to favour the give up. Plus, this is only for the next 5 years so essentially you can resume back your paid leave after that. Again, personally for me, I wouldn’t go for it because I usually utilized my paid leave for quite a few activities that I am working on and they are priceless to me. 

Social Related

4.) 53.55% would give up all social media accounts (facebook, Instagram, twitter) for the next five years 

B: Wow, this is a hard one for me! I know that social media accounts are generally tabloids that are filled with the latest gossips in town or newsfeed of your friends happening but to be without them for the next five years is still too much to accommodate for me. No as well on this one. P.S: It’ll be interesting though to see how others might vote on this one. 

5.) 88.61% would give up watching Game of Thrones for life 

B: I'm game for this one. I am not a big fan of GOT personally and would readily give up for an extra 10% increase in my pay. Give it to me right now! 

6.) 43.86% would give up exercise for the next five years 

B: I need my exercise after sitting in the office for almost half of the day, especially on a weekend. No for me. 

7.) 73.42% would give up all alcoholic beverages for the next five years 

B: I think I can do with this one, though five years without alcohol does seem a bit odd weird taste in my mouth. My mouth will get itchy but it is something I can do without. 

Others Related

8.) 34.98% would give up the right to vote in all elections for life 

B: This is getting more to the political side. This is a bit of a hard one as well but I’d favour a yes on this one for the sake of that 10%! Do it before I change my mind! 

9.) 12.2% would break up with their partner or significant other 

B: I seriously don’t understand this. Why would anyone be willing to break up with their significant other for only a mere 10% increase in your pay? Surely your other significant half is worth more than 10% of your entire salary! Wake up please! 

Final Thoughts

Even though this is just a fun exercise, we can deduce what are the factors that are important to us in life. 

Most of the easy yes or no comes from the fact that we are already not valuing that, for example in my case above I have not watched a single episode of the GOT but what if someone who are a big fan of GOT would reply? It’s always harder when you have to weigh the sacrifice that you are already doing for something that you need. 

It’s also interesting to see if we change the question to maybe a higher amount, say for instance a million dollars instead of a mere 10% increase, would any of your answer have changed then.

Thanks for reading.

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