Friday, 18 March 2016

Looking back at the mistakes we made

I just realised I have written 3 consecutive posts on bank accounts for expense, emergency and investment funds. Goes to show how much I value taking the time to sort out your bank accounts. I actually went through this exercise with my sister. Her monthly salary was being credited into a POSB eSavings Account that was earning 0.05% pa. My sister submitted a form to HR to change the bank account to the OCBC 360 Account and now earns 1.2% pa just from the salary credit. It was easy enough to make 3 monthly bill payments online or through GIRO since she just had to change from the POSB eSavings Account that she was already making bill payments from for income tax and credit cards. That got her another 0.5% pa. My sister is now earning S$50 more per month from doing exactly the same things she was doing before, just with a different bank account.

Why write about Personal Finance?

I wonder how many people there are in the same situation, with the potential to earn higher interest income just by organising your bank accounts. Always start with the low-hanging fruit and focus on the basics of passive income before you start to think about investing!

This is the whole point of me writing about personal finance. I was one of those people! I made the mistake of not looking into my bank accounts after returning to Singapore from Australia in 2014 and went through a year of working with my salary being credited into the POSB eSavings Account. It just never occurred to me that I should review my bank accounts to earn a higher interest income. By making these mistakes and writing about what to do with your personal finances, I hope to shorten your learning curve so you won't make the same mistakes.

This post is harder to write than I thought. The thing is, I want to write about the positive actions that you can take to improve your situation. With personal finance, it's easy for me to write about the "good" things that I have done which is working out but leave out the "bad" stuff that I did which have or continue to impact my life negatively. Here's to a series of posts (not consecutive cause I might want to stop writing permanently if I do it that way) about the mistakes we have made in our life. You can draw your own personal finance lessons from our experience. For me, it works more like a flashback to our past and a walk down memory lane. Who doesn't like to reminisce?

Where we stayed in Melbourne
Where we stayed in Sydney

Can you guess where we stayed in Melbourne and Sydney from the pictures above? The 4 years we spent working and living in Melbourne and Sydney have taught us the most about money so far. We have so many good and bad experiences from our time there that I might actually write about all of that eventually. Although we spent 3 years studying in Melbourne before that, it was more about having fun, meeting new friends, attending lectures & tutorials and having even more fun! Life as a working adult overseas sure is different from life as an undergraduate studying overseas. Let's start from the beginning...


When we graduated from university in 2009 in Melbourne, I was unemployed and trying to find work in 2010.  I underestimated how difficult it would be for an international student to find work in a foreign country right after the 2007/2008 Global Financial Crisis. Long story short, I found work as a professional training course sales consultant, administrative assistant before landing a full-time job as a tax accountant at an accounting firm. This was over a period of 6 months and it's probably worth a post just on my take about graduate unemployment and underemployment. My wife found a full-time role as an accountant at a bank earlier than me.

We were both struggling with being away from our families on a much more permanent basis, having to learn how to live together after just graduating, and adjusting to the working couple life. You can see how this makes for an environment to make plenty of mistakes in. I will write about the first big personal finance mistake we made on rental costs in another post!


  1. I made the swap from posb esavings to Ocbc 360 recently as well.

    1. Yup, there are many bank accounts out there in the market that are better than the POSB eSavings Account now. I like the OCBC 360 Account cause the requirements are easier to meet and the online banking interface is easy to use!

  2. but banks are all dying and not offshoring finance jobs to other locations. Hope your wife and you are surviving in sg where jobs are being competed with foreigners

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      It has definitely gotten a lot more competitive but we are still surviving so far. If retrenchment ever happens, I'm sure I will write about the experience on my blog!