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All about Income, Jobs, Career, and Investment in Singapore

 

Android, iPhone and iPad Apps For Your Parents To Check Singapore Stock Prices

January 25th, 2015

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If your parents had been using the now-defunct Teletext to monitor stock prices, the new SGX Stocks 股 App is the perfect app for them.

Fast and easy to use, this app lets your folks easily track up-to-the-minute prices of their shares on their smart phones and even tablet devices (i.e. Android tablets and Apple iPads).

Download SGX Stocks 股 App for your parents today.

The SGX Stocks 股 App is now available for use on all Android and iOS devices:

SGX Stocks iPhone, iPad and Android App

The SGX Stocks App offers these features:

  • View stock prices of the companies listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX).
  • Fast and easy to use. This app is the Teletext replacement you have been looking for!
  • No login!
  • Opening price, intraday high, intraday low, traded volume, and price change of last done are also displayed for each stock.
  • STI index and its up/down % are displayed for your convenience.
  • Add to favourites and quickly view the price movements of the shares you are interested in.
  • App will auto-refresh all prices every minute. Tap “Refresh” button to instantly refresh the prices.
  • Disclaimer:
    Any stock price and market data provided in this app is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon for trading / investment. When buying / selling shares, always consult your remisier / broker.

Five Retirement Myths that Singaporeans Should Stop Believing

January 16th, 2015

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Retirement is an increasingly contentious issue in Singapore. The issues are varied, ranging from the adequacy of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) to the rising cost of living.

Amid all the coffee shop talk and internet flame wars, some persistent myths have begun to emerge. You probably know more than one of these:

  • Retirees will spend less
  • Having loads of money will result in a happy retirement
  • Property is always the best investment for retirement
  • The most expensive insurance plan is the best for retirement
  • Fixed deposits alone will provide for retirement

Retirement in Singapore

 

1. Retirees Will Spend Less

It is not true that all retirees will spend less. In fact, some retirees even spend more in the years immediately following their retirement.

Remember that, when you are no longer working, every day becomes a weekend. That could mean a lot of eating out, shopping, travelling, etc. Also, unexpected costs tend to creep into play: many retirees find themselves looking after grandchildren (and invariably bearing some of the expenses), finding new hobbies, raising pets, or facing new medical expenses.

Granted, you can always argue that simple lack of funds will eventually force you to live within your means. But is that truly the solution you want?

Don’t skimp on saving and investing now, because you think you’ll spend less in future. NTUC’s Heng Chee How is also advocating for the re-employment age to be extended from 65 to 67 years old. This, he says, allows older workers to earn more income by continuing to work and thereby grow their retirement fund to provide better for their retirement years.

 

2. Having Loads of Money will Result in a Happy Retirement

A lack of money will result in an unhappy retirement. But that being said, there is a point at which more money will do nothing to raise your level of happiness.

The most common complaints of retirees cannot be solved with money. Loneliness, regrets at having alienated children, a sense of aimlessness, feeling unproductive, etc.

These are not factors that can be corrected with a bigger pension fund. The best way to address these is to not obsess too much over money right now. By all means, save and invest for your retirement – but don’t forget to build the relationships that you will need in your twilight years.

You should also be mindful of your health – being ill later on could make dream trips impossible, even after retirement. In fact there are many older workers who have chosen to work longer for the sake of their health. For these workers, it’s not just about the money; they feel that their jobs keep their minds alert and their bodies active.

 

3. Property is Always the Best Investment for Retirement

A common paradox among Singaporeans is that we’re risk averse, yet often willing to invest in property without a second thought. The assumption is that, unlike other financial products, property is “safe”.

It is true that owning your home can reduce retirement costs – rental rates can be volatile, and this can play havoc with a pension fund. But home ownership must be handled with moderation.

Some Singaporeans overextend themselves, taking the biggest and longest possible loans to buy private housing. They hope that in 20 or 30 years, when the house is sold, it will have appreciated to several times its worth.

The truth is, property is not immune to price fluctuations. If you sell a house during a downturn in the property cycle, you can still make a loss. The solution then would be to wait for another upswing in the property cycle. This could take years to happen, and even experts struggle to accurately predict such timings.

The long uncertainty is not something you want to deal with in your 60s or 70s, and when you are facing dwindling pension funds.

A huge housing loan also consumes much of your income, and will do so for many years – at present, the maximum home loan most Singaporeans can take can consume up to 60% of their monthly income.

By paying such a large amount over a long loan tenure (20 or 30 years), you deprive yourself of the ability to make other savings and investments for your retirement.  It’s a classic case of putting all your eggs in one basket.

It’s inadvisable to purchase a property that is more than five times your annual income, or to take housing loans that exceed 30% of your monthly income. By all means, buy a property for your retirement – but do not “go all out” on the assumption that the property will make you rich.

That being said, property investments these days are aided by the enhanced lease-buyback (LBS) scheme. Low-income elderly who live in 3-room flat (or smaller) can sell part of their lease to HDB, and still retain a 30 year lease. This helps retirees monetize their property, without having to sell it off on the open market.

 

4. The Most Expensive Insurance Plan is the Best for Retirement

A responsible financial adviser recommends plans that suit your needs and budget. Irresponsible ones often resort to scaremongering – inflating the sum you will supposedly need to retire.

Some financial advisers will come up with shocking amounts (numbers well over two million are not unheard of) that you “absolutely need” to survive at retirement; this is a prelude to making you buy more expensive – or risky – insurance policies.

Be especially wary of investment linked policies (ILPs), which are sometimes touted as a retirement solution. These policies may have expensive premiums, and the payouts can be variable.

Always talk to a range of different financial advisers and compare their products, before buying. Pay special attention to the “effect of deduction” column in the benefits illustration – this tells you how much you are effectively paying.

If you are still in doubt about your retirement planning, speak to an independent financial adviser. These advisers do not work for any one insurer or bank, and may give you a more balanced view.

Never assume that higher premiums mean a higher payout; remember the amount of the payouts are (usually) not guaranteed. There will be little you can do if, after contributing for 30+ years, you find out the reward is a pittance.

 

5. Fixed Deposits Alone Will Provide for Retirement

Even the best fixed deposits seldom provide interest of 1% per annum. For comparison, the inflation rate in Singapore averages around 3%. This means that the value of your money (in a fixed deposit) does not keep pace with the rising cost of living.

So even though fixed deposits are among the safest financial products, they are not enough to guarantee your retirement fund. There are other alternatives to consider:

Your CPF ordinary account (OA) grows at around 2.5%, with the special account (SA) growing at 4%. If you have more than $20,000 in your OA, and more than $40,000 in your SA, you can invest up to 35% of your CPF savings in products like gold, or blue chip stocks.

For more details, check with the CPF board (mycpf.cpf.gov.sg)

At present, NTUC is also advocating a raise in CPF contributions for those over 50. As the safest asset in any Singaporean’s retirement planning, it’s vital that CPF amounts remain healthy.

Outside of the CPF, other options exist: banks such as OCBC and POSB provide Blue Chip investment programmes, which you can join for as little as $100 a month. This invests your money in highly capitalised and established companies, which are fairly low risk.

An independent financial adviser can help to determine your investment needs, and build a balanced portfolio for you. Note that proper planning for retirement requires a mix of different assets, with varying levels of risk.

If you insist on sticking only to low risk assets, you may find the returns are too little to provide for you at retirement.

Consider these to be equally important parts of your retirement plan. Health, relationships, and dreams are assets that equal, and often beat, cash.

What retirement myths annoy you the most? Comment and let us know!

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Compare Your Household Income 2014

December 23rd, 2014

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For households living in HDB 5-room and executive flats, the average monthly household income is $11,199. For condo households, the figure is $19,340. For landed households, it is $23,994.

This is according to the Key Household Income Trends 2013 report published by the Singapore Department of Statistics.

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The median monthly household income is now $7,870, up from $7,570 last year. If you and your spouse make a combined income of more than $7,870, your family is better off than half the households here.

Those at the upper echelons make much more. The families in the top 10% (“top decile”) make an average of $28,688, which is disproportionately high. The households in the next decile make about half of that, and the figures for the next few deciles** go down linearly:

Household Income by Deciles 2014

To benchmark your household income, enter your monthly household income (including employer’s CPF contributions):

** The deciles are “based on ranking of all resident employed households by their monthly household income from work (including employer CPF contributions) per household member”. This possibly explains why the average household income of the 41st-50th decile is higher that the overall median of $7,870.

If you are not a millionaire, you shouldn’t retire, say DBS financial experts

December 5th, 2014

~ In this ST article, DBS financial experts calculated that S$900,000 is needed to fund a S$3,500 monthly payout during retirement. You need to be a millionaire in order to retire. This is cause for concern. I believe the S$900,000 figure is the net asset figure, i.e. total assets minus liabilities (debt). If it is [...]

Read the full article at If you are not a millionaire, you shouldn’t retire, say DBS financial experts

Civil Service Bonus End-2014

November 25th, 2014

~ All civil servants will get a total of 1.8 months of bonus at this year end, according to this PSD press release. This bonus consists of the standard one-month NPAA (which is commonly called the “13th month bonus”) and 0.8 month of AVC. The acronym NPAA stands for “Non-Pensionable Annual Allowance”, while AVC stands [...]

Read the full article at Civil Service Bonus End-2014

When Should You Consider Working Past 62 in Singapore?

November 11th, 2014

In a Young NTUC survey, 70% of participants said they wanted the option to work past 62. If you know Singaporeans, that’s not a surprise – this country’s so workaholic, some of us play golf at night. So when the re-employment act kicked in, most of us signed the re-hiring contracts before our bosses even [...]

Read the full article at When Should You Consider Working Past 62 in Singapore?

How does Singapore really stack up against the rest of the world?

October 3rd, 2014

~ We previously looked at the figures offered in the Singstat report and it suggests that all is well and that the economy is constantly improving in the country. This article will look at figures from around the world to examine how good the numbers for key income trends really are when compared to the [...]

Read the full article at How does Singapore really stack up against the rest of the world?

Choosing A Car Insurance Policy

September 17th, 2014

Motor insurance policy terms can be confusing for most people and you may end up paying for features you do not need or worse, be stuck in a situation where you are put at great financial liability. So, make sure that you know exactly what you are paying for and what you are getting in [...]

Read the full article at Choosing A Car Insurance Policy

FCF Shows Its Bite As Jobs Bank Listings Spike

September 5th, 2014

The Ministry of Manpower’s Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) seems to be having its desired impact as more than 56,000 jobs have been listed on the National Jobs Bank, the final piece of the FCF rollout since it was announced in September 2013. This compares to over 51,000 jobs listed on commercial site Jobstreet.com.sg and 26,000 [...]

Read the full article at FCF Shows Its Bite As Jobs Bank Listings Spike

Compare Your Annual Income 2014

September 2nd, 2014

This is the 2014 version of the most popular income benchmarking tool on Salary.sg. It uses the latest data from IRAS’s just-released Annual Report 2013/2014. To benchmark/compare your annual income – including all commissions, bonuses, part-time salaries, director’s fees, rental income – simply enter your IRAS assessable income below and see how well you stack [...]

Read the full article at Compare Your Annual Income 2014