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Make your entrepreneurial dream come true — and make some serious money, too.

Lao Tzu once said that the journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.

You have a seed of a dream. You dream of starting something that matters, of turning your idea and talent into a full-fledged business. It all looks very good in your head, but where do you start in real life? If you’ve ever read anything any successful entrepreneurs have to say about their achievements, you would know that no business school or webinar is going to teach you everything you need to know to be the next Kylie Jenner or the next self-made billionaire. You just take the first step, and then the next, and one more, and you figure it out. Fortunately, as scary as that sounds, there are basic guidelines and a sort of road map by those who have done it before that you could take a cue from. The important thing is to start. So, let’s go.

1. Fine-tune Your Bright Idea

This bright idea has been on your mind forever. And there is exactly where it will stay until you do. So do your homework: What problems will your product or business solve? Who can it help? What is your why? Find out who your competitors are in the same market. How can you differentiate yourself from them? Who are your customers? What is your market share? These are some of the questions you need to figure out.

2. Choose The Business Structure

This next step is not unlike putting a label to your relationship, except we’re talking business here. Do not, I repeat, do not choose this at random. There are a few legal entity options available for registration of your business: Sole proprietorship, Partnership, Private Limited Company, Limited Liability Partnership, and Limited Partnership. Which one is for you? Here are some factors to consider:

  •       Number of owners in the business
  •       Appetite for risk
  •       Ownership transfer
  •       Tax rates

If you’re not sure, consult a professional. ACRA also has comprehensive guides on this topic you could consult.

3. Register The Business Name

Ask anyone who has started a business — this step could potentially cause you many sleepless nights. It’s almost like naming your baby. (Ok, this was not true for Steve Jobs, but nobody is Steve Jobs). Once you have the perfect name, run a trademark search to ensure that your business name hasn’t already been taken up, or is too similar to an existing one, lest you run into legal problems in the future. That’s one more problem you don’t need. What does it cost?

Name Application Fee   $15
Registration Fee $300
Total $315

A full list of other fees here.

4. Business Address

In order to register your business, it is necessary to provide a local Singapore address as the registered address of the company. This is crucial as official documentation will be sent to this address. Don’t have an office just yet? It’s possible to use your residential address as the business address. Read more on terms and conditions and eligibility here.

5. Do You Need Business Licensing?

Has your company been registered by ACRA? If so, the next step is to look into whether your business activity requires a business license in Singapore. For instance, if you are planning to open a bar, it is compulsory for you to obtain a food shop and liquor license. More information here

6. Lookout For Available Grants

Capital. This has got to be one of the first things you think about. It could also be the one big obstacle that stands between you and your dream. Some people dig into their life savings in order to realise their dream. Others borrow from family or turn to angel investors for a little jab in the arm. Of course you could also consider applying for government grants, too. Enterprise Singapore comes to mind. What are the available grants?

  •       Startup SG Founder

New entrepreneurs can look to Startup SG Founder for funding support, mentorship and business networks.

  •       Startup SG Tech

Startups can seek early-stage funding to fast-track commercialisation of scalable in-house solutions with Startup SG Tech.

  •       Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

Companies keen to improve productivity by adopting technology solutions can now tap this simplified grant.

  •       Capability Development Grant (CDG)

Companies embarking on capability development projects for growth can defray eligible costs with the CDG.

  •       Market Readiness Assistance (MRA)

Companies looking to market products and services overseas can defray up to 70% of third-party costs through the MRA grant.

View more here.

7. Do you need a Loan?

If you’re out of options and decide to take out a loan, here are a few to consider:

  •       SME Micro Loan

Companies with 10 or fewer employees can access working capital loan of up to S$100,000 to support their daily operations.

  •       SME Working Capital Loan

Companies can access unsecured working capital loan of up to S$300,000 to support daily operations.

  •       SME Venture Loan

Innovative, high-growth companies can access alternative venture debt financing of up to S$5 million for business expansion.

More options here.

Think very carefully before you apply for a loan — this means starting your business with a debt right off the bat. You should consider the interest rates you will incur, and how soon you can potentially repay it in full. Companies will also have to meet certain eligibility criteria for different loans. But if you wish to make millions the Buffett way, he would advise you to avoid unnecessary debt.

8. Open A Corporate Bank Account

Depending on your business structure (i.e. sole proprietor/partnership), you may or may not have to create a business bank account. Nevertheless, it is advised to create one in the long run because mixing business with personal matters can get messy. A business account can help you to get organised financially and keep track of transactions pertaining to your business only. If you’re a one-person show, opt for one with no minimum balance, like the DBS Digital Account, which requires only a minimum initial deposit of $1,000. Bigger businesses can consider other options like the UOB eBusiness Account and OCBC Business Entrepreneur Account.

9. Find Your Team Members

Many successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the people you hire are possibly your company’s best assets. If you have employees or are planning to hire, get yourself familiar with the key features of the Singapore Employment Act, and never forget about contracts — always have one that details responsibilities and rights of both the employer and employees. See here to learn about being the boss of your team.

10. Create An Online and Social Media Presence

One of the best things about setting up a business in the Digital Era is the free and affordable tools you have to market your brand. Social media is a good place to start. Your online presence is like your mascot. You could establish your brand message, vibe, build a community and sell your products on Instagram and Facebook — all for free, or any amount you can afford to advertise. When you are new, you have got to use every resource you can find without spending extra.

Phew! Now that you’ve got all these nitty gritty stuff out of the way, it’s time to actually hustle hard and make that dream a success IRL. Good luck!

Use SingSaver’s free comparison tools to find the right personal loan for investments or starting your own business.

By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.

The post So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur? Here Are The First 10 Steps To Take appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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Reduce your costs — and stress

Nothing says adulting like buying your first flat. Growing up might seem like a scary trap, but you will master it like Harry Potter mastered wizardry, trust us. And trust yourself.  

