Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ways to Delay Gratification

Instant gratification. Our society is based on it. We want what we want and we want it NOW. The problem with wanting what we want NOW is that we often don't think the decision through or give it enough thought. When it comes to your finances, instant gratification is one of the biggest enemies to our finances.

Whats wrong with instant gratification? Besides what I just mentioned, instant gratification confuses our wants and our needs. Instant gratification tricks us into thinking we need that new tv, when we have a perfectly good tv at home.


One method I use to stop instant gratification from taking over my spending is to have a 24 hour rule for any purchase over $100. I usually take a lot longer than that to buy things that are more than $100, but the idea is to think do I really need this right NOW or can I take some time and do some research, maybe shop around find the item cheaper. Or even realize that I really don't need the item, I want it.


Here are some tips to help you delay instant gratification:

1. Have a clear vision of yourself in the future. It’s much easier to want to take care of future you if you have a picture in your head of what you’ll be doing in 5, 10, 15 years and beyond as well as a firm plan for getting there.

Knowing what you want and how you’ll get it makes the reasons for resisting temptation seem much more clear and real than having just vague ideas.

2. Find ways to distract yourself. It’s much easier to resist temptation after we’ve forgotten all about it! Instead of dwelling on what you can’t have right now, throw yourself into doing other activities that you enjoy.

Fill your life with lots of activity and good friends and you’ll find that you won’t dwell so much on buying things or trying to fill time by spending money.

3. Don’t test your will-power to the point of exhaustion. Depriving yourself too much can make it more difficult for you to stay on track in the future. Just like an overly stringent diet can lead to binge eating, an unrealistically strict budget can lead to uncontrolled splurges.

Plan a bit of fun money into your budget so that you can let loose every now and then without putting your bank account in jeopardy.

4. Make spending money as cumbersome as possible. The problem with paying with plastic for many of us is that it just doesn’t seem real enough. Paying with cash can make you think twice and reconsider how much of a need this purchase is.

Try putting all of the money you’ve ear-marked into savings into a separate account as soon as you’re paid. Make sure that it’s just difficult enough to get the funds out so that you won’t be tempted to sneak a bit “just this once” to pay for impulse purchases.

5. Keep yourself accountable by tracking all of your spending. Knowing that you have to write it down can sometimes be enough to make you stop and reconsider. Even better, find a friend or family member that will go over your books with you and make you “justify” your expenses.

6. Give yourself visual reminders of your goals and priorities to keep them at the front of your mind at all times. Whenever you’re tempted to choose immediate gratification over long term goals, think about these reminders and ask yourself if this momentary pleasure is worth delaying your dreams.

7. Avoid all or nothing thinking. For some of us, all it takes is one little slip-up to fall completely off the wagon. Just because you went slightly off budget, you don’t have an excuse to completely bust it. It’s still worth it to stay on track, even if you took a slight detour. Don’t try to talk yourself into thinking otherwise.

8. Make a list of your most common rationalizations and then come up with a counterpoint to each of them. For example, if you’re prone to saying “It’s just five dollars”, remind yourself that five dollars a day adds up to over $1,500 in a year. Or if you’re always promising yourself to do better starting next payday, ask why put off what you can easily start today?

9. Remember that whatever discomfort you feel will soon pass. Do you remember the mild feeling of hungriness you experienced last July 15th when you put off having a snack until you got home? Do you mourn the shirt you put back on the rack, say the time you shopped on May 30th, 2009? Of course not. Tell yourself that if your desire turns out not to be transient, you can always buy it later.

10. Enjoy how much your self-control is paying off but be careful not to use your past success as an excuse to slack off. Look at delayed gratification as a route to leading a more mindful, less materialistic life so that it’s easier to stick with your good habits instead of seeing them as a short term solution.


Remember, that item you think you need right NOW might be the difference between what you getting what really need one day....

Bountiful Blessings fall upon 9 students

Ever since four Diploma in Digital Media Design (DDMD) students created the animated opening for Channel 8 drama A Tale of the Two Cities, other students have been looking for similar opportunities. So it was great news when Mediacorp approached SIDM again to produce the ‘Bountiful Blessings’ drama trailer and opening. It is easy to see why.

