Thursday, November 24, 2016

Don't Miss These 2016 Black Friday Sales In Singapore!'s #1 personal finance comparison platform by transaction volume, provides consumers with timely money insights and aggregates the latest credit card offers and up-to-date personal loan deals.

Stalk these websites to score early deals, or wait until 25 November to shop all the 2016 Black Friday sales in Singapore.
Hot on the heels of Singles’ Day come Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday, a four-day shopping bonanza that will last from 25 to 28 November this year. Originating from the US, Black Friday takes place the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving (which is on the fourth Thursday of November). In 2016, Black Friday will happen on 25 November. This marks the start of Christmas shopping season, with slashed prices and special store opening hours. Malls in Singapore typically do not celebrate Black Friday. But on the Internet, Singaporeans let their fingers do the shopping, snagging deals at Amazon, Lazada, and other online stores. Here’re all the websites you should stalk now to score early deals, or that are holding crazy Black Friday sales in Singapore. We’ll update this list daily until 25 November, so follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know!
1. Amazon – Countdown to Black Friday
The granddaddy of online retailing, Amazon doesn’t want you to wait two whole weeks to get your hands on some discounted loot. The website is gearing up for the shopping holiday by slashing prices across its famously vast inventory.
How to Make the Most of It
Amazon means business – we spotted a 38% discount on a Lenovo Chromebook, 50% off a magnetic salt and shaker set, 70% off a cocktail shaker set… and that’s only from 2 minutes of browsing. No doubt, Amazon’s countdown is calculated to loosen wallets and start raking in the cash. Hold off on spending until the big day itself to ensure you don’t miss out on last-minute price reductions. You may also want to use the Citi Rewards Visa Card for your Amazon shopping spree. Until 31 December, cardmembers get 20 Reward Points or 8 miles for every S$1 you spend in Amazon. Given that you need purchases worth S$125 to qualify for free global shipping to Singapore, your Black Friday spree can net you 2,500 Reward Points or 1,000 miles!
2. Lazada Online Revolution – From Now till 12 December
11 November was just the beginning. On Singles’ Day, Lazada kicked off the start of a month-long sales campaign, putting up daily deals and special discounts on its website. Everything is on sale: from home appliances, electronics and gadgets, beauty essentials, health supplements, groceries, pet products, even car and motor needs!
How to Make the Most of It
With Black Friday still two weeks away, Lazada is probably saving its best deals till then. So we say, snap up a deal or two if you spot some good ones, but save your shopping budget for the main event. Besides, there’re plenty of ongoing offers to look into, including deals with partner merchants ranging from Foodpanda to Expedia. Take advantage of the discount codes for each of these, so you can extend your savings beyond Lazada purchases.
3. Zalora Black Friday Sale – 25 to 28 November
If you’re looking for that little something extra to take your Christmas outfits to the next level, Zalora has got you covered. The online fashion retailer will be lining up discounts of up to 80% for the Black Friday weekend, so get ready for a haute couture overhaul.
How to Make the Most of It
If you register through their website as a new user, and stubbornly refuse to use their app, you’ll get an exclusive 18% discount. How? Once Zalora notices your lack of technological savvy, you’ll get a pop-up inviting you to download the Zalora app so you can start shopping on your phone, like all the cool kids are doing these days. They’ll even SMS you the download link if you provide them with your mobile number.
4. Adidas – Special Deals for Black Friday
Footwear and fashion purveyor Adidas is teasing a Black Friday sale on its website. Details are scant at the moment, but we’ll update once we get more info.
How to Make the Most of It
You’ll want to prep for your Adidas shopping spree by signing up for an online account beforehand. Doing so will net you a 10% one-time discount when you buy over their website. Adidas also offers free shipping if you spend more than S$100, so take note if you want your new kicks to be delivered at no extra cost.
5. Shopback – Black Friday Cashback Codes
Save more on your Black Friday shopping spree with cashback codes from Shopback that give you cash rebates on your purchases. The deal is simple, shop online on Shopback’s website and get a certain percentage of your spend credited into your account. You can cash out your savings once you reach at least S$10. For 2016, Shopback is teasing rebates on fashion, electronics and travel. The site is also gearing up to launch what’s it’s calling “Super Cashback”, which will take place on 25 November – all the better for you to top up your cashback account when Black Friday rolls around.  
