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The New Savvy is the definitive financial and career guide for women. The New Savvy aims to empower smart, modern and independent women through meaningful content that are relevant, practical and interesting.
Life has a way of presenting sudden emergencies in your path when you least expect it. Worse, sometimes such a surprise can come at a time when you can least afford it, be it a medical emergency, or a large payment that you can’t afford with your current income. The truth is that, no matter how well you prepare, sometimes you can just find yourself in a situation where you are in a desperate need for cash, quickly. However, there are some things one should never do no matter how much they need money. Here, we discuss a few “popular” ways that people try to get cash that just shouldn’t be employed.
Avoid Money Lenders and Payday Loans
In Singapore, there are 160 licensed money lenders that are readily visible on every corner of the street. When there are dollar signs hanging on your eyeballs, payday loans or other options from one of these vendors might seem like an attractive source of quick financial assistance. However, we advise our readers to stay away from them as much as possible. While 4% interest rates may sound low, these are actually monthly rates that represent 48% of annual interest, a monstrous cost that can ruin you financially forever. If you were to borrow S$5,000 from them now, you could end up owing S$6,000 in a matter of a few months.
Instead, you should consider other alternatives like getting a personal loan from a bank. These loans can be taken out for any purpose, and can be made available within one day. Not only that, they are much cheaper, with some of them offering around 1% monthly interest rate (or 10-12% annually). If for some reason your credit score isn’t good enough to secure one, even a pawnshop loan or even selling your things can be a much more economic and safer option than going to a moneylender.
Don’t Ask Your Friends or Family to Be Your Guarantor
Sometimes, certain types of lenders like the ones we mentioned above will ask you to introduce a guarantor of your loan. This means that, if you end up not being able to pay your debt in full, the lender can come after you to collect their money. This typically happens because the lender doesn’t have full confidence that the actual borrower has a believable and legitimate way of repaying his loan. This also means, however, that you will be putting your friends or family at great risk by asking them to guarantee your loan. At worst case scenario, you could end up bankrupting them, ruining their lives and severing your ties with them forever.
Instead, a better option is to ask them to lend you money themselves. Sure, it can feel awkward or shameful to ask people you know intimately for money, but it’s much better than risking their livelihoods. Not only that, they are more likely to lend you at low or even no interest rates with a lot more flexibility in terms of when you can pay them back. You could even be positively surprised the amount of support and generosity that you receive from your community. Hopefully, you won’t need to borrow too much and their generosity motivates you to work hard to repay them in full promptly. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Don’t Rack Up A Credit Card Bill That You Can’t Pay Off In A Month
Another tempting way of paying for things when you don’t have enough cash is getting a cash advance or even just racking up a huge credit card bill to postpone your payment until a later date. This could actually be a decent solution, so long as you do it properly, since you can even earn some credit card rewards while doing so. The most important rule to abide by when doing so is to spend only as much as you can pay back in full in the next month. If you spend more, the amount you still owe to the bank will start to balloon at a rate of more than 25% per year.
If you find yourself in a situation where you actually have built too big of a balance, there is still hope. There are financial instruments like debt consolidation plans and balance transfers that can help you either reduce or postpone the repayment until a later date when your financial situation has improved.
Because life is so unpredictable, the best way to prepare is to always save and invest a meaningful portion of your earnings. These funds can act not only as your future passive income, but also as a rainy day fund to help your get out of a pickle. Hopefully, this article motivates you to start budgeting more wisely after reading this article. Even if your rainy day fund isn’t enough, however, you should not panic and turn to the first thing that you see on the street. There are still better and smarter ways of financing your emergency than some of the ways we discussed above.
Ahead of the Singapore government’s budget announcement in February, there has been much talk of rise in GST. Currently, consumers in Singapore are exempt from paying GST when they purchase less than S$400 worth of goods online from overseas vendors. It is widely believed that this exemption will be wiped out in the new budget as the government attempts to increase tax income base. Here, we briefly discuss how large of an impact this may have on consumers in Singapore, and what they could do to minimize the impact of e-commerce tax.
