Budgeting

5 Things Singaporeans Can Automate to Make Their Lives Easier

automate

Joanne Poh

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If there’s one thing a Singaporean loves, it’s convenience. Cook your own meals, clean your own home, help your own kids with their homework? Pfft, why do it yourself when you can pay someone else to do it?

Well, basic money management can be convenient, too, if you make use of these tips to automate those irritating little tasks that suck up your free time.

 

Savings

Each month, you hope to set aside about 30% of your salary as savings. But somehow you never have the discipline to hit that figure. Well, you don’t need an ounce of discipline when you automate your savings.

If you’re a salaried employee, chances are your employer transfers your pay into your savings account every month. This account is probably the one you make frequent withdrawals from using your ATM card.

Automating your savings is easy. First, open a separate bank account to which you do not have an ATM card (a high interest savings account is ideal).

Then get your original bank to set up a recurring funds transfer on a monthly basis from your first account to the second. You can usually do this online through your bank’s internet banking platform. Every month, like clockwork, your savings will be transferred to your untouchable account, and you’ll be forced to make do with what’s left.

 

Credit card bill payments

Forgetting to pay credit card bills is expensive. Not only do you get slapped with a late-payment charge that is usually between $50 to $80, you also have to pay hefty interest on the sums you haven’t paid back.

Avoid this happening ever again by paying your bills in full every month by Interbank GIRO. Just google the Interbank GIRO application form of the bank issuing your credit card, fill it out, print and send it back to them by post.

Once your Interbank GIRO request is approved, your bills will automatically be paid by GIRO transfer from the savings account you’ve indicated. You’ll never have to worry about another deadline again.

 

Investments

If you’re reading this, you should already know how important it is that Singaporeans invest… at least, those who want to retire before they’ve already got one foot in the grave.

While some people thrive on obsessively checking their investments, not everyone has the time or energy. There are now robo-advisory platforms like Smartly and Bambu that enable you to automate your investments using their algorithms. Be warned that these are obviously not risk-free.

You can also buy into a monthly investment plan like POSB Invest Saver or PhillipCapital Share Builders Plan. You pay a fixed amount each month towards the investment plan, no matter what share prices are like. This isn’t as bad a deal as it sounds—thanks to dollar-cost-averaging, you are likely to pay less than the average share price over time.

 

Other bill payments

Every time you open your mailbox, chances are you’re not anticipating postcards from exotic lands or letters from a beloved penfriend, but cringing at the number of bills demanding attention.

Automate all bill payments so they’re paid by GIRO whenever you can to save yourself time and angst. Most recurring payments, whether they be for health insurance, utilities or smartphone bills, can be automated. If you did not opt for GIRO payment at the time you signed up for the plan, contact your service provider and ask them how you can sign up for it.

 

EZ-Link topup

You frantically wave your wallet over the MRT gantries as you hear the train approaching. If you run for it, you’ll be able to catch it. Then you see the dreaded message telling you that your EZ-Link card is out of funds and needs to be topped up. Ugh.

Well guess what, you can thank the gods that EZ-Reload exists. EZ-Reload lets your card get topped up automatically once it runs out of cash. Just link your EZ-Link card with a credit card and you’ll never have to queue at one of those infuriating top-up machines ever again.

And while there is a charge of $0.25 for every auto top-up transaction, the charge is waived for DBS/POSB and Citibank cardholders. To save even more, pick a credit card that offers cash rebates for using EZ-Reload. Our top pick is the Citibank SMRT Platinum Visa Card, which offers a 2% rebate and also gets you a waiver of the $0.25 transaction fee.

Do you use any of the above automation tricks? Tell us which ones in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.