Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Sweeping Under The Pouring Rain and Emergency Fund


Last Sunday I was enjoying a cup of hot mocha latte at Starbucks while watching the rain outside. I saw one guy sweeping the water away from the walkways and stairs. It seemed like a futile thing to do because the rain water kept on pouring down and when he got to the end, he had to come back and swept again.

What would you have done in that situation? If this was your own house, you would probably have waited until the rain had stopped before began sweeping. Well, I would anyway.

We often do not like doing something that seems futile and has no immediate or apparent results. For example, building a sizable amount of emergency fund. There seems to be countless emergencies popping up draining away our emergency fund, and we keep on trying to replace the depleted account. It may feel futile and sometime we just want to give up.

When you want to give up, remember the lesson from the sweeper. He kept on sweeping because he wanted to minimize the risk of people falling down due to slippery walkways or stairs. It was not futile because it was about minimizing loss and risk.

When we build our emergency fund, it is also for minimizing loss and risk. We reduce the risk of falling back into debt. It is not a futile thing to have a money cushion in the event of emergency or unexpected situations.

If you are still struggling to build your emergency fund, don’t give up! You are on the right track and sooner or later you will get there. Press on!

Learn and grow!
Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Saturday, June 01, 2013

My Luck with Starbucks


Yesterday I went to Starbucks to buy Starbucks’ 11th Anniversary mug. I had a voucher that entitled me for 30% discount. The price of the mug was quite expensive, Rp 75,000, and after discount it would be Rp 52,500.

While I was there, I was offered to get Starbucks Reward Card with a minimum balance of Rp 100,000 and only for yesterday, I could get a free beverage (Mocha Cookie Crumble Frap tall size). I thought it was quite a good offer and I certainly could use the discount, so I agreed to get the Starbucks Reward Card for Rp 100,000.

When they entered my purchase into the cash register, somehow the total amount came out to be Rp 130,000, instead of Rp 152,500. I told them that the amount did not seem right and they also agreed with me, but they had to follow the cash register. I ended up paying only Rp 130,000.

I considered myself lucky when dealing with Starbucks because yesterday was the second time that I got something extra from Starbucks. Last time, I got an extra free drink because of another error.

I put away Rp 22,500 into my lucky note stash to remind myself that sometimes I am just lucky! 

Do you have similar experience? If you do, please share in the comments.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Friday, May 24, 2013

Credit Card and Airport Lounge


One of the reasons I have a credit card is free airport lounge access. A few years ago, gold card could get you a free airport lounge access. Nowadays you need to have at least a platinum card or higher (titanium, privilege, emerald or whatever they want to call it) to have a free access. If you have a gold card, then you may be able to use your reward points to get access. 

Is it really free? No! 

If you are paying a yearly fee for your platinum card at about Rp 600,000 to 750,000, then it is not really free. 

If you carry a balance on your credit card and you are paying interest, then it is definitely not free. You are actually giving subsidies to those people who pay their balance in full every month. 

If you are offered to apply for a new credit card just to get an airport lounge access, be smart! Ask yourself how often you are going to use the facility. If you travel less than 10 times a year, then you'd be better off just paying cash Rp 50,000 for one time access. If you only want some 'free' food available in the airport lounge, it is better to get a proper and more delicious food somewhere else. 

If you have a credit card that give you free access to airport lounge, then use it and enjoy yourself! If you have access for two, then get acquainted with someone new and use it to make friend.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Monday, May 20, 2013

Take Care of Your Finances Before Going Traveling


If you have a plan to travel overseas for more than a week, please remember to take care of your finances.

If you know that you have bills due to be paid while you are overseas, you need to arrange the payments, either paying them online or delegating the task to someone that you can trust. If you have automated payments by debiting your account, then you do not need to worry about it. Just make sure that you check the amount when you get back from the trip.

Please remember to pay your credit card bill because the late charge and interest are punishing. I know one bank charges Rp 150,000 just for late charge. Imagine if you are only using your credit card to buy one mocha latte at Starbucks for Rp 31,000 and you get to pay Rp 150,000 late charge – Aaaarrhhh! Pay your credit card bill early!

This month, I paid all my credit card bills on the same day as when the e-statement arrived because I plan to go on a trip. I do not want to cut it too close because I will only come back one day before it is due. Better early than sorry!

What about savings? I have an automated system to save and invest my money, so I am covered. Every month, my account will be debited and that money will go straight to saving and investment account. Automated savings makes life easier and you can have more time and freedom to do what you want.

How about you? What do you usually do before going traveling? If you have some tips or comments, please share.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Can An Old Childhood Toy Teach Us?


Yesterday while shifting stuff at family storage, I found this driving simulation toy from my childhood. I did not quite remember whether I got this for my 11th or 12th birthday, but I remembered the process before getting this toy.

The toy was displayed in a toy store just opposite our old house. I regularly came to the toy store just to see what was new and interesting. When I saw it, I really wanted to have it. In the 80s, something like this was already a very technologically advance toy. The screen on the right displayed the road and when you turned the steering wheel, the car moved from left to right. I could not remember whether the speed changed by shifting the gear. Anyway I was quite obsessed in getting this particular toy.

