There are some blog posts what are written to convey specific things, and then there are blog posts that are written on a whim.

When I started blogging on index investing three and a half years ago, I did so on a whim too. Not expecting anything in return, and not knowing what to expect.

Of Robo-Advisors ..

On robo-advisors, I wrote about Betterment in March 2014, Charles Schwab in November 2014, Dr. Wealth in August 2015 and about two months ago, I wrote a quick post on Smartly, a SG Based Robo-Advisor. I was really excited to share this piece of information with everyone because it was the one of the most anticipated things that I had been waiting for, and it would be a monumental step for us here in Singapore. I can’t believe how long it took for a index investing robo-advisor to arrive at long last.

Funny how things have changed. Fast-forward to one month later, and I’m having an after-work beer at Chijmes with Keir Veskiväli, CEO of Smartly, as we chat over all-things finance related. The blog post that I had written on a whim probably caused a little blip to Smartly’s metrics – even now, you’d find very little information or articles on this robo-advisor startup.

 
Keir reached out to me for a chat, and I happily obliged. Apparently, Smartly is already a finished product (WOOHOO!) and Keir took the opportunity to demo the platform and I’ll have to say, I’m very impressed by the look and feel of it. The user-interface is sleek, professional-looking and suitably presented for their initial target demographic, which is millennials, who happen to be instrumental for the success of similar platforms like Betterment and Wealthfront.

The sign-up process is going to be really easy (over 18 y.o. only as per regulations), and anyone can get started without being overwhelmed. The Google-generation would have no problem at all. Along the way, the education component of the platform will continue to make a better and smarter investor out of you.

It is one thing to read about Smartly, but an entirely different experience altogether when I get to meet the face behind it. I lamented that the fact that it took three and a half years before a robo-advisor platform finally appeared on our shores. Funny that it would be an Estonian, rather than a Singaporean, who is spearheading this. That’s life.

Looks like everything is on track for their launch that is going to happen really, really soon. And yes, you’ll probably be hearing more and more news on them. Meanwhile, they are going to start with beta-testing (not accepting real money yet) for a select group of users in the month of July.

At its current state, I’m of the impression that for many of us, it could be probably a tool to complement what we already have in place. With any luck, I might be able to give you a sneak preview of what to expect after I learn more about Smartly.

Till then, hang in there. Something SMART is coming your way. Get on the waiting list now.

.. And Weddings

You know, this is the finance community after all, and there is a tendency to look at every through the “money lenses”.

From the practical perspective, no doubt it would be incredibly helpful for you because there are tonnes of money saving tips, helpful advice, top mistakes to avoid etc! Just recently, another two more finance bloggers tied the knot – congratulations!

I had my own wedding almost five years ago, but Lionel’s post caught my attention because it is slightly different from the usual ones. There were things that he splurged on, and things that he made a conscious decision to cut costs on. It wasn’t simply a cut-cost-cut-cost-save-cheap-all-the-way post, and it is a perspective that I can really identify with.

If money is an extremely tricky issue for you, then I understand that even simple luxury might not be an option. The plenty of resources available would be able to help you tremendously. However, for the luckier ones, I implore you to take off the “money lenses” for once and perhaps try to approach the whole wedding thing from a different perspective.

Many people tend think of their wedding as a get-it-over-and-done-with thing. Too much time, money and effort needs to be invested, and I’m so-so-soooooooooo tired from work and life already, OMG I can’t even think right now. Sounds familiar? While preparing for our wedding, we got our keys to our apartment so it was both tracks simultaneously!

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Right from the beginning, I promised myself that I wouldn’t keep approaching my wedding with the “money lenses” on all the time. True, I still say “No” to certain things. But to me, it was all about creating an unforgettable (but not necessarily expensive) experience that my wife and I would remember for the rest of our lives. We wanted to enjoy the process too.

Heard stories of the groom who bought the proposal ring together with their wife, for fear of getting something their significant other wouldn’t like? That never crossed my mind. I wanted it to be something I chose for her. For many afternoons during lunch break, I scooted off to Soo Kee Jewellery to browse and look for the perfect proposal ring, estimated the correct size for my wife’s ring finger, bought it secretly and popped the question while we were on a beach vacation under the starry, starry sky. She remembers it very clearly till this day.

Heard of dreary wedding dinners? Rather than spend on good-to-have things during the wedding dinner, we chose to spend a couple hundred bucks engaging private dance lessons with Jitterbugs and our fantastic teacher choreographed an unique Charleston dance for us to dance to, in place of our second march-in. Yes, we were ridiculously tired from the preparations and STILL had to practise the dance steps on our own to ENTERTAIN our guests on our wedding night. We remember the funny details till this day. Let me see if I can still find the video somewhere. Meanwhile, this is the song 😉

 
Heard horror stories of pushy, hard-selling wedding studios? We went ala-carte and sourced for a studio to design her wedding outfits and my suits. Weekends spent with our designer were fun of fun and laughter, resembling chit-chat sessions between a couple of old friends. No fake smiles, no $ signs in their eyes since the fees were fixed. And because of the dance we had planned, our designer came up with the idea of a gown that allowed for bigger movements.

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Heard of horror photographer stories? The ones that caught our eyes in Singapore were too expensive, so we went across the causeway. We took road trips to Malaysia to meet with our photographer. 2D/1N staycations!

Nope, we didn’t splurge on an awesome ride. Instead, we went with the humble London Cab. The unique design of the London Cab meant that the spacious passenger compartment made for a comfortable ride for the Missus and her fluffy gown.

Nope, we didn’t splurge on a five-star hotel property. We went with a modern and cosy one that made it under $1,000 per table back then. We didn’t care that it wasn’t the most accessible venue, or that it wasn’t known for its food. I don’t get to eat it anyway. I think I had fish & chips for dinner. Besides, the service was great and we had free, free-flow alcohol all night long. There was a private changing room outside the ballroom. We enjoyed counting ang-paos in our bridal suite and heavenly soaks in the jacuzzi. The money saved made so many other things possible.

Nope, we didn’t have $12,000 flower arches. Nope, we didn’t splurge on brothers and sisters outfit. We printed DIY-designed polo-tees for them that were super comfortable to wear.

Within reasonable limits, I stuck to my promise and tried to give my wife a fun, enjoyable and unforgettable experience that took place over the course of months that culminated in the madness of our wedding day. Did some crazy things for once. There were many things we cut costs on, and yet there were many things we splurge on, too.

If you’re a yet-to-be married guy, remember that in the process of achieving cost-savings for your wedding, with or without money, try your utmost to create memories that both of you will cherish, remember, reminisce and laugh over for the rest of your lives. It’s not always only about the money 🙂

More Than Index Investing

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