10 Travelers Tips to Save Money in Singapore

Posted By Gerardo (gerardo@expatistan.com) on 07/07/2012

This is a guest post from the Singapore based writer Priyanka Iyer.
If the fear of spending beyond your budget is giving you jitters and preventing you from making a trip, it is time you let go off your fears. You can savor the beauty and enjoy one of the best holidays at Singapore, even on a frugal budget. If you long to know the top 10 ways for enjoying an alluring holiday with thrift at Singapore, read along for some useful ideas:

Tip 1: Avoid Investing In Guidebooks

Investing in expensive guidebooks for touring Singapore would be an imprudent step, as these guidebooks are really not worth your money. It is relatively easy to tour Singapore as compared to other Asian countries, because the natives of Singapore are good at speaking and understanding English. You can hence, ask for directions from any of the locals at Singapore. The documents and maps supplied by the Tourist Office, along with useful information from Internet would be sufficient to tour Singapore.

Tip 2: Party Early

For those of you who find it expensive to enjoy booze parties, it is advisable to party early. Most pubs at Singapore offer attractive discounts in the form of Happy-Hours for booze-lovers. So you can go ahead and party like you never did, for significantly less costs.

Tip 3: Be Experimental With Food

Singaporean cuisine is a complete delight for every foodie. You would surely savor every bit of the cuisine and definitely not regret picking up practically anything from the shelves. In case you wish to seek some cost-effective alternatives, go for the affordable food courts or small restaurants, which can be a cheap but sumptuous treat for your taste-buds.

Tip 4: Save Taxes By Shopping Smart

No vacation is perfect without a shopping escapade, especially when you are holidaying at Singapore. The best time to make a shopping trip to Singapore would be during the ‘Great Shopping Sale’ which begins mid-year and lasts for about a month. Shopping at Orchard Road, Bugis Street, Centrepoint or the Heeren can be a fulfilling experience for most shopaholics. With such irresistible options for shopping, you can always go overboard with the budget for your shopping. You can get a reimbursement of up to 3% on the Goods and Services Tax, if you shop for above $300 from outlets with ’Tax-Free Shopping’. You can easily avail this reimbursement by showing your cheques at the airport.

Tip 5:Use Public Transport

There’s no need to hire taxis because of Singa... (keep reading)

 

The Argentine peso’s open secret

Posted By on 13/06/2012

A funny thing started happening a few years ago in Argentina. Or maybe it’s not happening. That depends on who you believe.
In this issue the two sides are clear. One side is the government of Argentina, led by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. On the other side is the rest of the world.
The issue is whether Argentina’s official inflation rate is anywhere close to its real inflation rate. Since 2007, the Argentine government has claimed inflation has hovered at around 9 or 10 percent annually, spiking only ever as high as 11 or 12 percent. But since 2008, when independent observers inside and outside of Argentina began compiling their own careful statistics, most have seen good evidence that inflation has ranged between 15 and 27 percent. For the last two years, while the Argentine government has held firm to its claim of inflation between 9 and 11 percent, one independently published rate has never fallen lower than about 23 percent.
Why is this happening? The answer probably begins in 2001-2002, when Argentina’s economy collapsed and its government devalued its currency, the peso, to a third of its previous value overnight. After that, fear of a sustained economic disaster marked by high unemployment and widespread suffering gave the government political support for a range of expansionary policies. Some of those policies haven’t ended yet, even though the crisis days are almost a decade into the past now.
Ten years of pumping money into the economy has taken its toll on the peso, whose value is now much less than it was a few years ago. Fernández’s government knows this—but isn’t admitting it. And so now, for the better part of five years, according to everyone paying attention (except the Argentine government, of course), the government’s official statistics office has been giving the world fake numbers.
That office, INDEC, was once one of the most respected in Latin America. Its fall has come quickly. One sign of its deteriorated legitimacy came in February, when The Economist told readers it would no longer report inflation statistics from Argentina, since it could not trust the source. “We hope that we can soon revert to an official consumer-price index for Argentina,” the magazine wrote. “That would require INDEC to be run by independent statisticians working unhindered. Until then, readers are better served by a credible unofficial figure than a bogus official one.” The article claimed that INDEC offices now resemble a Fernández campaign office, and... (keep reading)

 

The world’s 20 most expensive cities (in May 2012)

Posted By on 22/05/2012

Australians should be proud of their strong currency—or looking to flee their country.
Our latest data shows that the majority of Australians live in some of the most expensive cities in the world. Every one of Australia’s five major cities (those with more than 1 million residents) is among the 20 most expensive cities in the world, according to our Index.
Sydney (No. 7), is followed by Perth (No. 9), Melbourne (No. 11), Brisbane (No. 14), and Adelaide (No. 19). Those cities’ combined population of 13.8 million people represents 60 percent of Australian’s 22.9 million people—meaning that three out of five Australians, and every Australian in a large city, lives in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
As you can see in the map below, Australia has by far the most cities on the list. The country with the next most is the United States, with three: New York (No. 8), Washington (No. 12), and San Francisco (No. 18). Switzerland has two, Zurich (No. 2) and Geneva (No. 4), and no other country has more than one.