Posing with Zhu Houren (second from left)

No of course they didn’t do it to meet the Mediacorp stars! Although that was one perk of the project :)

The nine students spent about four months, including one month of research, working on the 45-second animation. The 20-episode Ch8 drama was based on a fantasy of the Kitchen God descending upon Earth to seek out his former mortal wife, only to become embroiled in unexpected circumstances.

The students were split into two groups of 4 and 5. One worked on a beautifully animated trailer showcasing the Kitchen God’s past. The other group worked on a modern day animated opening, which superimposes the actors’ faces onto illustrated graphics.

Said final year DDMD student John Lim, “We faced challenges initially because we didn’t know what kind of style we were going to use. We had about 3 or 4 meetings with Mediacorp just to clarify the style and timeline.”

In the end, John’s team, who worked on the modern day animation, decided to showcase a different variety of styles including cut outs and silhouettes based on Mediacorp’s inputs.

Our students also visited Mediacorp’s production site to get a better understanding of the video production and editing team’s work, and at the same time got the opportunity to see the camera crew, actors and actresses in action.

Paul Yuen, Vice President of Mediacorp’s Chinese Drama Production unit, was so appreciative of the students’ efforts that he wrote a nice letter to the SIDM team.

As for the students, they couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to work on the clip. They even got invited to attend the media launch of the drama serial and pose for pictures with their favourite stars!

Jessica Hsuan (Centre, bottom row)

Bountiful Blessings debuted on 30th August 2011 and ended its run on 23rd September 2011.

Have you watched it?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Answer and Win: What Is Your Biggest Money Concern?

Tell us what your biggest money concern is and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $25 Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $25 Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments on this post, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry:

• Post your answer in the comments below

For extra entries (1 per action):

• Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment on this post telling us you did, or
• Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @peoplesfinance account. Include both "@peoplesfinance" and "#PFWIN" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment on this post.

Giveaway Rules:

• Contest ends Saturday, October 15th at 11:59 pm Eastern. Winners will be announced after October 15th on a new post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
• You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
• This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
• You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

Tell us what your biggest money concern is and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $25 Gift Card!

The Get Rich Slowly Philosophy

I LOVE Get Rich Slowly. I guess you could's the blog that started it all. Most of my philosophies on finance come from this blog in some form.

JD, of GRS, came up with fourteen tenets of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy. Check them out:

Money is more about mind than it is about math. That is, financial success is more about mastering the mental game of money than about understanding the numbers. The math of personal finance is simple — spend less than you earn — it’s controlling your habits and emotions that’s difficult.

The road to wealth is paved with goals. Without financial goals, you have no direction. If you have no direction, it’s easy to spend money on things you’ll regret later. But if you’re saving for a house, your daughter’s college education, or a trip to Europe, your goal will keep you focused, making it easier to spend on what’s important and ignore the things that aren’t.

To build wealth, you must spend less than you earn. Basic math, yes, but it’s important. Successful personal finance is all about building positive cash flow. By decreasing your spending while increasing your income, you can get out of debt and build wealth.

Saving must be a priority. Before you pay your bills, before you buy groceries, before you do anything else, you should set aside some part of your income. If you have to start small, start small. Even $25 a month is good. As you earn more and develop better habits, save as much as possible. (My wife saves nearly a third of her paycheck!)

Small amounts matter. Your everyday habits have a huge impact on your financial success. Frugality and thrift help build good habits, and make a real difference over time. Plus, there are tons of opportunities to flex your frugal muscles.

Large amounts matter, too. It’s good to clip coupons and to save money on groceries, but it’s even better to save on the big stuff like buying a car or a house. By making smart choices on big-ticket items, you can save thousands of dollars at once.

Slow and steady wins the race. The most successful folks are those who work longest and hardest at things they love to do. So try to find ways to make frugality fun, and recognize that you’re in this for the long haul. You’re making a lifestyle change, not looking for a quick fix.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. Too many people never get started putting their finances in order because they don’t know that the “best” first step is. Don’t worry about getting things exactly right — just choose a good option and do something to get started.

