Personal Finance Sites and the Great Savings Con job

Posted 5 May, 2016 by Clearly
in Real Lives, Real Stories

Today one is spoilt for choice when it comes to sites catering to personal finance.

Make no mistake, there are tonnes of them out there. And most of them seem to focus on a particular theme: How Singaporeans can save money while spending money.

Some will expound the many virtues of having a stack of credit cards – one for every occasion, every culinary venue.

Others will teach you the best spots to park – you can save money just by changing your parking lot!

There are those will also tell you about airline offers, hotel discounts, how to travel on a budget etc etc. (“12 Day trip to Disney Land under $3K”)

Is this Personal Finance?


Or some Mickey Mouse Bulls**t?


In my mind, personal finance is about teaching people how best to manage their finances, how to sort out their financial priorities, and about financial literacy in general.

But now the hot topics seem to be centred around how to save money.

Sure, all these are valid methods of saving money, and there is nothing wrong with saving money. We avoid wastage as much as we can.

But if personal finance now means how best to save money by using the right credit card, by choosing the right parking lot, by using hotel discounts and travel perks, then I think we have put the cart in front of the horse.

The cornerstone of Personal Finance should be, first and foremost, how to protect your wealth and secure your income. Once that is done, then we can go on to talk about how to stretch your dollar, and then go on to discuss about the right investments that will make you a millionaire.

But protection comes first, not last. To find out why, lets just follow the story of a typical Singaporean called Steven.


Steven the Super Saver


The least nauseating picture of a Steven I could find

The least nauseating picture of a Steven I could find


Steven is your average Joe (we should have just called him Joe!) when it comes to finances. He can add and subtract, he knows to pay credit card bills in full, and never risks his hard earned cash when he is near Marina Bay Sands. So far so good.

But wait, Steven is an avid follower of several finance sites in Singapore. He is intrigued at the content they churn out.

He reads the post on dining perks and how different credit cards give the best discounts. (The 4th person dines for free? I mean, WOW)

He discovers a few great places to park in Orchard. (I’ve been a sucker to stick to Ngee Ann City, it seems.)

He comes across some great staycation deals. (I thought bumming around in your own neighbourhood should be called bumming around in your own neighbourhood, but a staycation sounds way cooler.)

Here’s how his personal finance improves, assuming he follows these tips and deals regularly, throughout the year.


Carpark savings: $10 a week, $40 dollars a month, $480 a year

Dining Perks: An average of 10% savings, and assuming he spends $400 a month in restaurants, he then saves $480 a year

Travel/Airfare savings: He gets to know of deals and tips that save him $500 a year.


Total savings of $1460 a year, we can round it up to $2000 per annum. (There are link points, frequent flier miles, credit card rewards etc to be claimed)

From age 26 till age 65, Steven thus saves a grand total of… $80,000.


Whats wrong with saving $80,000 throughout your working life?


Win Liao lor, save 80k also cannot meh

Win Liao lor, save 80k also cannot meh


Absolutely nothing.

But Steven didn’t read about having protection and insurance cover first.

At age 65, Steven contracts cancer. A conservative estimate for treatment starts at $100k. (people have sold their flats to raise this kind of money.)

His whole life of saving on car parks, swapping out credit cards at different establishments, and chasing travel deals comes to naught.

And he is about $20,000 down in the hole.


Personal Finance is about setting your Priorities straight


Its not about how much you earn, but rather how you spend it that determines your station in life


Perhaps you can begin to see why I have a beef with the finance sites of today.

They advocate more of a “save big bucks by spending even bigger bucks” mentality, like how you might spend alot more money in a “sale” than you would normally. (How else would you be able to capitalize on dining or travel deals?)

Protection is boring, I get it.

There are more eyeballs to be gained by writing about fantastic Bali and how to stay in a villa there under a hundred dollars.

Insurance, on the other hand, puts people to sleep. (the restorative kind, not the euthanizing kind)


Ok lah, you’ve made your point. What next?


She is smiling cos she knows

She is smiling cos she knows


I think Grandma summed it up nicely for me: First things first.

I’m happy to have said my peace.

The question is, what then, will you focus on first? aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.


  1. Naro

    Hi there,

    I agree with you on the definition of “personal finance”. Budgeting, managing top-line, bottom-line and managing risk.

    I think why those blogs on saving money while spending money is that it is tangible and there’s a reward for it (rebates or redeem air tickets). For me, its like managing bottom-line.


    1. Clearly *

      Thanks for visiting our site and dropping us a comment!

      I agree on the tangible portion (we humans love the tangible!) and perhaps that is why savings get a lot more coverage than say, insurance.

    1. Clearly *

      Hello Francis,

      Appreciate you dropping by and leaving us a question.

      We will work on a detailed answer (and post) to examine the sufficiency of the government shield plan, as well as the concept of a one medical “super” policy concept.


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