Free (& Almost Free) Financial Education

My weakness for financial books shows up on my shelves.
There really is no excuse to stay financially “ignorant”.  Singapore is probably one of the best places to learn about personal finance without having to fork out a lot of money.  Here are some sources of readily-available and mostly free information.

Library books 
The shelf for catalogue number “322” is my favourite haunt.  This is the shelf where you can get your hands on a whole array of Personal Finance books. 

The majority are books from the States and I used to think they don’t work here.  When you do pore through, you’ll find that quite a number of the principles behind financial planning are universal, just that the systems mentioned may differ, like the States has their 401(k) and we our CPF for retirement savings.  

The best thing is, if a certain book doesn’t appeal to you, just return and borrow another one.  There’s bound to be at least one you can learn something from.  Some of the recommended must-reads are “The Real Cost of Living” by Carmen Wong Ulrich, “The Millionaire Next Door” by Stanley & Danko, “The Family CFO” by Alvin & Larson, as well as local books such as A Singapore Guide to Personal Financial Planning” by Andy Ong.

Seminars & talks 
If reading puts you to sleep, seminars may be your thing. I may love to read but to hear someone with personal experience sharing their tried-and-tested methods makes the learning a lot more palatable.  

Recently, I attended a seminar by well-known trader Elder Alexander and was pleasantly surprised by his down-to-earth delivery.  A few years back, I also attended a workshop “Money and You” which really helped to straighten out my archaic perspectives on money.

Since returning to Singapore from our China assignment, I am pleasantly surprised by the number of free seminars that the general public can attend. These range from seminars on the basics to intermediate, and can be found at the SGX’s (Singapore Stock Exchange) newly-launched My Gateway, Moneysense and Singapore Investors Association websites and even free video seminars available on I M $avvy.  

If you have signed up with a shares brokerage house, you can also check out the seminars or workshops they have lined up for their clients.

Websites & blogs
If you believe everything the web says, don’t try this.  However, it is possibly the most accessible form of resource you can find. 

I tend to go for the company-run or more “official” websites when I am looking for more technical knowledge.  These would be SGX My Gateway, Moneysense, Bloomberg, Business Times 

For some inspiration on how others started on their financial journeys, I love to read personal blogs.  Just googling would get you some pretty good ones.  

As the full-time CEO of the household, aka cook, maid, tutor all rolled in one, I am also constantly on the look-out for useful tips on how to save on groceries, utilities etc.  For this, I subscribe to e-newsletters such as “Dollar Stretcher” and “Frugal Living” which are sent automatically to me everyday. 

Know of someone you admire who is into stock investment or is a multiple property owner?  Why not ask them out for a coffee and have a good chit-chat on how they started?  You never know what you could learn from them.  Most of the people who have passed this way are very eager to share with you their lessons learnt. 


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