I told my parents that I wanted this toy for my birthday. They tried to persuade me not to buy it because it was quite expensive. I said I wanted it and I gave them several reasons why I wanted to get it. One of the reasons that I told them was that I could use it to practice my driving skill so I would be ready to drive by the time I reached the age of 17. When I think about it now, I realize how ridiculous the reasons and excuses that I gave to my parents. Yet they still bought me the toy.

I played with it for about a week or so, and I just got bored with it. I did not think that I would lose interest that fast, but it happened. It went to the storage and I just found it again after more than 20 years. I showed it to my 3 year old nephew and he was not even interested in it, the iPad certainly had more appeal to him than something like this.

What can we learn from this?

Sometimes we are still like little kids. We want something so bad and we start making up reasons why we need it. We build a strong case about why we need and have to buy it now. Even the most ridiculous reason seems reasonable and acceptable.

We can be so stubborn and do not want to hear other people’s advice or recommendation although they can see it more clearly than us. Sometimes they just keep quiet after a while because they can’t be bothered speaking to closed ears and mind. So if you still have friends who are honest with you about your silly purchases, be glad you have them around.

Remember that the excitement often occurs during the wait, and we simply lose interest after we have it. Why not just keep waiting to keep the excitement going on and on? Hahahaha In a few months, we will be enchanted by different or newer toys anyway. At the moment, I am excited thinking about getting a MacBook Pro in December…I’ve been waiting for more than two years…perhaps I will buy, perhaps I will wait for the next and more advanced MacBook Pro.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Things You Need to Know When Going to Investment Seminars

investment seminar
Have you ever been to an investment seminar?

I like going to those free investment seminars and gatherings because I get to know many different products offered by various banks and financial institutions. If you are interested in learning more about financial products, you can come to these events with some cautions.

Although it is often called a seminar, more often it is more about selling investment products. Even if it is a financial institution’s consumer gathering about economic outlook, at the end, we are often told about some new product offerings.

Sometimes we get emotional when hearing the special offer available that day. 
For example, for the first 7 people who open an investment account with a minimum balance of Rp 100,000,000 will get a cashback of Rp 300,000. You can use the money to trade, but you are not allowed to withdraw for the first three months. We feel like we are getting some free easy money, but when you really calculate it, it is not really worth it.

If you are loaded with lots of money, that amount may be a spare change for you and it does not matter where you put it. However if you are not, you need to think about the opportunity cost of putting that money there. You need to think whether there are better alternatives for you. 

What do you need to do if you come to these seminars?
  1. Come with a clear goal in mind – is it just to learn about an investment product? Then come to learn and do not buy anything.
  2. Ask a lot of questions. If you do not understand the product, do not invest in it.
  3. Get a second opinion from someone outside the seminar, preferably those with financial knowledge and unrelated to the financial institutions that are offering the products. If you have a trusted certified financial planner, you can ask him or her. 
  4. Be skeptical, especially if they are offering something that is too good to be true because it often is. If they are saying that it is a no-risk, high return investment, then run away as fast as possible because nothing is without risk. The higher the return, the higher the risk.
  5. Do not get pressured by the account officers or sales people, especially if they say that if you do not take action now, you will miss out on the profit. Let it go! There will be other opportunities to make profit!
Just like reading books, financial blogs, going to investment seminars can help you to be more knowledgeable about financial products. Use the opportunity to learn and may what you learn take you closer to your financial goals.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Friday, May 03, 2013

How Much Interest Are You Getting from Your Bank? 0%?

fe zero percent saving

Do you know how much interest you are getting from your bank?

In Indonesia, for most of the banks (BCA, Mandiri, and BNI) that I know of, if your balance in the saving account is less than Rp 1,000,000, you will earn 0% interest.

If you have money less than Rp 1,000,000 sitting in the bank at the moment, you’d be better off by having the same amount under your bed. Why? Because not only you are not getting anything, but you are losing money through bank charges ranging from Rp 10,000 to Rp 12,000 per month.

What should you do if your saving account’s balance is often under Rp 1,000,000?

Get a saving account with no administration fee!

There are several banks that offer free admin saving account – for example TabunganKu that has limited features such as a maximum of one or two withdrawals per month. Each bank has different terms and conditions for TabunganKu, so please go to the bank official site to get more information.

Personally, I prefer Danamon Lebih when it comes to free admin bank account because not only there is no admin fee, but I can get cash back (max Rp 50,000 per month) from using the debit card when shopping. I also get an ATM card and internet banking facility.

We need to be smart when it comes to our money. Try to get the best deal that suits our needs!

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post

Friday, April 26, 2013

Interest – Part 3 Rule of 72

A quick and easy way to calculate compound interest is using the rule of 72.

In finance, the rule of 72 is used to estimate how many periods the investment will be doubled, given the interest percentage per period.

The formula is very simple


If you can get a 12% interest or return on your investment per year, how many years will you double your money? If you invest Rp 10,000,000, when will it be Rp 20,000,000?

n = 72 / 12

n = 6

So it will take approximately 6 years to double your money or make your investment become Rp 20,000,000.


Let’s take another example. If you want to double your money in 3 years, what is the rate of return that you need?

