Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Price of Coffee

I realised that there is a vast difference in the price of a cup of coffee in various shops.

In a normal hawker centre coffee shop, a cup of coffee will cost you around $0.70
In a fast food restaurant, a cup of coffee will cost you around $2.00
In Starbucks, a cup of coffee will cost you easily $5.00

Matter of fact is that the coffee actually tastes almost the same to me. I certainly cannot tell the difference between a Starbucks coffee and one that is served in Macdonalds if you put me through a blind test.

What is amazing is that it does not mean drinking at Starbucks will make me a happier person. In fact, it is possible to drink a cheap cup of coffee and still derive the same amount of satisfaction and happiness.

It is thus possible for a person to spend a lot less and still be happy. Better to be eating bread and living a peaceful life than to have a buffet spread everyday but be unhappy.

Just my thought for the day.

The author had a cup of coffee at a fast food restaurant that cost him $2.10 today. He feels that the coffee was only average and did not particularly enjoy the coffee session anyway.

Read Related Articles:
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

What is Dow Theory and Why It Matters to You

What Dow Theory?

Charles Dow never wrote about any Dow Theory nor presented it as a trading system.

However, Dow Theory today serves as a theory on underlying stock prices and is very much a pillar of technical analysis. The theory was derived based on editorial articles that Charles Dow had wrote and it was subsequently called the "Dow Theory" by others who referred to his work.

Dow himself never spoke about any such theory. If anything, Dow was more a scholar than a speculator.

Dow Moves to New York City

Dow was born in a small town in Conneticut in 1851. He apparently held around twenty jobs before he found his passion in journalism. After certain life events, Dow decided that carrying out journalism at the Providence Journal was too small for him. He packed and moved to New York City with an old friend, Eddie Jones.

Together with Jones and a friend named Charles Milford Bergstrasser, they decided to go into a news distributing business. They called their company Dow, Jones and Co.

Perhaps the most lasting contribution to finance was the Dow Jones Average that was the first attempt by someone to create a sort of aggregate indicator of stock market trends. The Dow Jones Average is still what most people turn to if they want to find out how the market is doing today.

6 Basic Tenets of Dow Theory?

One of the assumptions of Dow Theory is that trends in stock prices, once under way, will always tend to persists until the market itself sends out a signal that these trends are about to be reversed. The 6 basic tenets of Dow Theory are as follows:

1. The market has three movements. A main movement( measured in years), medium movement (months to a year) and short swing (hours to a month). It can be said that these 3 movements can occur simultaneously, for example: "a daily short swing in a bearish medium movement under an overall bullish main movement."

2. Market Trends Have Three Phases. The accumulation phase, public participation phase and distribution phase. The accumulation phase is when investors who are in the "know" are buying stocks against general market opinion. The stock price does not change much in the accumulation phase. The publich participation phase is when this information becomes known and there is a rapid price surge. The distribution phase is when astute investors exit their holdings.

3. The Stock Market Discounts All News. The stock market price quickly adapts to any information that becomes available.

4. Stock Market Averages Confirm Each Other. When two averages move together, it confirms that the direction is correct. If two averages diverge, it means change is likely to come.

5. Trends are confirmed by Volume. Low volume trading does not make up a trend. Only high volume indicates a trend.

6. Trends exist until definitive signals prove they have ended. There are times when there are market noises and small reversals occur against the trend. This noises should be ignored and the trend should be given the benefit of the doubt. Difficulty lies in deciding which tools to use to decide whether the trend has ended.

Analysis of Dow Theory & Why It Matters to You

Till date, there has been no conclusive evidence on the profitability of using the Dow Theory. While studies remain inconclusive, some have have argued that Dow Theory produces excess risk adjusted returns compared to a simply buy and hold strategy.
Today, many chartists or technical analysts still consider Dow Theory's definition of a trend and its insistence on the study of historical price action of stocks as one of the pillars of technical analysis.

Read Related Articles:
1. To Trade Or To Buy and Hold

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book I Am Reading

I have been reading Capital Ideas by Peter L. Bernstein the past few days.

It provides an insightful account of the origins of Wall Street and also touches on the pionering work of all the early scholars with their new theories on risk, valuation, investment returns and the actual implementation of these theories to the real world.

This book really provides in-depth insights and timeless advice and shows how the unique contributions of these various individuals have profoundly changed the investment world as we know it today.

Why people should read this book is because it provides a very academic response to what has proven to work and doesn't work in the world of stocks.

Random Walks in Stock Market Prices - A Case against Technical Analysts and Fundamental Analysts

Eugene Fama quote on Chartists:

"He must show that he can consistently use these patterns to make meaningful predictions of future prices"

Eugene Fama quote on FA:

"The analyst cannot merely protest that he thinks the securities he selects do better than randomly selected securities; he must demonstrate that this is in fact the case."

My Stand

The onus is on all chartists and fundamental analysts to prove that their system works better than a portfolio of randomly selected securities. I do not side with any camp.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

$323 in Dividends

One of my REIT holdings has just declared a distribution of 1.90 cents per unit.

I have 17,000 units of it in my portfolio.

This means that I will be getting a windfall of $323.00 sometime in November.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Donald Trump's New Son-in-Law

So it seems that Donald Trump has gotten himself a son-in-law. And it looks like this son-in-law will get along very well with Donald as he himself comes from another major real estate family. See the article below to find out more:

IVANKA Trump has wed the son of another major New York area real estate family.

The daughter of Donald and Ivana Trump married Jared Kushner at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday. The Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein performed the ceremony.

Trump, 27, is the co-host of Celebrity Apprentice, a vice president at her father's real estate company, and has a jewelry company.

The 28-year-old Kushner is publisher of The New York Observer and an executive at the Kushner Companies, which owns and manages commercial real estate and apartments.

Kushner's father was a prominent Democratic political donor who pleaded guilty to campaign and tax law violations.

Wedding guests included ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Barbara Walters and actress Emmy Rossum. -- AP

Financial Freedom Art Gallery

There are days when I go a little eccentric and I just need to express myself through my blog. For those who are wondering where I got all these pictures from, you ought to check out Photofunia. It allows you to do really cool stuff with pictures that you upload.

Today I allowed myself to spend some money buying certain accessories for my house.

I was pretty happy with the results and I would say it was definitely money well spent. Looking at the stuff I bought makes me happy everytime I get home.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why You Should Quit Smoking

All smokers should quit smoking. Logically, I guess everyone knows the health reasons why. Today, I will like to show the financial aspect of smoking.

Smoking Raises Your Insurance Premiums

Insurance companies know that smokers have a higher risk of falling ill and perhaps dying young. This is not based on guess work but on actuarial studies where they study statistics and stuff. As such, a male in his 30s who is a smoker will pay a higher premium for insuring himself compared to another guy who is not a smoker.

Overall, this premiums might seem only slightly more but add it up over the years and it could amount to a tidy bit of money.

A Pack of Cigarettes Costs Like A Meal?

If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you would be spending easily $5 over dollars per pack. This is good enough to pay for lunch or dinner!

