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Thursday, 7 December 2017

Useless Financial Life Hacks

Tired of boiling water everytime you want instant noodles?

Boil a large amount in the beginning of the week and freeze them for later use!

Can you think of similar useless financial life hacks?

Can't thnk of any?

Can I steer you towards credit cards?

Yes, you spot them now...

Cashback and frequent flyer miles...

Its the equivalent of saying I've paid $300 for my electricity bills, but look! My aircon usage is totally "free"!


  1. Some of those who are shouting loudly these credit cards hacks are paid. Not useless to whom?

    1. CW,

      Welcome to the world of "free" financial advice ;)

      Once companies discovered consumers tend to "believe" their own peers more, that's the start of Tupperware parties and MLM "push" sales tactics.

      Norni juice anyone? Or overpriced antioxidant vitamin pills? Yeah right, bypass the middlemen so "cheaper" but your prices higher than brick and mortar retail shops!

      In Marketing where they use "pull" tactics, they would use sports or movie stars as brand ambassadors. Idol worship works!

      Today, its same old wine in new bottles. Now the action has moved to Social Media with Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and what not!

      Those who have studied Consumer Behaviour will know.

      I'm glad one blogger who took a class on Internet Marketing now knows the little tricks vested interest "bloggers" use on their harlem of subscribers ;)

      You think why they give away "free" ebooks?

      Everyone wants to "mine" emails.

      Walk past MRT they want to do a "survey" to get your email. Buy something at a store they want to give you their "free" membership to get your email...

      I think we two are the "stupid" ones... We ask for kopi :(


    2. Hi SMOL,

      Maybe I should do a post on the Personal Data Protection Act.

      Ignorance (of the law) is not bliss....

    3. Unintelligent Nerd,

      You asking a cat for opinion?

      I can only meow the 2 biggest lessons I learnt from my 2 years of NS:

      1. Scared don't do; do don't scared.

      2. You can do anything you want; just don't get caught!


    4. I facepalm when I see bei kambings cluelessly crossing into slaughterhouse territory.

      See my mood first, whether I want to blog about it. Meow!

      The messengers are always killed, yes?

    5. Unintelligent Nerd,

      Own time; own target ;)

      Who says NS was a waste of time?

      A tip for those serving NS now.

      If you "hate" NS, you probably won't like corporate life too...

      Better make sure you have a skill or craft that allows you to work alone or in smaller groups - like tuition, hair styling, creative arts, hipster cafe owner (thanks dad!) or taxi-driving ;)

    6. Ah yes, I had a taste of it upon joining public sector. >.<

  2. Instead of useless financial advice I prefer to spread the best financial advice out there:
    "Save more money"
    But it's not intellectually stimulating enough for smart people to take that first step seriously. They prefer fancy stuff instead. The more complicated it sounds the better it must be.

    Start saving for retirement in your 20s. Start saving for your kids' college when they're young. Build up a down payment for a house years before you're ready to buy. All of that sounds way too straight forward.

    This, however, is how we meet your financial goals. It's indispensable advice I always like to dish out. Even if not asked for advice.

    By the way, Jared, your fridge looks very clean and well maintained. Benchmark. Not at all like the typical bachelor's fridge.
    Your female readers must see you as a very eligible bachelor.

    1. Andy,

      You sound very Asian! You've gone local!

      But then, BORING classic truths are the same everywhere! Be it Asian or Western values ;)

      What you say reminds me of this excellent book by George Clason:

      The Richest Man in Bablylon.

      The trouble is people somehow have the habit of asking shield makers how to buy spears; and spear makers how to buy shields!?


      Alternatively, they love to ask fish mongers whether their catch are "fresh"?

      As for the fridge, I wish! Mom has a habit of filling up the fridge to the max...

      My fridges in Shanghai and Athens were always 70% empty. Only butter and jam for emergency sandwiches, and the rest all different brands of soft drinks!!!

      Sugar rush!

      Maybe I should grow up and switch to beers?

    2. Oh, that is not YOUR fridge in the picture then.

      I thought to myself who else but you would go the full length to bring across such an important point in such a succinct manner.
      That point being that we are generally just gullible and lazy thinkers.