Whether you’re a single and 35, or a couple of lovebirds prepared to spend the rest of your lives together, naturally, building your nest is the next step. The next BIG step. Big responsibility. Big money. But, no biggie if you do it right from the get-go. For first-time HDB applicants, there are grants to ease your burden. We’ll get to that in a moment. But first, all the basic information you should wrap your head around before you get yourself a new roof over it.

What Are the HDB Eligibility Requirements?

Basically, are you allowed to buy an HDB flat?

Citizenship: Singaporeans or PRs only

Age:

  •    Above 21 years old (applying as a couple or an orphan with no siblings)
  •    Above 35 years old (applying as an unmarried or divorced individual)

Income Ceiling (average gross monthly household income):

3-room flat:

  •    S$6,000 or S$12,000 (for non-mature estates, depending on the project)
  •    S$12,000 (mature estates)

4-room flat or bigger:

  •    S$12,000
  •    S$18,000 if purchasing with extended or multi-generation family

Here, complete this three-minute quiz by HDB (how savvy!) to find out whether you can or cannot buy a HDB. Simple.

Next, As Taylor Swift Would Ask, Are You Ready For It?

There’s a famous saying on the internet that goes, “check yourself before you wreck yourself”, which could not ring truer for first-time HDB buyers. Now that you know you can buy a flat, are you prepared to take the leap? If you’re single, the decision to purchase a flat for yourself is much more straightforward.

But if you’re a couple, remember to communicate with each other to ensure that you are both ready for it — mentally and financially. Couples will have to register their marriage within three months before the key collection date because, no cert, no keys.

Try to be far-sighted in making your decisions. By doing so, you reduce the chances of bad decisions coming back to bite you where it hurts the most — your wallet. Questions you should asking yourself include:

  1.    Should you buy a new flat or resale? 3-room, 5-room or Executive Condo?
  2.    How much you would be comfortable paying for your housing loan every month that could stretch over 25 years.
  3.    How much do you have in
  4.  Available cash savings (How much do you need to buy a house?)

       a. Available CPF Ordinary Account savings

       b. How much CPF Housing Grant can you get (if eligible)

  1.       How will you finance it? Will you take a housing loan from HDB or from banks? (Why are their interest rates different?)
  2.       What is the maximum housing loan amount available to you? (How much you can borrow from HDB or a bank is determined by your age, income, and financial standing credit assessment)

    What Do You Need To Pay For In Cash
    •    $10 administrative fee to be paid by credit card when you buy a flat from HDB. For DBSS and EC applications, check with the developers on the amount that you need to pay when you submit an application
    •    Option fee
    •    Cash portion of downpayment
    •    Cash proceeds from disposing the last flat to take on a second HDB loan

    For a detailed step-by-step guide and calculators, click here.

    Ok, Now Let’s Talk Grants

    Buying a new flat is a long-term financial commitment. But there are several schemes and grants to help you with your cash flow, or reduce your cash outlay. Here’s an overview:

    1.      CPF Housing Grants for HDB Flats

    On top of the subsidised purchase prices for new HDB flats, eligible buyers can also receive further subsidies in the form of CPF Housing Grants of up to $80,000. There are two you might consider:

   a. Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG)

  •     Eligible for 2-room Flexi or larger
  •    Income ceiling: $5,000
  •    Up to $40,000, depending on household income

   b. Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG)

  •    2-room Flexi, 3-room, or 4-room flat in a non-mature estate
  •    Income ceiling: $2,250 to $8,500
  •    Up to $40,000, depending on household income

More detailed information here.

  1.      CPF Housing Grants for Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) Flats

These include:

  •    Family Grant
  •    Half-Housing Grant
  •    Singles Grant
  •    Additional Housing Grant (AHG) for Family
  •    AHG for Singles
  •    Proximity Housing Grant

Main CPF Housing Grants

If you are a Singapore Citizen (SC), you may be eligible for one of the following:

  •    Family Grant of up to $50,000
  •    Half-Housing Grant of up to $25,000
  •    Singles Grant of up to $25,000

Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG)

A first-timer household may be eligible for one of the following AHGs:

  •    AHG for Family of up to $40,000
  •    AHG for Singles of up to $20,000

Proximity Housing Grant (PHG)

The PHG helps families who want to buy a DBSS flat to live with or near their parents, or married child. Eligible singles will also enjoy the PHG if they buy a DBSS flat with their parents’. The PHG is applicable to both first-timers and second-timers.

Amount To live with parents/ child To live within 4km of family
Families $30,000 $20,000
Singles $15,000

Recipient may also be eligible for:

  • CPF Housing Grant for Family
  • CPF Housing Grant for Singles
  • Additional CPF Housing Grant

And Then There Are Schemes
  1.      Staggered Downpayment Scheme

You may be able to use the Staggered Downpayment Scheme to pay your downpayment in 2 instalments. Half of the downpayment is paid when you sign the Agreement for Lease, which is usually within 4 months of booking a flat. The remaining amount is paid during the key collection for your new flat. Details here.

  1.      Deferred Downpayment Scheme

The Deferred Downpayment Scheme (DDS) enables elderly who are right-sizing to defer the payment of downpayment until key collection. This will help to ease the cash flow for elderly flat owners whose funds are tied up in their existing flat, and smoothen the right-sizing process. Details here.

  1.    Temporary Loan Scheme

The Temporary Loan Scheme (TLS) helps flat buyers who intend to use the sale proceeds from their existing flat to pay for their new flat, without taking a long-term mortgage loan. You can apply for a temporary loan to complete the new flat purchase first, while the sale of your existing flat is underway. The temporary loan will be redeemed subsequently, with the net proceeds from the sale of your existing flat. Details here.

By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.

The post A Beginner’s Guide For First-Time Home Buyers in 2018: HDB appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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Achieve lifelong financial security by starting early Save first. Spend later.

The single biggest mistake people make in terms of financial planning? Almost everyone accounts for their expenses or spending and then saves whatever amount remains. This is the exact opposite way of how we are supposed to be going about it!

Think about it. When you start your first job, you have very minimal expenses and obligations. So, if you were to decide that you were going to save 50% of your income and then spend the rest, you will most definitely be able to.

There are a number of benefits to taking this approach:

  • This attitude sets the financial ‘tone’ for the rest of your life. Believe me, once you start the saving habit, you will find it very hard to not be financially prudent.
  • It works regardless of how much you earn! This system doesn’t dictate absolute dollars, but a suitable percentage of your salary. So, it is a savings plan customised just for you.
  • It ensures you build a lifestyle that suits your means. For example, many young people buy a car very soon after they start working. That can take a huge chunk of money out of your monthly income. But if you were to flip it and look at the amount ‘left’ after saving, you will realise you can’t afford a car just yet. The same applies to luxury holidays or expensive watches (another common item these days for young adults). You can still spend on these things, but only when it is absolutely necessary and more importantly, when you can afford it. You, therefore, will never ever spend more than what you can afford.

When you start saving is more important than how much you save

We often make the mistake of assuming that we will save when we earn more. So, we keep putting off saving or investing till later. But the truth is, a person putting aside $500 a month over 20 years will end up with much more than a person who saves $1,000 a month over 10 years. Though they both technically accumulate $120,000, the person who saves or invests longer ends up with a higher amount. This is due to the effect of compound interest. Compound interest means the interest you earn on your savings/investments earns interest too. When spread out over an extended period of time, the gains can be enormous.

Think Short term, Mid-term and Long term

You can’t plan for everything in life, but you can certainly be prepared. Many of us focus too much on the short to mid-term but ignore the mid to long term needs.

We start off worrying about a car, then a house and then kids. Though we try to save, our changing needs constantly chip away at our ability to put aside money for long term needs like retirement and overseas education for the kids. Whatever we save is used by the next ‘big’ life event. So, in addition to saving for your wedding or a house, start planning for your retirement from the word go.

Create different buckets of savings

Another common mistake is saving without clearly defining what the savings are for. It is ideal to have different buckets for different needs. This way, you are planning for all your needs, not just the ones in the immediate future. For example, you could have a bucket each for big ticket items like renovations, holidays or a new car (short term), kids’ education (mid-term) and retirement (long term). At the start, the percentage of savings could be divided as follows:

  • 40% of savings for big ticket items
  • 25% of savings for insurance / investment
  • 20% of savings for kids’ education
  • 15% of savings for retirement

As you hit your 30’s and things like house and car are taken care of, you can shift more of your savings to your mid and long term buckets. How you divide your savings is up to you; the important thing is to constantly evaluate how much goes into each bucket. This method ensures you are able to face any expenditure when you are younger and yet ready for retirement when the time comes.

Plans will change

As we know all too well, life is unpredictable. In your 20’s, you may be keen on climbing the corporate ladder. In your 40’s, however, you may want to do something more meaningful that means taking a pay cut. Perhaps you want to take a year-long sabbatical to pursue a passion. Or your kids want to go to an expensive overseas university. Planning early helps you be ready for all eventualities.

There are no shortcuts

Unless there is an unexpected windfall like a lottery win, us mere mortals have to make the most of what we earn. It is best to start when we are young, as hard as it may seem. By being prudent in the short term, we buy ourselves the luxury of choice later on in life. It requires a lot of discipline but is well worth the rewards.

By Mahesan
Mahesan thinks life is what happens in between football matches. He is a born again dog lover who thinks cats are overrated. Having tried his hand at multiple vocations, he holds the same opinion about hard work. Till he can figure a way to beat the system, he relies on whiskey to get by.

The post The Fundamentals of Financial Readiness appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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Exactly how many policies are enough?

Every one of us has insurance. There are many who spend thousands each month on insurance for themselves and their families. By understanding how insurance policies work, you can not only save money on premiums, but pump the cash saved into other forms of savings and investment.

Hospitalisation Policy

The treatment for a serious illness or an accident can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, it is essential to be covered for hospitalisation expenses. Realising its importance, the government has worked with various insurance companies to provide affordable cover for everyone.

  • Known as Shield plans, they provide comprehensive cover for hospitalisation. These policies are offered by major insurance companies like NTUC Income, Aviva, AIA, Great Eastern and Prudential. The claim limits can go as high as a million dollars, depending on the premiums paid.
  • There is a Deductible fee of a flat $3,000 regardless of the size of the bill. Then there is a Co-Insurance payment of 10% of the amount remaining after accounting for the Deductible. The rest of the bill is covered by the Shield Plan.
An Example
Total Bill Deductible Co-Insurance Plan Pays You pay
$100,000 $3,000 10% of $97,000

= $9,700

$100,000 – $12,700

= $87,300

$9,700 + $3,000

= $12,700

$12,700 is a lot of cash. Don’t worry. There are Riders you can take up that will offset these charges. You can choose a partial or full waiver of charges. Do note that your premiums will increase accordingly*.

*The government has recently announced changes to the Riders. It basically means there will no longer be 100% coverage. Patients will probably pay 5% of the total bill. However, these changes will only be finalised and effected in the second quarter of 2018.

  • The premiums increase with age as you are covered for life. The premiums can be paid through your CPF account. But the premiums for the riders have to be paid in cash.
  • You can choose from various options that allow you to choose if you want to stay in a private or public hospital. You can even choose to receive cash for your hospital stay. As always, each add-on comes with an increase in premium.

See also: Is the B1 Health Insurance Plan in Singapore Worth It?

Personal Accident (PA) Policy

As the name indicates, it is for accidents of any kind. Motor accidents, sports injuries, slipping and falling at home are all covered. People who play sports or drive should have an accident plan. It is also useful for elderly folks who tend to have falls as they get weaker. When my son was three, he fell and broke his front tooth. And it was actually covered by his accident plan. So, I saved $2,000 in dental treatment as dental is not claimable under the Shield plan.

The most useful aspect of the accident plan is that it covers the bills that Shield plans do not cover. For instance, you might injure your ankle while playing football. You seek treatment from an orthopedic specialist but are not hospitalised. And the total bill comes up to $3,500 (including X-ray, MRI, physiotherapy and consultations). The whole bill can be claimed under your PA policy. PA Plans even offer cash for the number of days you are on medical leave.

Of course, the premiums will vary depending on the amount of coverage you opt for.

See also: 5 Things That Can Void Your Personal Accident Claims

Critical Illness, Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) and Death

These policies cover major illnesses and conditions. There are a multitude of plans that mix and match benefits, so it can get a wee bit confusing. But these are the key features you need to bear in mind.

  • These plans (usually called term plans) offer a high payout for relatively low premiums and usually pay out upon death.
  • You DO NOT get any money back if you do not claim during the policy period^.
  • You can add on Critical Illness cover to your term plans by adding a Rider. So, if you are diagnosed with a major illness, but survive, you get a payout. This coupled with the hospitalisation plan ensures you are able to cope with the high medical expenses.
  • There are two types of term plans. The first offers decreasing payouts as you get older and closer to the end of the policy period. The other is a Level Term Plan that offers a fixed payout regardless of when you make a claim.
  • You can take up Term plans based on a time period (10, 20, 30 years etc) or till a pre-determined age (up to 99 years old)

^There are term plans that offer a payout at the end of the policy period. But they come with high premiums and you are better off taking a Life Plan, which costs less and offers pretty similar payouts

Whole Life Plan

This plan makes sure your family gets a sum of money should anything happen to you. Say you are insured for $100,000. You pay a monthly premium for this policy. Should you pass away, your family gets the Sum Assured ($100,000) plus Bonuses. You can also get a Critical Illness Waiver that gives you a payout once you are diagnosed with a Critical illness. An added benefit is you can surrender your policy. So, if your kids are all grown up and don’t need to a cash injection, the lump sum can be used for expenses in your old age.

Summary

Insurance is geared more towards protection than savings. Do not buy insurance to save. The most important consideration is to ensure your family is covered in case anything happens to you. It also helps protect you against high medical bills should you or any of your family members have a major illness. You should take into account your liabilities like mortgage and living expenses when buying insurance. Increase the cover as your liabilities increase and vice versa. So, whenever something major happens, your family is always in a position to meet the sudden costs.

See also: How Much Should You Spend on Insurance in Singapore?

By Mahesan
Mahesan thinks life is what happens in between football matches. He is a born again dog lover who thinks cats are overrated. Having tried his hand at multiple vocations, he holds the same opinion about hard work. Till he can figure a way to beat the system, he relies on whiskey to get by.

The post All You Need To Know About Insurance Policies appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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You won’t be sweating it — literally and financially

Summer has begun and is here to stay till September. One might argue that for us, Singaporeans, summer has no beginnings and it never ends. Whatever summer means to you, the good news is there are a few places where avid travellers can go to escape the heat – without burning a hole in their pockets. Imagine trekking without sweating profusely, skiing at affordable prices or going on a picturesque road trip where it’s a cool 22 degrees Celsius. Tempting, no? From tea plantations in Sri Lanka to Siberian Tiger Parks in China, here’s to bringing your imagination to life.

Melbourne, Australia

Temperature: 8°C – 15°C  

Let’s jump straight to one of the coolest spots this time of the year: Melbourne, where you will be enjoying some serious sweater weather. If you’re planning to stay in the city, be sure to explore the incredible art and culture scene and the highly raved Botanic Gardens. Apart from the city, Melbourne is known for the great road trip it promises – the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Keep your eyes peeled through the scenic drive (and on Scoot, since it has frequent promotional flights to Melbourne).

Tip: Did you know that you don’t always have to fork out cash (or any money at all) to get your travel insurance? Save yourself the hassle and some shopping money by getting a credit card that will provide you with just what you need.

Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Temperature: 13°C – 19°C

Just a few hours from the largest city of Sri Lanka, Colombo, lies Nuwara Eliya, where there’s eternal temperate winter. If you’re a tea aficionado, all the more reason to drop a pin on it. Nuwara Eliya is known for its numerous tea plantations: Talk to the local tea experts, pick some tea leaves and enjoy a cup of hot, lovely tea. That’s not all. Check out the old English country homes, go for a walk or bird-watch in Victoria Garden, head to the “winter market” to score some inexpensive treasures, or check out a dairy or strawberry farm. Does it sound just like your cup of tea?

Tip: Have a feeling you might be back for more? Purchase your trip with an air miles credit card (or apply for one to earn welcome miles) and you may be returning sooner than you think — possibly for free after redemption.

Sapa, Vietnam

Temperature: 16°C – 23°C

Known for its lush rice fields and mountain ranges, it’s no wonder Sapa makes a popular trekking base. The best part? You get to trek in cool weather. However, July and August are the wettest months and it’s not uncommon for it to get much colder at night, so don’t forget to pack the necessities. For a culturally rich experience, opt for an overnight homestay with the different hill tribe minorities. Those looking for that extra kick in their trip might want to conquer Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in IndoChina. The cherry on top? Enjoy the affordable massages and mulled wine in Sapa town.

Tip: Pay for your accommodation on booking sites like Booking.com, Agoda and Expedia with the right credit card and do it via shopback to help you get double the cashback. Travel smart, people.

Cipanas, Indonesia

Temperature: 16°C – 25°C

Have you been thinking about disconnecting from the world for a bit in order to connect with yourself? This is the place – a well-known secret among the Indonesian locals where they retreat to escape the heat. This hilly village in West Java means “hot spring” in Sudanese. Images of Onsen in Japan might immediately come to mind, but you don’t even need to travel that far to soak in the comfort of healing hot spring waters. Apart from the natural hot springs in Cipanas, there are also plenty of flower and fruit gardens for you to check out, too.