Why would you want to spend an additional $5 a day when compounded over 30 days, that amounts to $150.

Over 12 months, it is equivalent to $1800!! That is easily half a month's pay for a graduate that just started working.

If you are in your twenties, just invest $150 a month at 8% returns and you will be amazed at how much money you will have when you retire.

Smoking Accessories

Smoking stinks. And I mean literally. That is why smokers often have to buy a pack of cool mints to suck on after they have had their fix so as to make their breath fresh.

This pack of cool mints again costs them $$$.

Read Related Articles:
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2. Leaving Assets for Future Generations
3. Independent Financial Advice
4. Health Equals Wealth

Friday, October 23, 2009

Where Did My Money Go Today?

Today, I tracked my spending for the entire family:
The total spending was $42.90

Meals Cost the Most

70% of the money spent today went into food. A breakdown as shown below

Breakfast (takeaway)= $2.70
Lunch (takeaway)= $8.00
Dinner at Ikea = $17.00
Snacks at Ikea = $2.00

Miscellaneous Items

30% of the money went into buying miscellaneous stuff and carparking

A Stool from Ikea = $9.90
Carparking at Ikea = $3.30

Read Related Articles:
1. Why People Buy the Stuff They Buy
2. Top 10 Money Saving Tips
3. Save Electricity, Save Money
4. Retire Young, Retire Rich
5. 3 Key Lessons from Rich Dad Poor Dad

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why People Buy the Stuff They Buy

Choice Overload

I was walking along one of those huge supermarkets today when I made a few interesting observations.

There were a few elderly lady that were simply staring at 1001 different types of can food displayed on the ceiling high shelves.

All of them seemed to be deep in thought and had no idea which to buy. I was standing there and wondering what was going through their heads. What would make them choose one product over another?

Logic Versus Emotions : The Psychology of Buying

Can you remember what was the last item that you bought recently? Was it today? Good!

Now think about the thought processes that went through your head as you made the decision to buy that item.

I believe that certain factors compels us to buy something. However, I believe that LOGIC has nothing to do with it. When it comes to buying stuff, people are totally not logical. Even the most logical person that you know of will become illogical when it comes to spending his money.

I made another interesting observation:

Ever noticed that a 1.5 L bottle of softdrink is sold at say $1.40 while a 0.5L bottle is sold at $1.10 . One just has to pay 30cents more to get 3 times the amount of soft drink.

However, you will most probably find people choosing the 0.5L bottle as it is simply more convenient to carry around. This is especially so if they are not heading home straight and they're just looking for something to quench their thirst.

In the above example, we can clearly see that people buy things based on a host of factors and not based on price and value for money alone. It is what I would term the "psychology of buying".

It is my view that when it comes to buying, people often buy based on emotions and not on logic.
I hope to expand further on this post at some later date.

Read Related Articles:

1. Top 10 Money Saving Tips
2. Save Electricity, Save Money
3. Retire Young, Retire Rich
4. 3 Key Lessons from Rich Dad Poor Dad

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to Achieve Financial Freedom

Over the past one year, I have shared a lot on how one can become financially free. I think I have come to a point where it's difficult for a new reader to find a certain post.

The following are links on certain of my suggestions on how one can become financially free. I hope that you find them useful.

Introduction to Financial Freedom

  • Financial Freedom Number - another method of determining how far you are away from financial freedom is by calculating this number.

  • How to Calculate Your Networth - some people do not want to build up passive income and instead look to increase their overall networth. You can find out how much your networth is and compare it with mine.

  • Are You Wealthy? - your networth alone might not give you a true picture of whether you are wealthy. The authors of The Millionaire Next Door came up with this method to determine whether you are truly wealthy.

Journey towards Financial Freedom

  • Contemplative Thoughts - some of my very own personal thoughts on my journey. It also includes some useful articles from elsewhere. Most of them written when I was thinking of giving up.

Increasing Your Income

  • Income Investing - a 5 part series on the various investment tools that you can use to increase your passive income.

Saving Money

Other Useful Articles

Free Honeymoon

Is your marriage on the rocks?

A Malaysian state will be offering free second honeymoons for couples that are on the brink of divorce. They hope that these romantic getaways can help save their marriages.

Under this plan, feuding couples stand a chance to spend 3 days and 2 nights on a tropical island off Terengganu state.

To be eligible for this plan, couples will have to apply and then undergo an INTERVIEW before being sent on the honeymoons. (I really wonder what kind of questions are going to be asked at the interview....)

The honeymoon package is worth around S$615 and a successful pilot project involving 25 couples has already been carried out.

This is indeed an interesting proposal. I wonder whether they will start giving out free movie tickets and stuff too. Perhaps free movie tickets to watch Michael Jackson's This Is It movie that will be launched soon?

Read Related Articles:
1. Free Stuff
2. StarHub Loses EPL
3. Free Tickets to Singapore Zoo

2 Easy Steps to Build an Emergency Fund

Today, I will show you 2 easy steps anyone can take to start saving money to build up an emergency fund.

An emergency fund is basically 3 to 6 months of income that you set aside which you can withdraw easily. This means that the fund is most probably in a bank account that you can easily tap into should any emergency arise.

Step #1 - Open Another Bank Account

Yes, you heard me right. Why do you have to open another bank account? It is very likely that if you were to start saving money into the same bank account, you will most probably spend the money without knowing it. The most important thing about an emergency account is to keep it out of sight from us so that we do not spend the money!

Many years ago, I wanted to set aside an emergency fund of 6 months income. It was however only 2 years ago that I managed to do so. The reason for the long delay was that I was simply spending all my money in my only bank account which I had. Whenever it reached a certain amount, I would think to myself: "Hey, I've got lots of money....why not I buy this?"

To cut a long story short, I could not succeed in building up the 6 month emergency fund because I had easy access to the account. I started withdrawing money from the fund as it was not kept separate from my other bank account. This is my BEST advice to you: OPEN ANOTHER BANK ACCOUNT.

You will of course want to make sure that this bank account does not have any high charges and stuff for things like minimum balances.

Step #2 - Deposit a FIXED sum of money EVERY month ONCE you get your paycheck

Keeping a separate bank account is Step 1. For Step 2, it requires a certain amount of discipline. The key is to deposit a FIXED amount EVERY month the DAY you get your paycheck.

The day that you get your pay check credited into your bank account is THE DAY that you must deposit that fixed amount of money into your separate bank account (your emergency fund account). Do not wait for a few days because once you procrastinate, you will most probably not do it and end up not depositing any money at all for that month. This is speaking from my experience.

Let's say that you decide to save $500 per month to build up an emergency fund. All you have to do is simply deposit or transfer the money from your normal banking account straight into the emergency fund account the moment you get your paycheck.

Do this EVERY single month. No excuses.

No lowering the amount too. Every month, you will stick to the amount you have decided and deposit it into your emergency fund the moment you get your paycheck.

SgFinancialFreedom is a blog dedicated to help people achieve their financial freedom. This is done through the sharing of knowledge, information and experience. Find out more about the author and his journey to financial freedom.

Did you find this post useful?

Please leave a comment. Thank you.

