Friday, August 21, 2020

Family and Personal Updates (From CB to Phase 2)

This year flew by quickly (thanks to Covid-19) and it is already August and a few more months before we welcome 2021. 

Just wanted to write an update of my personal life to record down what had happened during this unprecedented period in our Singapore's history.


I have been WFH (Working From Home) since March together with my wife. Fortunately, both our job nature allowed us to WFH with full support from our employers without any pay cuts.

We have not been financially affected by Covid-19 (well not yet!) as we are working in the financial industry and if this was GFC (Great Financial Crisis repeat of 2007/2008), we would definitely be significantly affected. 

I always say luck plays an important role in all parts of our life, including our career. We will continue to count our blessing. 

My wife just got her bi-annual bonus (well, pretty insignificant amount but better than nothing). I am waiting for mine at end of the year but apparently, everyone around me is saying I shouldn't be expecting anything. I am happy to keep my current job without any pay cuts so bonus will be a "bonus" if it comes.


It has been pretty significant year for my children and I am honestly very happy to be able to chase back some "lost" time with them for the past 6 months since working from home. I really cherished this period of time and we also managed to achieve something together.


  • It will be the last pre-school year for my elder one. We had successfully registered (under phase 2C) him for primary one in 2021 (thank god no balloting is required, it's just a neighborhood school, OK!). 
  • After much practice to cycle without his training wheels, he has finally achieved his "balance" and can cycle independently. I admire his determination to achieve the goal he set.
  • Finally giving up his milk bottle after much persuasion from me (LOL) since I had the luxury to spend more quality time with him everyday.
  • Art & Craft. I realized he has got a little talent for drawing and making art and craft and pretty creative after watching what he "created" using toilet roles and using/cutting up all my printing papers to make his artworks. I hope his art lessons at the residents' committee (RC) center can resume soon so he can continue to learn from his art teacher.
  • Taekwondo. Due to the closure of the RC, his TKD lessons had stopped since March so instead of waiting, I had switched him to private lessons (9x more expensive per lesson, from $4 from $36). But the class size is also smaller (from 30-40 students to 10 students per class) so he is able to learn more with a smaller class size. Well, you pay for what you get. No regrets as I can see his improvements in just 2 lessons and most importantly, he enjoyed the new class more than the previous one as more attention was given to him.
  • The youngest in our family will be heading to K1 next year but without her brother this time round for her class promotion. She is no longer a baby (but always is in our heart) but a 1m tall preschooler and apparently, she grew taller and heavier during circuit breaker (CB).
  • She also gave up her milk bottle together with her elder bro, I am pretty proud of her as I did not expect her to give up just like that as she is only 3+ years old at that point of time. I made the two of them throw away their milk bottles personally into the dustbin (very cruel I know!) so they will know this time is for real and no turning back. So far so good, we managed to save quite alot of milk bottles and teats.
  • She is no longer on diapers during daytime except for taking nap and night time. More savings in diaper expenses again. This is quite an achievement as she did wet herself (once or twice a week) during school days since the school restarts in Jun (post CB). Next step is to try to wean her off diapers totally, I guessed this will take longer time and we don't want to stress her too much.
  • Bought a balancing bike for her to try and I have to say she's not as interested in cycling and scooting like his elder brother. She prefer singing and dancing instead. Well that's why people always says "every kid is different". Now I believed it.
  • She has been attending her weekly dance class at home via zoom and although she is adapting well, the feeling is so much different from dancing in a group in a proper dance studio. She is finally heading back to the studio at the end of Aug. Super looking forward, I think she will enjoy herself more in a class setting. 

