Securities Investors Association (Singapore) Youth Chapter, or SIAS Youth Chapter for short, is an organisation dedicated to reaching out to youths in Singapore to increase understanding of investing fundamentals. They do so through supporting student investment clubs in tertiary institutions, hosting talks and networking events, and education initiatives such as regular newsletters and peripherals.
Last month, SIAS Youth Chapter published an interview in their online newsletter with a bunch of young people who started a Singapore-focused financial literacy website targeted at young people. We have no idea who these three guys are, but apparently their website is quite interesting.
DollarsAndSense.sg is a local website that was launched in October 2012 by a group of young enthusiasts. It aims to be the destination for timely, relevant, and useful information on personal finance matters presented for the layperson in a bite-sized, interesting, and enjoyable manner.
This month, SIAS Youth Chapter speaks to the ‘brains’ behind this website and finds out more on what this website is all about and what it offers to the readers.
SIAS YC: Tell us how the idea came about and how the DollarsAndSense.sg team was formed?
Timothy: Even though the website only started a few months ago, the entire concept of Dollars and Sense actually begin way back in 2010. That was when Dinesh and I just ended our 1st year in university and were looking to spend our term break reading up more about financial related topics. One thing we realized then was that even though there are tons of useful investment articles out there on the Internet, it was difficult to find articles that were directly relevant to us here in Singapore. For example, we will find ourselves reading a very good article that talks about planning for retirement using the 401(K), which is the US version of our CPF system. We thought it would be good if Singaporeans such as ourselves are able to visit a website that write articles with the Singapore readers in mind.
Dinesh: I think we also found ourselves reading articles that were not catered to Singaporeans our age. For example you could be reading a really good article that talks about how investing in private properties in Singapore is a wise long-term investment decision. The problem is, even if you agree with the content of the article, it is difficult to see how a Singaporeans in his 20s would be able to afford a private property to make that sort of investment – unless you are from a rich family. Hence we wanted to write articles that would relate to people in our age group.
Kang Heong: Unlike Tim and Dinesh, I was not an economic or finance student. What really got me interested into this project was seeing some of the initial prototypes that the two of them actually did and the articles they wrote. I could immediately relate to the articles even though I am an IT student. Since then, we started work on the project and ultimately decided that a website would the most suitable platform for us to further promote financial literacy in Singapore.
SIAS YC: So, what is the website all about and how is it different from the other financial websites that we can find on the Internet?
Timothy: The website is all about delivering financial related articles that our readers would be able to relate to. We do not believe in writing articles that has too many technical jargons which in our opinion, only serves to confuse readers. Instead we try to put ourselves in the shoes of our readers. For example, if you do not know anything about the CPF system, what would you be most keen to read about? We know of many people who are interested to start learning about investing getting turned off simply because they do not understand the 1st article that they read. We hope a watered down approach would be more impactful for our readers in the long run.
Dinesh: I think the main difference between our website and those others that you find around is also the motivation for writing. Even though Tim and I are both economic and finance graduates, neither of us are working in the financial industry. Too often we find many other financial website having its own sales agenda as the driving force behind sustaining it. At Dollars and Sense, we have no insurance policies to sell, no investment courses for you to attend, no housing agents for you to contact and definitely no get-rich-quick-scheme for you to invest in!
Kang Heong: Most other websites only focus on one or two areas. Perhaps you might chance upon a good technical analysis blog, but it will only talk about stock trading. Dollars and Sense tries to cover an extensive range of topics because we ultimately believe that a good financial education would require an individual to know about the different financial instruments available out there in Singapore.
SIAS YC: What do you hope the readers of DollarsandSense.sg can take away after visiting the website?
Timothy: We are not here to make you an overnight expert when it comes to financial literacy, nor will we be able to make you millionaires before you turn 30. What we hope our readers would realize is that financial literacy is not just important for the people in the bank, but for every one of us.
Dinesh: For each article that you read on DollarsandSense.sg, we hope it is able to bring across a fresh perspective on the different financial topics that you never thought of – and that you have a good time reading of course!
Kang Heong: As writers, we definitely hope that our readers will enjoy the read. And to share the articles with their friends! We also believe that our articles can stimulate interests among readers on topics that they never thought of.
SIAS YC: What can we look forward to in DollarsandSense.sg in the coming year?
Timothy: More insightful articles, more avenues for discussions such as a message board and possibly a membership scheme as well.
Dinesh: We hope to slowly expand our base of writers to allow us to cover a larger range of topics more effectively. We are also hoping that some of our readers may be inspired to also contribute and possibly become guest writers themselves!
Kang Heong: We are definitely looking to feature more articles that are time-sensitive. For example, you might just see us giving our views and ‘insight’ to what we think of the Singapore budget next year! We hope that would be interesting enough for our readers.
SIAS YC: Lastly, inspire our readers on the need of being financially educated.
Timothy: Financial literacy doesn’t just affect you, but the people around you. If you are financially educated, you would be able to advise your parents, sibilings and friends to make better financial decisions. I think it is definitely a shame if after so many years of formal education, people still make the same common mistakes such as overspending on their credit cards or buying things they cannot afford. If you are financially educated, the risk of that happening is definitely lower.
Dinesh: Being financially educated does not mean simply going to some 3 day workshop and coming out ‘certified’. Most people fall into the trap of simply wanting to find one or two textbooks or courses that will teach them everything. That is not going to be the case. You have to start somewhere though, one step at a time.
Kang Heong: If we could do so with just one paragraph, then we could stop writing on DollarsAndSense.sg, right? Seriously though, we believe that lifelong learning in all matters, including personal finance is absolutely essential for the years to come. Don’t take the easy way and blindly take the advice of so call “experts”, or even the success stories that others might have taken. Instead it is important to do your own reading and research and to ask yourself important questions during that process. Why did they succeed and how? DollarsAndSense.sg is definitely a good first step to take toward that end!
Do check out SIAS Youth Chapter’s website for more information about them and their exciting activities.
Royalty-free photo from Getty Images. Used with appreciation.
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