Sunday, January 31, 2010

Never Owned a Laptop in My Life

Do I spend a lot? I do not think so.

For one, I consider myself a pretty frugal person. The only thing that I am willing to spend on is food. I consider myself a "okay" spender when it comes to food. I don't mind eating at Sushi Tei, Marche, etc. That is the highest level of spending on food that I allow myself. I feel uncomfortable eating at higher society establishments as I don't like dressing up =)

Okay, now back to the topic...I have never owned a laptop in my life. GUSH!!!!!

Yes yes, I can hear you gasping for air. This is unbelievable right? A person who has gone through university and never owned a laptop in his entire life?? It is true!

I was too "broke" to afford one so I just did not buy it even though laptops were being offered real cheap in NUS. Who says you need a laptop to survive? I did not have a laptop and I survived. And I am very proud of it =)

Even my FYP presentation was done using my girlfriend's laptop which I borrowed. Hahaha. I don't know why people say you need laptops to do presentations. All the group presentations, everyone surely has a laptop. Just use other people's laptop!

Besides, desktops have much better computing power. So whenever I needed to use a laptop (which is rarely), I simply borrowed from the many people all around. A desktop was what I used as it was CHEAPER and BETTER (in terms of specs).

So don't let social norms bite you. Bite them back and then blog about it a few years later.

That was how I survived university days... Cool right?

What is one thing that you always wanted but realised that you can actually live without?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Review of January 2010

January has been a challenging month for me.

It marked the start of the new year 2010 and the deep realisation that I was nowhere closer to any of my goals that I have set out in life. A look at my resolutions which I have made earlier was also sorrowful as I did not accomplish much.

Beginning the New Year With Resolutions

I thus started out to mark down an entire set of financial resolutions which I hoped to achieve in this year. After watching the Millionaire Mind Intensive, I decided to add a zero behind each financial goal I had. You can view my financial resolutions for 2010 right here. Some people called me CRAZY and DREAMER. But hey, it is always good to have some dreams =)

I Gave Out Some Tips With Respect to Blogging

I gave out my very own personal tips on some aspects of blogging. It has worked for me to a certain extent and I hope that it works for you too. If I could summarize it in MusicWhiz's words: Add Value to Your Readers

And I Shared some Hot Stock Picks and Bubbles.....

Some people feel that the STI will hit 3,500 by end of 2010. IF I knew, I would be rich. January has also been a bad trading month as I got into Capitaland at a high of $4.43. It is now trading close to $4.00

The conclusion of the matter was that the easy money had already been made and we should be very selective in our stock pickings for 2010 as we will not see a broad based rally. What worried me was that Singaporeans were keen to invest again. Uncles, Aunties, newspapers were all giving Buy, Buy, Buy calls. Perhaps its time to say Bye Bye Bye to the stock market this year.
1. Hot Stock Picks for 2010 (Smoking Hot indeed! Compiled from the best analysts)

I still Need Advice

Yes, at the end of January 2010, I am still as clueless as ever about my job hunt and my trading skills which are close to non-functional.
My job hunt still revolves around me thinking whether I should grab any job that comes along or whether there is such a thing as a dream job (blogging perhaps?)

My trades for the month of January 2010 was also quite forgettable. Perhaps I am trying to purge all the bad memories. I am quite bad at timing Mr Market it seems.














It's just a cute bear sitting on the road in Russia when I was travelling.

Time to get drunk in Russia Again?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pre-Nursery in Singapore

I went down to a kindergarden today to do some recce for my child's education.

I found that the facilities were not bad and has vastly improved since my childhood days. There were music rooms, computer rooms and even playgrounds.

However, I realised that the waiting list was very long as there were only a few vacancies.

The cost is also around $700++ for 10 weeks. That would easily add up to $3000 in a single year just for attending a 3 hr per day pre nursery.

I am not sure what to make out of all this. Is it too expensive?

Wouldn't there be economies of scale if the government did some central planning and provide education for pre-nursery students onwards? This would make the education system much fairer.

I compared a few kindergardens and I must say that the quality of the teachers and facilities vary greatly. This means that different kids are exposed to very different environments from a very young age. Surely this will have a great impact on them and their future formal education which starts at Primary 1?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saving for My Child's Education

As most of you know by now, I have started a POSB Kids Savings account for my child.

The main purpose of this account is to save for his university education. This account also allows me to deposit all my spare coins at no charges.

The figure that I am aiming for is S$100,000. Yes, it might not be enough for an overseas education in 20 years time but I guess it is better than nothing.

Having been deprived of the chance to study overseas because of the lack of money (alas, and also the lack of good grades to get a scholarship), I always felt that I was "disadvantaged" in a certain sense because I did not get to study abroad.

My SAT score then was 1390. Not very high but sufficient to get me a place into universities like Brown University and University College of London (I can't remember what were the other universities that I applied to). However, the lack of funding made me decide to pursue a local university education instead.

This is something that I do not wish my child to face. I hope to be able to have the financial capacity to put him through his studies overseas if he is able to make it into any university there.

I have seen so many people who have gotten worse grades than me but have been able to pursue an overseas education at quite reputable universities because they have the financial means. Is this fair? Nope. But this is life, and life isn't fair sometimes. It also won't be fair when I become a millionaire faster than them even though I don't have the same qualifications as them =)

My child, if you read this someday...know that Daddy is saving up hard for your education. I am doing my best yah?

$1375 and counting...everyday, I drop all my spare change into a little container which I will then deposit into his university fund. I wish I had started saving for it earlier.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Work or Further My Studies

I have been thinking whether I should work or further my studies.

The thought of being able to pack my bags and go to some far off country to study always excites me. However, it simply does not make financial sense and the allowance will be too little for my family to survive.

I was thinking whether I stood any chance for getting one of those A*STAR scholarships.

Anyone has any idea how difficult it is to get in. I only have a 2nd uppers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

POSB Coin Deposit Machine

I managed to use the POSB coin deposit machine at Tiong Bahru Plaza yesterday.

It was the first time that I was using the machine and I must say that it was pretty easy to use.

The screen is a touch screen and you basically just need the account number (don't need the ATM card of passbook!)

All you do is key in the account number, pour the coins into the tray and lift it up. The machine starts counting the coins and rejects those that are not Singapore coins.

Since the account I was depositing into was a POSBKids account, the charges would be waived if I dropped the receipt into the quick cheque deposit box at the branch itself.

This was pretty quick and hassle free. A service that I would certainly use again!

Job Hunt Exercise

Many times, we ask ourselves whether we are in the correct job.

Fret not, I have been in that situation many times.

After reading a book on searching for one's dream job, I discovered that the perfect job hunt actually entails discovering about who YOU are as a person and not so much about discovering that DREAM JOB.

So here are some simple exercises that you can take to discover who you really are and from this exercise, you will be better able to identify which jobs are likely to suit you.

Exercise #1 - Identify Your Favorite Skill

Just list them down in order of priority. Seven favorite skills would be a good number.

To make it even easier, skills can be broken down into 3 categories: People, Information and Things.

Some people prefer exercising skills on people. This include communicating, negotiating, presenting, mentoring, supervising, etc.

Some people are more comfortable with information. They like to read, write, analyse, compare.

Some people are good with things. They can fix cars, they know how to fix computers, etc

List down your favorite skills in order. From these 3 data sets (People, Information and Things), you are likely to find that your favorite skills perhaps revolve around one of these data sets. For me, I love to deal with information. I like to read, analyse and write.

Exercise #2 - Find Your Favorite Field.

While you might like to read and write and analyse data, this is only the beginning of identifying what job out there suits you. The problem is that there are SO MANY jobs out there that deals with reading and writing and stuff.

The key then is to find out what is your favorite field defined by your favorite interests. If you can't think of any field or favorite interests, look at the books you read; or the websites you surf; or the conversations you most enjoy getting into. What do these topics revolve around?