      Jared, skip those beers and go straight for the wines (makes you even more grown up and attractive).

      By the way, the cheapest way of enjoying fine wines is to get your friends to buy the lowest-priced wine from NTUC FairPrice and tell you it’s a Château Margaux 2009 Balthazar. Your brain will do the rest – for free.

      Anchoring works well for enjoying any wine better.

      Of course you will return the favor soon after. Make sure to tell anyone you share it with (or gift it to) just how expensive it is so that you really get your money’s worth.

      A financial life hack that really works.

    3. Andy,


      I got the pic from my Facebook feed ;)

      Just google: Useless Life Hacks and you'll get lots of sites and Youtube videos trolling...

      What? And skip the rebellious adolescent phase I never did?


      Wine? Ah! The sweet wine from the lips of a fair maiden ;)

    4. Hi Andy,

      "Save more money" is sound financial advice. However, I will prefer to promote "earn more money" for selfish reasons. If everyone tries to save more money at the same time, the stocks in my portfolio will tank. One man's spending is another man's income. If everyone saves, lots of people's income will be hit. Companies' profits will crash and the economy will plunge into deflation. On the other hand, if everyone strives to earn more money, they will work harder and smarter at their jobs to earn more. The more they earn, the more they spend. Companies' profits go up and stocks will go up too. I make money, you make money. You happy, I happy :)

      Having said that, I admit earning more is much harder than saving more. Many work hard but still fail to earn more, particularly if they work in a sunset industry. Saving is only a matter of discipline. Anyone can do it with some discipline as long as his salary is not so low until it only covers the bare minimum.

      Combining the two, earning more and saving more is the lowest risk path to getting rich.

    5. hyom hyom,

      True, lucky for us investors the herd is still spending as "told" by the marketing sirens that surround us everywhere. So, I guess those few lemmings diverting from the herd to save more will not make a dent in your portfolio.

      And imagine some of those savers would stop investing their savings in the stock market (yes, some savers see stocks as a legitimate piggy bank (at least I hope so)) and spend it instead what would that mean to the stock prices in your portfolio?

      It's a delicate balance.

    6. Hi Andy,

      Haha. Interesting perspective. Perhaps "save more, then invest" might be an even better advice. If inexperienced investors with lots of savings want to invest, they'd better follow your advice to stick to passive investing. While doing passive investing on the side, they can continue focusing on "earning more" on their day job with minimal distraction. Minimal distraction is a superior feature of passive investing over DIY active investing. In my opinion, (passive investing + high-paid job + disciplined savings) is the most effective, risk-adjusted way to maximise wealth for most people.

    7. hyom hyom,

      On 2nd thought, I'll take back that drink...

      Passive investing?



    8. Hi Jared,

      Drink or no drink, if there is going to be a drink, let me be the one who pay for it:) As payment for the entertainment I got from your blog and your generous sharing to the sheeps.

      You must enlighten me. Why pui for passive investing? Well, I do active and not passive but I am different.

    9. hyom hyom,

      Passive index funds and ETFs are "OK" as investing vehicles.

      If we "market time" them. Which is heresy ;)


      Good luck to those who thinks he can buy and forget...

      That's not "investing" - that's faith. And we can't argue with faith!

      That said, those who chose Passive Investing as their preferred poison (or outsource to active professional money managers) have my respect as they are more honest to themselves:

      1) No talent or competence in investing/trading.

      2) No interest in investing, trading, or money matters.

      3) They have a life to enjoy instead.

      4) They want to focus on buidling their careers and businesses. Earn more to save more.

      Better this than to "pretend" they are DIY investors/traders but go round trying to replicate other people's positions or trades.

      Want to make money but not willing to put in the hours to learn the craft themselves?

      Is that how they learn to play tennis, learn a new language, or play the piano?

      Here's a question to Passive Index Investors

    10. Hi Jared,

      Thank you for sharing those 4 very valid reasons for ETF Investing (not 100% passive, as you still need to actively buy the ETFs; they don't buy themselves). And that is a very active decision to invest in ETFs compared to those super-passive FD-savers who are guaranteed to lose real buying power over time courtesy to that tax called inflation. It is almost impossible to "out save" the inflation rate in the current low interest environment.

      Not everyone is cut out to be a successful active investor. Actually most of us are not because we are not skilled enough to manage our emotions and cognitive biases.

    11. Hi Jared,

      Ah ... I see your point now about the market-timing part. Be a faithful buy-and-hold passive investor throughout the long bull market but when the bear comes growling, the faith is gone and the religion switches to market-timing. This half-in-half-out approach to passive investing will not work because the investor will probably miss out the rally later.

      Nobody can honestly claim they can buy and forget until they have actually experienced stomach-wrenching losses of >50% over a multi-year bear market. Emotional fortitude is not enough to stay the course. A high-paying job provides the financial and emotional backing to stay the course in the midst of severe losses for passive investing. Unfortunately, not everyone has a high-paying job. For those who have lower-paying jobs with little growth prospects, they may have to take more risk by being an active investor to compensate for the lower pay. The opportunity cost of being distracted from the day job is lower because the job does not pay well anyway and has poor promotion prospects. If I had a low-risk-high-gain job in the civil service as a government scholar, I will not be doing active investing today and switch to become a passive investor. My honest answer to why I became an active investor.

    12. Andy,

      LOL! There's a hierachy!

      Active investors poke passive investors.

      Passive investors poke super-passive FD savers.

      Savers poke those who "frivolously" spend $6 on coffee.

      Spenders poke financial freedom seekers - Look, we only live once! What's the point of saving sex for old age again?

      I don't pursue it as a religion, but I do practice Mindfulness.

      Trading is how I keep score on my progress ;)

      We both are quite Aware of who we are - what makes us tick, our strenghts and weaknesses, our biases, our emotional maturity; etc.

      That's why I respect your decision; even though our chosen vehicles are polar opposites.

      I have no time (nor professional respect) for those who chose either active or passive investing because someone has told them to...

      I'm already an air-head. How will I grow if I don't mix with people stronger and smarter than me!?


    13. hyom hyom,

      Yup. Superficial passive investors have not been tested yet.

      Its easy to do Dollar Cost Averaging when the market is trending higher highs and higher lows.

      We had a 3 years bear market from the Nasdaq burst from 2000 to 2003 when the first Iraq war started.

      Try doing Dollar Cost Averaging when it lower highs and lower lows month after month, year after year...

      I don't think many will stick with their convictions!

      Passive and Income investing are well suited for those who earn a lot in their corporate day jobs or have a profitable businesses.

      Their compound growth is OUTSIDE the markets.

      Markets crash -50% they no worry.

      Why stress when you have lots of free cash flow coming in to take advantage of the fire sale?

      But for those who find it a struggle to earn and save more than $25K a year, pray tell how to take advantage of an once in a life time opportunity?

      If we had to rely on compounding from investing, capital gains is the way to go!

      Just look at those posts on if I can only move back time... Or how I would be a millionaire if I had invested X, Y, Z stocks!


      Not income; not passive investing ;)

  3. SMOL, I always like your educating write up. Always critical and it stimulates thinking. Nice!

    1. Yaruzi,

      Thank you!

      You and Andy practice passive investing; I'll poke passive investing every chance I get!

      Yet we all enjoy each other's writings and have no problem when we disagree ;)

      Why should they?

      What you do and what I think have zero influence on each other.

      That's because we are like the 8 immortals who cross the Eastern Sea; we each do it in our own way :)

      I find it quite amusing when I see some people are easily "triggered" - just because someone else has a different opinon from them...

      That's a dead giveaway that person does not have conviction in what he says or do ;)

  4. Hi Smol,

    That day I was walking around the old neighborhood and mind-fucking myself when I suddenly think of some silly thoughts:

    1) There are many people who care no less except to work hard to earn more money to improve their and their lives lor. They make do with little and will not most prob have problems with cash back and miles etc.

    2) if the world only has shepherds or landlords, no we dun have to get there, if the world has same no. Of shepherds as sheeps, I think the system of today world will collapse.

