Wednesday, December 30, 2009
As I enter into the year 2010, my debts/loans are only from my house and my car.
My outstanding mortgage loan (@2.6% interest rate) currently stands at $246,478.64
Car loan should be around $25000
What are your outstanding loans as you enter into the year 2010?
Do you plan to decrease it or are you okay with such debts?
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Currently there are 3 members in my family. We are covered under the following insurance plans:
1. Aviva MyShield Plan 1 (Covers hospitalisation)
2. SAF Group Term Insurance ($100K)
3, AXA Future Protector ($200K)
4. AIA Achiever ($100K)
5. Manulink Flexi ($200K)
6. TM Asia Whole Life ($160K)
7. Dependent Protection Scheme ($46K)
1. Aviva MyShield Plan 1
1. SAF Group Term ($100K)
2. AXA Future Protector ($200K)
1. Aviva MyShield Plan 2
2. Manulink Flexi ($100K)
I figured that this is the best that I can afford for insurance for 2009. I have covered myself for close to $800k while my wife is covered for $300K). My son is covered by a hospitalisation plan as well as an ILP which serves for both protection and as a savings for his education.
If possible, I would like to increase my wife's coverage as well as my son's coverage. But all these will have to wait till I get a higher pay =)
How much are you insured for?
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
These are the following stocks in my current portfolio.
1. 12,000 x Ascott REIT
2. 7000 x China Aviation Oil
3. 17,000 x First REIT
4. 15,000 x Innotek
5. 35,000 x Kingboard
6. 6,000 x NOL
7, 37,000 x Pac Andes
8. 1,000 x Suntec REIT
9. 11,000 x Unifood
10. 1,500 x Citigroup
Innotek was bought sometime in year 2008 for dividends. The stock price fell terribly and I am still sitting on a paper loss.
Kingboard was bought because I thought there was some potential in it. Still holding on to it.
NOL was meant to be a short term trading position which ended up as long term position because the price fell and I refused to cut loss. Lesson learnt and my money is stuck in this ship once again. I have profited twice (I think) from previous trades.
Pac Andes was a buy because I thought the fundamentals were good. I am not too sure about it now and I think I would sell once the price is right.
Suntec REIT was bought for the dividends. I used to own 11,000 but then sold the 10 lots to take up a short term position in NOL which I now regret the price of Suntec REIT has risen while NOL has tanked.
Unifood was a stock bought during my university days. Stupid mistake.
I realised that I am not really a long term holder as I thought I was. Apart from Unifood, I think I have held the stocks for all less than 5 years. I sold away all my Hongguo as I had made a decent profit in it already this year during the recovery.
2010 will be focused on stocks that have good potential. As I believe that the stock market might tank again soon, I will liquidate my stocks when I get the chance to.
Friday, December 25, 2009
CENTRAL Provident Fund members have been warned they face fines of up to $10,000 if they take part in a scam that has just come to light.
The CPF Board issued the stern warning after a report in The Straits Times on Thursday exposing a practice adopted by unscrupulous financial advisers who plunder members' CPF investment funds.
Some CPF members who are desperate for fast cash have agreed to take part in the scam, which involves the rapid buying and selling - or 'churning' - of investment products using CPF money.
The members dip into their retirement savings to buy and sell investment products under the CPF Investment Scheme - and in doing so they become eligible for cash rebates used as a carrot by errant financial advisers. The advisers get to pocket healthy commissions.
CPF rules prohibit members from pocketing such cash rebates. All gains or rebates from CPF investments must be put back into members' CPF accounts, to ensure they have enough for their golden years.
A CPF Board spokesman said: 'CPF members found guilty of working with errant financial advisers to pocket cash rebates which amount to premature withdrawals of CPF monies may be fined up to $2,500. For second or subsequent convictions, the fine may be up to $10,000.'
Wishing all readers a most blessed and wonderful Christmas! Christmas is the season of giving because of the birth of Jesus Christ, God's gift to all mankind.
May you find the true joy and spread it amongst family and friends.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I borrowed it from the library and I must say that this book is impacting my life in more ways than I can count.
I am not too sure why the title of the book is as such but it is really a good book to read.
Amongst the books that I have read, Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad Poor Dad and The Richest Man in Babylon are perhaps some of the books that have affected the way I think about things.
Holding this current book in my hand is indeed such a joy. It is as if I am being introduced to a new concept altogether just the way my world was opened up to things like passive and portfolio income when I first read Rich Dad Poor Dad.
I have followed the book's instruction to sketch the picture of my ideal life here.
The streets are decorated and Christmas songs can be heard all around. People are busy buying presents for loved ones.
Here at home, I am listening to jazzy Christmas tunes. The music does make me feel like I am in some other country celebrating Christmas.
Already, I am dreaming of the turkey and the honey baked ham that I will be having on Christmas day. Good food, good times.
What will you be doing for Christmas?
What have you bought for Christmas?
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - – Malaysia will take action against air force personnel involved in the theft of a 14.5-million-dollar fighter jet engine sold to a South American company, according to reports Sunday.
Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the company hired an agent to take the 50-million-ringgit engine out of the country from a military airbase, the Star newspaper and national news agency Bernama reported.
"The ministry will take legal action at the international level to charge the company involved," he was quoted as saying by Bernama, without specifying the type of action or identifying the company.
"Stern action will also be taken against the Royal Malaysian Air Force staff involved for betraying the country," the minister added.
Air force officers found the jet engine was missing late last year during a routine maintenance service, but the matter became public only after the English-language New Straits Times published a report on Saturday.
The newspaper also said police had arrested four individuals, including the buyer, the seller and air force personnel who assisted in stealing the engine, used as powerplant for a single-seat fighter and reconnaissance aircraft.
