Sunday, February 28, 2010

Price is What You Pay, Value is What you Get

As the common saying goes: "Price is what you pay, value is what you get."

This saying is supported by people who support fundamental analysis. These are the faithful followers of legendary investors like Buffet, Fisher, Graham and the like.

Not too long ago, I wrote a short post on the 7 Investment Sins many investors make. Today, I am expanding on one of these "sins" which is basically people ignoring a stock's valuation when they purchase it at a certain price.

But before we can even go there, there is a difference we need to make between the PRICE of a stock and the VALUE of a stock.

In fact, Warren Buffet notes that there is really no distinction between value investing and growth investing as both are so integrally linked that any true investing must be based on an assessment of what the relationship is between price and value. Wise words indeed. Buffet goes on to suggest that any investing strategy which does not employ a comparison between price and value is tentamount to speculation.

So What is Price?

The price of a stock fluctuates from day to day. It's price can easily be determined either by turning to the Bloomberg channel or by checking up with your local stock broker. The price of a stock is what Mr Market offers you on a particular time and day. It changes from time to time and seems to be irrational at times.

Benjamin Graham's Mr Market is used to describe the price fluctuations that take place in the market. He appears daily and names a price where he would either buy or sell you a certain stake in a certain business.

Mr Market being moody and prone to maniac swings from joy to despair offers prices that are sometimes higher, sometimes lower than the value of businesses that are being traded on the stock exchange.

To put it simply, the price of a stock DOES NOT EQUAL to the value of a stock.

What is Value?

Valuing a stock is based on certain principles. Many people use price multiples. This include the simple price to earnings, price to sales and price to book ratios. These ratios however are based on price and basically compares what investors are paying for one stock to another stock. It does not really tell you anything about the value of a stock.

Morningstar believes that stocks should be purchased because they are trading at some discount to their intrinsic value. The value of a stock is calculated based on the present value of its future cash flows. To calculate an intrinsic value, the following steps are used:

1. Estimate cash flows for the next year
2. Forecast a growth rate
3. Estimate a discount rate
4. Estimate a long-run growth rate
5. Add the discounted cash flows to the perpetuity value.

After this is done, one goes on to calculate the Margin of Safety. This margin of safety is basically the discount price of the stock compared to your calculated valuation. It has been suggested that an average of 30 percent to 40 percent margin of safety should be present before the fundamental analyst purchases a certain stock.

The question is this: "Do people even bother to calculate intrinsic value and the margin of safety they have before they purchase a stock?" Do you?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thoughts on Singaporeans Migrating

(Image by kwerfeldein)

A few days back, I wrote some thoughts about the Grass being Greener on the Other Side. In it, I touched upon some reasons why people often have ideas or thoughts that the grass is greener on the other side.

Today, I was interested to find out how many Singaporeans actually felt that the grass is greener on the other side and it made me realise that this could be quite a prevalent thought amongst Singaporeans. The reason for this is the number of people migrating or leaving Singapore's shores for "greener pastures" elsewhere.
I saw this old thread over at Stomp and am summarizing it here for your benefit. If you are interested in looking at the thread, you can view it here.

1. Over 10 years, 97,990 Singaporeans left the shores of Singapore and applied for permanent residency elsewhere. This figures do not include children but include students going overseas for studies and businessmen.

2. In a survey, two-thirds of participants said that they have considered retiring in other countries due to the slower pace of life and lower cost of living.

3. Australia and New Zealand feature high on the Singaporean's migration destination list.

Anway, it seems astounding that while foreigners are flocking to Singapore, Singaporeans themselves are trying to get out! Of course, the survey results could be pretty skewed and perhaps some of the Singaporeans do intend to come back after sometime. I guess it is also good in terms of Singapore's globalisation efforts.

But nevertheless, being such a small country, every single person counts. Wouldn't it be good if we managed to stop the outflow of Singaporeans to other countries? What are some of the things that need to be changed in Singapore to help it retain its people?

Suggestions to Stop Singaporeans from Migrating
First of all, I must qualify that I am not a policy maker and these are just some suggestions that I have gathered from viewing various forums. The ideas expressed are not mine.

1. Slow down the pace of life.
2. Reduce the cost of living for Singaporeans
3. Make Singapore more EXCITING
4. More free speech
5. Focus less on foreign talent
6. Improve the education system

I must still say that I do not understand why people want to leave when the tax rates here are so much more favorable compared to other countries. Yes, of course with the same amount of money you can buy a bigger car and bigger house that perhaps tilts the equation back..

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dividends and Passive Income for Feb 2010

(Image by kwerfeldein)

While it is not the end of February yet, I think it is possible for me to record down all my dividends and passive income for the month.

Dividends (from Ascott REIT and Suntec REIT) = $455.58
Trading Income = $39.31
Interest from Savings Account = $7.35

Total dividends and passive income for Feb 2010 = $502.24

I also expect to increase my earned income as I have started taking on some tutoring assignments. This is not so much for the money but more for the experience of teaching students in a one-to-one context and basically because I like to teach. I have enjoyed it thus far.

On the job front, I am still on the look out for jobs that might interest me. Still waiting for the replies from several job applications and hopefully I get a reply by March 2010.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

The grass always seems greener on the other side. Doesn't it feel so?

Where you are right now in life, you always feel that someone out there probably has a better life than you.

That's perhaps the reason why people change jobs, migrate, get divorced, have children, move houses and more.

The greener grass syndrome can perhaps be accounted for because of the following:

1. We fail to see how green the grass is on our side.

2. There is perhaps more shit on the other side, and that is why it looks greener.

Failure to be Contented

We fail to be contented as human beings. We always want more and more. God gave Adam and Eve all the trees to eat from in the Garden of Eden. Yet, they chose to eat from the one tree out of ALL the tress that they were commanded not to eat from. The rest is history.

As a man, the failure to be contented can be due to many factors like peer pressure, ambition, wanting to look GOOD infront of others, and many more. Society places a lot of pressure on us and if parents or parent-in-laws are not understanding, they might place this pressure on you to "succeed" in life by getting a bigger house, nicer car and perhaps a better paying job.

Driven by these pressures, we fail to be contented with the little that we have and start to strive and focus our attention on the things that we do not have.

This is one of the reasons why the grass is always greener on the other side.

There is simply more fertiliser...

The reason why someone else has a higher paying job is perhaps because the job has a lot more stress, pressures and work that comes with it. This in turn results in companies willing to pay good money for people to fulfill the role.