Family Expenditure

  • Overall family expenditure had gone down but not by a lot like everyone thought so. We managed to save on commuting expenses like our car petrol, erp and office carpark as well as those daily food court lunches which average $5-$7 a meal minimum. 
  • But spending more time at home also means more snacking and this became part of our grocery list when we make our weekly visit to Sheng Siong supermarket. We also drank more beer and wine as we are pretty bored at home at night as we try to stay away from the crowd outside to prevent any potential virus infections. We have been cutting down alcohol since start of Aug, casual drinking is totally fine but not daily.
  • Having daily home cook food (by the helper) was great even if its just very simple dishes. I enjoyed it a lot more than what I had in restaurants.
  • I also learnt how to make traditional Singapore coffee using coffee powder (grind from beans) and kopi "socks". It is definitely much cheaper than what we bought outside and fresher as well as me and my wife have coffee every morning as part of our breakfast.

  • Masters of Business Administration (MBA). I am half way to the completion of my MBA, likely to be by Mar/Apr 2021. All physical exams has been moved to online, this is something I am adapting to, "open" book is always relatively difficult than "close" book exam but unfortunately I too have to adapt. Grinding on and hopefully I will clear all my modules when my son start his primary one in 2021 so I can refocus back to my family commitment. 
  • My weight fortunately did not "balloon" like some of my friends, it was fluctuating between 1-2kg during COVID-19 so I think having more home cook food is definitely healthier although I did not exercise at all.
  • Wealth. Personal total networth is definitely affected by the stock market onslaught due to COVID-19, mine wasn't spared as well as I am always vested with at least 90% of my cash asset. Still down by 12% YTD as I am writing this post. Still adding more stocks every month to catch the eventually and long awaited recovery. I am not too worry as volatility is always part of investing journey and I am focusing on stocks that will ride the global recovery like Alibaba, Apple etc.
  • Retirement Planning - CPF. Executed per plan, transferred OA balance to SA since Oct 2019 and will reach Full Retirement Sum in SA ($181k) in Sep. Very excited as this is a major goal I set 4 years back and finally this goal is completed.
That's all I have for some personal and family updates from CB till Phase 2.

Stay safe everyone.

Have a Plan, Execute it !!! 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Is Old Turtle A Loser In Singapore Education System? PSLE Score: 182 – No Problem

Don’t worry – You are not going to witness a turnaround story of a stupid turtle that went on and became a PHD, Medical Doctor or Lawyer.

There has been much talks, discussion and debates on PSLE
scores and how it “shape” and “pre-determine” your future.

Much had been said around PSLE examination over the years
and Old Turtle was one of the product (or victim) from the past and existing Singapore educational system.

Education Profile:
Primary School - PLSE: 182 (6 years)
Secondary School - Normal Academic (5 years)
Polytechnic Diploma (3 years)
National Service (2 years)
Bsc Degree (4 years Part time studies)
MBA (18 months Part time studies)

I remembered when my mum saw my PSLE result, she said,
everyone in our family was studying 4 years and you were the first one studying 5 years. I kept silent but in my heart, I knew she was disappointed my result and more importantly worried about his only child’s future in this competitive Singapore economy.

I kept going in secondary school and as usual, I am not very smart in taking examination and I am extremely bad at English and Maths and as you know, both subjects are key in our Singapore educational system. 

I am good at subjects like Chinese, History and Geography but unfortunately they were deemed less important in our educational system.

(Parents, please don't compare your children with other children as every kid will excel in their own ways. It will just make your children feel demoralized and caused a lasting impact in their childhood. Give more encouragement and less comparison)

Key Milestones:

  • Parents lost their business when I was in polytechnic and rely on savings to survive and they were only early 50s. I am quite lucky my mum was a saver back then else our family would be in trouble.
  • Went to OCS in National Service and managed to save 80-90% of allowances, not a lot back in those days but were significant to me. Managed to save around 10-15k.
  • Started working at age 23 years old (starting salary not even enough to apply for credit card) and started contributing to the family’s expenses.
  • Concurrently took up part time degree at SIM after work for 4 years and paid off the school fees annually using savings from NS and Salary.
  • Lost my first 5 digit figures in investment in one stock post GFC 2008. ** Lesson learnt and life goes on**
  • Cash savings and investments hits 200k-250k at age 30 as I had a high savings rate of 80-90% in the first 7 years of the job and together with some “luck” in investments mainly in Singapore blue chips that generates 4-5% annual dividends.
  • Age 30: Got married and savings rate falls to 20-30% as kids came along together with other household expenses
  • Age 31-33: Had our first and second kid.
  • Age 35: Cash savings and investments hits 520k and CPF hits 136k. Passive income hit average of 1.3k per month. 
  • Age 35: 4-Room BTO HDB (cost 260k) fully paid off in 5 years. No more debt from now on.
  • Age 35: Dad passed away made me even cherished my family even more even if I have to give up career advancement to spend more time with them.

