Importance of Emergency and Opportunity Funds

Today is the last day of year 2012. I am happy to note that I managed to build up my personal Emergency Fund that allows me and my family to survive without my income for six months.
It took me more than two years to save up this amount of money. This is because I had used up all my personal savings for my wedding last year. In addition, I am also the sole-breadwinner, had a baby girl and owns a car. Therefore, it took me quite some time to save up this amount of money. My partner and myself decided that we would only dip into fund when I lost my job or faced a personal finance crisis. Henceforth, we put the fund into a fixed deposit.
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SG Wealth Builder

I always encourage young people who just entered the workforce to build up their Emergency Fund as soon as possible. Life is always unpredictable. You never know when you will lose your job or encounter personal finance crisis.

Having an emergency fund can help to provide short term security against market uncertainties. It allows you and your family to carry on life as per normal whilst you embark on the recovery journey. Without this sum of money as interim support, you have no choice but to borrow from friends and relatives. Personally, I don’t like to, and have yet, to borrow from my friends and relatives.
Of course, having this Emergency Fund is only one of the key elements of my personal finance. It would not help to enhance my wealth nor elevate me to another wealth level. To me, it is just another “shield” or protection for personal finance. My next course of action is to build up my Opportunity Fund – war chest for investments and business
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Importance of buying insurance when you are healthy

As 2012 is coming to an end, I am reviewing my financial health status. I got married last year and this year my baby girl was born. Therefore, one of the outcome of my review is to purchase the Aviva SAF Group Term Life Policy. I think it is one of the most value for money term policies in Singapore. For as little as S$4.21, applicants can be insured up to a maximum coverage of $1000,000. Of course, only NSFs, NSmen and personnel working for MINDEF are eligible for this policy.

The need to have adequate insurance cover really hit me hard twenty years ago when I was in secondary school. My dad, who was the sole breadwinner, suffered from stroke then and was unable to work. My family lost our sole income and to make things worse, my dad did not purchase any insurance covers. As a result, we went through a period of financial hardship. On hindsight, if my father had bought any life insurance policies when he was healthy, our family situation would definitely be better.

career

It is important that you insured yourself for the correct amount of protection. In addition, it is important that you buy the correct policies. I know it might sound hollow to you as I am not a financial advisor, but then again, my guiding principles on buying insurance policies is solely for protection. I see no point in buying whole-life, investment-linked  or endowment policies. These policies cost so much premiums but provide very limited coverage. Henceforth, I would only purchase term policies which provide large coverage for little premiums. When I was young (19 years old), I was sold expensive whole-life insurance policies and I only realized my mistake a few years ago. By then, the damage has already been done

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Year end bonuses

It is that time of the year when salaried workers collect their year end bonuses. A couple of weeks ago, the government had also declared 13th month and 0.70 month variable bonuses for all civil servants. With the world economy still in the doldrums, I believe most Singapore workers’ year end bonuses would be modest, in view of anticipated moderated growth for Singapore economy.

This year will be the 7th time I am collecting year-end bonuses. I will be receiving 2.5 months of bonuses, excluding 13th month. The amount is not big, but substantial enough for me to settle my renovation and insurance loans. I also intend to set aside some money for some investments and my baby’s endowment plan. I targeted to settle my car loan by next year-end, using next year’s bonuses. With that, I would only need to worry about my housing loan.

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It is important for me to settle these loans as soon as possible as I am currently the house hold sole breadwinner. For those in the same situation as me, you would understand the pressure I am facing. On looking back, this period marks an important milestone for me as I embark on my wealth journey toward financial freedom. It has not been an easy ride but I am glad to have overcome this challenging chapter of my life.

Most Singaporeans had already made plans on how they are going to use their bonuses. Some planned to go for overseas holiday while others planned to buy big-ticket items like car or house. My advice for those who had just started out working is to exercise financial prudent and use your bonuses to pay off your study or any other loans. The interest incurred, especially for credit cards. can be scary if you keep rolling

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Earn your first million as an appreneur

Given the prevalent use of mobile phone, is it possible to earn your first million as an appreneur?
Nowadays, most people carry smart phones and download apps. This represent a good opportunity to make good money from making apps. In fact, with the advent of online technology, the entry barrier to develop an app has been lowered. Nowadays, you don’t need much programming skill to develop a simple app. All you need is a good solid idea that has not been developed as an app and is useful in our daily lives.
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Every now and then, you would come across articles on wonder kids who became rich from developing apps. Some of these kids were not even 10 years old when they made their first million! So now everybody, whether you are old or young, has a chance to become rich through developing apps.
You stand a much higher chance earning your first million from developing an app than striking the toto or lotteries. And you don’t need to quit your job to become a full time appreneur either. You can develop apps after work and at your own sweet pace.

If you don’t like the process of developing an app but nevertheless would like to own an app, you can engage a developer for help. That would of course cost money and would be a double whammy to your wallet if your app is a flop.

