En Bloc SERS. Worth the risk for HDB Loan?

Taking on Expensive HDB Loan for Possible SERS En Bloc Flats: Yes or No?

SERS (Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme) or more commonly just known as En Bloc refers to when HDB decides to rejuvenate aging estates by buying back the old blocks of flats from homeowners (often at a premium) and providing grants.

Due to this, some homeowners are not taking the remaining lease into consideration when purchasing a new flat, and some are even willing to take on expensive HDB loan to purchase old flats. Let us explore if that’s true here.

Benefits of Being in the SERS Scheme

Here are a few things you can benefits from being a part of the SERS scheme:

  1. Compensation based on the market value of the flat at the time of the SERS announcement
  2. Reimbursement of reasonable expenses in moving to a new place (e.g. removal fees, stamp, fire insurance and legal etc.)
  3. 100% chance of getting a new flat at HDB’s designated replacement site at a subsidized rate
  4. Higher chance of balloting for new HDB flats outside of designated replacement site as 5% of all BTO are reserved for affected SERS owners.
  5. Rehousing benefits grants of up to $30,000 for first and second-time home owners and more

En Bloc Affects Surrounding Flats too

99.co did a research on whether SERS causes flats around it to go up in value too. And their verdict? Yes, it does bring a uplifting effect most of the time on its surrounding flats.

Their theory is that home owners participating in SERS might not necessary wants to move in to the replacement units that HDB has set aside for them and prefers to buy resale or private properties. Hence causing a surge in demand, and eventually, a surge in price.

You can see how attractive this is to flat owners whom have been staying in a flat for several decades yet don’t have the financial capabilities to move out to newer blocks of flats.

But this is also seen as a potential “investment” for others who knows that they are up for a possible huge pay-out if they were to purchase one of these en bloc flats.

But… that’s not necessarily true.

The famous colorful Rocher Centre up for En Bloc SERS

The famous colorful Rocher Centre up for En Bloc SERS

Your Flat Might Worth Nothing at The End of Its 99 Year Lease

Our National Development Minister Mr Lawrence Wong recently put this rumour to rest in his blog post where he warned home owners to not assume that their flat will be selected as part of the SERS when the lease runs out.

Fun fact: Only 4% of HDB flats have been selected as part of the SERS programme since its 1995 launch.

He also mentioned that there a block of flats has to meet several criteria to be eligible for SERS, and some of these includes:

  • Potential for redevelopment: the flats have to be deem under-utilised by the Government and that its redevelopment will bring value to its surroundings.
  • Replacement sites must be available: there must be suitable land nearby to house the current SERS scheme home owners.
  • Government financials: we would assume the government has a planned budget for this scheme every year and that it’s only sufficient for a small selected group of flats.

“We will continue to maintain this strict selection criteria. So please do not assume that all old HDB flats will be automatically eligible for Sers”, said Mr Lawrence Wong.

In the end, although being part of the SERS scheme can be profitable, there is no telling whether a particular block of flat will be selected.

Hence, it would be better to purchase a flat based its remaining lease and on factors that affect your living condition instead of its potential to be en-bloc.

COE pricing increase and demands. Learn about car loan changes in Singapore.

COE Pricing Increase & Demand: Car Loan Changes

There has been a lot of buzz circulating around the increase in Certificate of entitlement (COE) supply and demand. With lots of prospective car buyers waiting for COE prices to soften before making their buy, we shall take a look at how COE premiums varied so much this year.

COE premiums ended higher in the tender on 22 Jun 2016 as the easing of car-financing rules by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) continued to drive demand for COEs. And just recently, COE premiums fell across all categories at the close of the bidding exercise on 7 July 2016.

With COE for small cars having the biggest dip, falling by 5.25 per cent to $52,301. Premiums for big cars (above 1,600CC or 97KW) fell 1.62 per cent to $56,089.

MAS Easing of Car Loans

Just 3 years ago, the MAS imposed guidelines for car loans. This time, car loans have been relaxed to suit the current demands.

For cars with an open market value (OMV) of $20,000 or less, buyers can borrow up to 70 per cent of the purchase price, up from 60 per cent. Buyers of cars with OMVs of more than $20,000 can now borrow up to 60 per cent of the purchase price, up from 50 per cent.