Moral values are more important than your exam grades in life. Like stock investing, true value may not be always be the same as price (aka your exam grades).

My purpose of sharing my personal story is to inspire students that did not do well in their studies not to give up in themselves in any ways.

With honesty, hard work, grit and perseverance, we can still
survive and make it in this competitive Singapore economy.

PSLE 182, never mind one la, Old Turtle managed to survive in
Singapore, raised and fed my family well and still able to prepare for retirement.

I knew my mum is finally feeling proud of her son even though he went a longer route to achieve what others had achieved. I knew back then she was worried about my grades because she felt that I might not be able to survive in Singapore with such lousy grade. I guessed I had proven her wrong that grades are not everything.

If I can do it, you can too !! Do not give up in yourself !!

Do you have any inspiring story to share with me?

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Defining Total Financial Networth at Age 37

For the past 6 months, I had seen my total networth fluctuating between +3.99% to -8.24%. 

I have been maintaining 2 sets of networth, (1) Cash Networth and (2) Total Networth since 2016 when I started tracking them on a monthly basis. Time flies and it has been 4 years already as of today.

This post I will talk more about my (2) Total Networth as this is more reflective of my overall financial assets that I owned or inheritance that I could passed to my wife and children after I leave this world. ** Choy I am only 37 young this year **

My personal definition of total networth = Total Cash Asset (can be disposed and converted to cash within 3 months) + Total Illiquid Assets like property and pension savings (ie CPF in Singapore context).

There has been lots of arguments in within the financial bloggers in Singapore whether we should include our residential and CPF for networth calculations. 

In my personal opinion, I am calculating based on total assets I owned legally as part of inheritance planning so I track them closely so my wife will know where are my money after I am gone.

A little background profile of myself:

  • Holding a full time job since year 2007 till today as a diploma holder and never been out of job before. I thanked my lucky stars.
  • Did my part time degree while working full time and complete it within 4 years.
  • Got married at age 30 and got 2 kids subsequently.
  • Paid up my HDB at age 35.
  • Has been topping my cash to my CPA MA and SA since 34 years old and on track to meet 2020 CPF FRS.
  • Doing my part time MBA currently.
  • Not in any senior management role, non manager and non professional like doctor, lawyers etc. Just a lucky farmer.

Total Networth

Below are the major contributors to my total cash networth and just like more Singaporean.

Residential Property Valuation
I did not include my residential property market valuation in my calculation but I included the CPF-OA used to purchase the property. This means I valued the property at cost price which is around 60% higher than my cost price at current resale market price. Reason being, I do not want to artificially inflate my networth as there's no chance of me selling my residential property and realized the property gains. In any case, I have already paid up the HDB.


I had included my Ordinary Account (OA), Special Account (SA) and Medisave Account (MA) in the calculation. Over the past 5 years, I have been topping up my SA and MA with cash to reduce personal income tax as well as to hit the goal meeting CPF FRS. This is one of my cornerstone for retirement planning.


Food for thoughts:

  • I used to set a goal of meeting 1 million SGD in total cash networth at age 40 years old. Like many, the total amount is just a number and nothing else.
  • I think I will hit 1 million on or before my target age but not so obsessed with it anymore. Good to have a goal though.
  • Nowadays, I am focusing more on the cashflows generated from the assets rather than the total numbers. 
  • The total numbers gives me a sense of financial security but it is the cashflows that I need to survive on if I am out of job or during emergency situations. 
  • However it is still worth tracking the total networth as I will know how much I am going to leave as inheritance if I am gone at any point of time. 
  • Never say never, look at how Covid-19 hit us suddenly.
Have a plan, Execute it !!!

Plan for the worst, Pray for the best !!!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Are your finances healthy? Take test to find out

This test was extracted from an Straits Times article.

Let old turtle take the basic financial check of my family expense to see whether my family financial is healthy or unhealthy.

Excited... let's start now!


Turtle family: 0% (Nil loan)

Verdict: Pass

(Recommended: Below 60%. Should aim for below 35%.)


Turtle family: 8.2 months

Verdict: Marginal Pass

(Recommended: More than 6 months.)


Turtle family: 51%

Verdict: Pass

(Recommended: More than 15% means) FYI, below 15% means you are asset rich but cash poor.)


Turtle family: 51%

Verdict: Pass

(Recommended: It is prudent to save at least 10% of monthly pay)


Turtle family: 0% (Nil loan)

Verdict: Pass

(Recommended: Below 50%. Should reduce loan exposure where possible)

Conclusion: Turtle family passed all 5 basic tests to evaluate our financial health.

These are really basic ratios and it doesn't take into consideration of any of your side income/passive income etc apart from your active monthly salary so IMHO, it might not give you the most accurate and holistic picture.

But still, its good as a basic tool to monitor your family financial health.

FYI, I did not include our dividends and bond coupon interest so if I included these figures, our family financial health would be even rosier.

What can be improve? If I wanted to improve, I will want improve household liquidity ratio from 8.2 months to at least 12 months to 18 months. In fact, me and my wife are already saving more cash from my monthly salary since Jan 2020.

Reason being, this global pandemic taught us that there could be an event that possibly put you out of job for more than 1 year, for example if I am from the aviation or travel/hospitality industry.


In fact, I already practiced financial prudence in my lifestyle in order to prepare for any unforeseen crisis (even for extreme crisis like this pandemic) so I am totally agreeable to the statement above.

In my own simple words, Better to be safe than Sorry.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

How Global Financial Crisis Changed My Mentality About Financial Independence (FIVE Key Themes)

When I started my first job out from the National Service (NS) in 2006/2007 and one year later, it was the Global Financial Crisis. 

As a junior staff in my early 20s, I was not impacted by the crisis when my company started their "restructuring" exercise, so this "restructuring" actually just meant "cost cutting" exercise, nothing else. 

Every time, there was an email announcement of a certain headcount reduction in Singapore office, I will look around me and realized that some of my more senior colleagues that were in their mid to late 30s were  nowhere to be seen so I knew that they were impacted. 

Names of the staffs were usually announced after the official email notification to allow the impacted staff to pack and leave the office "quietly" before everyone knew it was them.

I still remembered vividly seeing a manager in my department weeping after coming out from the ladies toilet carrying a box of her own belongings. 

I was supposed to be in the meeting room at that point of time but I went out to grab a coffee and just so happened to see her. We exchanged "eyes" signal and she's gone, no goodbye nothing.

To me, it was definitely not a positive way to say "goodbye". 

This whole experience for a young chap in his early 20s was pretty heavy and overwhelming. The questions of "what if it was me?", "will I be able to take it?" and "will I cry?" kept floating in my mind.

From that moment, I knew 10 to 20 years down the road, it will be my turn to say "goodbye" so I got to plan for my "final day" both emotionally and financially.

I kept it really simple and just focused on FIVE key themes to ensure I am healthy financially and mentally.


No matter how many people tell me about what low interest rate of housing loan, I must take full advantage, stretch the loan to maximum tenure and pay it slowly etc. I am never a believer of having debt.

Mentally I felt that I am indebted and this like a heavy piece of rock on my shoulder. 

I kept having questions like "what happen I cannot pay the mortgage loan" - Would the creditor take away my house? Then how about my family?

