Life Hack #8: Shopee

Oh wow.

I am back after a 2+ month hiatus (and social media cleanse)

It felt really good but more on that next time (if I remember).

In this post, I am back with another hack (yes!) and it is going to be useful if you do online household shopping, or better still – take Grab or use any of the online food delivery platform.

Without giving too much away – For the record, I am a believer of prioritizing time & energy over money, and so if it is a case of saving 30+ minutes for $10, I would adopt the former in 9 out of 10 (but as we say in business, context and accounting for local nuances matters so don’t quote me word for word, but embrace the spirit of the law).

Anyway since I mentioned Grab from the onset, one of the biggest news in the past week is the sunset of GrabPay Mastercard (GPMC). Or rather, the use case is significantly weaker now that you cannot enjoy 4mpd via CRV topup directly into Grab wallet (reference: old post).

I’m going to save you the spills and redirect you to other blogs that do a better job in detailing what happened here, but the TLDR is that the MCC for Grab top-up has changed, and you can no longer get any miles for using credit card (*cry*).

As sad as it sounds, the world (miles game) is still a beautiful thing and there are always alternatives.

The latest card that I am going to add to my arsenal of weapons is the HSBC revolution card (which basically operates similar to GPMC in that they reward 4mpd for every* contactless transaction). The caveat here is that the card operates in an inclusion fashion (meaning as long as you are transacting in departmental, travel, and dining categories among others, you are pretty safe).

In case you are wondering, I digress from the main post but thought it is a good reminder to put GPMC out there in case you are still adoring it religiously without doing the fact check (here is POFMA for you).

So let’s recircle back to life hack #8.

Shopee is an e-commerce app that I use literally every day. And this is coming from an user who preferred Lazada in the past, but has been won over. Before you read beyond the text, I am not a shopaholic but I’ll come to that in a bit.

In my head, the gamification of features in Shopee is pure gold. And I suspect the affiliation to Garena may have played a part in it? Who knows.

Anyhow, my writing is getting rusty so let me attempt to keep this post precise to the point of argument around value.

There are 3 reasons why you should put Shopee under your radar.

Reason #1: You save 15% instantly buying Grab vouchers for Food or Transport

This is probably the worst-kept secret but I am surprised there are not more people who knows this. Before you hail a ride in Grab, the trick is to search for Grab in Shopee, and look for vouchers in denomination of $5. You can buy any voucher that you want, and redeem the promo code in the Grab app for a direct ride offset.

If it helps, I tend to buy $10 Grab Transport voucher if I’m planning to take a Grab ride, and grab a $20 Grab Food voucher if I’m feeling lazy to go out and eat. Choosing the latter basically nets out the delivery fee to be negligible.

Grab vouchers on offer in Shopee.
After which, you will receive a Grab promo code under digital purchase in the Shopee app

In case you are wondering. This doesn’t just apply to Grab. You can find Foodpanda and Comfort vouchers in Shopee too (how nice).

And if you are feeling adventurous, you can enjoy triple dip by virtue of using DBS WWMC to pay for your Shopee transactions, and get 4mpd for every dollar spent. The second (and intermediary dip) is that DBS occasionally run cashback promo directly in their lifestyle app. So all you need to do is to register for the cashback every month, and spend above a certain threshold to get a 8% cashback.

This was what I got in end July after spending $200 on DBS WWMC.

It just works. Thank me if this has been missing in your (grab) life all this while.

Reason #2: You get cashback rebates (almost) everytime you buy something in Shopee

If you know me, I am a miles guy through and through, but that doesn’t stop me from being flexible with combining cashback benefits if the opportunity arises.

In the case of Shopee, you basically get the best of two world – Get cashback in the form of Shopee coins (in which you can offset your next purchase), and then pay using your credit card (DBS WWMC or OCBC Titanium).

The beauty of Shopee is that they give out cashback vouchers every week for as long as I can remember. So there are no excuses why you won’t use them for your purchases.

Platform voucher that you can apply in Shopee before checkout, and redeem your coins for instant cashback
Get cashback vouchers that Shopee releases from time to time

Reason #3: You literally get free money for playing games in Shopee

Just by checking in daily to Shopee for a week will give you about 15 coins – which is equivalent to $0.15. It is not ground breaker but it only takes you a few seconds to click on the app, so it is easy pickings really.

Check in daily to get Shopee coins (1 coin = $0.01)

Next, they have a bunch of games that enable you to get coins.

The concept of Shopee Farm (one of the games in the app) is just simple and brilliant. You ‘water’ your plant between 1 to 4 days depending on the size of the reward.

On average, I would say you spend about 15 to 45 minutes in the app daily and in return, you get from 7 to 707 coins for every successful plant. In most cases i tend to get 17 coins after 4 days of ‘watering’, which nets out to be $1.20 per month.

Again, it is not going to change your life but to get free dough during your break time (I say (Nike) – just do it.)

And if this tickles the cockles of your heart, I’ll save a post on other streams of investing in separate post (NOTE: it is not financial advice so consider that as additional info for your own consideration).