The loans tenure has also been raised to seven years, from five.

This easing of car loans have allowed potential car owners to take up interest in car ownership. Although most car traders have already found ways to circumvent the car loan curbs. With households having healthier balance sheets, potential car buyers will enter the market for COEs due to car loan restrictions being eased up.

According to UniSim’s Adjunct Associate Professor Park Byung Joon: “Everyone predicted that the COE premiums will gradually decline because of the number of COEs. But these private-hire companies are kind of unexpected”.

COE Price Changes: What Next?

With the changes of COEs premiums and car loans being eased up, many are still undecided on purchasing a car.

“If you plan to buy a car, just go ahead and don’t delay your purchase, hoping that something will happen to the COEs”, Mr Park.
Dr Theseria said: “Timing a car purchase is like timing the stock market. It is hard to do and generally doesnt work.”

So what happens next? Basically, plan your finances before making a big purchase. Check out your existing loans, your repayment plans and whether you are able to sustain the big ticket purchase. Like for all loans, read on the terms and conditions properly and check on the interest rates that are given by the loan company.

If you are interested in knowing more about car loans, you could contact us too by speaking to our loan officers on the line. We are able to provide car and personal loans to suit your financial needs.

CarPark Fee Hike: So what if COE drops?

Some people have tried to correlate this drop recently with the car parking fee hike. The government has explained this quite fairly enough. Car park charges have not changed since 2002, yet inflation as well of costs of operating public car parks have increased significantly.

HDB carparks account for 90% of carparks in Singapore, costs have increased due to several factors:

  • Rising overheads in the construction industry;
  • Improvements to new and existing HDB carparks, such as install multi-story carparks with lifts, and providing link bridges to connect carparks to surrounding flats;
  • Additional repair works required to maintain an increasing number of ageing carparks.
Here are some important breakdowns to understand the car park fee changes.
Car parking fee changes imposed by URA

Car parking fee changes imposed by URA

Car park season fee changes 2016

Car park season fee changes 2016

Learn how to get licensed legal loans in Singapore

How to get Licensed Legal Loans in Singapore

Ever so often, we get customers whom have gone down the path of borrowing from unlicensed moneylenders. We have advised our clients multiple times, to get legal loans from licensed financial institutions in Singapore.

Unlike the major financial institutions in Singapore, the licensed money lending industry has gotten a bad reputation with unlicensed money lenders spoiling the name of legal loans. Some unlicensed money lenders have gone to the extend of bribing employees to release customer phone records just to gather those who are in need.

Furthermore, errant licensed money lenders have also caused a bad rep for us.

Getting Licensed Legal Loans

So how does one get licensed legal loans? Basically, there are a few touch points that borrowers can look at. Firstly, the local banks and major financial institutions are able to provide legal loans with ease. However, these are usually susceptible to closer inspection from the companies in terms of looking at your financial capability, your salary income and your current liabilities.

Also they tend to be stricter in selecting their borrowers so as to reduce their standing overheads. There are also many financial legal loans to consider when you are getting from banks such as home loans, car loans, home refinancing, renovation loan, personal loans, fast cash loans and many more. One could easily get confused in the financial jargon.

There’s also borrowing from licensed money lenders whom are able to provide licensed legal loans to Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners too. They are slightly more lax in their rules, and with the new regulations imposed by MinLaw, licensed money lenders would not want to risk losing their licenses over giving loans that you cannot sustain or giving overly high interest rates.

The interest rate has been capped to 4% monthly interest rate as set with the new regulations. As licensed moneylenders, this has indeed caused disruptions in our business flow, however we do understand the new rules standpoint and are more than happy to advise our clients on borrowing legal loans.

Legal loans from licensed money lenders could be easier to understand for many as most are geared towards personal loans. Furthermore, there are online financial loan quotation tools like ours that are provided by the licensed moneylenders. This in turn allows borrowers to get a fast selection and review process.

Choosing Legal Loan Provider

So how does on choose a great legal loan provider in Singapore? Firstly, check out the reputation of the licensed money lenders in Singapore. Read the many online reviews and compare between them.