How to Make the Most of It
In the lead-up to Black Friday, Shopback is holding a week-long sale featuring discounts plus bonus cashback, so if you’re dying to do some shopping, stalk those deals for some savings. While you’re at it, take advantage of Shopback’s referral programme to earn up to S$100 cashback credit in your account. All you have to do is to refer 3 friends before 9 December. And, if you’re a first-time referrer, you’ll get an extra S$30! Also, Shopback has implemented a new feature to help you find deals with improved cashback rates – just lookout for a yellow moneybag icon. This way you know you’re getting the best available deal for your chosen product or service, earning you the most cashback. One more way to earn cashback: From now till 31 December, shop with your Visa credit card to get up to 6% additional rebate. We suggest we use the Citi Rewards Visa card, which gives you 10 points (equivalent to 4 air miles) per S$1 spent on fashion, bags or shoes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What Does A Trump Presidency Mean For Singapore?'s #1 personal finance comparison platform by transaction volume, provides consumers with timely money insights and aggregates the latest credit card offers and up-to-date personal loan deals.

Singapore’s future will be affected by a Trump Presidency and the domestic issues that arise from it. The world is still reeling from President-elect Donald Trump’s shock win during the 2016 American elections. This has gotten some Singaporeans to wonder, why do we care so much? It’s because, while the United States is far away, they are a superpower whose domestic issues can affect Singapore. Here’s how:
1. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is Likely to End
Last week we wrote an article explaining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and why it matters to Singapore. The TPP would allow for increased trade between 12 member nations (albeit with controversial concessions in areas like copyright law), and act as a counterweight against China’s influence in Asia. The TPP would have given Singaporean businesses an opportunity to expand into a larger market, thus raising employment and wages. However, it was politically unpopular in the United States, due to American fears that the TPP would lead to unfair competition for their home-grown businesses. Under the new circumstances, it seems the TPP isn’t fated to see the light of day. While both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton did not support the TPP, Clinton could perhaps have had a change of mind, as she supported it at first. Trump, however, has a protectionist stance (see below), which means he is unlikely to go back on his decision.
2. American Goods May Cost More, Thanks to Trump’s Protectionist Stance
Trump’s promise to “bring back jobs to America” means he needs to discourage “offshoring”. This is the practice of large companies to hire cheaper workers abroad, in order to lower costs. America has tight labour laws with demanding requirements (like a high minimum wage), which makes American workers more expensive but not necessarily more productive than their foreign counterparts. This is what drives its companies to hire cheaper foreigners, and leads to accusations of “job theft”. It remains to be seen how Trump will convince American companies to stop doing this. It could happen through hard measures, such as significantly raising taxes on those that employ too many foreigners, or softer measures like wage subsidies for American workers. Nonetheless, products made in America will be more expensive than those made in China, or any country with cheaper workers. This will mean some American products (such as Apple, which outsources its manufacturing to China) may see a rise in cost.
3. Greater Volatility in the Stocks and Bonds Market
Because Trump is known to be unpredictable, businesses are not certain how to react to him. Most are unsure if his policies will benefit them or cost them. In light of this, stock prices and bond prices may be prone to sharp swings as he gets settled into his role as President. Of particular worry is not Trump himself, but White House Chief Strategist Steven Kevin Bannon. Bannon was formerly part of the senior management at Breitbart, a notably right-wing site favoured by race supremacists. This has raised worries of racial tensions and political instability, which causes volatility and can discourage some foreign investors. Safe haven assets, such as gold, are likely to grow in popularity during this period of upheaval.
4. Cheaper Energy
Donald Trump believes that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by China. As such, he has announced intentions to lift restrictions on industries that are traditionally considered unfriendly to the environment. This means a likely rise in activities such as fracking and coal mining, or a possible rescinding of grants for electric cars or micro-generation. Micro-generators are people who use their own solar panels, or other methods, to generate some of their own electrical power. Some countries give out tax relief or subsidies for such schemes. The upside to this is that energy will probably get cheaper, which translates to better margins for their businesses. Only time can tell if we’ll actually benefit from this.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Watch Out For These Fitness And Weight Loss Scams In Singapore

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The best way to stay fit is still diet and exercise. Don’t waste your money on these fitness and weight loss scams. Fitness fads come and go in Singapore, but one thing always remains: somewhere out there, somebody is looking to cash in on the latest one. The number of ways to get fit hasn’t changed for all of human history. It’s always been diet and exercise, just like we did in Ancient Rome, when the Pyramids were being built, or when humans lived in caves. In spite of that, there’s always new gimmick being marketed in Singapore promising fast weight loss. Here are some fitness scams and rip-offs to watch for:
1. Fad Routines
The most notorious fad routine (that’s now been exposed as such) is P90X. This is a 90 day diet and exercise regime that is extremely intense, and is guaranteed to cause weight loss. The theory is that it “confused” your muscles by rotating the types of exercise. Now P90X does work, but see if you can spot the deception: what happens to anyone’s body, if they diet and exercise for 90 days? That’s right: they’d lose weight. All the talk about “confusing” muscles is just marketing spiel, and the creator of P90X mostly admitted it in a New York Times interview. When terms like P90X are used, it creates branding: the name is used to justify a higher price for coaching, as it’s a “special” method. In reality, it’s just the same as any intense workout programme. So the next time you’re offered a higher priced package, and it involves a lot of diet and exercise, question if you should pay the premium. You’re probably doing the same thing as a regular workout package. (An exception to this are exercise methods meant for highly specialised purposes, such as for medical rehabilitation, or to train you for a specific sport like gymnastics).
