Monday, November 30, 2009

Lessons From A Beach Bum

We all know the story about the rich and successful man who went to the beach and saw a surfer dude bumming around. He asked the surfer dude to have more aspiration, to get a job, save enough money and then be able to retire...

The surfer dude asked him:" And what am I going to do when I retire?"

"Well, you could sit down at the beach, relax and surf" replied the rich and successful man..

This anecdote always hits me as it reminds me that many times, we can be pursuing the wrong goals in our lives.
We think that money can make us happy and keep looking forward to the future where we think we will be richer and maybe happier.

Alas, the years pass and we are richer but we still do not find ourselves happier.
We analyse the situation and figure out that perhaps we are not RICH enough so we carry on working ourselves to death, trying to keep us with the Jonases and whoever.

I figure that many people realise that after twenty to thirty years of working, they have literally WASTED their entire lives away living up to other people's expectations of them.

This is truly sad but it is extremely real in a society like Singapore.

I guess that there are 2 Key Lessons that we all can learn from the story about the beach bum.

#1 - Treasure the Present

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 Race

The 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.

Dividends for November 09

Checked my bank account and realised that I have received dividends from two of my REITs (First REIT and Suntec REIT)

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

Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki

In this video, Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki speak about the book which they co-authored "Why We Want You To Be Rich"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What $680 Can & Cannot Buy

Two events happened today that made me think about what money can and cannot buy.


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.


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

12,000 HDB flats per year to meet demand

In Singapore, a large percentage of Singaporeans live in Housing Development Board flats or HDB flats. Since the government controls the supply of the flats, there has been a steady increase in the value of the flats over time.

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).

Thanks xxxxxxx,

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

Sell Your Hair For Money

In Madrid, cash-strapped Spaniards are selling their hair to to pay their bills. The hair is sold to companies who export natural hair for wigs or extensions.

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

How To Retire in Singapore

When you hear people making the statement "How to retire in Singapore", it is usually not a question but a lament or opinion that it is close to impossible to retire comfortably in Singapore.

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:

"The rich come to retire in Singapore. The poor go to Malaysia to retire. The neither here nor there aim for Australia" - Milo178 in Channel News Asia forum

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.

Some people think that retiring is an impossible dream in today's world. This cannot be the case as I have read of people from other countries who have been able to retire in their 30s!

So i believe that it must be possible for people to retire in Singapore. People whether they are in their 30s, 40s or 50s should be able to hit their retirement goals. It is just how long they take to reach it.

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

Conversations With The Poor

The poor people in Singapore really have sad stories to tell. While I am striving for financial freedom here in Singapore, there are actually poor people all around me who cannot even dare to dream of such an end goal.

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

How To Eat Chicken Wings

I have been eating chicken wings for a cool twenty over years now and just realised that I have been eating it the wrong way!

Here is one way to save eating your chicken wings cleanly so that you are not wasting any of the meat. See the video below:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How Would You Spend $100?

A few days back, I wrote a posting on 1001 Frugal Things To Do

It seems like a lot of people have many crazy and wicked ideas on how to save money. I particularly liked La Papilion's suggestion on going to Macs to store up on chilli and ketchup.

Anyway, I thought today was a good day to write about spending instead of saving.

Many people are adverse to the word SAVING.

The reason for that could be that they do not know what they are saving for or they just do not like their spending power to be limited.

That is why you do not get people who follow their monthly budgets. We all have budgets but we most probably can't stick to one (okay, perhaps those who go to Macs for chilli and ketchup top-ups are able to do so)

So let's turn the game around. Instead of asking you to stick to a budget...let's say that I am giving you $100 today and demand that you spend EVERY single cent, what would you spend it on?

This is basically what a budget is about. If your monthly budget for spending money is $3000, and saving the remainder(that is after excluding all your fixed expenses like mortgage loans and car loans), go and work out a daily budget for yourself and figure out how you are going to spend every single cent of that budget that you have given yourself.

Here is how I might spend that $100

1. $20 on a bottle of wine

2. $15 on a book to read

3. $40 for a nice dinner for two

4. $25 for some home accessories to make my home more homely and beautiful

Doesn't this way of thinking make budgeting much more fun? How would you spend yours?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Save On Home Repairs

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.