The map shows that eight of the 20 cities are in Europe (though only two of those are in countries that use the euro), three are in East Asia, three are in North America, and six are in Australia and New Zealand. None are in Southern or Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, or Africa. The Australian cities are the only ones in the Southern Hemisphere.
The world’s major financial centers—New York, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore—are all in the top 10. And Tokyo seems to be the No. 1 city in the world in many ways: In addition to being first on the Cost-of-Living Index, it is the largest city in the world and the city with the largest GDP. Even the Australian cities can’t compete with that.
As of today, the 20 most expensive cities in the world are:
  1. Tokyo
  2. Zurich
  3. Oslo
  4. Geneva
  5. London
  6. Singapore
  7. Sydney
  8. New York City
  9. Perth
  10. Hong Kong
  11. Melbourne
  12. Washington D.C.
  13. Paris
  14. Brisbane
  15. Amsterdam
  16. Copenhagen
  17. Stockholm
  18. San Francisco
  19. Adelaide
  20. Auckland

 

FATCA Blues

Posted By on 10/05/2012

In 2009, the U.S. government caught Swiss bank UBS helping Americans hide assets to avoid paying taxes. The next year, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation aimed at preventing similar behavior by banks and citizens in the future. That act, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, which was barely noticed at the time, is now coming into effect piece by piece, and people around the world—including individuals, banks, and governments—are expressing shock and outrage at its provisions.

The act introduced a number of new requirements, some aimed at individuals and others aimed at banks. Some pieces took effect in 2011, while others won't become valid until as late as 2015. Almost all of them are under fire for requiring onerous financial reporting and for penalizing those who fail to comply by charging them massive financial penalties.

American expats have long had to file American taxes, even though their government may be the only in the world to tax its citizens who live abroad. This year, their job became even harder, with a new form and new penalties. American expats now have to file the Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts form, known as FBAR, almost all of whose requested information is requested on other, pre-existing tax forms. Nonetheless, it is now required. And the penalty for failure to file it can reach as high as $10,000.

Of course, that form only affects Americans living abroad, a group that numbers only about 6 million around the world. But millions more people, and tens or hundreds of thousands of banks, will be affected by other FATCA provisions.

Included in the law are requirements for foreign banks to report any account with an American owner that contains more than $50,000. While the logic and principle behind this—stopping banks from helping hide assets the U.S. government can rightly tax—is fair, it has vast negative consequences for many groups of people, including many non-Americans.

First, this allows the U.S. government access to the finances of any individuals, including non-Americans, who hold joint accounts with American citizens. Spouses, parents, children, and friends of American citizens can now be legally required to give financial information to the U.S. government, as can businesspeople who share joint business accounts with Americans. Penalties for failing to report such accounts are as large as $10,000 per account, meaning individuals—including non-Americans—could be required to pay tens of thous

... (keep reading)

 

Thriving in Singapore on a Budget

Posted By Gerardo (gerardo@expatistan.com) on 21/04/2012

This is a guest post from the Singapore based expat Susan Rawlings.

Singapore is a city with one of the highest costs of living in the world; it moved ahead of Hong Kong in the 2012 list of most expensive cities. The city-state’s economic boom of the last 20 years has combined with its very small landmass to generate high price tags for everything from housing to food.
While the cost of living in Singapore can be a challenge if you are a new immigrant or a visitor, there are ways to make your Singapore dollars go farther. The city offers a wide range of reasonable options in every category. With proper planning, your reward can be a truly remarkable, cosmopolitan experience at a cost that meets your budget. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Use Public Transportation or Join Car-Sharing Schemes

If you have owned and operated a car your entire adult life, then you will have a decision to make. Singapore is one of the most expensive places on the earth to own a car. The price of a new car in Singapore is about five times that of the same vehicle in the United States. This is partly due to a government policy of limiting the number of cars that are allowed each year on the roads through a market-based permitting process. When you add the high cost of parking, high gas taxes and other vehicle permit fees, owning a vehicle soon becomes an extremely expensive proposition.
The best suggestion? Utilize Singapore’s outstanding public transportation system. Public transportation in Singapore is cheap, efficient, safe, and air conditioned. If you do not want to use public transportation, taxis would be a good second choice. Singapore taxis are clean, dependable, relatively inexpensive and very easily hailed. But if you absolutely must have access to a vehicle, there are several car-sharing schemes available. Here is how car-sharing and carpool schemes work in Singapore:
  1. Join a scheme of your choice
  2. Pay a $100 entrance fee
  3. Pay an annual fee of $100-$150
  4. Rent or hire a car: Call, fax or email in advance to book a car
  5. Pick your car up at authorized locations.
Typical usage fees run between $7 and $10 for an hour, or can be as low as $55 a day. Overnight packages are also available, and cost about $35 from 7pm to 8am the next morning. The Car Club is a popular car-sharing scheme.
Like other major cities around the world, carpools are also available, and you can sometimes find ads seeking carpoolers in a magazine or newspaper.

Rent a Public Housing Flat (HDB Flat)

S... (keep reading)