If you cannot grow a physical plant, do a virtual money tree instead 🙂

So there you have it – 3 reasons why you should add Shopee to your selection of (miles) weapon.

Now if this helps you in any way, and you have not used Shopee before, get $10 off my referral code here using your mobile phone. T&C applies.

Life Hack #7: CPF (Part 1)

Writing about CPF has been on my to-do list for a long time, because I feel some people either don’t really understand CPF for what it’s worth, or (worst) – don’t consider as part of their money that they need to manage with a degree of diligence.

The latter thinking is (imo) a little dangerous, because 20% of your monthly salary (up to $6k) is deducted from your pay-slip, and essentially you bid that amount (capped at $1.2k) goodbye in a blink. It’s still your money nonetheless, albeit you can only use for specific use cases (but more on that in future post on Part 2).

The main reason why I’m holding back (I usually eat the frog) on writing about CPF is because there are quite a few parts to the system, and for you to appreciate the beauty of how it is designed for our benefit, we need to consider the mechanics (the foundations) of CPF which is the key focus of this post, and earmark the usage (the withdrawal) in part 2.

Disclaimer: This is going to be quite a lengthy post that requires your attention (or rather, only if you care).

“Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world.” Albert Einstein

I’ll say it right at the start that I am a proponent of the CPF system (if you haven’t sense it already), and my post today is to convince you that instead of sleeping on it, recognize that there is a greater power (read: compound interest) acting on behalf for you, and in addition, you get tax savings as icing on the cake.

Well in case you are not a local resident or permanent resident, I cannot assume you know CPF and so, this is the official definition from CPF.

CPF is a social security system put together by the Singapore Government that enables its citizens and permanent residents to put aside money for retirement.

Wait for a second. Hold my cup before I go any further.

I know some critics will argue why we need the government to teach us about retirement and keep our money for our sake, but for the sake of the argument, let’s consider the utilitarian principle where the approach is enforced for the greater good.

To that end, not everyone has financial literacy to begin with, and may not consider saving up for retirement. If we fast forward the stimulation, the social burden of taking care of the aged society will (likely) in turn depend on the working class (and inadvertently leading to higher taxes paid by everyone else). It is not Armageddon by any stretch of the imagination and whilst I’m not an economist to comment further, I certainly think there is some truth behind prudence, and taking precautionary steps.

Enough of the lecture, and let’s get straight down to the numbers (I just love math). This is how CPF works.

Assuming you earn $6k a month. 20% of your salary will be deducted for CPF mandatory purposes. What is cool about CPF is that your employer will top up an additional 17% to support your retirement funds (no question asked).

In other words, while you contribute $1200 (20% of $6k) to CPF, your employer will top up another $1020 (17% of $6k) for you.

Basically you contribute $1200 to get $2220 worth of value.

The CPF consists of 3 different accounts – OA (ordinary account), SA (special account), and MA (medisave account).

So going back to the actual figures that will be added to these 3 accounts, the actual proportion will be 23% ($1380) into OA, 6% ($360) into SA, and 8% ($480) in MA.

If you sum up $1380 + $360 + 480, you get $2220.

Some people might get confused with the calculation so my advice is to apply the proportion percentage against the $6k to figure out how much money is added to each of your CPF accounts every month.

Now the beauty of CPF doesn’t just end with you getting more money for less.

Each account also grows at a different guaranteed* interest rate.

For example, OA grows at 2.5% annually, and both SA and MA grows at 4% annually. In addition, for your first $60k (combined across the 3 accounts), it grows with an additional 1% interest. To illustrate this example, say you have $20k in OA, and $40k in SA. The annual interest rate will be 3.5% on $20k in OA, and 5% on $40k in SA.

It’s a lot of numbers here but my point is your money grows at a better interest rate than what most banks can offer today, and you can’t go too wrong with using CPF as a baseline retirement fund (by being ‘forced’ to put aside money for your own good).

In case you are worried with not being about to see this pool of money, you can always assess that in your CPF account.

In my opinion, there is little to no risk in putting money in CPF as it is backed by the Singapore Government. I put a caveat on the word guaranteed because the interest rates may of course change (but that is highly subjected if there is a change in the ruling party with different opinion on the CPF system altogether).

It is also worth noting that there is a current 1M65 or 4M65 movement going on with a small group of CPF supporters which I recommend giving it a read. The TL;DR is that a common man can be a millionaire if you take advantage of the CPF system (of the compound interest) and do voluntary top-ups (and do absolutely nothing else).

Probably sounds too good to be true, but math don’t lie.

Which leads me to the next benefit of CPF that allows you to get some savings (rebates) off your personal taxes.

For SA, you get taxes rebate up to the first $7k of voluntary top-up. So assuming you fall under the income bracket that demands you to pay up to 15% of your taxable income, 15% of $7k ($1050) is what you saved (check out my previous post on taxes if you need a refresh).

And the pool of money grows bigger by the year at 4% (or 5% for the first combined $60k in CPF) annually.