Vast Majority of Goods Sold Online in Singapore Are Sold From Overseas
According to ValuePenguin’s study of two of the largest e-commerce platforms in Singapore, it seems that vast majority of goods sold on these digital marketplaces will be affected by a possible e-commerce tax. are imported from overseas. We collected data on the number of listings by price range and country of origin for 20 of Qoo10’s listing categories and 15 of Lazada’s categories. We found that items costing S$400 or less represented about 97% of Qoo10’s listings, while they comprised 99.5% of Lazada’s listings.
Not only that, vendors in China, HK, Korea and the US comprised anywhere between 70% and 95% of all listings on these platforms. This dominance of imported goods was prevalent across all shopping categories from fashion, electronics to beauty and health goods. On Qoo10, for example, more than 90% of fashion goods were sold by vendors from China, HK, Korea and the US, while 77% of skincare product were sold by the vendors in the same countries. In contrast, vendors categorised as domestic were responsible for only about 2.4% of listings on Qoo10.
Same analysis of Lazada yielded similar results, with vendors from China, HK and Korea comprising 53% to 94% of listings on the platform. As we’ve seen before, vendors categorised as domestic were responsible for an even smaller portion of 0.4% of listings on Lazada.
What Can Consumers Do to Reduce the Impact of E-Commerce Tax?
It seems crystal clear that a new e-commerce tax will impact almost all of online purchases in Singapore. Unfortunately, there really aren’t many ways (if any) of avoiding the impact of a potential e-commerce tax, if the government decides to do away with the GST relief on imported goods. This is especially true if each e-commerce platform becomes responsible for charge the GST at checkout. But, there are still certain things that people can do to reduce the impact to some extent.
One easy, but temporary method would be to pre-purchase anything you know you will need ahead of time. While this is merely a one-time solution that won’t work for everyone, consumers have been known to “pull forward” their consumption ahead of GST hikes in other countries. For example, sales tax hikes in Japan in the last several years have known to lead to temporary increase in consumption before the hike and sharp decline after the tax was instituted.
For those who may not yet have a credit card that is optimised for shopping rewards, an e-commerce hike might be a good catalyst for considering getting one that provides decent amount of rebate on online shopping. For example, DBS Live Fresh Card provides up to 10% rebate on online spending, while OCBC Titanium Rewards Credit Card and Citi Rewards Card both provide 4 miles on shopping expenses, making them ideal candidates to help reduce the impact of an e-commerce tax. For example, if an 8% GST were to be imposed on online shopping (assuming that GST itself rises), a 10% rebate would actually more than offset the impact of GST, while a 4% return (since 1 mile is roughly worth S$0.01) would offset more than half of the impact of e-commerce tax.
Life can be hard for a woman. Even with all the progress, we have made in gender studies and feminism, adversity still faces a large number of women around the world. No wonder some of the brightest and most promising females sometimes have second thoughts about pursuing their dreams and going for gold. It would be such a shame if we were to miss out on a life-changing philosophy or scientific discovery just because a woman decided to let go of her aspirations and chase a simpler goal in life. We will talk about three reasons women choose not to chase their dreams.
I am not ready yet
Many women miss life changing opportunities when they utter the words “I am not ready yet.” They think that the numerous steps must be taken in order to take action. While taking things one step at a time is the safest way to do things, it could lead to a lack of progression and a long period of stagnation. You could miss the golden opportunity to impress your boss or maybe start up a business you have always thought about. There is nothing wrong with avoiding bad decisions; it just becomes a problem when you fail to make a decision at the end of the day.
What to do: Since taking things step by step is safe, you should learn to always think one step ahead. This way you will be ready for any opportunities that might come your way. Read up on any ideas you want to pursue or make extra moves that might impress your boss and lead to a promotion. The key is to prepare to pursue your dreams instead of just waiting for your dreams to come. You will never be ready if you do not make yourself ready. Always do what you need to do so that you are prepared to tackle any opportunities that lie ahead.
I am not good enough for it
Most people think that perfectionism can lead to a successful life; they could not be more wrong. Perfectionism isn’t necessarily helpful, especially if it reaches a point where your self-esteem is lowered. Perfectionists often think that they can be better than they already are which leads to the problem of always wanting to get better at something. Think of it as sort of an eternal preparation that will often lead to nowhere. The fact is, not one human being on earth has ever, or will ever, achieve perfection in anything.