3 = 72 / r

r = 24

So you will need an interest of 24%


What is the number if you want to know when your money is tripled? Use Rule of 114

What is the number if you want to know when your money is quadrupled? Use Rule of 144

Remember to use this rule as an ESTIMATE because it is not meant to be exact. It is good for rough calculation that you can use without a financial calculator or spreadsheet.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Interest – Part 2 Compound Interest

salt compound

Compound interest is interest upon interest. That is, when an interest payment is added to the principal and then the whole thing (principal + interest) earns interest.

How does it work?

If you invest Rp 1,000,000 and the compound interest is 10% a year, then

Year 1 : Rp 1,000,000 + (Rp 1,000,000 x 10%) = Rp 1,100,000

Year 2 : Rp 1,100,000 + (Rp 1,100,000 x 10%) = Rp 1,210,000

Year 3 : Rp 1,210,000 + (Rp 1,210,000 x 10%) = Rp 1,331,000 and so on


Compound interest is what can make you rich when you invest. One of the most important elements in compound interest is time. The longer the time, the greater the impact.

That’s why the best time to invest is yesterday! Smile  Since you cannot go back to yesterday, then the next best time is NOW!


Perhaps you have heard this story…

One day a father and his son went to play golf. Before they started the game, the father asked his son.

“Son, would you prefer getting a lump sum Rp 50,000,000 or getting Rp 1,000 on the first hole and doubling it for next hole until you reach the 18th hole?”

After thinking for a few seconds, his son said, “Rp 50,000,000, Dad.”

“That’s why you still need to learn, Son. I’ll show you why.”

golf course 

“If you choose doubling that Rp 1,000, at the 18th hole, you will have Rp 131,072,000 and if you total all the money from hole 1 to 18, you will get a sum of Rp 262,143,000. You will get about 5 times more.”


What can we learn from this story?

1. It’s OK to start small. The most important thing is to start NOW.

2. When you have more money, save and invest more!

3. You may not be able to get an interest of 100% like in the story, but there are financial instruments that can get you better return than bank saving rate.


Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Monday, April 22, 2013

Interest - Part 1 Simple Interest


When we talk about investment or borrowing money, we need to understand interest.

For most of us, we had learned how to calculate interest when we were at school, but we might not put much attention to it because we were too young to understand its implication. We only learn the mathematical aspect of it without understanding how important it will be when we grow up and start saving, investing or borrowing. 

Today we will learn about SIMPLE INTEREST. Interest is how much you pay for the use of money. If you borrow money, then you pay interest. If you lend or invest money, then you earn interest.

Example 1: If you invest Rp 1,000,000 and the interest rate is 12% a year. How much interest will you get in 3 year?

You will get an interest of = Rp 1,000,000 x 12% x 3 = Rp 360,000                            

The amount of money you will have after three years is

Rp 1,000,000+ Rp 360,000 = Rp 1,360,000.


Example 2: If you borrow Rp 5,000,000 and the interest rate is 10% a year. How much you will have to pay if you borrow for 3 years?

You will have to pay back = Rp 5,000,000 + ( Rp 5,000,000 x 10% x 3)

                                            = Rp 5,000,000 + Rp 1,500,000

                                            = Rp 6,500,000


Tomorrow, we will learn about COMPOUND INTEREST.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wishing Wishy-Washy Wishes

ziggy wishy washy

I wish…

  • I have more money,
  • I have a new car,
  • I have a bigger house,
  • I have the best smartphone,
  • I win a lottery,
  • I get a windfall from distance relatives,
  • I get a pay raise at work,
  • I can travel more,
  • etc.

I wish…I wish…I wish…so many wishes, but unfortunately they will remain just wishes.

If you want to your wishes to come true, one of the first things you need to do is to change your wishes to goals. Some of you may have heard SMART goal setting that goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Specific – What do you want? Why do you want it? How are you going to do it? You need to be very clear about what you really want. For example, instead of wishing you have more money, you can set a specific goal of saving 10% of your income or Rp 1M a month.

Measurable – You can quantify your goal and measure your progress. For example, if you want to have a saving of Rp 6,000,000 in a year, then you can measure your progress when you save Rp 500,000 a month.

Attainable – You need to believe that you can achieve this goal. You need to set a goal that is big but not impossible to achieve. For example, if your income is Rp 10M a month, saving Rp 1.5M a month or 15% of your income is attainable. If you say that you will save Rp 5M or half of your income, it will be very hard, especially if you have a family to support. If it is too difficult you are not going to do it, so set a goal that will excite and motivate you to achieve it.

Relevant – How is the goal relevant to your life or purpose? For example, if you say that you want to save Rp 1M a month for a child’s education fund for 10 years, but you do not have a child…then it’s irrelevant. The goal must be meaningful and rewarding for you.

Timely – You set a timeframe for the goal. For example I have Rp 20M of emergency fund by 31st December 2013.

Transform your wishes into goals and start taking action today! 

If you do not mind sharing your goals with us, please share them in the comments! You will be more motivated when you make a public commitment!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Be Prepared for ‘YES’

nc be prepared

When we have lived as frugally as possible, yet the income is still not enough to have a decent lifestyle, then we need to consider increasing our income. One of the ways to increase our income is to sell or to offer our services. Perhaps some of us join network marketing, real estate agency or insurance industry to supplement our income. Although the potential rewards from these industries are high, not many people can stand the work. Trust me…it is not as easy as they say in their business opportunity meetings!