For my HDB mortgage, I stretched the loan to the maximum but decided to pay it down with my wife within 5 years. It was a humble 4 room BTO HDB which we could afford and still eligible when we are in our mid-20s.

We bought our first car which was a (resale) old car when our first child was born and I choose to pay it in full as well in cash. This applied to our second car when I traded in my first car and paid it in full as well. Obviously, the car agent wasn't too happy to hear about my full payments as they cannot earn a cut of the bank commission if I take up a car loan.

So in my life till now, I only have debt for 5 years which was my HDB loan. 

I truly enjoyed being debt-free without any fear that my house will be "taken" away by the creditor even if I am being retrenched.

Cash Savings

Honestly, I do not believed in hoarding cash as the bank interest rate was really low.

But after going through crisis after crisis whether it is economy crisis or personal/family crisis, it taught me that we need to hoard cash because when we need cash, it will cost us ALOT more!
Do you know that a Chinese funeral can cost you between 30k to 50k in total and must be paid in CASH? I didn't know until one of my parent passed away. 

Luckily I had 50k in Singapore Savings Bond and it was near month end, I managed to redeem it before I settle the funeral expenses the following month.

I was lucky as I usually keep less than 20k cash and have most of it invested in the stock market. Maybe this was planned by Guanyinma (the god I prayed to) for me to have sufficient cash to pay off the funeral without any worries. 

It is not that I cannot borrow from my relative if I really cannot fork our the money but since I personally do not like debt, I also do not like to borrow from anyone else.

The question is how much do we need to be efficient and most importantly, a "peace of mind". 

To me a combined liquid cash savings of between 50k to 100k at any one point of time will provide me and my wife with a complete "peace of mind" at this stage of life.

CPF (Pension Fund For 

I didn't know the importance until in my early 30s when I read up articles on the concepts on 1M65 and from the generous sharing from my first online "shifu" AK from ASSI blog on the benefits of CPF for retirement.

I started voluntarily contributing to my CPF actively in 2016 (nearly 10 years since I started working) when I was 33 years of age and I wished it was earlier, this means I wasted 10 years to compound my CPF balance. 

Well, better late than never right. I am on track to hit the Full Retirement Sum (FRS) for 2020 at a ripe age of 37.

I will then be able to let my CPF compound for the next 28 years until I reach 65 years old assuming I don't leave this world before that.

I know when I retire at age 65, there will be at least one stream of lifelong payout (CPF LIFE) waiting for me. Peace of mind.


I bought my first insurance at age 23 when I started working and along the way, I have bought comprehensive protection coverage for myself and my family members including my parents. 

I am a person that believed in buy term invest the rest concept so no prize for guessing what type of coverage I am having now.
The key here is buy as early as possible when you are healthy else you will face lots of issues down the road when you need the coverage. 

With insurance as a hedge for my accumulated wealth and not allow illnesses to destroy what I had built up over the years. 

Life Long Learning

Never stop learning throughout your life. I did part time degree while I am working and completed it in four painful years. Imagine you have to go to attend night classes after you knock off at work and have to walk and take your dinner (usually a burger from MacD) as it is faster than sitting down and eat.

The Bachelor Degree was a hard earned one but it was essential in my industry, a basic requirement in modern days. I finally completed the studies at age 27.

Now at age 37, I am once again restarted my journey of higher education, a 15 months part time Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program from my Alma mater and to be completed by age 38, year 2021. 

I used the last 10 years between age 27 to 37 to focus on my career, my parents and build my own family. Learning how to be a professional, a responsible son, a husband and a father to two children. 

Never stop learning whether professionally or personally at any point of time as learning keeps your brain active and knowledge generates wealth.

The 5 key themes formed the foundation towards achieving financial independence.  

I think I will feel sad (or "weep") if I am being retrenched, not because I will not be able to survive financially but more of I will miss my team mates and my kind boss. 

One thing for sure, I am definitely more well prepared than I was during GFC, 2008 because I planned for it since then.

Have a Plan, Execute it !!!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Did we actually SAVE more $ when we WFH? Myth?

