Monday, January 28, 2008

Saving cost on furniture purchase in Singapore

Last weekend I spent almost entire day in searching for a good queen size bed plus mattress for our guest bedroom. I have never been to any furniture shop here in Singapore. My criteria for the bed was simple :

  • Simple queen size bed frame
  • Pocketed Spring mattress(this is the most firm type of mattress)
  • Total cost : $500-600
My first step was to look in Salvation Army Stores . The only thing you can buy from here is the Bed Frame, that too if you are lucky to get a good one. As most of the stuff is second-hand, they are either old fashioned or not good. There is no point in getting mattress from here as they are very old. Well I was not lucky to find what I wanted :(

Then I went to a shop near by who was claiming upto 80% discount :). The furniture was good in this showroom, but I was not sure whether the prices were reasonable. Well here I got one tip from the showroom guy that it is tough to get King Size bed + mattress in Singapore in less than $1000 if you are looking for good brands like KingKoil (the most advertised in radio's here!). Also he explained me the difference between all types of mattress available & their relative cost.

After this my last stop was IKEA. As I know that the IKEA stuff is really nice and quality one. But whatever you like there visually, it is more than $500 just for the bed frame !. Also I did not find the type of mattress I was looking. They have pocketed spring mattress but I did not find them as firm I saw them at the other shop I visited earlier. I was really hoping that I could finish my search for good bed here :). I liked bed frame at IKEA. This is a very simple bed, which is priced at $99(just the bed frame). Whereas till now whatever bed frames I saw were in the range of $300-$500.

Well so my search for bed frame is ended. But I could not find the type mattress I was looking for in IKEA. So finally I went to the other shop I visited earlier for the mattress.

IKEA has excellent stuff for home furnishing. There bed frames with $175-200 tag too which are good.

Here are some of the Tips while you search for furniture in Singapore

  • Decide in advance what you want(Bed size, frame type, mattress type) - This will save lot of time while shopping.
  • Be firm on the price tag while you are shopping - this helps in bargaining and making decision faster
  • Type of Mattresses are many and confusing :) ..So research for that first
  • The most important part of the bed is the mattress spend more on that rather than spending on the bed frame(I am not saying bed frame should not be good!)
  • Bargain for FREE delivery of bed from shop. Also some shops give good discount on cash purchase
  • IKEA charges $40 - $50 for he delivery and 5% of the cost for assembly. It is worth if you like the IKEA stuff.
  • Try to look out for factory outlets(Like Defu Furniture(this shop has lot of variety for all type of furniture etc ) and SALE in malls to get an idea.
  • So a good bed will cost around $500(Simple bed frame + pocketed spring mattress(this is the most expensive type ..apart from contour mattress :)
I hope this helps!

Please comment to help others...

Enjoy shopping !

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Experience on opening NRI Account and Investment in Indian Mutual Funds

I was doing some research before I decide about opening an NRI Bank account with any bank in India. It is very tough to decide as I was looking for a NRI account which is also linked with Mutual Fund Account and I can do my MF Investments directly via online banking method.

My criteria for choosing the NRI Bank Account :
  • Presence of branch in Singapore
  • Good online banking infrastructure
  • 24x7 customer care to access for any issues
  • Easy way to remit money
  • Any reference from which I can take any feedback
  • Allow investment in Mutual Funds online
I looked at HDFC Bank, Kotak, Citibank, ICICI Bank, SBI etc. btw ..the research process took 2-3 weeks of time :)

But only Citibank was fitting into my requirements(which are pretty simple I think!). Specially the Online way of doing Mutual Fund Investments and branch in Singapore too. I know it does not matter in this internet world that we must have a physical branch here, but gave me an extra edge over other banks.

ICICI do not offer online mutual transactions. As per their website you need to contact them for doing the transactions.

HDFC does offer online MF transactions, but do not have presence in Singapore. Also I guess there customer care is not 24x7.

Kotak also offers MF transactions online, but they responded to my request after 10 days :)

SBI again offers MF transactions online but with some restrictions like you can purchase online, but cannot redeem :)

Finally I went for Citibank. The account opening experience was good. The account was opened in just 2 weeks. I am familiar with their online stuff as well. The only limitation I have found that the Mutual Funds allowed for investments do not cover all AMCs(which is fine I knew this already ..only ICICIDirect offers all the AMCs!(again not for NRI may be)). Also the AMCs listed in Citibank MF Investment page do not show all the Funds from that AMCs. This is something I don't understand, unless the AMC is not offering that particular for NRIs..which I doubt.

If you would like to do just Mutual Funds using your exiting NRI or resident account(if you are in India). You can use TimesofMoney, their process if very simple and works well for some of the few AMCs again. But they have wider choice of funds. The process of opening an account is also pretty fast.

Please share your experience with on NRI Online banking and Investment specifically..I will be glad to hear them !

I remember my recent reading The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less ..excellent in this context where too much choice is available which makes our decision more tough than easier :)

Happy Sunday !

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Saving cost on Passport photo !

I read about this @ The Stupid Passport Photo Ripoff . I have not personally tried the FREE service but I feel its worth a try. We always need passport size photo's of various size for different documents like banks, passport office, membership forms of clubs etc etc ..

In Singapore there are self-service booths which offers passport size photo's for $6(4 copies). I liked this service very much. You will find the booths in many convenient places where it is most needed. Also it is at most of the MRT stations ! The Photo guy also charges the same amount as these machines but takes 30 mins to deliver!. So only in case when you need more photo copies, its worth going to the shop for clicking the photo.