There are developers who are willing to develop free apps for customers who provided the creative idea. In such win-win situation, the arrangement would be profit sharing between the developer and the idea provider. But you need to be careful that the developer might steal your idea. So you should establish an intellectual propriety agreement before you engage a developer. Do you have
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Retiring in Singapore

Recently, on a flight to Japan for work, I watched Andy Lau and Deanie Ip’s A Simple Life. The heartwarming film is based on a true story of a producer and his servant. It is about a relationship between a young master called Roger (Lau) and the servant of the family who raised him, Sister Peach (Ip). I had a lot of mixed feelings after watching the film and decided to blog down my thoughts.

Just like Hong Kong, Singapore is also facing the ageing population issue. To tackle the “silver tsunami”, the government is currently building up the infrastructure, such as nursing homes, community hospitals, training more nurses, doctors and therapists. But I suppose there is so much our government can do, in terms of hardware.
retirement
In Singapore, we are still lacking in software to manage the ageing issue. For example, every now and then, we read in the news of elderly who passed away unknown in their homes. Their decomposed were only discovered after their neighbours reported foul stench to the police. I believe as more and more Singaporeans choose to be single, the issue of providing community support to lone seniors will be a problem in the next few decades. Singaporeans also need to adjust our mindsets and accept that nursing homes and community hospitals are needed to support the needs of the elderly. Our social attitude of “NIMBY” (Not in my backyard) need to change.
In the film, Sister Peach did not marry and was fortunate that Roger took care of her after she was down with stroke. As Roger had a busy career and needed to shuttle between China and Hong Kong for work, he had no choice but to send Sister Peach to a nursing home. Initially, Sister Peach was concerned about the cost
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Reckless HDB buyers

Lately, one of the fellow bloggers responded to one of my previous posting which criticized him for promoting unethical values in The Finance SG. I always believe in differences in views and accepted that different people can have different opinions and outlook in life.
But promoting unethical values that border on criminal act of false information declaration is another matter altogether (the culprit actually lied to the authority and gave fake information for delaying the signing of agreement so that he can use his girlfriend’s December CPF bonuses to pay for the downpayment).
Property

The culprit got the cheek to claim he got the money to pay the downpayment. Fine then go ahead and pay in cold hard cash please. By delaying the payment, the blogger is actually depriving another deserving Singaporean couple of a chance to own a HDB flat. My sister-in-law is among those who are affected by such scumbags.

This fellow needs a reality check but obviously he is still a student and has not stepped into the working world.

And to top it off, his younger sister of 21 years old is also applying for a HDB flat after getting into a relationship of 7 months. No wonder the government is implementing measures to prevent young couples from abusing the system. It is irresponsible people like this blogger and his sister who messed up our HDB system.

These are immature young adults who lack personal financial knowledge and working life experience. They apply for HDB flats without knowing the consequences and heavy commitment. And this investment blogger is actually supposedly to be a role model for his younger sister.

To me, this blogger is not a man. I challenge his girlfriend to read this article and asked if he is worth her love. This blogger has no

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My investment adventure with YHM (formerly known as China Enersave)

I invested in YHM, formerly known as China Enersave, since 2008. Recently, I noted that it is currently one of the top traded stock in Singapore stock market. I would like to share with my readers my investment experience on this stock.

Back in 2008, China Enersave was a company that specialized in building and operating biomass generation plants in China. The business model was good as it collected waste biomass from farmers in China and used the waste as feedstock to generate electricity.

Personal finance
However, instead of focussing on the renewable energy sector, the company made the terrible mistake of investing in one coal powerplant. The management team hope to generate revenue from the coal powerplant to fuel the expansion of its biomass plants. Apparently this strategy did not work out as the fluctuating coal prices hurt their revenue from the coal powerplant. Second mistake by the company was that it had diversified it’s business ventures too much and had lost focus. At one point, it had 7 to 10 business associates/subsidiaries, ranging from property investment, renewable energy and marine scaffolding.

Because of these factors, coupled with the financial crisis in 2008-2009, the company was on the brink of being liquidated in 2011. In 2012, the management was changed and the company changed its focus to marine offshore operations. It subsequently changed its name to YHM, which stands for Yew Hock Marine.