This CB "Circuit Breaker" month flew past quickly and everyday felt like the same whether it is weekday, weekend or public holiday like 1st of May.

Definitely a "new" kind lifestyle I wasn't expecting since I started working and became parent. Even the calculation of expenses became much easier with much fewer categories of expenditure.

I am curious on whether if we managed to save more $ when we "work from home" or "WFH". Almost all the financial bloggers blogged about how much they had "saved" for the past 1 month when they WFH.

Let's do some calculation and let the numbers do the talking. I track my family related expenditure so I will use that as an example since everyone is at home for the past 1 month.

Top 3 Spenders

1) Grocery/Necessity

This category hit an all time high (an increased of 87% from previous month), this is not unexpected since now, me and my wife do not dine out for lunch during weekdays and we had our lunch/dinner, 5 days a week at least. 

Unconsciously, we are "stockpiling" food at home, for eg we used to buy 1 week supply of groceries, but nowadays, we tend to buy 1.5 weeks at least like more frozen food such as chicken wings, fillet, pork etc. We also standby at extra 1 x 10kg of white rice and 5kg of brown rice and two bottles of cooking oil.

I also think that grocery prices went up although I did not compare for each item but I am pretty sure because I did all my family grocery shopping previously and I knew on average what should be the spending pattern. A few cents/dollars increase makes a whole lot of a different if we are buying in bulk.

We did not intend to stockpile to be honest but I think the fear of sudden tightening of rules like CB becomes CCB made us bought more groceries than usual when we visit our favorite supermarket Sheng Siong (okay, we admit we are both shareholders). It's a FOMO (LOL) or Fear Of Missing Out syndrome.  

I made sure my fridge is always stock up with groceries and cupboards ready with snacks/biscuits that my kids love to eat and my wife ensure she got her "junk" food aka chips on standby as well.

We ordered wines and beers from online platforms for the adults as well as ice creams for the kids. This is extra spending but we are just trying to stay "sane" by having these extra comfort drinks and food.

Necessity like shampoo, shower gels, facial wash etc also got stocked up as well for the family.

2) Eating out ("da bao")

Food again, my runner up (an increased of 63% from previous month)

So now we cook and eat home cook food for 5 to 5.5 days a week (both lunch + dinner). Weekends, I will drive out to buy lunch and dinner for the family (not a big fan of food delivery) also to catch some "fresh" air. 

We mostly don't cook during weekends to allow the helper to take a breather and relax as well as to catch up with household chores. 

We used to bring the kids to visit their grandparents on Sunday for dinner at their place, this obviously have to be scrapped now so another dinner at home.

Honestly, the numbers are quite scary, I think we also ordered a few times of supper via food delivery because it is so convenient now. 

Most hawker became very innovative (the most positive things about this CB, it force every business to rethink their business model) with their offerings nowadays because they wants to survive. 

3) Helper

I am sure many are surprised for this category, my 2nd runner up (an increased of 9% from previous month)

I gave my helper a small cash bonus of $100 in April as I knew her husband is not able to work due to the lock down in her home country. This extra cash is to help to tide her family over this difficult period.

I want her to be mentally happy as well and not worry about her family. I believed if I take good care of her family, she will be happy and my family will be happy as well. At this difficult time, we needed each other's support and we honestly cannot do without her.

Additionally, since she will not be able to go for her off day on Sunday and MOM instructed all employer to allow their helper to take off day at home. To be very honest, it is very difficult for her to be 100% doing nothing and staying in her room, I am fine with such arrangement but not my kids, they will disturb her. So to prevent her from thinking she need to work during her off day, we pay her for all off days when she is at home during CB. This helps to eliminate any misunderstanding when comes to monetary compensation. She happy, we happy.

Top 3 Savers

1) Car

Runner up (55% reduction from previous month)

Pump lesser petrol and paid zero ERP since we do not need to commute to office anymore. I also managed to cancel my office season parking for Apr and May so more savings in this category.