Now I need you to follow me very closely on what I’m about to say – because this is where it gets me really excited about the full potential of CPF – the spillover effect.

There is a cap to SA (Full retirement sum (FRS): $188k), and MA (Basic Healthcare sum (BHS): $60k). Which means to say – you cannot add any more money into any of these two accounts when the cap has been fulfilled.

Let’s say you have $60k in the MA account in May – and you are about to receive the Jun CPF payouts.

Your MA account will receive no additional mandatory top-ups. Instead, the monthly 8% contribution ($480 allocated to MA) + the additional annual interest of $60k (4%) in MA gets spilled over to SA.

Now (roughly) on the 15/16th of every month, your CPF account will get updated with the mandatory contributions, and your statement would look like this:

OA ($1380 added), SA ($360 + 480 (MA) + $200 (MA interest – 4% annual interest of $60k)

The spillover effect is awesome because it expedites your rate to get to the SA cap which is $188k (take note that both FRS and BHS increases every year).

The holy grail is achieved when you hit the FRS and BHS cap for both your SA and MA account respectively.

This is when maximum spillover is activated, and all mandatory contributions (previously allocated to SA and MA) + interest for SA + MA gets spilled over to your OA (thus creating the supercharge effect).

That is essentially the key ingredient behind the 1M65 /or 4M65 where the supercharge effect combined with guaranteed compound interest will grow your retirement pod at an incredible speed when you let time to play itself out.

Now let’s recircle back to the voluntary top-ups.

Previously we talked about topping up your SA account. There is a cap to how much you can contribute. This is referred to the CPF annual limit of $37740 or deductible annual salary of $102000 – salary + bonuses combined).

If it confuses you, $37740 is basically 37% of $102000. In other words, your bonuses will also be subjected to CPF deductions up to $30k ($102k – $72k). Remember we said that mandatory CPF contributions will be capped at $6k monthly. If we multiply that by 12, you get $72k. So from a voluntary top up perspective, you only have another $30k that you can choose to top up ($102k – $72k).

What that also means is if you are a high flyer who earns $300k annually, you can only contribute up to $102k of your salary for CPF (too bad).

Voluntary top-ups can be performed in 3 ways – (1) top up to all three accounts, or (2) top up to SA only, or (3) top up to MA only.

For (1) and (3), they oblige by the annual CPF limit, but there is no limit to (2). In other words, you can voluntarily top up SA to the FRS cap tomorrow, and enjoy the compounded interest together with the spillover effect to OA (if only if you have the means to do so of course).

In the next post, we need to switch our attention to the usage of CPF in which we will discuss the retirement account (RA) and CPF Life (which sets guidance on when you can withdraw the sums in your CPF accounts).

To give you a glimpse of what is coming, RA is an account that will be created when you turn 55 of age, and is the combined account of OA + SA.

For now – enjoy the mechanics of CPF, and may the (compound) odds be ever in your favor.

Life Hack #6 – Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS)

It’s been a while since I last wrote. Well, let’s just say life took over.

Anyway, by popular demand (to readers who are still following my amateur posts), it seems like SRS is a topic that has gathered quite a few eyeballs. And rightly so – given that it is that time of the season again – Taxes!

Well before I go any further, it is worth calling out at the start that IRAS has enabled an option to allow you to delay your tax payments by 3 months. So if you prefer to have more cashflow in the short term (given all the economic uncertainty surrounding CoVid-19), you can submit your request here.

And in case you are wondering, there are no penalties to this payment arrangement (in regardless of whether you have decided to pay 1-lump sum, or monthly through GIRO). Worth a shout to put CardUp or iPayMy on your radar if you want to convert those payments into miles baby at a decent 1.75% fee, or OCBC Voyage tax payment facility if you prefer to have cash credited directly into your bank account, and sort out separately with IRAS.

Now that we get that out of the way, let’s start by talking about taxes broadly in Singapore, and then dovetail into how Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) can be used for you to reduce taxes.

The mantra about taxes that I live by is “Taxes saved is taxes invested.

And if you think about it, it’s pretty true.

The amount that you saved from paying back to the authorities (well in this case, the government where you are residing in) is actual money where you can deploy elsewhere to grow it (either in savings – though I strongly recommend against it, or better still, investments).

So in many of the cases (which I will show you below), you should spend no more than 10 min to review your tax statement carefully (after logging in to IRAS), and see if there are any exceptions you can file to reduce your taxable income for the previous year (i.e. living with your parents, one/both of your parents are not working and so on).

For simplicity, the way to calculate roughly how much you need to pay your taxes is to use the tax income bracket below –

Tax income bracket stated on IRAS website

So the way this works is – Say you earned $80k in 2019, and after deducting all the tax benefits, your taxable income is $72k. So the math would look like this –

First 20k: $0

Next 10k: 2% of $10k ($200)

Next 10k: 3.5% of $10k ($350)

Next 32k: 7% of $32k ($2240)

So, the taxes you have to pay in 2020 for 2019 income is $2,790.

Now you might be thinking, if I’m earning more, I have to pay more taxes.

Well you are absolutely right.

