Saturday, May 28, 2016

Baby Steps to Financial Peace

Most Singaporeans will probably not have heard of Dave Ramsey before. But anyway, Dave Ramsey is America's trusted voice on money matters. He also has something written on 7 Baby Steps to Financial Peace. The 7 steps are simple enough to follow and are listed as follows:

  1. $1000 for emergency fund
  2. Pay off all debts less the house
  3. 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  4. Invest 15% of household income for retirement
  5. College funds for children
  6. Pay off home loan early
  7. Build wealth and Give
The steps seem simple enough to follow and should be a useful guide for most people. 

I guess not many people take financial planning seriously.

Take this comment by sigdiamond2000 on financial stability for example. It is extremely hilarious. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dividends and Interest Income for April 2016

Received a grand total of estimated $158 for dividends and $151 in interest income for April 2016.

Dividends came from one of my REIT holdings and the interest income came largely from my bank accounts which is yielding an okay interest rate. At the moment, I am largely relying on the OCBC 360 account (roughly 2.2% for first 60,000 and 1% for incremental increase) and their Bonus Savings account (0.8%). I also have the UOB account but have found it difficult to the credit card minimum spend requirement on that account.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

It is March

The year has passed real quick and now almost three months have passed. And you sort of lose concept of time since each day is spent the same in what is almost repetitive. Each week is non-differentiable from the other. You lose track of time and friends. People fade in and out of your life and it is totally out of your control. But I know this year will be a good year alright. And everything will be okay and the family will be alright. But one can never be too certain. Never in my life have I been so busy and yet so isolated and drained.

I spent the Sunday reading some Hemingway and it made me realise how long I have not had time to read. And this was a good reading session because I managed to finish the book. But this was only my second book that I had read in the year. And it is already March. Anyway, I got started on a new book right after I finished one book today and this brought me a great sense of satisfaction.

Well, the fact that I ate some nice steak (a mixture of wagyu, ribeye and striploin) and downed it with some Riesling that had been sitting in my fridge for some time made it an even better Sunday. Not to mention the bread dipped in olive oil and basalmic vinegar. All prepared by me in double quick time for dinner as it was raining today and the roads were all wet and busy from where I had gone in the late afternoon to run some errand.

Financially, all is well. I have enough to live by and the family is happy and healthy. So there is really nothing more that I should be asking for. Some dividends from one of my reit counters was good. I don't know where the stock market is headed to right now and I simply couldn't care less. I wish I cared more and made a little more effort but this is not the time and there are still other things to worry about first. All I need right now is time and space. Time to read my books and be happy. For that is all that I want to do right now.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How many weeks in a year? (And why some people get 13th month bonuses)

Well, a simple question that many people have is how many weeks are there in a year. The simple answer is there are 52 weeks in a year.

Of course, we are not trying to be exact here since we know 52 multiplied by 7 only gives you 364 days instead of 365 days.

But is there a way to remember that there are 52 weeks quickly? Well, let me teach you a way that I remember this fact.

See, in the past, people were paid daily or weekly wages and so their monthly salary was based on 4 weeks. However, being paid in this manner means you only get paid for 48 weeks of work in one year. That means you have been shortchanged by one entire month of work (or 4 weeks of work) where you are not paid. And that is where the 13th month bonus kicks in. Of course, many companies do not give out such bonuses anymore but this idea is still prevalent in places like the civil service.

So through this little nugget, you can see that a quick way to remember is that 48 weeks plus the 13th month (4 weeks) equals to 52 weeks.

So there you have it. If anyone ever asks you again how many weeks are there in a year, you can work out the answer to 52 weeks!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

So 2015 has come and gone in almost a blink of an eye. And right now, 2016 is already upon us even as I am writing this post in a comfy cafe sipping on my ice-cold coffee and reflecting on what 2015 has meant to me.

2015 was probably a year of both ups and downs. There are definitely many things to be thankful about. Some of these include good health, advancement in career (and pay), seeing new places, enjoying new experiences, and having a great family (nevermind the occasional quarrels and fights). Indeed, I consider myself blessed. And I am still learning the art of contentment even though it still eludes me from time to time. So 2015 has really been a lot more positives than there has been negatives.

Investment-wise, 2015 probably has not been that good. A couple of my investments are losing money still and this is probably where I ought to spend more time and reflect to learn from my various mistakes. One of these mistakes is probably the blind pursuit of yield in some of my investments and that has proved detrimental since the risk was priced in but all I saw was the high yield. The lesson learnt is not to chase yield blindly especially when picking dividend stocks.