What to do: This might really sound simple, but believing in yourself is a great start to overcoming a perfectionist attitude. Assuming that you have already gained enough skill or knowledge to pursue an endeavour, you should already believe that you can actually do it. Don not think that you are not good enough if you have already put an enormous amount of work and a lot of time into getting better at what you do. Sometimes, all it takes is a little confidence to get started on something you love. Overcome the fear of not being good enough and just go for it.
I will do it some other day
Many people are guilty of this. Be it as simple as having your teeth cleaned or fixing a leak in the bathroom, a lot of people tend to procrastinate. Imagine what procrastination would do to something you are passionate about and actually love; far more problematic than calling a plumber to plug up that leak, isn’t it? Anyone can come up with excuses on why they should do something later and this is why many people tend to forget about their dreams and goals in life.
What to do: If you can do something you love today, why not do it right away? Grab the opportunity as soon as you can because you never know how long it will be within your reach. Do not turn a can into a could have just because you felt like staying in bed another day or relaxing for another week. If you really are passionate and motivated to do something, do it the moment you see it in front of you.
So now that you have a few ideas on what you can do to help you chase your dream, you should be able to get up and go for it. Remember that you are ready for it; good enough for it; and do it as soon as you can so that you have the best chance to act on your ideas and be the person you want to be.
The Truths About Life-Work Balance You Need to Know
You probably saw and nodded to a meme about the impossibility of proper life-work balance as you scrolled through your feed. More than that, there are definitely more distractions today than there were a couple of decades ago. These days, people find themselves spending an average of 8 hours a day swiping through their smartphones, playing mobile games, and using their other electronic devices. Given such difficulties, it is tempting to just give it up and condition the mind that balancing work and life perfectly is an impossible feat. But you know what? It’s all hype! Many women – of different professions, fields of expertise, and genders, single women, married women, divorced or widowed women, and single moms – are actually able to achieve the perfect balance of their work and other aspects of their lives. The key here is to know the secrets. Let us help you out with these 5 truths you should know about life-work balance.
Learn time management.
This is perhaps the most important advice you need to remember in order to achieve this goal. After all, time is sort of the enemy when it comes to dividing your life among work, social, family, hobbies, etc. All these, in addition to getting sufficient night’s sleep.
What does this require of you? This means you dedicate a few minute of your morning planning out your whole day ahead, maybe in your head if you prefer making mental notes or in your notebook/planner. When you do this, you need to think about the urgent tasks and your priorities. Put the most important ones first so that you get to finish as many of them in a day, especially in the case of emergencies or other obstacles that could delay you. Other than that, do your best to actually follow your plan.
When it comes to managing your tasks and to-do lists, manage them according to importance and urgency. Consider the following as a guide:
If you really think you lack skills in this area, consider seeking for expert’s help or attending time management classes.
Change is constant.
There is no one-size-fits-all framework or instructions on how you can achieve the perfect balance between their jobs and lives. Aside from that, you will find yourself having to change your plans and routines through the years. You will also need to improvise or prepare for when things do not go as planned.
For instance, getting a promotion might mean having to budget your time more wisely to be more productive at work. Another example, having a child would mean taking a short break from work. In case you ever wondered why openness to change is a valuable trait in business and success, these are among the reasons.
Do not deprive yourself of basic necessities.
Having a successful career does not only mean strategic planning, late nights at work, and being productive and highly skilled and knowledgeable in your field. One thing that is just as important is taking good care of your overall wellbeing. This means not skipping meals, getting sufficient hours of sleep at night, healthy diet, regular exercise, and regular check-ups.
In case you are doubtful, check out this TED-ed video on sleep deprivation. Spoiler alert: getting enough sleep is very important. Effects of sleep deprivation include loss of focus and concentration, inability to recognize objects via touch, moodiness, paranoia, hallucination, problems with short-term memory, and ultimately, death.
Meanwhile, skipping meals are shown to cause irritability, moodiness, healthy complications due to dive in blood sugar levels, tiredness, and low metabolism. Contrary to common belief, skipping meals can cause weight gain rather than weight loss because it also results to extreme hunger pangs and appetite.
Not only can regular exercise help you lose weight, increase your metabolism rate and keep your body physically healthy and fit; it also causes alertness, higher levels of energy, better quality of sleep, and improved blood circulation. Our brain also produces happy chemicals whenever we engage in strenuous physical activities like working out.