One of the amazing things about China Enersave is its ability to attract white knights investors to its rescue despite losing money year after year. In its heady days, they even counted Dubai soverign wealth fund as one of their institutional backers. Unfortunately, because of mismanagement, they lost the plot and subsequently everything went downhill. At one point, the company even have to pay their accountant through issuing

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Lending money to friends

Recently, one of my army acquaintances texted me to borrow money from me. He is one of my reservist army bunkmates and I got to know him only a few years back (both of us were from different units during active times).
When I received his message for help, I was a bit apprehensive to lend him the money. This is because my father was hospitalized recently and my wife is a full-time homemaker. And I have a baby daughter. So I thought to myself if I had any spare cash, my priority would go to my immediate family first.
After some thinking, I texted him back and explained my financial situation to him. I also suggested to lend him $50 instead. He understood my plight and politely turned down my suggestion.
Gold and Silver Bullion
Gold and Silver Bullion

I suppose most of us would face financial difficulties at certain points in our lives. Sometimes we really need a helping hand from close friends to tide us over obstacles. I believe in this case, my friend genuinely needed my help but unfortunately, I could not support his request due to my family circumstances. I wish him all the best and hope things would turn out well for him.

But somehow I think he could have been more sincere in his request. Perhaps he should have dropped me a call to explain that he is facing severe financial hardship instead of sending me a text. Perhaps he should not have requested me to bank transfer him the money in his initial message, before I even agreed to lend him the money. No friends would like to be treated as an ATM machine!

Sometimes ago, I read an article from The Straits Times on the issue of lending money to friends or relatives. I shared

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5 room HDB BTO flat

I came across a blogger in The Finance SG and felt compelled to blog down my thoughts. Apparently this blogger and his girlfiriend had purchased a 5-room HDB BTO flat but had difficulty forking out $4000 cash for the balance downpayment. He is still a full-time student and has no income.

Lack of integrity
After reading his article, I can only said this blogger has no integrity at all. He bragged that he managed to fool the HDB into delaying the signing of the agreement lease for many times. This is because he don’t have the cash to pay the balance downpayment and has to depend on his girlfriend’s year end bonus and use her CPF savings to pay for it.

Property

To me, this fellow don’t deserve the flat at all. Obviously he don’t have the financial capability to afford the flat, so HDB should have given the flat to more deserving applicants. In fact, I wondered aloud how in the bloody world did his Housing Loan Eligibility got approved? The couple’s monthly income is only $2400 and this guy is still studying. Either HDB is not doing their due diligence or this blogger is telling half truth.

Self-denial and overestimation of ability
One of the blogger’s readers pointed out that if he cannot even afford $4000, he has no business buying such a huge flat. Of course he denied and claimed he can afford it. To me, this blogger don’t know what he is doing. We Chinese has a saying that goes “If you don’t have such big head, don’t wear such big hat”. It is good to have dreams and goals in life. But it is not okay to overestimate your abilities and overstretch yourselves. Furthermore, this fellow has no job, no income. Even if he managed to

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Singapore government revamped Medishield

On 10 Oct 2012, I wrote an article on “The state of healthcare in Singapore” and criticized the limitations of 3M (Medisave, Medishield and Medifund). Two days after my blog posting was published, the Singapore government immediately announced changes in the Medishield, our national healthcare insurance. Among the changes included the coverage and claim limits for policyholders.

Readers might call it pure coincidence. After all, the changes would take effect only in March next year, even though it was announced two days after my blog posting. I would like to think so but more importantly, the response validates my concerns of the state of healthcare in Singapore. In my previous posting, I had criticized Medishield’s fine print of “SGD50,000 maximum claim per policy year”. The government noted that and stated that they would increase the cap to SGD70,000 next year.

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Some readers may argue that enhancement is incremental only but I feel that at least the government is moving in the right direction. In fact, the announced changes in the Medishield only served to reinforce my argument that it is time for our national insurance policy to be enhanced. Going forward, I feel that the next step should be to relax the ruling on the use of Medisave and also to review the eligibility requirements of Medifund.

Some of my readers had commented in my previous posting that it is unreasonable of me to request government to intervene on healthcare yet at the same time expect the government to adopt a “hands-off approach” on potential investment scams. Well first of all, I respect all my readers’ views but ultimately they have to understand the fundamentals of issues discussed in this blog. Unlike personal investments, the government have the obligation and duty to provide affordable healthcare to citizens.

We all grow

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The state of healthcare in Singapore

The past few weeks has been very distressing for my family. My dad was hopitalized and warded in the intensive care unit for pneumonia. During this period, we received a couple of calls from the hospital informing us that my dad was in very critical condition and that we should visit him immediately.
Thankfully, he pulled through and is now warded in the general ward. At the back of our mind, we were also very concerned about the costs incurred because we are all aware of the exorbitant hospitalization fees in Singapore.
Incidentally, my late father-in-law was also hospitalized in intensive care unit, albeit last year. His situation was more complicated as he needed a lot of blood transfusion, kidney dialysis and other life supporting equipment aids. Eventually, his body could not take it and he passed on after three months in the intensive care unit. His hospitalisation bills amounted to more than S$300,000 and after Medishield and subsidies, my wife’s family still owed the hospital ten of thousands dollars hospital bills. The hospital (which is different from my dad’s) hounded my wife’s family for payment and even issued them with lawyer’s letters.