Tip: If you’re a frequent traveller and you’re still buying your travel insurance trip by trip, it may be time to think bigger and switch up your travel protection.

Harbin, China

Temperature: 15°C – 27°C

Coined as “Ice City”, Harbin is known for hosting the annual International Ice & Snow Festival and being of the world’s coldest cities. But fret not, because summer is one of the best times to visit Harbin. There is much more to this place than meets the eye, such as her rich Jewish history and Russian flair and heritage. Immerse yourself in the city’s culture, go skiing, or visit the Siberian Tiger Park if you’re looking for something more thrilling.

The coolest thing about Harbin, however, is that you can embark on a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Harbin links Beijing with Chia in Eastern Siberia, where the line joins the Trans-Railway all the way to Russia’s capital, Moscow. Time to cross another adventure off your bucket list. By the way, Scoot flies direct to Harbin so keep a look out for Scoot promotions.

Tip: Since most places in China only accept credit cards issued by Chinese banks, this is when Union Pay will come in handy. Some cards have no overseas withdrawals charges nor charges for transactions made in Chinese Yuan (CNY), while others have low-cash advance rates. You do the math.

By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.

The post 5 Travel Destinations Where You Can Escape The Summer Heat appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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Happy birthday, Cancerians!

Cancer: Those born between June 21 to July 22.

This zodiac sign is symbolised by the crab. In nature, crabs are known for their powerful pinches and tough-to-crack exterior that protect a soft and vulnerable centre. This might explain why you’re known to be strong, extremely protective of your loved ones yet mysterious and sentimental, all at the same time. This month, your birthday serves as a timely reminder for more self-love. So, treat yourself, starting with these six credit card deals.

LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort: 30% off tickets & more  

Fun fact: Lego is inspired by the Danish phrase “leg godt”, which translates to “play well”. If you’re a fan of Lego, then LEGOLAND must be your mecca. Although it’s located in Malaysia, it is really a mere 20-minute drive from the Second Link Expressway in Singapore. There’s plenty to explore at the theme park — from iconic landmarks made from Lego, to a 4D show and, of course, rides. Playing well is guaranteed.

For DBS cardholders, it gets better. Enjoy 30% off admission tickets and more. Valid till 31 October 2018. Terms and conditions apply. Get more details here.

Address: 7 Jalan Legoland, Medini, 79250 Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia

Telephone: +60 7597 8888

Cold Stone Creamery: 15% off ice cream, shakes, smoothies and ice cream cakes  

Nothing screams celebration like ice cream. Some scientists have claimed that just one spoonful lights up the happy zones of the brain. Now, who says that you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

Enjoy 15% discount off when you pay with your Maybank and OCBC MasterCard. Find your nearest Cold Stone Creamery outlet here. Valid till 30 December 2018.

Millennium Hotels: 15% off room rates and complimentary breakfast

Is anyone else thinking “staycay”? This is your excuse. After all, there are no public holidays this week. Sometimes, you’ve got to take matters into your own hands. So go on, pick any one of the six Millennium Hotels such as Orchard Hotel, Grand Copthorne and M Hotel, and not only enjoy a weekend’s respite but also 15% off room rates. Perfect if you’re celebrating your birthday.

Valid for HSBC credit cardholders until 30 September 2018. Terms and conditions apply. Get all the deets here.

Vaniday: Up to 30% off

Take a day off work and pamper yourself. Book a beauty or wellness treat at the touch of your fingertips — or keyboard. A new hairdo? A massage or facial? Go for it. And earn 10% cashback while you’re at it, when you book your birthday treat via Vaniday.

OCBC cardholders, enjoy up to 30% off the services offered on Vaniday. New users, enter promo code “VANIDAYXOCBC30” (capped at S$15) at checkout, while existing users get 10% discount with the promo code “VANIDAYXOCBC10” (capped at S$15). Valid till 31 October 2018. More details here.

Bbounce Studio: 1-for-1 fitness class at S$35 (U.P. S$70)

This may seem counter-intuitive, but one way of self-loving, especially with another year on you, is to have a good workout. When you exercise, endorphins are released. And as you know, endorphins are known to be natural painkillers, they also reduce stress, help you sleep better and leave your body feeling energised. We can’t think of a better way to kick off your birthday month, and make room for cake.

Address: 176 Orchard Road #06-09 The Centrepoint Singapore 238843

Telephone: 6262 2272

The Carvery at Park Hotel Alexandra: 1-for-1 adult buffet lunch & dinner

Hello meat lovers, we’ve got you covered, too. If you’re still scratching your head over where to celebrate your hatch day, modern European restaurant The Carvery might be the place for you. Sink your teeth into a good hunk of premium roasts, and Citibank’s chunky one-for-one offer.

Make a reservation and quote “citibank” at the time of reservation to enjoy the offer. Valid till 31 July 2018. See here for terms and conditions.

Address: Level 7 Park Hotel Alexandra, 323 Alexandra Rd, Singapore 159972

Telephone: 6828 8880

Tung Lok Ling Zhi Vegetarian: Up to 15% off

We haven’t forgotten about vegetarians either. Ling Zhi Vegetarian has always been a favourite when it comes to the finest vegetarian nosh made with fresh, natural and organic ingredients. There will be nothing boring about a meatless celebration. Not especially if you’re a UOB cardholder. Because you will get to enjoy 10% off your total a la carte food bill with a minimum spending of S$80, and 15% off with minimum spending of S$120. Valid till 30 December 2018. Terms and conditions apply. More details here.

Address: Velocity@Novena Square, 238 Thomson Road, #03-09/10 Singapore 307683

Telephone: 6538 2992

Don’t have a credit card? Head over to SingSaver to compare credit cards and apply for one that best suits your needs.

By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.

The post Birthday Treats for Cancerians appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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Let’s help you to stretch every dollar of your hard-earned money.