Failure is okay. Everyone makes mistakes — even billionaires like Warren Buffett. Don’t let one slip-up drag you down. One key difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is the ability to recover from a setback and keep marching toward a goal. Use failures to learn what not to do next time.

Do what works for you. Each of us is different. We have different goals, personalities, and experiences. We each need to find the tools and techniques that are effective for our own situations. There’s no one right way to save, invest, pay off debt, or buy a house — and don’t believe anyone who tells you there is. Experiment until you find methods that are effective for you.

Financial balance lets you enjoy tomorrow and today. Being smart with money isn’t about giving up your plasma TV or your daily latte. It’s about setting priorities and managing expectations, about choosing to spend only on the things that matter to you, while cutting costs on the things that don’t.

Action beats inaction. It’s easy to put things off, but the sooner you start moving toward your goals, the easier they’ll be to reach. It’s better to start with small steps today than to wait for that someday when you’ll be able to make great strides. Get moving.

Nobody cares more about your money than you do. The advice that others give you is almost always in their best interest, which may or may not be the same as your best interest. Don’t do what others tell you just because they hold a position of authority or seem to have a persuasive argument. Do your own research, get advice from a variety of sources, and in the end, make your own decisions based on your own goals and values.

It’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich. Don’t be obsessed with money — it won’t buy you happiness. Sure, money will give you more options in life, but true wealth is about something more. True wealth is about relationships, good health, and ongoing self-improvement.

Seems simple right? Sure it is!

Learning to Enjoy IT

Learning IT on Silver Infocomm Day 2011
Most students may be spending their long break taking, well.. a break. However, for 110 students, they devoted 17-19 September taking care of 800 senior citizens who were in NYP for various Information Technology (IT) classes.
These classes range from Basic Computing, to Social Networking, and even Blogging. There are 19 classes in total organised by IDA, and each cost $10 - a bargain if you ask us.  So who conducts these classes? Well they are none other than senior citizens themselves :)
These trainers are from the Organisation of Senior Volunteers (RSVP).  There is no better way for senior citizens to learn about technology than from their counterparts themselves.
Of course our student cyber guides were also around to facilitate less someone gets ‘lost’ in computing.
See the happy faces, and how some participants are intensely taking down notes.
Each participant also gets a goodie bag at the Silver Infocomm Day event registration. We checked out what’s in the goodie bag.
A magazine and some brochures

A thermal mug from IDA (with portable cup/cap)

$4 in Koufu vouchers. Yes the chinese ones are valid too.
Yes they even get Koufu vouchers so that they can grab themselves a filling lunch or tea break in between their classes.
Enjoying a meal at Koufu
If they wish, they could also sit in on IT talks conducted in the auditorium in the morning, and then participate in a Healthy Qigong session afterwards.

Our student volunteers also had a wonderful time with the senior citizens. They expressed their enjoyment of the event on Facebook and were glad to interact and bring a smile to the participants’ faces. Here are some of their comments:

Will there be another Silver Infocomm Day next year? Probably yes. Judging from the meaningful time our volunteers had, we’re sure they’ll turn up again next year!    

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday's Entrepreneur: Perfectpaws Pet Grooming & Boarding

Every Monday at PF4P, we like to start the week off on a positive note, so we bring you stories of people like us who have turned a passion, hobby, talent, or skill into something that provides them with either full-time or part-time income.

Over the weekend I took my puppy, Ms. Serenity, to the groomers for the first time. I found Perfectpaws Pet Grooming & Boarding on Google. I was looking for a groomer that focused on grooming, not someplace where they just hire someone who needs a job. I was pretty nervous because Serenity is anything but serene; she’s a 7 month old Yorkie/Maltese/Pomeranian mix who thinks she’s in charge at all times. I have never had a dog, of my own, that I actually took to a groomer so I didn’t really know what to expect.

Walking into this home-based business, there is a sense of comfort – even though various dogs can be heard from, I’m assuming, the basement. Serenity was at complete peace, which only happens when she’s asleep. Usually when I leave her sight she kirks out but I don’t even think she noticed me leaving (I could be wrong). Mrs. Sonia Love told me she would be done in about 2 hours – I was skeptical because I know my Serenity. Five minutes before 2pm Mrs. Love called informing me Serenity was ready.