As the saying goes, there are only 2 things that are certain in life – death and taxes.

Sorry for sounding morbid, I’m actually quite an optimist (but let’s leave that story for another day).

Now depending on which side of the fence you sit on, one could argue “hell yeah, let’s reduce our taxes since we are earning a lot”, or “I don’t earn much to begin with, so I can live with it by doing absolutely nothing.”

Either way, you could make a claim for both, but if you are the latter, I recommend you to bookmark this article and come back when heavy duty (taxes) calls.

But if you are still here, my general rule of thumb is if you earn more than $100,000 a year, there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider other options to reduce your taxes, or at the bare minimum, make your money work harder (drawing reference back to my mantra).

Which leads us to the topic at hand – What exactly is the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS)?

In a nutshell, it is basically a voluntary scheme where the government indirectly encourages you to save up for retirement, and the way they incentivize you is to reduce your taxes by the exact amount that you have decided to set aside in SRS (capped at $15,300 annually).

What a SRS really is – is another bank account that you create with any of the 3 local banks in Singapore that can garner very basic (read: very low) interest.

It is very straight forward to create one and I have copied the link here on how you can create one with OCBC as an example).

Now on the surface it does look all nice and rosy – Save up more, and pay less taxes. But there are of course caveats (cheeky little) to how and when you can withdraw.

For locals, the legal period where you can withdraw your SRS money is when you turn 62 years old, and you have to withdraw all your money within a 10-year period (i.e 62 to 72). Don’t ask me why that is the case because I honestly don’t know, but the magical number you need to familiarize yourself with is $400k.

How this number is derived is taking guidance from how IRAS has set the withdrawal policies – which is half of your yearly withdrawals will be subjected to taxes.

So if you refer back to the tax income bracket that I put up earlier, you might have noticed that people who earns <= $20k do not have to pay a single cent for tax.

If we continue this chain of thought and multiply $20k by 2, we can then say definitively that as long as you withdraw $40k a year, you don’t have to pay any taxes since $40k/2 = $20k (drawing reference to the policy that IRAS has set – which is half of your yearly withdrawals will be subjected to tax).

How smart, to which I say – thank you (but jokes aside, I can only assume that this strategy has been explored by many of the financial geeks out in the market)

In case you are still lost, $40k withdrawn consistently yearly over the span of 10 years nets out to be $400k.

Now if you are still with me, it is still a good idea to park that amount aside for retirement, since it is yours to begin with, and you can take it out when you turn old age. But, I hope you realized that a dollar in 2000 is not the same worth as a dollar in 2020 because that same dollar would have depreciated because of inflation.

Therefore, we still need to make our money work harder even if it is sitting in the SRS bank account. Taking reference from general finance blogs and the 3 banks, it seems like the common interest is 0.05% per annum – and that amounts to nothing really, given that the inflation is expected to grow around 2-3% yearly. If anything, you are getting penalized for saving diligently.

Since this website is all about hacks, there is no question whatsoever that we will be exploring other ways to put that SRS money to work and extract the biggest possible value.

Spoiler Alert – I’m going to save them for subsequent posts but if it teases you to do more research on your own, my choice of weapon is selecting a creditable Robo Advisor, and I have ended up with EndowUs.

As usual, if you find this post helpful in any way, you can support me by opening an Endowus account using my referral link here. Both of us get $20 access fee credit (and you can be sure that I’ll revisit the value props of Robo Advisor on top of the SRS savings)

Life Hack #5 – ShopBack + (Go)

If your favorite pastime is to sit on the couch, and do online shopping (no judgment here), I’m quite sure you probably have heard of ShopBack at some point. But if you haven’t, well consider this as another tool you can add to your arsenal.

To start – Shopback is a true and true cashback platform, and the mechanics of it is quite straight forward.

You first check if the merchant you wish to purchase stuff from is listed on ShopBack, and if it is, all you need to do is to click through and get redirected to the merchant’s website.

Think of it as you doing a search on Google. You found what you need based on your query you typed, and click on the result page.

There are quite a few things to admire about the ShopBack offering so let me talk you through how it works.

One – The cashback rebate function is pretty neat (and this is coming from me where I am usually quite nit picky on the usability).

(Moving on), the moment you do a purchase via ShopBack with the preferred merchant, the cashback is tracked in the backend, and the actual dollar and cent is reflected in your account a few days later.

You can accumulate the cashback as much as you like, but you need to have at least $20 rebate before you can transfer to your designated bank account. So if you have a big ticket item to purchase, chances are you probably will get a decent cashback amount.

All the cashback rebates that are tracked in your account

Two – When you log in to your ShopBack account, you get to see different categories of merchants that have partnered with ShopBack. There is travel, shopping, groceries and so on (you get the drift).

Usually if I’m feeling it, I might do some random shopping on Amazon.sg, and use ShopBack to get some rebates (up to 6% cashback).

But typically, where I tend to use ShopBack more is whenever I decide to buy a flight ticket (i.e. Singapore Airlines) or hotel booking (i.e. Marriott). We could debate all day long whether we should do it via OTA, or directly with the Airlines (but let’s leave the debate for another day).