Ward off negativity.
Getting emotional (angry, sad, etc.), getting into arguments, quarrels, and fights, and ranting may eat up a lot of your time during the day. On top of that, working while emotionally distressed is most likely going to affect your performance, productivity, and the quality of your work.
The solution here is straightforward but challenging to do: keep yourself away from these things that bring negativity in your life. Start by decluttering your home and your workspace. Get rid of trash and those you never really use or stopped working. Do the same as well with your social media pages; unfollow the pages and people whose post turn your mood sour, and filter your feed from the contents that usually annoy you. More importantly, surround yourself with family and friends who are encouraging and supporting of your endeavors.
You might want to consider the practices of meditation and yoga to help clear your mind from negative thoughts and ideas.
Take the occasional time off.
It does not do well to overwork and stress yourself too much. We are all human, after all, and we all need to rest eventually. This is not really just about giving yourself time and space to enjoy and have a good time; overworking, staying up late, and stuffing ourselves with caffeine can lead to health complications and in some cases, death. That is why you should make use of your leaves.
When budgeting and dividing your regular income, allow a portion of it for vacations, traveling, or other leisurely activities and hobbies. It might also be more effective to try out different activities to keep yourself from getting bored with one. Go out of town or out of the country. Get a massage. Attend a new skill class. Buy painting and coloring materials and explore your imagination and creativity.
Don’t slack off.
A tendency for many workers is to put a lot of effort into their work at one go and sit back and relax for a long time after that. The problem here is that the “work first, rest later” mentality is not going to help your time management. Do not look forward to the day when you will not have a care in the world at all. Problems and difficulties will always arise, but that’s part of life and the struggle, and these things make us better at what we do.
So do not spend too much time watching Netflix on your television or playing video games with your console. Allot an hour or two for them regularly, but try not to get past the allotted time. Leisure activities and relaxation are good, but too much of something is harmful to your work-life balance.
Mortgages in Hong Kong: How Much Should You Borrow?
Being approved for a home loan is exciting. After all, being a home owner seems like the ultimate sign of your financial maturity.
Well, the current Hong Kong housing market does not give much reason to be confident. According to the article published on SCMP.com, property foreclosures in the region are steadily rising. This is attributed to the deflation of home prices in Hong Kong. It is expected that more and more borrowers are failing to meet their mortgage payments each month. An expert revealed that foreclosed properties have doubled compared to the same time last year – from 60 to 130.
Despite this trend, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority shows that in May of 2016, the mortgage application increased by 13%. Apparently, people are still confident in their ability to buy a house. Since it is a common practice in Hong Kong to borrow a mortgage, people still have more than enough funds to make the purchase.
Of course, this is until the repayment comes into full swing.
It is great to own your house – but only if you own 100% of its equity. Unless you have done that, you should not feel too complacent about home ownership. It can still be taken from you once you fail to meet the monthly payments.
The best way to keep this from happening is to be very careful about the amount of your home loan. Borrowing too much increasing the risk of losing your house through foreclosure
Factors to consider when calculating your mortgage loan
Here are the different factors that are often ignored, but are very important when calculating the amount that you should borrow on your mortgage.
Identify the type of house that you need – not what you want.
Most of us rely on the pre-approved mortgage amount and use it as the basis of the property that we will borrow. While there is nothing wrong with this, you may be stretching yourself too thinly. If you were pre-approved for an HK$10 million home loan, you do not have to buy that 3-bedroom home in Kowloon. You can opt to buy a 2 bedroom flat in New Territories for only HK5 million. If you only have one child, and you have no plans of having more babies, than a 2-bedroom unit should be enough for your family.
Calculate the deposit you were able to save.
You should also consider the deposit that you were able to save. If you only saved HK$2 million for your deposit, why would you buy an HK$10 million home? You would have to borrow HK$8 million – which would make your loan to value ratio 80%. Why not look for a house that costs HK$5 million so you can meet the ideal 60% LTV ratio? Your loan will only be HK$3 million – which is much easier to pay off compared to the initial HK$8 million, right?
Real estate values in the location you want to buy into.
Another factor that will affect your home loan amount is the value of the homes where you will buy into. Property prices in Hong Kong Island are more expensive compared to New Territories. If you do not have to buy on the Island, why not opt to purchase a property where the values are cheaper?