So even though the grass is indeed greener, it simply comes along with a lot more fertiliser or should I say crudely, shit.

And with this greener grass comes the added responsibilities, the need to have your handphone on 24/7, the mindless churning of papers and reports, responding to emails during the weekends or simply working OT. There are sacrifices to be made and we all must be aware of it.

The Lesson

I guess the lesson is simple. We must learn to be content with what we have yet continue to strive to become better human beings. Knowing that with a bigger house probably comes greater stress and responsibility should make us think twice before jumping at the next job offer or migrating to far away countries just to chase after some idealism.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Singapore Holland Village

There are some places that will almost remain special to each one of us. For me, Holland Village is one of those places.

Apart from having lots of watering holes and eateries, Holland Village has a certain laid back feel to it. Perhaps it is the number of expats who can be sighted there.

The thing about this place is that it always gets me thinking. Whenever I observe the sights and sounds there, I become slightly more contemplative about life and become more acutely aware about the enjoyment of life. The place reminds me that I have to enjoy life while it lasts.

Rich people also seem to like to frequent this place so there must be a certain charm and attraction to it which they are clearly drawn by.

My Favorite Haunts & What to Eat

I like Provence, Yakun and Crystal Jade that can be found there. When I was dating, we used to go to Coffee Bean that was located at one secluded corner. Every now and then, we also visit the laksa stall that can be found just opposite Provence. The Sushi Tei outlet has now moved and can be located at the cross junction just opposite Crystal Jade.

Provence - the bread of course.
Crystal Jade - dim sum or porridge
Yakun - Kaya toast, french toast and a cup of coffee
Breadtalk - the bread here is good too. Their breakfast set is made fresh on the spot!

Where to Walk

Go to Cold Storage or browse through magazines at Thambi's Magazine Corner which sells all kinds of magazine. At the building which houses Cold Storage, there are lots of shops that sells really cool antiques and furniture. One can walk amongst it and be amazed at the wide range of household accessories there are. The only problem is that the escalator leads up and you will have to take the stairs back to the ground level.

Where to Park

I used to park at the HDB multi-storey carpark and walk across to Holland Village. This is recommended especially during weekends and peak periods (dinner). Otherwise, the carparking at Holland Village itself should suffice.

Holland Village = Starbucks Inspiration

The reason why I am writing so much about Holland Village is because many of the inspirations for my posts in this blog comes when I am there eating my breakfast or just walking around.

It is the same kind of inspiration that I get when I visit Starbucks and smell the aroma of coffee and the buzz of the coffee machines.

This place always remains on my list of favorite haunts. I however do not like to visit it during the weekends. Weekday breakfasts are the best times for me especially when there are no crowds and the carparking is readily available.

What is the one place in Singapore that gives you the most inspiration whenever you get a writer's block?

Best Blog in Singapore

I have always wondered who owns the best blog in Singapore.

Singapore afterall is a tiny island with only 5 million people living on it. Out of this, I reckon that less than 10% of the population has a blog.

And out of this 10%, perhaps only 1% update their blogs regularly.

Based on my very crude estimates:

The number of people with blogs in Singapore = 500,000
The number of people who update their blogs regularly (once a week) = 5000

That should place the number of "good" blogs out there at a figure less than 5,000. That is not alot if you ask me. Afterall, the internet was supposed to be the NEXT BIG THING.

If there are only 5,000 good Singapore blogs out of the millions of blogs out there in the world, it means that Singaporeans are not making their voices heard in the blogosphere!

Bloggers are changing the world & Singapore should not be left out.

Bloggers are changing the world. As a whole, they provide an unregulated form of media that seeks to inform, entertain, educate the public. Other bloggers simply view their blogs as a place to rant their private thoughts and feelings (ironically for the whole world to see).

In this sense, bloggers do not view their works as pieces of art. But that perhaps is what separates the BEST blogs from the NORMAL blogs. The BEST blogs are those that are always striving to keep their content fresh, always interacting with readers, always looking for ways to improve their blogs. They view their blogs as more than just personal diaries or online journals. In a certain sense, they see their blogs as tools to change the world. Some unwittingly change the world by just ranting their private thoughts.

Afterall, we are all easily influenced by the thoughts, words and actions of other people. Everything that one reads will influence the person to a certain level and sometimes this influence even transcends the conscious level. FOR EXAMPLE, because a blogger is making money from stocks using fundamental analysis, we might become more inclined to view fundamental anlaysis as a stronger tool than technical analysis.

Enough said about blogging. Who do you think has the best blog in Singapore?

Monday, February 22, 2010

How To Help the Poor?

I just watched the show where Christopher Lee and Quan Yifeng (two Singapore based presenters) visit really poor people in Singapore and give their homes a complete makeover.

The episodes are always so heart wrenching.

Today's episode was about an 81 year old granny who had children who had various mental illenesses and sickness.

She has been eating leftover rice for God knows how long, often keeping the left over food in the fridge for days at end. All her children do not work and she has to support all of them. I can really feel the pain in her as she is the sole breadwinner of the family and has been suffering all her life.

Her family also lived without lights for close to 15 years because her daughter set fire to the cables and burnt it.

This TV episode reminds me that there are still a lot of poor people in Singapore whose stories are probably untold.

How can we help the poor? Is the solution simply donations or do they need more support and help from society?

When I think about the money that I spend on a single meal and how that money could actually tide this poor people through, it makes me feel ashame of myself for spending that kind of money on frivolous stuff.

Yet at the same time, I don't see how I can contribute as my income is simply too little.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

7 Investment Sins

In making any investment decisions, there are often things we do or fail to do that results in disastrous investment results. This can be called sins of commission or omission. Either way, the result is a bad investment decision. I gleaned this of from a book that I have been reading and tried to contextualise it into our current context.

Here are seven common sins that are made in investment decisions:

1. Buying risky penny stocks without any fundamentals.
2. "It will be different this time".
3. Falling in love with the stock.
4. Panicking when Market crashes (remember 2008?).
5. Thinking you can time the market.
6. Ignoring valuation.
7. Relying too much on price-earnings ratio. (Cash flow is what matters).

The advice above is timeless. We should be careful not to fall into these mistakes. I know some people will think differently about some of the points listed here.

Nevertheless, I think the advice from the book will go a long way in guiding you when you make any investment decision. So instead of making these mistakes, here are some things that you should do instead:

1. Focus on finding solid companies or businesses with shares selling at low valuations.
2. Understand market history, read past stories.
3. Don't get swept away by exciting new products or businesses. Check out the business model first.
4. Fear is your best friend. The best time to buy is often when people are panicking.
5. The market cannot be timed.
6. Pay attention to valuation. Don't hope that some other investor will buy at higher prices.
7. Cash flow (operating cash flow minus expenditures) is what is important for a company's financial performance.

