Archive for the ‘Credit’ Category

Living Well on Less Money

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Tight times are hitting older Americans directly in their wallets. With the nation’s jobless rate spiking at 8.1 percent and likely to continue rising, nearly 5.6 percent of workers 55 and older are unemployed, and many are struggling to find jobs. Those on fixed incomes have seen their retirement savings shrink by 30 to 40 percent in the market meltdown. No wonder the country is in a belt-tightening mood, with consumer spending down to the lowest levels in decades.

But people like Sky Yardley and his wife, Jane Dwinell, aren’t panicking about today’s tough economic times—they learned long ago to live well on less. A few years ago, the Montpelier, Vt., couple saved enough to quit their jobs, volunteer on projects that interest them, and cruise the canals of France on their 28-foot houseboat for several months each year.

To achieve this lifestyle, the couple followed the nine-step program outlined in Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence, a New York Times bestseller written by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez in 1992 and updated in 2008.

Dominguez, who died in 1997, left his Wall Street job as a technical analyst in 1969, when he was 31, and began living off the investment income from a $70,000 nest egg—about $6,000 to $9,000 a year. He and Robin devoted their lives to teaching people how to change the relationship they have with money and live well on less. Many of those who followed the program saw their spending go down 20 to 25 percent in six months, says Robin, while some “super-savers” cut expenses 60 to 80 percent.

Your Money or Your Life became the bible of the so-called voluntary simplicity movement, which had started in the 1960s and has roots in frugality, environmentalism, social justice and spirituality. Today an estimated 10 percent of American adults follow some aspect of simple living.

Voluntary simplicity is not about deprivation or sacrifice but about discovering what is enough—money, stuff and time—for things that matter, says Carol Holst of Glendale, Calif., the codirector of the advocacy group Simple Living America.

“Each person has to decide how to find the satisfaction of enough,” she says. “Everybody does it differently.”

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The stories in the article above aren’t the norm. They skew more towards frugality, but I do like the idea of the 2nd article, of the couple solely living off their investment income of less than $25k, and still go to France for several months each year.

I’m looking forward to the day where I can do that too, though I doubt it’ll be anytime soon, cause I certainly don’t want to live as ‘frugally’ as them.

(first seen at Get Rich Slowly)

Semi-automate your finances and be rewarded with rebates/points!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I learnt about the whole idea of automating finances, after reading some blogs and books like “The Automatic Millionaire”. It seems like an interesting concept, as it simplifies things, and so I’ve been taking steps to move most of my bill-paying online.

Essentially, my plan is limited to (3) different bank credit cards, and (2) savings account.

Citibank Recurring payments are set up via Citibank One-bill

POSB recurring payments are set up via POSB Everyday Card

Renewal of HDB Season Parking Ticket can be done via HDB’s website

Town Council Conservancy & Service charges can be paid online via vpost.

Road Tax can be paid at any Post Office. You can choose to pay in 0% installment plans up to 6 months using your Diners credit card. Essentially, this means if you currently only pay half a year’s road tax each time, you could pay off your whole road tax over 12 months. (You’ve to make a trip to the Post Office every 6 months to charge it to your card though.)

I’m self-employed. While contributing to my ordinary and special accounts are voluntary, it’s compulsory to top up my medisave account. By using my diners card at any AXS station, it allows me to meet my medisave liabilities, and earn diners club points at the same time. Sorry full-timers, since your contributions are automatic, you can’t earn any points 😛 However, if you are topping up your CPF account (subject to cap), you can earn points too.

Note that there is a Singtel-UOB card that offers up to 2.5% rebate on your Singtel bills, but I personally am not keen on having another card just for one bill. Besides, I’m currently getting a 20% discount off my mobile lines via the MioHome “Mobile Multi-line discount” scheme.