    Luckily, even if we are shepherd in some areas, we might be sheeps in others...
    ALSO, those who play mind games to “slaughter sheeps”, they are making a living too. Which landlord do sale pitch? They let others do the pitching. Cut them some slack?

    I cover myself with brown paper bag. I do like around which credit cards has the best cash back. Even I spend a lot on dinning, I got ocbc 365 with 360 acc.

    I dun even need a shepherd, I go over the cliff myself ... LOL

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      You forget I'm a snake oil myself? Or rather was...

      I poking myself can?

      Everything we do is about making a "sale".

      Even big daddy talks all the time about it! Always reminding us (warning) if we were not competitive...

      Same for you. School is about "sales" - student enrolments.

      Good grades and accolades can put your school on the radar of parents. Who doesn't want their kids to attend the Top 10?

      But if student enrolments go down... Well, quite a lot of schools have merged or closed. That's reality of being "every school is a good school" :(

      When credit card do cashback or frequent flyer mile promotions, these are "wasted" on existing clients who already are spending more than $500 per month on their cards. We call it throwing good margins away...

      These programs are targetted at marginal customers who are currently spending $200-300 on their cards. Hence the "incentive" and "spin" - we need to spend more to save more!

      Frequent flyer miles are also used to "misdirect" those who like to call-in to waive their annual membership fees - Look! these miles are worth more than cash! You pay your membership fees and I give these miles to you for FREE! Really!

      What would you say if your boss tells you he rather pays your salary in frequent flyer miles instead of Sing dollars? (You boss bought the miles at a 30% discount)

      As for the high spenders, they are not interested in cashback or frequent flyer miles. As if they can't afford first class tickets or 6 star hotels...

      What they want is service and exclusivity.

      Those who applied for Platinum cards for the 50% discount on dining and what not - are the "aspirational" customers; not really the target group for Platinum cards ;)

    2. That reminds me of once upon a time (not long ago) when SC gave 'miles' instead of cash for their FD promo. What a joke.

    3. Rainbow girl,

      Take the miles! Then you can do a blog post how you travelled to where and where for "FREE"!

      And remember to ask SC to pay you in CASH for this advertorial post ;)

    4. isnt there a recent debate between bloggers of "cash rebate Vs miles?
      smol, i think you should take part ... and complete the orgy, opps, sorry, i mean, trilogy...
      "cash rebate Vs miles Vs NONE"

    5. foolish chameleon,

      Lucky I wrote this post before them!

      Least people think I'm trolling them ;)

      Talk about pure coincidence!

      Seedly is one of my sponsors OK?

      Met Kenneth and Ming Feng - two very enthusiatic and earnest young men. I see their team have grown by a bit now.

      And they have ventured beyond their Personal Finance Management App thing... Now they have a Personal Finance Commercial Website too ;)

      Cashback and miles "belong" to the SAVE MORE side of the equation. Or what I call the Suze Orman kind of topics.

      People like me with no papers instinctive knew we had to EARN MORE to achieve "escape velocity".

      We are what lao lee used to say - the rainbow chasers! We shoot for that pot of gold!

      That's why I am pleasantly bemused youths are spending so much time on 1 to 3% matters...


  5. Shssh. Don't TELL them!

    How am I going to get my free biz lounge access (at Taoyuan now after Scoot got delayed LOL) every year if people aren't signing up for those cards?! :D

    1. Kevin,

      You're cool!

      You are the few who put disclaimers clearly spelling how you are benefitting from your vested interest posts ;)

      I do respect aspirant "business owners" since that's more difficult than being a retail "investor" or trader. That's the path to REAL wealth; and lots of dead bodies...

      What I don't like is when wannabe business owners "masquerade" as our friendly next door neighbour when trying to earn fees and commissions from readers.

      And don't clearly mark their vested interest posts as advertorial or sponsored posts.

      Making money so shameful meh?

      If one needs to hide, that means that person "inside his heart got ghost"...

      I see them no up.

      There is honour amongst thieves.

      I'm the snake oil who wears the white hat ;)

  6. I do have a soft-spot for credit cards that give cashback. However, the cashback should either come with no minimum spending or low minimum spending that I can surely hit every month.

