Sunday, October 14, 2018

What People Misunderstood About My Combo Savings Strategy

When my recent article got published on Yahoo Money Matters (Link Here if you are interested), there were many attacks remarks on the comments section and also on the social media and hardwarezone forum in particular to the way I save on things.

They think that by being able to get to where I am today, I must have scrimped on things so badly in order to amass such a high percentage of savings even though I am the sole breadwinner of the family and our family have two young children.

At least 50% of the crowd thinks the maths doesn't add up, or they must think I live a misery life that I am missing out on most of the "fun" things in life.

The other 50% of the crowd thinks I must have a high income equivalent to a scholar working for the government.

Everywhere on the comments was an assault.

Almost none was complimentary or at least try to believe that it is true.

That is where I know that we here in the financial blogosphere are the minority outlier who believes things can happen for a reason.

There are many people who I felt had misunderstood when I say that we have to be aware on the things that we buy in order to accumulate more savings at our end.

Savers folks like us do not scrimp on non-discretionary items that we have to spend on.

We spend by being smart about buying them and looking for every value that we can buy.

For instance, I have two young kids at home who obviously need the most important things in their lives right now - Diapers and Milk Powders.

That doesn't mean we do away without them by depriving them of these things but rather we try to source for these items that have the same quality yet cheaper alternative.

In my earlier years for instance, I would buy them over at our neighbourhood country whenever we visited JB on the weekends when we had our short trip travel. With a strong SGD equivalent when  converted to Ringgit, the price that we pay for these items would have halved the amount that we pay in Singapore for the same imported items.

We did the same whenever we had the chance for our frequent travel to Bangkok.

Over the past few months where we did not travel anywhere, we would purchase them through Redmart, an online grocery shopping portal which takes the inconvenience out of the way for us for bulky items like rice, oil, tissue roll paper, diapers, etc.

To add spice to the convenience deal, we also sprung up a few combo savings strategy which resulted in very decent savings at the end of the day.

1.) The first is through logging in to Shopback, a great e-commerce online shopping platform that partners with so many merchants that you literally have to use them.

p.s: if you are a first time user, you can sign up using the link here and immediately redeem yourself a $5 reward start.

$230.89 - That is the amount of cash rebates I get in recent months through my routine mandatory item purchases
2.) Once I logged into my Shopback, I will activate the rebate to get into Redmart and does my routine shopping option. 

I usually choose bulky items such as rice (they have a great japanese rice at affordable price which I highly recommend), oil and diapers which I am too lazy to carry outside since we are car-less people.

Redmart often has a promo-tie with Citibank credit card which you are entitled to around 8.8% off your spend ($12 off with minimum $135 spend). Again, I buy mostly items that can last a few months ahead so I just store and add them up accordingly.

CITIUP12 - My favorite code
3.) In addition to the above, by being smart about using the right credit card and in the above case Citibank card, I'll get an additional 8% cashback that goes back into my citicard (see tie-up link above).

4.) Last but not least, Redmart also has a partnership tie-up with Live-Up where it gives you further perks benefits by just signing up an account with them. They currently have a free 60 days trial with a free 2 months Netflix if you sign up an account with them, after which you'd be charged $28.80/year.

But just look at the savings I have over the past month with them, it's easily over $50 and I have redeemed my initial charges with them.

My Combo Savings Strategy

My final purchase would look something like this:

I purchased something that's worth around $135 (you will get around the same amount if you purchase them at your usual grocery stores) and get the below combo savings deducted:

$135 x [1% (through Shopback for existing Redmart customer) + 8.8% (Citi promo tie-up on almost every Cyber-Tuesday) + 8% (additional Citi cashback reward) + 5% (Live-up) = $30.78

This translates to a savings of about 22.8% for almost every time I purchased via Redmart over the past few months.

My Combo Savings Strategy
Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, savings is about being smart about buying things.

The first being able whether to segregate between discretionary vs non-discretionary items.

And the second to the extent of being able to extract the most value out of the things that you buy.

That's how I get my relatively high savings rate even until today, we save what we need to save and not what most people misunderstood by being stingy on things.

I hope that gives some clarification about things.

Thanks for reading.

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  1. Hi,
    Just a word of encouragement. I wanna thank you for sharing your analysis n thoughts. Don't be affected by the doubters. I admire your consistency in trying to save n invest n am also trying to do so. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Please keep doing so.

    1. Hi Lynn

      Many thanks for your words of encouragement.

      We just have to continue to do what we believe is best to our own cause and hope we can influence as much people beside us that believes the same thing too.

  2. Hi Brian

    Do not be affected by what distractors comment on the yahoo! Website. It just happens that your article has reached your unintended audience.

    Continue to optimise your spending and invest well in the stock market. Look forward to more insightful articles on your site.

    1. Hi Anonymous

      Thanks for your words of encouragement. Sometimes it just felt a bit pity that the bigger crowd out there couldnt understand why or how we do that but I can understand where they are coming from if they are struggling in nature.

  3. B,

    I am sorry you have to learn about human nature this way :(

    Well, now you know!

    Who cares about your "success"?

    Everyone only cares about their own situation.

    You will be love and complimented if you help others to EARN or SAVE more money ;)

    Got give stock tips?

    When those that do not have a relationship with you discover you are on your way to FIRE at 35, while they are still struggling with a job they hate with no escape in sight, tell me, who would like to be considered mediocre when compared to you?

    So how else to feel better about themselves than "demonising" you?

    Why do people buy gossip magazines? Why, to take glee in the scandals or downfalls of those rich and famous!