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3 Tips to Survive Job Loss

Alot of people have been asking the question on how I am surviving if I am sitting at home everyday, not working and just blogging.

Well, firstly....I am not exactly unemployed per se. I am self employed.

I am still running in certain things before my business starts. As such, time is what I have on my hands. It does feel a bit like I am jobless though.

So what do I do everyday while I am bumming around?

Here are the top 3 things I do:

1. Trade The Stock Market $$$

I am not really a full time trader. But nonetheless, with time on my hands, I have time to read about books on trading as well as trade the stock market.

The month of October has been kind to me in terms of trading profits =)

9 Oct 09 - Profit $126.14
13 Oct 09 - Profit $237.54
14 Oct 09 - Profit $479.42

I am also still in the midst of combining FA and TA into my investment strategy.

2. Blog and find ways to advertise my blog.

Yep. This is the 2nd thing that I do the most.

That's me on the poster. Not exactly me per se but a manga replication of me.

3. Surf the Net.

Yeah.. I surf the net like a lot. Research shows that people surf the net mainly for education/information & for social purposes (internet messaging,etc). I surf the net mainly for information.

Read Related Articles:

Limit Supply of HDB Flats Please

It seems that people have been complaining over the lack of flats in Singapore. Many have called on the government to increase the supply of flats so as to reduce the waiting time for flats. Various blogs have also started to give their 2 cents on the matter. While it is easy to give in to populist sentiments, I think that we all should take 2 steps back and look at the issue.

The reason why HDB flats are so popular is this:

1. They are cheap (because of government grants and stuff)

2. They are expected to rise in value over the years and people can sell them at a profit.

These are the two main reasons I can think of on why HDB flats are so popular amongst Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents.

If HDB flats are just affordable but are not expected to rise in value, I for one will not buy them as I will have trouble selling it later should I intend to upgrade to a bigger house.

It is thus very important current supply of HDB flats are not tweaked to cater to populist sentiments.

Instead of increasing the supply of HDB flats, I say that the current status quo should instead remain. 10 interested buyers to 1 flat is a very good ratio I must say.

That means that 9 buyers will have to be looking at the resale market or private property should they wish to purchase their own homes.

This will be good news for people who wish to sell their homes.

Can you imagine that if there is a supply of flats such that every buyer is able to get their flat of choice?

That would mean that there will be less people who will buy resale flats and that means we will all have problems selling our flats in the future! This will make HDB flats alot less attractive and will thus reduce the demand overtime.

Current policy guidelines should remain and the supply of flats should be tightly controlled for the greater good. This will help ensure that HDB resale prices remains high.

Even though it is possible to increase the supply of flats, this should not be done so to tilt the fine balance between supply and demand. Oversupply now will lead to problems further down the road.

Read Related Articles:

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Calculate Your Networth

What is Networth?

In businesses, networth or book value of a company is obtained by adding up all the company's assets and subtracting it by the total liabilities. This is known as the networth of the company.

The same can be done for individuals to calculate their networth.

How to Calculate?

To calculate your networth, simply add up all your assets and subtract them by all your liabilites or debt as we commonly call it.

Why is this number important?

Tracking this number is a good way to see that you are building your wealth and increasing your assets. A person's networth should be increasing over time as their income increases.

My Personal Experience.

10 years ago when I was just 18 years old, my networth was only slightly over $1000. That was the total amount of money I had in my bank account. I had no other assets and no other liabilities.

During the 10 years, I have seen my bank account drop close to $0. After experiencing what it felt like to be "poor", I decided that I should never let that happen to me again.

Overtime, I begin to acquire assets like stocks. I also took on more liabilities as I had to purchase a house for my family. All in all, I roughly estimate my family's networth to be slightly above $500,000.

Observations about High Networth Individuals

There are certainly some common denominators when it comes to people of high networth. I think you will find that the most important thing about them is that they are FINANCIALLY SAVVY. In fact, Singapore has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in the world and this is expected to rise.

They do know about their investments and they do know how to manage their money.

I would like to think that it is the financial education that this people get that helps them to grow their money.

But wait a minute! No school ever taught us financial education right?

You are correct!

Financial education is largely taught at home. Nowadays, I think financial education is obtained through reading of books and surfing of the internet. It is possible to become financially savvy simply by reading more from the internet and learning from the experiences of those who have walked the path.

Read Related Articles:
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2. Singapore's 40 Richest
3. Are You Wealthy?
4. 3 Key Lessons from Rich Dad, Poor Dad
5. A Millionaire By Thirty

Unit Trust Fund Screener

There are thousands of unit trust funds out there, millions perhaps. How do you sift through the garbage to get to the gold?

We all know that it is simply impossible to go through every single fund factsheet to find out which are the best funds out there. Ask a financial adviser and he will probably tell you which funds he recommends and why.

But is there a better way to go about making such an investment decision?

How do you go about choosing which unit trust fund to invest into?

Today, I will let you all in to a little secret which few know about.

A Unit Trust Fund Screener

Lipper Leaders has a fund screener that allows one to screen a whole wide range of unit trust funds based on a few metrices. But before you go off to try it out, let me explain to you what this metrices are based upon.

Lipper Leaders screens funds based on 4 essential metrices. They are as follows:

1. Total Return. Total return denotes a fund that has superior returns when compared to a similar group of funds. This rating best suits investors who want the best historical returns without looking at risk. This measure however might not be sufficient for investors who want to avoid downside risk.

2. Consistent Return. This identifies a fund that has provided relatively consistent performance and risk adjusted returns when compared to a similar group of funds. This might be for investors who are concerned about consistent performance of the fund rather than total returns that the fund gives. Certain funds however will remain more volatile than other funds based on the market sector they are invested into.

3. Preservation. This identifies funds that have been able to preserve capital in a more superior manner in various types of market when compared with other funds in its asset class. This helps limit any downside risk that an investor does not wish to take.

4. Expense. This identifies funds that have managed to keep its expenses low relative to its peers. This is best for investors who want to minimise their total costs when choosing a fund.

But You Still Need to Consider This....

So I have shared with you a very superior unit trust fund screener that will actually help you make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing which funds to invest in. This works well even if you are choosing which funds to invest in for an investment linked plan that are sold by various insurance companies in Singapore.

A good way to test your insurance agent or financial adviser next time will be to ask them WHY they are recommending certain funds to you.

Many times, you will get the answer like"Oh..this fund reached a price of $5 over dollars in 2007. Now it is only at $3, the price is very cheap."

Such financial advice is lame and if anybody ever gives you such advice, RUN!

Past performance of a fund does not guarantee future performance of the fund.

This is what we also need to take into consideration when using the Lippers Leaders Fund Screener. Just because a fund is ranked 5 for all the ratings does not mean that it will give you stellar returns in the next few years. Rather, it just gives you a way to make a much more informed decision.

To Invest in Unit Trust Funds or Stocks?

Should one invest in a unit trust fund or should one invest in stocks? Yes, I know I have brought up another contentious issue and there will probably be no end to the debate.