    Since I have to spend a certain amount every month, I might as well get some cash back on the unavoidable expense so long as one is not tempted to spend more on meaningless stuff just to get more cashback.

    1. hyom hyom,

      Right on!

      Something is not right if every month we keep thinking I have to spend $X amount... If not I won't qualify...

      That's what Jedi mind tricks can do the feeble minds!

      Spend $2000 can get "free" $200 voucher promotion!

      Perfectly fine if our spending already exceed $2000. That's what I meant when I said the company doing the promotion is throwing their margins away when they got customers like us ;)

      But to customers who only spends $1700... You'll be surprised how many couples will start discussing what "EXTRA" $300 they should spend to get this "free" $200 voucher!?

      During my weekend sales gig, I'll remind customers not to do the silly thing!

      Don't spend $300 on something you don't really need to "earn" a $200 voucher that they still have to spend again with the same company! Hello!

      By not spending this extra $300, they would have saved $300! Do the math!

      Some couples will "wake up" and laugh at their silliness and thank me.

      Some couples are so besotted by their little "greed" - and that's what these promotions are banging on - they can't see the strings others are pulling on them...

      Oh well. At least I tried :)

  7. Hi SMOL,

    I add on to ur list of useless hacks :

    1) die young, that way u will not run out of money when u retire
    2) get others to treat you, so u get to spend less and save more
    3) go MBS and collect all the coins thrown in the 'rivers'. Earn extra income during lunch or after work!

    1. Haha! It's not called useless hacks for nothing LOL

    2. CW,


      Aiyoh! Its satire and parody lah...

      Behind the humour, there lies an acorn of truth we both know its true...

      Life was much simpler then when we retire at 55 and die at 65.

      We don't need so much CPF.

      Then we had to give big daddy big headache by living up till 85 :(

      Now that's 30 years of zero income but cash flow out!

      So what else can big daddy do besides moving the goal posts?

      Its all our fault!

      Let's see what happens when the majority of Singaporean die at 95!

      It won't affect us; it would give those who are voluntarily contributing to CPF in their 20s and early 30s pause for thought ;)

    3. LP,

      There's a philosophical angle to what you say too.

      Bringing mom to her semi-annual medical reviews, I noticed one thing.

      Many of the patients are quite old - in their 80s to 90s. Lots of medical problems :(

      They are normal "wear and tear" issues... This won't happen if we had died in our 60s...

      So is long life a blessing or a curse?

      Interesting right?

      There are always 2 sides to every thing.

      Success is what we have to give up to achieve it.

      Most focus on the "success" part; how many will dwell on the "cost" of success part?

  8. How about this?

    i don't need to spend any money, i am rich already.

    Even a miser needs to spend money.

    1. temperament,

      You have answered your own rhetorical question ;)

      If a miser needs to spend money, how can a rich man not spend money?

      Even religious icons have to spend money. Unless all they need is to point what they need, and their followers will pay for them.

      Its still "spending" money - just through a proxy ;)

      It's like saying I travel on my frequent flyer miles for "free"!

      That's not being "honest" ;)

      Hence most religious organisations would rather have tithing or donations from their flock. And spend the collections for greater transparency and accountability ;)

      I can only think of one group of people who don't need to spend money - slaves.

      Everything is provided by their slave owners.


    2. Or "Am I my brother's keeper?"

      In a perfect world, we all should be.

    3. temperament,

      Humans have tried to build this "perfect" world; and failed.

      Its call communism.

      When I strike Toto first prize, after the initial elation, the next selfish hope is that I am one and only single winner...

      And not share the prize with 10 other idiots...

      I'm flawed.

    4. Yes U are flawed!

      None of us is not.

      That's why many of us searching for "someone" or something to be PERFECT.

      And what's PERFECT to U? :-)

    5. temperament,

      A glass of wine in my hand, a woman in my arms, a song in our ears :)

    6. Ha! Ha!

      i doubt U are so easily satisfied.

      If that's so, U are not a snake-oil sale-man leh.

    7. temperament,

      Of course I can say 2 women in my arms, but its good to let things as they are ;)

      Enough is plenty!

  9. So does it qualified as "financial hack"?

    1. temperament,

      If you feel its an excellent financial hack, you are right!

      If you think its a useless financial hack, you are equally right too!

  10. Hi SMOL,

    I think that it's worthwhile to retire now in our 30s or 40s since we do not know our lifespan. Enjoy life while there's time.

    This is regardless on whether one secures 25 times of annual expenses at the particular milestone one deem as fit.


    1. Ben,

      You do stand out to me from your 神龙见首不见尾 comments here and at the bleeding heart's blog ;)

      You must be just as bemused as me when we see people asking about other people's shoe sizes :)

      There's soul and philosophy in your words.

      The left-brain oriented precision crowd who plans up to 2 decimal places to do this and this, AFTER they had secured $X amount in Y years through "investing"...

      As if calling whatever they do "investing" makes it safer and more socially acceptable. (Middle-class mindset?)

      Little did they know they are making a huge SPECULATION on their life story in the belief just as long they achieve their goals, life is just a straight line extrapolation!?

      Is that the purpose we are here?

      Hungry eat; tired rest. This is real.

      The past and the future are reflections of the moon on the lake.



    2. Hi Ben

      I personally thinking, hope u dont mind. I feel very difficult to retire like what we want. Go enjoy or do things that we like. Every1 of us must secure our expenses or backup reserve.

    3. Hi sy sy

      My take is that one needs to put down all the burden before embarking on the dream he/she desires.

      I do not know your exact situation. I understand that different ppl have his/her difficulties that prohibits him/her to pursue his/herdesired paths. My view is that one must make the first action he/she will most likely know that will lead him/her to pursue their desired journey.

      One of the possible blocking stone in my opinion is debt. Focus on eliminating the debt asap and do not incur more debt along the journey. The most important thing is to enjoy the process during the journey and take things easy.

      I hope the above will give you some insights and hopefully solution to your existing situation.


    4. Hi Ben

      I am lucky that I don't have financial debt burden from myself or my family atm.
      I also don't have my own "nest" yet, that why at my age I am really no asset... sigh
      My fren all have their 1st house, 2nd property... cars... I am the odd 1... :(
      Bcos of I don't have house & car & luxury stuff, I am debt free.
      But my pay not high, already work so long also not much savings to invest...
      I started investing in stock end 2016 only... my worry is what if touch wood something goes wrong with my family member that they need to ask me for money for help??? sometimes 身不由己。。。i can not don't help, but help already my savings gone... then I can not retire even when I reach 62... sigh
      So far now my family member good condition... I am bless & lucky... 多谢菩萨保佑。。。
      Maybe I think too much lah...
      hope u don't mind I "lor so"...

      Cheers :)

    5. Hi sy sy,

      Don't compare with others. There will be others who will be far ahead from you. There will be others who will be behind you.

      Comparison will make one miserable. Just benchmark against yourself. As long as your current finances is better than last week, month, year or decade, it is a blessing.


    6. Hi ben

      I agree what u say...

      But when circle of fren gathering, talking about (house, car, luxury stuff...) then I will feel a bit out that kind of feeling...

      命里有时终须有 命里无时莫强求。。。just that some time have a feeling of why I always out from something...
      Not hard feeling just 小伤心 only...

      Hahaha... I am very emo & lor so...


  11. 道兄,



  12. No one in this World live for himself only.

    Even among the crooked and wicked, they care for each other.

    Maybe only those who are struck with mental illness, do.

    But in life it's really hard to let go your Pet Peeves & Fomos.

    1. Golden Rabbit,

      Of course its not easy.

      If it were easy, there's no need for effort and cultivation.

      Greed, hatred, and delusions.

      My level of cultivation is only to the level of Awareness where I'll go,

      "Jared, I can sense your anger and frustration rising... It this person worth it? Do you want to let it out? Or just let it go?"


      Letting go is not "suppression". Took me quite a while to know the difference. Suppression merely builds up more energy for a bigger volcano eruption down the road!

      I keep the focus on myself; I change myself.

      Others expect the world to change for them first.


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