Horror doesn’t always come in the form of bloodied zombies and screeching banshees. In fact, there are a lot of things that may make me shit my pants. And they often involve money – a lot of money.
So in the true spirit of Halloween, we’ve compiled a collection of short horror stories… MoneySmart style. Here are 10 freakishly relatable financial nightmares that every Singaporean would know.
#1 Your primary school friend suddenly wants to “catch up” (and sell you insurance).
Hate to break it to you angel, but no, he doesn’t really care about repairing the friendship you guys lost over competitive eraser flipping. He actually wants to sell you a suite of financial products that you don’t really need, because it has a high profit margin for him.
#2 You accidentally incur 26.9% p.a. interest because you forgot to pay your credit card bill this month.
It sounds silly, but forgetting about your credit card bill (and minimum payment of say, $50) comes with a heavy penalty. 24% to 28% p.a. may sound like daylight robbery, but it is exactly the price you pay for being a scatterbrain.
Interest is typically charged daily, and it’s not just on the outstanding balance from the month you owe. It’ll also be levied on whatever new purchases you swipe until you pay your previous month’s debt (even though those are not technically “late”).
That’s not all – in addition to the sky-high interest rates, there will be a late fee imposed ($90 to $100).
#3 You miss your credit card’s minimum spend requirement by $1… so you don’t qualify for the bonus cashback.
In general, the better your credit card earn rate, the higher the minimum spend. So for those of us who are religiously swiping our cards to earn cash back, miles or reward points, there is nothing more sian than missing that minimum spend and having all our hard work go to waste.
#4 You lose all your KrisFlyer miles because you forgot they expire in 3 years.
All the air miles credit card ads boast about how the miles never expire, and they’re not lying. The bank miles last forever, so you can take your time to save up. However, the moment you convert them to airline miles, the clock starts ticking. KrisFlyer miles, for instance, expire 3 years after they’re earned.
Hence, if you want to avoid the nightmare of waking up to disappearing miles, you should always wait until you’re ready to redeem a flight before converting your miles.
Also, there is a conversion fee and minimum denominator when converting your miles (e.g. only in blocks of 10,000 miles), so be sure to double- and triple-check the math. If you miscalculate and have insufficient miles to exchange for tickets to your intended destination, you have to either A) save up whatever balance you need within 3 years or B) choose a “cheaper” holiday.
#5 Your home loan’s floating rate jumps up overnight and you’re still in the lock-in period.
Floating packages offered by banks often feature very attractive interest rates – usually better than HDB’s fixed rate – but that’s because it’s a lot more volatile. The interest rates fluctuate, and every home owner’s worst nightmare is for it to suddenly increase overnight.
If you’re past your lock-in period, you can shop around and try to refinance with other banks. But if you’re not, then it sucks to be you.
#6 You call the bank hotline for help but you only get to speak to a machine (that keeps telling you to “press 1 for English… ”).
I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the times I lost my mind because I had to spend an hour talking to a machine and pressing buttons. It’s worse when my problem doesn’t fall into any of the options 1 to 5, and there’s no “0 to speak to a customer service officer”.
#7 Your butter fingers key in the wrong iBanking PIN thrice, and you get locked out of your own account.
This actually happened to me 2 weeks ago, and it happened on the day when I had 2 standing instructions to transfer money to my parents and household joint account.
None of the transactions went through, and I had to endure nightmare #6 (above) before I could get my account reactivated. Half a day later.
#8 You fall sick. On a Sunday.
We can’t choose when we fall ill, so you know the universe really hates you when you decide to get a bad bout of stomach flu on Sunday (or 3am in the morning). Clinics typically only open during office hours on Monday to Saturday, and it’s really expensive to get medical attention anytime outside that window.
Consultation fees are double the usual price at 24h clinics, and probably over $100 at your nearest hospital’s A&E.
#9 Your favourite bak chor mee stall increases the price from $3.50 to $4 per bowl.
It may just be $0.50, but it is not about the money. It’s a matter of principle and this is the ultimate act of betrayal!
Also, it’s a depressing reminder that the cost of living in Singapore is soaring and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
#10 You buy a new car and 2 months later, the COE is at an 8-year low.
Alright, so the 8-year low happened in June 2018, when the COE for Cat A cars was $25,000. It’s currently $25,556, which is only slightly higher, so this one’s for all those who recently bought a new set of wheels.
A friend of mine got his car 2 months ago in August and paid almost $10,000 more (the COE was $33,420) – ouch!
What are some of your worst financial woes? Let us know in the comments below!