Check for their licenses whether they are still accredited under the Moneylenders Act. Issuance of licenses are very strict, hence companies that remain are the ones that adhere strictly to the rules stipulated by the law.

Next, place online quotation requests with your loan requests to figure out which licensed money lenders provides the best deal for your legal loans.

Last but not least, head down to the few selected licensed money lenders of your choice and talk to the loan officers. They will explain to you the financial terms, the legal standings, and of course assess your loan situation and financial capability.

They will determine a suitable loan amount and repayment mode. Ensure that you are comfortable with this arrangement and get the loan officers to explain any legal documents that you do not understand. And when you are fine with what’s provided by them, it’s time to sign and get your legal loan.

Borrowers Credit Worth now accessible through Moneylenders Credit Bureau Credit Reports

Borrowers Credit Worth: Data bank on Loan & Repayment

As part of the new measures to aid borrowers at large, the newly setup Moneylenders Credit Bureau (MLCB), will now house records of borrowers’ loans and repayment history with licensed moneylenders, operating from March 1 2016. This was announced by the Law Ministry (MinLaw) on Wednesday (Feb 24).
With the launch of the Moneylenders Credit Bureau, all licensed moneylenders will provide regular updates on borrowers’ loan information. This in part contributes to build a strong data bank on borrowers loan and repayment records. Furtherwich, allowing the generation of credit reports of all borrowers on all their active loans with all licensed moneylenders in Singapore.
The credit report will contain information pertaining to:
  • The loan type and tenure, total outstanding principal amount and total amount payable
  • Details of all active loans the borrower has with licensed moneylenders and the repayment status of each loan.
The credit report information will be made available to both borrowers and licensed moneylenders alike, and for the latter, licensed moneylenders like us at Empire Global to better access the credit risk potential of borrowers and make direct choices on providing loan options.
Plus with these new information, licensed moneylenders can now make faster decisions to deny loans to those borrowing beyond their means.
This helps us, licensed moneylenders fast as we can make direct and better business decisions by better potential borrowers assessments, evaluating the creditworthiness of borrowers.
In turn, lowering our loan defaulters rate thereby reducing our cost of business. Savings! Which we want to past on to our borrowers at times. As licensed lenders, our loan officers at many times have to create solutions for potential borrowers or reassess their repayments so that they can repay and at the same time not borrow beyond their means.
The setup of such a framework, fixes a major problem whereby borrowers may approach different licensed moneylenders to take out multiple loans and moneylenders have no understanding or access whether the borrower is capable of repayment.
Said Mr Billy Lee, founder and executive director of Blessed Grace Social Services: “The MLCB will encourage borrowers to practise greater financial prudence and borrow within their means, given that their loan information will be accessible by all licensed moneylenders.”
Borrowers themselves, can use their own credit report to better manage their finance and loans too.
The Bureau added that it will cost licensed moneylenders S$0.50 and borrowers S$1 to purchase a credit report, it added.
Licensed moneylenders in turn can use credit reports to keep track of their active loan contracts with their existing borrowers and whether the borrowers have taken up other new loans. This allow business decisions such as deciding whether borrowers are capable of keeping up their repayment plans.
To better monitor borrowing and licensed lending activities, the Law Ministry and Registry of Moneylenders will use the Bureau to assess such activities.
Said Mr Peter Tan, president of the Moneylender’s Association of Singapore: “In addition to protecting borrowers from overborrowing, the MLCB can help licensed moneylenders make better informed decisions and credit assessments. It is a positive step towards helping to mitigate the risk in our high risk industry.”
Unsecured Credit Limit New Changes in Singapore by MAS

Unsecured Credit Debt New Limits in Singapore: Find out Now

Singapore: Applied lots of credit card recently? Ever had friends who are debt-ridden by their credit cards? The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will phase in tighter limits on credit card debt and other unsecured credit facilities over four years to allow more time for borrowers to cut their debt.

This was a drastic change instead of the originally imposed idea (20 months ago) of implementing the limit at once this June. The new credit limit change offers a big lifeline to consumers who have overextended.

Unsecured Credit Limit in Numbers in Singapore

Unsecured credit is borrowing that is not backed by collateral. The borrowing limit limit applies only to interest bearing balances incurred on unsecured credit facilities such as credit cards and unsecured personal loans.