For the sake of the argument here, ShopBack works for both (but leans towards the side of OTA as there is more cashback %, such is the case with Agoda where you get up to 6% cashback)

Categories of merchants listed in ShopBack

Three – ShopBack can be used together with some of the other tricks that we have explored in the previous posts.

In other words, you can continue to use your preferred payment type when you finally check out at the merchant page. Following which, you unlock the quadruple dip effect by religiously replicating the steps below –

Step 1: Open ShopBack

Step 2: Click through to the merchant

Step 3: Check out and pay using GrabPay MasterCard

Ta da – You get all the benefits listed here together with the ShopBack rebates to go along (how sweet).

A disclaimer: This might be a little advanced to people starting out, but I will just say that there is a caveat to the Citi Rewards Card (as there is a cap of $1k per month that will generate 4mpd). So if you have crossed that spend threshold, consider other 4mpd credit cards for online shopping (like DBS Woman’s World Card).

Four – If you like to dine out (obviously not at this time of writing), ShopBack has an additional offering called ShopBack Go where you can get cashback at certain restaurants.

Again, the mechanics is really simple – you link your credit card to your ShopBack account, and pay for the bill using that card. After a few days, the cashback amount will be reflected in your account.

In case you are wondering this vs. FavePay, I got you covered bro.

Difference 1 – ShopBack Go requires you to use your credit card to pay, while FavePay requires you to scan the restaurant QR code (or click in the app directly), and pay via GrabPay wallet.

Difference 2 – ShopBack Go will add the cashback in your account after a few days, but the ‘actual’ amount can only be withdrawn after ShopBack has verified the order with the merchant. It is all done in the backend so there is nothing you need to do, but the verification can vary from a few days to a few months max.

FavePay on the other hand requires you to make a subsequent trip to the same merchant to apply the cashback to your next order.

Restaurants and shops listed in ShopBack Go

By the way, ShopBack Go is not restricted to food restaurants only. You sometimes see Guardian and some other general stores.

Five – ShopBack is compatible both on the desktop/laptop or in the mobile app, which makes it really easy for you and me (no excuses).

For example, if you decide to make an online purchase using your laptop, you can download the ShopBack browser extension (for eg. Chrome) and ShopBack will detect automatically that you are browsing on the partnered merchant.

All you need to do is to click enable, and log in to your ShopBack account, and you are all set.

How the ShopBack chrome extension would work

In most cases, ShopBack is like a dream for shoppers because it is seamless and easy to use (sorry, I know I repeated this a few times), but I guess my only critic is that there are some popular merchants that are slowly moving out of the platform (i.e. Lazada).

Well I can only make an educated guess on why this is happening.

ShopBack is passing back some of the affiliate marketing budgets that the merchants would otherwise spend on back to the consumers (yay!)

Well it is all good and well for the consumers, but that also inadvertently mean that merchants are getting more reliant from platform like ShopBack to get new/returning users. I’m not here to give a lecture but just some food for thought the next time you see merchants running direct promotions on their site.

So there you have it – ShopBack and Go.

Honestly this post was (so much) harder to write than my previous ones because I hardly (pun intended) use ShopBack anymore.

Not because I shop lesser but I prefer some other merchants that are not listed on ShopBack. Well, one could argue cashback is not the be all and end all, so do what it pleases you. For me, it’s all about miles and superior product.

If you found this article useful, and want to give ShopBack a go (pun intended), use my affiliate link to download the app. Both of us get $5 each; T&C applies.

Life Hack #4 – FavePay

If you have been following all the life hacks so far, I hope you come to realize there are just a few things you need to do (right) to extract the maximum value EVER – and it’s incredibly fun when you can check the price tag of any item (in store /or online) and derive the rebate (cashback / miles) with a few permutations of payment options at your disposal.

Did anyone say knowledge is power? I actually think being resourceful is a step better because no one truly knows everything.

Well if anything goes, I have quite a few hacks to share before we wrap up this topic in the next couple of weeks, and tip our toes into the blue ocean around CPF, SRS and investing (for all those who believe in the FIRE movement).

So today brings us to FavePay – which in my opinion – is a wonderful addition to GrabPay (almost akin to having a twin brother who shares the same joy as you). Albeit I say this metaphorically as I don’t have one (but who cares?)

So what exactly is FavePay?

It functions as a few things altogether – first, a system where you can get cash back rebates after you visit merchants who accept FavePay as a payment method, or second – a marketplace where you can get some cheap good deals from a list of merchants (think GroupOn). But what gets me excited about them is really the cashback component. Let me bring this to life with an example below –

You have decided to get a new phone at Huawei store in Somerset 313, and upon checking out, you realize that the store accepts FavePay. You open your FavePay app, and search for the store, and realize that the store gives a 1% cash back. What that means is if the phone is $500, you would get a 1% cash back which is $5 if you use FavePay to pay.

The catch here is you can only use the rebate in your subsequent purchase.