Unit trust funds are known to charge fees and costs that many people say are not worthwhile. Lots of "experts" out there are thus advising the man on the street to invest in stocks directly so that they need not pay expensive charges that these unit trust funds charge.

Again, I at Sg Financial Freedom will like to take the stand and say that whether a person decides to invest in unit trust or stocks all depends on the person's situation.

A person who has no time to track his investments and has totally no clue about investment should perhaps invest his money in unit trusts rather than let his money sit in the bank and rot.

A person who is savvy in his investments will most probably not opt to invest in unit trusts if he is able to get decent returns from the stock market.

I will still like to think that since these fund managers are working at their investment jobs full time, we ought to give them some credit and it might not do us any harm to just invest a portion of our money for diversification purposes.

Afterall, if you invest your own money, you are your own fund manager. How certain are you that you can beat a person who does it as a 8 to 5 job full time while you might only have the time to monitor your stocks say 10% of your time?

Sometimes, it might also be necessary to invest into unit trusts so as to get exposure to certain markets like China or into the commodities sector. It might be difficult for an individual to buy into so many stocks which a China unit trust fund could probably do more efficiently and at a lower cost.

The author invests in both stocks and unit trusts. He believes in his fund management skills but has decided to diversify some of this risk by letting others manage his funds for him as well. Afterall, he can never be too sure that his stock picking skills are always excellent.

You can visit Lipper Leaders here.

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Are You Wealthy?

Are you wealthy?

The term wealthy means a host of things to different people. Some people define wealthy as having an abundance of material possessions.

In the book The Millionaire Next Door, the definition of wealthy is defined based on one's expected level of networth.

A person who is earning only 1K per month and a person who is earning 10K per month should not be expected to have the same amount of wealth. If they do happen to have the same amount of wealth, it simply means that the person who is earning less is doing a much better job at accumulating wealth that the person who earns more.

What should you expected networth be?

In the book, your expected wealth should be calculated as such:

(Annual pre-tax household income multiply by your age ) divided by 10

So if a person who is 20 years of age is earning $100,000 per year, his expected networth is $200,000. If his networth is more than $200,000, he is building his wealth.

PAWs versus UAWs

PAWs are prodiguous accumulators of wealth versus UAWs who are under accumulators of wealth.

PAWs are simply defined as those whose actual networth are twice their expected networth

7 Factors

Eighty percent of America's millionaires are first generation rich! That is comforting news for us who were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths. The authors also discovered seven common denominators amongh those who successfully build wealth. They are:

1. They live well below their means
2. They allocate their time, energy, and money efficiently, in ways conducive to building wealth
3. They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status
4. Their parents did not provide economic outpatient care.
5. Their adult children are economically self-sufficient.
6. They are proficient in targeting market opportunities.
7. They chose the right occupation.


I would also like to think that this method of defining wealth might be flawed in some ways. If a person has a sudden change in income over the recent years, this way of calculating wealth might not be accurate. Nonetheless, it still provides a pretty good gauge at how well we are accumulating our wealth.

The author is happy that based on the expected networth calculations and his actual networth, he is actually in the category of a wealth builder. However, he has not reached the stage of being a PAW where his actual networth is twice his expected networth. The author also hopes that he is in the right occupation.

Read Related Articles:
1. My Flat is Worth Half A Million?
2. Passive Income Update for October 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

195 Posts and Counting

It has been a long journey.

When I first started out in 2008 to blog about my journey to financial freedom, I had little clue on what I was going to blog about and whether it would be sustainable.

This post is my 195th post on this blog and I must say that I am glad I have made it thus far.

What started out as a random project to record and increase my passive income every year has become a diary for me as well as a platform where I can engage others who are also striving to financially independent or free.

There are many times when I wanted to simply give up this whole project on financial freedom.

However, I have slowly seen how blogging has helped me to grow clearer in my goals as well as my knowledge.

In the same way, knowing that other bloggers are out there reading and watching just makes me want to be more accountable to the goals that I have set for myself. The knowledge that I have gained from other bloggers are tremendous and I must say that I have grown as an individual because of their suggestions, advice and blogging.

If you have been following this blog for the past one year, I will just like to say a big THANK YOU for taking the effort to read. I know I can write with a sort of "dizzying" effect as there are times when my mind is totally cluttered especially after returning from work.

As my committment to continue blogging, I hope to roll out a new template for this site to make it a bit more reader friendly. I hope to do this at the 200th post but I am keeping my fingers crossed as I can still be pretty busy at times.

Okay, Flash Forward is starting at 10pm and I really hope to catch this episode.

Signing off,

Financial Freedom

See Related Articles:

1. I Received over $1000 in Dividends for August 2009

2. Passive Income Sources

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bank Accounts

I realised that I might be having a bit too many bank accounts and credit cards.

Lately, I forgot to settle one of my credit card bills and ended up with a late payment charge of $40! And that was for a credit card bill of just $80!

Are all these bank accounts necessary? I certainly think so.

Here is how I use all my bank accounts.

POSB Savings Account

This is my primary account which is linked to all the Giro, electronic payment for shares and stuff. It is basically the account which is linked to my ATM card and which I use to pay the bills.

POSB Current Account

This is the checking account which lets me write cheques. I pay $2 each month to maintain this account.

Citibank Step Up Interest Account

This is where my salary is credited. Based on the step up interest, I can earn close to 0.75% interest on my deposits. I will then transfer whatever amount of my pay I need into the POSB Savings Account to spend.

MayBank iSaavy Account

This is my emergency fund account which pays interest of up to 0.5% per annum. I hardly touch the money in here at all. I like this account because of the higher deposit rates it gives compared to other banks.

To Trade or To Buy and Hold

After years in the stock market, I still can't really figure out whether it is better to trade stocks for the short term or to just buy and hold them for the long term.

I have heard both sides of the arguments, have read books like A Random Walk Down Wall Street, and I must say - I agree with both TAs and FAs.

But I guess I will just choose the method that works best in making money.

While a stock might rise from $1 to $1.20 in 1 month, the person who holds the stock for 1 month only stands to earn a maximum of $200 per lot of shares.

The person who trades on the down and up trends might however be able to earn more than $200. By going in and out of the same stock, his POTENTIAL to earn is much higher. The probability that he losses money is of course also much higher compared to just holding on to the stock.

So what I do is to have two portfolios: One for holding and one for trading.

I enjoy the best of both worlds. There are benefits of buying and holding and there are benefits of trading. By doing both at the same time, I enjoy both benefits.

In addition, trading provides a form of income. More income brings me to financial freedom much faster.

The tortoise might win at the end of the day but the hare leads most of the way.

I believe that people can combine both approaches to bring out the best of both FA and TA.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Conversation with A Millionaire

It is not everyday that one gets to speak face to face with a millionaire.

Today, I got the chance to do so.

In fact, I spent one and a half hours with him speaking about various things in life like success, job satisfaction and wealth building ideas.

I am putting it down in words to share with all as I believe that not many people have actually gotten a chance to speak to successful people or millionaires.

About Money

Money does not buy happiness. But it does buy you the time and the alternatives. Basically, money gives you a wider range of options compared to the average person.