2. “One Day Left” Discounts at the Gym
One of the most common sales tactics at the gym is to pressure you with a limited time offer. After your free trial, the salesperson will sit you down and talk about the benefits of membership. This often concludes with an eye-popping sum, but don’t worry: there’s a huge discount right now. It’s almost half price. The condition is, the sale is expiring today. This is almost always a con-job. Anyone can arbitrarily pad their price by 50 per cent, and then put in a 50 per cent discount (e.g. Instead of selling you the package for S$1,200, I offer it at S$2,400 but with 50 per cent off) The time limit is just to pressure you to sign up on the spot, as they know you likely won’t come back after their aggressive tactics.
3. “Tested” and “Verified” Supplements Can Be a Ripoff
The industry for supplements (particularly the muscle building type) is fraught with issues, because for every respectable company there are dozen scams. In 2014, Raw Deal Inc. (a supplement producer) demonstrated that even with government checks buyers aren’t safe from rip-offs. Raw Deal Inc. would add fillers to dilute their supplements. So while the ingredients and quantity were correct during government inspections, they would be diluted to make more product before being sold to consumers. In 2013, it was discovered that many supplement manufacturers in the United States have shady backgrounds. Some were involved in the creation of illegal drugs, like methamphetamine, before they started brewing supplements. Think about that before forking out a lot of money for supplements. And throughout all this, we are still only assuming supplements work. It is difficult to test whether they fulfill their advertisements, as everyone’s body absorbs the supplements differently. Overall it’s best to rely on your family doctor’s opinion, rather than trying to filter out the sales pitches for supplements.
4. Instagram Fitness Scams
Instagram has become the medium of choice among fitness scammers. These people pretend to start out as being flabby or unfit, and then “chronicle” their journey to looking better. They then often sell services as fitness coaches, or recommend supplements or exercise gear. But the increasing number of exposés suggests many of them may be frauds. The images used are often heavily edited, through tools such as Photoshop. Sometimes, the before and after images are even taken on the same day, and then edited to make them look different. Not all Instagram scammers do this for money – some just enjoy fame and attention. But when they start to plug products or gyms or services, look out. It might be a con-job.
5. Multi-Level Marketing Recruitment Disguised as Fitness Clubs
You may have been approached to join “free” clubs, that promise to be a community to help all members lose weight. One company is well known for doing this in Singapore. What you need to understand about these clubs is that, while they’re free, they have products that are not. Often, the clubs are an attempt to recruit you to join a Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) programme. You will be asked to buy and then resell supplements, supposedly in a way that also makes you an income. Don’t get pressured into buying or taking part. If you join the club, you will be hemmed in by dozens of people who try to persuade you to sign-up. You’re better off working out on your own.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Buying Gold Jewellery Is Nothing Like Investing In Gold

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While buying gold jewellery is part of Singaporean culture, it’s misguided to consider this tradition as an investment. This article was originally published on 28 June 2016. Last updated on 28 October 2016. Some Singaporeans think buying a lot of gold jewellery is the same as investing in gold. In particular, buying and gifting gold jewellery has deep cultural roots among Chinese and Indian Singaporeans, who tend to consider it as a sound investment. However, this is a misguided tradition. There is a big difference between investing in gold bullion and gold coins (e.g. Canadian Maple Leaf coins), and buying jewellery from a store. In fact, many women have received unpleasant surprises when trying to sell their jewellery at a gold price peak, only to break even. Here’s why buying gold jewellery is nothing like investing in gold:
1. Jewellery Comes at a High Markup
As a rule of thumb, the markup on gold as jewellery is about 100 to 250 per cent from big brand stores. Small neighbourhood jewellers or custom jewellery online can be less expensive. But even in those cases, markups tend to be at least 60 per cent. Say a ring is made of 24 karat gold*. The ring contains five ounces of gold, which at present is worth around USD$1,350 per ounce. This means the market price of the gold is around S$9,613.80. But a jewellery store can’t just sell a lump of gold. A goldsmith needs to melt that gold down and shape it. The store also needs to spend money on marketing, salespeople, and shop space. It also has insurance costs, shipping costs, security costs… you get the idea. By the time the jeweller has factored all that, it shouldn’t be surprising that the ring will cost around S$22,000 to S$24,000. So if you bought the ring and want to break even on this “investment”, you need market prices for gold to rise by 200 to 250 per cent. Even assuming gold prices rise constantly every year – something no one can guarantee – you could end up holding on to the ring for decades, and then only getting back its original worth. That would be a serious loss due to inflation. *Gold that is less than 24 karat cannot be accurately compared to gold bullion, as it is mixed with other metals.
