The $100,000 Question

Singaporeans who are contemplating a new car must be wondering if it is worthwhile to buy now. This is especially so considering the sky-high Certificate of Entitlement (COE). Despite the recent drop in the prices of COE, the entitlement to drive a new car on Singapore roads still remain very expensive. Buyers need to fork out at least around $100,000 for a new car. This is by no means a small sum, even for a big-ticket item. So let’s examine what are the factors we should consider before damaging our pockets.

Buy for the right reason
Most Singaporeans, especially those conservative and thrifty ones, consider cars as sheer liabilities, at least in Singapore context. They argued that public transport is excellent in Singapore and hence there is no need for a car. But I beg to differ. For some people, having a car can be an asset to their job or business.

For example if you are a housing agent, you definitely need a car to meet clients at different time and places. In addition, some jobs, especially those sales and marketing ones, also require candidates to possess private transport so as to meet clients.

money

On the other hand, some Singaporeans buy car because of family needs. Imagine if you have two school going kids and wife. Having a car enables you to have that little bit more of face time with your family and provides flexibility of sending/picking them to work or school. Henceforth, buying a car may not be a flawed financial decision, but that is if you buy for the right reason.

Plan your purchase
After convincing yourself that having a car is essential for you, the next course of action is of course to do a budget based on your monthly income. The easy way would …

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How to find a good financial advisor

Most experts recommend novice investors to engage financial advisor to help them achieve their financial goals. Yet how do we find someone whom we can trust? Over the years, I have met many financial consultants, some good, some down right bad. I would like to share with my readers some of my experience dealing with these jokers.

Title Inflation
Many of the financial advisers I met carried with them big titles like Associate Director, Vice President, Sales Director, etc. A lot of them were also quite young. I think many of them suffered from the mistaken belief that if they carry big titles, customers will respect them more and will be more inclined to buy from them. Actually I don’t care about titles when I look for a financial consultant. To me, titles are just job designation. But normally I would look out for someone who is a Certified Financial Planner. I would give the fellow slightly more face-time.

Insurance

Know your needs
Before you even sat down with the financial advisor, make sure you know what you need. Not all planners offer comprehensive advice tailored to your needs. Decide what you want and expect from the adviser. For example, last month, I was shopping around for a medical shield plan for my baby girl and invited a financial consultant to my home for a discussion. Instead of advising me on his company’s products, he enquired about the valuation of my home and asked about my pay cheque. I didn’t give him a split second chance and “thank you very much” within 20 minutes.

Find out how much they are paid
Don’t be shy to ask how much commissions or fees the financial adviser will collect from you. After all, its your hard-earned money and you have the rights to know. …

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UOB Gold/Silver Saving Account

Two years ago, I wrote two articles on my investment experience on UOB Gold/Silver Saving Account. There were many comments and queries from my readers.

Firstly, I must clarify that I did not represent UOB when I wrote the articles and UOB also does not pay me for promoting their product. Secondly, I wrote the articles based on my investment experience. I had made some money from it and thus, wished to share with my readers.

I will not bear responsibility for any potential losses incurred as readers need to do homework before investing or alternatively, they should seek financial consultant’s advice before deciding for themselves whether to invest in this product.

UOB
Recently a reader queried the GST and fees chargeable for the transactions for UOB Gold/Silver Saving Account. Based on UOB’s website, there is no GST chargeable for transactions. As for the fees, they are indicated clearly in the website for both Gold and Silver savings. I would advise investors to confirm with the bank staff before you open a Gold/Silver Saving Account with UOB. Their customer service’s contact can be found in the website.

As I mentioned two years ago, UOB was the only bank that offered this scheme. And it still is. For this scheme, there is no physical gold or silver being transacted. Essentially, you are converting your deposits from money to gold/silver savings. The gold/silver savings is bench-marked to the gold and silver market prices. In purchasing gold/silver products, the investors must understand and acknowledge that:

a) Gold and silver market is very volatile
b) losses can be incurred from such investment
c) an investment in gold or silver provides no dividend yield or interest
d) prices would have to rise sufficiently over the investment period in order to yield a profit on sale

Good …

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Manage your emotions in your investments

In the investment circle, everyone knows the golden rule of setting targets for investments. But how many investors actually put that into practice when the crunch comes? After all, greed and fear often come into play whenever we make important financial decisions. To build wealth, you must learn how to manage your emotions in your investments

Investors often make irrational decisions, leading to losses in their investments. They sell their stock holdings when the stock market crashes and buy when the market booms. When they lost money, they blame their stock brokers, they blame the market, they blame the stock analysts. They blame the whole world except themselves. What most investors failed to realize is that the greatest investment enemy is within ourselves and that we failed solely because of our ego and fear.

investments

When I started investing as a newbie 13 years ago, I belonged to this category. I felt like a winner when I made money from my stock investments and a loser when I lost money. Over the year, my thinking changed as I read from self-improvement books, articles and magazines. I came to realize that managing your ego and fear is crucial to our decision-making and that when it comes to investing, it’s not about winning or losing the game. It’s about setting our personal targets and not let greed and fear rule our heads.