About Discouragement

Everyone feels discouraged now and then. It is important to not dwell on it and instead mix with people who are positive and successful.

About Helping Others

Sometimes, it might not be possible to be directly involved in helping others. How much can one help? Instead, use your God given abilities and channel your energies there. Every job essentially helps some one or somebody at some level or another. If you are able to make more money, you could donate to charity and get others to help.

For example, the leaders of our country might be good in terms of defence and security measures. But you don't see them sitting at the customs office right?

About Careers and Jobs

There are no dream jobs in the world. Each job has its pros and cons. The most important thing is to put your heart into it while at the job. Don't work for your boss or the company. Work for yourself and your family.

Being at the top has its loneliness. Even big bosses and CEOs think of quitting their jobs too.

Riches versus Wealth

Having access to riches does not guarantee wealth. Earning alot of money might not bring you wealth if you squander your money away.

Property Investment

The returns from rental property is very low based on his own experience. Instead, buying and selling properties makes money much faster.

Work Hard Play Hard

It is important to work hard and play hard. The reason why you are able to play hard is because you get a good income from your work.

All work sucks. It is how much you are compensated for it in monetary terms that matters.

Read Related Articles:
1. Singapore's 40 Richest
2. Key Lessons from Rich Dad, Poor Dad
3. Donald Trump Lessons
4. David Bach Automatic Millionaire
5. Peter Lim

Monday, October 12, 2009

Standard Chartered Personal Credit

I have been receiving "cheques" from Standard Chartered Bank lately.

Basically, these cheques are given to me in letters which they have been sending.

So far, I have received 2 cheques.

The instructions states: Simply bank in the attached cheque and enjoy cash at 0% interest for six months with just a nominal fee of 2.5% on the cheque amount.

No gimmicks, No hidden cost?

It says that the promotional rate of 0% interest is valid for 6 months and thereafter, the prevailing interest rate applies. I am not too certain what is the prevailing interest rate for this credit line.

Still, it sounds like a pretty attractive option doesn't it?

I get a cheque for $8000. The 2.5% nominal fee adds up to $200.

So after 6 months, all I need to pay back will be $8200. If I am able to use this money to buy some stocks and the stocks happen to rise in price... I will be using Other People's Money to make money!

But of course, the reverse could happen where the stock prices are depressed after 6 months and I could be stuck in a serious quandry. To liquidate the stocks at a loss and still pay up the $8200.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Patrick Soh

Patrick Soh, a Singaporean, has opened the first fast food restaurant in North Korea. I remember visiting Waffletown regularly in my early childhood years during the late 1980s at a shopping centre in Bukit Timah, Singapore. That outlet closed after a few years in operation.

I believe that Singapore has no lack of entrepreneurs. Given the opportunity and education, most people would want to start their own business. It is just that they do not know how to. Hopefully, this article will give some inspiration to the next "Patrick Soh" perhaps.

Read the article below to find out more:

You want more fries with that, Mr. Kim? How about a hotdog, Miss Park? Once condemned as evil "US imperialist" fare, Western-style fast food is now available in North Korea thanks to a Singaporean entrepreneur who is already drawing up expansion plans just months after opening his first outlet.

"There is a potential to develop this business over there," said Patrick Soh, who is bullish on the prospects of fast food in the isolated Stalinist state better known for famines than deep-fried delights.

Soh, 56, holds the franchise in several Asian countries for Waffletown USA, a relatively obscure brand in the region compared to the likes of McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King, but he has big ambitions.

The first branch of Samtaesong ("three big stars"), as Waffletown is known in North Korea, started operating in May after Soh's company got the first licence awarded to a foreign fast food outlet.

Burgers, called "minced beef and bread" to mask their American association, are the biggest attraction at the eatery, which also sells fries, crispy Belgian waffles, fried chicken and -- the latest addition -- hotdogs.

"It is not only the locals who enjoy the food. Even the foreigners like the food," Soh told AFP in an interview at a Singapore outlet of Waffletown.

Soh will make his fourth trip to Pyongyang this month to explore the feasibility of opening a second outlet there. If all goes smoothly, it should be up and running in early 2010, said Soh, who is not deterred by problems like power outages and the unavailability of some items in Pyongyang.

His North Korean adventure started when he was approached last year by a Singaporean investor, who broached the idea of setting up a Waffletown franchise in Pyongyang.

Soh declined to name the investor or say how much it cost to open the Pyongyang eatery, saying his main role was to set up the operation and train local staff to run Samtaesong.

A North Korean delegation paid a visit to Singapore early this year to sample the fare at a Waffletown outlet. "They came and tried the food and liked the waffle, burgers and fried chicken," Soh said over coffee at the outlet, located in an upmarket neighbourhood near Singapore's Orchard Road shopping belt.

"They find that we have a bit more variety than other typical burger chains and that we don't sell junk food," he said.

Soh made his first trip to Pyongyang in November last year, taking four days to survey the site and see whether the fast food concept was workable in one of the world's few remaining communist states. He was pleased to learn that the site was in a choice location in downtown Pyongyang, right next to a subway station and within walking distance of various universities.

He went back to Pyongyang in December to begin preparatory work for the opening of the eatery, from arranging the layout of the restaurant to listing the kitchen equipment and ingredients that needed to brought in.

The seasoning for the chicken and the waffle mix are among items imported from Singapore but other ingredients like beef and the chicken itself are sourced locally, with suppliers using his recipes for the burger buns and patties, Soh said.

The eatery buys soft drinks from shops that cater to the diplomatic community and resells the beverages in paper cups. Local workers are very intelligent and eager to learn, Soh said. "I don't need to spend much time to train them. I take about two, three days and they have a grasp of the work."

Since Samtaesong opened its doors in May, customers, including foreign students from China and Russia, have been streaming into the 246-square-metre outlet, he said.

"The locals come in and know the food that they want to order," said Soh. Prices are set in euros, but US dollars are accepted as payment. A "minced beef and bread" costs 1.20-1.70 euros (1.77 to 2.50 US dollars) and about 300 are sold each day, said Soh. The most expensive item on the menu is the crispy fried chicken at slightly under three euros.

The communist state's per capita income was estimated at just over 1,000 US dollars in 2008, but this is not denting Soh's drive to open more Samtaesong outlets in the country. He thinks North Koreans enjoy the novelty of the food and environment in his restaurant.

"This is new for them. It's just like when McDonald's first opened in Singapore."

Read Related Articles:
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2. Singapore's 40 Richest
3. Key Lessons from Rich Dad, Poor Dad
4. Donald Trump Lessons
5. David Bach Automatic Millionaire
6. Peter Lim (Singapore's Remiser King)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Peter Lim

Not too sure where this article originated from. It seems like the New Paper. Found it on one of the forums and pasting it here to share with all. Basically, it is about billionaire Peter Lim (one of Singapore's 40 Richest). The article is as attached below:

WHEN the Singapore stock market took a sharp dive lastweek, it wiped out more than $100million of his stock's value.

But former remisier king Peter Lim did not lose sleep over it.

