Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Best Steak in Singapore?

Just ate at Astons today and felt that I had just eaten one of the best steaks in Singapore. Okay, I am pretty certain that there are better steaks around but this has to be the cheapest, most affordable and tastiest steak that I have eaten.

For those of you who know Astons, it is an unassuming Western restaurant that supposedly started out in a hawker(?) or foodcourt(?) somewhere in Singapore.  It slowly expanded and has several restaurants in Singapore.  It is a little like the Botak Jones stalls except that it is much better.

Ordering the Steak

I don't usually order steak when I eat from western food stalls in food courts or hawker centers.  The quality overall has been quite bad - at least based from my experience.  Many of the steaks are from dubious cuts and are either overcooked, tough or tasteless.

However, I decided to try the steak at Astons today.  They are after all quite well-known for their steaks (well, at least if I remember the food reviews correctly).  The last few occasions, I actually ate the burger so was thinking whether today was the day that I ought to jump out of my "comfort" zone.

I ordered a prime ribeye for $13.90.  The two side orders I chose were the coleslaw and onion rings.  Service was prompt and the dishes were ready in under 15 mins.

My Verdict

Loved the steak.  It was tender and cooked to perfection.  Other than the mushroom sauce which they seem to drizzle on everything (including their burgers), everything was perfect.  The onion rings were nice and crispy, the coleslaw was "oh so delicious"...  In fact, I wolfed down both the side orders before finishing the steak.

Will definitely eat it again if I visit Astons! Yum yum!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Saving for Retirement at 30

It’s starting to become the dream of more and more people, to be able to retire just after you leave your 20’s. So saving for retirement at 30 is sort of the new thing, the thing that many young professionals strive for  and something that can be in the back of people’s mind when they choose their occupation. The better job, the more money, and the earlier they can retire.

In a fluctuating world economy you have to take several things in to consideration if you’re seriously thinking about going in to retirement when you’re in your early 30’s. First of all, you need to look at how much money you can make in a month and in a year from your occupation. After that, the amount you can spare for an investment portfolio.

Let’s face it, unless you get a job that pays 8-10 thousand US Dollars every month you won’t have enough to get by for the next 50 years when you turn 30. So the best way of increasing your money if you have a steady job is by getting an investment portfolio. Invest your money in stocks, bare bonds, commodities, oil, gold and silver, and currency to get the best rate of return on your money.

Saving up for retirement at 30 with the help of an investment portfolio isn’t the easiest thing if you haven’t got
an idea how these things work. Then what you can do is get an investment adviser that can give you the best advice on where to invest your money for the best return.

We said previously that the money has to last for 50 years, and that’s true. The average life of a human is around 80 years, so if you’re looking at retiring at 30 you have to save up enough money for the coming 50 years. Now during your 20’s it is all about building your capital, that means a higher risk on your investments and putting more money in to markets that can have a large pay off.

When you decide to retire you will be thinking about keeping your capital, so making safe investments where you  will have a much lower pay off rate but much more stability.

The next thing to do is to choose where you’d like to retire to. The most common and cheapest places would be the Philippines, Thailand and even Singapore. South East Asia is becoming a more and more popular destination for Asians looking to retire early. Find out basic costs such as, average rent per month, health care, food, transportation and all the other things that you will spend money on in a month. When you find a reasonable estimate of what you need to get on well every month it’s time to start doing a bit of math.

Take your average monthly spending and multiply by 12. That’ll give you your annual spending. Take your annual  spending and multiply with 50 and you get an estimate of what you’ll need to get by for the next 50 years. So  for example in Thailand you might need 50 000 Baths per month, 600 000 Bath in one year and 30 000 000 Bath for the next 50 years. A way to save on your monthly cost is to purchase a house or apartment when you move over but that would mean you’d have to increase what you need before you actually move.

[This article is a guest post by a writer in Philippines.  Read more about retirement planning]

Sunday, January 29, 2012

First REIT and Ascott REIT Declare Dividends

First REIT just declared distribution/dividends of 1.93 cents per share.  A quick look at First REIT's dividend history gives me some sort of confidence to enter this REIT again.  I had previously sold off my entire shareholdings in it but have recently entered into it again buying 10 lots of it recently.  Since the distribution is paid quarterly, it looks like I will be receiving a small bonus every 3 months.  Not too bad for some passive income.  Based on my 10,000 shares, I figure that I will be receiving around $193 for Feb 2012.