To make it easier for you, if you were going to spend the rest of your life on a deserted island with somebody, what topics or knowledge do you hope to be able to converse with that person about? Is it theology? Is it philosophy? Is it money?

Zoom into what you really like to do. Don't be bounded by social conventions or what people think you like to do because of what you have studied in school.

To give an example, a person might have the favorite skill of analysing information and the best field he enjoys to practice this skill would be in the field of finance.

I love analysing information but certainly not in the field of cooking or sewing... so you get the gist.

Exercise #3 - Geography (Country or City)

Most people have probably spent their entire life in a certain country or city. However, just because you stay there does not mean that your dream job can be found there. Sometimes, your dream job could be located in another country or city.

Afterall, where you choose to use your favorite skills in your favorite fields also has to coincide with your favorite location.

If you hate hot weather, you will not get much joy employing your favorite skills in your favorite field in Sunny Singapore.

So make a list of all the places you have lived before or stayed at. What do you like about it? What do you hate about it?

Now translate all the "hate" items into things that are positive.

For example, I hate the fast pace of life in Singapore. But the positive side of it is that because life is so fast pace, things are very efficient down here.

This list of likes will then form a picture of the ideal location where you should be exercising your favorite skill in your favorite field.

For me, the things I look for in a good location are these:

1. Good Food
2. Politically Stable
3. Safe for my family
4. Efficient
5. Scenery
6. Peaceful

All these should give you an idea of the ideal location your dream job can be located at.

Exercise #4 - In an Environment filled with...

Who are the people you would love to work with?

Do you prefer sociable people or analytical people?

Do you want them to speak English or Chinese?

Do you want them to be task focused or people focused?

Of course, in every office environment, you will most probably find a mix of all types of people.

However, if you know that you are more comfortable around males who speak English and who are all analytical people, you certainly would not be comfortable in a totally female environment who speaks Mandarin and are all just sociable people. I hope you get the gist.

Finding out who you are comfortable with has a large part to do with your job hunt. After all, if you don't fit in, you will be spending large amounts of your waking hours with people that you can't get along with.

Exercise #5 Your Favorite Values

Your values are what you hope to be remembered for.

Just imagine that you are attending your own funeral. What are the things that you hope people remember you for?

Do you hope to be remembered for being a good contributor to the country?

Do you hope to be remembered for your gentle laughter and your kind words?

Do you hope to be remembered for your great wealth and the things that you have acquired?

Do you hope to be remembered because you made a difference in people's lives?

Or do you wish to be remembered as somebody who was prominent in your field of work?

Everyone has different values. Don't let others judge your values. Your values are what you truly value in life. And your dream job should help you accomplish those values to a certain extent.

Exercise #6 - At What Salary and What Level of Responsibility

Find out what is the minimum amount of salary you can survive on. This will form the minimum base salary that you ask for. The maxium salary can of course be any figure that you are dreaming of.

For the level of responsibility that you are comfortable with, it depends whether you wish to hold a leadership position or be simply a follower. Or perhaps, you would like to work in a team of equals or perhaps just lead a small team instead of a huge team.

All these are based on what you enjoy doing and not on other people's projection or opinion of you.

Just because you used to be a manager does not mean that you enjoy managing people.


After completing these 6 exercises, you should have a much clearer picture of who you are as an individual.

The key now is to find a job that will fulfill as many of those criteria as possible.

Of course, now and then, some person might get a perfect job fit.

At least with this information, you are better able to understand how each job fits you and does not fit you too. In this manner, you are able to prioritise and enter the job with both eyes open on what it can and cannot give you.

This exercise is about knowing YOURSELF. It is not about what other people know about you. It is about who you really are and what you really want out of your life. So no use lying while doing the exercise as the only person you will be lying to will be yourself.

Hope that all you readers will find this exercise useful regardless of whatever career stage you are at.

Monday, January 25, 2010

How To Survive A Job Hunt

Surviving a job hunt is probably the most important information you would need if you are between jobs and the whole world seems to be crumbling around you.

I speak from personal experience.

Up till now, I am still looking for a job. The weekdays don't feel like weekdays and the weekends don't feel like weekends.

People keep asking: "So what are you doing?"

The wife is meaner to me than usual. She gets angry easily. It's because I am sitting at home all day long.

But the job hunt process is a long and tedious one. Especially if one does not know what job to look for. The application process is also one LONG WAITING GAME.

The most difficult part of the whole process is to keep one's head lifted up high.

Afterall, society (and I mean family, friends, etc) judge you by what job you do. And if you are jobless.....Uh Oh.....they give you a pitiful look....

Surviving a Job Hunt is thus perhaps the most important thing in the search for a job. When I mean survive, I don't mean locking yourself indoors. What I mean is to make the best use of this time to do the things that you enjoy the most.

Whatever your hobbies that you have put off, go pursue it now. Reading, cycling, etc, etc. Sitting at the computer the whole day and checking your emails or facebook is not going to make the job hunt any quicker.

Don't be pressured by others. Take time to think what is it you really want in life.

I managed to do that for a few weeks and go through my life purpose and skills which I am good at.

I hope to share with you the exercise that I did and which I think everyone will find helpful whether you have a job or not. That is however best left for another day.

Just remember: In your job hunt, you are not alone!

If you are feeling frustrated or depressed, you can feel free to contact me at this blog. Perhaps I could share with you my experiences and you will feel much better! =)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fix That Leaky Pipe!

Had a stupid quarrel with the wife.

It all started with a leaky pipe in the kitchen sink that I had been ignoring for months. My fault.

So the wife woke up on Saturday morning and while I had other things on my mind, her mind was fixed on picking a fight with me.

The recent invasion of ants into our lovely home must have tipped the ice-berg as she is a real neat freak who can't stand the sight of creepy crawlies crawling all around the house.

The conversation soon drifted to the leaky pipe under the kitchen sink and how I was lazing around and not fixing it.

It was Saturday morning for goodness sake and before I knew it, the conversation turned nasty with each of us blaming the other for some irrelevant thing that had nothing to do with the stupid leaky pipes.

Frustrated, I walked out of the house to buy the necessary equipment to fix the pipe as the putty that I used the previous time did not solve the problem. I figured that the piping was lose and I had to replace it.

So I spent like $10 buying a spanner (the one I had at home was too small) and a pipe (the flexible kind used for the shower heads type).

I switch off the main water supply and started fixing it. She however was angry that I took so long to buy the stuff and complained that without the main water supply, she could not fix up lunch!! we quarreled even further and I guess I said many things that I should not have said.

It is funny how quarrels about one thing leads to 5000 things that I did in the past. In the end, she blew it when she said that "WHY DON"T YOU HAVE A JOB??!?!?!?"

All is well now for the time being. After two days of cold war, the worst is hopefully over.

The pipe in the kitchen was fixed too. (I am proud of my handiwork once again)

Moral of the story for all guys out there is this: FIX THAT LEAKY PIPE BEFORE IT BITES YOU IN THE BUTT!

Big Quarrel With The Wife

Big quarrel with the wife.

Real big quarrel. She is unhappy with my career indecision...


Maybe I will write more about it....

Maybe I won't....

We will see how things go.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blogging While I am Drunk

I always wanted to do this. To blog while I am a bit tipsy.

I wouldn't call it drunk as I have always managed to maintain my decorum even when I drink.

After many glasses of alcohol just now, I can hardly walk in a straight line anymore and it seems that my eyes are just getting heavier by the moment.

I am feeling so tired and weary. It is 1245am in the morning and I just got home.

Drinking too much is bad for health. I can hardly see what I am typing on the screen.

I just wanted to see what a drunk posting would look like. And this is for safekeeping in the future. Well, not drunk really but just slightly tipsy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

$25.68 in Dividends for Jan 2010

I received dividends from Suntec REITs up to a total of $25.68. That is from just having 1000 shares of it. Sort of regretted selling my 1o lots to do trading as I could have gotten much more dividends.

