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Money management tips: How to take control of your finances in times of high inflation

Ms Choo Wan Sim, head of UOB TMRW Digital (Singapore), answers your questions about money management

Tracking spending with digital tools gives you a better overview of your expenses, allowing you to make better financial decisions. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The cost of living has been rising in Singapore. Core inflation stood at 5.1 per cent in August. Managing your money well is ever more important in times of high inflation, but how to start? Can digital tools help?

In this column, Ms Choo Wan Sim, head of UOB TMRW Digital (Singapore), answers your questions about money management amid high inflation. Ms Choo, who is in her 40s, leads and manages the bank's digital business strategy and proposition for UOB Singapore, as well as digital wealth and rewards programme for regional markets. She has over 20 years of experience working in financial services.

Q: I’m worried. How can I save more money even as the cost of living continues to rise? 

A: One thing you can do immediately is to keep an eye on your spending. Having a clear picture of what you spend on can help you make informed decisions on where you can cut back.

Tracking all your expenses might seem like a daunting task, but there are budgeting tools that can help. For instance, the UOB TMRW banking app, which is powered by artificial intelligence (AI), not only categorises our customers’ transactions but also translates the data into insights to help them manage their finances. These insights are hyper-personalised for each individual, so you receive only relevant tips and prompts.

For example, if you’re spending more than usual on dining on a given month, the app will alert you so you can keep a closer tab on your dining expenses moving forward. Similarly, you get prompted if your monthly subscription costs increase. Many of us lose track of our subscriptions, and it can be useful to review if we really need every one of them.

The UOB TMRW app also tracks the interest you earn on your UOB savings accounts and shares tips on what you can do to unlock bonus interest, to help you maximise your savings.

Q: It’s hard to keep track of my finances across all my different accounts. Is there a way to be more organised with my money?

A: For a consolidated view of your finances across different bank accounts and government agencies, you can access the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex) service through seven participating banks, including UOB. 

SGFinDex aggregates information – including your bank savings, loans, credit card balances, investments, and Central Provident Fund balances – which you can view through your banking app or internet banking platform. 

The challenge is how to use this data to make better decisions about your money. We all have different financial goals, shaped by what matters most to us and our loved ones. This is where personalised digital tools and advice can help.

Our advisers are equipped with the UOB Portfolio Advisory Tools, which draw on the latest SGFinDex data and can analyse your consolidated wealth holdings in real time. These digital tools use historical market data to project risk levels and possible returns for your portfolio under different market conditions.

This enables our advisers to offer highly personalised recommendations for our clients to work towards their wealth goals while protecting their portfolio from potential pitfalls. By visualising different scenarios for both their existing portfolio and recommended options, our clients can then make appropriate decisions based on their risk appetite. 

Q: I’m single. How do I plan for myself financially?

A: Flying solo gives you flexibility to make your own financial decisions based on your aspirations, but it is important to have a steady income stream, be it through your salary or your own business. You will also need a wealth plan that is just right for you.

There are some principles you should keep in mind. Firstly, make sure you are covered should any unforeseen circumstances occur. Hospitalisation, critical illness and disability insurance are key. Also, consider developing passive sources of income, such as through investments that pay regular dividends. Keep your risk appetite and time horizon in mind when making investment decisions, and remember that these will evolve as you progress in life. Finally, you need to plan for your own retirement.

Being single doesn’t mean you have to go through your financial journey alone. There are many online wealth management tools that can help, regardless of where you are with your financial plan.

Beyond personalised tips and insights, the UOB TMRW app also allows you to invest with digital platform UOB SimpleInvest, embedded within the app. You can invest according to your financial goals, whether it is to preserve your liquidity, generate recurring income or go for capital growth.

For some, it can be reassuring to have a financial adviser to help with their plans. This is why we invested in AI models to identify clients who would benefit from different segment offerings. They are then matched with a relationship manager who can tailor a plan for them.

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