Discover Financial Assistances schemes in Singapore during Covid-19

Financial Assistance Schemes during Covid 19

The Covid-19 situation has truly transformed and changed the way how people are dealing with work and their lifestyles. There are untold number of people with their livelihoods affected with the pandemic and this is where various organisations rise up to the challenge with well placed financial assistance schemes rolled out in this tough times. Today, we will discuss financial assistance schemes rolled out by various organisations and how they can be made possible for the needy. It is not just our local government helping affected individuals, it is with the great support of corporations, schools, organisations pitching in to help everyone. 

Ngee Ann Kongsi Fund – Financial Assistance scheme for Teochews

Ngee Ann Kongsi as a welfare organisation has set aside half a million dollars to help local teochews who had been affected by Covid-19. This is to reach out to those who have lost their jobs, retrenchments or incomes affected by the pandemic. 

Only Singaporean Teochews who are above the age of 21 can apply for the financial assistance scheme. It comes as a one-time sum of  $500  monetary assistance, and applicants would need to display that they have experienced total loss of income for 3months. The financial aid is to help those affected to tide over some of their financial burden.

For more information on how to apply for the scheme, it can be found on the Teochew Federation website

SMU Resilience Fund for Students

It is not only working adults that get assistance, students need them too as it has hit them harder. The scheme is called the SMU Resilence Fund which aims to help students who are first directly affected by the pandemic. 

Under SMU Cares, it helps students who have family members livelihoods affected by Covid-19. This comes in the form of a one-off grant of $500 to help students and their families to tide over this difficult period. 

In addition, there’s a Global Exposure Contingency Fund which helps students defray their overseas placements costs. This is because overseas internships and placements have been cancelled, and the fund is to help students recover their costs made. It can be airline bookings, accommodation costs, visa costs. It is also to help students with their Stay-Home notice accommodation. 

On the SMU Gives platform, a fund set aside for student bursaries and for emergency cases is constantly being made. Fund raising efforts from the faculty and students help this fund to continuously grow to help the needy. 

On the SMU Helps platform, new and existing gifts from various resources in SMU are channel to this platform. This helps urgent financial needs put up by those who need it the most. The University continuously strives to support affected students with its various financial schemes which is a great move by the school. 

AIC new portal for Application of Financial Assistance Schemes

AIC reaches out to caregivers and seniors, and aims to integrate assistance and care for those in this category. It also strives to build a vibrant community for the silver age community and provide support and care for them. Its volunteer program helps those in need. 

AIC launched a new portal that allows easy application of various financial assistance schemes that fall under AIC program. This skips the hassle of paper submission and easier access to applications. The included schemes help to defray caregiver costs which can be hefty for families. 

Interested applicants can apply via this portal

Government Assistance Schemes 

There are various schemes being offered to individuals and businesses that have been affected by Covid-19. Our local government has continuously stressed the importance of being resilient in these tough times, and the financial assistance schemes being rolled out are targeted to help the industries and people who need it the most. 

The government recognises the efforts by our frontline and healthcare professionals, and have set up the courage fund to help those in this line of work to cope with the increased stress and workload they had to endure. Covid-19 had placed numerous stress factors and tasks for our frontline forces, in which many are grateful for.

The food and beverage industry has been badly affected too, with many closing down due to reduced human traffic flow and financial difficulties as the reduced traffic lead to a sharp decline in sales. The government has stepped in to provide digital resilience funds and various support schemes for F&B to tide through this tough period. 

Financial assistance schemes such as Job Support scheme, Waiver and rebate of foreign worker levy, some of which are being rolled out in the Fortitude Budget 

The End Game? Stay Safe!

With 2020 coming to an end, and Covid-19 situation not lifting up, we are in it for the long run. Wearing masks as a necessity will not be removed any time soon, and the travel situation has not been uplifted fully yet.In time to come, it will be harder for businesses to survive as many has been displaced in the current environment. 

As an individual, do plan your finances wisely. Be careful with your loans and always speak to proper loan officers regarding your loan situation. Adjust your living budget needs accordingly with what you can afford. 

Financial Tips for Singaporeans during Covid-19 Banner

Financial Tips for Singaporeans During Covid-19

Ten months after the world reported the first Covid-19 case — the virus is still rampaging through the world, disrupting lives and causing mayhem to many industries, leaving tens of thousands of people without a job. We look at financial tips you can learn and practise on your own.