Anyway, I will be expecting dividends from Pacific Andes and Ascott REITs pretty soon too.

Pacific Andes is giving 0.6 cents per share while Ascott REITs is giving a DPU of 3.77 cents. That should add up to a few hundred dollars in the month of February which should come in handy somehow.

Read Related Articles
1. Dividends for November 2009
2. Received Over $1000 for August 09
3. Dividends for May 09
4. Dividends for Feb 09

#1 Crazy Thing I Did in My Life

Getting drunk in Russia.

Okay, not really drunk but tipsy on vodka. Some of my friends got real drunk though.

That's not me in the picture. That's one of my friends dead drunk in St Petersburg from all the cheap vodka he could get his hands on.
I have lost contact with all the people I spent my time with in Russia. During then, we exchanged contacts on ICQ but when we stopped using ICQ, we gradually lost touch.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lunch on A Budget

I simply love this packet of charsiew and roast pork rice. It costs me a mere $3.00 but has a generous amount of char siew and roast pork. They are laid out in two straight lines. The charsiew is so-so but the roast pork is pretty good. They also serve a bit of achar on the side which goes really well with the pork! Simply yummy!

You can find this store at Tanglin Halt Road Market. It is located beside the Kway Chap stall.

If you missed my previous posting, you seriously need to read this article here on Blogging to Financial Freedom. In it, I give some tips on my blogging experience.

Blogging to Financial Freedom

One of those crazy dreams of mine is to be able to maintain a blog that will actually provide me with an income so that I could do the things that I want while blogging about all the wonderful things I get to do.

This would probably include things like month long trips to far away places and blogging about all the sights and sounds, trekking through the Amazon forest, climbing the Himalayas, sipping coffee at Venice, exploring caves and many more!

Of course, I am a dreamer and this is what dreamers do best =)

But I believe that someday, I might at least get to fulfill my dream in parts and share my joy with all my readers. I must afterall reward all of you for listening me rant into the infinite space called Cyberspace.

Is blogging to Financial Freedom possible?

I certainly do not think so. Financial Freedom occurs when one's passive income far exceeds his expenditure so that he choose the lifestyle that he wants.

Blogging definitely does not provide one with passive income. It can provide you with income but it is definitely not passive. I is not PASSIVE

After my two years of experience, I would say that most people are actually better off spending their time giving tuition and stuff. The monetary rewards you get from blogging is too little to compare with the income that you could get from doing other miscellaneous stuff like babysitting, tuition, coaching, etc.

The only benefit of blogging is that you get to do it anywhere you like and the idea of being able to make easy money online is of course the holy grail to most bloggers.

So my advice to those who are trying to be full time bloggers is this: Stop trying!

Your success at blogging will only occur if you put your heart and soul to it. If your motive is to make money, it is unlikely that you will succeed.

Some bloggers do make tons of money but you have to admit that they had the first mover advantage. If another girl tries to write like Xiaxue or Perez hilton, they are not going to be as famous.

Adding Value to Your Readers

The key to making money from your blog is perhaps this: To add VALUE to your readers.

How does one add VALUE to your readers?

- Entertain them

- Educate them

- Inform them

Those are the three things that I think are necessary to even earn a single cent from things like Adbrite, Adsense, Amazon Associates, etc

All bloggers at the end of the day entertain to a certain extent, educate to a certain extent and inform readers to a certain extent. It is not how much you are doing each of the three but whether you are better at others in these areas that will distinguish you as a blogger.

The word "blogger" is also misleading. Bloggers are in fact online journalist who work for themselves. Whether they put a price tag on their writing is another matter altogether.

Journalists write for newspapers to make money. Bloggers write for themselves. They could have written to the straits times and stuff but they chose to put it on their own website. This gives them creativity and room to explore various writing norms that the normal media does not allow.

A blogger can chose to write in short sentence, long sentences or in whatever way he deems fit. He is not constrained by topic or timeline. He is his own boss at the end of the day. It is this freedom that is also the downfall of many bloggers. With no deadlines, no agenda, no careful thought, no editing, the blogger is left to his own devices to write whatever he pleases. Whether it is a profitable business, he does not know.

View Your Blog as an E-Magazine

The best way perhaps to view your blog is to look at it as an E-Magazine or e-newspaper. What do people want to read? What are they interested in? Is your site updated regularly?

Because you are the editor, salesperson, marketing executive, and writer for the entire blog, you need to take care of various aspects of the blog at the same time. This can be draining and might require a lot more effort especially if you are holding a day job.

The result is that the blog is often lacking in certain aspects. It is thus good to get comments from readers on how you can further improve your blog.

Would you visit your own blog if you were a reader? Would you come back again and again?

A look at the Bloggers of STOMP

Most of you in Singapore will probably be familiar with STOMP which is a site where star bloggers are also involved in blogging. I do not know how much they are paid but it seems that they do not have the freedom to choose the topic.

The one thing that I realise is that majority of these star bloggers are female. Perhaps, a male audience is expected for this tabloidy kind of topics. Afterall, most New Paper buyers are male. So you can expect why females make a large number of these star bloggers.

So entertaining is best left to females. Mr Brown is an exception as he can be highly entertaining in a funny way too. So it seems like what is left for male bloggers is to be funny when it comes to entertaining. Female bloggers have it much easier. If they are good-looking, they can just post pics of themselves.

Learn from Others, Know Your Audience

This is my last tip for the day.

Learn from other bloggers. Find out how they write. Learn what makes them successful.

After that, try to apply it to your own audience. A blogger at the end of the day needs to know who his audience is. He cannot please the whole world. He has to target his blog to a specific group of people.

I hope you have found this lengthy post useful.

Networth Update (Estimated)

Not superbly accurate but it paints a picture of my networth nonetheless. I still have other insurance policies that I have not included as the surrender values are way too small to make any significant impact on my networth. Main contributor is still my house with the resale prices of HDB soaring through the roof for flats around my area. Two units in the opposite block sold for crazy prices recently.

Paid My Property Tax and TV License

Today, I paid my property tax and TV License Fee of $300.00

This is another expense which I did not cater for as I forgot about the need for such expenditure.

Living in your own house can be costly at times but it sure beats renting a place.

For those who have not paid your property tax and TV licence, please remember that payment date is 31 Jan 010. Otherwise, a late fee of 5% of property tax and $25 (for TV licence) will apply.

You can make payment through the iras website

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

POSB Coin Deposit Machine

This is some additional info regarding the POSB Coin Deposit Machine for those of you who have lots of coins and would like to deposit them into one of your savings account with DBS or POSB.

1. What is this Coin Deposit Machine?
This is a new 24-hour self-service terminal that allows you to deposit coins at our selected branches/Electronic Banking locations.

2. Who can use this Coin Deposit Machine?
Customers who wish to deposit coins into any DBS Current/Autosave Account, DBS Savings Plus Account, POSB Current Account, POSB Savings Account may use this machine.

3. Can I deposit my coins to more than 1 account for each coin deposit transaction?
At any one time, you may deposit the coins into one account only.

4. What are the accepted denominations and currencies?
Only Singapore Dollar currency is accepted. The accepted denominations are 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar (floral series only).

5. How much coin can I deposit each time?
There is no minimum or maximum amount for each coin deposit. The maximum number of pieces deposited is however, subject to the load capacity of the machine.

6. Do I need to sort the coins according to denominations before depositing at the machine?
No, your coins can comprise a mixture of the accepted denominations of 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar (floral series only).

7. Can I change the amount of my coin deposit after placing them into the coin deposit machine?
You may retrieve coins that are still in the coin tray and not inserted into the machine. Once the coins are inserted into the machine, it will be counted and deposited accordingly.

8. When will my account be credited?
Collection time is daily at 2pm (except Saturdays/Sundays/Public Holidays). Deposits before collection time will be credited on the same business day before 8pm while deposits after collection time will be credited on the next business day before 8pm.