Perfectpaws provides a grooming report card of your dog’s behavior, coat type and condition, and any comments. Serenity, surprisingly, got an A. Yay her first A!


Serenity Before


Serenity After

Here is some information from the Perfectpaws website:

Our company is based on the belief that our customers' needs are of the utmost importance. Our entire team is committed to meeting those needs. As a result, a high percentage of our business is from repeat customers and referrals. Perfectpaws is a home based business owned and operated by Sonia Love. Sonia has experience with all sorts of pets including dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and many more. She graduated from Maryland School of Dog Grooming in 1994 which she became a Certified Groomer and has been grooming dogs professionally ever since. Sonia is trained in pet first aid through the American Red Cross and is also a member of the National Dog Groomers Association of America.

Pet services include:
• Transportation to & from Veterinarian appointments, we also deliver pet food and supplies to your door
• Walks while boarding
• K9-Teeth Brushing
• Shampoos- Oatmeal, Medicated, Hypo-Allergenic, Flea & Tick, Facial Scrub, Colors (to enhance pet's natural color) & Milk Baths just to name a few
• Deshedding Treatment
• Administration of medicine while Boarding
• Grooming-Breed specific trim or the trim that the owner and groomer decided on
• Transportation to and from groomer
• Overnight and extended stays
• Flea & tick Treatments
• Nail care- trim, file, and polish

Perfectpaws offers a wide variety of packages, including:

Spa Package Deals (yes, Spa Packages…)
I'm so Itchy- Includes an Oatmeal or Medicated shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, teethbrushing and breath freshener.
Ultimate Pampered Pooch- This rich experience Includes Pearls Au Lait Milk Bath, Coat Conditioner, teethbrushing and breath freshener, facial scrub, and paws and nails massaged with paw cream.
Exfoliating & Hydrating Treatment- Includes a Dandruff shampoo, hot oil treatment, teethbrushing and breath freshner.
Flea Relief- Includes a instant-relief spray, medicated flea & tick bath, moisturizing conditioner, Spot on Flea & Tick treatment, and teethbrushing and breath freshener.

We offer a wide variety of grooming services, including:

Full Grooming- This consists of two baths, ear cleaning/plucking (if needed), toe nail trim, glands expressed and the specific haircut to fit your dog.
Bath & Brush- This consists of two baths, ear cleaning/plucking (if needed), toe nail trim, glands expressed and a good brush out.
Color Enhancing Shampoo- This service is added to the full grooming or bath service. Enhancing Shampoos for dogs are specially formulated to enhance a pet's natural color and shine. Shampoos are designed to enhance the color of dogs with black, blonde, brunette and white coats.
Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo- This service is added to the full grooming or bath service. They contain no pesticides and are ideal for pets with allergies or sensitive skin. The mild, tearless formula reduces tangles and leaves coats full of healthy shine without drying or irritating skin.
Medicated Shampoo- This service is added to the full grooming or bath service and is recommended for your pet to help relieve dry, itching, or irritated skin.
Milk Bath- This service is added to the full grooming or bath service. Au Lait Milk Bath Shampoo is enriched with milk proteins to soften and condition coats and for healthier skin.
Spot on Flea & Tick Treatment- This service is added to the full grooming or bath service. This treatment kills and repels adult fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes for up to 30 days. This treatment also helps to prevent eggs from hatching.
Flea & Tick Bath - This service is automatically done if we find or suspect fleas on a pet that has arrived for boarding or grooming. (This is at the owners expense)
It can also be requested, and added to a full grooming or bath service
Anal Gland Treatment- The expression of your pets anal glands generally is a natural occurrence, but in the case that it is not, we will express them before their bath at no charge.
Hot Oil Treatment- Your pet will love this treatment. Deep penetrating conditioning treatment moisturizes coat and replenishes the hair shaft with natural oils. It will help protect their skin from dryness, itching, and flaking.
Facial Scrub- This service is added to the full grooming or bath service. Give your pet a pampering spa treatment Facial Scrub. The facial cleaner exfoliates, soothes, and hydrates while removing tear stains without stinging eyes.
DeShedding Treatment- Does your pet have a shedding problem? This low shed shampoo followed by an deshedding solution will reduce shedding by 60%-80% which will improve skin health, promotes healthy hair growth, and adds elasticity to the hair shaft to reduce shedding.
Moisturizing Paw Treatment- This service is added to the full grooming or bath service. Great protection for paws / pads in the winter and soothing relief in the summer. Luxurious spa-quality crème with rich shea butter helps to soothe and soften rough, sore, and cracked paws. Helps to protect against harsh road salt and hot pavement.
Dremmel Nails- Don't like how your dogs nails are sharp after a nail trim? Get their nails dremmeled. It will leave their nails smoother.
Paint Nails- Make your dog look as fancy as you do by getting their nails painted. Choose from colors we have here or bring your own color!
Teeth Brushing- Have your pets teeth brushed to help get rid of bad breath, plaque, and tartar build up.


Next time, Serenity is going to try a spa package...lucky her!

To schedule your pet's grooming Contact Perfectpaws:

...And as always tell /em PF4TP sent you!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

5 Rules for Success From Experts


1. Experts provide real value.
Real experts provide real value. They focus on using the information they have to help others.

Experts commit to helping others long before money is exchanged. Don’t wait to start contributing in whatever way you can.

2. Experts always look one level up.
Teaching is the highest form of learning and true experts are always searching for better ways to do their craft.

They are always looking one level up to round out their skill set and improve their abilities. There is always something new to learn.

Think about the skills and talents you need to accomplish your job or reach your goals. Who are the people that are one level up in those areas? What can you learn from them? How can you get in touch with them?

3. Experts focus on the process, not the product.
It’s easy to want the Gold Medal, the hard part is training like an Olympian. Everyone loves the product, but very few people enjoy the process.

If you want to master your craft, then your actions need to follow a consistent process.

Consistent focus on the process will create extraordinary results.

4. Experts spend time on actions that can scale.
Experts, by definition, are known for their expertise. Well, you can’t become known if your name doesn’t make the rounds.

For that reason, experts focus on actions that scale.

Now, you might be saying, “But I don’t really care if I’m well-known or not.”

Doesn’t matter. You should still focus on actions that scale. Why? Because they dramatically improve your earning power.

5. Experts reach out to other experts.
It doesn’t matter what you know, if you can’t get the information into the right hands, then you’re not going anywhere.

Experts have the courage to reach out and build relationships with other experts. You need to show the same courage.

Building a network that can help you accomplish your goals is a critical step in success. It’s takes time, but it’s well worth it. That’s why knowing how to email important people is so critical.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Want A Pay Raise!

If you are anything like me, you NEED - not want - a raise. Wages just don't seem to match up with the cost of living these days. There are things you can do to bring home more money; like get a part time job, freelance, work overtime, sell your stuff, and all the other things I mention all the time...or you could ask for a raise (if you truly deserve one).

The Standard Advice For Getting A Pay Raise
Of course, most advice on asking for a pay raise is pretty apparent. For instance, most people think it’s a good idea to approach a supervisor when the company is doing well. This makes total sense as it’s the same thing when you’re trying to communicate with an obstinate spouse. Bring a “tough” subject up when the timing is good, and you’ll get a better shot at getting what you want. You want things to be “win-win” here. By contrast, if the company stock suddenly does a $700 swan dive, save your talk until the following month or decade.

Another piece of standard advice: update your resume with any new skills you’ve learned at your job. Something like “outsourced the entire company phone tree to a central location in Eurasia” sounds terrific. “Perfected my fantasy football team roster in just three tries” may not be so relevant. Don’t discuss the number of YouTube videos you’ve watched since the quarter began, though. But what’s better is that you keep learning new skills so that your performance will support your request for a raise or promotion.

Don’t be shy about what you’ve accomplished for your department or company. For instance, you could mention the range of clients you’ve brought into the company. Clients who spend thousands or millions a year on your products are prime. However, if you’re in retail, you don’t need to bring up the squadron of power walkers who only come in to use the bathroom.

During the negotiation itself, be aware of your body language and try to sound calm. Leave the pepper spray in your desk!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday's Entrepreneur: Computer Solutions Center

Every Monday at PF4P, we like to start the week off on a positive note, so we bring you stories of people like us who have turned a passion, hobby, talent, or skill into something that provides them with either full-time or part-time income.

*Scroll Down For Update*

Computer Solutions Center is based out of Cleveland, OH - but arrangements can be made to work with you if you live out of the Cleveland area.

computer-repair-lady Pictures, Images and Photos

Computer Solutions Center does a lot of tech work including:

Building Custom Computer Systems
Operating systems installations
even unlocking cell phones

Work with:


If they can’t fix your computer, no one can! – most times even those computers you thought were dead!

They offer a flat rate of $40 for labor, plus parts which are usually found at a very cheap price. Just like other members of the PF4TP family, Computer Solutions Center is out to provide an affordable, quality service as its main goal – not making a quick buck off of you.

To hear more call 216-924-3747 and ask for James or email for more info.


...And as always....tell 'em PF4TP sent you!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

All Geared Up for Jim Brown

Those who enjoy the stellar graphics and gripping action on xBox 360 game Gears of War got lucky when Gears of War game designer Jim Brown dropped by NYP on the 26 August to give a talk.

Over 150 Diploma in Digital Entertainment Technology and Diploma in Digital Media Design students turned up for the talk. It was an enlightening experience hearing Jim. This was especially so for students who are aiming to work in the gaming industry when they graduate.

Jim made time to explain how he got into the gaming industry. He majored in biology in university, and his first job was charting bird migration patterns on the computer.  This led him to creating and tweaking gaming models during his spare time. Game companies eventually started to take notice of his huge portfolio of games and made him job offers.

Eventually he started working for a small gaming firm, which culminated in his current position as lead level designer at Epic Games. He described the many types of designers in the gaming industry - art, detail, intuitive, systematic and level. He also related that it is normal to be working more than 10 hours each day. He also advised young designers to “always put the player first” and “never forget who you are making the game for.”

Students were treated to life sized Gears of War characters in the auditorium as well as free game sets, for every question that Jim chooses to answer in the Q & A session. Many Gears of War fans from other courses also showed up to ask questions.

“It’s quite interesting and I learnt some new things about what it’s like being a designer,” said Kenneth Ng, Year 1, Diploma in Infosecurity. “What I asked Jim was something I wanted to ask for a long time, and I’m glad he could answer it personally.”

Kenneth, who is a Gears of Wars fan, asked if cinematics is an important part of the game because many players skip them, and Jim had expressed that he personally likes cinematics, but considering the minor role it plays, designers have to try to reduce the work on cinematics.

Students in related courses also asked questions like whether experience or education is more important when it comes to getting a foot into the gaming industry. According to Jim, generally in the US, a degree is needed. Otherwise the industry would typically require
 8 to 10 years of industry experience for non-degree holders.
All eyes on Jim

And for fans who are dying to know what happens in Gears of War 3, well the only thing Jim will reveal is that the character Richard Prescott reappears in Gears of War 3 with a message from Marcus Fenix’s supposedly dead father.

The rest is all still hush hush, until tomorrow at least.

Jim was in Singapore to give a special media preview of Gears of War 3. The game is set to be released in most countries worldwide on September 20.

Students gain valuable experience with the Microsoft Student Partner Program

The NYP MSPs at the launch of the NYP-Microsoft Cloud Innovation Centre on 19th April 2011
Left to right: Joshua Tan, Koh Kai Wei, Eustace Zheng, Mong Yunheng
 By Kenneth Lee Bozheng, Year 3, Engineering Infomatics

NYP students have been an active part of the Microsoft Student Partner (MSP) Program since 2007.  The MSP Program was rolled out globally in 2006.  It is aimed at offering students with a passion for technology the opportunity to interact with the Microsoft academic community, access the very latest Microsoft software, reference materials and training, and privileged information about future career opportunities, including student internships and research programmes.

Since NYP’s inception into this program in 2007, it has been strongly anchored by SIT students like Koh Kai Wei and Mong Yunheng (both current Year 3 students in the Diploma in Information Security), Eustace Zheng (a current Year 3 student in the Diploma in Engineering Informatics) and Joshua Tan (a current Year 2 student in the Diploma in Information Technology).  All of them have contributed much to the success of the MSP Program in NYP and we will talk about their contributions to this Program later in this one-on-one interview.  They have also done NYP proud in many different areas, ranging from student competitions to ambassadorial responsibilities.

