Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reader Mailbag #1 : Cost Of Living Singapore 2008

In this series I will try to address the questions asked by my readers specially on Cost of Living in Singapore. This helps me to consolidate the questions and answers by me. Also it helps readers to find the answers they are looking for quickly!

The reason of for having this series is that I would like to help readers and want to protect their identity in case they put their email in the comments. Also this is a great way to share ideas !

I am getting an Offer from company to pay me SGD $3000 and rental provided by the company. I have two kids, one goes to nursary and other is neonatal.How it would be to move to Singapore from India and earn some money..plz reply back me on at
- Vidyanath

I would personally avoid to give any recommendations or advice in this case. But at the same time I would like to share some facts so that it helps you to take the decision better.

If you are planning to move to Singapore from India. It is important for you to assess what you are saving there per month and how much is your expectation when you settle down in Singapore after 6 months of moving in. As there are expenses when you move in, so the first year's average savings reduce. I would suggest you to do some fact finding based on your current spending habits and savings per month in India. Also factor your current job and its potential to grow in India.

Nursary costs depends on where you put your kid. The range is between $300(decent one)-$750 based on my research in this area.

hi Mr.Sandeep ...good work ..I have got a offer from Singapore and they are offering me $1200 for housing and $2800 for other expenses. My husband and 2 yr old son will move with me. my husband is a marketing manager and I hope he will get a job in Singapore..I am really confused if I should take up the job ..what do you think ?

I picked up this question from my readers comment too as it similar to what I answered earlier. But this has another important aspect. It happens many times that either of the spouse finds a job and they have this tough question to decide whether to move in with that and then find job for other one later when they land in.

In this particular case again its a tough decision to take. But if you do your research right and plan properly this is something worth exploring. You would get 2 Bed room HDB apt in Singapore for $1200, although it depends on area and how furnished the flat is. Living with a family of 3 with $2800 is tough on budget, but if your spouse is confident on getting job here in Singapore in 3-4 months timeframe. The idea is worth looking at.

Singapore job market looks promising at present. So getting a job if you have right skills in demand is not difficult.

Please refer to following archives for more information on this subject:

Cost of Living in Singapore Posts

Small Savings on Grocery Items in Singapore - 2008

With Grocery taking almost $300-$400 of the monthly budget. It is important that we save on some items which makes sense.

  • Go with House Brand!
    • This is my favorite of all!. I was at the NTUC(FairPrice) recently and found that Detol Hand wash costs around $5+ whereas similar quantity House Brand Anti-bacteria hand wash costs only $2.50+. We always know Detol or some other brand which is shown on TV, but are unaware of simple house brand alternatives!..Check out similar house brand items at Carrefour too ..Personally I like the Jams there !
  • Buy from your favorite Shop
    • This is a no-brainier but it is important that you buy in bulk only from the shop which offers discounts and priced fairly. I am still unable to understand how same brand of Fresh Milk costs $5.20 in One Shop whereas same costs $4.90 in other ;) ..checkout few stores like Cold Storage, Carrefour, NTUC FairPrice etc and you will come to know where to shop more !. My Personal preference is to buy Fruits from FairPrice and Carrefour(whenever possible).
  • Order Online if possible
    • We order the Indian Groceries online in Singapore using website Online Groceries
    • It makes more sense to order online whatever you can specially when you know that the stuff you are ordering is going to be of a same quality as you buy it from the store personally.
    • Specially bulky items like Milk Cartons, Rice , Atta flour etc. As you have lot of convenience to get these delivered at your door step. Saves Taxi trip, queue at Taxi Stand, weekend time !
    • FairPrice also offers Online Shopping
  • Compare prices before you buy some items
    • This is again common sense but we ignore and assume sometimes.
    • A very nice example of Umbrella I had yesterday when I went to FairPrice Xtra at Hougang Point. We bought good quality Umbrella for $2.60(Aluminum frame and light weight) only. I remember buying a similar kind of Umbrella from a local shop for $13 sometime back. Even in Little India I have never seen Umbrella below $5 and they are the heavy ones. Although its a small item, but we keep loosing them sometimes!
  • Make a reserve list for promotions!
    • Always have some items to buy during promotions. Recently I saw promotions of Cock Brand Groundnut Oil for around $7+ whereas same trades at some shops for $10+. So it is a good idea to buy few items from some of the shops which keep offering promotions for the same.
  • Buy cut fruits from Grocery Shops !
    • You are one of a kind who likes to eat Fruit everyday during lunch or in the evening !. If you are lucky to have a carrefour or FairPrice shop near your office. You should buy the cut fruit from them instead of buying from the Fruit stall as the difference makes a lot of sense. Fruit stalls are good for juices!
Happy Shopping in Singapore !