These unsecured credit limits are not applicable to loans for medical, educational or business purposes. Borrowers with annual income of S$120,000 or more, or people with net personal assets exceeding S$2 million will not be subjected with the new borrowing limits. Over-extended borrowers in Singapore total 84,000 who owe S$7.5 billion(source MAS).

What does Unsecured Credit Changes

With MAS recent annoucenment, the new limit caps on a person’s total amount of credit card and other unsecured debt will be slowly implemented in phases:

— June 1 2015, the unsecured debt limit will be 24 times the monthly income

— June 1 2017, the unsecured debt limit will be 18 times the monthly income

— June 1 2019, the unsecured debt limit will tightened further to 12 times the monthly income

How does new unsecured credit limit affect me

How does new unsecured credit limit affect me

This new time measures allow borrowers up to June 2019 to make the transition to adjust to the new credit limits. The increased time given were brought about following feedback from the public and the advice of the Association of Banks in Singapore, and Credit Counselling Singapore.

Although most unsecured borrowers in Singapore borrow within their limits, but a small portion still have significant unsecured debts.

How does new Credit Limit Affect You?

Financial institution (FIs) are no longer allowed to granted further unsecured credit to an individual whose unsecured borrowing exceed the limits. So if an individual exceeds their limit, they will not be allowed to apply for new credit cards.
Banks in Singapore are supportive of the new move as this allows more time for borrowers to repay their debts. This allowed banks more time for compliance with the new law. Unsecured Credit provides good margins for banks as interest rates goes up to 24 per cent per annum.

What if I Exceed my Unsecured Credit Limit of 12X

There is a help centre whereby one can seek help from the Repayment Assistance Scheme (RAS), a centralised debt repayment solution by Credit Counselling Singapore in partnership with the banking industry.

Under RAS, debt amount if is in excess of the credit limits of 12x / 18x /24x of your monthly income will be subjected to a lower interest rate of 5% per annum. This amount can be paid in a span of 8years and will certainly help to reduce debt burden. This allows highly indebted borrowers to have a assistance scheme. Borrowers who are eligible for the scheme will get letters from their financial institutions with information on their outstanding credit debt. Learn more about RAS and how it works 

How can RAS help me with my unsecured credit  debt and repayments

How can RAS help me with my unsecured credit debt and repayments

Harassed online by Loansharks? Use licensed moneylenders instead!

Harassed by Loansharks ‘大耳窿’? Use Licensed Moneylender!

The digital age has certainly changed the way business is done. And the illegal moneylender (loansharks) have taken it to new heights. We at Empire Global take a look at how the industry is changing rapidly.

Harassment Online: Name Shaming

Loansharks are now using social media to take their “Owe$Pay$” threats online. One creates a fake account that replicates the borrower’s with similar name and befriends everyone that he knows. And then the big hit comes whereby the loanshark starts placing posts on the account.

They even use postcards with pictures of the victim’s identity card, plastered with O$P$ and plastered them onto the fake account. This is just one such antic being used by them.

By name shaming and cyber bullying the borrower, the unlicensed moneylender gets to publicly let the victim’s closest ones know about his borrowing issue.

Help Yourself from Illegal Moneylender

Firstly, the law is on your side in an online bullying case. Facebook complaints falls the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) because he had claimed the content on Facebook was false.

Secondly, under the Moneylenders Act, any person who, acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, commits or attempts to use any threatening, abusive or insulting words, behaviour, writing, sign or visible representation, or commits any act likely to cause alarm or annoyance to his borrower or surety, any member of the family of the borrower or surety, or any other person, may face up to five years in jail, a fine between $5,000 and $50,000 and is also liable to get caned.

With the police clamping hard on harassment cases coupled with the use of modern technology plus social media, the police have come up with alternatives to get the public at large to help them.

Posting images of loanshark harassment, with their deeds online, the police appeals to the public to turn n such offenders. Such as Liu Yimin Lynnette, 28, who was charged in court facing seven charges of splashing red paint on doors and pasting envelopes with “O$P$”, the unit numbers of the borrowers, and a mobile number on the walls beside the units.