When we are selling or offering our services, we are often met with many objections, rejections until we only expect people to say ‘no’. Sometimes we feel so afraid to make another phone call because we can’t stand to hear another ‘no’. If this happens to you, remember this:

No matter how good your product or service is, there are people who will not buy it; No matter how bad your product or service is, there are people who will buy it.

That’s why when we are moving from one rejection to another, from one objection to another; remember that those rejections and objections will only bring us closer to those people who will buy from us. The no's are stepping stones instead of obstacles in our way to success. Celebrate and learn from the no’s and always be prepared for someone to say ‘YES’!

Wish you all the best in increasing your income!

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Monday, April 08, 2013

Tips to Put Money into Savings Account

ziggy money spend me

I know some people find it difficult to save money. It’s not because they do not have enough income, but because of their spending habit. When they have money, they just feel like spending them all.

There are many reasons why they do it. For some people, it is because of some traumatic events in the past, upbringing or due to friends’ influence. For some, it is because of their personality type. Certain type of personality such as Influence or Sanguine tends to seek pleasure and want to enjoy things now. They tend to be unorganized and won’t be bothered to track their expenses. (If you want to know more about how personality type can influence your finance, you can attend our seminar “Mastering Your Personality for Financial Freedom”)

These are some tips to help you put money into savings

  1. Auto-debit – automatically transfer some money to a separate account straight after you receive your income or salary
  2. Pension scheme provided by the company – some of the salary is automatically put into your retirement account and you can only access the account at certain age
  3. At the end of the day, take one piece of third biggest denomination of money from your wallet and put it in a jar. At the end of the week or month, deposit that money into your savings account. For example, if there are a few 100K, 50K, 20K and 10K in your wallet, take one piece of 20K (third biggest denomination) and put it away. If you do this for a month, you may get around 500K that you can put in the savings account.
  4. When you get some change after paying for something, put the change into a separate wallet and save them. Don’t forget the coins because they can add up. For example, when you pay for 36K lunch using 50K denomination, put away the 14K and save them.

I hope these practical tips can help you put more money into your savings account. Start today! Put into practice and see you much you have saved by the end of the month.

If you have other tips to share, please do so in the comments.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Envelopes for Financial Management


Envelopes made by Anna and Anis. Thank you.

Instead of bringing your wallet full of credit card when you go shopping and you end up spending more than your budget, you can bring something like the picture above. It is made of 6 envelopes bounded together.

At the beginning of the week, you can allocate money for:

  1. Grocery shopping
  2. Transport (petrol, tickets)
  3. Dining out
  4. Bill payment due that week (utilities, school fee, etc.)
  5. Fun or entertainment (movie, book, magazine)
  6. Emergency fund

Put the budgeted money into each envelope.

Whenever you buy something or pay something, use the money from the appropriate envelope and put the receipt into that envelope. Basically you exchange the money with receipt.

When there is no more money inside the envelope, it is a sign to stop shopping. Remember…no cheating! Do not move money from one envelope to another.

At the end of the week,

  • You can use the receipts to record your expenses for the week
  • Any money left in the envelope, you can either save them (recommended) or you can use it for the following week

It is a simple and practical way to manage your finance.

If you use similar methods, please share in the comments.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Monday, April 01, 2013

Demystifying Get Rich Quickly Tip No 1 – Marry Someone Rich

I often heard that one of the ways to get rich quickly is to marry someone rich. I saw this story posted on Facebook and I would like to share it here. I don’t think this is a real story, but we can always learn from it. 

A reply from CEO of J.P. Morgan to a pretty girl seeking a rich husband

A young and pretty lady posted this on a popular forum:

Title: What should I do to marry a rich guy?
I'm going to be honest of what I'm going to say here. I'm 25 this year. I'm very pretty, have style and good taste. I wish to marry a guy with $500k annual salary or above.
You might say that I'm greedy, but an annual salary of $1M is considered only as middle class in New York. My requirement is not high. Is there anyone in this forum who has an income of $500k annual salary? Are you all married?

I wanted to ask: what should I do to marry rich person like you?
Among those I've dated, the richest is $250k annual income, and it seems that this is my upper limit. If  someone is going to move into high cost residential area on the west of  New York City Garden(?), $250k annual income is not enough.

I want to ask a few questions:
1) Where do most rich bachelors hang out? (Please list down the names and addresses of bars, restaurant, gym)
2) Which age group should I target?
3)  Why most wives of the riches are only average-looking? I've met a few  girls who don't have looks and are not interesting, but they are able to  marry rich guys.
4) How do you decide who can be your wife, and who can only be your girlfriend? (my target now is to get married)
Ms. Pretty

A philosophical reply from CEO of J.P. Morgan:

Dear Ms. Pretty,
I  have read your post with great interest. Guess there are lots of girls  out there who have similar questions like yours. Please allow me to  analyze your situation as a professional investor.

My annual income is more than $500k, which meets your requirement, so I hope everyone believes that I'm not wasting time here. From the standpoint of a business person, it is a bad decision to marry you. The answer is very simple, so let me explain.

