Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Review of Your Financial GPS – Your handy digital financial advisor by DBS

If you wish to achieve financial independence, you need to plan and consistently ensure you’re on track to meeting your goals.

For anyone looking for a framework, I’ve repeatedly emphasized that the route involves:
1.    Cutting your expenses
2.    Setting up your emergency fund
3.    Growing your savings
4.    Protecting your assets
5.    Invest to further grow your capital and build passive income

You’ll find this bookmarked under the GUIDE tab on this blog.

To promote this message and culture of planning for financial independence (because we all know that inflation and the high cost of living in Singapore sucks), I’ve been working quite closely with DBS Bank to speak at their classes for NAV – Your Financial GPS, held in Tanjong Pagar at their NAV Hub.

I’ve have also encouraged many of you to go for the free financial analysis and consultation sessions which they offer where there is zero product pushing or hard-selling. This is important, because if you’re unlucky enough to work with a financial advisor who has a vested interest in their own commissions, you could very well end up with “recommendations” that serve to line their pockets instead of really fulfilling your needs at the best value.

Getting such a personalized session to help you understand your current financial health (awareness is always the first step to change), getting financial tips and attending financial planning classes at NAV Hub are just some of the reasons why I’ve been supporting the intiative and sharing my experience at some of their classes.

But time is always a valuable resource, so even if you haven’t yet had the chance to go down to Tanjong Pagar for a consultation, don’t fret! DBS has now gone one step further to launch Your Financial GPS in order to deliver a digital financial advisor straight to your fingertips. Yes, or those of you who might have attended the NAV sessions before, you’ll recognise this as an extension of their their existing “NAV – Your Financial GPS” intiative.

This operates on a SAIL concept – Saving, Assurance, Invest and Life Goals – which is pretty much in line with what I’ve always been preaching. If you’re an existing DBS or POSB customer, you probably want to log into your digibank app and check out this newly-launched feature for yourself.

Features & Benefits
Your Financial GPS relies on a combination of user data and behavioural activity to offer you personalised and tailored suggestions.

This digital financial advisor is integrated into your banking transactions, which allows it to provide an analysis of your activities, including:
-       automatically categorising your income and expenses (I like that you can create custom categories as well)
-       provide an overview of your set budgets
-       tracking your status against long-term financial life goals (that you’ve set)

Think of it as a 3-in-1 personal expense tracker + budgeting + recommendation app.

If your transactions are through DBS, it will be categorised automatically for you (based on merchant codes and transaction descriptions, in case you were wondering about the “how”). You can also create additional customisation fields, add in non-DBS transactions and input them accordingly if you wish to use this as your main expense tracker from now.

It also makes some recommendations (which you might otherwise not have thought of!). For instance, want to set up a long-term goal to save for your baby’s university fees but unsure of how much is enough? Your Financial GPS will propose an ideal savings amount that you can consider and also offer some tips on small, actionable steps that you can take to achieve this goal. Or, if you’re saving for a wedding, you’ll be fed with tips on how to save money while planning for your big day!

And for those of you who have been looking for a community to support and accompany you on your financial growth journey, DBS will be launching YourNAV Community forum next month, where you’ll be able to ask questions online and get answers or tips related to financial planning. If you’re a “YourNAVer” member, you can also look forward to getting access to exclusive members-only events, classes, games and contests.

You can visit this link for more information. Until then, I’ll see you in the community. 

Disclaimer: I’ve been speaking at NAV Hub for multiple events so far, so this article is naturally written in collaboration with DBS to share their latest initiative with you guys. All opinions are of my own. Screenshots involve cursory numbers and are not meant to be taken as an accurate representation of my current financial status, which loyal readers should be able to recognise.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

What To Do In Your First Trimester

So...if you haven't already seen the news on my Instagram or on my Dayre, I'm pregnant with my first child! :D

My first trimester was pretty tough because I suffered am still having really bad nausea and acid reflux, and it felt like time couldn't pass any quicker. It was tough keeping the baby a secret from my colleagues at work, and even speaking at events - SGX and a SUSS cryptocurrency panel discussion - while trying to hide my discomfort! 

I honestly couldn't wait to enter my second trimester after reading about how the morning sickness tends to go away for most people then, although at this moment I've just started my second trimester and it is still here :(

Anyway! So yes, you can soon expect to see more pregnancy-related posts from me, as well as stuff on family finances, and even how I plan to teach and raise my kid to become financially-savvy with good values (let's hope I'm successful, we've already come up with various games and methods haha)! 

Right now, I thought I'll share about what to do in your first trimester, especially if this is your first pregnancy. I know I felt pretty overwhelmed and clueless in the beginning, and if it weren't for some of our good friends who guided us through, we'd probably still be lost parents right now!

1. Take folic acid.
Many ladies who are trying to conceive take folic acid right from the start, but for us, the first thing we did when we found out from our pregnancy kit that I was pregnant was to go to Guardian and purchase their 5mg folic acid supplements. This was a tip given to us by a good friend who had been praying for us over our (short-lived) #ttc journey, so I hope this gets passed on to you guys today too! 

2. Decide if you wanna go private or public.
There's SO MANY things to consider once you find out that you're about to welcome a new life in 9 months and have to start preparing for it. The first thing you'll want to think about is whether the private or public healthcare route is better for you. Some factors to consider: 
  • Costs: Is the private route affordable for you?
  • Waiting time: Are you willing to spend hours waiting before you get to see your gynae? Can you afford to spend (almost) an entire day waiting?
  • Dedicated or random gynae: Do you need / want a dedicated gynae who will see you through your pregnancy? If you go the public route, you'll be randomly assigned to whichever gynae is on duty when you visit.
  • What's the level of comfort and assurance you need? Generally, private gynaes tend to be able to give you more attention and put you at ease, vs. the super fast consultations at public hospitals.
  • Location of the gynae clinic
Source: MOH
Source: MOH
We considered between Ward A in a public hospital and a 2-bedder in a private one. Initially, I really wanted to go the public route because I was convinced that our government hospitals are good enough, but we changed our mind after some of my readers (who work in public hospitals) wrote to me advising me against it. Another key consideration was the fact that I was quite anxious as this is my first pregnancy, and I really wanted to have an exclusive gynae who would follow me throughout my entire journey, instead of being seen by random gynaes on duty. Our busy schedules also didn't really allow us the flexibility of being able to spend an entire day waiting (and I HATE waiting), so after weighing the different factors, we decided to go down the private route instead.

My husband said something really sweet: "I don't mind paying more for my wife to have a peace of mind". =D Guys, listen to your wives!

3. Search for a gynae.
Go "gynae-shopping" if you need to! It is important that you feel comfortable with your gynae so don't be afraid of hopping around until you find the right one. The only thing you should note is that first consultations tend to be charged higher, so if you're "shopping" around for too long...you'll quickly rack up a lot of costs. 

Ladies, if this is your first pregnancy and you're an anxious mom like I am, remember that it is fine to spend more money to ease your fears because it does affect the baby. You have to weigh affordability against your personal comfort and emotional needs! 

You can generally expect to pay between $150 - $300 for each session with a private gynae. Our first gynae charged us $370 (although a source who was his patient last year said she only paid $280), so rates may still vary and it is best to check directly. When you call the clinic, the nurse will ask you for your last period date in order to calculate roughly how far along you are. You'll be asked to come in for your first appointment in Week 7 - 8, although some gynaes will see you earlier if you really want to.

During our search, we read online reviews, spoke to a few close mummy friends and asked for recommendations (very few, since we couldn't really announce our pregnancy yet), and shortlisted 3 gynaes to visit before we made our decision. As it turned out, our second gynae made us feel the most at ease and was within our budget, so we decided to stick to him!

4. Start thinking about which hospital you'd wanna deliver in.
Often, this is tagged to your gynae, which is why I placed this as #3. If you choose a private gynae, they tend to only deliver at certain hospitals, so your choices are limited. I made the mistake of shortlisting my desired hospitals first (including KKSH, TMC and Mount A) before I realised that not all my options were places that my gynae had delivery arrangements with. Sian.

You can also go on hospital tours to check out the facilities, although I don't intend to do this until much later.

Photo credit: The HK Hub

5. Decide if you want to get maternity insurance.

Some people say maternity insurance is a MUST, while others say it isn't necessary at all. As I've always emphasized, insurance is a very personal affair, and what works for someone may not work for you. So go ahead and speak to your agent(s), compare quotes, and decide if you'll like to get covered for a greater peace of mind! 

I'll cover this more in a separate post later as I'm currently still reviewing them now, and haven't made up my mind whether this is a WANT or a NEED for me at this stage.

The truth is that your boobs are likely to grow and become SUPER SORE when you're pregnant. I know mine did (they've grown by an entire cup size now, much to the delight of my husband, and are often sore), and I had to resort to either going completely bra-less (at home) or wearing bralettes because wired bras became too tight and painful for me. 

I regretted waiting till my second trimester to buy my maternity bras (in my defence, I was concerned about whether my boobs would grow even bigger, so I wanted to save money and wait to buy only after I knew for sure  -.-). Don't make the same mistake as I did! Otherwise, if you're also concerned about changing bra sizes, you can lounge out in bralettes in the meantime first.

7. Avoid exercise (?)
This is really subjective but many gynaes will recommend that you avoid cardio or any form of strenuous exercise that basically involves shaking your womb vigorously as it'll increase your chances of miscarriage. I actually exercise pretty often, but my husband forbade me to do anything during my first trimester :(

Baby, for your sake, I'll stay off my beloved abs exercise and dance classes!

You'll find yourself feeling tired and lethargic all the time. I'm not much of a napper, but I had to squeeze in 1 to 2 naps almost every other day (one during lunchtime, another right after work) in order to survive.

The contrary happened at night, as my nausea and acid reflux would typically hit me at about 11pm and last until 2am, so it was hard for me to go to sleep early. One night it got so bad that I couldn't fall asleep until 6am!

Source: Instagram

9. Start thinking about how you wanna announce your pregnancy!

This is the most exciting part (heh)! We couldn't wait to announce and tell our friends and family (my husband had a hard time keeping his mouth shut and spilled the beans to lots of people very early on, lol) and kept thinking about how to deliver the good news!

Most people usually wait till Week 12 - 14 to announce because that's when your baby is pretty much stabilised and that's when your risk of miscarriage drastically goes down. Have fun and be creative! There's tons of great ideas here if you need some inspiration.

I'll cover my thoughts on whether it is worth getting maternity insurance next! 

With love,