Ok, I know this is not a good example because you are more likely to only buy a phone once (and not anytime soon), but you never know when you are going to buy some accessories to go with it. So say you decided to buy 2 or more items in the same store, the trick here is to split the purchases into two so you get a rebate on the second payment.

Pay for Huawei transaction using FavePay

Once you get the idea of how FavePay works, the sky is really the limit here. Below is a screenshot of some restaurants (small sample size) that accept FavePay, but you get the drift – the more often you dine, the more rebates you get in totality.

Just search for nearby to see what places accept FavePay

For example, I like Harvest for their quality of clean/good protein food so you can see I have $1.44 stored in FavePay under Partner Cashback. That means the next time I patronize Harvest and pay via FavePay, the total bill will be offset by $1.44 (how lovely).

The beauty of FavePay is really the wide selection of food merchants that they have managed to secure. Food Republic is probably a household name that you might be familiar with (available in some shopping malls) so the next time you dine there, remember to use FavePay. Following which, you get to store the rebates for your next visit, and they can be applied at any food stall (i.e. the rebate you get from purchasing at Stall A can be applied at Stall B).

So I talked quite a bit about the cashback but you must be wondering how exactly do I ‘pay’ FavePay – must be some form of a wallet where I need to top up right?

Well, yes and no. All you need to do is top up your Grab wallet, and link it to your Fave app. Once that is done, all your subsequent FavePay transactions will be deducted from your GrabPay wallet. You don’t need to manage another wallet (in this case with Fave).

Stored cashback rebates for every store you paid previously using FavePay

Wait wait. Am I reading this right? Does that mean we get all that juicy rebates we talk about in life hack #2? Yes, yes and yes.

I’m too lazy to repeat myself again, but the TL;DR version is you get (at the bare minimum) a triple dip –

Dip 1: Top up Grab Wallet using Citi Rewards – 4mpd (valued at $0.02 per mile)

Dip 2: Get cashback when paying for your transaction using FavePay (valued depending on the merchant cashback %)

Dip 3: By means of auto deducting from GrabPay wallet, you get Grab Rewards points

So the next time you see a FavePay sign at the merchant sales counter, do what I do – smile secret;y to yourself!

If you found this article useful and want to give FavePay a shot, download using this affiliate link and both of us get a $1 each (peanuts I know, but better than nothing). T&C applies.

Life Hack #3- GrabPay MasterCard (GPMC)

I’m probably quite late to the game when it comes to getting the physical GrabPay MasterCard but better late than never.  Now you might ask me – what’s the point of activating the physical card if we already have a virtual version of GPMC? Well, I like to think of it as complimentary more than anything. 

The physical GrabPay MasterCard

So – GrabPay wallet as it stands today is limited to retailers who accept GrabPay as a form of payment where you would scan a QR code at the sales counter, and enter the price you like to pay using the wallet. The virtual GrabPay MasterCard doubles up as your go-to when it comes to online payment because you can use it as your normal credit card (and hence, enjoying the double dipping as highlighted in life hack #2). But there used to be a problem with offline purchase where retailers don’t accept GrabPay.

Well, the problem ceases to exist now, (now) that we have the physical GPMC. You can use it via PayWave or simply use the card to pay for bills at any restaurants that accept MasterCard. With this option, you get to achieve the holy grail of 4 mpd, including the additional Grab Rewards point that comes with it. Previously without this physical card, you would have to resort to using standard general credit card that gives you a measly 1.2 to 1.6 mpd (Examples of such are DBS Altitude, Citi PremierMiles)

Now, I like to show you how you can achieve quadruple dipping if you were to do grocery shopping in NTUC in a Capitaland Mall.

Note: I’ll save you the trouble of the math in calculating the cashback value for every dip (but if you are interested in the workings, read life hack #1 & #2)

1st dip: Top up GrabPay wallet using Citibank Rewards card

Benefit: 8.8% cashback (in the form of miles to redeem flight tickets)

2nd dip: Scan your Plus! card at the point of sale (NTUC self check out counter)

Benefit: 1.33% cashback (in the form of cash rebate)

3rd dip: Pay for your groceries bill via PayWave using the physical grabpay MasterCard

Benefit: 0.8% cashback (in the form of cash vouchers)

4th dip: Take a photo of the receipt in the CapitaRewards app

Benefit: 0.5% cashback (in the form of cash vouchers)

Popcorn, popcorn. Guess what the total cashback value will be?

Drumroll please

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8.8 + 1.33+ 0.8 + 0.5 = 11.43%

In other words, you will get back $0.1143 rebate (miles + cashback) for every $1 spent using the physical GPMC.  

If 11.43% cashback doesn’t excite you, let’s isolate dip benefit #1 and look at the rewards solely from a miles redemption for flight ticket perspective. Let’s assume that we top up GrabPay $1k per month using Citi Rewards card. At the end of the year, we would have accumulated 48k miles (12k x 4). 48k miles can net you a business class round trip to Hong Kong via Singapore Airlines during their KrisFlyer spontaneous escape promotion with 6k miles to spare.