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The $8.00 operation
I recalled in 2010, one of our Singapore ministers had a heart bypass operation and he bragged to the whole world that he only paid S$8.00 for the hospital bills. I believe this is because he had bought expensive private insurance schemes that covered his hefty hospital bills. He even went on to marvel at the beauty of Singapore healthcare system, which consists of “3M” – Medisheld, Medisave and Medifund.

Well I don’t know his intentions when he made those statements back then but I was not impressed at all. There are a lot of Singaporeans who did not benefit from 3M and my

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Investment mistakes

In my previous post, one of my readers, “Jack”, wrote me a long comment. He blasted me for being callous and for gloating over Genneva victims’ plight.
Well, firstly I must apologize that his comment was inadvertently deleted today when I used my iphone to view his comment. As my policy is to publish all comments, I sincerely hope Jack can re-post his comment again in my blog for sharing purposes. With regard to his comment, I have a few issues which I think need some clarification.
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Fools Never Learn
The objective of my previous blog is never to provoke anyone. If readers find my blog offensive, there is always a choice not to patronize my blog. Now, if you ask me again, I would still say those who lost their money in the Genneva fiasco deserved it. In fact, I hope they don’t get back a single cent at all. Why?
Because people never learn unless they are taught a painful lesson in life. In 2008, a lot of Singaporean lost their money investing in Minibonds. About 8,000 people in Singapore had sunk in S$376 million in Series 1 to 3 and 5 to 10 of the Minibond notes. They thought that they were investing in bonds and since they were sold by local financial institutes, they couldn’t go wrong.
They were dead wrong. These investors didn’t realize they were actually buying highly risky financial products instead of bonds. Eventually, some of them were lucky enough to claw back some of their monies through legal actions. Now history repeated itself over and over again. Fast forward to 2012, same thing happened again. A group of so-called “investors” lost money in dubious gold-buy back schemes promising ultra high returns of 30 to 40% per annum. They wanted to get back
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Gold scams

A few days ago, I saw a Channel 8 news bulletin on Genneva Gold Trading Firm, which is a company that offers gold buyback scheme to investors. Apparently, it is being sued by its customers for not meeting its financial obligations. Quite a number of Singaporeans had actually invested with the company.
In the news, one customer even [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

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Victory for k1 minority shareholders!

Last month, I posted an article on GKB Holding’s proposed voluntary conditional cash offer for k1 Ventures Limited, the investment arm of Keppel Group. I am pleased to inform readers that the proposal did not go through and that the offer had lapsed on 14 September.

The company had received only 77.62% of the total number of issued shares, way below the required 90% for the proposal to go through.

Extension of offer closing date
I was quite annoyed with GKB Holdings for extending the offer closing date TWICE. I thought the management of GKB Holdings was quite disrespectful to the minority shareholders when they extended the offer closing date without even improving the offer.

stock market
In view of the APB and Heineken saga, they should have revised and enhance the offer to make it appealing to the shareholders. Instead, they stuck with their initial offer of $0.135 per share and expect more shareholders to take up the offer. Their stance is that the counter is thinly traded and the offer is made at a premium based on the last 6 months of trading.

Being a long-term investor and loyal supporter of the company, I am disappointed with this recent turn of events. To be honest, I am not overly concerned with the trading prices of k1 Ventures as I am more of a dividend player rather than a speculator. So GKB Holdings’ offer does not appeal to me at all. Furthermore, if I had accepted their proposal, I would have suffered a loss of more than $2000, excluding the dividends collected so far. If they wanted shareholders like me to accept their proposal, the offer has to be made based on the value of their investment holdings instead of the recent traded prices.

Investment in k1 Ventures
Prior

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QE3 and opportunities for investors

Last week, the US Fed announced another round of money printing programme known as QE3. It was reported that US$40 billion of new money will be issued every month until the US jobs situation improves. Does this latest move by US government means opportunities for investors?
Since 2008, the US government had purchased trillions worth of Treasury securities, hoping to revive the economy and stimulate job growth. However, the strategy doesn’t seem to work and US unemployment remains stubbornly high at about 8%.
Opportunities

Muddling through the years
I am not surprised that the US Fed announced this QE3. This stimulus measure comes at a time when the US citizen is voting for a new president. President Obama’s job is on the line, so he has to make a last-ditch attempt to win votes and placate the citizen’s rising unhappiness over the persistenet high unemployment rate.

But whether this third round of money printing will be effective is a big question mark. The previous two round of money printing had flooded world wide markets with “hot money” but ultimately those moves were widey regarded as flops, in terms of job creation for the US citizens.
Yes, its true that QE1 and QE2 had helped US to avert financial disaster in 2008 – 2009 but until now, the US economy still remain in a state of limbo. I think the US economy will continue to languish and muddle through for the next few years until 2017.

