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I’ve always been a strong believer of saving money — when I was young, mum would give me a dollar to buy whatever sweets or snacks I wanted at the mama shop downstairs. However, the best part (at least to me) was not the purchase, but the sweet sound of spare change dropping into my piggy bank. Sometimes I’d just save the whole dollar.
When my piggy bank couldn’t “eat” anymore, the fun began: Mum and I would empty it out, sort and count all the coins, and see how much we could deposit into my bank account. The memory of this fun saving activity still sticks with me, but today, I do it differently.
Instead, I automate my bank account to set aside a portion of money each month. In addition, I also channel some money into a regular savings plan. Some of my extra cash goes into other investments such as stocks and ETFs, unit trusts, government bonds, endowment and insurance savings plans.
I’m just short of investing in gold (I heard it’s a good hedge against a falling economy), but I never knew what’s the most efficient route. Should I do it the traditional way and buy physical gold in a brick-and-mortar store? Or should I buy gold certificates, open a gold savings account or buy a gold ETF? I’ve been sitting on this for years, and the only gold investment I had is my wedding band.
It’s pretty timely that there’s a new app in town, Hugo, which prides itself as “Your Wealthcare® Buddy”. Not only does it encourage healthy saving and spending habits (something I’ve always believed in), there’s also a feature that helps users (like myself) easily invest in gold.
Gamely, I decided to try it out. And this is what happened.
Signing up and getting started
Hugo has this interesting concept that they call Wealthcare®, which is about building healthy spending and saving habits — in short, taking care of its users’ financial wellbeing. With this Wealthcare® concept, Hugo aims to help us spend smarter, save for our goals and grow our wealth.
I couldn’t wait to jump in~
Five minutes was all I needed to download the app and sign up. I was pleasantly surprised that the speedy process has security features in place too, such as receiving an authentication code via SMS, taking a photo of my NRIC for verification and setting a passcode. Hugo users’ money is also safeguarded in DBS, so I know I’m in good hands.
Once my account was verified (mine was ready in 15 minutes), I could start using the Hugo app proper and request for my Hugo Platinum Visa Debit Card so I could start spending and saving.
However, the real fun truly began when I received my Hugo Card in the mail. It’s a numberless Visa debit card that allows you to make contactless transactions, buy stuff online and even order food delivery. Activating it just took a few seconds, and I could begin spending the moment I transferred money from my bank account into my Hugo Account.
Using Hugo to stick to a monthly budget
One way I see Hugo helping me in my savings journey is keeping my monthly spending on track. By transferring the weekly/monthly budgeted lump sum to my Hugo Account and limiting my spending from there, I can save even more money each month. Plus, as each transaction’s date, amount and vendor is documented (I get notified for every transaction too), it’s definitely less of a hassle to keep track of than manually entering each transaction in my budgeting app (I often forget). If I wanna be kiasu, I can also upload an image of my receipt for reference.
As this is my first numberless Visa debit card, the feeling of seeing an empty space on the Hugo Card initially felt foreign to me. But it offers better security, as you never know when you’ll encounter someone who can memorise credit card details with just a quick glance…or perhaps you misplace the card and it gets picked up by someone else.
That’s when the function of temporarily locking the Hugo Card via the app comes in handy! You never know if you left the card in your “other” bag or on your dining table.
Setting up payees on the Hugo app is also really simple. As of now, I’ve included my own bank account as a payee and sent myself $10 just to test out the function. For now, as open banking is not yet available in Singapore, you can’t link it to PayNow or GPay.
Love the contactless capability on the card though — I can ride the bus, buy groceries and make other Visa PayWave transactions. Just need to ensure there are enough funds in my Hugo Account. Oooh, and my Hugo Card came with a snug silicon sleeve, which I can conveniently paste on my phone.
Getting personal with savings goals
Hugo has this function called Money Pots, which is essentially where you can stash funds with a goal in mind, and a target date. It can be saving up for a post-Covid-19 vacay, setting aside some cash for a pastry course, or even planning ahead for Chinese New Year 2022 expenses.
Although I’ve gotten my first Pfizer dose, travelling still does seem like a distant dream. So I’m going for more practical goals such as saving up for a foldie ($1,500) and a long-awaited omakase meal ($300).
For both Money Pots, I can opt to add money manually and/or schedule transfers each month (just need to make sure there’s enough money in my account). Currently I need to save $200/month to get my foldie by Feb 2022, and $50/month to enjoy my omakase meal by Christmas this year. It’s like my coin bank got a smart upgrade!
If other savings goals come up mid-way, I’m free to create a new Money Pot and/or edit my existing ones. Did I mention that it’s really motivating to see a delicious picture of sashimi that I’ve chosen for the Money Pot image, along with my tantalising name for it (Dreamin’ of Omakase)?