I use to print photo's in Singapore. Its pretty good service. They charge 19c per photograph. Also you get 20 prints FREE when you first sign up and also when you refer somebody who sign's up their service!. If you are trying print photo's from shops in Singapore, they are expensive as they charge around 40 cents for upto 10-20 photos.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cost of living in Singapore 2008

Update : Cost of Living in Singapore 2010

As the new year has started, I thought its a good time to update "Cost of Living" details about Singapore. I have been getting lot of hits on my "Cost of Living in Singapore" posts. I am glad that I am able to provide some idea to people who are planning to move in Singapore for short period or long term period.

So here I am updating my details on cost of living in Singapore. I will also try to address some of the common queries I have as comments from readers. I hope this helps !

Again as a word of caution here. The cost of living chart I am giving here is as a guideline only for a family of couple or couple with 1 child. For bachelors the cost will be shared, so it will be quite less in total on a individual basis.This is based on my own personal experience so far. As everybody knows that it depends on their lifestyle as to how much they spend on things they like. So someone may like to live in Condo rather than HDB for their specific needs, then the cost of living will go up. Also for HDB it depends where in Singapore you are trying for rental HDB flat. HDBs near to central/downtown area is expensive.

Rent: Rent has gone up overall. But for renewal HDB rentals what I have personally seen is that, if you have good relationship with owner, the % increase is around 10-15%. Again it depends on the area. For new HDB rental contracts you need to search and negotiate well to get good deal. Checkout the website : to get an idea of rent in Singapore.

Grocery: Grocery is a variable expense. So can be controlled a bit though GST is 7%. I don't see a major change in our grocery bill. The key is to buy from shops like Mustafa, FairePrice, Carrefour etc.. as they offer discounts most of the times on many consumer products.

Furniture: If you need to buy furniture in Singapore. There are ample choices from low cost to luxury. Visit Ikea to get an idea on typical furniture costs. Ikea furniture is good at the same time having reasonable price tag for normal furniture items for your home. If you want to buy some old but good usable furniture like Sofa Set, Bed Frames, chairs etc ..have a look at the Salvation Army Stores. They offer good, but old furniture for very low cost. For example my friend got a nice 3 person Sofa for just $100!. Also the money given to Salvation Army is for good cause too.

School: Pre-school's are located everywhere in Singapore. So you can choose something near to you to avoid transportation cost(around $100/pm) and hassle for your child. The pre-schools with Montessori pattern are slightly expensive than others. For primary schools there is ample choice again. There are 2 Indian schools :
Taxi: Taxi fares have gone up recently during the peak hours. But for short distance it does not have much impact. As with excellent public transportation, you can go anywhere using MRT, Bus and Taxi combination. So that way taxi usage is minimum.

Outside Food: If you need to eat outside food during office lunch hour. Most of the places will have food courts catering to every bodies need. You will get variety of food like veg and non-veg. In general the charge is i the range of $5-$8 depending upon your order. Most of the places you will find a Indian stall having south/north Indian food.

While comparing cost of living between different countries and Singapore. Remember that things are different in each country. In Singapore the public transportation is of great advantage. You don't really need a car to get around Singapore.

Overall I like Singapore for clean surroundings, green all around, excellent public transport, parks specially for kids and Indian food availability !

In my next post I will consolidate the queries I have had from my readers..

Do comment if you still have any doubts, I am glad to share my experience in order to help others !

Related Posts

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Investment Strategies in 2008 !

I feel 2007 was very good year for Investments in Indian Stock Market. Mutual Funds rocked as usual. If you bought good stocks, they all benefited from the Bull run which was too good in 2007.

Looking back at 2007, specially considering the mutual funds. In my personal opinion one can apply this simple strategy to maximize gains or invest wisely in 2008. This are my strategies to simply life in 2008 !

  • Do not invest in more than 5 Funds of your choice based on ratings from
  • Do not invest in NFOs ..Its not worth in long term even though it looks great sometimes - e.g. Reliance Equity
  • Do not play short term in Mutual Funds. Keep at least for 2-3 years
  • Do not sell for profits, sell only when you have your objective met e.g. Planned selling only for a objective
  • Do not invest in Equity IPO's.
    • Many will disagree with me but for a small investor investing somewhere between 50k to 1 lacs, its simply not worth the time and money. e.g. Investing 1 Lac in IPO, getting alloted only 10k worth of stocks, money locked for more than 1-2 months. Refunds are no managed well sometimes. e.g. For CENTRAL BANK IPO in 2007 for many investors, the registrar issuesed a cheque via Speed Post for the refund money:)
  • Invest regularly using SIP method
  • Invest in bulk in the same funds when you feel market has come down a lot(benchmark of MF NAV's need to be kept for that)
My favorite Mutual Funds
  • Fidelity Equity
  • HDFC Equity
  • Reliance Vision or Growth
  • Magnum Contra
  • HDFC Prudence

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year 2008 !

Happy New Year 2008 to all....

Last year was good for my me as well as for my blog. I got 14,266 hits in last year since May-2007 I tracked :) ..It was great feeling for me that someone around the world is reading my blog and hopefully get some information which is useful...

I have been lax in posting in last few months the New Year resolution is to post more regularly to help my readers ! ..also my blog helps me too sometimes when I need the same information quickly !

I have few pending posts ... Cost of living in Singapore 2008 !, some travel tips within Singapore, reviews of few weekend spots in Singapore which have visited, view on personal finance(specially MF) so far etc etc ..I will make sure to finish the pending posts in next few weeks !

I hope everybody had great 2007 year ..Wish a very Happy New Year 2008 to all again !


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