Why? 'I've been a stock broker for all my life - I've seen all the crashes, financial crisis, where really, it's only a paper loss,' replied the self-made billionaire.

'Just make sure you are not jammed with cash flow.'

Mr Lim was referring to his almost 5 per cent investment in Wilmar International which saw its share price move from a high of $3.78 to a low of $2.89 in the space of a month. The share price last closed at $3.

To him, his wealth is less important than his family and philanthropy. His attitude towards money is almost casual. It reflects his philosophy on investing and wealth.

For those who feel they are badly mauled by the current share doldrums, Mr Lim has this piece of wisdom to share: 'I used to say to my friends, 'When you are holding stocks, if it goes up, don't be too happy; when it goes down, don't be too sad'.

'Otherwise, how? Your life will also be fluctuating and you'll die of a heart attack.

'If you really lose sleep over it, maybe the best way is to keep the money in thebank.'

So what does he lose sleep over?

He replies with a laugh: 'My kids. Like other parents, I worry about what they're doing and whether they'll pass their exams.'

On Thursday, he made his debut in Forbes' latest rankings as Singapore's seventh-richest man, with a reported net worth of US$830m illion.

Mr Lim revealed that he intends to give a large part of his money to society later. How will Singapore benefit?

Through his pet cause: Education.

He made this revelation quite casually, as if he were talking about the weather.

He said: 'I think it's very likely (that) a big part of my wealth will be directed towards education.'

'It will be either a straight donation towards assisting educational institutions or maybe I'll set up a foundation.'

He supports Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call at the recent National Day Rally for more Singaporeans to make charitable contributions.

Mr Lim echoed PM Lee's views that it is happening all over the world, and especially in the US.

'Asia is a bit behind because generally, when you have money, you think of your sons and your daughters when you die.

'But I think it has changed a lot here, principally because now, the wealth isbigger.'

He was reluctant to reveal his charitable contributions over the years, except to say that much of it was anonymous and that in the early '90s, he was one of the earlier donors to the National Kidney Foundation.


His friend, Mr Dennis Foo, chief executive of St James Power Station, later told The New Paper that Mr Lim not only donates money, he also takes it upon himself to deliver food, like rice and cooking oil, to needy families in one-room flats and old folks' homes.

Why education?

Mr Lim said: 'Education must be cheap and accessible to anyone.

'For me, I was the son of a fishmonger, but I could still go to the best school. I had the opportunity to make money. There's no discrimination.

'I think this policy of meritocracy actually works. It's very very fair and nobody cancomplain.'

The New Paper managed to get hold of Mr Lim last Wednesday, after his meetings and before he left for a short trip overseas.

The publicity-shy tycoon was extremely reluctant to talk about his wealth. It didn't help that he again made news recently with his involvement in one of Singapore's largest reverse takeover bids, with his investment vehicle Rowsley buying up a chunk of a China solar power company.

But he agreed after some persuasion. He met us at Brewerkz, which he also has a stake in, at Riverside Point two hours before his flight.

Dressed in a polo T-shirt which has seen better days, a pair of cargo pants and trainers, he certainly didn't seem to wear his wealth on his sleeves.

Why so casual? He replied that he plans to sleep on his flight.

Ironically, Mr Lim, who was one of Singapore's leading stockbrokers and is now a private investor, does not monitor the stock market every day.

He goes through the financial reports of companies; he watches financial news to get a summary of what is happening, but he does not track the daily ups and downs of the stock he owns.

He said: 'I only check in intervals, depending on the company.

'If it's a structured company, then (I check) when the results come out. For the bigger ones, quarterly results; for smaller ones, twice a year. But if it's a start-up, I'll check it more regularly.'

Mr Lim made headlines in the late-'80s as a star remisier, in the mid-'90s in his divorce battle and in early 2000 for his involvement in the first instalment of the Raffles Town Club court saga.

Much of his wealth now comes from a single investment: Palm oil.

In the early '90s, he invested about US$10 million in a start-up Indonesian palm-oil company, Wilmar. Today, his almost-5 per cent stake is worth more than US$700 million.

This is a far cry from his humble beginnings. When he was young, he said, he did not even have his own room in the two-bedroom government flat he shared with 11 others.

He grew up, with three brothers and four sisters, in one of Singapore's oldest public housing estates, Bukit Ho Swee.

His father was a fishmonger and his mother a housewife and the size of the flat was the equivalent of a three-room HDB flat today, hesaid.

He slept in the living room, or wherever he could find space to lay his mattress down for the night.

On his wealth now, he said: 'It's no different from what it was before I had the money. It makes no difference after apoint.

'Like what they say, you can only talk louder. You can only eat so much and fly so many trips.

'Money lets you enjoy a lot of things, but I don't think I'll die without money.

'I don't think I'm eating a lot better than when I was a lot poorer than now. I don't really go for very special kinds of food. I'm still very local. I like my mee siam, mee rebus and lontong.'

When his father died in the late '60s, when Mr Lim was 22 years old.

Mr Lim completed his secondary school education in Raffles Institution and was an officer in National Service.

It was then, at the age of 18, that he bought his first lot of shares.

Did he make a killing?

'In fact, I lost money,' he laughed.

But not much.

'I was only paid $385 a month, so I can't have bought, or lost, very much.'

He then went to Perth to further his studies at the University of Western Australia.

To fund his university education, he said, he worked part-time doing odd jobs as a taxi-driver, cook and waiter.

It was one of these jobs - in the Australian fast-food chain Red Rooster - that opened his eyes to how business was done.

'I watched how they started, how they grew, and how they scaled up.'

It was also in university where he honed his instincts and skills as an investor.

He graduated with a degree in accounting and finance and stepped out into the working world.

'My first job was as an accountant. It lasted three months,' he said with a chuckle.

He did some tax consultancy before he went into stocks, he said.

Mr Lim is in his element when dealing with numbers. 'It's something I'm very comfortable with, something I understand.

'Give me any numbers. I look at (them) and I'm happy. It can be in any industry. You give me the numbers; somehow I can figure it all out.'


His secret to investing is...

WHAT is Peter Lim's secret to successful investing?

Prospect, he replied.

He looks at sectors.

'Like if I think solar is good, I go into solar; if I think palm oil is good, then palm oil.

'Share prices go up because the sector grows. So if I think this sector is going to be good in the next 10 years, then I'll just invest in it.'

Another key reason for his success, he said, is patience.

Mr Lim, who also acts as a consultant to companies and helps them find multi-million-dollar investors, does not subscribe to buying one day and selling the next to cash in.

His advice to young investors: 'You have to invest with a longer-term mindset. You buy a good stock, leave it there for 10 years. Come 10 years, this dollar can be many, many multiples.

'I think the trick is really to think long-term.

' You may not have a lot of money, but you have a lot oftime.'

'The minimum length of my investments are five to six years, if not 10 to 12 years.'

He cites the example of his condominium.

He owns an entire 11-storey block at prestigious Ardmore Park, near Orchard Road. He and his wife, with his 85-year-old mother, live in one apartment, while three other maisonettes and the penthouse sits empty.