What options are available for Singaporeans who have lost their jobs? And how can the rest of us watch our spending in order to ensure we have sufficient savings to ride through this storm?

In this article, we hope to point Singaporeans to the right financial assistance programme, as well as provide some financial tips on how we can all save more money.

Defer your loans in Singapore

If you have lost your job, one of the first things you will worry about is definitely your loans — e.g. mortgage, car, renovation, study loans, insurance etc.

The Singapore government understands this too and worked with the banks to provide Singaporeans with the options to defer their loans in May 2020. These deferments are not automatic, so you will have to work with your bank directly if you wish to take this up.

However, this doesn’t mean that everyone should just take up this offer. Given that any deferred payment or loans will continue to accrued interests, any individual will need to properly evaluate the pros and cons to make sure it won’t be worse off for themselves when they eventually have to resume payment.

Understanding that the situation is only improving slowly, or not at all for some individuals, MAS has decided to extend this scheme to 2021, as mentioned by MAS in a press release:

“As the economic outlook remains challenging and there continues to be significant uncertainty over the depth and duration of this downturn, the latest package of measures will provide further support to affected individuals”.

Financial support grants for Singaporeans

One other avenue for Singaporeans to get financial support include the 3 grant supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development — Covid 19 Support Grant, Courage Fund, Temporary relief fund.

Each of these grants has different qualifying criteria.

Covid-19 Support Grant is for Singaporeans (aged 16 and above), who have experienced either a job loss or reduced pay for the last 3 months. Eligible Singaporeans can get 500 to 800 in cash for 3 months.

Courage Fund is for lower-income households in Singapore, and eligible households will get a one-time payment of $1,000.

Last of all, the Temporary Relief Fund will support lower- and middle-income households, where eligible individuals will receive a one-time payment of $500.

For the full criteria list, please visit:

Make small changes to your lifestyle

None of us know when this Covid-19 nightmare will end, so the best way to protect yourself during this period is to make sure you have enough savings to ride through this storm.

Multiple small changes to your lifestyle can help make a huge difference in the long run.

Cancel subscriptions that you don’t need

Look at any recurring charges on your credit card bill. If you are like most Singaporeans, you are likely to be paying for Netflix, Spotify and maybe a food delivery subscription on a monthly basis.

Now might be a good time to evaluate which ones you really need, and which ones you would like to cut. This doesn’t have to be permanent — when the situation gets better, you can always subscribe to them again.

Save on electricity

If you have been working from home since the start of Covid-19, you might have seen your electricity bill shot up, especially if you switched on the air con throughout the day.

From now till March next year is Singapore’s monsoon season, so you can expect more rainfall and cooler weather. Instead of relying on aircon, now might be a good time to invest in a good fan to save more money, and the environment too! Practise the financial tips we mention today.

These are just some of the changes you can make, and besides these, you can also review your transportation, dining and exercise options. Find out if there are more cost effective options or alternatives.

Covid 19 Managing your Business in Singapore During Crisis

Covid-19: Managing Your Business in Singapore during Crisis

Covid-19 has caused economies to shut down and devastated businesses across the globe and Singapore is no exception.

Similarly, to curb the spread of corona virus, Singapore entered into its own version of lock down — circuit breaker — for a total period of 1 month, 3 weeks and 4 days lasting from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020.

Businesses heaved a sigh of relief when Singapore decided to end the circuit breaker on 1 June and laid out a 3-phase plan to re-open the economy.

Covid-19 Phases in Singapore

Phase 1 – Safe reopening – only businesses and activities that don’t pose a high risk of transmission

Phase 2 – Safe transition – almost entire economy will reopen but there will still be restriction on activities with involve large number of people

Phase 3 – Safe Nation – social, cultural, religious and business gatherings or events can resume but number of people will be capped. Will likely remain in this phase till a vaccine is found.

This is done with the understanding that the number of cases will likely rise again as activities start resuming, so this phased approach will be able to help them identify and contain new cases a lot quicker to prevent new clusters from forming.

Covid-19: Entering Phase 2 of Circuit Breaker

After 18 days in Phase 1, Singapore officially shifted to Phase 2 on 19 June.