Recently, the shower in my bathroom started to leak and water seemed to be squirting out of the hose that linked to the shower head. There was an obvious crack and it need replacing.

You see...the problem is all my years of schooling or staying at home with mum and dad's, I have never had to fixed a broken shower head.

If I were ten years younger, I would have just called the plumber or repairman in.

But the wife looked at me squarely in the eye and said: "My father says that it is really easy to fix it. Just go buy another of those things and it can be done."

So I went out and bought those bendy flexible pipes (I am not sure what you call those things) for less than $10 from one of those provision stores and returned home.

I was not even sure how to get started and there were no instruction manuals or stuff that came with the piping system!

To cut the long story short, I just simply unscrewed the shower head from the pipe that it was connected to and replaced it with the new one. It took me less than 5 minutes to get the job done! It was that simple.

I felt like a man...a real man know what I mean? Like some young boy who had just crossed into manhood.

Anyway, I figured that I must have save a good thirty to forty dollars repairing the stuff myself instead of calling a plumber. Looking back at how easy the task was, I think the plumber would most probably be laughing his head off after fixing it for me as it was REALLY such a simple task! Just screw it off and screw it on...

Anyway, I realised that everyone could do with some tips on saving on home repairs:

1. Get Free DIY advice. Search the internet or to look for how-to videos to carry out simple procedures like fixing a tap or replacing the light bulbs.

2. Learn Their Lingo. To cut the best deal from those contractors and repairmen, you need to be able to speak their lingo. If you are not able to speak their lingo, they will know that you know next to nothing. Before calling on them, be sure to check out forums and sites to be better informed so as to be able to speak their language. (For example, I was getting a quote for window grilles recently and searched a few forums to find out what was the average price that people were charging for window grilles. In addition, I learnt that they charged window grilles per square foot so when calling the contractors for a quote, I simply asked them how much were they charging per square foot of aluminium bronze colored window grilles. When I did not asked them how much they were charging, they simply offered to come down to my place to do some m easurements.)

3. Get 3 quotes or more. Try to get 3 quotations or more whenever you plan to repair something. You will be amazed at how much money you can save.

Read Related Articles:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

10 Things That Would Make Women Happier

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:

1. A permanently clean home

2. A luxury trip

3. A big house

4. Losing 10 pounds

5. A great body

6. Time for themselves

7. A really romantic relationship

8. Being smarter

9. Saying "no" more

10. A luxury car

So what can we gentlemen learn from this list?

1. Help Out With The Housework! Get out of that seat and start clearing up the mess that you make.

2. Start saving money for that luxury trip

3. Start earning more money to afford a big house

4. Hide those mirrors or bring the wife out for a jog

5. Same as above...

6. Offer to baby sit and let the wife go shopping.

7. Buy some flowers today. Don't wait for some special occassion

8. Buy her a book

9. Let her say "no" more often. Ask questions that will lead her to say "No!"

10. Buy a car or rent a luxury car for the day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

10 Things That Would Make Men Happier

Here is a list of 10 things that would make men happier. (Note: I ripped this off a magazine so do not ask me how accurate the data is. Only a few thousand were surveyed)

1. A Big House

2. A really romantic relationship

3. A luxury trip

4. Being smarter

5. A luxury car

6. A better sex life

7. A great body (Will the below suffice?)
8. A permanently clean home

9. Losing 10 pounds

10. Having a pretty personal assistant

Read Related Articles:

Friday, November 13, 2009

5 Things You Cannot Buy with $8.55 Million

So this young chap (should I still call him a chap?) from Michigan won the poker tournament. Cada is only 21 years old and he has already won a cool $8.55 Million dollars!

But wait a minute... before going off thinking that this chap will most probably be able to afford every single thing on planet earth, here are 5 things that he still will not be able to afford:

1. Patek Phillipe's Supercomplication ($11 Million)

Sorry dude. Think you can go shopping for a watch already? This watch alone will set you back by $11 million. You most probably need to go for another round of poker before you can afford it.

2. A House in Singapore (estimated $120 million)
Did we tell you that houses and property prices are soaring in Singapore. Want to live in one of those good class bungalows? How about the Arwaa Mansion? That will cost you a cool $120 million in Singapore dollars. Yep, you can convert your US currency to Sing dollars but it won't get you anywhere that figure.