9. Are there any charges levied for coin deposits?
Coin deposits through the coin deposit machine are levied fees based on $0.0075 (0.75 cents) per piece, and total charges rounded off to the nearest 1 cent. Coin deposit fees will be waived for deposits into Children's accounts (age 15 years and below). To enjoy this waiver, you will need to drop the coin deposit receipt in our Quick Cheque Deposit box. Refunds will be processed by the next business day (Mon-Fri).

10. Who can help me if I encounter a problem using the machine?
You may call us at :
DBS Phone Banking : 1800-111-1111
POSB Phone Banking : 1800-339-6666

Read Related Articles:
1. Opening POSB Kids Savings Account
2. Saving Money on Coffee
3. How To Get Your Credit Card Annual Fee Waived
4. 1001 Frugal Things To Do (Very Popular Post)

Opening A POSBKids Savings Account

Today, I walked into the DBS branch at Great World City to open a POSBKids Savings Account.

The reason for opening it is twofold:

1. Firstly, to start saving a sum of money for my child's education (pre-school, primary school, enrichment classes, university education) and stuff. I am already investing some money for my child's education but would like a more liquid form of savings so that I can make withdrawals anytime.

2. Secondly, this account lets me deposit all my coins without any charges. I have lots of coins lying around the house always and having such an account will let me save regularly for my child.

Nevermind the low interest rates. As long as it allows me to deposit my reservoir of coins without charge, I am a happy man.

So the amount that is in the bank account now stands at $1350. Hopefully, I can start putting money into this account more regularly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

10 Ways This Blog Can Help You

I have been reflecting on what it means to blog and what my blog is meant to achieve during my lifetime. And if I could focus it down to ONE word, that word would be HELP.

The main purpose that I hope this blog can achieve would be to HELP others.

Throwing all my expertise (whatever little that I have) and experience into this blog, I hope to be able to help others in one way or another. Just thinking out loud, these are the 10 areas which I think I can help you through this blog:

1. Studying in University. I have made a few mistakes when I studied in university. I would like to think that my experience in university would be able to help others make a better decision on what to study for their degrees.

2. Doing what you don't like. I am an expert in this. I did a job which I did not really like for what seemed like an eternity. Yet looking back at it, I realised that I have gained tremendously from it. If you are doing something you absolutey dislike, I can share with you my experiences to help you look at things from perhaps another perspective.

3. Blogging Tips and making money using Adsense. As much as I don't like to admit that I am a blogger, the fact that I am using a blog betrays me. I would certainly like to think myself of a philosopher who rants his pieces on the internet for all to see. Nevertheless, I believe that in my short years of blogging, I do have a few tips to impart here and there. I have already received two Adsense cheques thus far and will be receiving my third cheque next month. If you are not making a single cent from Adsense, I would like to think that there is perhaps some way that I can help you.

4. Investment Decisions. I am not a guru when it comes to investment. There are many other gurus out there. However, I dare say that I have made a lot of mistakes in investing and I could share with you all these mistakes that I have made so that you pay less tuition fees to Mr Market. The market is a cruel place and unwise decisions can sometimes be avoided if you just spent the time asking around. Everyone is sure to have their own opinion but at least you get another point of view. I have been investing in the stock market since 2001 and I think I know a thing or two about investing for beginners. If you are looking for experts, please look elsewhere.

5. Career change and Purpose in Life. This is perhaps my forte. I have spent the last 2 years pondering over a career change and also thinking about my purpose in life. I come from a Christian background so my perspectives are naturally shaped in the Christian thought. If you would like to bounce off ideas with someone should you feel hazy about life, feel free to find me =)

6. Bible questions. I can help you understand the bible better if you are a non-Christian. I was once an aethist but coverted to Christianity when I was in secondary school. My rational thinking and scientific mind in the past made me refuse to believe in a God that created the entire universe. Now, I am pretty convinced that scientific methods are limited in the sense that they are just models to best describe certain events and happenings. A black swan event could just come along and prove everyone wrong. I don't like to debate with ppl because when i was a non-Christian, I did not like people to debate with me about religion. Now that I am a Christian, I would say that I could offer you certain ways of viewing the Bible that you might never have seen.

7. Marriage and Parenthood. Being married and being a father, I can share with you my experiences about queuing for a HDB flat, getting married, holding the wedding dinner, living together with your wife, and also the joys of being a father. This will all be based on personal experiences but it is better than nothing.

8. Financial Freedom. As this blog suggests, I am trying to attain financial freedom and not become a slave to money. I am not there yet but I believe that God willing, I should get there someday. I can share with you my experience as I make this journey. I encourage you to follow me on my journey and not become one who has to worry all day about retirement

9. Singapore. I live in Singapore. I have a view of Singapore that outsiders might not have. If you are a foreigner, I am willing to answer any questions you have about Singapore to the best of my ability.

10. Books. I love books and try to have a book at hand wherever I go. I will do my best to recommend good books to read. My book reviews are terrible though but I would certainly think that I can identify a good book when I see one.

Discovering That Your Friends Are Reading Your Blog

This blog of mine is quite a secret actually.

It started out as just a site for me to rant my thoughts, write down some stuff which I could refer to in the future, etc.

Over the months and years however, it has grown and grown.

I would dare say that I have not told anyone I know about this site of mine yet. It was more of an online community thing where I could just interact with people without them knowing who I really am =)

So I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a friend whom I knew actually visited this site. It is amazing because I know that he visited the site but he does not know that the author of this site is me!

That is simply amazing to me. In a sense, I am able to touch people without leaving my seat in the living room and even when I am no longer around, I would have left some kind of digitial footprint on the internet.

The problem of course is that people would never have known who actually authored this blog unless I reveal myself in due time.

This has always been one of the questions that I have been asking myself.

Should I reveal who I am to people?

Do people want to see a face to this blog?

Am I comfortable letting family and friends know that I am the author of this crazy site which talks about nothing but investments, savings, job rants, job search, my ups and downs, financial freedom, the things I buy and the things that I don't buy....

The worst thing is to be misunderstood and for people to think that I am this money crazy guy who is totally obsessed about money.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.... it is really something that I do not know how to deal with.

After all, I have noticed that a lot of successful blogs do make themselves known. This sorts of adds a personal touch to it. Even in today's newspapers and magazines, you will also get to see the photos of the journalists who wrote the article. Is this what is expected of me now?

What do you think?

Resolutions for 2010

This is way way overdue. But it beats not making any resolutions at all.

I am not a great keeper of resolutions but this year, I really hope to be able to meet all my resolutions. So here they are:

Financial Resolutions:

1. I earn $40000 per month

2. I earn $6000 per month of passive income (dividends, etc)

3. I have a networth of $6,000,000

4. I have an emergency fund of $200,000

5. I earn $100 per day in Adsense.

It sounds crazy but this is what I decided to do. After watching T.Harv Eker's Millionaire Mind videos, I simply added a zero behind each of my original financial goal for this year.

"The problem is not that we set goals too high and miss it. The problem is that we set goals to low and hit it"

2010 Here I COME!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Easy Money Already Been Made for 2009

Since we all are aware that the easy money has already been made in the stock market, perhaps it is time to think of divesting whatever gains we have.

Yes, the stock market looks poised to soar even further but one question still remains in my mind: "How much higher can the stocks that I am holding go?"

Coming into the new year, I have already divested my First REIT and a portion of Neptune Orient Lines. I will sure invest in them if the price comes down a bit more. In the mean time, I am just content to sit on all my cash.

Another stock that I have been thinking of liquidating is Ascott Residence Trust. DBS afterall had a price target of $1.32 and since it is currently trading at $1.34, I am thinking that it might make a good sell price. The only thing I fear is that the stock will rise further after I have sold it.

Ascott REIT afterall is trading at 5.6% yield, has a NAV of $1.32 and has a gearing of 40++%

Good time to sell out now and collect back later?