'I bought it in 1994 for $13m and I just hold there and wait. With the current property market, it is worth more than $100m.'

Same with Wilmar, which he invested in in the early '90s. It was then a US$10m investment. Now, his stake is worth some US$700m.

Other Search Queries:
1. Peter Lim - New Owner of Valencia
2. Peter Lim offers $750mil for Liverpool

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How Much A Blog Post is Worth

Ever wondered how much one blog post is worth?

I calculated the amount that I have earned from online income and based on my computations, each single blog post is worth an average of $0.20. That means that each blog post is roughly earning me 20 cents everytime I publish it.

As I did not set up dedicated channels to track my earnings, I can never know for sure which are the blog posts that are giving me better returns.

There are service providers out there that actually write articles for your blogs for a fee. This can be as low as $5 for a 300 word article or as high as $7 for a 500 word article.

But if you are thinking of employing their services, think again! You might not be able to break even unless you have a really good strategy in mind.

And that is perhaps the reason why these service providers are not writing articles for their own blogs or websites. It is much more profitable to sell articles than to earn money from articles that are published on a website or blog.
So how exactly can you make money from your blog?

I believe I am "qualified" in a certain sense to answer the above question.

Ever since I started out blogging last year, I have seen my online income grow from a paltry $0.01 per month to roughly $30 per month. I am not talking about a six figure income from blogging but if you are interested in how to break the zero on.

Firstly, if property is about location, location, location then blogging is about content, content, content.

Yes, a good domain name might be important but even with google's blogger that I am using, choosing a good name for your blog might be enough instead of investing in a proper domain name (This is especially so if you are not even sure whether you will be blogging in the long term). It is best that the name of your blog has something related to what you will be blogging about. This will aid in the search engine portion.

But I will not touch on that as I believe that it is possible to write good content and the traffic will come naturally.

If I can put it down to 2 essentials to breaking the zero barrier in earnings, it will be simply this:
Blogging frequency and content.

Other factors are: Search Engine Optimisation, Keyword selection, Traffic sources

So focus on your content and blogging frequency first before touching upon the rest.

Remember that the people reading your postings are humans. Look at your own blog and own posts. Imagine that you are a stranger reading it. How would you react? Would you want to visit again for more information?

I understand that are a whole lot of other things that come into play when it comes to earning money from blogging but I think this article should suffice for the time being

Read Related Articles:
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Friday, October 9, 2009

Retire Young Retire Rich

I dug out this book by Robert Kiyosaki (Author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad) which had been collecting dust on my bookshelf.

I read it 6 or 7 years ago and decided to do some re-reading to see how far I have followed Rich Dad's advice.

Why I first started reading the Rich Dad Poor Dad series is simply because Robert Kiyosaki started out with nothing and achieved financial freedom in nine years when he retired in 1994. He started with nothing and exited with $85,000 to $120,000 a year in income which came solely from investments. He was not rich but he was financially free as his yearly expenditure was only $50,000.

Reading just the introduction of the book Retire Young Retire Rich, I realised how I have not followed what he had been telling me to do. In a sense, I had only remembered one key thing from Rich Dad Poor Dad: Buy Assets.

In the introduction to the book, 2 important points are made about money.

The first important word about money is Cash Flow. The second most important is Leverage.

I realised that I sort of understood the cash flow portion but have somehow neglected the portion on leverage. As Rich Dad says: "Leverage is the reason some people become rich and others do not become rich.....Becuase leverage is power, some use it, some abuse it, and others fear it."

It seems like over the years, I have sort of feared the power of leverage. I have not made use of good debt. Instead, I have gotten myself into bad debt by buying a car and a house - both are liabilities as they are taking money out of my pocket.

Good debt makes you rich, Bad debt makes you poor. That is the power of leverage and it is something which is just head knowledge to me and not something that I have applied in my life.

In this book, Robert Kiyosaki outlines that leverage takes place in your mind, your plan and your actions. He also outlines the three assets that make people rich and allow them to be retire young.

I will be exploring and re-reading this book again in the next few weeks. Do drop by again to see the lessons that I have learnt!

Read Releated Posts:
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2. Donald Trump Lessons
3. David Bach Automatic Millionaire

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Independent Financial Advice

I read this article from Asia One regarding the rise of independent asset managers.

It seems that very soon, it might be possible for clients to choose independent asset managers who charge a fee for advice instead of bankers who earn a commission from the products they sell.

These independent asset managers should be differentiated from the independent financial advisors (IFAs). IFAs are not truly independent as they still earn based on the commission of the products they sell. Only some IFAs charge clients based on a fee for advice.

A greater number of people prefer to work with independent managers rather than bankers because of potential cost savings and most important of all - independent advice.

The recent Lehmann fiasco and stuff have warned consumers that banks might not always have the customers best interests at heart. This is especially so when there is a potential conflict of interest as the banker seeks to enrich himself by selling high commission products.

In my opinion, ethics should also be placed as a far more important trait than knowledge. Better to work with someone who has ethics instead of knowledge.

A person who acts with integrity will give you the best advice that is suited for you. A person with good knowledge but without any ethics might recommend financial products that are not suited to your needs.

I dug out this article from Smart Investor which I read sometime back in November 2008. The advice in it is timeless. The title of the article is "What to Ask When An FA Recommends A Product."

Do bookmark this page so that you know what are the questions to ask the next time a banker or insurance agent recommends a product to you.

These are the questions to ask before purchasing any financial product from anyone:

1. Why is this product suitable for me?

2. What type of product is this? Is it a whole life policy, unit trust or structured depost? Is it for savings, investment or insurance protection?

3. What benefits does this product offer? Which benefits are guaranteed and which are not?

4. What instruments does the product invest in? How risky are these underlying investments?

5. Is this product suitable for individuals with low, medium or high risk profile? What is my risk profile?

6. How much do I need to commit to this product? Is it a one-time payment or regular payments? What is the penalty if I am unable to make the payment?

7. How long must I stay invested? What are the penalties, restrictions and procedures if I decide to liquidate some or all of my investments earlier?

8. What are the fees and charges? Will there be changes in the fees in the future?

9. What alternative products offered by the same company has similar benefits? How does the recommended product compare with alternative products?

10. Are you licensed to sell me the product? Who can I find if you are no longer working in the industry?

11. Can I monitor the performance of my invesment? How? Will I receive reports and updates on my investments? How often will these updates and reports be?

12. Is there a free look period if I decide after signing on the dotted line that this product is not suited for me? Can I get ALL my money back or are there certain penalties?

In simple words, always ensure that you understand the investment product before purchasing it. Understand why you are buying it and how it fits into your overall financial plan. Take time to consider whether this product meets your needs before finalising your decision. Do not feel pressured to make a decision or make a decision on the spot when you are not prepared for a long term committment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ris Low and Claire Lee

No Make-Up...

Controversy, controversy, and more controversy.

What's up with the news surrounding Miss Singapore winner (Ris Low) and first runner-up (Claire Lee)?