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.

4. Wayne Rooney (>20 million pounds)

Step aside for Wayne Rooney. With a mere $8 over million in winnings, you cannot even afford the transfer fee which he commanded when he made the switch from Everton to Manchester United. That guy in the background? Anderson? Oops..18 million pounds...sorry dude..way out of your budget too. With the weakening USD, you most probably need to win another 3 more tournaments before you can afford to buy Anderson.

5. 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe ($9.7 million)

So perhaps you think you will just settle for a really cool car.. but oops.. the winnings still won't get you near this car. This 1931 Bugatti is only one of six cars ever made. This example was sold way back in 1987 at the price tag of $9.7million and if you know what inflation is, you won't be able to get it at that price today.

So there you have it! Five items you cannot buy even if you win $8.55million.

If I had the time, I could probably bring the list to a whopping 100!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1001 Frugal Things to Do

Hi people,

I realised that a lot of people are really concerned about saving money and stuff. So I have scoured the internet and forums for a list of things that people do to be frugal and to save that extra bit of money. I don't do all these stuff listed here (okay, the list here does not run to 1000) but at least it gives you an idea of what others are doing to save money and how you can incorporate it into your very own spending habits. You will be amazed at some of the ideas suggested here!

1001 Ways to Save Money and Be Frugal

  • Buying food that is about to spoil. Supermarkets offer steep discounts for food that is going to expire. They are not fresh but they are definitely safe for eating!

  • Free entertainment and books at the library.

  • Cook and Eat at home

  • Eat at a friend's place

  • Unplug devices in the house that you are not using

  • Switch off all lights

  • Keep thermostat down, use blankets to stay warm

  • Dry 2 loads of clothes at once

  • Set the dryer to 10 minutes shorter than usual

  • Use the dryer with 2 dry towels. It seems to make the clothes dry faster.

  • Use formula milk + vinegar for pancakes instead of buttermilk as stated in recipes

  • Don't buy Starbucks

  • Make your own coffee and carry it around in a travel mug

  • Drink nothing but water the whole day

  • Stock up on items that are on sale.

  • Hang up clothes to dry instead of using the dryer

  • Switch off the aircon in the car

  • Don't bring money out with you.

  • Eat left overs for your next meal

  • Exercise to keep warm (for those in cold countries)

  • Use Skype instead of phoning for long distance calls

  • Cancel channels that you are not watching on cable TV

  • Use the microwave to warm up a cup of water instead of boiling an entire kettle full

  • Carpooling

  • Shop at the dollar store or those 1.99 shops

  • Buy petrol that is cheaper

  • check whether your company offers discounted rates for your mobile phone plans

  • Use those discount coupons at the store.

  • Take a shower at the gym

  • Set timers to your thermostat or airconditioner

  • Re-use your valentine day cards

  • Shower in cold water.

  • Wash your disposable utensils and re-use them

  • pack a lunch box for the kids

  • Buy and sell your own house to save on the commissions

  • Paint your own house

  • Repair your own house

  • Grow your own vegetables
  • Cut your own hair
  • Color your own hair
  • Do your own facial
  • Wash your own car
  • turn off that home-shopping channel on TV
  • Wax your own car
  • Walk to work
  • Use a fan instead of the airconditioner
  • Take a nap
  • take public transport
  • Don't upsize your meals
  • Avoid jam packed roads to save on petrol
  • Take the budget airlines
  • Accept old furniture from friends and relatives
  • Dig out old clothes to wear instead of going shopping
  • Get husband or wife to hand deliver things instead of wasting money on postage
  • Call up the diaper company for free sample diapers
  • Call up the milk company for free samples of formula milk
  • Turn the car engine off when waiting for someone

So here you have a comprehensive list of things that you can do to save money and be frugal. Any other great ideas to share? Feel free to leave a comment!

Monday, November 9, 2009

How The Rich Get Richer By Robert Kiyosaki

Okay, I admit the title of this post is misleading.

Yesterday, I read this article on Yahoo that was written by Robert Kiyosaki on Why the Rich Get Richer.

Somehow, I just cannot seem to find the article now.

Anyway, after digesting it and reflecting on it, I realised that Robert Kiyosaki was sharing something of immense importance.