I hope these tips help.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lessons from Donald Trump's Apprentice

First of all, I must declare that I not a big fan of Donald Trump's Apprentice.

However, I managed to catch a short glimpse of one episode just now. It was interesting I must say and I believe that there were certain lessons that I learnt just by watching a single episode.

James Sun

I wrote about James Sun a few months back. You can read the posting here. He basically made his first million before he was thirty. Since I am almost hitting thirty soon, I feel that I pale in comparison to him. James Sun appeared in the Apprentice and I observed a few things about him:

1. He was charming. He wore nice clothes and always made it a point to look presentable even when the rest were decked out in their pajamas. He always wore a smile and was very well-groomed.

2. He is an achiever. What I mean by this is that he has that certain aura about him that shows he is out to achieve things in life. This is the aura that most successful people have. In the show, he had to make tough decisions and he executed them brilliantly. Even though he is just a few years older than me, his maturity is well beyond me. I respect him for that.

Just reflecting on myself, I realised that my maturity level does not seem to be on par with him. Somehow, foreigners tend to have a different mindset compared to Singaporeans. Maybe that's why Philip Yeo once blasted Singapore guys for being too "whimpy". It seems that we are trapped by certain social norms that makes growing up hard. We stay with our parents for far too long than is necessary and gain financial independence from them too late in life too. All these actually hampers the process of being mature and independent.

Another thing that I realised was how driven he was. It is just a certain aura that floats around driven people. They seem to have stronger opinions about stuff and issues. They make their stand clear and are not too afraid to offend people just to get the task done. On the other hand, I am not so driven and often am too people-focused such that it stands in the way of me accomplishing great things.

I think I need to find my inner voice that will unleash that giant within me. I know that I am capable of greater things but somehow hold myself back for fear of appearing naive or silly in front of others. I am too afraid of other people's opinion about me.

Ivanka Trump

In the show, Ivanka Trump is also featured beside her father, Donald Trump.

From the way she conducts herself and the way she is dressed, I can tell that she is indeed a refined young lady who has had the benefit of growing up in a well-to-do family.

While she does not seem to be as outspoken as her father, she nevertheless exudes a certain charm. Just by looking at her, you can tell that she is RICH.

I wonder what life would be like for her if her father wasn't Donald Trump. But then again, we will never know and can only speculate about such stuff.

Success is not what you achieve, it's what you overcome

The above saying has been in my head recently. I look at what I have achieved and think that it is not worthy of comparison to others. At the same time, I am not satisfied with the things that I have overcomed. Afterall, it does not seem that I have overcome great odds, hardships, trials and tribulations to be where I am today.

Ivanka Trump might be richer than James Sun. But I respect James Sun much more because he has achieved and overcome greater odds relative to Ivanka.

For me, I am just comfortable. And it leads me to believe that I need to overcome greater things in order to become a better person myself. I am always reminded that life is short and that I might not have all the time in the world to achieve all the dreams that I have set out to achieve.

I perhaps need a more driven mindset to achieve this goals. I need a "heck everybody" approach to attain the goals that I want and to become a better person for myself, for my family and for God. In this way, hopefully I can contribute back to society better.

I have many ideas on how I can contribute to society but have not worked hard enough in making any of these come true. I have made too many excuses for myself. Way too many excuses. From today onwards, I will stop making excuses and go out to achieve my goals at all cost. For I know that the outcome of my goals will benefit more people even when I am no longer in this world.

What do you think?

Wireless@SG Login Problems

It was another morning at Macdonalds.

I had a hard time connecting to Wireless@SG because QMax (the internet service provider that I signed up with) was apparently taken over by M1. But how was I to know this?

So I searched high and low for the Qmax signup option but could not find it. I tried to register a new account but could not do it. And because I had no connection to internet, I could not find out who had taken over Qmax.

So I just used my old username and password and tried signing up with M1 and I FINALLY managed to connect to the internet. That was when an announcment popped up to show that M1 was now taking over the services of Qmax!! So stupid... shouldn't they put the announcement at the first page of Wireless@SG to tell people in the first place?

I also don't really like blogging with Wireless@SG because it seems to have problems getting a decent connection with Blogger and my work can sometimes get lost because the bad connection results in a failure to allow Blogger to save my work.

One Hour Later..

I gave up. My hotmail could not load, my blogger could not save, I basically could not get any work done. I gulped down my remaining coffee and made a dash for home. The wireless connection at home was way better than this free wireless here!

It was good that I managed to copy and paste out what I had written earlier onto a text file as I discovered that all my information was gone from Blogger.

That was a bad experience. I thought I could sit down and write something really useful as my creative juices were flowing. But the poor internet connectivity only made me realise that I had wasted time and money getting out of the house to find a nice and quiet place to write some postings.

Suggestions for IDA and all partners dealing with the free wireless service

1. If any service provider gets taken over (in this case, Qmax by M1), the information should be placed at the sign up page so that previous subscribers will know WHO has taken over their accounts.

2. I thought the need to log in for Wireless@SG was being done away with. This really needs to be implemented as soon as possible.

3. Hire me to trial their internet connectivity at various locations. =)

Lessons from My Experience

After this experience, I think I will most probably not go to any "nice and quiet" place to blog anymore. Blogging at home perhaps saves me time and money.

Should I consider being able to blog while on the go, I think I will subscribe to StarHub's mobile broadband. Since I am already using their cable TV services and mobile phone plans, adding a mobile broadband should come cheap. (You have forced me into this, M1 and SingTel)

I hope people have learnt from my experience. Don't assume that the free wireless service is completely good and useful. Sometimes, it just ends up with frustration especially when you cannot get any work done.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Conversation With A Millionaire

Every now and then, one gets an opportunity to speak to a millionaire. Afterall, the number of millionaires in Singapore are increasing each year.

As part of the Chinese New Year visitation process, we make it a point to visit our relatives every year.

This year, I got the chance to meet a rich relative who had just upgraded his house.

The house was stunning and it was everything that one could wish for in a dream home. A stunningly good view, central location, spacious and with really nice furniture and paintings.

The wind was blowing in my face as I stood at the balcony observing the wonderful view while the rich uncle sat down there giving us a brief tour of the various sights that were in front of us.

The thoughts that ran through my head was this: "How long more before I can give my family such a life?"