Benjamin Franklin once warned, “Beware of small expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”

That’s the sneaky thing about little money leaks – they don’t seem like much until they add up to big money. The Netflix documentary, Living On One Dollar, is further proof that every cent counts, literally. It’ll open your eyes to many life lessons, one of which is a reminder to city folks not to underestimate just how far you can streetch every dollar if you tried. And that’s how you get rich.

With that in mind this GSS season, we have uncovered a few hacks for you to get more savings and value for spending less. You’re welcome.

TANGS: Up to 50% off

Do you enjoy the experience of shopping more than the actual buying of products? There’s a reason why TANGS is one of Singapore’s most iconic shopping destinations; easily accessible and offering a wide array of products from household appliances to golf equipment to clothing from local designers. It’s one of our favourite places to get some retail therapy.  

Hacks:

(1)   If you are a TANGS member and you have been accumulating points every time you spend, that could go towards further subsidising your GSS purchases. Plus, get 6% rebate on every S$10 spent. More information here.

(2)   Charge your spending to a HSBC card and stand to win a pair of Cathay Pacific tickets to Bangkok worth S$820. From now to 31 July 2018, every S$100 entitles you to one chance. Terms and conditions apply. To get your HSBC card, visit here.

Best Denki: Up to 50% off

If you have electronics nearing the end of its lifespan, this could be the time to switch them out. Don’t forget to look out for the online exclusive deals, which helps you to both save time and money.

Hacks:

(1)   Get 12% BEST rewards and enjoy more savings by applying for the BEST-OCBC Platinum MasterCard. More details here.

(2)   Maybank cardholders, charge upwards of S$3,000 to redeem complimentary gifts from a Nespresso Gift Set to a 2D1N stay at Resorts World Sentosa. Applicable from now to 31 July 2018. More information here, and get your Maybank card here.

Robinsons: Up to 70% off  

For those of us who prefer to shop offline, Robinsons is a great one-stop shop because it has everything from mass-market labels to high-end brands and home-grown names like Scene Shang.

Hacks:  

(1)   Use your Citi ThankYou Rewards to redeem gift vouchers at Robinsons with fewer points or miles this GSS. More information here. Apply for a Citibank card here.

(2)   Use your OCBC Robinsons Group card to get 5% rebate on your purchases. More details here.

MotherCare: Further Markdowns on GSS offers

Are you preparing to welcome a new member into your life? Good news: MotherCare is offering massive discounts for everything and anything you might need for the little one. Promotion ends 8 July 2018.

Hacks:

(1)   Spend upwards of S$300 within three months and get a VIP membership for free, which offers discounts of up to 30% discounts and more. Terms and conditions apply.

(2)   Charge a minimum of S$150 to a Standard Chartered card in a single eligible transaction and stand to win some extra cashback with “Spin The Wheel”. Valid till 15 July 2018, terms and conditions apply. Apply for a card here.

Fumee by Habanos: 1-for-1 Angus Prime Ribeye Steak

Steak lovers, grab this chance to unwind at Fumee in the outdoor terrace with a juicy, delicious piece of steak. There’s all the more reason to do so, with this 1-for-1 promotion. Valid till 12 Aug 2018. Terms and conditions apply. See here.

Hack:

UnionPay cardholders, get additional 5% off on a la carte items in the same bill. Terms and conditions apply.

Miniso Singapore: Spend and receive a mystery free gift

Japanese lifestyle and fast-fashion brand, Miniso is offering free a mystery huggable gift with a spend of minimum S$15. The temptation! Spend S$15 to receive a small gift, S$25 to receive a big one, and S$45 to receive both.

While stocks last. Valid only at Vivo, NEX, Compass One and Westgate outlets. Terms and conditions apply.

Hacks:

(1) Scan to pay with DBS PayLah!, DBS / POSB digibank and DBS iWealth and get S$2 cashback on your purchase. Minimum spend of S$15. Valid till 31 July 2018. More details here.

(2)   CIMB cardholders, every S$20 spent on your card entitles you a chance to win a cash rebate of S$500 monthly. Qualifying spend period till 31 August 2018. Terms and conditions apply. More details here.

By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.

The post Great Singapore Sale Hacks: Even Greater Deals You Didn’t Know About appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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How to use it, and how to use it to save big.

The world is advancing at lightning speed – well, not precisely, but fast enough. Here’s one example: These days, we can afford to walk around without a cent in our pockets because we can pay for stuff with our smartphones and, of course, our credit cards. While this may be the norm today, the first credit card came into existence only in 1950. Before that, cash was king. Rewind even further back to about a century ago B.C. (before cash), our ancestors used a system of barter trade with live stocks, weapons, jewellery, etc… The Chinese, in particular, used cowry shells. Can you imagine? Well, things have really evolved, haven’t they?

Back to credit cards. Everyone knows Visa and MasterCard. But UnionPay? You’ve probably heard of it, but do you what it does and how you can use it?

In a nutshell, UnionPay was founded in 2002 as a payment method in China. Today, UnionPay is the new giant in credit card payment processing scheme next to MasterCard and Visa. Why do you need to know about it now? For one, it’s so big, it is the official payment brand for this year’s Great Singapore Sale. We have cottoned on. So, if you’re clueless about UnionPay, wise up.

What is UnionPay?

First, take a look at the credit cards you currently own. Bet you 50 bucks that at least one of them has a MasterCard or Visa logo on it. And there you have the simple answer: Just like MasterCard or Visa, UnionPay is a digital payment method. It processes the transactions carried out on credit cards from banks, and merchants (aka the shops you buy from).

Before UnionPay came about, Chinese tourists had a notorious reputation for making high-end purchases in cold hard cash. One reason is because they are averse to debt (so credit cards aren’t exactly popular). Another is because they didn’t really have a choice, since China was still a largely cash-based economy outside of major cities. Furthermore, international payment methods were only accepted to a limited degree.