He recounted the story on how he called up a property agent to enquire about the price of a building once. It cost $2 million dollars! That was way out of his budget. Furthermore, the building was only being rented out to a few tenants and Robert Kiyosaki felt that the rental income was not able to justify the 2 million price tag.

As a result, he did not pursue this property.

Years later, he discovered that someone actually bought the property, tore it down and built a new building. It was sold for $150 million dollars.

He shared that it was then that he discovered how his thoughts had led him to the conclusion that the property was not a good investment. He was limited by his own thoughts and was thus not willing to see why the 2million price tag was justified.

This is related to my previous posting on our desire is to achieve our goals.

Desire is linked to thoughts and if we do not cultivate the correct kind of thoughts in our heads, these will become stumbling blocks in our journey towards our goals.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Electricity Bill

I am so ashamed of myself.

After writing an article about saving electricity, I was dismayed to find out that my electricity bills for this month was a record HIGH for the past 6 months.

The bill added up to slightly over a $110. That is for my little family of three living in small flat of around 900sqft.

Perhaps it was due to the higher tariffs on electricity this month....but still no excuses...

I think one of the main reasons for the sharp rise in my electricity bills is due to the fact that I have been switching on the air conditioner too often while working on my blogs. The weather does get a bit hot and stuffy at times in Singapore. Yes, even during the nights!

It also does not help that the little one has been switching on every switch in the house that he can get his little finger on. (we discovered that the iron was switched ON for an ENTIRE day when we returned home one weekend)

The next month will be a challenging one as I try to lower my electricity consumption for the entire household.

That means less of the aircon and switching off all unused lights. I will update on my progress next month.

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
5. 3 Sources of Passive Income

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Think and Grow Rich

Today, I was reminded on the importance of thoughts and how it can affect our actions. You see, I was reading through the book written by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich.

Napoleon Hill's book is indeed a classic. I once speed read through it a long time ago and realised that I have forgotten most of what I have read.

(I do not know why but sometimes I get a sense of guilt reading this kind of books. You know the feeling like I don't want to be caught by anyone reading this books which are "frown upon" by some. I do not know why I get these kind of thoughts but I guess that people are just very against these kind of Get Rich books that are out in the market and are totally skeptical of its contents.) - Its the same kind of guilt feeling when I am afraid that others find out I am not holding a normal 8 to 5 job

Anyway, upon reading it again, I discovered new gems within this book.

Firstly, it taught me that I ought to share with others what I learn through reading the book. In this way, it will help to reinforce whatever I have learnt.

Secondly, it said that I ought to read and chew on the book slowly instead of devouring it in one entire sitting.

The lesson that I gleaned from the book today was about DESIRE. Do we really DESIRE the things that we pursue. DESIRE is such a strong word that when it totally consumes us, it translates to ACTION.

Do I truly DESIRE to earn $10 per day using Adsense?
Do I DESIRE to travel the world and be a full time blogger?
Do I DESIRE to earn a passive income that surpasses my monthly expenditure?

What am I willing to give in return for these DESIRES?

Just some food for thought.

I Have Joined Twitter

After hearing about Twitter so often, I have decided to sign up for an account to just check out what the fuss is all about.

Afterall, I heard that President Obama is on Twitter. I wonder whether any of our local Minsters are on Twitter too.

Anyway, since I am twitter, you guys can follow me too:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Earn $10 A Day Using Adsense

I looked back at this posting that I made in Aug 2008. You can view it here.

I am very pleased to announce to all that I have managed to accomplish this goal of earning $1 a day from online income sources.

It did take me a much longer time than I had originally expected. I thought I could easily hit my $1 a day target within a few months.

Little did I expect to take over a year to hit my target.

Anyway, I am happy that I have managed to achieve a goal that I had set out earlier. It shows that I am travelling in the correct direction. Each little step that I take is just part of a journey that I have mapped out for myself.

Yes...sometimes I do not attain success as quickly as I would have liked. What is important is that I achieve it at the end of the day.

My next Adsense earning target will be to hit $10 a day. How long will I take to achieve this?

I really do not know. I am hoping that I can do it within a few months...but I will not be surprised if it takes another year.