In this phase, while businesses that allow for telecommuting should continue to do so, more brick and mortar businesses such as retail, F&B (dine-in), personal health and wellness, home-based services, and enrichment classes will be allowed to re-open.

But this is not business as usual — as a business owner, there is a lot you have to take note of the safe management measures as you move towards reopening.

Safe Management #1: Appointing Safe Management Officers to assist in implementation of Safe Management Measures

This person will help to conduct inspections and checks on your premise to prevent any lapse.

Safe Management #2: Employee who can work from home should continue to do so

If your employees don’t need to access systems and equipment that can’t be accessed from home, then they shouldn’t be going to the office.

Safe Management #3: Reduce physical interaction and ensure safe distancing

As much as possible, you should allow your employees to work in split teams, stagger working hours and avoid congregation and socialising amongst colleagues.

Safe Management #4: Support contact tracing

It’s compulsory to use safe entry to record entry of all customers and employees. You can visit to get all the instructions on how to set this up for your business.

Setting this up is not enough, you will also need to have a staff monitoring this to ensure that everyone has a SafeEntry Pass before entering.

Safe Management #5: Wear mask and observe good hygiene

This applies not only to your employees but your customers too.

Safe Management #6: Keep workplace clean

You should frequently clean and disinfect common spaces and equipment. This is especially true for F&B dine-in businesses.

Safe Management #7: Implement health check and protocol to manage potential COVID-19 cases

You should check your employees twice a day for fever or any respiratory illness. Customers should be checked too before they enter your business premise.

Don’t be complacent in this COVID-19 period.

While coronavirus cases have maintained at a low level in Singapore, business owners should not be too complacent, and should continue to adhere to the best practices laid out by our government.

Besides those recommended by the government, some other good practices that can be considered includes:

Asking customers to fix appointments before going down to your store or office. Handle transactions digitally and deliver products to your customers instead of asking them to collect it from your store. If you are getting a loan or wish to inquire loans from us at Empire Global, do use our online quotation or make an appointment with our loan officers.

Together, we can ensure Singapore business’s survival during this Covid-19 pandemic.

How to get Personal loans in Singapore from licensed money lenders and avoid loan scams

Personal Loans in Singapore from Licensed Money Lenders and Tips to avoid Money loan scams

Regardless of your life situation now, one seldom cannot run away from the usage of money. In today’s fast-growing economy with increasing global changes to market needs and demands, you probably worry about your financial situation at some point. Aside from that, you probably would have gotten a form of personal loan from a company (e.g home loan, car loan, renovation loan, bank loan). 

Or you would need to pay a large upfront amount like hospitalisation for the birth of your newborn, purchase of a new BTO flat, your wedding plans or the down-payment of a car. All these are personal loans or big expenses to meet your needs but not the unexpected needs that may arise. These cash flow issues can come at any moment, say an emergency hospitalisation stay (god bless that this does not happen), a sudden shortage in financial income like a job loss (retrenchment).

This is when you would need to ready your emergency or rainy day funds, which is recommended to be 6 months of your monthly salary. Hence regardless of your life stage, having access to finance is crucial.

Should you run into such cash flow issues, you might turn to your family members or relatives, your friends or colleagues for financial help. Some may be afraid to do so or are shunned away or no one in their network can provide any help. Some turn to banks or loan sharks for fast personal loans should they want immediate cash access. Those who turn to loan sharks might do so because of their financial standings not meeting the bank needs or they have no other means. Some turn to licensed money lenders instead, which are quite often a misunderstood lot given the bad rep it is given from the media. 

Seriously?! Wut? Getting a personal loan from licensed money lenders? YES! 

Aren’t they loan sharks? No!

Personal Loans from Licensed Money Lenders

Yep! Licensed Money Lenders are completely legit, registered firms and in fact undergo a stringent checklist under the Ministry of Law (MinLaw). It is often misunderstood term due to the phrase “Money Lenders” linking them to loan sharks or the typical ah long 大耳窿

In fact, licensed money lenders adhere strictly to the rules and terms set upon them and licenses are given only to firms that pass these standards. New licenses are seldom issued and standards are getting tighter every year as new rules bound them. Min Law depicts the terms, one such term is the 4% maximum interest rate per month. This was created in the plight of the public concerns on the misapplication of interest rates by licensed money lenders and to prevent borrowers from over-borrowing and lenders from over lending. 