Monday, December 21, 2009
I really was rooting for Russell, (an oil company millionaire) who basically singlehandedly got Mick and Natalie into the final 3 by his cunning strategies.
A man only lives once and since there must be like a thousand of different jobs, it is impossible for him to try out each and every job in the world. He thus has to make an educated guess on which is the best job for him based on his personality, skills, aptitude, etc.
I then realised how "coloured" my view of the ideal job was. I am to a certain extent the product of other people's opinions. People do not like me if I dig my nose in public. That is why I don't pick my nose in public. People's opinons do shape us in ways that we cannot imagine.
That is why we like to look up to doctors, lawyers and the like while looking down on other jobs that are deemed more suited for the common man. That is why our peers and parents secretly go "wow" if you find a girlfriend or boyfriend who belongs to any of those high paying and highly respected jobs.
However, I realised that I might be at the end of the day suited for a more normal down to earth kind of job instead of some high flying lawyer or doctor or businessman. The problem is whether I would be content with my position in life at the end of the day.
God, help me find my purpose in life
If you drive up the North South Highway the next time, just look to your left and right and you will see that the entire Malaysian landscape is FILLED with oil palm plantations. Some of them are in their early stages, some are already matured. But it does show one thing: Malaysia is indeed determined to be the No.1 Producer of Oil Palm in the World.
In fact, Malaysia and Indonesia are vying to be the top producer of oil palm in the world.
This should do well for companies like Golden Agri, Olam and Wilmar which are listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange (Note: I do not currently own any of these stocks but am thinking of entering into a position when the time is right.)
Oil Palm is a lot easier to grow compared to cocoa or other fruit plantations. Oil Palm is very hardy and it seems that the production is also more consistent compared to other kinds of plantations like durian, pineapple, etc.
The price of oil palm has also been increasing steadily over the years as people have found use for oil palm in the form of bio-fuels. On top of that, labour is pretty cheap both in Indonesia as well as in Malaysia (which relies heavily on Indonesians for labour). All these makes oil palm plantations a profitable business for both big companies like Sime Darby as well as small plantation owners.
Well, here is a sneak peek at my credit card bills for the month of 14 Nov 09 to 13 Dec 09
14 Nov - Hallmark $20.90
15 Nov - Hock Cheong Car Care $62.76
16 Nov - Accounting & Corporate $300.00
20 Nov - SPC $17.80
25 Nov - SPC $60.00
27 Nov - Crystal Jade Seafood $22.15
01 Dec - Starhub Cable Vision $25.68
06 Dec - Shell $57.02
07 Dec - Sushi Tei $14.02
11 Dec - Annual Fee $150.00
11 Dec - GST $10.50
11 Dec - Cold Storage $16.07
14 Nov - Crystal Jade $20.70
29 Nov - Hong Kong Cafe $109.80
30 Nov - Season Parking $90.00
Do note that i have already gotten my annual fee waived. I also make it a point to pay my credit card bills on time so that I do not incur any finance charges that cost a whopping 24% per annum.
After handing in my money to the stall owner, I had a flashback where I recalled my dad's frequent lament about how a bowl of wanton mee used to cost only $0.20 to $0.30.
I also remembered how I used to respond. "Aiyah! Last time things very cheap la..I know.."
I remember seeing the pain in his eyes as he always made that lament. And now I guess I know the reason why.
He was not recalling the days when things used to be cheap or cheaper. Rather, he was feeling the pain at how the cost of living has gone UP and UP over the years.
It was not too many years ago that my dad could get a meal at $0.30 and a drink perhaps at a few cents. But those days are over and now the price of things have gone up. Economists call this inflation. My dad calls it : " Last time this only used to cost XXX cents, now it is a few dollars."
Things were not cheaper back then. Things are just more expensive now.
I can only imagine myself lamenting to my son in the future 20 years down the road....
Imagine the year 2030....
I am walking down the food court with my son who wants to order a plate of chicken rice. Then, I lament and say:
"Last time chicken rice used to cost me $3, now one plate costs me $30!!!"
I can imagine my son staring blankly back at me and giving me the same reply that I gave my father...
"AIYAH, last time things are cheap.. but last time is last time LAH!"
Have you factored in inflation into your retirement plans? If you have not, be prepared for a rude shock when you retire.
Lately, Malaysia has also come up with a ruling that does not allow foreign registered vehicles to pump more than 20 litres of petrol at any petrol stations within 50 km of any exit points.
What is the rationale for this decision?
For Singapore, it seems that the Government wants to prevent people from crossing over to Malaysia to buy cheap petrol. This 3/4 tank ruling was put in place so as to prevent that. The government earns revenue from taxes placed on petrol and this measure would help to prevent any loss in revenue.
For Malaysia, it seems that they have a problem with fuel smuggling especially at the border with Thailand. As the Malaysian government heavily subsidises the petrol, they do not want these subsidies to be passed on to foreigners.
What about the consumer?
A lot of people are clearly unhappy with these rulings but it seems that this will not go away anytime soon.
The amount of money I could save if I pumped my petrol at malaysia would be tremendous. I could easily spend half the money that I usually would on petrol. Never mind the inconvenience.
The best I can deal with this now is to make sure that I pump just up to 3/4 tank when I leave Singapore for any trip to Malaysia. I then make sure that I pump a full tank before arriving back in Singapore.
For those worried about the 20 litre rule, just make sure that you pump once before entering the 50 km radius of the Johor CIQ or Tuas Checkpoint.