Ascott REIT had also declared their semi annual dividends of slightly over 4 cents per share.  I currently hold 15 lots in Ascott REIT so that should also provide me with a neat sum of around $600 for Feb 2012.

I am also still waiting for my dividends from Gamco Global Gold Trust (GGN).  This is a monthly dividend stock and though the dividend is paid on 24 Jan, I figure that I will only receive the cheque in late Jan or early Feb.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Investing in Real Estate

Real estate is usually one of the most expensive purchases that a person ever makes. The cost of real estate has risen significantly worldwide over the last decade until the economic problems came to life. Even now that housing prices have stabilized, they are still much higher than at the start of the last decade.

This can make it difficult for people to buy or invest in real estate, but it is great for anyone who bought before the prices started to rise. As any loans on the property are paid off over time, the cost of living there will be limited to any taxes and repair bills.

Advantages of Real Estate

As well as providing you with somewhere to live, or work, real estate can really work as an investment. If you own housing, you can rent it out to bring in a nice amount of money every month to supplement your salary. You will have to pay out for any repairs, and bad tenants can do a lot of damage, but many landlords have an agency that takes care of all that for you. Another advantage of property is the high cost of it. It might cost you a lot of money to buy, but you can usually sell it for a profit. Many landlords accumulate a portfolio of property that they use as a retirement fund, and sell it off when it is time to retire.

Disadvantages

Real estate is really expensive, and it can be difficult to borrow the money you need to buy a property. This can make it very difficult to start investing in real estate, although treating it like a business and presenting a solid plan to your bank may help if you want an investment property. A lot of people also end up asset rich and cash poor.

Choosing Real Estate

The hard part is choosing which real estate to invest in. Your intended use of the property will determine which is suitable. A house for your family might be a completely different choice to a property intended for rental to the holiday market in a resort area for example.

If you have the necessary skills, then you can make a lot of money by buying properties that need renovating and performing the necessary repairs. Your skills will enable you to perform the repairs quickly and cheaply and you can turn around real estate like this for a profit within a short space of time.

Building and maintenance skills are also useful if you want to be a landlord. By doing the repairs yourself it will save on the costs of paying for skilled craftsmen. It will also save money if you can manage the real estate yourself and deal with the tenants, but many people prefer to use an agency to do that.

Real estate can be a great property investment that can make a great profit, but can lead to large losses. Anyone considering property as an investment needs to research the market properly and invest in the right property in the best location they can afford.

[This is a guest post]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How Much of Salary to Save

Based on a recent online survey, it was found that 2 out of 3 Singapore workers were saving no more than 20 per cent of their monthly salary. How much salary do I save?

I figured that I am currently saving about 30% of my monthly salary.  This goes into savings plans, bank deposits or stock investments.  This is probably possible for me because I have kept my "wants" to the bare minimal.  Apart from the occasional dining at restaurants, I probably do not spend much on anything else.  No gadgets, clothes or whatever.  So most of my expenditure is really going into my needs and paying for the bare essentials.

Based on my rough calculations, I also figure that I am possibly able to save as much as 50% of my salary if I really want to.  But that will really mean cutting back on many of the "luxury" items that I can afford.  Saving comes really easy to me as I am pretty much of a saver rather than a spender.  I do not see the need to have or own the latest toys and gizmos.  Being frugal is perhaps part of me =)  And that is perhaps why I have written posts like:
  1. What am I saving for?
  2. Saving Money on Coffee
  3. How Much to Save
  4. Saving for My Child's Education
As many people have always advised, it really is not about how much you save.  The most important thing is to get into the habit of saving.  Try to build up an emergency fund and also set up a disciplined savings plan for retirement.  Thereafter, it should get quite easy as you discover more and more ways to save money.  Like they say, the first step is always the hardest.



Monday, January 23, 2012

What Should I Do With My Ang Baos?

Recently, I asked readers for their views on what should I do with my annual bonus.  This was really triggered by reading the newspapers and learning that most Singaporeans actually intend to spend their annual bonuses instead of saving it.

Since the Lunar New Year is upon us, I am sure many readers are still in the privileged group (i.e. unmarried) and are still entitled to collect red packets (or what we commonly call as Ang Baos in Mandarin).  Again, I post the same question:  What will you do with the money in your red packet?  

Or for those of you who are no longer entitled to collect red packets, what do you wish that the receivers of your red packets will use the money for?

At the same time, I will like to wish all readers a Happy Lunar New Year!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Retirement Age and Retirement Planning

As soon as we settle into working life we start to look forward to retirement - that great day when we can leave work for the last time and be free to enjoy our golden years. For most people, this happens at the birthday after you reach the government retirement age. Some people are lucky enough to have the financial security they need for early retirement.  In either case, some form of  retirement planning will be required.  Retirement planning basically involves finding out the age that you will retire at and working towards saving enough money so that you will be able to live comfortably without drawing a salary when retirement comes.

The Retirement Age Act

In Singapore, the Retirement Age Act determines the minimum age of retirement. A person can currently retire the day before their 62nd birthday. This may change in the future, and as the average population ages the retirement age is likely to increase like it has in other countries. In some parts of Europe the retirement age is as high as 67 currently.

Employment Contracts

The employer should give the employee advance notice of their retirement unless their employment contract explicitly specifies it. It is also unnecessary for the employer to give any retirement benefit unless it is in the contract.

Employers do not have to retire an employee once they reach retirement age. If both are happy, then they can continue to work for as long as the employee remains fit and able to perform their duties.

Wage Reductions

To help companies in Singapore continue to employee older people, it is legal for them to reduce the wages of employees over the age of 60. This can be a straight salary reduction, or a reduction in any other employee-related costs such as bonus, benefits and pension contributions.

This can lead to experienced people losing up to 10% of their salary as soon as they celebrate their sixtieth birthday. Luckily, employers cannot just base the reduction on age alone, but must take into account other reasonable factors. These can include the employee’s ability to perform their duties fully as they age.

It is important to remember that the 10% is a maximum reduction and can be taken off in one chunk or in several smaller deductions. This allows the employer to effect a gradual reduction to the employee’s salary over a period of time.

Working after Retirement Age of 62

The Singapore Retirement Act does not allow for compulsory retirement at the age of 62, and neither does it stop anyone continuing to work beyond that age if they want to. Anyone who wants to continue working should arrange it with their employer. Re-employment after age 62 is also probably going to be a norm in the future.

Other Exceptions

Some fixed-term employment contracts are immune from the Retirement Act. People on these contracts can continue to work as normal and then retire at the end of the contract. A notification exists to the Retirement Act that specifies which people are exempt.

Conclusion

Retirement usually marks the end of your "paid" working life, and for many people it is something to look forward to. Others love work and try to continue working for as long as they possibly can. Whatever your views, it is important to know the laws in your country concerning retirement so that you know what are the likely scenarios (e.g. pay cut)  when it is your time to retire.

"How to retire in Singapore?" is perhaps a question that is often on people's minds.  For some people, it might even involve drastic moves like moving to a cheaper country to retire (read: Retire in Philippines).  Well, if you are interested, you can also read some of my thoughts about retirement and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Land Banking Investment Risks


[Photo credits: Image by kwerfeldein]

Land banking is an investment scheme where someone buys a piece of land and sells it later for a profit. Sometimes they divide the land into a number of smaller plots and sell each one to generate a profit. The investor can hold the rights to the land for a short time and make a quick profit or hold the position for years before selling the land.

Often the plot is a piece of pristine land that is agricultural in nature, but it can also be former industrial land which might be contaminated. If the landowner is able to get building permission to develop or rezone the land,  it will increase the value of the land, and they can make a profit by selling it to a building developer. Sometimes the land is completely undeveloped and it might be possible to use it for farming.

Advantages of Land Banking

One of the great advantages of land banking over other kinds of investment is this:  the investor owns something that physically exists. This is different to stock and commodity traders who own a certificate, a piece of the business which is not really tangible to certain people or in other more complex finance instruments, they are just "numbers on a computer". Land banking thus often appeals to a different kind of investor who like the idea that their investment is actually a tangible asset.

Problems with Land Banking

I have written previously to beware about land banking, primarily because it is often an unregulated investment in many countries.  In a previous poll that I did on this blog, respondents also felt that land banking was one of the more toxic investments around.   Most people in Singapore are also probably aware of the case surrounding Profitable Plots which was involved in land banking.

Like any other form of investment, the price of land can go down as well as up. If the piece of land contains industrial contamination or can never get permission for development then it becomes effectively worthless.

Another problem with land banking is that a number of unscrupulous people have used it as a way to defraud people. They buy a plot of cheap land and then produce fake documents that make it look like it is worth more than it actually is and sell it on to unsuspecting investors. The rogue land bankers just vanish with the money leaving the investors with a worthless tract of land.

Locations of the Land

Land bankers can, in theory, invest in land anywhere in the world. However, some countries have laws that prevent non-nationals from owning land. If you are considering investing in land it is important to consult a lawyer who is an expert in the laws where you are buying the land. This will help to prevent any legal problems surprising you in the future.

Environmental Issues

In some areas of the world, virgin land is being taken and cleared to become agricultural land. This virgin land is often some way from existing agricultural land and infrastructure making it cheap to purchase. The investor can then hold the rights on the land until the infrastructure moves closer to it. At this point, they can rent it out to farmers or sell it for a profit. It might also be that the land is in an area suitable for mining and the investor buys the land in the hope to sell it to a mining company. In either case, the government could decide that the land lies within a protected area

Buyers Beware

Land banking is one way for people to invest and actually have the feeling of owning something tangible. It can be a great way to make money, but it is also a risky business. Anyone considering this should probably get legal advice first and only risk money that they can afford to lose.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Should I Do With My Annual Bonus?

The Sunday newspaper carried an article on how people were intending to spend their annual bonuses.  While most have or were planning to spend it on holidays, clothes and IT gadgets, others were thinking about saving or investing a part of it.

The article got me thinking on what I ought to do with my annual bonus.  Currently, it is seating in the bank and I realised that it is not being put to good use.  One idea that I have been toying with is to pay off my car loan which is still outstanding.  The idea of being a little closer to being debt free is just so appealing right now.  By paying off my car loan, I will just be left with my housing mortgage loan.

Another idea will be to invest that sum of money in a mixture of REITs as well as monthly dividend stocks like Gamco Global Gold & Natural Resources Trust (GGN).  This will serve as a passive income flow for me.

For REITs, I am choosing between Suntec REIT, Sabana REIT and LMIR Trust.

Any ideas or suggestions from anyone?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Investing in Silver

Since man first discovered silver, it has been an object of desire for both its value and its use as a form of money. This usually means that investing in silver gives a good long-term return to the investment.  Not too long ago, I wrote about buying silver in Singapore, how I was buying more silver (for collection purposes) and also some of my broader investment thoughts for 2012.  Of course, I warn readers not to take what I write as any form of personal finance advice.

[Picture credits to digitalmoneyworld]

The Silver Market

The market for silver is not as big as the gold market, but is still worth an estimated $15 billion annually. Traditionally, the price of silver tracks the price of gold. The ratio was set by United States law at 1:15 in 1792, but price increases in both metals meant that the gold/silver ratio rose to over 1:60 in 2009. The price of silver has continued to rise and reached record levels in 2011, with the average price reaching $41.20 for one troy ounce.

Like most commodities, silver trades on a market with traders buying and selling the metal to make a profit. The London silver bullion market is one of the main places where it trades. Another is iShares.

Silver in Banks

In some countries investors can walk into a bank and buy silver bullion over the counter. This can then be taken home and stored in a safe or kept in a safe deposit box in the bank. It is even possible to store your silver in allocated or unallocated storage with a bank or dealer to keep it safe.

Silver comes in a variety of bars, including:
* 1000 oz troy bars (31 kg)
* 100 oz troy bars (3.11 kg)
* 1 kg bars
* 10 oz try bars (311 g)
* 1 oz troy bars (31.1 g)
* Odd weight bars

The most popular bars are the 100 oz troy, with popular brands including Engelhard and Johnson Matthey. The branded bars are usually worth more than unbranded or odd weight bars.

Investing in Silver

Silver can be both a long-term and short-term investment. In the short-term, investors can trade silver for a profit in the same way as any other commodity by always aiming to buy low and sell high. Market fluctuations can give profits on each trade, but also losses meaning that this can be a risky investment as one needs to know how to time the market (something I admit I am totally not good at!)

