Saturday, February 18, 2017

Coursera's Paywall: What you could do about it

I was trying out a Coursera course yesterday before being rudely interrupted by the paywall. Prior to this incident, Coursera courses are free to complete (unless you wanted to pay for a certificate). I've spent quite a bit on Coursera courses when I was still a noob who couldn't differentiate between the quality of the courses offered. Once I've done my fair share of courses on the platform, I became far more discriminating in whether I would want to top up money to get a certificate.

This time round, the finance course I tried out had all materials available for free. However, you can't "complete" the course. With "assignments" hidden behind a paywall, you are stuck in limbo, unable to ever complete the course.

I did a quick search for other finance courses to take. The same situation applies. You are granted access to course materials, but you could never finish the assignments unless you pay for the course.

What can you possibly do?

I've thought of two options:
1). download the videos, download the resources, and quit the course. Learn at your own time, own target. Need certificates? Go elsewhere for them.

2). Pay lor.

Before you pay, I recommend that you check out the reviews for the particular course on Coursera's website, Class Central, and Coursetalk. Why check three sites for reviews? Play safe mah. Time is precious, don't waste it on low substance courses.

Also, do note that you can filter reviews by course attempters, drop-outs, completers. Normally, the different groups have very different things to say about the course. It would also be wise to pay attention to the education background of some of the reviewers (when they state it explicitly in their reviews). Some high level courses are routinely criticized by reviewers because of the course's alleged difficulty (reviewers took a course that is more than they could handle!) while others who are new to a particular field laud praises upon praises on a course because everything new is interesting to them.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

SCB e$aver Bonus Interest (1 Feb to 31 Mar 2017)

For those unaware, there's bonus interest to be gotten from SCB from 1 Feb to 31 Mar 2017. For more information, see here.

Though it is for a short period only, I've made the transfer to net me slightly higher interest than the CIMB FastSaver's 1%.

I used to wonder why other financial bloggers would bother transferring funds from one saving account to another to net additional interest income. With internet banking, it has become pretty convenient.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What is the Post-Secondary Education Account?

After Foolish Chameleon's comment at my last post, it made me realize that public awareness of the Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) is abysmal. In fact, I did not know about the PSEA until around 2 years ago. Back then, I was searching for short academic programmes to take and PSEA was one out of many payment options I could use to fund my education.

So what exactly is PSEA? Where did the money come from? Is it related to Edusave? How do I know how much money I have in the account?

The information is quite hard to find, but according to this old article here, the funds from one's Edusave account is transferred to the PSEA once you reach 16 years old or when you leave secondary school (whichever is later).

How do you know how much money you have? Check out the screenshot below (or visit this FAQ page for more information).

Interestingly, the PSEA balance will earn interest rate for you as well! Currently, it is at 2.5% per annum.

Finally, the PSEA will be closed once the person turns 30. The money will be automatically transferred to one's CPF OA.

Hope this helps!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

SkillsFuture Qualification Award: Not a free lunch for me

Ever since I've been told by my superiors that I'm eligible for company-sponsored training (about time yah? my previous contract jobs have no such benefits -.-), I've been combing the SkillsFuture course directory for courses that are relevant to my job scope.

Incidentally, while browsing through the SkillsFuture website, I came across the SkillsFuture Qualification Award (see this link for details).

Hey! Did I just hit a gold mine or what? There's a whooping $1000 cash prize for people like me who have completed one of the qualifications detailed there. What's more, I have used my Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) to fund said qualification. Shiok deal right? Did not pay out of my pocket for an education and yet receive a monetary award upon course completion.

Extra $1000 into my war chest? No free lunch lah! According to the staff, my qualification is MOE-certified and not WSQ-certified, even though that same MOE-certified qualification is accompanied with WSQ competency certifications.

Definitions. Definitions.

I did a search on some WSQ courses which I am interested in as well as their respective course providers. Ummm, let's just say you should go google them yourself?