Income, lifestyle, and financial commitments.
When you are calculating the home loan you will borrow, it is also important to consider your income, lifestyle expenses, and the other financial commitments that you make. If your lifestyle cost is already eating up half of your income, you either have to lower your standard of living or get a cheaper home to buy so you do not have to borrow too much. Your financial commitments should also come into play. If you are currently paying for other debt accounts, you need to ensure that you will not stretch your budget too tight that mortgage payments will become a burden to you.
Future financial goals.
Your financial goals should also be considered. Do you intend to borrow again in the future? Or do you have plans of starting a business? A huge home loan can compromise these goals – at least if you borrow too much.
Most of the time, people focus too much on their income. It is not the right way to calculate how much you should really borrow. It is important for you to consider the other aspects that could make mortgage payments harder to meet. Remember, the lower the mortgage, the less of a burden it would be and the higher the chances of you paying off your mortgage completely.
What to do if your mortgage is hard to pay off
But what about those who already borrowed a huge home loan and is currently having a hard time paying it off? Here are a couple of tips for you.
Do something before you default! Do not wait until it is too late. Find a solution before you start missing out on payments.
Know about the government’s Home Loan Interest. Also known as HLI, this is a deduction that you can get from your salary taxes. This can help give you some extra money for payments – if you qualify.
Refinance your home. When you refinance, you can get a lower interest rate and longer payment term. That means you can lower your monthly payments. Of course, the lower interest rate is only possible if your loan is not yet in default – which is why you need to consider your options immediately.
Negotiate your terms with the lender. As intimidating as it seems, you can always negotiate better terms with the lender. If the reason for your financial difficulty is unexpected and you had been good with your payments, then they may be able to help you meet your payments through better terms.
Ignoring the financial difficulty is not really the solution if your home loan payments are harder to meet. It is important to do something about it immediately so you can avoid foreclosure.
In Her Element is a photoseries by Delegate featuring inspiring women in Singapore who excel in their various domains.
Susanne Ng is a self-taught baker with a talent for turning ubiquitous chiffon cakes into adorable masterpieces. Pusheen cats, cartoon charaters, kueh tutu, unicorns – anything that comes to mind, she has likely attempted before. The 37-year-old has also authored three cookbooks where she shares her tips on making creative chiffon cakes.
A former researcher, she holds a PH.D. in biomedical engineering but decided to dedicate her time fully to her children. Her foray into baking began four years ago when she first experimented on and fell in love with chiffon cakes.
“It’s really just something I bumped into.”
Susanne enjoys working with chiffon as it’s a much healthier option that does not require adding sugar, butter or frosting. The light and fluffy texture also makes it a hit with children and she feels less guilty for letting her kids have an extra serving of cake.
However, she grew bored of plain chiffon cakes and started experimenting with adding in creative elements. She posted photos of her work onto Instagram and shortly, her photos went viral and Mashable even did a video feature on her account.
Now she has over 47k followers on Instagram, who she credits for keeping her motivated.
“I’m just very amazed at how receptive people were to my designs. It’s really what encourages me.”
The ex-researcher has not lost her touch for precision as she shares that baking is as much an art as it is a science.
“The science part of baking comes from the precision needed in measuring the ingredients for the cakes and optimising the recipes. It’s like conducting experiments to test out new ideas.”
Susanne then flexes her creativity in conceptualising the designs and putting together the different components into a beautiful artwork. On average, baking the chiffon cake itself takes about 1.5hours. Assembling the whole cake together could take half a day to a full day depending on the complexity of the design.
The baker not only enjoys exploring designs but flavours as well. She has been trying to expand beyond typical cake flavours, exploring more exotic options like salted egg yolk or gula melaka flavours.
Beyond baking, she also professes a love for Zumba and attends classes at least once a week.
Initially only baking for family and friends, Susanne has started accepting customised orders from strangers ever since her creations went viral on social media. However, Susanne is very selective on the projects she takes on and would usually not accept requests of recreating the same designs. Rather, she’ll offer a twist to requests like these.
Besides, she still believes that she is a full-time mother and a part time baker. This means that she fits in her orders around her children’s’ schedules and often end up having to reject orders.
“My day only starts after my kids go to school.”
However, there were requests that Susanne just could not find the heart to reject.