I have also heard that some petrol stations are not as strict and simply let you pump 20 litres, reset the pumps and then pump 20 litres again. It will be extremely hard for anyone to police this as the petrol stations also do not want to lose money just because of a ruling. There are many grey areas as nothing is stopping motorists from pumping at multiple stations within the 50km radius.
All the years in my life, I have always wondered why hawker food tastes so much better than food in the food courts.
Now, I think I know the answer why.
I used to think that it was the air-con in the food court that somehow affected the quality of the food. I then realised that it was not necessarily the air-con but the people that made all the difference.
I believe that most food court stalls are not actually owned by the people running it. There might be a small exception but I believe most stalls are actually owned and managed by the food court themselves. Many of them are actually hired by the food court themselves to operate the various stalls. These people (usually PRCs) are hired and are not the business owners.
They simply do not care about the quality of the food or the service that they provide. They are just there to make a living without having to bother about profits and customer service. I have seen these PRCs trying to speak Mandarin to Malays and Indians before... totally oblivious to the fact that these people do not understand them!
Compare this to the hawker centre where the stalls are runned by the owners themselves. The owners put in the effort to make sure that they smile at you (okay, some of them do smile) and at least maintain a reasonable standard of the food quality.
Hawker food for me always tastes way better than food court food. I don't know if it is true for you but it certainly is for me.
Not only is hawker food much nicer, it is often much cheaper too!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
How did I do it?
It is simple. All it takes is a simple phone call to customer service.
I have a DBS credit card and all I did was to call the customer service hotline. I waited for roughly 5 minutes to be put through to an operator.
All I asked was that the annual fee be waived. The customer service officer was extremely polite and did not even ask for the reason why. She just said "Okay" and it was done.
She then went on to inform me that I had some points that were expiring and advised me on what to redeem which she proceeded to help me with too.
Just a few simple steps and I saved $150!
Most banks are more than happy to waive the annual fee as long as you ask. If they refuse to budge, you can threaten to cancel your credit card and place your business with other banks. That should make them budge.
Read Related Articles:
2. Being Frugal
Travelling brings me to new places, allows me to see new sights, experience different cultures, face unique situations, taste new food, feel differently about home and lots more. It engages my five senses and makes me more aware of my surroundings.
During travel, there are also lots of stories to tell. One's experiences during travel are perhaps richer when compared to the mundane day to day living in Singapore.
Of course, one could learn as much in Singapore but sometimes this makes it difficult as we are just not as receptive to learning as when we are overseas.
Reading is another good platform for learning.
Through reading, we can learn from the experiences and knowledge of other people. People have poured in effort in the writing of their books, articles and blogs.
This allows us to learn from their experiences, shorten our own learning curve and avoid the common mistakes that are made in lives.
Together, they allow us to see the world differently. We become more aware of our limitations and who we really are.
The process of discovering how little we know about this world is indeed a refreshing idea.
A book in one hand while travelling the world is one of my dreams.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I was reading John Kay's The Truth About Markets as I was touring recently.
In it, he mentioned that there were many instances when centralised planning fails and how a market economy could actually achieve better coordination compared to an economy which had some form of central planning.
Take for example the queues in a supermarket. Shoppers are out to protect their own interest and based on their own judgements, join the queue that they perceive to be the shortest. This sort of decision making without any form of centralised control (i.e. a supervisor of the shop directing shoppers to join the shortest queue) is efficient by itself.
That is why you seldom see supermarkets employing people to help people get to the shortest queue. People who are looking after their own interests will automatically search for the shortest queue to join. This is how a successful market economy ought to function with disciplined pluralism.
In another example, no one discovered the personal computer. Instead, the industry emerged from a process of unplanned trial and error within a framework of disciplined pluralism. We are all well aware of how the founder of Microsoft himself was not even certain of the need for such powerful machines for an individual when he said: "640K ought to be enough for anybody."
A look at the failures of Mao in his attempt at the Great Leap Forward also shows the failures of a centrally planned economy. We idolised Jack Welch because it is hard to believe that a large corporation like General Electric remained successful because of decentralised decision making amongst thousands of individuals in the organisation.
So what does all this have to do with my tour?
During my tour, I could not help but noticed lots of unfinished buildings that lay scattered amongst the landscape. I was told that it was perhaps due to the economic crisis that led to this projects being abandoned.
This unfinished hotels were indeed a sore sight to any tourist. The buildings looked like they could easily become 5 star hotels but were now left abandoned without any windows or paintwork.
It made me wonder how disciplined pluralism really works. Sure.. we can let all the businesses flourish and let businessmen make their own decisions. The market will decide everything and that is why there were so many unfinished hotels.
But wouldn't it have been better if there was some kind of central planning agency to estimate the actual supply and demand of tourists that were expected in the area? Of course, for all we know, the central planning agency might have failed even more spectacularly with over optimistic figures and for all I know, the landscape might have been littered with even MORE unfinished hotels.
And yet when we look at Singapore, we seldom see any so called unfinished hotels or buildings. The tight control and central planning by URA has been efficient and effective in that sense.
So which works better? Centralised planning or Disciplined Pluralism? I don't know.
Friday, December 18, 2009
A security guard stood there ensuring that no one trespassed the gates which even a 5 year old could easily climb over.
The scenery was surreal. Calm and peaceful. Two children around the ages of 5 and 7 were feeding some fishes in the marina. The water was clear and I could see the fishes swarmed to them as they tossed the bread to them.
The white boats and yatches were parked neatly in rows. I couldn't help but notice that they were all white in color and that there were people actually living in them.
I striked up a conversation with the security guard. He was tanned and looked smart in his iron pressed white uniform. Bearning a moustach, he looked pretty friendly and smiled at me as I approached.