Aren’t they loan sharks? No!

Where can I find Legit Licensed Money Lenders?

So how does one know whether a firm is operating a licensed money lending business? Simply check the full list of licensed moneylenders on MinLaw website. As of September 2019, there are 158 licensed money lenders in Singapore. This list is updated frequently, so the first thing to do before heading down to a moneylender for a personal loan is to check it’s license against the MinLaw site.

The Must-Have Checklist to identify Licensed Money Lender

  1. All licensed money lenders have a unique license number which you can verify against the MinLaw website. 
  2. Licensed money lenders will not use abusive language, or behave in a threatening manner to you. We are a pretty happy bunch. 
  3. Will never ask for your SingPass user id or password. There have been cases in the past whereby illegal money lenders asked for it and used it for other means.
  4. Will never retain your NRIC card or personal document (driver’s license, passport, work permit, employment pass) 
  5. Licensed money lenders must issue you a proper Note of Contract for the loan. They are to explain to you the legal terms behind it. A borrower has to 
  6. Licensed money lenders are not allowed to solicit loans, or SMS or WhatsApp potential borrowers about loans. They are only allowed to advertise on their own property, website or in directories. Should you receive such messages, it is from an unlicensed moneylender. 
  7. Licensed money lenders do not transfer loan amounts immediately. Do not be enticed by scammish and misleading sales tactics such as “Immediate Cash”, “Instant Cash”.
  8. Licensed money lenders are only allowed to charge a monthly interest rate of not more than 4%.
  9. Licensed money lenders in Singapore can only charge a fee of not more than 10% of the principal granted loan amount. For late fees, the maximum amount they can charge is capped at $60.

Money lender licenses are difficult to obtain and maintain at the same time, hence these moneylending firms would not want to risk losing their licenses due to quick gains. 

Illegal Moneylenders Acts in Singapore

Illegal Moneylenders Acts in Singapore

“Hi bro, looking for a reliable and trustworthy lender for money loans?” – by illegal moneylenders.

Have you been getting this type of messages from random numbers in the past few months? If so, you have been targeted by illegal moneylenders syndicates.

Illegal moneylenders have been acquiring databases of mobile numbers and hounding potential customers with SMS or WhatsApp messages, sometimes up to a few times a day, to promote their money lending deals.

Money Lending Scams

To make things worse, some of these moneylender messages can be scams.

The scammers will act like a typical illegal moneylender and ask for your personal details in order to secure the loan but are not willing to release the money until they have received a cash deposit from you.

However, once the deposit has been sent over, these scammers go uncontactable and might even use the details collected from you to harass you further.

Not Just Messages, But Calls Too

Moneylenders has gotten more brazen recently and started calling their “leads” to solicit for business.

Blocking or marking the numbers as spam doesn’t stop any of these acts from happening either because just one week later, you will see a new number messaging or calling you.

What To Do If You Start Receiving These SMS or Calls

First, you have to know that licensed moneylenders can only advertise their business on their website and on their premises. Any other form of money lending advertising is prohibited by law, so make sure to avoid making contact when you receive money lending sms or calls.

The Singapore Police Force has also outlined the following steps to deal with these SMS and calls:

a) Do not reply or interact with the loanshark;

b) Notify the Police via i-Witness at;

c) Report the number as “spam” and block the number using readily available spam filter applications.

Avoid Illegal Moneylenders At All Cost

Illegal moneylenders might offer you fast money or flexible repayment options such as weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even on pay days, but the interest rates they charge generally hover around 10 per cent to 20 percent — which is a lot more than what licensed money lenders can charge.

If you find yourself in need of money, always try to look for government organisations to help you before looking at financial institutions such as licensed moneylenders, banks or pawn shops.

Rise of Online Shopping and how shoppers spend more

The Rise of Online Shopping Sales and How It Got Us to Spend More

What does 9/9, 11/11, 23/11, 12/12 have in common? They are all online shopping festival sales dates started and promoted by e-commerce companies to encourage consumers to buy and spend more online.

It all started from Amazon’s Black Friday Sale, followed by Alibaba’s Singles Day Sale, and subsequently, e-commerce companies started coming up with other dates to host their own online shopping sprees — think 9.9, 12.12 and some even has weekly sales deals!