Recounting a particularly interesting incident, she shared about how there was a customer whose fiancée was in love with her cakes and would not marry him unless he ordered one of Susanne’s cakes for her.
Sometimes it’s guys ordering cute cakes for the girls they are chasing, she laughed.
“But this is really what I bake for,” explained Susanne.
Just like the title of her blog, “Loving Creations”, each of her cake is loving created and she hopes to share this feeling with those who taste them.
Head over to Delegate for more stories on inspiring women and event inspirations.
The Maldives have always been a top pick for honeymooners and paradise-seekers alike due to its picturesque beaches, luxurious resorts, and amazing fauna and flora. Situated in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are made up of 26 atolls, with the atoll of Malé being its capital. Unfortunately, the recent political unrest and increasing violence in Malé have made this usually peaceful nation a concerning destination for travellers, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issuing travel warnings for Singaporeans. Because of the recent state of emergency declared in the Maldives, here are a few things you should do whether you are currently in the Maldives or have an upcoming trip.
The current situation in the Maldives
Due to an ongoing standoff between the Maldives’ current president, Abdulla Yameen, and its Supreme Court, several countries including the United States, Canada, China, India and Singapore have declared travel warnings to the nation. The political crisis started in early February when the Supreme Court ruled that several of Yameen’s opponents were unfairly convicted. Refusing to release the prisoners, President Yameen declared a State of Emergency amid growing local and international protests in Malé. However, it seems that outerlying and tourist-laden islands or Malé’s International airport have not been affected so far, so travel to and from major resorts is generally unaffected.
What to do if you are currently in the Maldives
If you are currently in the Maldives, there are some steps you can take to keep you and your family safe as well as minimize your financial burdens.
Stay away from crowded areas and stay vigilant
If you are currently in the Malé or its surrounding islands, it is advised to stay away from protests and large public gatherings. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity if you are going to heavily touristed areas, as there have been warnings regarding terrorist activity around high traffic areas such as shopping malls, plazas, government buildings and travel hubs. Malé is currently the most high risk area, but it can pay off to remain cautious on other islands as well.
Keep in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, your Insurer and your Family
The Ministry of Foreign affairs has advised that you register with them so you can be contactable in the event of an emergency. Because Singapore does not have an embassy in the Maldives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be your first contact point if you run into trouble. Additionally, you should call your insurer’s 24/7 emergency hotline to confirm the status of your coverage, and see if there are any options you have regarding altering your trip. Lastly, you should also strive to maintain contact with your family and friends back in Singapore for peace of mind and so they know where you are at all times.
Minimise your costs by taking advantage of your travel insurance
For those who are currently in Malé and want to cut their trip short, you may be able to do so without suffering large financial losses. If you purchased comprehensive travel insurance before the travel advisory was administered, you may be covered for curtailing your trip. Not only will this save you plane expenses, but you may also be refunded for your hotel and unused entertainment expenses. Before hastily buying your flight out, however, you should call your insurer and confirm your policy details to make sure you will be able to file a claim for your flight home. FWD and Etiqa and Aviva are great examples of insurers who are affordable and have great benefits for cancellation, delay and curtailment due to riots and political disturbances along with terrorism, disappearance, hijacking or passive war coverage.
If you did not purchase travel insurance, you will unfortunately have to bear the costs of cutting your trip short (and for your next trip, we highly recommend purchasing a policy). Additionally, if you bought your travel insurance policy after the travel advisory was issued, you may not be adequately covered as insurers will not cover known events or trips to countries against the advice of the government.
If you have an upcoming trip to the Maldives
Even if you had already booked a trip to Maldives before this series of events conspired, there are still ways you can prepare to keep your trip as risk-free as possible.
Make sure you have a solid travel insurance policy.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has is strongly advising you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy. However, purchasing a travel insurance policy now after you have already booked your trip won’t protect you at this stage, since insurers generally don’t cover events that were already known at the time of policy purchase. In this case, you should either forgo your trip entirely at a cost, or at least adhere to the other advice we discuss in this article. For example, you should most likely be fine if you stay within your resort. Chances are you’ll be okay if you are well-prepared and exercise caution.