Nevertheless, despite my mediocre stock-picking skills and woeful market timing, I have seen my household networth surpass the $1 million mark. Of course this does not put me anywhere the high networth category since that is still way short of the USD$1 million in investible assets. But I know that goal should be achievable (God-willing).

Some thoughts on this is that my networth is largely tied to property so that is something to be mindful of. Also, most of this is probably not due to my efforts. Besides being a good saver and having a relatively okay salary, the rest probably boils down to being born in the correct family, having opportunities that jumped at me, etc. In fact, after much consideration (and as tempted as I am), I don't think there is any practical advice that I can offer anyone to assure them of reaching this milestone the way I did.

The negatives of 2015 probably boils down again to career decisions that need to be made and what awaits me for the future. I don't think I can say that I jump out of bed each day looking forward to the day. There are some changes that I yearn for in life (e.g. more free time and space, traveling, new experiences, etc) and I know these issues will probably need some confronting in the near future especially since I foresee a busy year ahead at work.

2016 is probably going to be a challenging year ahead. Probably not financially but emotionally. But I trust that God will see me through it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Car Insurance Money Saving Tips

If you drive a car, you will need car insurance or motor insurance. While there are many insurance companies out there, you will be amazed at the different quotes that each insurer will actually give you. Recently, I went to get some quotations to renew my insurance for my car and was surprised that the quotes given varied from $1200 to $1600. I spoke briefly to a general insurer and found out why these quotes vary. Here are some tips on how you can save on your car insurance.

Shop Around For the Cheapest Car Insurance

Each insurer will give different quotes due to different claims experience. Another reason why there are different quotes is also likely due to the fact that these companies have certain "quotas" on the number of vehicles of a certain model that they are willing to insure. For example, Insurance Company A might decide that the risk it can take for insuring Toyota cars is only maximum 1000 cars this year. As such, they might give high quotes especially when their quota is filled so as to price themselves out of the competition. So do shop around and get as many quotes as you can. You will be surprised at the different prices.

Increase Your Excess

Another method to reduce your car insurance is to actually increase your excess (simply put as the amount that you will have to pay first during an accident before you can claim any money from the insurance company). I learnt this trick from an insurance agent some time back. The intial quote I got then was around $1400 based on a $500 excess. By increasing my excess to $2000, I was able to get a quote that was cheaper. Of course, the reason why I was willing to take the extra risk was because I wasn't accident prone and I also had the means to pay the $2000 excess. Weighing the probability, I figured that the increase in excess was something that I could afford to risk.

Buy the Correct Car

Yes. You guessed it. Certain car brands/models are more expensive to insure than others. Generally, Toyotas will be cheaper to insure than a Honda or a Mitsubishi. This is due to the claims experience. Cars that are popular amongst younger male drivers tend to have a higher accident rate and thus will have a worst claims experience. Insurers will thus charge a higher cost for certain models and brands of car. If you want cheap car insurance, go for Toyota and Nissan. They are among the cheapest. Avoid Honda and Mitsubishi. If you are driving a sports car...Good Luck!

Read Related Postings:
Home Insurance
Top 10 Money Saving Tips
My Saving and Spending List
Drinking and Eating Your Way to Financial Freedom

Monday, December 21, 2015

Funeral Insurance 101

It just came to my realisation that certain countries do sell insurance to cover the cost of one's funeral expenses. This is usually a standalone insurance that offers a payout to tide the family through the funeral expenses which usually adds up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Some features of funeral insurance that I have seen includes:

  1. Flexible coverage amounts
  2. Fixed premiums with no increase in age
  3. Guaranteed coverage with no medical examination for people of a certain age range
  4. Fast payouts in 24 hours
  5. Payouts that are at least more than or equal to the premiums paid
  6. Professional grief counselling
  7. Discounts that are applicable if it is a family plan

Of course, the above stated features  are just a sample of what is available in the market. So one will have to conduct the necessary due diligence to find the best funeral insurance that suits one's purposes.

In countries like Singapore, such insurance is also almost non-existent though it will be interesting to see whether there is a market for such a product.

I think this insurance is really niche but still fills a necessary gap since it will provide loved ones with almost immediate spare cash for funeral expenses when the need arises.

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