There’s a helpful step-by-step video on the home screen to guide you through setting up your Hugo Money Pots as well.
Roundups are like a digital coin bank
Just like how I enjoyed “feeding” my spare change to my piggy bank, Hugo’s Roundups function works exactly like that. It rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, and the balance “coins” go into Roundups.
Here’s what I have spent and saved after a week of using the Hugo app:
|What I spent on
|How much I spent
|GrabFood (Ordered 1 set of McDonald’s Chicken McCrispy, because FOMO)
|Shopee (bicycle front light)
|GrabFood (MOS Burger dinner for 2)
|CHICHA San Chen Mango Cream Pie bubble tea (contactless payment in store)
|GrabFood (1 pint of Creamier ice cream)
|Cold Storage (groceries via PayWave)
|SMRT Buses (transport to run errands)
The money saved in Roundups can be accumulated and get “swept” weekly into investment (more on that later!). Alternatively, if you don’t like the sight of digital coins jangling in the virtual coin bank, you can turn off the feature and the Balance Roundups will be sent back to your Hugo Spend Account. Future transactions won’t be rounded up until the feature is turned on again.
Understanding my spending habits better
At the end of 1 week, I managed to set aside $3.49 of “loose change” in my Roundups, which felt good. However, it also gave me new insight into my spending habits… the next time I ask myself, where did all my money go, I’ll know that most of it went to fast food, bubble tea and groceries. Oops, time to cut down!
Going for gold
Earlier on, I mentioned that I wanted to begin investing in gold. Well, thanks to Hugo’s Gold Vault feature, I now own 0.1298 grams of it! I know it’s barely a gold flake, but hey, a start is a start, right?
Truth be told, I’m hoping for the gold price to drop a bit more, then I’ll buy some more. It’s helpful that Hugo shows the live gold price on the app so that I can quickly make the purchase if the price is right.
I can also see my previous transactions, so I’ll know if the live gold price is higher or lower than what I previously purchased it at. This also helps if I want to sell off some when the price is in my favour.
In the past, I’ve always been deterred by those gold price signs in shops selling physical gold. Would anyone be willing to sell me just 5 grams of gold or would I need to fork out thousands each time I wanted to buy gold? It’s also more difficult to sell off the physical item, which affects my liquidity. Besides, I don’t feel comfortable storing items of high value under my bed…
As for gold stocks, certificates and savings accounts, I’m not so keen to sign up for a special account just to trade 1 thing. Plus, there are always the usual fees, charges and minimum transactions involved, hard-to-remember logins and to be honest, some platforms are quite complicated to use.
On the Hugo app, I can buy gold in any amount (tap on the number itself to change the exact value) with a fee of 0.5% trade value per transaction — nothing else. That’s really useful to get me comfortable dipping my toes into gold and understanding the commodity better before I dive right in with a larger investment. I’m also actually buying physical gold insured by Lloyd’s of London, and the gold itself is stored in an accredited London Bullion Market Association vault.
Unexpected golden surprise: No fees till 26 Nov 2021
While checking the fees involved for trading gold, it seems that Hugo has an ongoing promotion where all early bird customers are entitled to fee-free gold trading for the first 6 months from launch (27 May to 26 Nov 2021). Thus, the live price = the price you get, with no transaction fees on top. Best time for a newbie like me to get started!
Remember Roundups? I can also set it up to “sweep” the funds weekly into my Gold Vault. That’s a super convenient way for me to save and invest…I don’t even need to do anything after the initial set up. Also, in this way, the value of my savings is preserved and grows over time — with hardly any effort on my part!
While it’s really easy to buy/sell gold on the app for good liquidity (the gold transaction is completed in seconds; if you’re selling your gold, the funds will be immediately credited back into your Hugo Spend Account), I do wish that Hugo showed historical prices of gold instead of me needing to refer to an external website.
Using Hugo for the long haul
After trying out Hugo for a week, I can say that the experience has been pleasant. Although there are still things on my wishlist, I’m sure the Hugo team will continue to make improvements with time as everyone can join their forum to share ideas on how Hugo can become better. The Hugo team is also tirelessly working on features to improve Hugo.
I’ve also learnt more about my own spending/saving habits, and have become more conscious about what I spend on. It’s also great that I’ve finally begun investing in gold!
This is a pretty good product for those who are just starting to earn their own money. Maybe they don’t want to sign up for a credit card yet, so the Hugo numberless Visa debit card still offers them flexibility in making online purchases. As a Wealthcare® Buddy, Hugo can also help starting savers develop new money habits to see them through life’s financial challenges.
Start spending and saving better, while investing in gold. Use our MoneySmart Hugo referral link to receive $20 worth of gold when you sign up for a Hugo account. The Hugo app is available on both the App Store and Google Play.