2010 will be a difficult year to make money in my opinion. I would like to think that the small caps will be playing catch up and this will likely include some S-shares. However, as we all know, small caps tend to be very volatile and you might end up stuck with some lousy shares if you liquidate your more stable blue chips & should any crisis hit us again.

WaveSecure featured on Lifehacker

For you who don't know, the Lifehacker website is quite popular amongst web users.

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see that WaveSecure was featured on Lifehacker. You can view it here.

Why I am pleasantly surprised is because the company that developed WaveSecure is based in Singapore and more importantly , a friend of mine is actually one of the founders. I am glad that he has found success in an area of his passion.

It lets me believe that I can also achieve something of the magnitude that he has achieved in my lifetime. This is despite me not topping my course in university and stuff.

Kudos to you my friend! I wish you further success in your business.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Money and Marriage

I was reading the Straits Times today on Money and Marriage and how the writer felt that it takes two to tango.

He suggests couples could ask each other these questions:

1. Do you know what insurance policies or investments you have?
2. Do you have the ability to manage money well?
3. Do you have absolute trust in the other person?

Taking the cue from the author, I picked up a conversation with the wife regarding the remaining car loan that we had of $23K ++

I started off: "So we still have a car loan of $23K++"

Wife: "Yup, want me to pay off? I got money in my bank."

Me: "Chey..I also have."

Wife: "Then you pay la"

Me: "I am making my money work hard. So as long as I can earn more than the car loan interest rate, it does not make sense to pay it off. Your one is sitting in the bank and if it is not working harder than the car loan interest, then maybe should use it to pay off."

Wife: "Yah lor. That's why I say use my money to pay off"

Me: " But we can invest it to get better returns."

Wife: "Then you help me invest."

Me: " Of course I can, but it is better you participate. Two heads are better than one. Always good to have a second opinion to make my investment strategy better."

Wife: "My investment knowledge is zero... that's why I leave it in the bank. My brain is used for other things."

Me: ""

Wife: "I don't know la. My only financial goal is to make sure my bank account stays above $78K"

Me: "..............................."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why It Makes No Sense to Invest

Okay, the title of this posting might be a bit misleading.

It actually reads: "Why it makes no sense to invest your CPF-SA money"

As most of us know, the Special Account in our CPF or CPF-SA earns an interest of 4% per annum. Till the end of 2010, the first $60,000 in our CPF accounts also earn an additional 1% interest. For most of us, that means our money in the CPF-SA account is earning like 5% interest per year.

This is guaranteed and is entirely risk free!

As such, it makes little sense to invest your CPF-SA money unless you are able to find an investment which gives you returns at greater than 5%. Considering that one cannot invest their CPF-SA into high risk funds, it is difficult (in a certain sense) to be able to achieve returns of greater than 5%

As such, it makes a lot of sense to just keep your money in your CPF-SA for the time being unless you are able to find an investment that gives you greater than 5% per year.

Food for thought.

Friday, January 15, 2010

$2.20 For A Cup of Ribena

I was at a foodcourt just now and ordered a cup of ribena. It is shocking to find out that it actually cost $2.20 just for a small cup of ribena.

Imagine the profit margins that the drink stall is earning!

$2.20 could have bought me a thosai and a cup of coffee for my morning breakfast and I would still have change to spare.

The cost of living in Singapore is definitely going up.

I am pretty certain that many years ago, $2 could have bought one a plate of chicken rice. Now, it won't even get you a cup of Ribena.

I shall keep this entry in here as I would like to look back at this posting maybe in 20 years time and see how "cheap" ribena was then. I could then lament to my children and tell them that things used to cost so cheap then.

One can only imagine what the price of a cup of Ribena will cost in twenty years time.

Anyone dares to make a prediction and we will see who gets the closest price in twenty years time?

Portfolio Update

I sold 5 lots of NOL at $1.83 a piece. That was a few days back.

Was that a wise decision?

Only time will tell as the price has rocketed up past $1.90 recently.

I am now on the look out for stocks that have the opportunity to zoom up further in this current bullish market. However, I do not want to hold "risky" stocks that might go bust or have dubious prospects (remember China Print and Dye?)

I want to have a stock that I can hold and sleep with (even if the price drops).

So far, I can only think of 1 stock that is not too high in its current price. SingTel...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is it Possible to Time the Market?

I have always been wondering how good my technical analysis skills are in timing the market.

However, I have come to realise that when I speak about timing the market, I actually have no standard definition to measure my success or failures at timing the market.

If I could put it simplistically, timing the market would mean being able to buy the stock at its lowest and selling at its highest. That is of course a good definition.

However, one faces the problem of the timeframe.

When I buy a stock at say $1.00 and sell it a month later for $1.10, I might be very happy at the profit that I have made which is quite close to 10% return on capital after subtracting the various admin fees and brokerage charges.

However, should the stock rise to $1.20 the next week, does that mean that my timing of the market has failed?

Or let's say that the stock drops to $0.90 the next week, does that on the other hand mean that I am successful at timing the market?

The problem I guess is the time frame. Because if I were to look at the stock price say 1 year later, the price might be up or down compared to my sell price and I would then determine my success on whether my SELL price is above or below the current price of the stock.

So when we say that we can time the market, what do we REALLY mean?

What is the timeframe we are looking at? How do we measure our successes? Do we really keep good records of our trades to see whether a buy and hold strategy might have earned us more money or does our active trading actually earn us more money?

Rich People Do Plastic Surgery

Today I saw a person who had plastic surgery.

Age was quite old but because of it, she looked much younger.

Seems like only rich people will bother to do plastic surgery. Poor people simply do not have the means to do so.

Is plastic surgery wrong?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Contest with Prize Money

I was thinking of creating another contest similar to the Free $50 to Give Away contest that I held not too long ago.

Some initial thoughts would be to get people to invest with say an imaginary $10,000 using a buy and hold strategy (e.g. starting at the start of a certain month) and then see whose portfolio has grown the most by the end of the month. I think things like trading and stuff might be too complicated for me to monitor so perhaps it would be just a simple buy at the start of the month and then value it at the end of the month.

In this way, we can all get some ideas about each other's investment strategy and stuff.

Any suggestions?

Monday, January 11, 2010

5 Smart Financial Moves to Make in Your Twenties

There was this article in Yahoo provided by iFAST on some of the things twenty somethings can do to make themselves financially more prepared for the future. It summarises the article with these 5 things that it says young people should do.

•Save at least six months of your monthly salary in an emergency fund
•Put aside at least 10% of your income towards goals that you want to achieve
•Start budgeting and sticking to your plan.
•Use credit cards responsibly (pay off your balance before the due date)
•Acquire a hospitalisation plan, critical illness cov¬erage and death coverage

Out of this 5 goals, I have already done 4.

The only one that I have not done is the part about budgeting and sticking to my plan. Seriously, who in this world still uses a budget? I really cannot find the discipline to do any budgeting. I just make sure that I do not spend too much money.

Anyone of you able to do all the 5 things listed here?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Evening at Anchorpoint

I was out in the evening with my family at Anchorpoint.

Anchorpoint is part of Frasers Centrepoint Malls.

I must say that over the years, Anchorpoint has been renovated quite well. Compared to around 10 years back, there are a lot more shops and the crowd is spilling over from IKEA.

The only gripe I have against it is the carparking. The carpark is simply too small and it was completely full today when I tried to enter. Ended up having to park at IKEA instead.

Anyway, I was at the bookshop and noticed that there was this woman at the cashier and she looked like she was REALLY bored and in a real bad mood. Her whole face was like a sour prune and she looked really tired.

She reminded me of the saying "Making a dying instead of making a living".

People were out in full force enjoying their Sunday. But here was a poor woman in her thirties, working her butt off to pay her bills. She sure did not look happy working on a Sunday evening and it looked like she was really tired from the standing.

I hope that she manages to get some rest even after she knocks off work today.

It is important to earn money but it is equally important to know how to spend money and enjoy life.