Make money through US properties investment
So what opportunities does QE3 represent for Singapore investors? Well firstly, our local banks take the cue from US banks. So until 2015, the interest rates for borrowing will probably remain low. So it might be prudent for houseowners to shop around and refinance their home loans with the most

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The Finance SG is Singapore’s best personal finance blog

My blog has recently crossed the 100,000 page views milestone. Compared to other famous blogs in Singapore, I think this achievement is nothing fantastic. In fact, one well-known blogger announced that his blog garnered more than 20 million page views a couple of weeks ago.
Whilst I envy his achievement and hope to emulate his success one day, one thing I would like to register is that investment is a very niche topic. The pool of interested readers for investment or personal finance is much smaller compared to more popular themes like food and travels. Nevertheless, my mission is to carry on and share with my readers my investment insights, my investment mistakes, money-making opportunities and lesson learned.

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Singapore Number 1 investment blog
I often analyze statistics for my blog readership and noted that up to 70% of my readers were derived from The Finance (www.thefinance.sg), a local blog articles directory on investment and personal finance topics. Normally I don’t write reviews on other blogs but I think I owed it to The Finance for my blog’s success so far.

I think I am not exaggerating when I claimed that The Finance is Singapore’s best personal finance blog. The blog features many well-written articles from local investment bloggers and many of them were very updated. I have learned a lot from reading articles contributed by fellow bloggers and gained much valuable insights.

I joined The Finance as a guest contributor since late last year and had contributed a few articles. I cannot remember the requirements to join the blog but I think the blog owner choose his guest contributors carefully. That is why all the articles were written in very mature and responsible manner. You will not find articles making personal attacks or nonsensical comments.

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My thoughts on “Letter about leaving Singapore”

Recently, I came across an article featuring “Letter about leaving Singapore”. I felt compelled to blog down my feelings as the letter struck a chord with me.

Like the author, I feel very jaded living in Singapore. In fact, last year, my wife and me were seriously contemplating leaving Singapore for Australia. In the end, we aborted our plan because of our aged parents. We love them too much and thought that we should not be so selfish and left them behind in Singapore.

Leaving Singapore

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer
Friends and colleagues often tell me that Singapore has become a playground for the rich people. To a large extent, I agreed with them. Very often, there were articles of rich tycoons snapping up landed properties in prime district area or making big profits from stocks and shares. The rich get richer.

On the other hand, many middle-income and low-income earners hardly get by in Singapore with their incomes. Many of them are in debts, have hefty hospital bills to settle or just not earning enough to survive. How can you be happy and live a fulfilling life if you are constantly worried about bills, loans and debts? How can you remain motivated if you are hungry and desperate?

Trapped in the rat race
Whilst I have a job that provides a decent lifestyle for my family, I always feel like being trapped in the money-chasing rat race. My dream is to be my own boss or be a full time investor.

But at this stage of my life, it is not possible for me to pursue the entrepreneurship or investment path as my family depends on me as the sole breadwinner to bring food on the table. Of course, things aren’t going to be status-quo and I

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Investing in your human capital

Investing can be very lonely sometimes because it is a never-ending journey that requires you to constantly learn and hone your analytical skills. Time is the most important factor for an investor. You will have a head-start if you start learning how to invest since young.

But the fact is, nobody is born to invest. Investment skills and knowledge have to be picked up and learned, either through the hard way or attending courses. Henceforth, it is important that you invest in your human capital throughout your life. Otherwise, you might end up paying expensive tuition fees to the market.

Stock Market
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K1 Ventures Stocks

I have been tracking K1 Ventures for more than 7 years and had invested in the stock over the years. K1 Ventures is an investment holding company invested in diverse sectors such as finance, transportation leasing, education and oil and gas.

Those who are vested in this counter would know that this is an excellent stock which had paid out huge dividends over the years. Since FY05, it had consistently paid out dividends amounting to a total of $0.2275 per share.

stock market

If you had bought the share 7 years ago at $0.33 and hold on to them till now, you would have an incredible yield of 68.9%. Now, how many stocks in SGX are capable of giving this sort of dividends nowadays?

Voluntary Offer

Henceforth, I was pretty upset that GKB recently made a voluntary offer for K1 Ventures at $0.135 per share. For the uninitiated, GKB is an investment vehicle owned by Keppel Corp, CEO of K1 and BV Singapore. The consortium currently owns a combined stake of 62% in K1 and will own 100% on successful takeover.

The offer was so low that I didn’t even bother to think twice on whether to accept it. After all, if I hold on to the stock, over the next few years, I could potentially receive dividends well in excess of the current stock price, bearing in mind that many of the investments of K1 Ventures are riped for divestment.

K1 Ventures’ management team, led by Steven Green, has done a great job investing and turning around companies. I believe the total sum of their investment holdings should be around $650 million and therefore each share should be valued at $0.30 instead of $0.135. This valuation was based on the latest research report by OSK DMG.