"How much to park the boat there?" I asked
"Don't know." he shook his head as he replied in his rather broken english. It was clear that he was not good in the language.
A brief silence and then he said: " Maybe ...3000. Yes , 3000 one month"
He did not seem like he knew the answer but felt obliged to give one anyway.
"Do they need to be members or anything?" I asked further
"Yes..yes..members..., only boat berth pass holders allowed in." he replied, clearly echoing the words on the sign that was placed on the gate to warn any trespasses.
Hoping to bring the conversation further, I asked : "And these people stay in their boats? Where do they come from?"
"Everywhere...they come here and park.... then they go off." He replied.
"Boy..where do you come from??" the security guard directed this question to the 7 year old boy feeding the fishes just below.
"Singapore." the boy replied.
"Where is your daddy" the security guard asked.
"My daddy is at home. Our mummy brought us here." the little boy replied as he continued feeding the fishes.
Another brief moment of silence....
"So where are you from?" the security guard turned and asked me.
"Singapore" I replied.
"Same as that boy." he pointed to the little boy, as if I had not overheard their conversation.
I smiled politely at the security guard as I turned to leave.
Beyond the marina stood houses that had the most spectacular view of the sea. The sun was rising and it was getting hot. The day had just begun for the security guard as he continued to walk around the rather empty marina.
So different are the economic lives of the security guard and the seven year old boy. One is much younger but perhaps has experienced a lot more things compared to the security guard who probably has never left his country before.
At this point, I am just amazed at how different and far apart their two worlds are. One is here on a holiday in a million dollar yatch while the other will most probably never make a million in his entire life.
It is not because one is cleverer or smarter or more hardworking. It is simply the country they were born in and the opportunities that were presented to them.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
That was indeed a tough question to answer.
If money was not a concern, I would definitely go for further studies. Perhaps in a nice European country where I can get to travel around during the holidays too!
However, with masters and phds costing so much, I am not sure whether it is worth my money to pursue such courses. And besides, providing for the family comes first. It is a sacrifice I have to make.
I would LOVE to do it..especially an overseas stint. But the MONEY just does not make sense to me.
Perhaps in another year or two when things look better =)
At the mean time, I will just have to make do with my dosage of books.
Unless some generous sponsor pops up along the way and offers me a scholarship =)
If you are that sponsor sent from heaven, do let me know!
Monday, December 14, 2009
So I am up now counting my money in all the places that I have. Sometimes I forget that I even have such money lying around.
1. POSB Savings : $6200
2. Maybank : $17,000
3. Citibank: $6300
1. Singapore: $72,000
2. US Stocks: $8000
3. Unit Trusts: $4000
1. Investment Linked Plan 1 = $37500
2. Whole Life = $15,000
Okay...now I feel so much better..Can sleep again =)
Sunday, December 13, 2009
It seems that I have lots of wedding dinners to go to for this month. It really does become quite tiring attending so many weddings.
Will I enjoy this wedding dinner? I hope so (keeping fingers crossed)
Maybe I would if it was something special like having a Green Wedding. See Article below:
THE carrot has been dangled - go green for your big day and save on the cost of the wedding venue.
The National Park Board (NParks) announced the 20 per cent discount offer at the opening of its latest green wedding venue known as the Garden of Seasons at the HortPark in Alexandra Road which opened May last year.
For now, the discount applies to only the non air conditioned venues in HortPark, which charges between $85 and $190 per hour depending on location within the park.
The NParks said it has not decided if the offer would be extended to its other six parks where weddings can also be held.
To qualify for the discount, couples have to show NParks that they have taken at least eight environmentally-friendly measures for their wedding. These include using recycled paper for their wedding stationary, holding the ceremony at non air-conditioned venues and using a hybrid car for their bridal car.
'HortPark was chosen for the scheme as it's popular for weddings and there is a team in place to help with the criteria assessment,' said an NParks spokesman.
NParks' director of parks, Mr Kong Yit San, said he hoped the scheme would 'inspire more people to do their part in saving the environment, and reduce the large amounts of waste that weddings usually generate'.
It seems that I am drifting along like a piece of wood in a fast flowing river without the ability to steer myself to a path that I would like. The fast pace of life here also means that I hardly have the time to contemplate and think about what I truly want in life.
While friends are getting promotions, master's degrees and better jobs, I seem to be stuck in a rut that I can't dig myself out.
It seems that I lack a sense of understanding of what I want out of my life.
Is that sad?
Every year, when it comes to December, I realise that I am not closer to achieving any of my dreams simply because I have stopped pursuing my dreams for practical reasons like making a living. I am like a robot, emotionless... My childhood dreams, things that I thought I would do..are long perished from my thoughts...they seem almost impossible to achieve now where I am...I can't stop working because of the amount of financial obligations I have...thus...i also can't pursue my dreams. Midlife crisis I must say.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Mr Tay Liam Wee has an estimated networth of around S$135m.
The son of the group’s founder, Tay Boo Jiang, Tay Liam Wee began his work experience in Sincere Watch Limited in his teenage years during his summer holidays, starting right at the bottom as an across-the-counter watch salesman. He learned the trade fast and worked his way up.
In 1984, upon graduating from the Lakehead University in Canada, Liam Wee joined the group as the executive managing director and created a new chapter in the history of Sincere. In the face of stiff competition in a fast-evolving environment, Liam Wee’s acute business acumen and strong spirit of entrepreneurship transformed a traditional watch company into an international established watch group.
Liam Wee conceptualised the four business pillars – the Fine Watch Retailing, Travel Watch Retailing, Brand Management and Lifestyle Watch Retailing - which would later form the foundation on which the Sincere Watch business is now built.
