Here’s a story that might sound familiar. It’s the start of our expat journey, and we say to ourselves or to the family, “We’ll just go for a couple of years – to save some money. Maybe buy a property or pay off a chunk of our mortgage.”
The move might also provide the chance for us to climb the job ladder, or enjoy company-paid private education for the kids. Then there’s the lure of travel and, for many of us, the thought of warmer or better weather. (We won’t mention the added perk of getting away from a grumpy in-law!) Usually, though, the underlying motivation is to make more money and get a bit ahead.
So, off we trek across the seas to our new home, where we start to join in on Sunday brunches with new friends, get into checking out restaurants and bars, and make the most of visiting the fabulous short-break destinations in the area!
After all this, sometimes at the end of a couple of years (or more often a lot of years), we’re in no better financial shape than we were at the beginning.
7 things that can help
#1 Don’t feel you have to say yes to every invitation – set some parameters; for example, limit restaurant meals to a couple of times a month, and the same for visits to clubs or bars. As an alternative, invite people to the condo pool or your house and get everyone to bring something to eat or drink. When you’re out or doing the supermarket shopping, make sure you use credit or debit cards so you gather rewards – it also helps you track what you’ve spent on what at the end of the month. There are some great cheaper food options too, if you just want to get out of the house and explore but not spend too much money.
#2 Cut down on the number of short weekend breaks. The flights might seem cheap but once you’ve paid for transport on the other side, plus hotels, food and drinks for the brood, and those rides on the banana boat, it really adds up! There are plenty of things to do around Singapore that are great for everyone, particularly families who are relatively new to the island. And we have a whole heap of activities listed on our website that won’t cost you much at all.
#3 Got kids? If you’re saving up for when the little poppets are ready to fly the coop – either to school or university – you’ll also want the money out of your current account and in one with a better interest rate.
#4 If you’re saving money for a down payment on a house, you definitely don’t want to keep it in a 0% interest current account for that amount of time. Get it out of sight – and in a higher rate account to help it grow quicker.
#5 If you already have an existing mortgage, look around to see if there’s a better rate available. You might be able to refinance and release enough to put down a second deposit on an investment property. It’s a good idea to have someone you can talk this through with. A personal finance concierge can work out what you can afford and what’s practical – you don’t want to be too stretched.
#6 Find a way to transfer money to your home country, with lower or no transfer costs, as these costs can really add up. Some banks don’t charge anything if you have certain accounts with them.
#7 Online shopping can save you money, plus, if you know the clothes that fit your shape then it makes even more sense to buy from your home country. If you’re shopping at Amazon or other US companies, you can get a credit or debit card that has a cashback feature.
If you’re keen for an account that ticks most of the boxes on the above list, have a look at the USD$aver account from Standard Chartered.
Here’s just a handful of its main features:
- A high interest rate of up to 3% per annum on your USD deposits
- No lock-in, which means you have liquidity, or access to funds whenever you need them
- 2% cashback on eligible MasterCard spend with the USD High Debit card
The USD$aver Account Product Terms apply. For more details, visit sc.com/sg/save/savings-accounts/usdsaver.
This article is written in collaboration with Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) Limited (“SCBSL”). All views expressed in the article are the independent opinions of Expat Living. All information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as advice or an offer for any product or service. SCBSL is not liable for any informational errors, incompleteness, delays, or for any actions taken in reliance on information contained herein.