    Big tree attact wind.

    P.S. Only in our small community will people celebrate Save more.

    Outside our little bubble, most people just care about Earn more. You think why the obsession in comparing salaries?


    1. Hi SMOL

      You said it like LP, we are the outliers and the strange one not them.

      I can understand the way they think especially if they themselves are struggling with life and they want to find an excuse to prove that theyre right. I guess the biggest challenge for influencer out there is to convince these group of people.

  4. Hey B,

    The world we live in - it is full of messed up folks, and plenty more of good people too. I learnt that some years ago, working in a hostel drawing $7 an hr ;)

    In case the comments affected you somewhat, just know that most of them don't even bother reading your article in full, or even checking out your blog. It is far easier to dismiss you than to consider the alternative, whatever it may be. You're a good person. If I was in your position, I wouldn't even bother writing another post to address these "trolls".

    1. Hi Kevin

      Thanks a lot man!

      I dont feel offended because I understand the predicament they are in and If I were in their shoes it will be very demoralising also to ask them to save 50% of their income when they have their own problems earning even the minimum income.

      To them the article and suggestion seems like a noise and troll to them.

  5. Hey Brian
    I followed your blog and i believe that what you have shared is do-able, just need a lot of discipline. So ignore those sour grapes.

    1. Hi Coffeechee

      Thanks for your comments and I believe through our hard work I think we can prove our own doubters in ourselves

  6. Give out saving and stock tips and shows lots of testimonials. You will be rewarded with large followers.

    1. Hi Unclecw

      Tips are dangerous, should be sharing good things with them if they want to try some of the methods we did as we eat our own food for it.

  7. Hi Brian,
    I enjoyed reading all your postings. Keep up the good work. In this world, we can't please everyone, just focus on sharing your best ideas, you still have a group of 'die-hard fans' around. :)

    1. Hi JB

      Many thanks for your words of encouragement.

      It's good to know that we have our own small community who believes in FI

  8. I think its not really right to criticise. I think I read and think if it is applicable to my own situation. I start off much later than you in terms of investing and saving and I think what you have described is realistic but it requires faith and perseverance. Also our life circumstances will change and this will impact on your family income and expenditure. Keep up the good work

    1. Hi Victor

      Indeed perseverance is a tough bitch out there, many times I am tempted to deviate from there only for it to come back within the zone because of the final objective I believe in.

      Keep up the good hard work and Im sure your results will reward you.

  9. Hi Brian,
    Just words of encouragement. Have been following your blog. The articles serve as great motivations. Keep up the good work and of course, will miss your portfolio and transaction updates.

    1. Hi Softz

      Thank you and I suspect the portfolio transaction update will come back as soon as Im done with my final journey here

  10. Replies
    1. Hi EH

      Hopefully my tree survives from the tornado :)

  11. Hi B,

    My personal opinion, the value of your portfolio might has been contributed by few things below:
    (1) You have been educated by a family with good financial education since young.
    (2) You were born with smart brain to make use of your financial knowledge to bend them together to grow a good portfolio management, which has been giving you a good compounded returns.
    (3) Probably you do not need to support your parent since you have started to work. Some of us is different, we need to give at least $12k per year to our parents. By doing that, it can reduce our capital and its return substantially over 10 years.

    These are just my humbly opinion but i think our family background could really play a big part in our financial success even though not always.

    Anyway, still a thumb up to you!

    1. Hi Anonymous

      You are right, I started off on a much easier path than others such as not having to contribute to parents as they are independent themselves so I guess it makes things a lot easier.

      Having said that, it can also be offset by the fact that my wife isnt working so I am shouldering the income household myself.

      I believe from an overall income wise a couple working would easily trump my income alone.

      But I do have to thank the many early contributions from the influencers as I learned a lot from them.

      I am always the belief that through some simple strategy of optimizing we can do decent and better in our lives.

  12. Yes, the shopping savings tips works for me too. You are live in a digital age when all these are available at your finger tips. I started 20 years ago with 4 children progressively where none of these are available with a sole breadwinner. Keep up the good work with persistence and consistency nothing can stop you.

    1. Hi Siew Mun

      Yea exactly, now with convenience everywhere, it's a consumer market that these retailers have to competitively bid for the consumer attention.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Hi B,

    Citibank has 3% additional rebates and not 8% on Redmart. The 8% comes from 5% LiveUp rebates plus 3% Citibank rebate.

    1. Hi Vingaard

      Many thanks for the clarifications.

      Appreciate it so I can change my worksheet.

  15. Nice Fantastic information !!! I'll be enchanted to greatly help saving strategy During shopping idea I've learns from here.I like the quality of your blog.
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  16. It is sad to read that almost all the comments were mean in some way, shape or form. It should not surprise me anymore yet it still does on why people are constantly on the look out for the negative, whether real or perceived or downright unrelated, in any situation and makes for a very ungracious bunch.

    I find myself often thinking to myself that I do not have to convince anyone or everyone, just myself. My tribe will find me :)

    You are right on how the FIRE community approach spending. It is in no way depriving ourselves of worldly pleasures but we spend with a high awareness of value. I still think we lead a very rich life, rich in non-consumerism. I just touched on this a bit on How Do You Reach FIRE x FIRE 101 at

    Totally agree on your spending hacks as well, back in February I wrote a post on How LiveUP Taught Me a Lesson ( and I've been meaning to do an update on this as my savings are phenomenal and I want to share a very good money hack. Great sharing!

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