Alibaba’s Singles Day Sales even managed to keep smashing its own sales record. They recorded S$34.6 billion during the sales last year, cementing it as the biggest shopping event in the world.

And Singaporeans love these bargain – CNA stated that consumers from Singapore formed the seventh biggest group of overseas shoppers in 2015, coming behind bigger spenders from Russia, Hong Kong, United States, Taiwan and Spain.

And we love these sales because it allows us to buy certain necessity at a bargain price.

For example, a recent homeowner can browse and bookmark furnitures in Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao, and wait for the Singles Day Sales to purchase everything. This way, they can shop at the comfort of their own home and save money at the same time.

But while the sales can help certain group of individuals save money, it also makes a whole lot of people spend more than they normally would.

These companies have engineered ways to gamify the online shopping experience and made deal hunting seem like a treasure hunt.

For example, during most of the sales, the e-commerce platforms will list out some of the popular items and their sales price days or weeks before the actual sales.

This helps the e-commerce platform to get the word out that the sales is coming, and creates hype and a fear-of-missing-out amongst shoppers, which eventually lead to more sales during the actual day.

Lazada even had a online shopping game during the sales that allows people to get products from as low as 99 cents as long as their friends help them to slash the price of the product through their unique referral link.

So, one way to work these sales to your advantage, and not be controlled by your impulses during the sales is to do research beforehand and plan a shopping list of the items you need.

Instead of mindlessly browsing through all the deals, you go into the sales with a clear budget, goal, and only purchase the items on your list.

Besides that, one other way to save more is to look out for credit card partnership that the e-commerce sites have. Often you will be able to enjoy some cash back or in certain cases, earn some air miles!

Now that Lazada’s and Shopee’s 9.9 sales are over, maybe it’s time to start listing down the items you really need and start spotting deals at Alibaba’s Singles Day event!

How to check company cares about privacy data policy

How to Check If A Company Cares About Data Privacy

Data privacy has been the talk of town recently due to the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal. But even before this, data privacy has been an increasingly hot topic over the years.

This has propelled changes in data concerns and protection across all levels from individuals to governments.

On an individual level, people are wondering how much personal information are they giving away when they signed up for a free service such as Facebook or Google, and how safe is it?

A KPMG study on data privacy show “The average Singaporean consumer is not convinced that companies are doing enough to protect their personal data, and this in turn results in a lack of trust and hesitance to purchase online”

Across companies, executives increases their budget for big data security amid increasingly stringent data privacy law and corporate data leaks.

Finally, governments across the world worries about the power private companies wield with the amount of data in their possession.

So, as companies and governments across the world promises to safeguard your information better, how can you be sure that they are really acting on their promise?

Let us walk you through some of the most common things to look out for in a company’s website to see if they are taking your data seriously.

A Secure Website with SSL and HTTPS

Google encourages all companies to switch to HTTPS a few years ago and explains this one their website:

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is an internet communication protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user’s computer and the site.”

Our website is an example of this:

When using Chrome browser, you can easily see if a website has https via the url bar on top. If they are indeed on HTTPS, you will be able to see the word “SECURE” highlighted in green, and instead of http://, you will see https:// beside the company url.

Benefits of being on HTTPS includes:

  • Encryption: To prevent malicious actors from monitoring your online activities on the website
  • Data Integrity: Data shared between you and the company are secured and cannot be modified by outside actors
  • Authentication: To prevent phishing. You can always be sure you landed on the official company page.

Check for A Data Privacy Page

A data privacy page lays out how a company collects data from you and what do they intend to do with it.

So, if you are planning to submit sensitive information to a company — e.g. mobile number, name and NRIC. Remember to search for a PDPA policy on the company website.

You may take a look at our own PDPA policy at

A quick read through our policy will provide you with some examples of important clauses a typical PDPA policy should include:

  • We do not automatically collect your data unless it has been given to us willingly to engage or inquire our services
  • We will only use your data within the company and this will data will NEVER be sold to any third party
  • We will take reasonable steps to secure your data
  • You can request to withdraw your consent to any use of your data or to edit your data via one of our hotlines.

As more companies place a bigger emphasis on big data in order to better understand their customers, you can be sure they will try even harder to get more personal information from you.

In some ways, this is unavoidable, especially if you wish to engage the company’s services. But you can better protect yourself by understanding what the company plan to do with your data.