The young woman (above) whom the police were looking for in relation to loanshark harassment has been charged in court. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

The young woman (above) whom the police were looking for in relation to loanshark harassment has been charged in court. — PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

News publishers such as AsiaOne has taken this another step further by showing a map of the money harassment cases (Loanshark Harassment Hotspots) occurring in Singapore. These are public information gathered from SPH news sources to give the public a better look at the harassment cases by illegal moneylenders.

Borrow from Licensed Moneylender Instead

Simply avoid all these harassments that could ruin your name by going to proper licensed moneylenders instead. There are limited licensed moneylenders and every year it becomes harder for businesses like us to maintain the moneylender license.

This is due to changing policies that improves the safety nets of borrowers. We encourage these moves by the government no doubt as it makes things smoother for us.

With strict regulations by the government and heavy punishments for licensed moneylenders if they made offences. Hence borrowing from licensed moneylenders make a better choice.

Negotiations between lending officers becomes easier too. Tell us your concerns and we can help you.

Interest Rates Take a Hike with rising Sibor in Singapore. Look at how it will affect you.

Interest Rate Spikes & Latest in Moneylenders News

Money, money and more money! The recent news about the US interest rates hikes has hit our shores in Singapore and the news is not entirely encouraging.

The three-month Sibor, which is used to price most loans and mortgages here, has been inching its way upwards due to interest rate hike in the United States and a weakening Singapore dollar versus the greenback. The recent announcements by MAS to reduce the Singapore dollar from appreciating aims to keep the Sibor elevated.

The Sibor is fixed daily by the Association of Banks in Singapore based on quotes from banks on what they expect to pay for interbank loans that day. In short, it is affected by liquidity in the banking sector.

“The reduction of the appreciation slope could keep pressure on the US and Singapore dollar exchange rate and thus could ensure Sibor remains at current levels … This move by MAS helps keep Singapore policy on a stable footing, and we expect it to be modestly beneficial for Singapore bank earnings,” analysts from Morgan Stanley said in a research note.

Interest Rate Hike: What does it mean for You?

Many housing loans offered by banks are tied to three-month Sibor. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC), for example, has 3 types of home loans and one that is currently offering home loans at three-month Sibor plus 0.85 percentage points for the first three years, according to its website. Lending rates are reviewed every three months. As the Sibor is set to increase, so will the interest rate rise. Home owners will eventually face higher mortgage payments.

“We had expected the bullish move in the SOR and Sibor since last year,” says UOB economist Francis Tan (source)

Analysts are looking at further upside to about 1 to 1.2 per cent at the end of the year. Effectively leading to an interest rate of about over 2% for home loans.

Let us assume an outstanding housing loan of S$500,000 and 20 years remaining. With the current interest rate of 1.5 per cent, this works out to a monthly payment of about S$2,410.

If the interest rate is increased to 2 per cent, the monthly payment would rise to around S$2,530. Should the rate rise to 3 per cent, the monthly payment would be S$2,770.

What to Do Next with Higher Interest Rate?

Higher interest rates charged by banks affect your loans directly. Thus you will see your loans, home mortgage loans, renovation loans slowly inching its way up.

Hence start reviewing your loans! For example, review your home loan packages every two to three years. Look at the trends Conventional wisdom has it that you should review your loan package every two to three years, or before the promotional period ends and your bank raises its premium on the interest you pay, which increases your monthly instalments.

In short, think long term and look around for good deals. Always negotiate with the bank on refinancing options.

Latest in Moneylending Industry Singapore

DPM Teo added that the improved situation was due to the tough laws enacted, strong enforcement efforts against loan-shark syndicates and the high level of community support in the fight against unlicensed moneylending activities.

According to DPM Teo, about 1,900 people were arrested for unlicensed moneylending and related harassment offences on average yearly between 2011 and 2014, while about 2,600 were convicted in court for these offences.

Debt Collectors in Singapore creating a fuss & harrassment at Funan Digital Mall Singapore

Debt Collectors in Singapore creating a fuss & harrassment at Funan Digital Mall Singapore

Seen the recent hype about public harassment during working hours? Debt collectors created a ruckus at Funan Mall over unpaid debts. Moreover, this was during working hours infront of the public eye.