As the executive director, Liam Wee first introduced the concept of Fine Watch Retailing where his excellent interpersonal relationships with the watch makers and his keen understanding of the watch industry enabled him to acquire the distributorships of prestigious brands such as Patek Philippe, Jeager-LeCoultre, Audermars Piguet and Girard-Perregaux, thereby elevating the status of Sincere Watch to a brand to be reckoned with.
Recognising the desire of customers for a total shopping experience, Liam Wee pioneered service quality in Sincere Watch by enforcing a strict shirt and tie dress code on the shop level. Sales managers dressed in shirts and ties was a concept that was unheard of in the early eighties, and it helped distinguish Sincere Watch as an upmarket boutique in which to enjoy and purchase a prestigious watch. To further enhance fine watch retailing, Liam Wee enrolled the Sincere Watch’s sales staff in Service Quality (SQ) training courses established by the National Productivity Board and Singapore Airlines.
Liam Wee was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year Singapore 2004. This prestigious award honours entrepreneurs whose ingenuity and perseverance have created and sustained successful, growing business ventures. The Lifestyle & Retail Entrepreneur of The Year Award also went to Liam Wee and these two awards are a reflection of the resilience and determination of the team at Sincere Watch. Receiving these awards during the year of its 50th founding anniversary has made it all the more significant for Sincere Watch.
Amongst the record achievements for 2004, Sincere Watch is one of the six Singapore companies to make it into Forbes’ “Best Under a Billion” list of companies in the Asia-Pacific.
In 2005, Sincere Watch Limited was promoted to Main Board Listing of the SGX. In addition, in line with Sincere’s aim to promote the culture of horology and to develop an appreciation for the art of watchmaking among consumers and the media, there are plans to set up a Watch Academy. Liam Wee believes that this proposed Watch Academy, which is the first-of-its-kind in the world, will reinforce Singapore’s leading position in the global watch industry and provide an engine of growth in the coming years.
He sold 50% stake in family business Sincere Watch in early 2008 to Hong Kong watch retailer and distributor Peace Mark at a market high. In Sep 2008, it was reported that he resigned from Peace Mark as director(see article below. Peace Mark ran into financial problems and now Sincere is being sold. Tay is considering bidding with other investors to buy it back.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Real Trouble coming soon. Don't say that I did not warn you guys =)
I believe the US dollar will start to devalue pretty soon and I really cannot imagine what will happen to the entire world's economy. I believe that it will really be a sight to watch as all this unravels in the near future.
This is another video by Brian Tracy on Organising Your Time.
Lessons I have learnt:
1. Know who you are and what you really want from your life
2. If you only can accomplish one goal in life, which one goal will have the greatest positive impact on your life.
So what is your one goal in life?
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The BookFest @ Singapore 2009 will be held at the Suntec Convention and exhibition Centre from 11 December 2009 to 20 December 2009. This is organised by Popular so I guess you can expect to see the same range of books that you find in Popular and Harris bookstores.
The only thing is that since it is held at Suntec, I guess the rental of the place will be slightly higher and that might result in the books not being priced as attractively as at the Penguin Book Fair.
At the Penguin Book Fair, I managed to grab a grand total of 7 books. (Prices ranged from $5 to $10) They are the following books:
1. Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman
2. The Three Trillion Dollar War by Josephy Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes
3. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham
4. The Last Tycoons by William D.Conan
5. The Assault on Reason by Al Gore
6. Fateful Choices by Ian Kershaw
7. The Walmart Effect by Charles Fishman
I guess these books will last me all the way till end 2010 when the next Penguin book fair comes again. I will then swipe up all the books that I hope to be able to get at a huge discount.
You can view the site to BookFest 2009 here.
Read Related Articles :
1. Penguin Book Fair & $50 Competition
I would not term it as HATE but rather just a sublime DISLIKE. I guess some people are just not bothered about the things that bothers me.
No. 1 - The issue about red packets or hongbaos.
The Chinese give out red packets as part of a tradition in passing on good luck and fortune to others. Red packets contain money inside.
Over the years, this idea about the red packet has morphed beyond "it's the thought that counts". Instead, it is the money inside that counts.
Speak to any couple that is hosting a wedding dinner or lunch and the issue about the "profitability of the wedding" comes into play. While some couples hope to BREAKEVEN, others hope to make a PROFIT.
This is really a sad case and has taken out the true meaning of wedding lunches and dinners. Instead of being an occassion to share the joy with one another, it becomes a profit and loss event where how much a guest puts in the red packet becomes an issue.
No. 2 - The latecomers to the dinners and lunches.
Lunches and Dinners never start on time.
I once attended a wedding dinner where the dinner was supposed to start at 7.30pm but ended up starting only at 9pm!!
No. 3 - The Routine of the Wedding Dinner and Lunches.
The wedding dinner and lunches are so ROUTINE with a capital R that I can predict which dish the bride and groom is going to come in again and when they are going up stage to pop the champagne and say their thank you speeches and when they are going to start going around taking pictures.
It is just boring especially if you have to attend multiple wedding lunches and dinners over the weekend. There is just a lack of spontaneity.
I went up to Malaysia to attend a wedding dinner and theirs was totally different from those held in Singapore. There was blaring karoke throughout the dinner!
I nearly went deaf after sitting in front of the speakers for the dinner. It was IMPOSSIBLE to even have a conversation with the person sitting next to me. Now, that is what I call entertainment! Saves you the trouble of even having to do any friendly chat with the people at your table.
As much as I dislike wedding dinner and lunches, I do enjoy the parts where there is good food and good company of friends (especially those you have not caught up with for a long time).