Standard miles redemption (You would need 61k miles to redeem for a HK J class ticket)
Spontaneous Escape promotion – You would now need 42k miles to redeem the same ticket

Now let’s work backwards. The price of purchasing a business class round trip to HK is $1727. Since I can now redeem the flight for free (using miles), the cashback I would get from topping up 12k into GrabPay Wallet would be 14.39% (instead of the 8.8% if we were to take the face value of each mile at $0.02).

A random search on Singaporeair.com for a business class flight to Hong Kong

This argument would only work if you have to spend $1k every month for anything really – which is realistic. So if you can make your dollar work harder for you (to get the most out of rebates), I don’t see why you wouldn’t.

Take time to digest the above. Hopefully you are as excited as me the next time you go to the grocery store (or running other errands) – knowing that you are one step closer to redeeming a free business flight by doing a few steps right. I will throw a teaser here by saying (accumulate your miles to redeem a flight to a further destination, and you will be surprised how much your cashback will increase)

To the advanced folks – Before I let you go, it’s worth noting that there is another alternative with using OBCB titanium card (in specific outlets) as they are currently giving 8mpd promo (which translates to roughly 16% cashback). Again, we use $0.02 as the value of each mile (read more here if it fascinates you). So my take is use this till the end of May (but bear in mind that there is cap of $500 spend limit). Once you have utilized that card, go back to the GPMC using GrabPay wallet top up using Citi Rewards card.

Ending off – sometimes all good things will come to an end, so enjoy it while it lasts. (There are murmurs that the 4mpd for topping up GrabPay wallet may be nerfed at some point).

Life Hack #2 – GrabPay

Whilst I will focus entirely on GrabPay in this post, it’s worth calling out that there are other useful payment apps /or extensions – i.e. FavePay and GPMC (abbreviation for GrabPay Mastercard) that I suspect not many are utilizing them to the fullest; but I’ll save it for another day.

Let’s talk about GrabPay.

By design, it is relatively easy to use. You can top up your GrabPay wallet using any credit card of your liking, and use the existing credits in the Grab wallet to pay for stuff (i.e. merchants who accept GrabPay as a mode of payment). Now, in the majority of cases, I don’t see why you would choose to NOT use GrabPay if the option presents itself (simply because you can take advantage of double dipping).

Before you get lost, let me explain where and how you get 2 benefits for the price of 1.

Dip Benefit 1: You get miles from the credit card you use to top up GrabPay wallet

Dip Benefit 2: The moment you pay for a transaction using GrabPay, you get Grab Reward points (4 GrabReward points for every $1 spent).

In this exercise below, let’s assume you are a Grab Platinum user.

With sufficient Grab Reward points, you can redeem it for a variety of stuff within the Grab app. My choice of poison is usually the $5 Grab ride voucher (which you can redeem for 2500 Grab Rewards points). If we do the math, it tallies up to 0.8% cashback for every $1 you transact using GrabPay.

Note: If you have been a long time Grab user and have been using this feature, you would know that this reward used to be a lot better where Grab was more lenient (read: generous) in giving out more Grab Reward points. At the same time, they were kind enough to ask for lesser Reward points from you to redeem the vouchers but the days are over. I’ll save the nagging but if you like, you can read more here)

Anyway, let’s go back and wrap up dip benefit 1. The trick here is to maximize the miles you would get from the credit card for topping up GrabPay wallet. And the last I checked, Citi Rewards card is still the best option in the market, which gives you 10 Citi points for every dollar spent. When you log in to Citi website, you have an option to redeem the Citi points in exchange of miles for any of their preferred airline partners. Personally I like to fly with Singapore Airlines so I would go for the KrisFlyer program. You will need 25,000 Citi Rewards points to redeem 10,000 KrisFlyer miles. In other words, for every $1 you charge to Citi Rewards card, you get 4 KrisFlyer miles.

To the nerds, this is the exact calculation: To get 25000 Citi Rewards points, you need to spend $2500 (25000/10) $2500 spend will get you 10000 miles. $1 spend will get you 4 miles. Now, without going too much into details, the standard valuation of a mile is $0.02 here in Singapore. So every dollar you spent will give you $0.08 worth of miles.

So here comes the popcorn – if I were to sum up benefit 1 + benefit 2 in terms of cash value for every $1 spent, it would work out to be $0.08 + $0.008 (0.8% cashback for GrabPay) = $0.088 (8.8% cashback for every dollar spent).

Now there is a contentious part of the argument about this credit card cashback because you need to use the miles you have to redeem for the flight ticket. The miles value in itself will vary depending on the flight price (so for simplicity, I have set it as $0.02) but if you are lucky to snag one ticket redemption (usually at 30% discount) during SIA spontaneous escape, the value of your KrisFlyer mile will increase (since the price of the flight ticket remains the same).

Take some time to digest the above. Once you understand the concept, I hope you come to realize why credit cards that generates miles is almost always better than cashback credit cards (simply because there is cap to the latter).

Life Hack #1 – Mall Apps, Plus!