With clamping down on unlicensed activities and harassment cases, this is looking good for us licensed moneylenders at Empire Global. The image of licensed lenders is changing for the better as tougher laws are weeding out bad lenders. Thankfully, the ruly debt collectors have been arrested for unlawful assembly.

Sources
http://business.asiaone.com/news/what-do-about-home-loan-interest-rates-rise
http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/courts-crime/story/debt-collectors-who-created-scene-funan-mall-foodcourt-arrested-po?page=15

Chinese New Year: Singapore Gamblers get hooked!

We just past 2015! And now we are counting down towards the festive Chinese New Year. Every Chinese around the world will be celebrating this festival as it’s a time to get together and have fun. Staff at Empire Global too indulge sinfully in our gatherings. However, let’s look at the topic of gambling during this festive season.

Chinese New Year Bonus + Annual Wage Supplement = Spend!

Traditional bosses give out additional bonus for Chinese New Year season as it means a sign of wealth in the company. Not to forget, there’s the 13th month bonus (annual wage supplement) that is handed out too. And that’s a lot of extra money in your pockets.

More often than not it means trouble especially to problem gamblers who try their luck out in Chinese New Year.

A Little History on Chinese Gambling

Well, its not difficult to reason why Chinese are known around the world for their high aptitude to gamble. As you look back through time, Chinese people have a long-documented history of gambling (recorded in every known dynasty).

Chinese believe in many control points (feng shui, luck, star sign, superstition). These high illusion of control may then lead to high risk-taking and/or more gambling. Chinese gamblers’ illusion of control is often portrayed in Chinese gambling-theme films.

Chinese Gamblers During Chinese New Year

Traditionally, many Chinese will play some form of gambling during the Chinese New Year as it is believed the new year brings in fresh new luck. I believe most of us can ascertain to that. With the long holidays during Chinese New Year, gamblers head to the local casinos and try their luck. Well with the added money from bonus it’s no surprise.

Today’s Gamblers in Singapore

Singapore, is in the top 10 list of biggest gambling nations.

Singapore Top 10 Gambling Nations in the World

Singapore Top 10 Gambling Nations in the World

Singapore’s One Hope Centre, which helps gambling addicts, saw a nearly 50% jump in cases in 2013 compared to 2012. In 2013, One Hope Centre saw 523 addicts seeking counselling. Executive Director, Mr Dick Lum, said, “Many clients that we counselled felt that it is all right to gamble, since the Government allows the casinos to be opened here, and this is very misleading.”

Watch: Counsellors have been constantly calling for tougher curbs on online gambling

Gambling addicts have also chalked up high debts and a recent statistic shows Singapore gamblers are some of the top loss per gambler.

Singapore Top 10 Gambling Losers in the World

Singapore Top 10 Gambling Losers in the World

However, even with large losses and the $100 local entry fees, this does not deter more citizens to delve into their gambling addictions. Gamblers now find gambling alternatives and using online methods instead.

Getting online is pretty easy in Singapore and online gambling enters make it even easier to sign up PLUS some provide free credit for account openings. This has led to even youths going online as the age restrictions in Singapore casinos are pretty strict.

Latest statistics from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) show that online gamblers have the poorest self-control.

Youths Gambling?

A local study done by NTU’s Professor Chang Weining in 2007 found that the prevalence of problem gambling in Singaporean youth is about three in 100, but one of them is a potential pathological gambler.

ECMS Consultants, another counselling centre, said they are seeing more younger adults hooked on gambling. Its clinical director, Gerald Goh, said that he has also seen foreign students who go to the casinos every week.

“For them, it’s free to go to the casinos. On average, their parents give them $15,000 to $20,000 pocket money a month, so they go in there to ‘have fun’. But when they lose their pocket money, they start to borrow from friends,” Mr Goh said.

Gambling Bad Loans?

Quite often, some of our clients went into big debts of bad loans from illegal moneylenders. If you have issues with illegal moneylenders or loan issues, do consult with our loan officers and we will best assist you.