After all, a recent survey showed that people who brought home an income of $5000 per month reported themselves as being more happy. However, in the same article found in Straits Times titled "What price happiness?", those earning less than $2000 per month were enjoying life the most.

Some thing to think about? Are you truly enjoying life? Is making a living becoming an excuse for you not to enjoy life?

3 Bubbles to Watch Out For in 2010

Future bubbles are getting more and more difficult to predict. At least it seems so.

The Federal Reserve in the United States even with their huge regulatory arm and research departments could not forsee the bubble that resulted in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernake constantly downplayed the risk of the subprime bubble that eventually led to a full blown global financial crisis. It seems from this scenario that central banks might not be effective as a central agency to forecast risks and bubbles that are likely to form. Even if they are successful, certain events might still crop up along the way which are totally unexpected and not forecasted by these public servants.

A bubble forms when there is over enthusiasm and an appetite for risk that is not commensurate with returns.

As we move into 2010, bubbles are likely to form again. Here are a few bubbles that I can think of which might bring about the next market correction or "crisis".

1. Gold Bubble. Gold has been increasing in price for the past few years. It seems that a gold bubble is likely especially since investors are so positive about the prospects of gold. The US dollar is indeed falling but that ought not to justify the performance of gold. A gold bubble in the making?

2. China Bubble. We have all heard it for so many years. Everyone is so positive over the economic outlook of China. They have achieved double digit growth and their yuan is undervalued. Could there be something lurking under this China growth engine to pull the entire world economy down? Shoddy accounting practices...dubious growth figures...over bet!

3. Commodities bubble. We have heard that the price of garlic is going up in China. In 2008, commodities were also hot. Jim Rogers has been championing the rise of commodities. Oil prices have also been going up. Is this the next bubble in the making if investors continue to be so optimistic about commodities.

Bubbles will continue to be a permanent feature in the stock market. Where there is asymmetric information and money earning opportunities that seem unlimited, bubbles will always form. It is impossible for anyone to forecast or predict when or what the next bubble will look like. We can however be aware that bubbles do form and when valuations depart from the normal logic or state of things, we can be certain that something is about to burst.

There is no harm in investing during a bubble. Just make sure you stay nimble and get out before the bubble bursts!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Singaporeans Keen To Invest Again

It seems like Singaporeans are pretty keen to invest again.

Everybody is now back in the stock market and even the uncles and aunties are shouting BUY BUY BUY! (okay, maybe in another month or two)

Is there cause for panic?

The markets have recovered very well in the recent rally and while there seems to be room for more upside, investors will not be able to get the gains like 2009.

We need to be very SELECTIVE in our stock picking for 2010 in order to make money.

Remember: When everyone is BUYING, it is the best time to SELL. Whenever people are SELLING (2008 and 2009), it is the best time to BUY.

STI is hitting its new 52 week highs and I am quite positive that the market will at least trend up further for this coming quarter.

One must however watch his basket closely as 2010 could prove to be another year which will give us BIG surprises.

The eurozone has unemployment figures that are simply staggering (around 10%) and close to 20% in Spain.

Of course, unemployment rate usually lags behind when an economy starts to recover. But only time will tell.

I hope to write on some potential bubbles that can hit us for the year 2010. Maybe when I find the time to do so =)

Now I am just watching my basket closely and liquidating when the price is right.

Updated Stock Portfolio

Here is my updated stock portfolio after selling away 17 lots of First REIT.

1. 12,000 x Ascott REIT
2. 7000 x China Aviation Oil
3. 15,000 x Innotek
4. 35,000 x Kingboard
5. 6,000 x NOL
6, 37,000 x Pac Andes
7. 1,000 x Suntec REIT
8. 11,000 x Unifood
9. 1,500 x Citigroup

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy & Sad - My First REIT encounter

Yesterday, I made a huge decision and sold off my entire holdings of First REIT at a price of $0.86 (17,000 shares) giving me $14,569.55 in proceeds to deploy elsewhere.

My foray into First REIT first began on 05 Jan 2007.

05 Jan 07 - Buy 2 lots @ $0.765
15 Jan 07 - Buy 5 lots @$0.765
05 Mar 08 - Buy 3 lots @ $0.725
02 Apr 08 - Buy 5 lots @ $0.70
02 Sep 08 - Buy 1 lot @$0.70
14 Oct 08 - Buy 1 lot @$0.425

I sold all on 07 Jan 2010 @$0.86.

Any feelings?

I have been happy about getting the dividends that are given every quarter. I will miss those dividends badly. Everytime, I get the dividends, it brings a smile to my face. Now those days are gone.

When I clicked on the SELL button yesterday, the feeling of earning a nice ROC of 18% also brightened my day for a while. Today, I have no more special feelings about this stock.

Through the 2 over years that I have held on to this stock, it has given me more heartache than joy. The price has always been depressed and hovered below my average buying price. Everytime I looked at the stock market, my heart sank when I noticed that First REIT kept getting cheaper and cheaper.

All in all, I would like to think that First REIT has caused my heart alot more pain than joy.

That is even after I exit this REIT with a return on capital of 18% and not to mention the 2 years of dividends that I have enjoyed.

The reason I sold was because I felt that it was trading quite close to its NAV and even though its fair value should be around $1.00, I still did not see First REIT living up to its expansion plans be it in China or the rest of asia. It has been two long years and they have only expanded into Singapore. I guess any future expansion will increase their gearing and even though that would bring their yield up, their price will be depressed because of the high gearing.

At such a time like this, I felt that it would be good to lock in some gains now.

I do not deny the possibility of re-entering this stock since it is one of my favorites.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First REIT Insider Trades & Valuation

Looking at First REIT insider trades, here are my observations:

1. Director Tan Key Poo has been selling in 2009. He has been buying First REIT over the years but in September 2009, his holdings dropped from 947,000 shares to 462,000 shares. Of course, nothing can be determined from this as he could be merely selling to buy himself a new house or car. His average sell price is around $0.68 to $0.69

Now looking at valuation, there are a few ways REITs can be valued.

Firstly is looking at their Net Asset Value. First REIT has a NAV of $0.9255. It is currently trading at $0.86 representing a price/NAV of 0.929. This is still a discount to its NAV but I do not believe that First REIT has ever been valued above it NAV. This could be likely due to its operations which are mainly located in Indonesia.

Secondly, is their dividend yield which is currently 8.802%. Compared to Parkway life REIT which is in a similar industry whose yield is only 5.84%

Thirdly, is based on FFO or Funds From Operation which I guess is their net property income since there does not seem to be any depreciation costs factored in. Looking at their total comprehensive income after tax and their Distributable amount, I cannot understand how their distributable amount to unitholders can be higher than their comprehensive income after tax. Someone care to enlighten me?

Debts and Projects

Based on gearing, it has a relatively low gearing of 15.6% compared to PLife REIT of 23.2%. First REIT has also no refinancing obligations till 2012.

Based on its project pipelines, it is seeking to do improvements to the Adam Road Hospital and Lentor Residences. Its Tech-link healthcare logistics and distribution centre project is also in the pipeline.

This is totally mind boggling. First REIT based on my initial analysis seems to be undervalued based on NAV, pays out a high yield, and has an extremely low gearing. Why is it trading at such a low price? Is there something that I do not understand?

Can the main reason why it is valued as such be due to the fact that a large portion of its asset is located in Indonesia?

Read Related Articles:
1. Dumping One REIT for Another

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dumping One REIT for Another

I have been thinking of liquidating my First REIT to another REIT.

First REIT has served me well over the years but as its price has gone up quite a fair bit, I feel compelled to ditch the passive income it has been giving me over the past 2 years and to lock in some gains.

This is especially so because First REIT's share price is quickly riching its Net Asset Value.

I am not expecting First REIT share price to exceed its NAV as that has not happened before (correct me if I am wrong).