If you have bought a travel insurance policy before the news broke out, your best bet is to utilise your insurance coverage to postpone or cancel your trip until the travel advisory is over. To see if you are eligible for reimbursement for these, you can check your policy wording under “trip postponement” or “cancellation” sections for keywords like “riots,” “civil unrest” and “trip advisory warnings”.
FWD’s policy wording shows that it covers cancellations in the event of unforeseen civil unrest at your destination country
Keep track of the situation to see if it’s getting worse or better
Understanding how the situation is changing and what parts of the Maldives are being affected is key to knowing how you should navigate the area once you land. You should read about where most of the protests are taking place, potential areas for terrorist attacks and which areas are generally safe. If you can, you can consider changing your itinerary to focus on places that have not been affected by the political situation. In these cases, arming yourself with as much knowledge about the situation can help you reduce risks associated with your trip.
Make sure you are prepared for all risks before leaving
If your destination in the Maldives is a high-risk area, it may be beneficial to pack emergency supplies such as extra medicine, cash, a small first aid kit and anything else that you think may be necessary in the event of an emergency. Though you may not need to utilise these things, it can at least bring some peace of mind. Additionally, travel light—if you can substitute your laptop with your tablet, opt for that instead. Packing lightly can ease maneuverability in the event of an evacuation. Memorise some of the most important phone numbers in the event you don’t have internet access or can’t use your mobile phone.
Property Types in Hong Kong: Which One is Right For You?
There is an abundance of property types in Hong Kong. The government promotes home ownership in the region – it is evident in the many housing programmes that they have in place.
According to the data from Trading Economics, more than half of Hong Kong residents live in their own home. You cannot blame these home owners for trying to invest their money in this real estate market. Regardless of where you live in this world, home ownership is the culmination of your financial success. It does not matter if you will borrow a huge amount of money to pay it off. A property is a good investment because its value will always rise.
It may be true that the housing market in Hong Kong is struggling at the moment but that does not mean you should crush your dreams of home ownership. You will eventually find yourself buying a home in the future. It is one of the most significant assets that you can buy for yourself and that of your family. It is an investment that can secure your future – if you time it perfectly.
And while you are waiting for the housing market to improve so it becomes a good time to buy, you should not feel restless. Use this time wisely to consider all your options. After all, this is a huge investment of your money. You need to make a lot of decisions. One of them is your choice among the property types in Hong Kong. This particular choice will define how much you need to borrow.
Different types of properties in Hong Kong
Fortunately for you, there are many types of properties in Hong Kong to choose from. Here are your choices.
This is usually found on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. These are huge properties built on sprawling lands with a magnificent garden and long driveways. It is the most expensive property in Hong Kong – which is probably beyond the capability of the average home buyer in the region.
Sometimes referred to as the Penthouse, this type of property consists of 2 levels of living space in a high-rise apartment building. The lower level is where you can find the living, dining, kitchen and utility areas. In bigger units, you will also find a study and a guest toilet. The upper floors are dedicated to the sleeping quarters. Most of these units have a garden and it is probably the most expensive multiple-dwelling unit to buy in Hong Kong.
Town houses. In this region, town houses can come in all sizes. It can be small enough for a family of three or it can be big like a mansion with five levels. It is characterized by its shared walls and can also come with a garden – or even a backyard.
Apartment blocks. These are usually a cluster of buildings with shared facilities like hallways, lifts, and gardens. It also features a couple of amenities like gyms, swimming pools, restaurants, and even supermarkets. The bigger the apartment block, the more amenities it offers. Units usually come with a balcony and utility area.
This is the smallest unit you can get in Hong Kong. It is characterized by one room where you see everything: the living room, dining room, toilet, and small kitchen. The bedroom is usually in the same place as the living room.
What to consider before you choose a property to buy:
If you are choosing among the property types in Hong Kong, it is important to make a couple of considerations before deciding.
Make sure you can afford to buy the property. According to the Hong Kong Free Press, this region is one of the most expensive places to buy a property. It is nice to live in a duplex but if your budget can only afford a small apartment, then you need to stick to that. Your income will come into play here and your credit score as well. After all, you have to borrow a home loan before you can afford your own place in Hong Kong.
Obviously, prices in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon will be higher. If your budget can afford it, that is okay. But if your finances can only afford to buy a property away from the central business district, then you need to make the sacrifice and deal with the longer commute to work.
