Lifestyle Miscellaneous The Frugal Handbook

New Beginnings – April 2024 Update

As some of you might have noticed, I have been on a hiatus for about 2 months – the longest break I’ve taken since starting this blog.

This hiatus was unintentional, ie I didn’t plan to stop posting for this long.

There were simply too many things on my plate during this period, and I couldn’t find the time to sit down and properly write a post.

Today, I thought I’d share what has been going on in my life that culminated in this hiatus, and some updates regarding this blog.

1: Job Change

Shortly after my earlier post in February, I secured a new job and submitted my resignation to my current company.

My company’s policy is that resigned staff are no longer allowed to work from home (WFH), so I had to start going to the office every day.

This had a huge impact on my daily schedule and my ability to write posts for several reasons.

Going to the office every day meant that I spent a lot less time at home since I used to be able to WFH 2 days/week.

It also meant that I had to wake up earlier on more days and spend more time and energy travelling to and from the office.

Soon, I started finding it difficult to find the time and energy to sit down and start writing posts when I’m at home on weeknights and weekends.

2: Chinese New Year

Around the time that I submitted my resignation, Chinese New Year (CNY) was just around the corner.

The few days of holidays and weekends were spent celebrating and visiting relatives, and rightfully so.

While I enjoyed the festivities and spending time with loved ones, it didn’t leave me with much time to get writing done.

3: Reservist

Right after the final weekend of CNY, my 2 weeks of reservist started.

During these 2 weeks, I was required to stay in camp.

I did have a fair bit of free time during my reservist, but I was too busy dealing with something far more important to think about writing blog posts.

4: Buying A Resale Flat + HFE Complications

Amid my hectic schedule, I was also in the middle of the most expensive purchase of my life – buying a resale HDB flat.

For context, my partner and I have been looking at resale HDB flats since the start of the year and have gone for several house viewings.

The day before my reservist started, we went for another round of house viewings and happened to find a unit that we liked.

We made an offer to the sellers that same evening, which they accepted.

The next day – while I was booking in for my reservist – I transferred the deposit to the sellers and received the Option To Purchase (OTP) for the flat.

I won’t go into the details of the process of buying a resale HDB flat but after receiving the OTP, it meant that we had 21 days to decide whether we wanted to buy the flat and how we wanted to finance the purchase.

The latter point is what we had some concerns about since we knew we wanted to buy the flat.

Since last year, HDB introduced the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter as a way to determine your eligibility to buy an HDB flat along with any housing grants, and the amount of housing loan you can take from HDB.

While I think the intention behind it is good, the way it is designed to work resulted in many problems for us.

We applied for an HFE last year because it was required to submit our SBF (Sale of Balance Flats) application at the time.

While we didn’t end up getting an SBF unit, our HFE letter was valid until April 2024.

When we decided to start looking for resale flats at the start of this year, we figured we could reuse the same HFE letter.

However, we wanted to review the housing loan amount granted in our HFE so that we could take a larger loan to help finance the purchase of our resale flat.

If you didn’t know, the amount of housing loan you can take is directly related to your salary level.

And, shortly after submitting our salary information for our HFE application last year, both my partner and I were able to get significant increases in our salaries.

This meant that we should be eligible for a significantly higher housing loan, which would help a lot in terms of cash flow when it comes to making such a huge purchase.

We submitted 2 requests via the HDB portal to have the housing loan amount reviewed, but both times, they were rejected without even asking for our new salary information.

After receiving the OTP to buy a resale flat, we figured that we had to make HDB listen to our request.

Even though we could still afford to buy the flat with the current loan amount, it would’ve drained the bulk of our cash savings and left us with little cash to spend on other things like renovation.

We wanted to be able to keep more cash on hand for other uses, so getting a higher loan was quite important to us.

After a week of calling the HDB hotline, we were finally connected with an HDB officer who was able to review our housing loan amount.

We provided proof of our salary details, and our housing loan amount was successfully increased.

Relieved from this headache, we proceeded to exercise our OTP for the flat and submit our resale application.

That was when our second headache came.

The thing is, the OTP to buy the flat that is issued by the sellers is tied to our HFE letter.

And the HFE letter that we provided the sellers had the details of our old housing loan amount.

When we got our housing loan amount reviewed by HDB, we specifically requested for the HFE letter number to remain the same so that it wouldn’t cause issues in our application.

However, the HDB flat portal probably detected some anomalies in terms of the OTP issue date and our HFE letter issue date, so we couldn’t proceed with the resale application on the HDB website.

Once again, we had to brave HDB’s hotline to find an HDB officer who could advise us on this issue.

It turns out that this is a problem they’re familiar with.

After submitting a request on the HDB website and calling the hotline several times, they were able to resolve the issue for us, and we were finally able to submit our resale application.

All in all, both of these complications stressed us out for about 1 month before getting resolved.

5: Holidays

Thankfully, we were able to settle the issues from our resale flat right before we went on a 12-day holiday to Kyoto, Osaka, and Seoul, and we had a great trip.

Some of you might remember the nightmare that we experienced when we went to Seoul last year, and thankfully, we were able to avoid that situation this year.

Long story short, we missed our flight from Seoul to Singapore last year because we lost track of time when we arrived at Incheon airport.

This year, we made sure to give ourselves more than enough time to get to the airport and check-in, and everything went smoothly.

We also have another trip planned, this time to Australia, and we’ll probably already be there by the time you read this post.

We’ll be away for about 9 days, so there won’t be any posts next week either.

What’s Next?

So, what was the point of me rambling on about what has been going on in my life?

Well, it was my way of saying that 2024 has been an extremely hectic, though exciting year.

I’d also say that it’s been even more hectic than I expected it to be, and the reality is that I don’t foresee it getting less hectic in the near future.

I’ve just started a new job, and even though I can WFH with this job, I expect to be busy as I get accustomed to this new role and environment.

Even though the administrative issues of our resale flat have been settled, we’ll only get busier as we start to make plans for renovations and the next phase of our lives together.

I know that I said I’ll try to have posts on a biweekly basis in my last update, but I truly don’t know if I will be able to.

As much as I’d like to be able to write posts regularly, it’s becoming apparent that I have other priorities I need to focus on for now.

Don’t worry, I won’t stop posting completely – I’ll still try my best to post whenever I can.

But my point is that it might not be as frequent as I’d like it to be.

On the bright side, I might have some posts coming up about buying a resale HDB flat/renovations, so that’s something you can look forward to if you’re interested.

As always, thank you for supporting this blog, and I’ll catch you again whenever I can!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *