Hi there, have you gotten bored of watching Netflix, attempting to be a MasterChef and looking for something to do which can create meaning to the time you spent at home?
In this post, I will be sharing a list of websites and resources where you can enjoy free (or affordable) learning.
Please note that some of the resources mentioned below are only available for Singaporeans (and maybe PRs) as there are a lot of government funding available during this unprecedented period of job losses, job redundancy etc.
1. IBF Accredited Courses
Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) will be providing subsidies of up to 95% for course fees and at the same time, self-sponsored participants (like myself) will be able to receive Training Allowance Grant of 10 SGD/hour. This initiative is done for us to make use of the downtime to upskill and better prepare us for the (uncertain) future.
In case you’re in it for the moolah, a 2-day course will cost about $80 (after 95% funding) and you should be able to use your skillsfuture credit ($500+$500) to offset the payment. After attending the course and passing the assessment (The passing mark is usually >70-80% and assessments are usually NOT MCQ), you will be able to receive 7 hours x 2 days x $10/hour = $140 to your PayNow account (not immediately).
To be honest, not all courses are that straightforward and if you do not have any interest at all, you will find yourself unable to concentrate and the assessment may be tough. However, if you pay attention, the assessments ain’t that hard after all.
More info on IBF Accredited Courses:
- [Accord] Analytics for non-analytics professionals ($60, 2 days)
- [Click Academy] Mastering Data and Analytics for Marketers ($80.25, 2 days)
- You’re essentially learning about ‘R’ in ther syllabus
- [NTUC Learning Hub] Data Analysis Fundamentals using Excel ($41.73, 2 days)
- [Click Academy] Advanced Content Marketing Masterclass ($80.25, 2 days)
- [Click Academy] Fast Track Digital Marketing ($85.60, 3 days)
- [Click Academy] Google Analytics Certification ($80.25, 3 days)
- [Emarsity] Digital Advertising (Google & Facebook) Hands On ($62.50, 3 days)
- [NTUC Learning Hub] BlockChain for Cross border payments ($34.78, 1 day)
- [NTUC Learning Hub] Cybersecurity Act Fundamentals ($18.73, 1 day)
Personal experiences with the Zoom lessons
The online classes tend to be very big (30-50pax) and most of the time, you will have a wide range of people in your class (the knowledgeable ones and the ones who face technical issues). Time is a little wasted spent resolving these technical issues. Everyone’s pace and level of understanding are different so you might get bored (and I tend to multi-task) with two screens. The assessment at the end may be slightly harder than what I expect but as long as you pay attention, it is quite difficult to ‘fail’. Nevertheless, I do not recommend you to just take the courses for the sake of taking them. You should at least have a slight level of interest, otherwise you will feel that your time is wasted. Note: They are pretty strict on attendance taking and they require you to turn the video on. For one of the assessments that I did, we had to turn the webcam on the entire duration. If you do not have a webcam, it is not suitable.
2. AI Singapore
I discovered this organization via an ad on Instagram and it did attract me as I have always been curious about Artificial Intelligence.
I signed up for the AI for Industry program where they offered self-learning of 9 topics (including python, data manipulation, deep learning etc.) which came with a 12-month Data Camp subscription for only $53.50 (special price due to COV-19; original is $224.70). Sadly, the special pricing is SOLD OUT and you have to join their waiting list for further updates.
However, the organization also provides FREE courses – AI For everyone with the intention of introducing anyone to modern AI technologies where you will learn how to identify opportunities and potential use cases in your work and daily lives, and build a simple AI model with online tools. All you need to do is to register, and the course material will be provided in a series of videos and quizes.
Personal Experience for Self-learning Python on DataCamp*
I have completed 3 Python modules (10 hours) and it has really wrecked my brain inside out. I know coding ain’t for everyone but no one told me it would be that difficult. Apart from the videos and exercises at DataCamp, I’ve also watched other videos from Lynda (will share later) to build up my foundation and familiarity with the coding technicalities. I honestly hope I won’t give up and I am trying to do more practice exercises to drill my foundation before moving on. It is a very intensive learning program (if you have no prior coding experience) and it requires full concentration. I wouldn’t advice you to start if you have no determination to finish the fight (and I’ll update in 6 months time to see if I mange to). I personally feel that I could have fare better if there was a face to face tutor identifying my mistakes but it would also mean that the 10 hours of learning may drag to x2 or x3 because DataCamp’s pace is really fast. However, cost-wise, this is definitely the most affordable coding lessons as compared to everything else.
*DataCamp has a whole library of coding courses including R, SQL, Tableau, Excel, Power BI etc. You can access any of the courses with your membership.
Lynda, or perhaps more popularly knowned as Linkedin Learning, is an online learning platform (one-way learning) where you can learn a wide range of skilss – from Adobe Photoshop to Microsoft Access to coding courses like R, Python and many more.
Do you know what’s the best part of Lynda?
IT IS FREE WITH YOU NLB (National Library Account). If you’re not a Singaporean or PR, you can get one month free access too!
I’m pretty sure you will have a library membership, otherwise you can sign up for one. All you have to do to get your free access is to login with your organization (nlb.gov.sg) and you will be redirected to NLB’s login page. Also, they have a mobile app as well if you would prefer to have ‘double screens’ and watch the learning video on your phone while practicing with your computer. I always encourage everyone to practice while you watch, in order get familiar with the software.
- Learning Python (as mentioned above, I watch such videos to supplement my DataCamp learning experience)
- Learning R
- Excel 2016
- Online Marketing Foundations
- SEO Foundations
- Photoshop Tutorials
- Video Editing
4. General Assembly
Check out their Free Courses and even if you can’t make it for the event (usually due to timezone issues), they will send you a video recording where you can watch it at your own pace whenever you’re free! I kind of prefer the video recording as it allows me to skip the whole chunk of introduction.
As their full-time courses are pretty intensive and receives quite a lot of reputation, the prices are not cheap (from SGD 4,000), but I guess that’s the price you need to pay to get proper certifications that will be useful towards your career switch. Sadly, I’m pretty tight on budget and still uncertain about my future career prospects so I’m just using their courses as a teaser option, at least for now.
5. Other University Offerings
- Harvard University Courses (by eDX): https://online-learning.harvard.edu/catalog/free
- I tried a course on Tangible Things (Liberal Arts) and concluded why I couldn’t be a Harvard Student. The videos were interesting but I did not actively participate in the discussions or pay a fee to get certified for the quizes and stuff. It was more of a ‘good to know’ discovery channel type of learning for me.
- 100 free courses on Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/courses?query=free
While I do prefer paperback hardcopy books (if I had the choice), I have recently converted to audiobooks since working in New Zealand. While I was working in mundane jobs (that just require hand actions), these audiobooks were keeping my sanity in check and I somehow grew to love the idea of ‘listening’. In recent years, I have stopped buying books after coming with the terms that I hardly ever re-read them. As a result, I’ve been frequenting public libraries to camp for bestsellers.
However, things got even easier with the introduction of a digital library (FREE for me, and any singaporeans/PR with a NLB account). To be honest, I find it hard to keep up with my reading (listening) now that I have a lot more distractions with my phone and computer, but I still find listening a good form of relaxation. Sometimes, I multi-task and listen while I’m doing mundane things like photo cropping or playing handphone games or while doing some light stretches on my yoga mat. There are also times that I pause in everything I do and just listen.
Here are some books in my recommendation list (including those that I’ve read in NZ):
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam Joo
- Around the World in 60 seconds by Nuseir Yassin (Nas Daily)
- The ride of a lifetime by Roger Iger (CEO of Walt Disney)
- The path made clear by Oprah Winfrey
- The next person you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom (I kind of love all his books)
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (it is also a netflix series)
- The making of a manger by Julie Zhou (I really love her insights)
- Love for imperfect things by Haemin Sunim
- The things you can see only when you slow down by Haemin Sunim
- The art of non-conformity by Chris Guillebeau
- All Over the Place by Geraldine Deruiter (Travel, True Love & Petty Theft)
Financial Planning and Awareness
Disclaimer: I am not a financial expert, in fact I’m far from it, and everything below are just my thoughts and comments so please do not hold be liable for any information shared below. Should there be inaccuracies, feel free to correct me as this topic is still very new to me and I’m still learning to be more aware about my own finances.
I’ve always known the brand but I’ve never really paid attention to it till lately. With the excessive amount of free time, I couldn’t find enough excuses to not figure out how to manage my money (not as if I have a lot to begin with). I’ve been following their weekly series (every Wednesday night, 8PM) and each time I’m gaining more and more insights about the industry, robo-investors, stock market performance etc. I haven’t made much bold moves yet, but the series definitely helps a lot in making me become more aware of my finances.
This is one of my favourite financial blog reads. I really like the way they write which makes things really simple for a newbie like me to understand. Also, they kind of convinced me to not buy SIA shares even though the price was falling like crazy and it as kind of a good move (back then). Now that the market is so volatile, I guess I’m just practicing the sit and wait approach as I’m not hard up on cash and.. if doing nothing allows me to sleep better at night, I’ll stick to it (for now).
After making a wrong move to sell a particular stock (I don’t trade often so each buy and sell is quite important to me) I was feeling a little upset and I thought that life would be simpler if I just put my money in a RoboInvestor since I could get 6 months free management fee** (referral benefit) for up to $10,000. I have been reading up a little about such roboinvestors and it seems like in a long run, it is kind of safe?
It has been about 7 weeks since my first deposit (bought on 31 March, where markets were low) and my returns are currently at 6.8% (time-weighted return) with a risk index of 12%. Although this is aimed to be a long-term investment for me, I still feel happy to see the slight increase in the portfolio amount.
I’m still new to robo-investing and I wouldn’t highly encourage or discourage anyone at this point in time (as I’m still trying to understand it) but for now, I’m one happy customer!
** Do PM me if you would like a referral code.
While complaining about the de-valuation of interest rates across the savings account for DBS, UOB and OCBC, a friend recommended me to check out SingLife, this (somewhat pseudo) insurance company which offers an interest of 2.5% p.a. for up to SGD 10,000. I know it is wrong for me to call them pseudo but their benefits look a lot more like a savings account rather than an insurance plan. As there were are licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a life insurance company and indicated that their policies are protected up to specified limits (though no mention what is the amount) by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation, I thought that I could just give this new startup a try.
The best part about this investment is that there was no strings attached and I could cash out the money anytime (though it means that the insurance will lapse). Although they mention that their 2.5% interest is not guaranteed, I guess I can put my money there until they revise their interest rate.
Given the situation of the market, a 2.5% rate is indeed very attractive. If you decide to try this out after reading, please don’t quote me for credibility as I’m still as uncertain as you are but I’m taking the option to try and park my money there, until it is suitable to buy some stocks.
I hope you find the above information useful and congratulations on reaching the end of my long-winded article.
As travel is kind of almost impossible this year, I’m trying to wreck my brain to carve out new content in order to keep this website alive.
Feel free to provide any suggestions on topics that you would like me to write about 🙂
Thanks for reading!