Sunday 27 May 2018

Graduating from a Polytechnic

In Singapore, when you reach 12 years old, you do PSLE to determine your next place of study and at 16, you take O levels to continue on. O levels is a little more interesting than PSLE as the options get more diverse where you can either choose a junior college route or polytechnic as your next level of study.

For me, I chose polytechnic after O levels as my results restricted only to a few JCs which I felt wasn’t the right choice for me. What also made me chose to go to a polytechnic was that since young, I am a more hands-on person and not really book smart. So when I was making my choice, my mum assisted me in choosing and deciding on what I can consider.

I chose a science course in polytechnic as I was originally interested to working in the hospital as a testing laboratory staff. I chose Biotechnology as my first choice and got into it. I can still vividly recall year 1 of my studies which was the most difficult time in my 3 years because I didn’t take any chemistry in secondary school and the first year modules were mostly chemistry. I struggled really badly and even cried in front of my care teacher. She explained to me how it was and what decisions I could make. In the end, my friends helped me with the basics and I continue improving. After the first year, everything seemed better as it went more into
                                                                                   biology which was what I looked forward to.

In year 3, we all went through a 6 months internship and I think that was what made me think much more about my future and what I wanted to do. The 6 months of being in a laboratory and handling the research project brought me to think that maybe a laboratory job wasn’t what I wanted after all.

Even though I didn’t want to continue doing a laboratory job, my supervisor told me that there are much more different jobs that I could try after graduating. I think the final year was a time when most poly students start thinking about their future and planning their journey. I wasn’t sure if I would like a degree in science so that’s why I took a gap year to work and experience it. I have to say that polytechnic was a time of growing for me. I wasn't taught all the skills in school that I could applied in my first job but it definitely helped me in having the basics and expectations in place.

Being from poly have definitely given me the chance to mature much more and to give a better thought to my future. I believe that if I had gone to JC, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in financial preparation in terms of investing and also wouldn’t think so much about my future. Even though I do not know if I would have maybe turned out better or worse in JC, I benefited from my time in polytechnic and if i was given a choice to choose again, I definitely would choose the same.

Sunday 20 May 2018

Tips on saving money on a trip

I am currently in Japan for my family trip. Japan is not a cheap country to travel to hence we were actually considering between Taiwan and Japan. However, we decided on Japan in the end as I went to Taiwan last year and I have never went to Tokyo before. My brother also preferred Japan as he went recently and wanted to explore more places there.

 From the beginning, we wanted to book the air tickets first so we went to see air ticket deals. We had a few options, namely ANA, Japan and SQ. We checked the respective prices for the 3 airlines and found SQ the lowest. We tried to fly on a day that would cost cheaper and also flew back on a cheaper day. So we are flying off on a Tues and back on a Thurs. Each person came up to a price of $747 return trip.

Going on a trip definitely wasn't going to be cheap. For past few years, I have been traveling with my friends and usually we sit budget airlines like Tiger-air or Scoot. So it has been awhile since I have sat a non-budget airline. Well, since we have spent quite a lot on our air tickets, we decided to save on our lodging. We considered Airbnb since staying together would save much more than having 2 separate rooms. However, my brother did not have a good experience with the airbnbs that he stayed previously in Japan as they were dusty and not very well kept. I tried looking around for a few good ones. And while searching, I came across a gem, it is not an airbnb but an apartment hotel. It is rather new so there are not much reviews for it. SO...GET READY FOR IT.

It's called MIMARU TOKYO AKASAKA. When I first saw the listing, I saw the Ueno branch and really liked the layout of the room. Hence, I searched further and managed to find the Aksaka branch, we found the location of apartment hotel to be 400m from Akasaka Station and 800m from Roppongi. It was at a reasonable location and price range was good.

Through the planning for this trip, I learned a few tips for saving money during your trip.

1. Using a private window to do your bookings.

I am sure this is a common tip that has been passed around. When we wanted to make our bookings for the air tickets, we used an incognito window to do it and the prices were constant. I booked tickets for my previous trips before and did not use an incognito window, and the price tended to fluctuate much more. I am actually not too sure but the prices seemed to remain the same when I booked it through the incognito window as they won't be able to store cookies.

2. Using Shopback while booking tickets and accommodations

I really loved this, I actually created an account on ShopBack a few years back as they had a promotion where they would have a signup bonus of $8.00, so I went ahead to create. I forgot all about it until this trip and managed to book my accommodation through it. The cashback for Agoda was pretty substantial, at a 6% cashback value. It's really great feeling that you didn't need to pay the full price for something, I guess psychologically you feel like you have saved and benefited from the deal.

3. Booking lodging near to stations

This was a point brought up by my mum, she went to Japan a few years back and the hotel that they booked was quite a distance from the station about 1.5km away. Every morning when they needed to make their way out it was okay but after they were done for the day, lugging all their purchases and to walk back 1.5km was tortuous. They did a few times took cab back. However, accommodations nearer to stations could cost higher and this is when you can maybe gauge if you would spend more on transport or lodging. For example, Japan taxi are on the expensive side while Thailand would be cheaper so maybe in Japan, accommodation would be good to be nearer stations while in Thailand, it can be further.

Thursday 10 May 2018

April 2018 expenses

Finally, I have just ended my finals today and can resume back on my blog. It feels great but I am definitely going to be kept busy because I am heading to Japan soon. Looking forward to that.

Expenses tracking have never been a thing for me because I assume that I spend much lesser than my peers. However, for the month of April, I decided to start track my spending to see if it really is as low as what I think. Through the month, I found that it has made me think more before I spend and that I can do a comparisons of the different months. I used the Seedly app to track my expenses.

Here's the breakdown of my expenses for April 2018:


Saving Plan: $319.20
My biggest expense is for my NTUC saving plan that I have wrote about too. It is a recurring monthly expenses for now.

Food: $81.85
Next would be on food and snacks which I have spend about $81.85, I am lucky to have my grandmother around to cook dinner everyday from Monday to Saturday for us so I am able to save quite a lot. Also, usually weekends when my family goes out, my mum still settles the bill so $81.85 is mostly my lunch during the weekdays or when I go out with my friends.

Transport: $60.00 
The month of April was a month of study breaks and lessons also started to lessen towards the end of the month so transport cost has lessen. Usually I spend about $80 to $100 on transport.

 School: $17.95
I spend this on a textbook for one of my modules. My notes are usually printed at home so I don't have to print them in school.  

Phone Bill: $25.35
My current data plan is the SIM-ONLY (12 mths) under Singtel which is actually $20 but there is an extra $5.35 for caller-ID.

Dentist: $3.40
I went for a visit to see my cousin who is a dentistry undergraduate which explains the subsidized cost. I will have a few more follow-up sessions with him over the next few months.  

Overall, my spending for the month of April has been pretty simple because I was busy with school and revising for my finals. Could have missed out one or two expenses too. I am expecting higher expenses for May because my holiday starts and I will be meeting my friends and also going overseas too. I think its good to track my expenses just as a remainder not to overspend and have a tracking system. Definitely, I wouldn't wanna let this stop me from trying new things or experiences:) so mostly for tracking purposes.