What I like about First REIT:
1. Good stable dividends that are slowly growing
2. Super Defensive as it is in the hospitality sector
3. Good gearing

What I don't like about First REIT:
1. Highly focused on Indonesia
2. No big "sponsor"
3. Trading close to NAV

The decision whether to cash out or not will ultimately depend on whether I can find another REIT or high dividend yielding stock to purchase. I have been thinking about Cambridge Industrial Trust but it seems that after the takeover debacle, their price might still trade at significant discount to NAV for some time..

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Saving Money on Coffee

While doing some Christmas shopping a few weeks back, I bought some nice roasted coffee from Marks and Spencers that cost me $11.90. It is also Fairtrade coffee which means the farmers of the coffee beans are being fairly compensated. (You can read about their fairtrade stories here)

I figured that it would replace my daily cup of coffee from the coffee shop downstairs which costs me $0.70 per cup.

I cannot kick the habit of drinking coffee so I have no choice but to make my own coffee.

The roasted coffee should be able to make me at least 30 to 40 cups of coffee based on my estimations. 40 cups of coffee would cost me $28.00.

We will just have to see how disciplined I am in making my own coffee instead of buying coffee from coffee shops or Starbucks.

The coffee is pretty nice but it does not taste like the Robusta coffee beans that are commonly used in Singapore coffee shops. It lacks the aroma and is slightly acidic. I am guessing it is Arabica beans - the kind which westerners like to drink.

Perhaps I need to use some condensed milk in the cup I am drinking now.......

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Consolidated Stock Picks for 2010

It will be perhaps difficult to find good bargains for 2010 as we will probably not be seeing broad based sector price rises for the stock market. "Pockets of Strength" is the keyword here.

I have consolidated a list of the stock picks for 2010 for your viewing pleasure. It includes those from Analysts and might not be very comprehensive. Nevertheless, it is a good starting point.

Another point to note is that when people are buying again, it is perhaps time for us to start selling. The best time to buy stocks were in 2008 and 2009. Now, it will be hard to get the gains that we are looking for and we should stick to the leaders in each sector.

Anyway, here are the stock picks for 2010:

1. StarHub
2. SingTel
3. Mobile One

1. Ascott REIT
2. CDL Hospitality Trust
3. Ascendas REIT
4. MapleTree Log Trust
5. CapitaMall Trust

1. SC Global
2. Kepland
3. UOL Group
4, Bukit Sembawang

1. Sembcorp Marine
2. Ezra

1. Noble
2. Olam
3. Wilmar

1. Hyflux
2. Genting
3. Midas
5. Keppel Corp

I Need Advice

I need some advice from all the masters and gurus out there.

The first is regarding a potential US dollar crisis. How do you buffer yourself against such a crisis? Or how can you potentially profit from it if you do know that the US dollar is going into decline in the next few years?

The second is regarding my own stock portfolio:
My wife and I have cash of close to $100,000.

I have the following stocks amounting to $85,000 ++
1. Ascott REIT
2. First REIT
3. Suntec REIT
4. NOL
5. Kingboard
6. Pac Andes
7. Innotek
8. Unifood
9. China Aviation Oil
10. Citigroup

Other than my REITs, all the rest are still in the RED. I don't wish to sell them at a loss.

But Gohsip (a fellow blogger) suggested that my focus should be on building my capital (going for capital growth) instead of increasing my so-called "passive income" through dividend yielding assets like REITs.

Can anyone give any suggestions on what I should do especially with the stock market soaring currently?

Should I liquidate all my positions and start afresh with some good stock picks for 2010?

Or should I liquidate some of my positions and then get into new positions?

I know many of you are unwilling to share in detail because you might think that I would blame you or stuff if I lose money. Don't worry..I won't =)

I just need to hear from you: What would you do if you were me? Which stocks would you sell? Which stocks would you keep? And Which stocks would you buy?

S$90 Parking Per Month is Too Expensive

Parking at a covered multi-storey carpark costs me a whopping $90 a month!

I know that is not a lot of money to some of you out there but it is to me.

Considering that over 12 months, that adds up to be $1080... I can only imagine the kind of things that I can buy with that money. I could easily subscribe to StarHub HBO channel and stuff with money to spare!

Why do I need to pay for carparking when there is so much carparking space available?

Where does the money collected go to? To pay HDB to hire carpark attendants?

Why not give us free parking? Surely I am entitled to free parking at my "home" right? Unless you are telling me that it is not my home afterall.....

Shucks...I know I am getting nowhere with this ranting but just felt that I needed to let some hot air out regarding parking fees.

I know it is not expensive compared to other countries but other countries...people own their houses and park free of charge there. Why penalise me if land is scarce in Singapore? I live in a HDB. Surely that is enough? Aren't conservancy charges enough to cover whatever costs that is needed.

Paying $90 a month for parking is equivalent to $3 a day.... Can eat 1 pack of chicken rice everyday.

Anyone feels the same pain that I do?

Anyway, I wrote about the decline of the US dollar in this article over here and I really wish to hear some views (especially from those who are more experienced in this matter). Hope to see all the comments rolling in soon!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blogging Tips : What I Learnt From A Trip To Holland Village

Over at Problogger, Darren suggests that one of the ways to make your blog a better blog is to simply go shopping and do some observations.

For those who check my blog regularly, you would know that I was at Holland Village today eating my breakfast.

One of the other things which I did not mention about was that I spent a fair bit of the morning walking around Holland village too.

What does this got to do with Blogging Tips? Well...I guess that I have learnt quite a fair bit from observing this certain shop at Holland Village and I believe that if you understand the psyche of shoppers, you would also understand the psyche of people who surf the web and visit your blog.

The Indian Newspaper Stand

There is this particular newspaper and magazine stand that has been at Holland village for years.

It is directly opposite crystal jade and you will find it if you just walk from the Holland V bus stop to Holland Village. For those who are familiar with the place, you most probably know which news and magazine stand I am talking about.

For the uninitiated, this magazine and newspaper stand literally sells like thousands of magazines and newspapers from all over the world. It is not a huge stand but lining the walkway are rows and rows of magazines and your daily newspapers.

If you are blogger in Singapore, this is a treasure trove.

No...I am not asking you to buy your newspapers and magazines from there. What I am suggesting is that you observe how such a newspaper stand operates and incorporate the ideas into your blog.

What Are People Interested in Reading?

There are only 5 million people in Singapore. Less than 10 per cent (I am guessing) ever makes it down to Holland Village.

Yet, this stand is loaded with so many magazines and newspapers. It gives you an idea of what people are interested in reading. Not only that, it shows you what are the things that people like to read based on the quantity of certain magazines on the shelves.

If you ask me, I notice that there are a few sections to this particular magazine stand.

1 . Newspapers from all around the world. Apparently, alot of expats go to Holland Village as it is sort of a yuppies place. Thus, you can find newspapers from all over the world being sold here. One thing for sure...newspapers are updated DAILY. If you want people to read your blog, you need to make the effort to update it DAILY. Imagine having to visit the newspaper stand everyday without knowing whether the newspapers being sold belongs to yesterday or the day before... the same principle applies to readers of your blog. If they have to go to your blog each day to check for new content, they might get tired pretty soon and simply stop visiting because of the lack of new content.

2. Entertainment News. Yes, Lindsay Lohan without makeup and lots more... A fair bit of the magazines sold have to do with this kind of tabloids. It is not wrong. People read to be entertained and your blog should be as entertaining as possible. Notice that this kind of magazines are always loaded with pictures. Your blog should have pictures too to be entertaining. All words but no pics makes your blog a dull read.

3. Lifestyle Magazines. These are the fashion, travel, cars and home furnishing magazines. they take up another huge chunk of the magazine sections. Basically, these magazines are focused on THINGS that people enjoy looking at, doing or owning. They are dreams being sold and people are buying these magazines to find out how they can have the LIFE they always dreamed of. In your blog, you need to paint these kind of dreams too which people can relate to. Talk about your travels, your car, your home renovations... People just love to compare with others so help them by revealing a little bit of yourself.