What was your most "MEMORABLE" wedding experiences? What do you dislike about weddings?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
It was a pretty easy to read book and in it, I was reminded of the Rich Dad Poor Dad book that I read when I was in the Army and later on in university....
After reading Rich Dad Poor Dad and his advice to increase my income sources, I embarked on a journey to increase my portfolio and passive income so as to achieve financial freedom
Based on Rich Dad Poor Dad, one can earn an income throught the following methods:
1. Earned income
2. Portfolio income
3. Passive income
This is basically income which you earn using your sweat and toil be it at the desk or in the field growing tomatoes. Earned income is what most people are familiar with and many people stick to this source of income for their entire lives.
In my opinion, earned income is perhaps both Overrated and Underrated at the same time.
There is nothing wrong with focusing on this income source ALONE if you are certain that it will keep increasing and there will not be a day when this income will vanish and disappear.
Unfortunately for most people, earned income is no longer something that is guaranteed especially with the amount of retrenchments, compulsory retirement age and outsourcing that is taking place to countries like India and China.
On the other hand, some rich and well-to-do people get rich just be earned income alone. They get good jobs and get promotions and get paid higher salaries year after year.
I quit my $5K per month job this year and have thus suffered heavily in terms of my earned income. I find that I have less money to pour into my portfolio of stocks to increase my portfolio income which is what we will discuss next.
Porfolio income is earned from dividends that comes from one's stock or bond portfolios. Dividends are basically cash that is paid out to shareholders. The amount of dividends serves as a constant stream of income based on the porfolio of one's stocks.
I know of people who are able to earn sufficient portfolio income to retire because they have amassed a large portfolio of stocks that pay healthy dividends each year.
I started out collecting real estate investment trusts (REITs) because of their high dividend yields. Hopefully, this source of income will continue to rise over the years especially if I managed to re-invest whatever dividends I receive.
(I just collected a few hundred dollars in dividends for the month of November but it seems that this money will now be used for a short holiday trip instead of being reinvested...am I being wise?)
This can come from book royalties, renting out of houses, online income, etc. The magic of this income is that it requires little or no effort on your part and that is why it is termed "PASSIVE" income.
With this sort of income, you will be able to continue doing your daily job while earning an additional income that comes in day after day without you needing to working for it.
I started out some blogs to increase my online income as a source of passive income. I have been able to earn quite a steady and decent stream of income using Google's Adsense. Lately, I have been exploring Amazon's Associates Program too. Hopefully, this will start contributing to my passive income for the year 2010.
I am not on track to achieving my goal of $400 per month passive income. I admit that I have failed and that I will have a much higher and steeper slope to climb for year 2010 where I should hit a passive + portfolio income of $600 per month. May God Be With Me.
What are your income sources? Which source of income provides you with the biggest income? Are you focusing only on Earned Income while neglecting your portfolio income and passive income?
Saturday, December 5, 2009
(For new comers, you can view the $50 Contest here)
I guess the following are the 7 main reasons why I started this prize money giveaway:
1. I felt generous and just wanted to spread the Christmas joy around.
2. To reward readers of this blog who have been following and reading my sometimes mundane postings and putting up with all the stuff I blog about.
3. I wanted to know whether people would actually comment to get the prize money.
4. I wanted to know how long it would take to get 50 comments. I thought I would get it within 2 days. But I was wrong.
5. I was interested to see if people would actually collaborate to get the prize money.
6. I wanted to see who would sacrifice and post the 49th comment.
7. I wanted to see whether this would be a good viral marketing tool.
Of course, I did not come up with these reasons and start the contest. Instead, I started with reason #1 and #2 and the rest of the reasons came along as the competition progressed.
I hope to do something even more crazy and whacky next time!
Friday, December 4, 2009
I visited the penguin book fair at Singapore Expo and the only thing I can say is that if you LOVE books and you really want to find good deals, make your way down to the Penguin book fair.
Books are going for as cheap as $3 (they mentioned $1.00 but I couldn't find those books). I checked and realised that certain books which I bought for $20 to $30 at normal bookstores are going for as cheap as $8 to $10. That is a lot of SAVINGS if you are an avid book reader.
I saw some people pushing around like carts of book so I guess that they must be shopping for their entire year's worth of book there.
Seriously, if you have a budget of $100 to spend on books each year, just drop down to the Singapore Expo and you can easily buy 10 books! That is enough books to read for a year.
I myself bought over 10 books (including children books)
I started a competition to give away prize money of SGD 50.00 here.
Competitors, please continue to take note of the following pointers.
1. Consecutive postings by 1 user will be considered as a single posting. For example, if User G post 5 comments consecutively, it will be considered as 1 single posting. Users are allowed to post multiple comments but are encouraged not to post consecutively to confuse others =)
2. Only 2 ways to win. First way, be the 50th comment and win $50. Second way, if there are less than 50 comments, be the last person to comment in 24 hours. Based on my last count, there were 38 comments already so somebody will surely walk away with $38 already.
Follow this link to see the competition
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
ANYONE can earn it.
Just leave a comment on this post and you stand a chance to win.
I wil pay by Paypal or internet banking (if you have a bank account in Singapore)
How to WIN?
Simply post a comment below this post (no vulgarities and spam please). The prize money starts from $0 and increases by $1 with every comment below this post up to a maximum of $50.
The person whose comment is the last (with no comments in the next 24 hrs) walks away with the prize money. There will only be 1 winner
Multiple postings are allowed but you are not allowed to post consecutively.