So far, the offeror has …

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IPO: My views on Far East Hospitality Trust

Some time back ago, I received a query from a reader asking for my views on Far East Hospitality Trust IPO. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, normally I refrain from giving advice on IPO, especially business trusts or REITs.

I must admit that my knowledge in business trusts and REITs is lacking. But then again, investors need to understand that business trusts and REITs are very different from shares trading in the stock market.

The structure and nature of the business model can be quite complicated for the man in the street to comprehend. For example, investors need to know that REITs are actually managed by external managers and are backed by sponsors which are usually major property developers or shipping companies.

IPO

Sometimes, there may be non-transparency concerning party-related transactions, so there might be cases of poor disclosures to investors. In addition, the assets are financed not only by unit holders, but also through bank loans as well.

Borrowers have to top up their loan facilities, should underlying asset values fall below a certain point. So investors need to understand the leveraging risks of business trusts and REITs as well and not just be seduced by the compelling yield.

Buying a IPO can be risky and so far, I have not invested in any IPO. I always believe that there is a need to have three years of track records of profits and positive net operating cash in order to consider a company good to invest.

If an investor bought an IPO based on the potential DPU or hope to make a killing from speculation, then I think that is no different from gambling. Investing requires painstaking research and taking calculated risk. This would requires companies to release detailed financial information so that investors can make informed …

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Higher Starting Salaries for Fresh Graduates

A recent survey released by Hay Group last week revealed that fresh graduates are drawing higher starting salaries compared to 2011. Those without Honors drew S$2, 678 while those with second upper Honors and higher drew S$2, 766 and S$2, 882 respectively. It also revealed that those working in the engineering sector drew the highest average salaries of $2,777 without honors. Jobs in research & development and merchandise operations ranked second and third, with the graduates earning S$2, 764 and S$ 2, 742 a month, respectively.

I am actually quite surprised by the survey as I always assumed that those working in the finance sector are usually paid well and would be among earn highest earners. But the results of the survey showed otherwise.

salaries

Based on the results, I think engineers are still in demand and would still command respectable starting salaries. I am heartened by this as my degree is engineering and I hold an engineering job. I would like to think that my engineering career can still last for another 10 -15 years, unless I decided to do a career switch or switch to entrepreneurship.

Another interesting fact is that the starting salaries for non-honors engineering graduates are quite high (at $2,777). I got an engineering degree with honors in 2005 but my starting salary was $2600. Even if you factor in inflation, the starting salaries seem quite high for a non-honors graduate. So I think this reflect the strong demand in engineering graduates in Singapore.

Yesterday, Minister for National Development cautioned Singaporeans to be prudent in buying properties and not be induced by 50 year housing loan (offered by UOB).

He mentioned that fresh graduates should be realistic with their incomes and that for their first properties, they should not buy a 5 room or bigger flats …

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Personal Finance Expert, Dennis Ng, passed away

I was shocked to learn that Dennis Ng has died suddenly of heart attack on 26th July. Dennis was well-known in Singapore to be a personal finance guru. He was the author of bestsellers, Mastering Your Personal Finance and What Your School Never Taught You About Money.

He was also the co-founder of HousingLoanSG.com, an independent mortgage consultancy portal. This article is dedicated specially to the man who have contributed greatly to personal finance literacy in Singapore.

I read from fellow bloggers in the investment community that he was someone who was willing to share his financial expertise and knowledge to novice investors. There are not many financial gurus, especially in Singapore’s context, who are willing to do so. Therefore, his demise is indeed a great loss to the investment community.

He is a role model of whom I aspire to be in the next 10 years. I don’t fancy myself as a guru, but it is my intention to share with my readers, my experience and lessons learned from investment mistakes. I hope that in the long run, I can reach the same level as Dennis Ng.

Thank you so much, Dennis Ng.Y

You shall be missed.

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Special appeal to all Singaporeans to support Adelyn

Many times, we took our health for granted. It is only when we lost our health, then we truly appreciate the beauty of life. I chanced upon this blog by a Singaporean girl called Adelyn Xinhui. She is born with cornea defect. I think many Singaporeans would recognise her face as she appeared in several Mediacorp charity shows before.

Xinhui has just released a music album, hoping to raise money for a cornea transplant operation. The operation cost more than $40k for each eye. Please read her story in (http://adelynxinhui.blogspot.sg/). In a gesture of support, my wife and me had bought one copy from her mom. Please help to spread the words around.

This operation may offer the girl a chance to lead a new lease of life and she genuinely needs help from fellow Singaporeans. I believe most of us can spare $20 to do a good cause.

Below is an extract from Adelyn’s blog:

My name is Adelyn. I am 10 years old. I was born with cornea defect called “Peter Anomaly”. I was sent for 4 times of cornea transplant when I was between 8 to 12 month old. However, all the cornea was rejected. Today, I can only visual lights, shadows and colors.