2) Town Council/Utility Bills

Champion (100% reduction from previous month)

Reduced to zero during CB due to rebates by our Government for our 4 room HDB.

3) Holiday/Entertainment

2nd runner up (100% reduction from previous month)

All travel were cancelled and we got refunded all our hotels and flights that we prepaid for, thank god that we bought travel insurance.


Overall, our family spending saw at least a 10% increase (instead of savings 😂) from previous month so we did not save more money from WFH like all other bloggers. 

Our utility bills will sure (100% guarantee chop!) shoot up (OMG!) when we receive the bills in May for Apr usage. 

-No thanks for my kids whom are using more water in their bath tub every evening (just want them to feel happier). 

-No thanks to our home office, running 2 operating systems for at least 9 to 12 hours a day to consume electricity. 

I will be looking to tighten up our family wallet a little more on grocery shopping in May to curb wastage on stockpiling and extra spending on snacks and alcohol. 

Hope you enjoy my write up on family expenditure.

Stay safe, Stay healthy.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

How did I "claw" back the money spent before the Covid-19?

Going into the 2nd week of the Singapore "Circuit Breaker" or "CB" and lifestyle definitely has changed whether individually or as a family.

I felt this is the time to save, conserve and try to increase cash flow and savings where possible. Eating and cooking at home definitely helps and as well as cutting down on daily commute to the office. For me, I drive to office together with my wife and has a season parking as well so I saved on petrol as well as the super expensive ERP.

While I try to save on needs and necessity, I am also trying to get back whatever services I had paid for.

1) Travel/Vacation

Since early 2019, I had planned to go to Australia in the first half of 2020 and obviously, this didn't materialized.

Fortunately, I bought a family of four, annual travel insurance straight after I paid for my flights and Airbnb for my Australia trip in Jul 2019. I paid a total of $4.2k inclusive of $2.7k (flight) and $1.5k (Airbnb).

I managed to cancel my Airbnb without any charges before the free cancellation date so $1.5k credited back to my credit card.

For my flights, they were cancelled by the airline as Australia had closed their borders to foreigners before my trip started. The airline did not allow full refund of the tickets as I had bought promotional tickets and they will charged me $400 per ticket and a total of $1.6k will be the penalty fees.

My travel insurer allowed me to claim the penalty fees of $1.6k since I bought the insurance prior to the pandemic declaration and the airline will reimbursed me with the remaining of $1.1k. I understand from the insurer that they will not allow any claim on Covid-19 if you bought the air tickets before 23 Jan 2020. Phew!

Super happy that I managed to claim back the $4.2k I paid for my family vacation. Back to the joint account.

Lesson learnt: Always buy travel insurance (it is a MUST!) as early as you book your flights and accommodation to cover any unforeseen circumstances.

2) Office Season Parking

My company has started "Work From Home" or "WFH" since mid March and they told us that there's no end date to this arrangement. This means that my office season parking that I had prepaid for for every quarter ($450) will be wasted since I am not driving to the office anymore in the near future.

For many people, they probably just let the prepaid season parking lapse since typically the commercial landlord does not allow any refunds. For me, I am someone whom will try before I give up.

I emailed the admin office of the landlord and told them about my situation and ask them whether my season parking for April and May can be refunded, I am expecting them to say NO or simply refund me 50% of lesser of what I had paid.

To my surprise, they said on email that their management understand the current situation and will specially grant me with a waiver and allow full refund for April and May season parking.

Super happy again, I managed to claw back $300 for unused season parking fees for April and May.

Lesson learnt: Never try Never know, don't assume until you TRY.

So I have added back $4.2k + $300 = $4.5k back to our family joint account coffer. This amount definitely comes in handy in times of crisis.

But I have to admit that these whole administrative process (countless calls to the airline hotline and insurer office went unanswered) is painful for some but for someone like me, I will try and get back whatever possible amount within my legal means.

If it was my wife, I think she will give up after 3 calls (LOL) but not for me (even if I need 100 calls, I will do it!). Well, I am the stingy and "kia-su" Turtle.