Blogging Tips:

Okay, I might have lost some of you in the mountain of words. But here are just 3 simple blogging tips which you can take back with you based on my lesson that I have learnt from observing the magazine stands.

1. Update Your Blog Regularly (Once a day if possible)

2. Make it Entertaining (Include Pictures if Possible)

3. Make Your Blog Personal (Reveal what you wear, drive, earn or eat. People love the details sometimes)

So there you have it! Some simple blogging tips which you can apply to your blog. Treat your blog as a e-magazine and you should not go too wrong.

A Dreamy Monday Morning

It is a dreamy monday morning here in Singapore.

The sky was overcast and it was drizzling when I woke up.

I woke up because of the school bells that marked the start of the new year of school for the primary children who attend the school just below my flat. Over the loudspeaker, I could hear the teacher giving instructions perhaps to the Primary 1 kids who are spending their first day at school.

Feeling really lazy and stuff, I brought my family over to Provence @ Holland Village for breakfast. I had a croissant and cheese onion bread with coffee while my wife enjoyed an egg toast with some tea (Earl Grey I reckon). It feels like I am at Starbucks but I am not.

At the nearby coffeeshop, Dan Fogelberg's Leader of the Band was playing and it sort of calmed me down. I tried to make sense of the madness that I have gone through in my 20 over years of life. Next year, I will hit the big 3-0 and it scares me to death.

I was just doing some people watching and it was entertaining in some sense to see who were the people who walked into Provence to grab a quick bite or to eat breakfast there.

A Japanese looking family was eating their breakfast at the table to my right. I thought they were japanese until they started speaking and I could tell that they were clearly Singaporeans.

Nevertheless, they looked pretty dignified. Husband, wife and daughter. The daughter looked like she was in her late twenties while both husband and wife seemed to be in their fifties or sixties. They spoke little but seemed like they were not in a hurry to get to work even though it was already 9 plus in the morning. Dressed in their office attire, they ate slowly, exchanged a few words here and there and left silently.

Next, a man in navy uniform stopped his car outside and rushed in to buy a quick bite. He was wearing a coat so I could not see his rank. He left as quickly as he arrived. He must have been late for work.

A white Porsche was the next to stop. Out came a woman in her mid forties to fifties. She certainly did not look glam and stuff. I remarked to my wife how common she looked for someone who was driving a Porsche. You would bump into her at the hawker centre and not figure that she drove such a posh car. I also told my wife about a woman who used to work in McDonald's all her life and actually had $500,000 of cold hard cash sitting in her bank account. These are the normal people in life who are actually really rich. (Next time you see a McDonald's auntie serving you coffee, she might actually be much richer than you )

A man wearing a standard Chartered marathon singlet was the next to drop by. He was with his two sons and it seemed that his son was perhaps "sick" as he mentioned about buying medicine later. Good excuse if you ask me cos he did not look sick at all. Perhaps he just needed some excuse to skip the first day of school for the year.

Different people from different walks of life. All finding some sort of comfort in this little bread shop. Some trying to escape their lives, some living up to their lives and some just getting on with their lives.

I live you with the lyrics of the Leader of the Band:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What Are Your Stock Picks for 2010?

Everybody who invests in the stock market definitely has their favorite stocks for the year.

Reading the Sunday Times today, I read on how the various investors and managers were giving their stock picks for 2010.

I realised that I have not picked out my top stocks that I would like to acquire for the year 2010. In fact, if there are any, it will most probably be the same stocks that I acquired during 2009.

What are you top stock picks for the year 2010?

To start the ball rolling, mine would include these stocks
1. First REIT
2. Ascott REIT
3. Suntec REIT

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Currency Crisis for 2010?

As we begin the new year, we need to look back at where we have left off in 2009 so as to make wise investment decisions for 2010.

For me, I am almost certain that a currency crisis of the US dollar is way overdue. do not have to take my word for it but at least you can trust investor Jim Rogers and websites like the Motley Fool.

The financial crisis which was caused by too much debt is being solved by increasing debt(ironic isn't it??). That is perhaps the most tell-tale sign that the Federal Reserve is way over enthusiastic about actively stirring the country away from depression. The amount they are spending is way over board and it seems that they are keen on totally destroying the US dollar.

Gold and Silver are hitting new highs because the US dollar is being devalued.

In fact, the BRIC countries are proposing that trade move away from the US dollar and be based on a basket of currencies instead.

Two quick questions to all people out there.

1. How can one really PROFIT if the US dollar is to become devalued in the future?

2. Which is the safest currency to place your money in should a US dollar currency crisis take place?

A day at East Coast Park

I went to East Coast Park today to do some cycling and walking.

I must say that I am quite amazed at the recent developments and how the beach seems to have alot more sand than before.

There are a lot more eateries and there was also the newly opened skateboard park near the Jetty.

The crowd that was at East Coast Park was also amazing. Lots of people running, cycling, blading or just walking their dogs. Many people were also playing beach games at the beach.

I am pretty sure that they imported sand from somewhere and threw it all around East Coast as it looks a lot like Sentosa already.

Anyway, the wife and I rented a bike each at a total cost of $13 for 2 hours. We cycled to the nearby food centre and ate some delicious chicken wings which cost $3.60 and had some drinks which cost $3.50. After cycling for a little while more, we got tired and decided to return the bikes.

It is amazing but we paid $13 for the bike rental and I do think that the bikes can be used again and again for almost eternity (okay, maybe for 5 years). It seems that the bike rental stores there are really having a good business (not to mention location).

It is empty during the weekdays but during the weekends, the number of bikes that they rent out can easily hit a hundred every hour. Simply amazing!

Read Recent Articles:
1. Review of Best Posts for 2009

Review of Best Posts for 2009

While we usher in the new year, I would like to look back at 2009 and pick out what I feel were my best posts for the year at SgFinancialFreedom.

Here are the top 3 postings in this blog which I personally liked.

1. Unit Trust Fund Screener I felt that there was a need to share on this wonderful fund screener with people who read this blog. I am afraid that this posting might have slipped the eyes of some so I am highlighting it here once again. Next time, before you invest in any unit trust (even those unit trusts which you buy from the insurance companies, be sure to check it out first using Lipper)

2. $50 to Give Away. The Winner of this contest was Musicwhiz who is also a prominent blogger in the Singapore blogosphere. It was the first time that I had given something away on this blog and I was just encouraged by the amount of participation.

3. 10 Steps to Financial Freedom. This was the first 10 part mini-series that I started and I felt that it was a good try out for me. It really took a lot of discipline to write about a certain topic continuously for days. This was espeically so when I had to write after work and my mind could not think clearly. Nevertheless, the response that I got was pretty good.

So there you have it, the top 3 postings for 2009. I do hope to bring more original and interesting content for the year 2010 even as I continue my journey towards financial freedom.

If you have any suggestions on how I could improve my blog (or any criticisms), please feel free to leave a comment!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year Towards Financial Freedom

A new year ahead towards financial freedom as I continue my journey.

This year, I hope to make up for lost ground and increase my passive income to $600 per month. I failed in my attempt last year but it does not matter. A new year, a new beginning.

I still have not sat down to write out my resolutions for this year but I hope to do it pretty soon!

Just to share how I spent my new year... I basically spent it at home watching TV.

I also managed to finish a book that I started reading less than 3 days ago. So in 1 Jan 2010, the first book that I completed reading was: To Kill A Mocking Bird.

My wife kept saying that it was a good book to read but I have put it off until now. I am glad that I managed to finished it around 2.00am on the first day of the new year.

Right now, I am sitting here sipping my white wine with the History Channel currently showing a biography of Dr Mahatir.

The new year has come once again and I can only be amazed at how fast time has passed.

I sincerely wish all a Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true in this new year. May we continue to share our journey and both the ups and downs.

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