Fast forward to today. UnionPay is recognised everywhere in China (which is huge). Beyond its shores, its global presence has become extensive, too. UnionPay is now accepted in 168 countries and regions, covering 51 million merchants and 2.57 million ATMs. On top of that, it has several international partners from UOB to Barclays.

How and where can you use UnionPay?

Contrary to popular belief, using UnionPay is not as complicated as you might think. It’s no different than how you would use your credit cards — be it for online or offline purchases –– the same rules and best practices apply for UnionPay.

All ATMs or POS terminals labelled with the UnionPay logo accept UnionPay Cards. In Europe, UnionPay logo is only shown on the screens of the ATMs so it would be wise to keep a lookout. See more information here.

Why use UnionPay?

As a consumer, you might be wondering, “so, what is the difference between MasterCard, Visa and UnionPay?” Some factors to consider would be: How widely accepted this payment method is, the foreign-currency exchange fees when you use your card abroad, and the benefits of using one over the other.

For frequent travellers to China, it makes sense to use UnionPay, since many merchants there still do not accept Visa and MasterCard.

For everyone else who is not yet on board, now may be the best time to consider. In case you didn’t know, UnionPay has collaborated with Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) this GSS as our annual shopping event’s official payment brand to bring in more rewards this year. What does this mean for you, the consumer? Exclusive discounts and promotions, big treats and savings.

Other perks include global offers and privileges at airport duty free outlets as well as dining, shopping and entertainment merchants worldwide.

Union Pay Cards in Singapore

Now that you’re better acquainted with UnionPay, here are some options to consider.

  •       UOB UnionPay Platinum Card

If you are someone who likes fuss-free rewards, this card could very well be your type. Enjoy 2% cash rebate on all local and overseas spend and better yet, movie buffs, you’ll be thrilled to know that there’s 1-for-1 movie tickets at all Shaw Theatres daily (yes, including weekends and public holidays). Bonus: There is a waiver of annual fee for the first three years. Further details here.

  •       ICBC UnionPay Dual Currency Credit Card

Do you fly between Singapore and China regularly? To make that all that jetsetting seamless for you, this card could be the solution since it’s only the most accepted credit card in China. You will also accumulate greater savings as there are no charges for all transactions made in Chinese Yuan (CNY) with this card. Offering low cash-advance rates in addition, this could be helpful in times of emergency where cash is king. There is also an annual-fee waiver for the first three years. More details here.

  •       DBS UnionPay Platinum Debit Card

Earn up to 5% cashback in CNY. Plus, cardholders can withdraw money directly from local DBS accounts at ATMs in China –– without incurring the charges on overseas withdrawals. Does that matter? Well, each charge could cost you a bowl of delicious la mian — and perhaps more — in China. You do the math. The best part about this card is that since this is a debit card, there is no income requirement on application  More details here.

Interested to see how UnionPay cards compare to the other credit cards? Head over to SingSaver for a credit card comparison based on your preferences.

By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.

The post Everything You Need To Know About Union Pay appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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Because being savvy pays (in a good way)

A Credit Card Is Not A Loan Facility

Yes, everyone knows what a credit card is. However, over time some of us seem to lose track and it becomes something we turn to when we don’t have enough money. For instance, I have actually headed to expensive dinners or a drink with friends (which would have put my finances in the red for the month) knowing that I could always pay for it with my credit card. The result? It ends up becoming another credit facility that helps tide over periods when money is short.

Beware Of The Interest

The high interest rates charged by credit cards are also common knowledge. Everyone plans to pay off the outstanding before the high rates kick in. However, there may be times when we need to make a purchase that is not budgeted for (a household appliance for example). Or when we are careless about money management (like unnecessary dinners mentioned above). Either way, you are saddled with a much heavier and longer repayment amounts.

Do Not Get Carried Away With Interest-free Installments

In theory, this is a great tool designed to help keep your finances in shape by letting you make purchases without paying any interest at all. The unintended side effect is, you end up buying more than you should because now every item on sale looks like a good deal. Truth is, you end up spending far more than what you saved on the interest.

Credit Card Charges, Payments And Credit Limits Affect Your Credit Bureau Rating And Total Debt Servicing Ratio (Tdsr)

The Credit Bureau and TDSR were introduced by the government to prevent Singaporeans from being over extended in terms of credit. In recent years, the both the requirements and enforcement of these regulations have become more stringent. The number of credit cards (which are seen as unsecured facility) you have, the outstanding amounts on those cards, any missed or late payments all have an impact on your Credit Bureau Rating and TDSR limits. Which in turn means you may find yourself having difficulty getting a home loan.

One Card Too Many?

The number one reason people apply for a variety of cards is to take advantage of the numerous promotions and deals that are offered by the different banks. It is not bad idea to maximise the benefits. Just be mindful to keep track of every card and every transaction in order to avoid late or annual fees.

Annual Fees Have Gone Out Of Fashion

There was a time when cards with a higher annual fee were seen as a premium card with better benefits. These days, most cards are happy to waive your annual fee. If they are not automatically waived, simply call the bank and request for a fee waiver. It is usually approved unless you have a history of late repayments.

How Many Cards Does A Person Really Need?

There are now cards for almost every need and segment. Shopping, dining, air miles, groceries, everyday purchases, rewards and more; you name it, they have a card for it. On average, two to three cards should suffice. Here are some considerations when choosing a card:

  • Decide on a card that meets most of your needs as the more you charge on the card, the more the benefits including rewards points
  • If you travel frequently, consider getting a card that is air miles oriented
  • If you are a believer in putting purchases on interest-free instalments, perhaps you can have one card dedicated to it. So, the amount you are paying for the repayments doesn’t get lost among your other purchases
  • If you love playing golf and qualify for the higher tier cards, apply for one that waives green fees. The savings can really add up
  • A personal consideration for me is the level of service a card offers. For instance, some cards empower their customer service officers to make decisions immediately over the phone with regards to your requests
Credit Card Hacks

A few lesser known features of credit cards that may come in handy.