The rich uncle was living alone with his wife as his children had all grown up and left home to set up their own families.

I wish I will be able to replicate his success while my child is still young. But how much time must I sacrifice in return?

Yet, there was no opportunity for me to ask him how he achieved his success. He was too busy talking to other relatives. I also wasn't very close to him so I did not dare probe him about it less I appeared over-intrusive into his personal affairs.

The conversation just went about things like renovation works, the scenery that we were enjoying and of course about children.

There is a certain aura that accompanies successful men. And I felt that aura. It is not something boastful. It is something I call a "gentle and quiet confidence". Just being in the presence of somebody rich, you can feel this aura that surrounds the person. The way he talks, the way he carries himself, the way he eats...

And all I could do was observe. I observed as much as I could and this was my unspoken conversation with a millionaire. I paid attention to what were his likes and hobbies. I caught a glimpse of his passion for certain things. And I got a clearer picture of the rich in Singapore.

I am sure I could have learnt a lot more if I had just asked.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Financial Freedom Thoughts

Sometime ago, I wrote a post about James Sun. He is a young guy who made his millions from an initial $5000 investment in eBay and other stocks like Intel, etc.

Today, at the age of 32, he has accomplished so much more than I have accomplished in my entire life.

This got me thinking about the journey that I am taking and it makes me wonder whether I will actually achieve it.

Being more aware of my mortality these days, I must admit that I could pass on before any of my dreams have been accomplished. And all will be left of me is this blog.

Of course, it is my hope that this blog will live on long after I do to spur people on to achieving financial freedom, abandoning the rat race and truly contemplating about their purpose in life. When one is caught up in the rat race, it is sometimes impossible to think of one's higher calling in life.

I am listing down ten of my dreams that I hope to accomplish. It is my wish that I can accomplish all these before I die but if I don't, hopefully somebody out there will be inspired by this list of mine and go on to accomplish great things in life.

So here are my ten big dreams:


1. To Achieve Financial Freedom (Passive income greater than expenditure)
2. To Travel the World
3. To live behind a business of lasting impact and help to people
4. To live in a big house by the lake with lots of books
5. To drive a nice car (BMW 5 series)
6. To play the piano
7. To study overseas in a good university
8. To write a book
9. To build a good stamp collection/art collection
10. To start a charity organisation

How long will I take to achieve my dreams? Do I go about achieving them simultaneously or should I priorities and focus on one big dream at a time? Will I ever achieve all these dreams in my lifetime?

Chinese New Year Thoughts

So Chinese New Year is here again.

I have been doing the usual visiting of relatives, giving out of hongbaos (close to $1000 already) and of course...lots of eating.

However, I kind of sense that every CNY is the same. We get together, catch up, eat and then leave. It has become more of a routine thing per se compared to genuine interest in each other's lives.

Even the giving of the red packet becomes more of a tradition than anything else.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Universal Studios Singapore

Singapore is becoming a more exciting place with the partial opening of the Universal Studios soon!

It will be opened from 5 pm to 9 pm from 14 Feb 2010 to 21 Feb 2010 for the public to take a sneak peek at what is inside.

Sale of the tickets (costing $10) will begin on 12 Feb. There will be no sale of same day tickets available at the front gate (don't ask me why).

From what I know, when it is officially opened, weekday passes would cost $66 while weekend pass will costs $72. So the current $10 admission fee is a STEAL if you ask me.

There will be roller coaster rides, movie themed attractions and lots more! So fun. No need to go overseas to sit rollercoaster anymore =)

There are height restrictions for certain of the rides though. If you are above 125cm, you will be able to enjoy most of the rides.

Valentine's Day Ideas That Worked for Me

Valentine's Day this year unfortunately (or fortunately) coincides with Chinese New Year.

As I am married, I no longer celebrate this special occasion. (Yes, the death of romance in marriage)

But I used to recall the days when I would be wondering what to get my girlfriend for V-Day.

I found that this simple formula always works for me. I am not very good at gifts actually. But what I did was so simple and so easy. Nothing fanciful needed. So here is a step by step formula for the perfect Valentine's Day.

Step #1 - Order Flowers

Just order that bouquet of flowers. Yes, it is expensive but it is the bare minimum. I used to get my flowers either from City Hall or Jurong Point. You need to make sure you order beforehand though I am pretty sure that they have enough supplies to entertain walk-in customers. Bring a large paper bag if you are embarrassed to be seen with a large bouquet of flowers.

Step #2 - Write a Well Thought Out Card

This is KEY. Don't just buy a card and write silly stuff like "Happy V Day, I love you". Instead, think about what you would really like to say to her. Thank her for all the things she has done for you in the past year. Recall your favorite memories with her. The card should be like a letter if possible. It should include huge paragraphs that she can read and re-read again. It needs to be well-thought out and not just a few sentences. Think of it as writing a 500 word essay on why you want to spend the rest of your life with her. Remember that the grader is your girlfriend. I really cannot emphasize how important a well written card or letter is. In fact, I would think that it is more important than the flowers. But you still need to have the flowers.

Step #3 - The Gift

If your girlfriend or wife has been easy on you, she might have hinted to you what she already wanted for V-day. But if you simply have no idea, go for this: Perfume. I always buy perfume because it is the easiest to chose and it is classy. Of course it will cost you around $70 to $100 but it will be money well spent. You will be the one taking in the scent afterall =)

Step #4 - The Meal

Her favorite eating place or somewhere with good ambience. Simple as that.


Just follow the 4 steps and you should do just fine. If anything goes wrong, don't blame me. I am just offering some suggestions. It is what I used to do for my girlfriend (who is now my wife). So it worked for me at least.

Automatic Millionaire By David Bach

I was at the library the other day and was browsing through the Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. Here is the one key lesson that I learnt from reading his book.

Forget about The Budget

David Bach started out as a financial planner and he tells the story of how this average-looking couple in their fifties walked into his office one day. To his amazement, he discovered that they had actually close to $2 million in networth and were ready for retirement even though they were just in their early fifties. What the rest of the book talks about is how normal people can be like the couple and become millionaires - AUTOMATICALLY.

The thing is to forget about budgeting as it does not work. Rather, the principle is to pay yourself first. And the BEST way to pay yourself first is to automate the process such that a certain percentage of your income goes into some savings or investment instrument automatically. You can then spend the rest of your money without worries.