I started learning piano when I was 3 year old and now I am in Grade 5. I am always curious about things that happened around me. I like to explore new things. I can’t see, but I can feel.

I had tried out horse riding, ballet dancing, Inline skating and many other more. Currently, I am learning violin and going for Grade 1 examination in September.

Last year, my mother learned from the media there is a new type of cornea transplant “Boston Kpro”. It is a type of artificial …

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Robert Kiyosaki

In recent months, I have been receiving requests from media and event organizers looking to promote their events on my blog, SG Wealth Builder. One of them was an event organizer who wished to promote Robert Kiyosaki’s event “The Power of Financial Education” held at Singapore Expo, June 2012.

I was approached a couple of weeks before the event was due to take place and was at first a bit skeptical. I mean my blog, SG Wealth Builder, is not even a popular investment blog in Singapore, so why would the event company chose to promote their event in it? I told my wife about it and she also found it puzzling.

Robert Kiyosaki

Anyway, both the event company and me didn’t manage to work out a deal on time and so I missed the opportunity to promote Robert Kiyosaki’s event. On hindsight, I feel that it is a compliment that someone actually approached me to help them promote their events. Even though the deal didn’t go through, I feel honored that my blog, SG Wealth Builder, was considered by Robert Kiyosaki’s event company.

For the uninitiated, Robert Kiyoski is the famous author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, a motivational book on personal finance. I read his book more than 16 years ago when I was a teenager and I must say it really changed the way I viewed money, career and investment.

In fact, I would say Kiyosaki is a game changer in the industry as during that time, there were very few books that focus on personal finance and investing. He is a strong proponent of entrepreneurship, investing and financial literacy. One thing about this book is that it was written in very layman term and contains virtually no complex financial jargon.

When you read the book, you can actually …

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A new milestone for SG Wealth Builder

SG Wealth Builder stormed past 51,000 page views today. This is a new milestone for my blog and to be honest, I am very pleased that my blog’s readership has been rocketing over the last six months. Although I started this blog three years ago, I stopped blogging for quite a while in 2011 because of work commitments. At the end of 2011, page views for my blog was 8500 only.

The increasing popularity of SG Wealth Builder is a compliment and serves to reinforce in me that this blog is going in the right direction. I hope that by the end of this year, my blog can reach 100,000 page views. I believe this is achievable if I continue to blog frequently and share with my readers my investment thoughts.

SG Wealth Builder
Maybe its a form of job hazard but I have a habit of reviewing my blog’s performance. If you noticed, I have changed my blog’s template recently. This is to give my blog a refreshed look. Even with this fresh look, my focus will still be bringing quality content for my readers. In this regard, readers can look forward to more of my stock analysis and outlook on the stock market.

Some readers emailed me and commented that they prefer the previous template as the sidebars can be seen. I appreciate their constructive feedback and will consider switching back to the old template.

Some readers have also blasted me for not replying their comments in SG Wealth Builder. I would like to apologise that due to my busy schedule, I am unable to reply all the messages in my blog. So I hope my readers would not be offended and take it too personal.

In any case, my blog is meant to share ideas and thoughts, so if I …

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My views on Ascendas Hospitality Trust

I am no stock analyst but yesterday one of my readers emailed and asked about my views on the Ascendas Hospitality Trust impending IPO.

First of all, investors need to know that Ascendas Hospitality Trust is a business trust and not a typical real estate investment trust (Reit). In this case, about 80 percent of the assets will be in the business trust and 20 percent in the Reit.

To be honest, I am not sure how business trust works and normally if I don’t understand a business model, I would not invest in the company. This is not to say that Ascendas Hospitality Trust is not a good stock.

Ascendas

On the contrary, it can be a potentially good stock that delivers consistent yield for long term investors. However, I would not invest in such business trust because I will only invest in stocks with business models that I can understand. To me, investing should be kept simple and as a rule of thumb, you must be able to describe the business in one sentence.

Secondly, I usually do not invest in IPO. Most speculators or novice investors like to dabble in IPO. They might have made some money but I observed that many times, after the euphoria died down, investor’s interest in these IPO would also disappear, causing the prices to drop.

I also try to steer clear of IPO because sometimes the institutional investors will unload their shares investment after the lock-in period is over so as to realise their investment gains. When this happened, the prices normally will drop.

So if you invest in IPO, make sure you monitor the stock closely. In today’s market, conventional “buy and hold” strategy no longer works. Investors need to set a target price to sell. You don’t want to catch …

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How the rich make their money

It is often said that the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer. Globally, the issue of social gap is entrenching in many cosmopolitan cities. Even Singapore, which is home to one of the largest concentration of millionaires in the world, is no exception. One of the key questions is how did the rich make their money and preserve their wealth in times of crisis? In one of the financial workshops I attended recently, the consultant briefly shed some light on how the rich made their fortune.