Over the longer term, the price of silver has generally risen, with a sharp rise over the last few years. This is great news for anyone that owned silver before 2005, but not so good for anyone thinking of investing now. Of course the market price could continue to rise, but nobody knows for sure and it could fall back down to earlier levels.

Over the past few years, investing in silver has been a great way to make money. The price has increased by eight times in 11 years and doubled since last year, but that does not mean that it is guaranteed to continue that way so never risk any money that you cannot afford to lose.

You might also be interested in reading the recent article on Investing in Gold.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Investing In Gold

Gold is one of the most valuable and desirable substances known to man. For many years it has been a status symbol as well as a form of currency since the days before money. It is also the most popular material for making jewellery, with roughly half of all gold being used in this way.

Gold Price


For many years, the price of gold was a relative standard for currencies around the world. This started to change in the 1970s when the value of the US dollar stopped being linked to the price of gold and finished in 2000 when the Swiss Franc was the last currency to remove the link.

Like all commodities, it is possible to treat gold as a short-term and long-term investment. Over hours, days or weeks, the fluctuation in the price of gold on an exchange allows traders to buy and sell for hopefully a profit. With luck or skill, a gold trader can buy some gold at a low price, sell it at a higher price and buy more when the price drops. Repeating the process allows an investor to make a lot of money, but if it goes wrong they could make a loss on each trade.

Historically, the price of gold has risen at a steady rate making it a great safe investment. In fact, during the recent financial crisis many people turned to gold as an alternative way of saving. This is a relatively safe way of investing in gold, but still leaves you with the problem of finding somewhere to keep it safe. Most experts recommend that gold is a rainy day investment, like an insurance policy that should be kept until you absolutely need to sell.

Gold Coins/ Bullion


Another way to invest in gold is gold bullion coins. These cost slightly more than the spot price of gold, but are easier to buy, trade and store than larger pieces. Typical sizes include 1/10oz, 1/4oz, 1/2oz and 1oz. The governments of the UK, USA, Canada, China and most other major world powers mint these coins, so they are very reputable.

Mining Stocks or Close Ended Funds


Apart from investing in physical gold itself, one can also invest in the mining companies that are involved in gold production.  There are also certain funds that invest in various mining stocks.  One of these close ended funds is Gamco Global Gold & Natural Resources Trust which pays out a monthly dividend.  If you have been reading and following this blog, you probably know that I have loaded up on GGN just recently..


Storing Gold

Many major banks will store gold for customers, as will specialized gold exchanges and trading houses. You can even walk in to some banks and hand over your money in exchange for a gold ingot. Once you have carried this heavy bar home, you need somewhere secure to store it. If you do not have anywhere secure enough then most banks will have a vault that you can use for a fee.

Every major bank and most of the governments in the world store gold. Since the start of the economic woes in 2007, the world banks have become net buyers of gold which shows just how great an investment it really is.

This desire for gold and its scarcity and it being difficult to obtain means that it should continue to keep its value, but like anything the price of gold is not immune to market fluctuations and could even crash.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Retire in Philippines


7107 islands of heaven; that is what you’ll find if you go to the Philippines.

Expat’s from all over the world are taking their hard earned money to the beautiful island paradise of Philippines to enjoy an early retirement at a place where they can afford to live and be treated like Kings and Queens. Talk about retirement planning!

The long, golden sand beaches stretch for miles and miles around island after island. Cruising between them with your own boat for a week or two to explore a new hidden place in paradise along with your spouse, partner or entire family that you brought with you when you made what most likely will be the best decision of your life.

The South China Sea is home to the Philippines, a tropical paradise that can boast hot and humid weather 24 hours a day for 365 days of the year. Along with the amazing weather, the quality of life when you have a normal retirement payout every month is excellent. Before making this life changing decision there are several things you have to consider.

First of all, you have to think about where you’re going to live and how much you want to pay for it. The most expensive place in the Philippines by far is Manila. If you go to some of the regions outside or to remote islands you can find houses, apartments and bungalows for a lot less than in the large city of Manila. You can get accommodation from P10,000 per month all the way up to P50,000. 10,000 Philippine Pesos is around 220 USD.

The second biggest expense you’ll have is your utilities. That means water, electricity, phone etc. All of the things that will keep your house up and running and that will keep you nice and comfortable in your own little paradise. Your average cost for all your utilities will end up on average around P8,000.

Food and groceries is essential for anyone’s living and it is exactly the same in the Philippines. Now you can go down two roads, you either go for locally and nationally produced food or you go for imported food. Now the imported food will be at a higher cost, still, nowhere near the amounts you were paying at home. If you go for the local food you can save even more money. Budget about P30,000 for a single month if you’re not living by yourself.

Now we’re going to get to the luxuries that you can afford to have when you move to the Philippines if you have a decent budget. Two major ones are a personal driver and a maid. You can get a personal driver for between P3.000 and P5.000 a month, so under 100 USD! All you have to do is make sure you provide food during the day and a vehicle for them to drive in if they don’t have one. A maid is even cheaper than that. For about P2.000 every month you can have a maid doing all the work around the house that you never felt like doing or downright hated.

Taking all these things in to account, the Philippines is an amazing please to settle down after your hard years of working. Spend your money wisely and live the rest of your life being treated as a King or Queen.

Only in the Philippines.

[This article was written by a resident of the Phillipines.]

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

210,000 Pageviews and Counting

Well, they say the first 200,000 is the easiest part (or at least I made that up).  But anyway, after a roller coaster ride through the year, I checked my stats recently to discover that this blog has garnered over 200,000 pageviews.  It is 210,000 today and I can only say that it is exciting to know that people are coming back for more.  At least, it is a sort of comfort, that somebody is actually reading what I am writing.

I will like to thank all readers for their continuous support.  This is also to readers who hail from outside Singapore like the United States, Malaysia, Slovenia, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Russia, Japan, Phillipines, India, etc..  Perhaps you just stumbled upon this blog but I do hope that you find something useful that you can takeaway with you.  Feel free to drop a comment and say "hi" too!

Bought more Gamco Global Gold, Natural Resources and Income Trust

After reflecting on some of my investment thoughts for 2012, I entered into another position to buy GGN which currently gives a monthly dividend of $0.14 per month.  The fund's investment objective is to provide a high level of current income. Overall, I think I am pretty bullish on commodities and thought that this might make a good investment since it is a close-ended fund which invests primarily in the equity securities of gold and natural resource companies.

My entering into a position in this stock was also partially influenced by Bryan Perry (who wrote the book about 25% Cash Machine) was bullish on this stock. This purchase makes it my first stock purchase for the year 2012 and I thought I better log it down so that I do not lose track of my investments.




Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Poly Graduates Gross Monthly Pay Rises

According to the latest graduate employment survey conducted by the 5 polytechnics, the median gross monthly salary of poly graduates have gone up by 2.8 per cent or $50 compared to 2010 figures.  That means poly graduates who completed their studies in 2011 and not liable for National Service could command a salary of S$1,850.  Those with National Service earned a median gross monthly salary of S$2,100 compared to S$2,000.

The overall employment rate was also relatively high at 94.7% though it was down from 2010 figures of 95.4%

Poly graduates who commanded the higher salaries studied Health Science and Built Environment, and Engineering & Maritime.

If you look at the starting pay for university graduates, the difference in starting pay between a university graduate and poly graduate is probably greater than $600.

Investment Thoughts for 2012

Today is the 10th day into 2012 and I realised that I have not thought out my investment plan, made any resolutions or done anything fruitful in the past 10 days!  And there has been this constant nagging in my head that tells me that I ought to focus my attention on a few things and try not to spread out my efforts too thinly.  So perhaps now is a good time to update on what are some of my thoughts for 2012.  This includes some of my personal reflections and does not constitute any investment advice.

Passive Income - Monthly Dividend Stocks and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

High on my list is perhaps creating a passive flow of income for myself either through stocks that provide monthly dividends or REITs which either provide quarterly or half-yearly distributions. For monthly dividend stocks, one has to turn to the US market.  One of the monthly dividend stocks that I have bought into is Gamco Global Gold (GGN).  REITs on the other hand are easily available on the Singapore Stock Exchange or SGX.  I am looking at diversifying my REITs holding as I am currently heavily invested in Ascott REIT.