Put  the details aside, what you're trying to do is exchanging "beauty" with "money" : Person A provides beauty, and Person B pays for it, fair  and square. However, there's a deadly problem here, your beauty  will fade, but my money will not be gone without any good reason. The  fact is, my income might increase from year to year, but you can't be  prettier year after year. Hence from the viewpoint of economics,  I am an appreciating asset, and you are a depreciating asset. It's not  just normal depreciation, but exponential depreciation. If that is your only asset, your value will be much worse 10 years later.

By the terms we use in Wall Street, every trading has a position, dating with you is also a "trading position". If  the trade value dropped we will sell it and it is not a good idea to  keep it for long term - same goes with the marriage that you wanted. It  might be cruel to say this, but in order to make a wiser decision any  assets with great depreciation value will be sold or "leased".

Anyone  with over $500k annual income is not a fool; we would only date you,  but will not marry you. I would advice that you forget looking for any  clues to marry a rich guy. And by the way, you could make yourself to  become a rich person with $500k annual income.This has better chance  than finding a rich fool.
Hope this reply helps.
J.P. Morgan CEO

I agree that it is easier and better to make yourself rich by learning and practicing good money management rather than finding a rich fool to marry.

What can you learn from this story? Please share in the comments.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Don’t Rely on Numbers to Determine Your Happiness

sage of happiness

I just read an article at BBC “Why Money Can’t Buy You Happiness

BBC points to a study by Christopher Hsee of the Chicago School of Business:

[P]articipants were offered the option of working at a 6-minute task for a gallon of vanilla ice cream reward, or a 7-minute task for a gallon of pistachio ice cream. Under normal conditions, less than 30% of people chose the 7-minute task, mainly because they liked pistachio ice cream more than vanilla. For happiness scholars, this isn't hard to interpret –those who preferred pistachio ice cream had enough motivation to choose the longer task. But the experiment had a vital extra comparison. Another group of participants were offered the same choice, but with an intervening points system: the choice was between working for 6 minutes to earn 60 points, or 7 minutes to earn 100 points. With 50-99 points, participants were told they could receive a gallon of vanilla ice cream. For 100 points they could receive a gallon of pistachio ice cream. Although the actions and the effects are the same, introducing the points system dramatically affected the choices people made. Now, the majority chose the longer task and earn the 100 points, which they could spend on the pistachio reward—even though the same proportion (about 70%) still said they preferred vanilla.

The participants in the study were focusing on getting the most points although it does not maximize their happiness.

How often do we make the same mistake?

  • We want the highest number of salary possible although it comes from the job that we hate
  • We want the latest and most expensive gadget although using it frustrates us
  • We eat at an expensive restaurant, order the most exquisite cuisine that we do not like at all

We often think that the higher the number, the happier we become…well, it does not work that way. So what should we do?

So next time you are buying a lottery ticket because of the amount it is paying out, or choosing wine by looking at the price, or comparing jobs by looking at the salaries, you might do well to remember to think hard about how much the bet, wine, or job will really promote your happiness, rather than simply relying on the numbers to do the comparison. Money doesn't buy you happiness, and part of the reason for that might be that money itself distracts us from what we really enjoy.

If you have the money, use it wisely to promote your happiness.

More often, the things that make us happy do not involve money all all, like:

  • spending time with your friends at home,
  • listening to your music collection, watching DVDs, reading books
  • enjoying the quietness and solitude at home
  • watching endless waves breaking at the beach (I really miss Cottesloe beach, WA)

Choose your own happiness! Do not let the numbers dictate you!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fun Activities for Long Weekend – Treasure Hunt


Do you still have a piggy bank? I do. I have a money jar to put all the coins that I get during the day. 100, 200 or 500 rupiah coins are coming our way almost everyday, and many of us think that they are just small money and we put or even throw them all over the place.

Have you ever counted how much money in form of coins that you have in your house and car right now? Have you every tried going on a treasure hunt in your house and car and just collect all the coins and put them in a jar? You should try it sometime. I knew someone who did it and she was really surprise to find more than Rp 100,000 in form of coins all over her house and cars.

Tomorrow is long weekend. If you have children, instead of going to the mall and spend money, why don’t you go on a treasure hunt around the house with your children? It’s free and fun – moreover you may be surprised with the amount of money you find. 

Wishing you a happy long weekend!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Positive Thinking Can Ruin Your Financial Life

soup positive perception

We often hear that positive thinking is essential for our happiness. In finance however, positive thinking can also lead us to financial disaster. When does this occur?

Some examples:

1. Instead of starting to prepare for your children's education fund, you tell yourself to have faith that when the time comes, you will have enough money to pay for it without ruining other financial needs.

2. Instead of starting to prepare your retirement fund, you rely on your employer to prepare it for you. You think positively that they will keep you forever and provide for you.

3. Instead of starting to learn how to invest your money well, you just think positively that the market is just going to go up and up, doubling your money every few years.

In finance and perhaps even in general life, it is better to have realistic thinking than positive thinking. Realistic thinking does not mean negative thinking either. Realistic thinking is understanding that conditions and situations will change all the time. The market may go up or go down. You may change job or even get fired. Your business may hit rough patches. There are inherent uncertainties in life.