I find this a much more useful approach compared to budgeting. Afterall, I am very lousy at budgeting and simply cannot keep to my budgets. It is better to just pay yourself first and spend the rest of your money without having to worry about a budget. It is just framing the problem in another way if you ask me.
The method does not make you a millionaire overnight but it should make you a millionaire one day as long as you keep setting aside a sum of money every month. (Ideally, I think the amount should be around $300 to $500 per month based on 10% returns). If the returns are not doing well, I think you should adjust the figure accordingly.

Apple Tree Story

This brings me to the apple tree story which I have heard some other people talking about. We should all aim to have multiple sources of income such that we do not over rely on only our earned income. The way to do that is to grow more apple trees. Each apple tree is a money generating tree such that once you have enough apple trees, you can safely retire.

Apple trees can be bonds, REITs, dividend paying stocks, rental property, options and even trading income or businesses.


If one combines both approaches and automate your savings while investing your savings into apple trees and re-investing whatever income you get from the apple trees, I think you will not have a problem retiring when you reach the retirement age in Singapore. This is just my 2 cents thought. Feel free to expand and share your strategies.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chinese New Year Greetings

A Most Happy Chinese New Year in advance to all readers!

It seemed like just yesterday that I was wishing everyone a prosperous Chinese New Year and it seems like the new year is upon us again.

Chinese New Year is always a time of visiting, good food and good company for me. It is more of a family tradition than a CHINESE tradition per se. I am quite certain that each family celebrates Chinese New Year very differently. Can't wait to eat all the bak kwa and stuff.

This event is also special because it is also the time when Resorts World Sentosa will be opening the first casino in Singapore. After so many years of planning and building, it seems like the first casino will finally open its doors on CNY.

Zodiac Cycles

Here is a list of the various zodiac cycles to mark out on your calendars:

•Tiger : February 14, 2010 - February 02, 2011
•Rabbit : February 03, 2011 - January 22, 2012
•Dragon : January 23, 2012 - February 09, 2013
•Snake : February 10, 2013 - January 30, 2014
•Horse : January 31, 2014 - February 18, 2015
•Sheep : February 19, 2015 - February 07, 2016
•Monkey : February 08, 2016 - January 27, 2017
•Rooster : January 28, 2017 - February 18, 2018
•Dog : February 19, 2018 - February 04, 2019
•Pig : February 05, 2019 - January 24, 2020
•Rat : January 25, 2020 - February 11, 2021
•Ox : February 12, 2021 - January 31, 2022

Peer Pressure To Stay Back Late in Office

I read with interest Mr Tan Kin Lian's blog post about Singaporean workers facing pressure from peers to stay back late in office even when they have no work to do.

I must admit that this peer pressure to stay late is indeed VERY TRUE in Singapore. One feels obligated to stay back late especially when other colleagues seem to be rushing for some important work that was needed yesterday.

In my previous job, I remember the countless hours I have stayed back late because colleagues stayed back late. In fact, I am not too sure whether they were even doing work. Maybe they stayed back late BECAUSE I was staying back late because I thought they were staying late.....You get the drift...

So it is just peer pressure to stay back late. It seriously affects productivity and does not make sense.

After some time, I reasoned that I did not have to rush my work during the day as I would most probably have to stay back late after all. So I simply took my own sweet time to do my work.

This peer pressure thing is indeed TOXIC. We should all have the guts to look at the clock strike at 5 or 6pm and shout out loud: "OKAY FOLKS, I AM GOING HOME!"

(The repurcussion is perhaps tons of work piled up on your desk the next morning for you as your boss will think you are SUPER FREE)

I think this is crazy and one possible solution is to establish Overtime Pay (OT Pay). In this way, bosses will want employees to go back home on time so that it does not result in additional costs to the company.

The same should be implemented for the civil service whereby a variable component is added to their pay structure and they are paid additional amounts based on the OT work that they have done.

This is only right and fair. If there is really SO MUCH work to be done under such tight deadlines, then it is only right that more people are employed to share the burden.

Making employees reach home at 7 plus to 10 plus everyday is simply unacceptable.

I wonder whether people out there are still facing this kind of peer pressure?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is ILP a time bomb?

So I read Lorna Tan's article on investment linked plans (ILPs). (This was posted on another blogger's blog)

Then I saw this adword advertisement by Wilfred Ling that reads: "Is ILP a Time Bomb."

I guess the argument goes as this:

As one ages, the insurance charges creeps up slowly in an ILP. Up to a certain age, the insurance charges might be much more than the premiums one is putting in.


If you do not know what you are doing with an ILP, I guess it is a timebomb. Afterall, MAS has recently announced that it wants a stricter environment to guide the sales of ILPs to commoners. Insurance agents would have to make sure that clients who buy ILPs have the necessary education levels or experience in investing before they can buy ILPs. Great move if you ask me. (But isn't the reason why ILPs were created being that people have no idea how to invest their own money...that is why they chose to buy the ILP in the first place!)

An ILP is a time bomb and you much watch the timer very closely. Make sure that you know what are the annual charges for insurance ESPECIALLY once you cross certain ages like 40, 50 or 60. If there is a need, decrease your insurance coverage. Afterall, your insurance coverage requirements should drop as your children become financially independent and leave home.

Some people might not hit the time bomb as they might have already drawn out all their money for retirement purposes or decrease their coverage correspondingly.

No, it's not a time bomb =)

This is me saying it cooly with a swagger. I always feel that if you know what you are getting into, it is not a time bomb.

Afterall, most investments are bombs on timer mode. It can be your stocks, REITs or landbanking.

You need to watch that bomb closely and make sure you release it before the bomb explodes in your lap. As someone said: "Watch your basket closely..."

A stock listed in the stock exchange might be de-listed after the directors run away (think China Print and Dye listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange). REITs might also go bust anytime if they are not able to borrow money.

The fact is this:"Every investment bears a certain risk, even putting your money in a bank involves certain risk"

So What is The Alternative?

So if ILPs are really time bombs, what other alternatives do people have to protect themselves?
What are the alternatives?

I have listed down a few alternatives:

1. Term insurance
2. Endowment plans
3. Whole Life plans

Well, all these instruments are also time bombs if you look at them closely. So the best thing for one to do is to watch your bomb very closely.

Maybe that's why we used to play the pass the parcel game at birthday parties last time.

Millionaire Mind Intensive

Hope that you find this video useful. It shares some insights from T Harv Ecker regarding the Millionaire Mind that one should have.

What I found useful was the part where he talks about the need to get to the root of the issue. Wealth and money are just RESULTS. They are the fruits in a tree. It is however the roots that caused these fruits to appear. Likewise, when one is poor, you should look at the inside (your mindset), to remedy the problem.