Summary: Help for Addict Gamblers

There are lots of help available in Singapore through the National Council on Problem Gambling (http://www.ncpg.org.sg) and the National Addictions Management Services (NAMS). If you think you or your loved ones have a problem with gambling, you can also call the stop gambling hotline at 1800-6-668-668.

There’s even an expression which justifies gambling during the Chinese New Year as ‘a little bit of gambling soothes your mind.’  (小赌怡情). So just have some controlled gambling with your family and everybody relaxes to have fun.

Meanwhile enjoy this social video.

  • National Council on Problem Gambling: 1800-6668-668
  • National Addictions Management Service (All Addictions): 6732-6837
  • Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre: 6593-6489
  • The Samaritans of Singapore (24 hours): 1800-2214-444
  • Ray of Hope by Christian Care Services: 1800-7867-669
  • One Hope Centre (9am to 6pm): 6547-1011
  • WeCare Community Services: 6471-5346

Read more: Gambling & How it Leads to Bad Loans

Singapore Dollar gets strong against Malaysian Ringgit

Singapore Dollar Stays Strong: Time to Travel!

With a spate of recent news, signifying that the Singapore dollar has hit historical highs against the Malaysian ringgit and Indonesian rupiah. So what does that mean for us at Empire Global? Travel!!

It’s the perfect time to hit the money exchangers and get stocked on Malaysian ringgit. It’s the year end and holidays too. Hence there is probably no greater time than to take advantage of the situation plus take a break with the family.

Singapore Dollar Strengths?

Firstly, the Singapore dollar has gained great ground on the yen due to monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.

Since the start of the year 2014, the Singapore Dollar has risen 7.3% on the ringgit with the money market currently standing at SGD 1 to RM 2.64 (time of writing). This has been extremely great news for those Malaysians working in Singapore as they enjoy the benefits of the exchange rates. Some analysts expect it to fall even further. We hope so too!

In-depth of Oil Demands

Part of the ringgit downward trend has been affected by the continuous slide in oil prices. As Malaysia has been a strong oil-exporting country, there are fears that falling oil prices will further cause declining revenues for the country. The oil price has fallen by more than 40% since June, when it was $115 a barrel. It is now below $70. This comes after nearly five years of stability.

Weak economic demand has caused oil demand to slide tremendously. Hence a great oil-exporting country like Malaysia has seen it’s export market falling. Oil-related industries account for a third of Malaysian state revenue.

How Does the Singapore Dollar Work?

The Singapore dollar is managed by the MAS against a currency basket comprised by the country’s major trading partners and competitors. The central bank established the weight of every different currency by taking into account the trade flows between the countries and the way the corresponding economy is impacting Singapore’s exposure to the rest of the world.

Being a massively export dependent economy and a crucial financial and logistics centre, the way monetary policy is conducted has proven to be an essential tool for the booming economy since 1981.

What Next for you?

This has made Malaysia a more affordable country to travel to. President of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) has also highlighted his comments that Malaysia should try to take advantage of the situation as travel has weakened greatly since the attack on the MAS planes has caused strong negative sentiments to the travel industry. See more at: Travel Industry May Benefit from Weaker Ringgit
Arcade Moneychangers one of the best in town. Great Rates!

Arcade Moneychangers one of the best in town. Great Rates!

You probably have already seen moneychangers having long queues for the holidays. Now with the weaker Ringgit there are even longer queues and higher Singapore Dollar exchange needed to get the better exchange rates.

Today, moneychangers said they were still seeing long queues of people buying the Malaysian currency at their shops. However, they were not expecting a shortage in the coming days. Mohamad Rafik of Arcade Money Changers said: “Most people already bought as much ringgit as they can. I don’t think they will buy more.”

The falling value of the ringgit over the past weeks has been good news to Malaysians working in Singapore and Singaporeans who regularly travel across the Causeway for business or leisure.

Singaporeans travelling to these locations (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia) are going to enjoy great conversion rates and get more for their money.

Although while the Singapore Dollar is good in the asian markets, it has suffered against the Euro & the USD. Holiday makers rejoice as you can now make your dollar stretch event further especially in Malaysia or any oil-exporting country!

Word of Caution for Singapore Dollar

Malaysia Increases VEP fees. Reduces savings from  strong Singapore Dollar.