Related Posts

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Financial Freedom on Independence Day ! 15th August 2008

Happy Independence Day to all.

I still remember my days in K.V School when we used to go to school in white clothes for Flag Hoisting Ceremony. The special treat used to be Mooti Chur ke Laddoo !!

On this day I would like to bring an exiting topic. Which is Financial Freedom! I am not a Financial Adviser. I believe we can at least achieve financial freedom by taking small baby steps.

  • Stop signing up for more credit cards
  • Stop taking Promotional Offers on Financial Products in hurry
  • Stop taking personal loans if possible
  • Save and Invest : Remember that just saving is not enough. You must Invest in order to potentially increase your income and achieve financial freedom.
  • Invest in Low cost Mutual Funds : This is interesting as investing in low cost means two things. Either you find a fund which is having less management fees and expenses or Invest in Index Fund. Just now I read this article "The Lost World" on Excellent article which talks about Investing in Index Funds and how they are in India Vs USA. But before you jump look at these figures(taken from :

Open Ended - Equity: Index - one Year Return
Fund NAV (Date) Returns(%) Return as on
ICICI Prudential Index 41.37 (13-Aug) 5.44 8/13/2008
UTI Sunder 467.82 (13-Aug) 4.09 8/13/2008
Nifty Benchmark ETS 459.69 (13-Aug) 3.88 8/13/2008
Franklin India Index NSE Nifty 35.79 (13-Aug) 2.60 8/13/2008
Birla Sun Life Index 45.37 (13-Aug) 2.57 8/13/2008
Principal Index 31.80 (13-Aug) 2.20 8/13/2008
Franklin India Index BSE Sensex 42.56 (13-Aug) 1.91 8/13/2008
UTI Nifty Index 28.56 (13-Aug) 1.85 8/13/2008
Canara Robeco Nifty Index 23.93 (13-Aug) 1.61 8/13/2008
Tata Index Nifty A 27.45 (13-Aug) 1.58 8/13/2008

Note that with same benchmark of S&P CNX Nifty ICICI Pru Index gives 5.44% Yearly Return whereas Birla Sun Life Index Fund gives 2.57% :) This is what author Dhirendra Kumar of the article I linked above is trying to explain.

  • Generate Passive Income : Well this is something needs more thought and planning. It is easy to say but not so easy to implment. I follow this blog regularly and here is one interesting post on Passive Income
  • Start blogging your ideas: Its been more than 2 years I am blogging. It is good to put your ideas and thoughts on a blog. It helps you as well as others.
  • Invest in Stocks directly only if you know :)
  • Invest with Mutual Funds directly with AMCs: This step alone will start saving you 2.25% entry load :)
Enjoy Freedom and your holiday if you are in India !

Monday, August 11, 2008

Indian stock markets on Cruise Control !

Indian markets are on Cruise Control today 11th Aug 2008 !. It seems all negative news are dried up and bulls are back..really ? I don't know for now.