Another thing he mentions about is to Quit Complaining. Complaining is what so many people do best. By complaining less, we take responsibility for our own financial destiny and stop putting the blame on others.

StarHub Cable TV - Upgraded to Basic Plus

Over the new year, I discovered a promotion by Starhub that allowed me to upgrade my basic group channels to the basic plus at no additional cost for 6 months. Finding that this was too good an opportunity to miss, I immediately signed up for it through the telephone.

Within a few days, I got all my Basic Plus Channels on my Starhub Cable TV.

This included ALL these channels like:
  1. Crime & Investigation Network
  2. NatGeo Adventure
  3. NatGeo Wild
  4. AXN Beyond
  5. Animax
  6. Channel V
  7. FoxCrime
  8. Sci Fi
  9. Universal Channel
  10. BBC Entertainment
  11. BBC Lifestyle
  12. FX
  13. MGM
  14. The Style Network
  15. Turner Classic Movies

Wow, a total of 15 extra channels for no additional cost!

Of course, I am sure Starhub was just interested in retaining me as my customer after they lost the rights to the ESPN channel to SingTel.

Anyway, it was too good a deal to miss for paying $25.68 only. I get the additional 15 channels to my existing basic group.

Switching my News Basic Group to Lifestyle Basic Group

I also realised that I did not watch much of the news so I switched my news basic group for the lifestyle basic group. Yes, you should do the switch too if you are not watching the news.

So my 3 basic groups now are Education, Entertainment and Lifestyle.

Just a question to readers:

What are your basic groups that you subscribe too for StarHub Cable TV?

Do you intend to switch over to SingTel's Mio TV?

Shell Escape Card

I finally applied for a Shell Escape card. That is after many years of driving and pumping petrol at Shell petrol stations.

I do not know why I always had the misconception that the Shell Escape Card works like a credit card. I finally found out that it doesn't!

Instead, it is just a card to collect points which I can then redeem free gifts and vouchers for.

My oh my....I have missed out on so many points. Wasted if you ask me..... Really silly of me not to clarify with people.

On average, I pump around 40litres of petrol per week. Multiply by 52 weeks and then by 3 years.. I have basically lost lots of points.

I have my eyes on a $20 Ben and Jerry's voucher. I think I should be able to get it in 20 weeks.

Oh well, the good thing about it is that I have time 20 weeks to burn some fats before redeeming my points.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What I Consume In A Day

Our consumption habits are really interesting to track. Afterall, don't you find it interesting to know what of planet earth's resources you have consumed for the day?

So let's look at what I have consumed today and the companies that are involved in bringing these products to me:

7.30AM - Throat itchy, ate 1 x lozenges bought from Guardian
8.30AM - Bought breakfast comprising duck kway teow and teh si ping (iced milk tea)
9.00AM - Used the internet (Starhub Cable)
10.05AM - Received phone call from home (SingTel Fixed line)
11.00AM - Received phone call on mobile phone (StarHub)
11.15 AM - Checked email (Hotmail)
11.45AM - Worked on webpage using Dreamweaver Trial version (Adobe)
1.13PM - Ate lunch (Char Siew Rice)
2.00PM - Popped another 1 x lozenges
3.00 PM - Took a hot shower (PUB provided water and electricity)
4.00PM - Drank a packet of Pokka White Chrysanthemum Tea
5.30PM - Watched Television (Starhub Cable)
6.00PM - Ate dinner downstairs
8.00PM - Switched on the Airconditioner (PUB again?)

I know the above list makes for a boring read =)

But hopefully it enlightens you to know what are the things you consume and what are the companies involved in bringing that product to you.

AIA Achiever - Good or Bad?

In my previous article, I compared an endowment plan with an ILP. Many might think that an ILP is a silly way to save for my child's education. After all, there are much superior ways like "Buy Term Invest the Rest".

Today, I will share with you my personal experience with one ILP that led me to be a little more accomodating towards ILP amidst the anti-insurance stance taken by most people.

AIA Achiever

I bought the above mentioned plan some years back. I believe that it is no longer in the market. Some insurance agent sold it to me as an investment plan and conveniently left out some important details about the "downside" of this policy.

Anyway, for the first few years, I hated the plan. I thought that it was the worst plan that I could have gotten. Afterall, I had to pay premiums for 7 years before I could withdraw the amount out. (When I bought the plan, I thought that I could withdraw the money out once the policy has been incepted for 7 years)

I was really thinking of surrendering the plan very early on as I felt that the 7 year waiting period was simply too long and I could put my money to better use elsewhere. However, the high surrender charges before 7 years made me think twice.

In the end, I continued servicing the plan and recently, I just crossed 7 years of premium payment.

What I Like About Achiever

Now that the 7 year waiting period is over, I have discovered that I actually do LIKE this ILP. When I look at the amount of money inside, I am amazed that 7 years of consistent saving have actually yielded me with results that I am quite pleased. I took up this plan as a means to fund my retirement. It has served me well thus far and the actual cash value is much higher than that shown on the benefit illustration for 9% compounded annual returns.

In addition, I get to log into AIA eCare easily to check on my monthly statements and can do my fund switches easily too.

What I Don't Like

It is of course obvious that there are aspects I do not like about the plan. Here are a few:

1. Policy charges every month.
2. Supplementary benefit charge based on face value of policy. This is payable for 10 years.

However, when I consider this to any endowment plan or whole life plan, I find that it suits my overall portfolio very well. It gives me the necessary protection and savings.

Would I have done things differently now?

I am still torn between the "Buy Term Invest the Rest" strategy and the other whole life approach.

If I had bought term insurance and invested the rest using something like the Share Builder's Plan by Philips Capital, I might have gotten higher returns. I might also have gotten worst returns.

If I could turn back the hands of time, I seriously do not know whether I would have bought this plan.

I know many people have complained about the bad returns or low surrender values from their ILPs. I am perhaps the minority that have actually sticked through with my ILP instead of surrendering it. As such, I now see the "fruits" of my labour. It gave me a disciplined way to save for my retirement and gives me protection as well.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Endowment versus ILPs for Education Fund

Over at another blog, we had a discussion on the chatbox whether an endowment or an ILP would serve better as an education fund for our children. I personally chose an ILP to save for my child's education so I will be harping on all the good points about it here. Nevertheless, I will try my best to give a fair comparison in this piece.

An endowment policy and ILP are quite different in nature.

An endowment basically provides coverage / insurance protection only for a term (e.g. 20 years) and gives back money at maturity. This maturity cash amount comprises guaranteed and non-guaranteed components.