Major changes to moneylenders industry in 2017 and 2018

Major Changes to Moneylenders Industry 2017 and 2018

Loan Cap

One of the most impactful change would be the loan cap that moneylenders can dish out to borrowers. The current practice allows an individual licensed moneylender has a loan cap to each borrower, however, each borrower can borrow from multiple moneylenders.

The new practise proposed on Monday (Nov 6) in Parliament, was to impose an aggregate loan cap to each individual thus limiting the total amount that the borrower intends to borrow.

For example with the new loan cap in place, a borrower with an annual income of less than $20,000 may borrow up to $3,000 from all licensed moneylenders combine. For individuals with annual income of more than $20,000, they may borrow up to six times their monthly income from all money lenders.

For each borrower, before each loan is issued, it is now mandatory for money lenders to obtain credit reports from the Moneylenders Credit Bureau (MLCB) to check if a borrower has exceeded their loan cap limits.

These reports (50cents per report) are to be obtained online and money lenders have to update the Moneylenders Credit Bureau after each loan is issued.

Regulatory Framework for Moneylenders

A new regulatory framework will be established to allow MLCB to impose rules on money lenders to protect borrower data. This is to improve regulation of the industry.

With new rules, comes new changes in borrowers mentality. Ms Jolene Ong, chairman of Arise2care Community Services, which conducts debt counselling, mentioned that the new changes will prevent people from over-borrowing. However, for those in serial debt, they might just turn to unlicensed money lenders.

Regulation in Moneylenders Company Profile

Moneylenders must get the Registrar’s approval before employing or engaging any assistants. Approval must be sought before anyone can be a major shareholder or to increase shareholdings.

This new move is to allow the Registrar to cancel approvals for loan assistants or shareholders should they deemed as “unsavoury” or those with previous convictions in unlicensed moneylending.

Money lenders will then be required to be incorporated and submit annual audited accounts to the Registry for Moneylenders. This is to professionalise the industry and improve transparency and accountability. More than two-thirds of 160 existing licensed moneylenders have been registered as companies.

Empire Global a True Financing Center

Although the Bill has not been approved yet, with the new slew of upcoming potential changes, the loan and money lenders industry is set for disruption. We at Empire Global is pretty equipped to handle such disruption and are ever ready to serve our customers better.

Manage Your Festive Cash with Credit Card and Payday Loans

The period from December to February always passes by in a flash, starting with Christmas celebration, followed by New Year and finally, our personal favourite, Chinese New Year! All these activities requires huge cash commitment from us. A Straits Times report states Singaporeans intend to spend an average of $2,503 during the Chinese New Year period.

Coupled that with the other celebrations, this amount can easily go up to three or four thousands. So, how can we manage or even make the most out of these thousands of dollars?

Cash back or Miles Credit Cards

There are many credit cards in the market with various benefits, but you will have to decide which one works best for you. Here, we recommend just looking at two types — cashback or miles.

This is how Cashback credit cards typically work — you get a percentage cash back at the end of the month after the bank has tabulated your spendings, usually with a cap on the cash back.

Different cards give cash back for different type of purchases:

Citi Cashback Card works best for food and transportation with up to 20% cashback on select merchants.

DBS Live Fresh Card works best if you love shopping online with up to 5% on online purchase

There are many others in the market, so compare them and select the best ones for your needs in order to get the most out of the high spending during the festive periods.

Miles cards are best for those who loves travelling as these cards gives you X miles for $Y purchase.

Unlike cash back cards, miles cards do not have a limit so you can rake in tons of miles during this period.

Credit Cards and Interest Rates

However, with credit cards, you will also need to take note of interest rates. Especially since there will be so much on your to-do list that you might forget about your credit bills.

This can take a huge hit on your finances since the rolling interest rates can be as much as 2% per month or 24% per annum.

Payday Loans Instead of Credit Cards For Quick Turnaround

The only issue with credit cards is that not everyone can afford them, especially if you have a history of bad credit ratings.

That’s when payday loan can help. Example, when you are waiting for your year-end bonus to arrive, and you require a small cash top-up to prepare for the celebrations.

While payday loan also has high interest rates, they can be easily managed as long as you work within your means and figure a plan to repay the amount monthly.

So, how have you been managing your spending during this period? Let us know if you have other great ideas!

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 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.