  • Oil prices came down a bit.
  • Inflation is stable! - well people are tired of listening to the same tune..
  • Banks are gaining - ICICI, HDFC are up !
  • Elections are not in near term at least
  • Mutual Funds NAVs are rising slowly
  • IT companies in India are still recruiting
  • Websites say
    • They are still trying to predict level for Nifty and Sensex ! - same guys on TV will say don't try to time the market :)
  • Real Estate prices are still high - I do hear that they are coming down - but not in reality!
With all these, what an average investor is supposed to do ? I don't have an answer. I still feel India will continue to grow and therefore need to be in the market to gain from it. But at the same time I will see stick to my strategy :

Indian Mutual Fund Strategy for coming months - Part I

We still need to more analysis in order to understand how to play in this market.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Invest Online with AMCs Directly, NRI too ! ..SAVE Entry load 2.25%

With SEBI giving directions to AMCs for not charging Entry Load to Investors when they invest directly with AMCs. I have been thinking of doing this for long time but lacking some initiative to do the same !. Well with markets performing not so well for time being. I though it is the right time to try this with at least 1 AMC to see if this really works.

With my best guess I thought ICICI will be the best AMC to start with. With my experience I know that the ICICI is one of the pioneer's in implementing Online services for its customers.

This post is only about how to start investing with ICICI Pru AMC for Mutual Funds. Once I find out about others like Kotak, Birla..I would post about that too. btw till now I have found only ICICIPru, Kotak and Birla offering Online Investment facility. SBI does too, but their process is not 100% online!. Sundaram has tie-up with HDFC, Kotak Securities and ICICIDirect. So that means you need pay entry load of 2.25% !

Steps to start investing online(Purchase, Switch, Redeem) with ICICI Prudential AMC are :

  1. Goto
  2. If you already have a Folio with ICICIPru(Means you had bought Mutual Fund from ICICIPru directly using manual method earlier) then the process simple and can directly goto Step 3.But if you have invested in ICICIPru Fund using ICICIDirect, Citibank, HDFC etc ..because then in that case the Folio is sought of protected and only can be updated by those brokers.
  3. Click on Button "Existing Investor" and follow the form to Invest Online. Don't forget to select option "DIRECT" in the Form. ICICIPru AMC have tie-up's with most of the banks to transfer money using net banking.
  4. For Investor's who are first time investing in ICICIPru AMC. Goto website
  5. Click on link "APPLY NOW"
  6. Click on button "First Time Investor"
  7. There are instructions on this page to follow. But for simplicity, as I have done this I will give the steps here - Assuming you are Investing in ICICI Prudential Index Fund !
    1. Download the Common Application Form
    2. Fill up the form carefully, specially the details of Fund, Cheque No, Bank Details, NRI Checkbox for NRIs etc
    3. Write a crossed cheque of Rs.5000/- in the favor of "ICICI Prudential Index Fund" This is the minimum first time investment amount for ICICI Prudential Index Fund.
    4. Take a blank cheque and cancel it. This is also an requirement for direct debit/credit for AMC. They need another cheque as a proof for MICR Code I guess.
    5. Make sure you correctly write the IFSC(Indian Financial System Code) Code (This is printed on the Cheque normally)- This is required for RBI money transfer process.
    6. Proof's to attach with application - Please go through the application form instructions.
      1. Attested PAN Card Copy - If you are submitting the Form personally at the AMC, then you can show the Original PAN Card. For NRIs this is not a option, so you need to send an attested PAN Card Copy or Self-Signed would also do.
      2. KYC Acknowledgment or Print out after verifying at CDSL Website
    7. Verify all the documents and send by courier/post to the AMCs office in the City where your bank branch is located. This is important as they don't accept outstation cheques.
    8. For NRIs, please make sure to use Registered Post. I used registered post from Singapore. It reached in 5 days to ICICIPru AMC.
    9. The day your form reaches ICICIPru AMC, the first transaction is recorded and you get a Statement of Account in email !
    10. Now you can create a ICICIPru Tracker Account to do Purchase/Switch/Redeem from ICICI AMC without any ENTRY LOAD :)
    11. Steps to create the ICICIPru Tracker Account :
      1. Goto ICICI PRUTRACKER Website
      2. Follow the Activation process by having your Folio Number from account statement and a secret question!
      3. IPIN is generated online and you can create a username/password with Prutracker.
    12. Now onwards you can invest in all ICICI MFs without any entry load :)
The entire process for me took 8 days. Right from sending the Form and activation of Online account.

I will try to find out more about other AMCs and will post the steps for that too.

Happy Investing!