Today, we spoke to Eustace, Kai Wei, Yunheng and Joshua to find out how being a Microsoft Student Partner has impacted their lives, and how they were able to help others.

Please introduce yourself briefly.

Eustace: My name is Eustace! I’m 19 this year and I’m from the Diploma in Engineering Informatics at NYP – School of Information Technology. My hobbies include everything regarding IT, from software development to network configurations! I keep an open mind towards any new knowledge which I can pick up.  Apart from my academic curriculum, I also enjoy various sports and computer gaming as well! I am currently also serving as a NPCC Cadet Inspector for my cadets back at my alma mater, Clementi Woods Secondary School.

How did you get to know about the Microsoft Student Partner Program, and what made you decide join it?

Eustace: I got to know about the Microsoft Student Partner Program through Mr. Gary Lim, who is also the lecturer-in-charge of this Program in NYP.  I have always been intrigued by the innovative products that Microsoft has come out with and being a MSP enables me to get first-hand technical knowledge as well as to help NYP and Microsoft run student-centric events to spread the word  about Microsoft technology to the student community.

Can you share how the MSP program has helped you?

Eustace: I have been given plenty of opportunities in various areas! I have been involved in plenty of events held by Microsoft, such as the launch of Microsoft Office 2010 @ *Scape in June last year. I was given the opportunity to present the new features of Office 2010 in front of a live audience at Orchard Road! It was a fresh experience and definitely boosted my confidence of public speaking.  Being a MSP, I am also exposed to technical training conducted by Microsoft and through these sessions, I have honed my skills in certain key development areas such as building Windows Phone 7 applications and many more.  The strong foundation of our NYP IT curriculum has also jumpstarted me to contribute to the MSP Program technically through technology sharing sessions to the NYP students.

Kai Wei: The MSP Program has largely broadened my views. Seeing the world from a corporate perspective is very different from that of a student. Through the MSP Program, I had the opportunity to interact with people from different polytechnics and universities.  This has sharpened my knowledge of how life is like in different institutes of higher learning and excites me about my further study opportunities.

As a MSP, I have undertaken the responsibilities of telling my fellow peers about the merits of Microsoft technologies. It is truly beneficial to me as I get access to the yet-to-be-released tools and technologies from Microsoft and then put them into practice by teaching my peers. I have also participated in several competitions that have utilized Microsoft technologies. With this edge, my team emerged as Champions in the recently concluded Code::Xtreme Apps 2011 and X-Site Competition 2011.

Joshua: Being a MSP has proficiently armed me with Microsoft technologies and skills. With these, I actively use them in my web and mobile application projects, and competitions such as InnovateIT. I strongly believe that the knowledge and skills acquired through the various activities in the Program, and strong foundation of the IT curriculum in my Diploma will definitely help me in my pursuit of an exciting and sterling IT career in future.

The MSP community also provides a collaborative platform to allow its members to freely voice their opinions and have their say in shaping this global program for the benefit of the IT community.

Microsoft Student Partners during a recent get-together @ the School of IT
Eustace, Yunheng, Kai Wei and Joshua are currently mentoring the new MSPs from Year 1
Yunheng:  As a MSP, one of our roles is assist in the organization of events and programs set up by Microsoft, as well as organize these within our own campus. Having the chance to partake in these events have been invaluable learning experiences, it brings about the exposure to event management as well as the chance to meet and network with many new people.  One of the major events which I had the opportunity to play a lead role in was the recent mega Microsoft TechFest 2011 held in our very own NYP Auditorium.  This mega event drew over 1,000 attendees.  Apart from events, I have taken part in Microsoft-related student competitions such as the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2010 and 2011. 

The MSP program has also helped me a lot as a student. We have access to most of Microsoft’s technologies and guidebooks through the use of the MSDN Subscription provided to us. MSDN Subscriptions provide many references and software that we can access during our course of studies to further our knowledge through the database of books and the MSDN professional community.  We also have access to MSP communities worldwide, where we can meet like-minded technology enthusiasts. This awesome community can answer almost any questions we may have – and these are not just limited to technical details but also marketing and other business proposals.