Having WFH-ed for the last 3 weeks, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for stay-home moms and dads – simply for the sole fact that the house /or home you stay in does not take care of itself (read: maintenance, or in business context: BAU). It’s a duh statement whatever but for what it’s worth, there are various elements (read: housework, and that includes preparing meals) when it comes to making sure a home stays a functional home (and not just a place you come back from work to chill, sleep and repeat).

I’m guilty as charged as I write this, and so I’m committed to show you (through a series of life hack posts while adding value of course) that running domestic errands expertly requires skills (and I think it is almost a full time role that deserves more credit). Anyhow, life hack starts off with this problem statement – How do you maximize every dollar that you spend in stores and extract the best value?

And before I go further, there are many ways to skin the cat, and I intend to articulate my experiences grouped in different hack categories, starting with this hack #1 on covering at the bare minimum – the baseline value.

Look, value here is not looking at the quality of stuff you buy, or looking at the promotional discount on offer. Those are extremely important, but I will argue that it is hard to apply them at scale (meaning: (1) the thing on offer may not be what others need, and (2) quality is extremely subjective (and I don’t even want to describe that in the slightest bits to prevent myself going down a rabbit hole). So, the value here is the things you can do to get something back in return (TLDR: rebates, vouchers) because that is the money you have set aside for home errands and will spend anyway (whether Covid or not).

Disclaimer: If your time is extremely precious or am a high roller who gives no f, you can stop reading now. But if you like hunting for value with minimal time invested, let’s get cracking.

I’m laying out three options below, and they can be stacked (or used together) in some instances. As a caveat, they are by no means an exhaustive list (but it is something that has worked for me).

Option 1: Get yourself a Plus! Card Get the basic Plus! Card because it’s completely free (no annual fees or sign up charges). Let’s assume we go to NTUC to get our groceries. With that card, you can tap it at the Point of Sales (POS) counter before payment, and get 2 Link Points for every $1 spent. And once you accumulate enough Link Points, you can use it to offset your transactions on the spot. The last I checked, 150 Link Points = $1. With a bit of math, this works out to be 1.33% cash rebate.

Option 2: Download My NexRewards App This could be any shopping mall that you patronize and near where you stay (as long as they have something like a mall app). I stay a train stop away from Serangoon so NEX is one of the most convenient options for me to get the groceries in check, and they launched the My NexRewards App a while back.

So how it works is you check the participating partners in the app, and make sure the store you intend to visit has exactly what you want. Let’s assume you want to buy bread at BarCook (and your family loves the raisin cream bun) – as long as you can spend a minimum of $20, you can kindly ask the cashier to scan the QR code in your app to get 20 Nex Rewards points (1 Nex Rewards point for every $1 spent). In fact, you get double the points in the month of Mar and Apr (as there is a promotion going on). In other words, you get 40 rewards point for $20 spent.

And once you accumulate enough Nex Rewards points, you can redeem them for cash vouchers.The one I prefer is the $5 eNEXvoucher which requires 1000 points. So the cash rebate here is 0.5%, or 1% (if you are taking advantage of the double reward promotion this month).

Option 3: Download CapitaStar App I’m going to give the gist here that while CapitaStar is great because it covers all 7 Capitaland malls in Singapore, the cash rebate is extremely weak so unless you have to buy something here (or can use this on top of other life hacks – which I will go through in another post), you should consider this as the last option. Every dollar you spent gets you one reward point.

The mechanics is simple. You take a photo of the receipt using the app, and indicate the price you have paid. Let’s assume you went to NTUC in SingPost mall, you can get 100 rewards points if you spent $100 (it’s 1:1). Take note that the minimum amount for a single transaction receipt to be eligible is $20. So anything less than that, CapitaStar will consider that as invalid. You need 5000 rewards point to redeem a $5 voucher, which works out to be a 0.1% cash rebate.

The consolidation here though is if you have used separate NTUC vouchers to offset the purchase, CapitaStar app will give you rewards points based on the receipt price (in other words, if you bought $100 worth of stuff indicated in the receipt, but paid $0 because you used 2x$50 vouchers, you can still scan the receipt in the App and CapitaStar will give you 100 rewards points).

I honestly don’t know if that is a flaw in the app, but thanks anyway.

So there you have it, the three options for life hack #1 to get the baseline value out of your purchases. In the next post, I will cover the intermediate payment apps you can use (as either complimentary to the 3 options listed above, or as standalone). And the validated use cases will be better than using your credit cards directly.

Write

The challenge of writing Is to see your horribleness on page

To see your terribleness

And then to go to bed

And wake up the next day

And take that horribleness and that terribleness

And refine it

And make it not so terrible and not so horrible

And then to go to bed again

And come back the next day

And refine it a little bit more

And make it not so bad

And then to go to bed the next day

And do it again

And make it maybe average

And then one more time If you’re lucky

Maybe you get to good

And if you’ve done that

That’s a success

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Try

It is not the critic who counts;

not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,

or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,

whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly;

who errs,

who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;

who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,

and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be with those cold and timing souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Teddy Roosevelt