The square footage of units in Hong Kong is quite small. You need to consider, not just your present needs, but also the future. If you live with your husband but you intend to have kids in the near future, then you need to consider buying a house that is bigger than a flat. You probably need a bedroom or two.
One of the property types in Hong Kong should be able to support your home ownership needs. If you are having a hard time to find the property that fits your lifestyle, that is okay. Take your time and be certain about your purchase. You need to live in the property for a long time. You might as well make sure it is the house of your dreams.
Money can be a difficult topic for couples to discuss. It could get even harder in a long distance relationship. With the emotional strains of being far away, it could be difficult for couples to discuss other sensitive matters that can cause more tensions in their relationships. Maintaining a long distance relationship involves a lot of work and effort, and it can be easy for people to put off a potentially difficult conversation even when it might be necessary for the relationship. To bring this issue to light for those who are in long distance relationships, we seek to provide an appropriate context and framework that can be used to discuss this matter, and also to discuss a few ways that couples can leverage to lighten the financial burden of travelling to spend time together as much as possible.
How Much Do Long Distance Relationships Cost?
The biggest cost of most long distance relationships is the travelling expense, namely cost of air tickets. Most couples would agree that 6-8 weeks is about the longest they could to go without seeing each other, while intercontinental couples would have to endure even longer periods of being separate. With a roundtrip flight from Singapore costing anywhere between S$300 to S$2,000 depending on the destination, flying 4-6 times a year to see one another could quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
That’s not all. Getting to see your loved one only a few times a year also means that you are more likely to overspend when you’re together to celebrate your special moments. It may very well be worth it, but it’s important to recognise that restaurant bills, activities and even gifts can easily add another hundreds of dollars for each visit. Lastly, there’s the additional (and perhaps the most expensive) cost of time: each visit will likely have to entail a Friday off (or more vacation days), and also will take away from time that could have been spent for other things at home.
Discuss Openly to Create a Concrete Plan
When costs are this high, it can be tough to keep every involved person happy over a long period of time. Often, one person will end up travelling, spending and sacrificing more than the other, building up a sense of unfairness and potentially ruining the relationship. This is where many long distance relationships (and many normal relationships) get sour.
To avoid such a situation, it’s imperative that couples discuss the financial matter openly and come up with a concrete plan that both parties can agree with. It doesn’t have to an even split between the two people; most likely, they will have different levels of income and will be able to afford different levels of spending. Perhaps whoever doesn’t fly should be paying for both people in their local. Else, you could open a joint savings account where each person contributes x% of their paycheck into it. Whichever method you choose, the important part is to have a clear and transparent agreement that the couple is happy with.
Have a Clear End in Sight
As a part of the discussion, long distance couples should also chat about their future. If anything, the assessment above should give them a very clear picture of the extent of their financial commitment that is required of them to continue the relationship. Even if it were to be bearable in the short-term, it will undoubtedly add up to an enormous amount over a few years.
To reduce both the financial and the emotional pressure of being in a long distance relationship, couples should always have a clear end in sight. Preferably, they should have a plan on when and where they will aim to reunite. This way, couples are more likely to perceive the effort and money being spent to develop the relationship as an investment for a better future instead of an endless pit of cost.
How to Make Long Distance Relationships More Affordable
For long distance couples who have decided to continue investing in their relationships, there are still realistic ways of reducing on their costs, both financial and others. First and foremost, it may be good time to pick an airline and start a loyalty relationship with it. Signing up for an airline rewards can help you build miles each time you fly, which could win you a free flight every year or two. For those who can spend responsibly, getting a miles credit card could help them build their miles arsenal even faster, since every dollar they spend can earn them 1-4 miles. A combination of the two methods could easily help shave 10-20% of your total flight cost over time.
Not only that, long distance couples could benefit from building a strong social network in both of their areas. While it’s nice to spend time together, having other people to hang out with together as a couple with one’s significant other serves as a social glue for the lovebirds, while also allowing them to have a more productive time even when one of them is away from home. Since it’s generally more cost-effective for one person to travel to the other person’s location rather than meeting each other half-way (save on both flight and hotels), it’s worthwhile for both people to have other things to do to reduce the sense of unhealthy level of helplessness and dependency for the visitor when the host might be preoccupied with something else (i.e. work emergencies).