With the knowledge and skills attained through my Diploma programme and strong support from Microsoft, I also managed to garner the international 2nd Runner Up in the Imagine Cup 2011 competition in New York City.  During the competition, I also managed to network with MSPs from around the world attending the worldwide finals and it was a good exchange of information and friendship.

Please elaborate in one or more ways of how you were able to contribute back to your school or society.

Eustace: With my proficiency in Microsoft technologies, I have also taken the opportunity to lead my alumni back at my alma mater in the IT field, spearheading IT initiatives for the alumni community. I hope to put my knowledge to full use to give back to my alma mater and make an impact.  Closer to home at the School of IT, there are many platforms for me to contribute, such as events like the Microsoft TechFest and student seminars.  With these, I most certainly took pride in sharing my technical knowledge with all my juniors from the various diploma programmes!

The Microsoft Student Partner Program is currently extending its recruitment for all students from all schools in NYP. If you are keen on using your enthusiasm and knowledge to lead and interact, we welcome you to join us in this exciting and challenging journey.

As this Program is coordinated through the School of IT, please feel free to contact Mr. Gary Lim from the School of IT @, if you are game enough to take up this challenge!

Five Financial Moves... to Make RIGHT NOW

There is never a better time to do anything, than RIGHT NOW...this goes for anything you have on your TO DO LIST. One area that you should really look at RIGHT NOW is your finances. Why wait to check in on your finances? All you are doing is delaying, and possibly worsening, the enviable.

Here is a short list that will give you a full look at your financial situation:

Review Your Credit Reports


The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to review your credit report every 12 months at each of the three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian). Take advantage of it. Go to and request your credit report so that you can review it for errors and omissions. Making sure your credit report is correct has a huge impact on your credit score, which is what lenders and other businesses use to decide whether or not, and at what cost, to do business with you. If you do find an error, report it to each of the bureaus as soon as possible since resolving it can take some time.

Start an Emergency Fund


If you don’t have a rainy day emergency fund, start one today. An emergency fund acts as a buffer in the event you experience a financial emergency, from an unexpected medical bill to a car repair to losing your job. Experts recommend that you keep a minimum of six months of expenses in a savings account, preferably an online savings account offering higher interest rates, for this purpose. If you are feeling conservative, you can always put a year’s worth of expenses in your emergency fund. Once you have the fund set up, you might consider laddering CDs to boost the interest rates even more. Remember, the purpose of this fund is to protect you in case something happens, it’s not designed to generate a lot of income.

Restructure Your Debts


If you’re currently battling debt, look to restructure it to either consolidate that debt or lower the interest rate. If it’s a double digit credit card debt you’re struggling with, consider doing a credit card balance transfer to give you a year or more to catch up on the balance. Compare the post-promotional APR to your current APR, along with your ability to pay, to see if this is a good deal. If not, consider joining a credit union and turning the high interest credit card debt into a lower interest personal loan. If that still isn’t an option, research peer to peer lending as it might be a way for you to trim the interest rate without much hassle.

Shop Around Everything


As I said in the beginning of this article, shop around every service you pay for, not just car insurance. Whenever my cable and internet contract expires, I always go back to the provider with competitive offers and request a reduction in my rates. It’s so much cheaper for them to charge me less than it is to find a new customer, especially after you consider what goes into getting a new customer.

Clean Your Financial House


Spend a few minutes each week just cleaning house, whether it’s closing dormant accounts to shredding documents you no longer need, keeping a tidy financial life is crucial to reducing mistakes. The last thing you want to have to deal with is a CP2000 letter from the IRS because you omitted a 1099-INT from a bank you forgot you had an account in.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things Happy People Do Differently

It's FRIDAY! A day a happiness for most of us, when 5pm hits. How can you keep that TGIF feeling all week?


Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.

Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.

Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an older version of yourself.

Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on. A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin. Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.

Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely? WHOA! There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.

Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.

Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being. You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.

Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.

Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.

Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.

Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”

Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected. Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.