Malaysia Increases VEP fees. Reduces savings from strong Singapore Dollar.

As with all currency exchanges, do not overplay into the whole forex exchange. Exchange what you need or exchange just a little more for future needs. Currencies can change rapidly when the time comes and its seldom wise to hedge so much into currencies.

However, you might want to consider taking public transport. With VEP charges raised more than 5 times from RM2.90 to RM16.50 and with recent news that the Malaysian authorities plans to increase it to RM20 in middle of 2015 the savings from the falling ringgit might not be seen.

Meanwhile, enjoy the exchange rate!

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Spend Bonus Wisely This Year End Holidays

Spend Your Bonus Wisely this Year End Holidays

Christmas is coming! All the streets and shopping outlets are getting into the festive mood as we await the new year 2015. We at Empire Global  are none the wise too. Some of us have gone on long vacations to soak in the holidays we needed. Most of you are awaiting the year-end bonus or AWS or some would call it the thirteen month bonus.

iPhone6? Holidays in Europe? Can’t wait to spend on those items you want? Let us give you some advise before you think about spending them away.

Review Your Budget

Budgets are important if you want to get your finances in order especially now it’s the year-end frenzied shopping happens when big sales goes on in festive seasons. Take advantage of your bonus, all you need is 4 simple tips from us.

1. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Your bonus might be a sure thing, but  don’t ever go spending until it’s yours. You won’t want to land yourself in debt and hate yourself when you don’t get your bonus.

2. Factor in income tax & Chinese New Year
Save Your Bonus for Income Tax in 2015

Save Your Bonus for Income Tax in 2015

When you receive your bonus, you have to account for the following year’s income tax amount. Set aside a sum of the bonus for income tax. Not to forget, the annual CNY festival can amount to large spendings for the family. Ang baos, family dinners, visiting all are unforeseen costs.

3. Formulate a plan and stick to it.

If you had worked out a budget in the earlier part of the year, now’s the best time to look at it again. Have you stuck to your goals and savings policy? Look at the financial goals you have made, the bonus can be used as a boost on your goals.

4. Pay off debt

Pay off outstanding debt, whether its credit cards, renovation loan or personal loan, especially if they attract high interest. Have a bigger bonus, consider putting it on your home loan or car loan.

Spending on Year End Bonus

Rather than squandering the cash in needless new devices or luxury items and accruing more debt, because you’ve overspent on the bonus, consider investing in a hobby, an experience or a charitable course.

Considering travelling? Travel tight on a budget, stay in a hostel. Experience the culture right from within.

Learn from billionaire Li Ka-Shing to build up your network and savings using your income. We feel the article is more weighted towards business owners however the common salaryman should saving at least 30-50% of his salary.

Invest in long-term investments to get the compounding effect. Compounding goes a very long way and works most effectively when you are consistent.

Set up your new financial goals for 2015. Write them down and use your bonus as the baby pot of gold for your new plans. A little bit can go a long way.

Making purchases Online: Avoid online cyber scams!

Online Shopping Scam: Be aware of your money

Online Shopping Scam: Be aware of your money

$50 for a camera? Too cheap to be true? Although most of us would have forego such deals, but some of us will still take the bait. There have been several reports of people getting scammed online by deals that seemed too good to be true.

The number of cases in reported crimes have risen from 96-504 and the amount involved has tripled. Singapore Police Force has ramped up on educating the public through various media outlets.

Our advise?

Always buy from authorised retailers or known platforms. Check out the seller’s profile and ensure that you are confident of receiving the product too. Start by being aware by checking out this video by SPF New Media Team
If you are intending to purchase a device online from digital marketplaces, second hand sellers or resellers, you can do a quick check on the product’s imei number on the SPF SPEX platform. http://www.police.gov.sg/epc/spex_info.html
Here’s a musical video on online scams (#criminalwatch) to lighten the mood:

Spending on Year End Bonus: Bottom Line

Ultimately, the bonus is yours. Use your bonus in a way that you feel good about and do something that gets you enthusiastic about your overall financial life. And of course, it’s best to clear as much debt as possible and living a debt-free life is one of the best feelings that you can have.