What can we do? Be prepared!

  • Make sure that you have enough emergency fund
  • Make sure that you have enough insurance to cover for death, sickness or any other eventualities
  • Make sure you prepare funds for your children's education need as early as possible
  • Make sure you start saving and investing for your retirement fund
  • Make sure you learn new skills to keep you relevant in your company
  • Make sure to maintain and expand your network

Be realistic to changes in life.

Keep learning! Keep growing!

Inge Santoso, B Com, CFP®

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In Remembrance of My Grandfather

Grandpa 88 cake

A photo of my grandfather on his 88th birthday. He passed away because of old age, exactly two years ago at 90 years old.

My grandfather was a frugal man and very money savvy. Even in his old age, he was still going from bank to bank looking for the best interest rate for his retirement saving account. Most of the customer service people in the banks knew and welcomed him whenever he came to the banks.

He was also very organized and he kept good records of his money. He always knew how much money he had in each bank account and the interest he was getting on that account. His financial profile was very conservative because of his age. He only put money in term deposit and saving accounts.

He was also very healthy and he almost never had any medical cost. He had lived a very healthy lifestyle, eating healthy food, doing regular exercise, having enough sleep and rest. 

Although he had other shortcomings, but when it comes to finances – we can always learn from him.

  1. be frugal
  2. keep good records
  3. make your money work hard for you
  4. as you get older, be more conservative with your investment
  5. have a healthy lifestyle – less medical and care cost

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gadget NOW or Cash LATER?

things or money

If you have Rp 209,000,000 right now, and somebody offers to give you:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Note II (Rp 7,499,000) NOW
  2. Rp 8,300,000 ONE YEAR LATER

Which one would you choose?

These kinds of advertisements and offers from financial institutions can be very tempting. Since you have the money in the bank anyway, why don’t you delay using it for one year and in exchange you get a gadget of your choice? You are still earning a small interest on your money too.

When you start calculating the interest or return that you can make by putting the same amount of money in term deposit or other investment, then you can see that you would end up paying more for the gadget. However, most people can’t be bothered calculating the future value of their money, so they won’t realize this.

So when you are making a money decision;

Do you gravitate towards INSTANT or DELAYED GRATIFICATION?

Do you want to have something NOW or have more money LATER?

We all wish we can have something now and also have more money later, but it does not work that way. What we enjoy now, will cost us something in the future. Choose wisely!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Monday, March 18, 2013

One Degree

If you walk 1 km a day, deviating 1° from your original destination, how far would you be from your original destination in 1 year if you keep on that course?

It seems like a math question for high school students and you may forget how to calculate it or you just can’t be bothered to calculate the distance. If I ask you to guess the answer roughly, which one would you choose?

  • A 1 km
  • B 6 km
  • C 30 km
  • D 72 km

If you choose B, 6km, you are right.

Now, next question…

If you save $1 a day for a year and you invest it monthly with a return of 12% a year for 30 years, approximately how much money would you have at the end of 30 years? Have a rough guess.

  • A $10,000
  • B $30,000
  • C $60,000
  • D $100,000

If you choose D, $100,000, you are right! What if you save $10 instead of $1?

You can be a millionaire just by saving $10 a day!


1° may not be much, but over time, it can make quite a big difference.

$1 a day may not be much, but over time, it can make a big difference.

If you want your financial life to get better, just make one small change today. A small change that you do today, over time, can make a big difference in you life.

What 1° change are you going to do today? Please share in the comment.


Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mind Before Matter

mind before matter

Train the mind and the matter will follow.

We’ve heard a lot of stories about people winning lottery and ended up with nothing after a few short years. Why? Because the mind is not ready!

A lot of people make the mistake of chasing the matter, such as money and possessions, but they forget to train the mind, building it with knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Thus even when they get the matter, they won’t be able to master it, and end up losing it.

It is important to keep learning. There are so many financial products that can help you to achieve your financial goals. You can’t afford to be ignorant. In finance, ignorance is NOT bliss, but a road to anguish and suffering.

If you do not have the time to learn on your own, then you can ask the help of a financial planner that you can trust. But at the end, it is YOUR money. It is your responsibility to manage it well.

Some people make excuses saying that they only have a small amount of money and it is too troublesome to track and manage it. Well, if you do not manage the small amount that you already have, why do you think you are ready to manage a bigger amount of money?

Before investing your money into financial products that you are not familiar with, invest in yourself by learning and asking questions. Remember to gather information about the product, the return as well as the risk.

Invest in your mind, then and only then invest your money!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Helping Elderly Parents to Manage Their Finances


When I went to the bank this morning, I saw a lady in her 50s trying to withdraw some money from her mother’s saving account. Unfortunately she could not withdraw the money because the signature on the form did not match the signatures on her ID card and bank book. Her mother was sick and she was unable to come to the bank herself. Her ability to write had deteriorated considerably so she could not sign legibly anymore. She also lost her ATM card, so there was no other way she could withdraw the money from the bank.

The teller was quite helpful in explaining what could be done in this situation.