Every now and then, you would have heard about investment themes like renewable energy, technology, currency, property, ETF, gold/silver, investment-linked insurances and what not. These are actually hypes made by the movers and shakers to create bubbles so that small time investors like you and me will buy-in.

rich

What happened was that years before the bubbles occurred, the ultra rich gathered their analysts and made them formulate new investment themes. After determining areas where they can reap in big monies, the rich dudes then pump in their funds.

They would hold press conferences and churned out quantitative data and charts to convince retail investors that their investment themes are the next big things. Journalists and investment researchers would then write extensive reports and provided the maximum publicity. Interviews would be held one-to-one with the key players.

Again, when these gurus were interviewed, they would reinforce and sell their investment themes to the public. When these influential people speak, people usually listen to them because in this world, track record and reputation give you credibility. These are the people who can influence the market direction. They can help you make money, but also lose money as well. At the height of the bubble, they would “show-hand” and pull out their funds, making …

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Setbacks for this financial blog

Recently, I have been doing a lot of reflections on how to deal with setbacks. Something nasty happened to me and set me thinking whether I should continue this financial blog.

When I started this financial blog three years ago, my intention was to chronicle my investment journey and captured the important setbacks and lessons learned. I hope to document down these lessons, not only to serve as reminders not to commit the same mistakes again, but also to share with my readers my investment journey. It was never my intention to offer any form of investment advice nor to induce anyone to buy financial products.

Sebacks

I feel that it is important to make this clear to all my readers that I am not a financial adviser offering investment advice nor am I a full-time blogger who blog for a living. I have a day-time job and I started this financial blog as a hobby.

Apparently, someone misconstrued my intention and claimed in a forum that I had been dishing out rubbish investment advice. He also claimed that I had a knack of writing load of stuff out of nothing and that my blog offers absolute zero value to readers.

Well I suppose he is entitled to his views and I leave it to my readers to judge. My blog may not be relevant to you and if that is the case, you can always unsubscribe from my email list or don’t visit my blog at all. It is your choice and there’s always a choice.

I write to express my thoughts, feelings and investment philosophy. If you have a problem with that, that is your business. If you think you can do better than me, by all means, go ahead and start to blog for all I care. I …

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The Bad Mood Fund

Recently I attended one financial planning courses sponsored by my company. It was a short two days course that touched on personal financial planning. In this article, I will share my views on bad mood fund.

One thing I like about the course is that the instructors focused on educating the participants rather than pushing financial products. That was why I enjoyed the course because I did not have to second guess whether the instructors was biased in his recommendations or whether he was trying to hard sell his company’s financial products.

At the end of the course, I learned quite a few things and thought that I just have to blog it down and share with my readers. One key takeaway was the “The Bad Mood Fund”.

fund

In life, there are always ups and downs. Most of us faced challenges and obstacles in our daily lives. As a result, we can sometimes ended up feeling bitter, frustrated and angry. One of the best ways to “cure” your negative feelings, whether you are a man or woman, would be retail therapy.

Nothing beats buying something to pamper yourself at the end of a miserable lousy day isn’t it? I mean we all live only once and I think it is important that we pamper ourselves every now and then. Otherwise, how to maintain our life motivation and jest? But we all know retail therapy can sometimes be fatal to our wallet. So how can we ensure that our retail therapy does not cripple our savings. One strategy is to set aside a Bad Mood Fund.

So how does a Bad Mood Fund works? Basically it means setting aside a portion of money from your monthly disposable income to support your retail therapy. It can be $200 or $300. The amount …

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So you want to become rich in Singapore?

In my previous blog, I mentioned about how to become rich in Singapore. One of my readers, Eric, replied that most Singaporeans faced the “need” to be “rich” now rather than in their fifties. While I agreed that most youth nowadays want instant gratification and quick results, I cannot agree that being rich is a “need”. Rather, the desire to be rich is a “want”, rather than a “need”. It is important that readers differentiate the difference between needs and wants. I shall proceed to elaborate.

In life, we can have many “wants”. We can desire for new and bigger cars. We can for desire designer-style apartments. We can desire to have a European honeymoon. Nothing wrong with these desires. But it is important to note that these are not essentials to our life. They are merely “wants” rather than “needs”.

rich

For example, in Singapore, if you need a car for certain valid reasons, you can buy a pre-owned car rather than paying through the nose for a brand new car. If you don’t have the sufficient fund to go for a European honeymoon after your wedding, then probably the best option is to plan for a short trip instead.  Therefore, before we purchase big-ticket items, spend some time to think through whether they are actually “wants” or “needs”. You may be surprised that many times, they are actually “wants” that you may not actually need.

Coming back to the topic on the “need” to be “rich”. My opinion is that we need not be materially “rich” in order to live a fulfilling life. Even in Singapore, where the cost of living is so high, we can be happy even without being rich.

Eric mentioned in his reply that he is in his late twenties and preparing to get married, …

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