2. Jewellery Comes with GST
As of 1st October 2012, Investment Precious Metals (IPM) do not incur a Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Singapore. But jewellery does not fall under the category of IPM, and remains taxable. The GST rate is a flat seven per cent on all items. This means a gold bracelet valued at S$10,000 sells for S$10,700. Because of GST, you pay more for gold in the form of jewellery than you do for gold in the form of bullion (or any other form that counts as IPM). According to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS): “Precious metals which do not meet the criteria cannot qualify as IPM (hereinafter referred to as “non-IPM”) and the supply of non-IPM continues to be taxable. Examples of non-IPM are jewellery, scrap precious metals, numismatic coins and precious metals which are refined by refiners who are not on the ‘Good Delivery’ list of the London Bullion Market Association or the London Platinum and Palladium Market.” For details on what counts as IPM, visit the IRAS website.
3. It’s Tougher to Sell Jewellery Than Gold Bullion or “Paper Gold”
Gold investors either have gold bullion, or “paper gold” in the form of gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). There is a ready market for these, as gold is bought and sold almost every day. The gold can be sold at close to market price (there are usually some small transaction fees), and with gold ETFs you can sell your units and get the money within two days. It is far more troublesome and expensive to sell jewellery. In most cases, you will have to go to a pawn shop; otherwise, you turn to jewellers. Whatever the case, you are likely to sell at a loss. Most jewellers will only offer half the price or less, or try to sell on a consignment basis. This means you leave the piece with them, and they will get a commission if and when they sell it for you. Furthermore, the resale price of jewellery is subject to the whim of whoever does the valuation. This is why two pawnshops might offer you two different prices for your gold jewellery. This raises the possibility of making a bad deal, as you cannot easily compare prices. Gold investments, however, have well-charted prices. They are sold on regulated gold exchanges (or the stock markets in the case of gold ETFs), so you would know if you’re getting ripped off.
4. Gold Prices Fluctuate; Jewellery Prices May Not
Gold prices change every day. A big brand jeweller generally can’t accommodate that. For example, jeweller buys gold at USD$1,350 an ounce to day to make a bracelet. Two months later, the price of gold has fallen to USD $1,200 an ounce. Will the jeweller lower the price of the bracelet to match? If you’ve looked inside a major jewellery store, you’ll know the answer is no. Jewellery prices are quite static. This means you can’t buy at a discount, like an investor during a gold crash, and sell for more when prices go back up. That said, some jewellers might lower prices during a gold crash. But even then, there is a limit to how much the discount can be. Beyond a certain point, the store is content to leave it unsold and till prices go back up.
There Are Perks to Having Gold as Jewellery
The upside to gold as jewellery is that it’s portable. In case you ever need to smuggle your wealth out of the country, jewellery is much easier to hide than gold bars. But we don’t think this is an issue for most Singaporeans. The main advantage is that you can wear it. Jewellery is a much more touching gift than putting a gold bar, or a gold ETF certificate, into a loved one’s hands. This an exercise of the cultural, rather than monetary, value of gold. There is also the prospect of jewellery as antiques. Certain styles of goldsmithing, such as Victorian-era pendants, are rare. These pieces may have value beyond the actual worth of the gold they’re made from. Investing in antiques, however, is still different from investing in gold. Overall, you are better off keeping gold investments and jewellery as separate things in your mind.