  • Some credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance when you charge air tickets to them. While it is advisable to buy your own travel insurance (as you can decide on the features you need) too, it doesn’t hurt to have extra coverage. Check before travelling to find out what is covered
  • Temporary credit limit – some cards allow you to increase your credit limit for a month in case of an emergency or an unexpected expense. Of course, be sure to use it sparingly and pay it up in full in time
  • A few credit cards actually offer a comprehensive concierge services. You can book hotels, a golf game or a table at the most hip restaurant in town. This is especially useful when you are too busy to sort the arrangements
  • There are savings programmes that offer a higher interest on your savings if you spend a specific monthly amount on your card. While the required spend may seem high, if you plan your spending carefully, it actually helps earn extra interest!

Live Freely. But Spend Carefully.

Obviously credit cards come with a whole host of benefits. Being card savvy earns you lots of freebies and great deals that translate into savings. The trick is to always be very, very mindful of your charges and expenses as they can spiral out of control quickly. Happy spending.

By Mahesan
Mahesan thinks life is what happens in between football matches. He is a born again dog lover who thinks cats are overrated. Having tried his hand at multiple vocations, he holds the same opinion about hard work. Till he can figure a way to beat the system, he relies on whiskey to get by.

The post The Dos And Don’ts Of Having A Credit Card (Or Two, Or Three) appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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If you’re still buying your travel insurance trip by trip, it may be time to think bigger

Lao Tzu famously said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We think that single step is getting insured, looking out for yourself and your family — and being farsighted about it.

Fact: It’s a great time to be alive and to travel and see the world. It’s easy to anticipate good times. But the question is, how prepared are you for the bad times you couldn’t have predicted? You could burst a ear drum jumping off a yacht (ask Ed Sheeran). You could be smacked in the face by a golf club yielded by someone who had burst a ear drump jumping off a yacht (ask Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran). You could even trip over your own heels and break a toe (ask Hillary Clinton — yes, it happens to the best of us.)

We have, of late, been nagging you about the importance of buying travel insurance. But it’s not enough to just get insured before you take a trip. It pays to see the big picture and think like a boss — plan long term, gain long term. If you find yourself getting your passport stamped more frequently now, maybe it’s also time to switch up your travel protection. Here are all the reasons why now’s the time to quit being single minded and think annually.

Because You’re a Jetsetting Girlboss

Are you the jet-setting girlboss who takes meetings and attends conferences around the world? Say for instance, you’re travelling once a month to everywhere from Vietnam to Tokyo, just around the region, the cheapest basic plan will set you back about S$20, chalking up a grand total S$240 of insurance in a year if you buy a single trip policy each time you up and go. Want to know what an annual plan will cost you? About S$130. Come on, you’re an entrepreneur now, surely you can do the math and work out the most cost-effective way to do this. Need we say more?

Because You’re A Free Spirit (With A Plan)

So you’re all about living spontaneously. Life, you think, is too short to have everything all planned out all the time. How boring. You want to pack and go — anytime and anywhere. But, let’s be honest, no one is so free a spirit that they don’t care about having to pay too much for a crappy situation that decides to happen when you’re having fun. You want to be free? Having an annual plan in place means that you just need to think about it once, and not again for the next 12 months.

Because You’re A Citizen Of The World

The world is your oyster. You flit from one place to another, from one corner of the world to another, one season at a time. C’est la vie. When you have such important things on your agenda —to live and discover the world — you can’t afford to worrying about “what-ifs”. You need to be prepared for the worst. You need an annual travel insurance plan with worldwide coverage or one that is customised based on the countries you visit.

Because Time (And Money) Is Better Spent On Living & Having Fun

This is pretty self-explanatory, right? Time is precious, and so is money. So, live more, have more fun, and worry less about all this adulting. If you only need to do this once and not again for the year, why wouldn’t you unless you’re a glutton for pain. Life is so much better simpler. Wouldn’t you agree? We think Marie Kondo would.

Because Monica Geller Is Your Favourite Friend

If you’re a Type A like Monica Geller who needs every aspect of their lives organised and planned, the question is: How are you not already on an annual travel insurance plan? How do you sleep at night? Doesn’t it drive you a little crazy to have to do this every time you plan a trip? And knowing that you are paying more and not enjoying the best deals there are? Seriously, WWMGS?

Because You May Not Need To Fork Out Money

If you have the right credit card, anything is possible. OK, almost anything is possible. But if having the right credit card means getting free travel insurance, sign us up! Don’t even get us started on collecting air miles. To find a match, use SingSaver’s comparison tool to help.

What’s the difference between a single-trip plan and an annual plan, btw?

A single-trip policy offers the policyholder(s) coverage for a singular trip only. The stipulated benefits and coverage is offered as a unique occurrence, and is applicable only for that particular trip. This means that even if you do not embark on your trip, you may not use the same policy for another trip at a later date.

Single-trip policies are good if you or your family travels infrequently. As they are designed to offer a single instance of protection, they are among the lowest-priced travel insurance plans on the market.

An annual policy offers insurance coverage that comes into force whenever the policyholder(s) travel out of the country. There is usually no limit to the number of times the protection can be applied. However, like its name suggest, annual policies are limited in duration to 12 months from the start date. This start date may or may not coincide with the date of your first trip. (i.e., you buy an annual travel insurance policy that lasts from 1 Jan to 31 Dec. However, your first trip out of the country occurs only on 1 Feb. Your annual plan will still expire on 31 Dec, and not 1 Jan of the following year.)

Because an annual policy offers multiple instances of cover, they generally cost more than single-trip policies.

Besides these two types of policies, insurers may offer multi-trip policies, which provide protection for a set number of trips. You may find these policies (which are really just a type of bundle deal) priced attractively, especially if they are offered as part of a sales campaign.

By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.

The post Why It’s Time To Switch To Annual Travel Insurance appeared first on Financial News and Advice in Singapore.

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