  • If she had had an ATM card, it would have been easy because she could withdraw the money through ATM.
  • If she still could come to the bank, she could sign the form in front of the teller and they could use the photo ID to ensure that she was the person
  • If she could not come to the bank, then she could arrange to have a bank officer to come over to the house

I did not know what happened next, but there were lessons to be learned here.

We cannot avoid old age. It is important to be prepared before the time comes.

One option is to have a joint account with one of your children, so that he or she can help to manage the money if you are unable to do so.

  • Choose the right child to have joint account with. Not all of your children can be trusted with your money nor willing to help you.
  • The joint account should be solely used for your benefit, not to be mixed with your child’s money
  • There should be some regular reporting to other siblings to avoid negative accusations or disputes in the future

Do you have any experience in this matter? If you do, please share in the comments.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

One Minute Can Make a Big Difference

parking ticket

The parking ticket on the left: 2 hours 1 minute, on the right: 59 minutes

When I saw the parking ticket on the left, my mind was filled with thoughts such as:

I should have walked faster just now

I should not have gone to the toilet

I could have driven the car a bit faster to get to the locket

I wished the car in front of me paid for the parking just a bit faster

One extra minute costing Rp 3,000 and a lot of anguish!


When I got the parking ticket on the right, my mind was filled with thoughts such as:

I was so glad that I had walked faster and not stopping at any other stores

I was so glad I bought things quickly and efficiently

I was glad that we parked close to the door

One spare minute saved Rp 3,000 and a lot of gratitude!

Sometimes I wonder how one minute can create so much difference, so different feelings and reactions.

The amount of money involved here is the same, Rp 3,000 (USD 0.30), but we tend to be more concerned with the value instead of the amount. In the first instance, it was paying Rp 3,000 for 1 minute, instead of 60 minutes, and it felt so expensive. In the second instance, it was paying Rp 3,000 for 59 minutes, and it felt worthwhile.

Are you getting the best value for your money? What are you going to do in one minute to make a difference in your life?

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Monday, March 11, 2013

If You Want to Get More, Add Value!


One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

There are a lot of people in the recycling business the person in the picture, but not all of them do what he does. Yesterday I saw him sorting out what he had collected, big bottles, small bottles, cups, and so on.

For the bottle, he removed the label, then efficiently cutting the neck and the bottom. After that, cutting what’s left of the bottle from top to bottom, then wrap the plastic sheet together. For the plastic cup, he removed the lip of the cup and stacked them together.

The additional effort in sorting out, organizing adds value and he was getting more money by giving the extra effort.

What are you going to do today to add value? The money may not come straight away, but somewhere along the line, you will definitely get something in return!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Friday, March 08, 2013

Risk in Taking Action and Doing Nothing


Last year, I shared about cash management and investing in mutual funds with two people. One of them took action straight away. Within a week, she opened a new investment account and started investing in some mutual funds. The other one did nothing.

Six months passed… 

The first one who had taken action immediately got a return of more than 13% of total money invested. She invested in mutual fund using dollar-cost-averaging to simplify the process. She allocated a fixed amount of money and invested in mutual fund at a fixed date every month.

The one who did nothing only got a mere 0.1% return because he only put the money in savings account. Without him realizing it, his money was actually losing value because of inflation.

The two of them received the same lessons, the same advices, yet their action or inaction gave them vastly different results.

There is a risk in taking action or doing nothing. When you take action, you know you take a calculated risk. There is a risk of failure or loss in taking action, but there is also a possibility of success. When you do nothing, you may feel that you are not taking any risk, but when you do nothing, you have a risk of regret for not doing it. In finance, doing nothing will definitely cost you because you have time and inflation working against you.

Have you taken a calculated risk recently? How are you faring? Please share in the comments.


Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Monday, March 04, 2013

Grocery Shopping That Does Not Empty Your Wallet


The first or the last weekend of the month is when people often go for grocery shopping because they just receive their salary.

A few tips on doing grocery shopping that does not empty your wallet:

1. Do NOT go shopping just after you just receive your salary. When you feel that you have plenty of money in the bank, you tend to buy things that you want instead of what you need.

2. Take stock of what you already have at home so you know exactly what you have at home and create a grocery shopping list. Remember to bring the shopping list with you and buy only what’s on the list.

3. Limit the time you are inside the grocery store. Just shop for what’s in your shopping list and go straight to the cashier. Do not walk through all the aisles, do your walking exercise somewhere else.

4. Go shopping after you have eaten. Do not go shopping on empty stomach because you tend to buy more when you are feeling hungry. Those Doritos, chocolate cookies and cashew nuts are really inviting, aren’t they?

5. Cheaper products are often found above or below the eye-level shelves. Look up or look down to find similar products with cheaper prices.

6. Leave your children at home when you are doing grocery shopping because they often ask you to buy things not on your shopping list. You know sometimes you just can’t refuse them, especially when they see you with their cute, pleading eyes.

Is there anything else you may want to add to the list? Please share in the comments.

Learn and Grow,

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Gamify Chore with Treasure Hunt

treasure hunt

I have three helpers cleaning my house every single day. I understand that it is a chore to do this day in and day out, so today I want to spice things up a little bit. I created a treasure hunt!

I got 10 pieces of Rp 2,000 bills and I put each piece at hard to reach places or where they seldom clean. For example, behind the sofa and night stand, above the pantry cupboard and rain shower head, under the vase and cable box.