*Updated 2nd Dec 2009 2.41pm - consecutive postings if any will be considered as 1 posting. I.e. if a user post 10 consecutive postings, it will only be considered as 1 posting
Example 1: You are the 5th person to comment and nobody else comments after 24 hrs, you walk away with $5
Example 2: You are the 34th person to comment and nobody else comments after 24 hrs, you walk away with $34.
Example 3: The competition heats up and people keep posting comments. As long as you are the 50th person to comment, you win the $50 which is the maximum prize money.
The maximum amount to be won is $50 and there will only be 1 Winner.
The winner is to inform me through my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the payment method he would prefer (Paypal or i-banking).
I reserve the sole right to determine who the winner is if there is any conflict. Remember the 24 hour rule.
Prize money is in Singapore Dollars.
In 2008, I managed to hit my goal of achieving $200 per month in passive income.
The goal set for the year 2009 was to hit $400 per month passive income.
With 31 days left to 2009, I have to figure out a fast way to hit that amount of passive income.
Here is my estimate at where I am at currently:
1. 12,000 x Ascott REITs (DPU = 3.55 per half) = $71.00 per month
2. 17,000 x First REITs (Annualised DPU = 7.66cents) = $108.51 per month
3. 1000 x Suntec REITs (Annualised DPU = 11.94cents) = $9.95 per month
4. Maybank iSavvy Deposit = $8 per month
5. Online Income Sources = $30 per month
Total = $227.46 per month
I am now torn between putting my capital into dividend stocks or stocks for capital gains.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Too many times, we keep thinking about the past and fantasizing about the future while dreading the present. The key to happiness I guess is to learn how to treasure the present.
#2- Get Out of the Rat RaceThe race is for rats only. If you are not a rat, please get out of it and spare yourself the miseries of keeping up with the whos who. Seriously, nobody gives two hoots whether you drive a Lexus or a BMW or a Toyota. The people you are trying to impress are busily trying to impress you too so they will hardly notice what car you are driving.
The author of this blog is a well-qualified bum in every sense of the word. He advises you to take everything you read in this blog with a pinch of salt.
Total from First REIT = $323
Total from Suntec REIT = $29.21
Sort of regretted selling away some of my Suntec REITs as I would have received a much larger dividend. Oh well, I guess we are always wiser with hindsight.
Total dividends for November 2009 = $352.21
It certainly cannot compare with the dividends that I received for Feb 09, May 09 and August 09 but it beats getting nothing at all.
Read Related Articles:
1. Received Over $1000 for August 09
2. Dividends for May 09
3. Dividends for Feb 09
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
EVENT #1 - INSTALLING WINDOW GRILLES
For one, I managed to get a nice set of window grilles for my house. It is now a much safer home for my little one as I have always been worried that he would push a chair to the side of the window and climb out too far. With the window grilles now in place, the whole house feels SO MUCH SAFER. I feel much more at ease to let the little one roam about the different rooms and don't have to worry too much about him.
The window grilles cost me $680 and I must say it was a pretty standard price as I asked around for a few quotations and all of them came back with the same quote of $5.50 per square foot of window grilles. Oh well, I guess I can only say that it is money well spent.
EVENT #2 - FALLING SICK
On the other hand, the little one also got a bit sick and he was a bit grumpy at night. And I realised that all the money in the world will not be able to make my little one feeling well right away. At the end of the day, it will be his own immune system that will have to fight back and make him feel better.
So money can't buy you everything. It cannot buy you health.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Over the past few months, there has been complaints (mainly amongst younger couples) that there are not enough HDB flats to go around with long queues and waiting times to buy their dream homes.
Just today, I read the newspapers and see that the Housing Board has decided to offer between 10,000 to 12,000 flats ever year over the next 5 years to meet this growing demand. This will serve as the guide for HDB's build-to-order scheme with the actual number made available depending on market conditions.
This year's planned supply of 6,500 flats was quickly raised to 13,500 flats after there was a spike in demand.
So what does all these changes by HDB show?
1. Demand of flats is totally unpredictable and depends on market conditions. Since demand is unpredictable, supply of the flats need to be changed and tweaked accordingly.
2. Complaints by Singaporeans are heard by the government. That is certainly good news for all of us.
Some concerns I have still remain however.
It is my personal opinion that if the supply of flats can be readily tweaked accordingly, this will have an impact on the value of ALL HDB flats across Singapore.
When most Singaporeans spend a large amount of their money and savings into buying their homes, it is not in the benefit of the majority of Singaporeans if the value of their houses do not rise in accordance with market conditions.
I also attach an email from one of my friends regarding this HDB issue. It was written by a professor from NTU and contains a lot of insightful thoughts on the matter. As I do not have the name of this professor, I am not able to give him the necessary credit due in this email.
Please see the email (with certain details deleted).
Yes, we are living in an upside down world, and Singapore is no exception.
In my joint paper with ******* (attached), to appear in the book "*****" to be launched next month by *** ***, we made the point that in 1965, the goverment owned 20% of the land in Singapore. Today, it owns 80%. There is really no proper market-based land market. The price of land on which HDB/URA builds is artificial. I think about 2/3 of the cost of a new HDB flat is land cost. However, this land was obtained at confiscatory prices from private landowners under the Land Acquisition Act. Hence the present land cost of HDB flats is inflated, because it is based on private land values which are themselves inflated.
Hence, somebody who bought a landed property in 1965 (like myself) has seen its value increase 500 times in 40 years. I sold it and donated 1/3 to charity (****** etc.) as it is not due to my hard work or economic foresight.
I wrote an article in the *** *** suggesting a way out, otherwise young Singaporeans will be priced out of buying HDB flats. Since all land on which HDB flats is government owned, such land should be based on their acquisition cost which is very low, and not on the "market" valuation, which is essentially that based on inflated private property values. Hence new HDB flats will once again be affordable to young graduates. When I graduated in 1960, I could get a HDB flat at 3-4 times my annual income. Today it is 10 times. No wonder our recent graduates feel frustrated.