First, Ris Low was found guilty of credit card fraud which she failed to declare when she took part in the competition. Ris Low was also said to be suffering from bipolar disorder which was what resulted her in getting a 24 month probation instead of jail time. She was subsequently forced to give up her title after she insisted that she wanted to keep the crown.

Next, she went on to say that Claire Lee had backstabbed her by reporting her to the media and faking a back injury to save "face" in case she was not selected as the replacement.

Today, I read the news that Ris Low was ordered not to go shopping alone as part of her 24 month probation for the credit card fraud. She apparently also has to retake an examination because of notes that were found in her pencil case which she forgot to remove during the actual examination. Perhaps its the bipolar disorder at work again.

Now, I read the news that Claire Lee, the first runner-up, does not want to represent Singapore unless ERM (the organising company), threatens to sue her.

This really makes me wonder on the quality of girls that are being chosen to represent Singapore.

They entered Miss Singapore to represent Singapore correct? So what is the whole fuss about now? Why doesn't Claire Lee want to represent Singapore anymore? Who is going to fly to South Africa in one month's time to represent Singapore?

Perhaps it is time for the governement to step in. Perhaps create a Miss Singapore Academy. Get it ISO certified and stuff. Throw in the scholarships and stuff and who knows, we might win one of the next Miss Universe. Perhaps that should be our Goal 2020!

Instead of throwing so much money into football, why not just invest in grooming the next Miss Singapore who can do the whole nation proud and perhaps win Miss Universe?

There is of course the temporary problem of sending someone in for 2009's Miss Universe.

With less than 1 month to prepare, we will need someone who knows how to put on make-up, be vocal enough to speak her mind, be well-travelled, well-liked (by the Singapore public) and of course well-dressed.

I am proposing that we send blogger Xiaxue (aka Wendy Cheng) to represent Singapore. She is sure to make a huge impact for us. Heck, she could even help all the other contestants photoshop their photos before it is published in the newspaper and stuff.

Read Claire Lee's blog here

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Passive Income Update

In the journey to financial freedom, one of the decisions I made was to rapidly increase my passive income. This was done through the acquisition of REITs, bank deposits as well as online income sources.

My updated portfolio for passive income (end September 2009) is as such:

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. 11000 x Suntec REITs (Annualised DPU = 11.94cents) = $109.45 per month
4. Maybank iSavvy Deposit = $8 per month
5. Online Income Sources = $30 per month

Total Estimated Passive Income = $326.96 per month

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Norway is Best Country to Live In

Looking for the best country to live in? Based on United Nations data released, Norway has been voted as the best country to live in.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) index was compiled using 2007 data on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, education, and life expectancy, and showed marked differences between the developed and developing world. It was published as part of the UN's Human Development Report (HDR) 2009

Japan, staying in 10th, was the only Asian country in the top 10.

Singapore ranked 23rd, swopping places with Hong Kong at 24th.

South Korea and Brunei came in at 26th and 30th respectively, retaining their previous positions.

Top 10 Most desirable countries to live in(2009):
1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Iceland
4. Canada
5. Ireland
6. Netherlands
7. Sweden
8. France
9. Switzerland
10. Japan

Least desirable countries to live in
173. Guinea Bissau
If there is any commonality, it is that all these countries are located in Africa and many of these countries are land-locked.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Financial Freedom is a Taboo Topic

Is Financial Freedom a taboo topic (especially amongst the Chinese)?

Many Chinese prefer to keep their finances a secret. They do not wish to reveal how much they earn, how much they save and how much they have in debt. It is sort of a taboo topic that is not spoken of.

So even in families, parents do not teach their children about how to manage their finances. Even if they do, it is just simple concepts like : SAVE MONEY, EARN MORE, etc ,etc. Very seldom will a parent give a child a case study of how much the family is actually earning, how much they are spending, their strategies to accumulate wealth and much more.

This could be the death of wealth accumulation and preservation in Chinese families if this continues.

Even amongst friends, we seldom discuss about financial planning. We are only interested in talking about how to make money and WHO and WHO made how much in the stock market.

There is no true interest in how one can move towards financial freedom and the simple strategies involved.

Interestingly, it is only on the internet that you see such openess. But this openess is limited in the sense that most bloggers also do not share very intimate details about their finances.

This is what my blog was created for. I share my finances with all to see, for all to comment and for all to learn.

If you are willing to serve as a case study for all to learn from, do let me know. I can keep your name confidential if you will like. All I need is just your monthly income, monthly expenditure and current networth breakdown.

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Passive Income True Potential

I found this useful article on a blog regarding how to calculate the true potential of passive income online earnings. By calculating the amount of time we have put into writing articles for our blogs, and keeping track of our earnings, we can figure out how much money we are making per hour. Compare that with our active income sources and you can find out which is more "productive". The article is attached below:



Building passive income online can be a great opportunity to take control of your personal finances. It typically requires a lot of hard work up front to get the income stream created. If you have built a solid income source, then your hard work will pay off down the road. But how can you tell the potential of your time and effort spent? By projecting out your earnings per hour and comparing it to other income sources.

I recently completed a personal challenge that required me to write 100 eHow articles in 1 month. While I did not reach my 100 article goal, I still finished the month with 72 published articles. In order to see the true potential of the time I spent writing these articles, I can project out my earnings for one year.

eHow Dollars per Hour Earnings

In the first month of writing these 72 articles, my eHow Earnings totaled $124.27. I spent 42 hours writing these articles which calculates to ~$2.95 per hour. I will admit that there is nothing special about earning $2.95 per hour. However, if you project these earnings out over the course of 12 months, you may change your mind.

I am in the 2nd month of collecting earnings after creating this passive income online source. The beautiful thing about this income stream is that I will earn a projected ~$128.63 from these same articles this month with no time spent on my part. That pushes my earnings over $6 per hour!

If I were to assume that these articles could continue to earn the same amount each month for 1 year, my earnings jump to $36.13 per hour. I could keep going, but you get the picture. Earning over $30 per hour (and possibly a lot more over time) is absolutely worth my time and effort when compared to my active income earnings.

Active Income Dollars per Hour

My current job that is earning active income is a salary position with a company that comes with health benefits, a 401k match, as well as a steady paycheck. Based on a normal scheduled of working 60 hours per week, I earn around $24.95 per hour (not factoring in any benefits).

Lately, because of staffing cuts and projects, I have been working closer to 70 hours per week. If I were to calculate my earnings per hour rate based on one full year of working at this pace, it would come out to $20.80 per hour.

Comparing the Income Sources

If I were to ask you – Would rather earn $30 per hour or $25 per hour? What option would you pick?

Obviously there are several assumptions in these calculations that I have provided. Health insurance coverage and 401K employer matches are not factored into my active income calculations.

I am also assuming that I can maintain the current earnings rate for my eHow articles. Who knows, the company could go under tomorrow and those dollars would go away. But who is to say that my employer couldn’t do the same?

By projecting out your passive income online earnings, you can easily compare them with other income sources. These calculations can be an excellent motivator to keep pushing you along!

How much is your active income job really paying you?

The original article can be found here:

See Related Articles:
1. I Received over $1000 in Dividends for August 2009
2. Passive Income Sources

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