Anyway, next time when are you sent on course, just remember to try your luck and apply for the Qualification Award. You never know you might qualify!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Staying in First REIT or marrying just for the sake of marrying?

I must be getting old. I'm starting to get intrusive questions such as "Got girlfriend or not?", "How come you no girlfriend?", "Why are you still single?", and "Have you considered finding a girl and settling down?" In a few weeks' time, I'll once again be on the receiving end of the same old fusillade.

Apparently, a simple and logical explanation of my situation never goes through:
1). I have no permanent job (see here)
2). I have to "leverage up" to do my Masters first before I can get a permanent post

With such an insecure cash flow, it would be prudent to establish myself first before searching for a life partner. I still have to pay $200 a month for my Nikko AM STI ETF Invest Saver plan (I'm almost there; my annual dividends will soon be able to cover it). I've yet to look through my insurance policy and would most likely get additional coverage. This means more capital injections into my portfolio to cover the insurance premiums. In the meantime, I foresee paying for the premiums from my own pocket.

But no! These people could not take no for an answer. They try to persuade me with all sorts of reasons to get hitched. Today, I will attempt to consider an alternative solution to one of the common queries they pose: "If you don't get married, there is no one to take care of you when you grow old. So when are you going to get married?"

There are a lot of assumptions underlying that clause. It assumes that your offspring will surely become your personal dividend machine once they leave the roost. Other commercial bloggers have underscored that this assumption rests on flimsy grounds. Yes, yes, you may be a good parent, but you never know how your child will turn out in life later on, much less whether are they able to support you with a stream of "perpetual dividend" income for retirement. Anecdotally, I've seen good parents whose kids mixed with bad company and came to an unfortunate end.

Another facet of the clause implies that spouses are guaranteed to be supportive of one another. If the husband is down because of poor health in old age, the wife would be the ideal carer and vice versa. This presupposes a super solid loving relationship, where one cares for the other more than themselves. Ironically, the 2 individuals who continually field the above question to me suffer from a poor marriage, "enduring" their respective spouses with spite aplenty in their relationship. So much for support. -.-

Undaunted, they told me to marry because I'm of a marriageable age. And they want it fast! I sure ain't going to marry just for the sake of marrying. I've yet to meet Mrs Unintelligent Nerd. If I meet her, good. If I don't meet her, I could consider First REIT's nursing homes for my care arrangement instead (since I'm a unitholder :P).

First REIT has three nursing home properties in Singapore: 1). Pacific Healthcare Nursing Home (Bukit Merah), 2). Pacific Healthcare Nursing Home (Bukit Panjang), and 3). Lentor Residence.

A cursory search on Pacific Healthcare's website does not detail the charges for staying in either their Bukit Merah or their Bukit Panjang Nursing Homes. If you "seek more information", you are told to contact them.

In contrast, the Lentor Residence website is slightly more detailed.

The nursing home provides: 1). assisted living, independent living, 2). nursing home care, and 3). day care, social care. 

What are the charges like? Are there any subsidies?

A minimum of $1200 per month. Okay, my distributions from First REIT is sure not going to be able to cover the monthly charges of being a resident of First REIT. >.< 

What about the government subsidies? Subsidies given are based on Household Means Testing (HHMT) by MOH. As you can see in the image below, the amount of subsidy given is contingent on the Household Per Capita Monthly Income. The information could be found here.

I've also found out that all 3 nursing homes under First REIT are classified as Private Nursing Homes which are under MOH portable subsidy scheme, in a MOH article dated December 2007 (strange, can't find any more recent articles). See this link for the article. Do note that the article is found through Lotus Eldercare's website and not through MOH's website. In it, there is a breakdown of the cost by Nursing Homes in Singapore. Owing to the date of the article, I wouldn't be surprised if the information detailed is outdated.

Sooooo, staying in First REIT or marrying some random girl just for the sake of marrying? I'll do neither. :P