Gold is Money and Nothing Else


For those of you who have been following me, you are perhaps aware that I have been looking towards silver both as a means to hedge against inflation as well as just for collecting purposes.  Buying silver in Singapore is still limited to only a few shops but hopefully this certain industry/sector will slowly develop.

Investing in this Site


I have also decided that I ought to invest a bit more time and money on this site.  This includes some facebook advertising as well as my plan to work on a eBook.

These are all still works in progress but I certainly hope that the perfectionist in me does not cause me to procrastinate or be paralysed such that I do nothing at the end of the year.  It has been my longest desire to write a book and an eBook might just serve that purpose.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How Silver Coins Are Made

I thought this was a rather informative video on how silver coins are actually made.  The video also shows how the die is made.  Enjoy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Poor People

Some time ago, I wrote about the poor people around us and also some reflection on helping the poor. This message struck  me again even as I was out having dinner today.

After dinner, while I was walking around, I saw a middle-aged man staring intently into a rubbish bin.  At first, I thought he was just rummaging through to look for empty cans which old people often collect to sell for money.  But to my horror, I saw him staring at a plastic plate which had some food left over in it.

He then proceeded to eat the leftovers from the bin.  I was quite shock and taken aback that I was actually witnessing such a scene in front of me.  At the same time, I did not know what to make out of it as he was holding a cigarette in the other hand even as he was eating out of the bin.

Just a few seconds.  But it left a lasting impression on me and will probably haunt me.  I have always known that there are poor people but to witness such a sight is quite heart breaking.  And that is to know that I frequently waste so much food myself while there are actually people who are hungry enough to eat out of the rubbish bin.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to Pronounce REIT

I realised to my horror that I have been pronouncing "REIT" (the acronym for real estate investment trust) or "REITs" wrongly.  For the longest time, I have been pronouncing it such that it rhymes almost with "red" except with a slight "t" sound at the end.

After watching some videos online, I think the correct way pronunciation is actually something that rhymes with "sweet" or "beet".

Hopefully, I will be able to change the way I pronounce it from henceforth.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Warren Buffet MBA Talk

Warren Buffet gives a talk.  Worth watching.  Leave a comment and tell me what you have learnt.



Monday, January 2, 2012

Thoughts of a Blogger

So I have been a "blogger" for a few years now.  And I must say that my foray into blogging was purely incidental.  And since the new year is here, I reflected on what I have been blogging about for the past few years and also how I would like to see things going forward.

The weirdest part about being a blogger is that people are actually viewing my thoughts. 200,000 over pageviews since I first started this blog.  That is quite a feat considering that the first few months of my blog, I was only getting 1 to 2 visitors per week!  So to know that there are actually so many people reading this makes me "frightened" at times.  I hope that they do not take me too seriously even though my posts often sound serious =)

Another striking thing that occured to me is the amount of email that I have to deal with.  I get lots of requests for link exchanges, personal finance queries, advertising queries, guest posts requests, etc.  It doesn't help that I do not check my email that frequently.  Not to forget all the spam that comes in.  It means that sometimes, I do not have the time to respond to emails or reply to queries which sometimes get lost in the hundreds of email.  So I apologise if I have missed out your email pertaining to some request.  For link exchanges, please look at my stated policy under the FAQs.  So do read them first before emailing me.  Leaving a comment is a good way for me to remember to respond though I sometimes have little time to respond to comments too.  A million apologies again.

I am also disgusted by the lack of quality in my writing.  If you know how much time I actually spend on writing and vetting my own work, you will probably forgive me.

Well, the most funny thing is that even though this is a personal finance blog (well, sort of), the greatest number of hits are actually on my non-investment related posts like Best Breakfast Places in Singapore. It sometimes makes me wonder whether I should be blogging about something else instead.

For 2012, I hope that I will be able to set aside more time to engage with readers.  To really have a conversation on this blog.; to build up each other's knowledge and financial know-how.  And to share with one another the ups and downs of life.  By now, I hope you have gotten a slight glimpse and insight into my thoughts.

Start of a New Year

So it is the start of a new year.  And I haven't had much time to do any reflection on 2011.  There are lots of things that I want to accomplish.  At the same time, I know that there are just too many distractions in life.  Will this year be significantly different from last year?  Or will it be the same?  Why don't you tell me what you think?

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