An investment-link plan (ILP) provides lifelong coverage (up to age 99 years actually) and also allows you to draw out money as long as you leave a certain minimum sum within. There are NO guaranteed components.

As a basis for comparison, I have chosen to look at the following factors (these were actually the considerations I had when I decided to get an ILP over an endowment):

1. Protection. In terms of protection, an ILP trumps the endowment hands down. For the same amount of premiums, I can get a much higher protection for death, TPD and critical illness for my child. In addition, while the endowment protection amount is fixed throughout the policy term, you can vary the protection requirements for the ILP.

2. Premiums. When I look at premiums wise, an endowment actually allows you to pay lesser in terms of premiums because most (if not all) ILPs require a minimum $100 per month in premiums. Of course, we know that saving $100 per month for your child's education would most probably be never enough to afford a university education 18 to 21 years down the road.

3. Waiver of premiums. Nothing to compare. Both plans allow riders to waive future premiums should both parents become critically ill, die or get TPD.

4. Premium Holiday. This is something that was important to me. If I am not able to afford the premiums due to a change in job, etc, I needed the flexibility to go on a premium holiday. An endowment does not allow that (correct me if I am wrong). For endowment, the premium holiday period is treated like a policy loan on the existing cash value. This interest can range around 6% interest.

5. Emergency Withdrawal of Cash. The ILP allows me to draw out money from it as long as a certain minimum sum inside (usually $1000). For an endowment, withdrawal of cash before maturation of policy is considered a policy loan (at the interest rate of around 6%).

6. Returns. The endowment will give GUARANTEED plus NON-GUARANTEED returns whereas the ILP only gives NON-GUARANTEED returns. In illustrations, the ILP always shows higher absolute returns because of the 5% or 9% returns showed compared to the endowment 3.25% or 5.25%.


To me, the only advantage that an endowment has over an ILP is this thing called the GUARANTEED component. In terms of all other factors, the endowment loses out to the ILP.

I can choose to surrender my ILP in one lump sum when the 20 years are up or I could slowly draw down the amounts in the 20th year, 21st year, 22nd year and 23rd year or I can don't draw out the amount (maybe my child does not make it to university at all)

Some argue that if the market is not doing well when I need the money, the ILP will fare badly. My strategy however is to increase the allocation in bond and fixed income funds as the date draws closer to my child's entry to university. Even so, I can chose to withdraw the funds over the 4 year period and hopefully the market recovers correspondingly.


Please do not take this as an advice or recommendation to buy an ILP for your child's education fund. The reason why you buy it is more IMPORTANT than which to buy.

For me, I have paired my ILP with a POSB Kids Savings account. So in that sense, the "guaranteed" component will come from the money in the bank account.

Also, my primary reason for buying the ILP is for PROTECTION and not savings. (Okay, maybe about 60% protection and 40% savings). That is the reason why I chose an ILP over an endowment as it gives me better protection. I did not consider term insurance as I wanted a plan that would guarantee the insurability of my child even after his university (if he chooses to continue with the plan)

Lastly, I think I know what I am doing. The most important thing is to know what you are doing with what you have. Only time will tell whether what I have chosen is a wise decision when the time comes for the money to be withdrawn. I'd like to think that I have got a strategy in place.

P.S. I know Mr Tan Kin Lian (ex-NTUC Income CEO) is a strong opponent to ILP and advocates a "buy term invest the rest" strategy. While I can agree with his argument intellectually, I find it hard to execute a "buy term invest the rest" strategy. These are due to practical reasons, emotional failures and psychological thinking. But this is better left for another posting.....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

10 Things to Do With Your CPF (Part 2)

So I started a post on ten things you could do with your CPF. And I listed down one of the things that you could do was to buy your own housing.

Here is a list of the other 9 things you could do with your CPF

2. Purchase hospitalisation plans to enhance your basic medishield coverage

3. Purchase the home protection scheme which provides coverage for outstanding mortgage loans.

4. Transfer money from your Ordinary Account to Special Account to enjoy higher interest rates.

5. Top up your special account (SA) with cash.

6. Contribute to your retirement account (RA)

7. Invest your money in your CPF-OA and CPF-SA

8. Use CPF to pay for child's education

9. Nominate your CPF monies to your dependents

10. Sign up for CPF Life if you are age 55

Saturday, February 6, 2010

10 Things to Do with Your CPF

I originally had in mind to title this post: "TEN CRAZY THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR CPF!"

But then I decided against it and thought that the things I were going to pen down were not so crazy afterall.

Singaporeans and Singapore PRs seem to have a love-hate relationship with CPF - the nation wide compulsory savings scheme that is supposed to meet their retirement needs and medical bill needs.

Of course, the number of CPF accounts have increased over the years and the things we can use them for has also increased significantly.

Nevertheless, we are a nation of complainers and we JUST LOVE to COMPLAIN. The key trait when you meet a Singaporean is to find him complaining about something. He is never satisfied. If the government were to abolish CPF this very day, I am sure huge sections of the population will also begin to complain: "Why no CPF???"

Is CPF Good Or Evil?

Almost everyone I seem to know thinks that CPF is evil. They find that their money is stuck and that they can't put full use to it. They feel that they are able to generate better returns compared to the guaranteed returns that CPF provides. Some of them feel that the paltry interest rates provided by CPF is not able to beat inflation rates. (This same people complain about the paltry interest rates provided by the banks).

On the other hand, there must be a reason why CPF was introduced. There surely must be some good to it. It has provided a means whereby Singaporeans and PRs are able to enjoy affordable housing. It forces people to set aside money for their retirement and medical needs. The best brains in the government obviously feel that CPF is a scheme that is both necessary and good for the entire society.

How can CPF possibly be good and evil at the same time? Clearly there must be something good about CPF that some people see in it. Or is CPF really bad and should be abolished altogether?


The above debate is not for me. I love CPF and enjoy the benefits that I get. To me, it is another bank account for me. The only thing is that I cannot touch the money for sometime. Yes, the rules change here and there, but overall, it is still MY MONEY.

I know I am supposed to list 10 things You can do with your CPF...

Okay, here is my no.1 thing you can do with your CPF:


I have never used a single cent to pay for my HDB flat thus far. My CPF settles every single cent of it. That is one amazing thing you can do with your CPF. Use it to pay for your housing!

If I did not have CPF, I am not so sure that I would have been so disciplined to set aside that sum of money. I might very well have spent it all on a trip to Europe, bought a bigger car, or God knows what...