To hit $10 a day in earnings, I will need roughly 3000 page views per day or 1500 unique visitors a day (with each visitor having an average of 2 page views).

I estimate that I currently have around 200 loyal readers who visit this site around once in 2 days.

This means that I need to grow my readership by 7 times.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Buy a Property or Invest in REITs?

I have always wondered whether it is better for a person without much money or capital to invest in a property or to invest in real estate investment trusts. (Please read here if you have no idea what a real estate investment trust is)

Let's assume that a person has $100,000 in spare cash and is earning a decent salary.

With $100,000 he could pay a 20% downpayment on a $500,000 condo. He could easily rent out this condo for $2500 to $3000 per month. Excluding the estimated $1500 mortgage loan he will have to pay every month, he can potentially receive up to $1500 in rental income if he chooses to buy a property.

He will be getting a decent 18% rental yield based on his intial $100,000 investment. In addition, the rental income is paid monthly compared to a REIT's quarterly or semi-annual distributions. However, to invest in a property, a large amount of capital is needed for the downpayment. You also need to worry about obtaining a bank loan especially if the property is your 2nd property.

With a REIT, he will only be able to manage around 6% to 10% yield. He however needs a much smaller capital. With the REIT, he does not need to worry about tenants, collecting rents and stuff.

He can also diversify his money across various REIT sectors like serviced apartments, retail, industrial, malls and office space. Thus, his returns should be much more stable. He will have less to worry about in a certain sense.

I still believe that investing in property is much more profitable than investing in a REIT. However, REITs provide diversification oppurtunities, are more liquid, and much less cumbersome to manage.

Just my 2 cents

Read Related Articles:
1. Investing in REITs
2. Investing in Rental Property

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quit My Job, Blog and Travel the World

Quitting my job was one of the toughest decisions I made in my life. Nevertheless, I am glad that I made the decision.

My end goal is to be able to just blog and earn money while travelling the entire world.

This however is not achievable currently as I am still not drawing enough income from online sources. When my online income sources reaches $100 per day, then it could seriously be something worth considering.

On top of my online income source, I could rent out my apartment and get a decent amount of money too.

Travelling the world will most probably begin with a road trip to Malaysia through to Thailand and perhaps even driving all the way to China if that is possible. I will just drive all the way to Europe if I can.

Am I dreaming? Is this dream too far fetched?

Will I be able to realise this dream in the next 10 years, 20 years or never?

What must I do to increase my online income? Can I hit $10 per day by year end?

WE SHALL SEE..........................TO BE CONTINUED

How To Speak Like A Fund Manager

It is said that words maketh a person. Okay, I came up with that phrase =)

But the matter of fact is this: Words do shape our behaviours and thoughts.

The words that fund managers use also shape our perception of the funds they are managing.

You will never hear a fund manager that says things like: "We Buy China because we think it will go up."

Instead, they will most probably phrase it as "We are bullish on China because of its growth potential"

These two phrases actually mean exactly the same thing and there is no way to prove how true the statement actually correlates to real life. The way it is phrased however makes it sound more credible and professional.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thoughts on the Sweat Debt

I woke up early around 7am. After some reading, checking on my adsense earnings and serving out my food in Cafe World (a game in Facebook), it was time for breakfast.

We went out to eat again.

For me it is always the same food stall but I simply adore the food. The hustle and bustle of the market just makes the food taste so much better. I ordered a cup of $0.70 coffee from the coffee shop. The uncle gave me a knowing look. I was his regular customer afterall.

After eating breakfast, it was time for a family walk as we walked around the neighborhood and did some grocery shopping.

Back home, we spent our time reading the newspapers.

I was just reading this article on the Straits Times which talks about the 'Sweat Debt'.

A global management consultancy firm (Hay Group) actually says that workers are feeling increasingly frustrated especially if they have undergone wage cuts and stuff.

A poll showed that 29 per cent of employees felt frustrated while 35 percent feel detached. Only 16 per cent felt effective in their jobs.

I am not too sure how the survey was conducted but it seems that a total of 64 percent are either frustrated or detached from their work.

That is a huge number of people who are totally not involved in their work. If work takes up such a huge amount of our waking hours, isn't it worthless to pursue something that we do not enjoy and which we have no attachment to?