The problem with this radical proposal is that the values of resale flats would drop. Their prices are also artifically high due to the decision made in the early 80s (referred to in Ngiam Tong Dow's book "The Making on a Mandarin") to raise the value of the land on which HDB flats are built. This was because existing flats owners were making excessive profits when they sold their flats, since they had bought their flats based on HDB land valued at confiscatory prices, and now they can sell at private market-based land values. Hence the prices of new HDB flats rose from the early 80s onward. This made the rise in CPF rates of contribution to 25 +25% necessary which caused the 1985 recession, the first in Singapore's economic history. The HDB in other words did not want new flat owners to make that kind of a handsome profit.
Today the flat owners who are making really handsome profits are those who had bought theirs before the early 80s. There is a politicial cost in alientating these flat owners if the price of new HDB flats drops to what is their "real" cost (i.e. based on the confiscatory acquisition value of the land), so that the price of old resale flats also have to drop. Senior citizens would vote against the governement.
However I think this group is like me, who never really dreamed to get such a high capital gain, when they sell their property. However they are now in the 50+ age group and are facing an uncertain future due to the lack of a safety net for those growing old. If we favour the young by making new HDB flats cheap, the medium-old and old-old would suffer by seeing their only asset, an HDB flat, depreciate in resale value.
Another problem is that some of these old flats are still being HDB-loan financed. If their resale value drops, the HDB may get into trouble. It was only in 2000 that the HDB allowed commercial bank financing.
However this also means that commercial banks now would get hit should those who purchased HDB resale or new flats on commercial loans, find that their market value is below their loan value (negative equity).
Any suggestions on how to get out of this dilmma, now that 85% of Singaporeans stay in HDB flats?
Monday, November 23, 2009
While these companies are able to get huge supply of hair from Asia like China and India, they prefer European hair which is considered of a higher quality and is not as thick as Asian hair.
Ponytails of hair can sell from between 50 to 150 Euros with the price being dependent on both the weight and length of hair.
Justino Delgado is one such happy man who has 90 tonnes of hair kept in his warehouse ready for export to Europe and the United States. The hair is washed and colored in the factories and braided together before export. His business currently employs around 30 people.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Is it really so difficult to retire in Singapore? What must one do to ensure that they can retire comfortably when their working days are over? How much does one need to safely call it a day from having to work?
Think about it..some famous celebrities have actually moved to Singapore. This include Gong Li and Jet Li who have both become Singaporeans now. Of course, I am sure their purpose is not to retire here but it seems that they find Singapore a really nice place to live in.
I believe that most Singaporeans also do like to live in Singapore and retire here. However, they are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the high cost of living and that's when they start to wonder whether they will be able to save up enough for their retirement fund.
Based on the MOH website, it seems that the male and female life expectancy has been increasing slowly over the years and I will not be surprised that for my generation (those in their 20s and 30s) the average life expectancy should be around 85. Considering the retirement age of around 60, that is a good 20 years of time (and money) to be spent during one's golden years.
In a lot of forums, I have found similar concerns amongst many. One comment even states that:
I have also been thinking that retiring in Malaysia is a very viable option as the exchange rate will literally double my spending money. In that sense, I will be able to retire much earlier compared to someone who wants to retire in Singapore. I could even rent out my place in Singapore for passive income and convert that money to Ringgit =) That is indeed a very tempting thought.
I would like to think that there are a few steps that all can take to better prepare themselves for retiring.
1. Determine how much you need for retirement
2. Start saving towards that goal and make sure that the amount you save will enable you to hit that goal
3. Invest your money for the long term to get better returns
4. Cut down on your expenditure
5. Look for sources of passive income
Besides doing financial planning for yourself, you need to make sure that your children (if any) becomes financially independent from you and do not rely on you for money. You will be surprised that some young adults of ages twenty and above still depend on parents for money.
The CPF website has an excellent calculator to help you do your planning
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Their lives are tangled in an unending cycle of debts, medical bills and other payments that they must make to simply survive. They have simply no savings at all.
Sometimes, one can really wonder whether it is due to their own efforts or pure misfortune that they end up doing what they are doing.
We can see the poor all around us in Singapore if we open our eyes. They are there begging on the streets, collecting soft drink cans, selling tissue paper, lottery tickets and stuff. Some of them have a sad story...some of them just have themselves to blame.
However, I don't think that one should judge them and not give them any money just because they are poor.
You never know all the sad stories behind their lives and how some of them were just like you but due to some family problems (usually illnesses and hospital bills) that they end up where they are.
As our society gets significantly older, many people might not have done the necessary financial planning to make sure that they are insured and saving sufficiently for future unxepected events. I guess that is the government's concern and it's also why they are encouraging people to save more and setting the retirement age much higher.
This video shows a sight of Singapore that is not commonly seen. I have personally seen some of these sights before and it saddens me.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I just fixed some leaking shower head recently and realised that it was really a simple task! Saving on home repairs is much simpler than I thought it would be.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Okay, so yesterday I posted a list of 10 things that would apparently make men happier. Today, I will share with you 10 Things that would make women happier:
Saturday, November 14, 2009
7. A great body (Will the below suffice?)
8. A permanently clean home
Friday, November 13, 2009
3. Dragon's Chair ($27.8 Million)
Need a nice chair to play poker in. How about this dragon chair? This chair that was formerly owned by Yves Saint Laurent and costs a whopping $27.8 million. You will most probably need to find another chair to play poker in.
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