I also enjoy low mortgage interest rates at 2.6% which is the HDB housing loan rate.

Over the course of the next few days, I hope to continue to share on some of the things you can do with your CPF.

Friday, February 5, 2010

CPF Interest Rates Are High

It seems to me that CPF interest rates for the SMRA is very high. Currently, it stands at potentially up to 5% because of the additional 1% interest that the CPF Board is giving.

Checking my CPF statement lately, I realised that I received closed to $900 in interest for my Medisave Account alone!

That got me thinking into whether I should voluntarily top up my CPF account as this would give me a guaranteed 5% returns (at least till end of this year I hope).

The downside is that I would not be able to draw out the money should I top it up.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Blog Reaches 1,500 Unique Visitors per Month

I am glad of the progress I have made with my blogging efforts. Since starting in May 2008, I am glad that I have gotten to know a few of the bloggers and commenters better over the years.

I am also glad that this blog serves 1,500 people a month!

That is alot of people that I am reaching out to which I would never have been able to done with a normal job! Unless I am a pastor of a mega church or something....

To reach out to so many people, to be communicating with them and to be able to at least share with them my lessons and experiences is indeed a HUMBLING thought.

If you are one of these 1,500 people out there who is reading my blog each month, I would like to say a big THANK YOU for supporting me throughout my journey towards financial freedom.

This has been a very difficult period in my life. Unemployement, job search woes, rejections from potential employers.... If I could feel any more depressed, it is NOW.

Yet, it is also the BEST time of my life. I have never been so free in my entire life. I can spend the day thinking about what I would like to share with my readers. I can observe things moving by slowly. I also cannot explain the joy that I get when strangers come and leave encouraging words to me. Thank you.. Thank you..for all the kind words, encouragement, and even recommendations on the way forward. I guess I can never thank each one of you enough =)

Afterall, each of you do have your unique experience to share with me and I must say that I am a lot WISER today because of your sharing. If this blog was just a private journal that I wrote and kept somewhere at home, I would not have grown so much as a person.

So my job search carries on....

With each job rejection comes more pain but I guess I have to keep on fighting to move ahead. Failures are part and parcel of life. I also have to trust in my God that He knows what is best for me and my family.

A Jobless Millionaire and the Rich Bloggers

So I was thinking that the difference between a millionaire who is jobless and a thousandnaire who is jobless is quite profound. A millionaire who is jobless will never be called a bum.

Anyway, I have never really considered myself jobless. At the very least, I am a blogger! And people do make a living out of their blogs. It is just that I can't make a living out of my blog but that doesn't stop me from being jobless or stuff. I have a good readership and a wonderful community of supporters out here.

So to say that I am out of a job, the correct phrase should be "I am seeking paid employment". My job at this blog is paid peanuts but it gives me great joy. I am the CEO, marketing executive, editor, journalist, corporate comms person all rolled into one.

Talking about blogs, some bloggers are really able to enjoy a good life because of the quality of their blogs and the followership that they have. I would just term it as the Rich blogger and Poor blogger divide that I am trying to cross over to. Rich bloggers are also jobless like me...except that they are earning money from their blogs.

That was lunch for today. I ate only at 3 pm as I wasn't too hungry. Char Mee (instant noodles) home-cooked style. I know it looks real plain but it was super delicious.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lessons I Learnt From My Job Interview

Disastrous in some words. My job interview that is...

Well, the worst thing that can happen is that I do not learn from this experience. As such, I am writing down some of my experiences.

1. I need to research more about the company and job position that I am applying for.

2. I need to be able to communicate my transferable skills that I have obtained from other jobs into the position that is being offered.

3. I need to be able to give a very clear reason why I left my previous job.

4. I need to be able to explain how I have skills that can be useful to the organisation.

I suck at interviews. Hopefully, I won't be attending so many interviews that a book is published here. The four points listed above are just some of the learning points from today's interview.

Job Application and the Waiting Game

So the waiting game is here.... just waiting for replies from potential employers and waiting for interview results.

Such a passive waiting game which I can't really stand. I wish there was a more active stance I could take.

Tick, tock, tick, tock..

How should I bide my time as I wait for the results?

Time to go off for a short trip and to escape the low self-esteem syndrome that comes along with rejections?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sakuraya - Best Jap Food in Singapore?

I like Japanese food. Perhaps its due to the fact that I did not eat much Japanese food when I was young.

But with my budget tightening, I have cut down on my Jap food intake quite a lot as I tend to be pretty fussy about Jap food and only like to eat them at restaurants.

The one place that I like is Sushi tei. I find that their food is fresh and yummy. Consistency is however sometimes a problem as I went to the one at west coast when it just opened and I found it to be disappointing and not up to standard.

However, I went to Sakuraya yesterday (@ Anchorpoint Level 1 Beside 7-11) and I must say that their sashimi and sushi are of a superb standard too.

The reason why we went there was because we had already collected 20 stamps and this entitled us to a $50 discount voucher that we could redeem.

The wife ordered a sashimi set while I ordered a saba set. We also ordered maguro, salmon and tamago sushi. The bill added up to $51.79 and with the discount voucher, we only had to foot $1.80 for the bill!

It was a wonderful meal. The sashimi and sushi looked so fresh and tasted so good. What's more, it only cost me $1.80 for an unbelievable good meal. I have come to realised that Sakuraya has perhaps better Jap food than Sushi Tei. After being a loyal supporter of Sushi Tei for more than 4 years, I must say that Sakuraya has won my heart yesterday and now takes over the No.1 spot in my heart when it comes to Jap food.

Too bad I don't have any pictures taken from yesterday...

If you had a free $50 voucher to eat at any place you would like, where would it be?

P.S. Answering the above question won't win you a free $50 voucher

Income for January 2010

Checked my bank account yesterday and realised I got some special "bonus" from the government.

The 1st is a sum of $750 for baby bonus. This will come in handy.

The 2nd is a sum of $100 for GST credits. This will also come in handy.

With Chinese new year coming and the need to give hongbaos soon, the total sum of $850 will go nicely to tide us through this season.

I have also expanded on my passive income sources and hope to bring my passive income UP UP and UP for this year. January is over and it is no use crying over spilt milk. February is here and I hope that it will be a roaring good year for all my passive income sources.

I heard the story about apple trees recently and it got me thinking... how can I increase the number of apple trees I have? Everytime I see a tree, it gets me thinking.. Have I planted seeds for another apple tree today? Or am I relying solely on 1 apple tree alone?

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