Too many people work simply because they need the money to survive. They work for money. And yet they claim they are not a slave to money. How can that possibly be??

If they are doing something they do not enjoy for the sake of money, aren't they a slave to money?

Too many people sacrifice lots of their time and effort on earned income. They have not explored the potential of passive income from online sources, businesses and stuff.

And then I looked at myself and realised what a different life I am living from the rest of the people around me! It is 12 noon and here I am writing about the events that have happened to me in the morning =)

When others are dressed in their office attires rushing off to work, I am dressed in my bermudas and slippers going for my breakfast. I sometimes give an almost apologetic look to those whom I meet in the elevator and it seems that they look at me scornfully (especially those who have seen me so many times before).

This also got me thinking deeper about pursuing my dreams and goals that I have set for myself and how I should reward myself if I achieve them.

I am still very much like others working for a living. The only difference is that I hope to be financially free by earning passive income that is greater than my monthly expenditure.

For a start, I have been trying to earn more money using online sources. My daily earnings from online sources currently amount to less than $5 a day.

If I am able to hit the $10 a day earnings in online income, I will buy myself a PlayStation 3 which I always wanted.
Once I hit the $100 a day earnings, I will buy myself a Mont Blanc Pen

Once I hit the $200 a day earnings, I will go on a short holiday trip to Europe with my family.

How to Earn $180 Passive Income Per Month

It is 1.23 AM in the morning.
And here I am punching in some numbers furiously into my calculator.

So I did some rough calculations and it seems like I will be falling short of my passive income goal for the Year 2009.

I am still short of $180 dollars per month to hit my goal of $400 per month in passive income.

Any suggestions to achieving this figure?

I figured that if I invest my money in a REIT that gives me 10% yield, I will require a capital of $21,600.

I do have free cash sitting around that amounts to $21,600 but I am wondering whether investing in REITs is really the best option to hitting my objectives for this year. My current REIT portfolio already has healthcare, residential and office REITs. Perhaps its time to add some retail or industrial REITs in?
It is a pity that I sold away my canroys too as I felt that the capital gains that I got were quite substantial. After selling my PenWest Energy Trust, the price continued to ZOOM upwards way past the price that I sold it for. Nevertheless, I did make quite a good return on inital investment.
Decisions, decisions, decisions.......

Monday, November 2, 2009

Investment Ideas for Financial Freedom

A lot of ideas have been developed and contributed to the world of finance over the years. These include scholarly articles and books about money, investment and wealth.

It is one of my goals to compile all these ideas into this site so as to further develop and integrate these ideas into my own investment strategy and journey.

The list of famous people that I would like to learn from include the following:

Scholars and Their Ideas
1. Charles Dow
2. Louis Bachelier
3. Harry Markowitz
4. William Sharpe
5. Eugene Fama
6. James Tobin
7. Alfred Cowles
8. Franco Modiliani
9. Merton Miller
10. Burton Malkiel
11. Nicholas Nassim Taleb
12. Barr Rosenberg
13. John Lintner
14. Jack Treynor
15. Fisher Black
16. Paul Samuelson
17. Robert Merton
18. John McQuown
19. James Vertin
20. Hayne Leland
21. Mark Rubinstein

Investors/Traders and Their Ideas
1. Warren Buffet
2. Jim Rogers
3. Philip Fisher
4. Alexander Elder
5. Jesse Livermore
6. Peter Lim

Businessmen and Their Ideas
1. Donald Trump
2. Richard Branson
3. Bill Gates
4. Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad)

Help me expand this list! Any suggestions would be welcomed.

2 Months to End 2009

Oh No!!

It is just a short two more months to the end of 2009. And it seems like I have yet to hit my objective of $400 per month in passive income for this year!

How could I have fallen asleep and not keep track of my passive income earnings?

Last year, I managed to achieve my goal in a pretty short time simply by buying lots of REITs. This year however, the global financial crisis sort of through my whole REITs buying strategy off track. I got a little bit afraid of buying more REITs as most of my REITs had fallen in value.

I really need to get to work so that I do not fall behind my earnings goal. Otherwise there will be lots of catching up to do for the year of 2010.

Any suggestions please?

Read Related Articles:
1. Welcome to My Financial Freedom Journey
2. Financial Freedom Number
3. Financial Freedom Goal

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