I told them to find all the 10 pieces of money and if they found all of them, I would give them additional Rp 10,000 as a bonus.

They were really excited to do the job today. They searched and cleaned every crook and cranny to find the money. It took them some time to find all the pieces but they were really enjoying their work. I could see them smiling and laughing whenever they found a piece! The three of them were working together, reminding each other to search places where the money could have been hidden.

Did they manage to find them all? Yes, they did! They got a total of Rp 30,000 today! They were really happy! Not only for the money but for the fun too!

I was also very happy because I got the house to be extra clean today. I also had some fun watching them doing the treasure hunt.

Let’s gamify chore!

What other ideas do you have to gamify chores? Please share in the comments.

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Friday, March 01, 2013

Written Notes vs Memory


Today I went to the bank to redeem one of the mutual funds. I intended to redeem Mandiri Investa Pasar Uang, but when I filled out the form, somehow I wrote Mandiri Investa Dana Utama. I only realized the mistake when I got home to input the transaction in my computer. Although the mistake was not fatal this time, it could have been a disaster.


  1. Write your plan on paper instead of relying solely on your memory
  2. Bring the latest statement to the bank to help you fill out the detail on the form
  3. Concentrate when writing the form
  4. Re-read what you have written and compare it with your notes or statement

Have you ever made a mistake similar to this? Please share your story in the comments.


Learn and Grow,

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP®

Thursday, February 21, 2013

In Crisis, We Learn Our True Nature


My Nissan Juke after an accident this afternoon.

At 4.20PM I left the office to go to Vihara Dhamma Sundara for an interfaith tree planting ceremony. While I was waiting for the light to go green next to Centre Point, Purwosari, there were two motorcycles colliding with each other next to my car. I saw the collision and it seemed to be in slow motion until one of the motorcycles fell to left hitting the right side of my car. I did not dare to move because I might drag the motorcycle and injure the rider. I waited until people came out to help the two riders and told me to move to the side of the road.

After I parked on the side of the road, I went out to check the damage. I saw black streak on my right doors. One of the security guard that helped the rider came up to see the damage too. The black streak was just paint from the motorcycle and my car was not scratched nor dented. I sighed with relief.

The security guard asked me whether I wanted to pursue the case with the motorcycle riders. I told him that I wanted to get their details because I might need it for insurance. He persuaded me not to pursue the case, but I said I needed to do it.

I walked with the security guard to meet one of the riders, he was not injured physically, however his motor did have some damage. He was cooperative when I asked him about his detail and phone number. I told him that I might not pursue this matter because there was only superficial damage. 

The rider whose motorcycle fell on my car ran away. Perhaps he was afraid and he chose to run away, instead of taking responsibility for his action.

How did I feel? After the initial little shock, I was a bit worried about extent of damage to the car. After I saw that there was no real damage, I felt relief. Even if there was a real damage, the insurance would have covered it.

It was after I went back into the car and continued driving that I realized that I did not even ask whether the motorcycle rider was hurt from the accident. It did not even cross my mind to ask for his well- being. Suddenly I realized how I had put things above people. It was all business for me…no financial loss…no worries. I discovered something about myself today. I thought I had enough compassion towards people but when the real thing happened, it was evident that I did not really have it.


In crisis, we learn our true nature.

Anything that happens in our life can help us discover an aspect within ourselves. Either we like it or not, the simple acknowledgement that we have it inside of us hopefully helps us to learn, grow and be better human beings.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Right Not to Buy


One of my nephew’s sitters went to a baby shop to buy some milk. While she was in the store, she saw a butterfly pin. She thought that it was cheap for Rp4,500 (USD0.5) so she brought it to the cashier. When the cashier scanned the barcode, it was not Rp4,500 but Rp14,500, more than three times the price! She was feeling embarrassed to say no and she decided to pay for the pin.

If this happened to you, what would you have done?

  1. Pay for it, or
  2. Cancel the purchase

What if the price is Rp45,000 and Rp145,000?

Perhaps it’s easier to cancel the purchase when the amount is significantly bigger. Rp10,000 is cheap to save your face, but Rp100,000? Is it worth it?

I remembered my own story when I was a teenager studying in Australia. National Geographic store recently opened and I went there to check it out. I saw a stethoscope and I was considering of buying it. The price of the stethoscope was quite expensive considering the amount of pocket money I had. While I was thinking whether to buy it, taking it out of the box to see whether it was of good quality and the price did reflect the value, one of the store attendant came to me. I thought perhaps I was not allowed to take it out of the box, so he came to warn me. When he came, he asked me with what I heard was a demeaning tone, “Are you going to buy it? Can you afford to buy it?” At that moment, my ego went nuts. I thought nobody should look down on me like that, so with emotions running high, I told him, “Yes, I will buy it.” I went to the cashier and took almost all the money that I had in my wallet to pay for it. After I went home, I had a big buyer’s remorse!

At that moment I learned a lesson, to be unafraid to cancel a purchase and that I have the right not to buy and I won’t let the store attendant to “bully” me into buying something.  

Have you had a similar experience? What have you learned? Please share in the comments.

Learn and Grow!