Gambling and investing are not the same. We are unable to manage the outcome of the former, but for the latter, we can always make wise decisions and produce a positive outcome. Control your destiny and grab the bull by its horns!

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Enter the stock market now?

The recent mini-correction in the stock market must have caused some jitters to many local investors. Most of us wonder whether the current Euro debt mess, which has been on-going for three years, will spark off a major world-wide stock market mayhem or taper off in a few years. My own personal view is that history will repeat itself all over again and that a major correction is coming, probably at the second half of the year.

During 2007-2008, my company announced pay adjustment for all existing employees and I remembered my pay was adjusted upwards by $550. The feeling back then was buoyant for everyone in Singapore. Fresh graduates got record high starting pay and people were making money in the stock market. Penny stocks were speculators favourite plays and volumes for these counters were extremely high.

Stock market

Then, reports of “sub-prime mortgages” started to surface in newspapers article. Most people just shrugged off this development in the United States. The issue dragged on for several months and soon imploded with the collapse of the Lehman Brothers. Of course, the stock markets tanked and caused world-wide mayhem. There was a U.S. Presidential Election and Obama was sworn in as the new President to deal with the financial crisis.

Fast forward to today, my new company announced a 15% pay adjustment. Last month, there was a penny stock rally. Recently, news paper reported that fresh graduates getting high salaries again, with Law graduates leading the pack. Reports of Euro debt crisis surfaced again and French has a new President. The recent developments look too similar to year 2007 – 2008 that I believe a major correction is looming.

Is it the ripe time to enter the stock market now? Get ready your investment monies to shop for bargains during the crash. …

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The importance of knowing your life purposes

Are you going through the motions right now? Sometimes, we need to know our life purposes. After all, we only live once. Recently one of my colleagues attended a personal finance workshop arranged by my company. I was very interested to attend because the topics seemed very relevant to me but eventually I was unable to make it due to work commitments.

Over lunch, my colleagues updated me that the workshop indeed was very useful as it touched on various money issues in the local context, like CPF, hospitalization shields, life insurance and retirement plans. The instructor also gave tips on investments and the key concept of managing personal finances (budgeting, knowing the difference between “needs” and wants”).

OK, I thought to myself. These information and tips seemed rather useful but are actually quite fundamental stuff to me. Probably it could help a person become more financially astute but probably won’t enable him to become a rich person one day. But what set me thinking was a statement that my friend told me the coach wanted the participants to remember for life and that is: Always question yourself and know what are your purposes in life.

Life purposes

Knowing our life purposes is important. We must have goals in our lives, something that we hope to achieve one day. Money itself is only a means that can probably help us attain our goals faster. But even if we became rich overnight and yet do not have any meaningful goals in life, we will only be lost and empty in our hearts.

In fact, I have read numerous articles on punters winning multi-millions lotteries only to end up spending every single cent away after a few years. Ironically, most of these “lucky” souls ended up poorer than before they won the prizes. Therefore, …

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A tribute to my Mother and Father

Today is Mother’s Day. Me and my siblings planned to give her a treat but she felt that the restaurants would be very crowded today. So we postponed our celebrations to next weekend.

My mother belongs to the generation of baby-boomers. She is someone who don’t express love on their lips and believes in tough love, hard work and sacrifice. Mother is a great person although I am not close to her since young. This is because I used to be a very mischievous brat who liked to talk back. Of course she wasn’t pleased with that and I was disciplined by her numerous times.

One of my mother’s qualities is her love for my family. When me and my siblings were still studying in secondary schools, my dad suffered from a major stroke and was unable to work till now. It was a very challenging chapter in my family’s journey and we struggled tremendously to get by.

Mother

Mother took on part-time jobs to supplement family income and also looked after my dad and my elderly grandmother. Those were dark days for my family as money was really tight at home. Before the stroke, Father used to be the sole bread-winner. So you can imagine the kind of stress my parents went through, trying to support 3 kids and an elderly. It wasn’t easy and my parents quarreled frequently over money issues. Nevertheless, my mom became the de-facto head of the household and became a major pillar of support in the family.

Twenty years later, we managed to pull through and my siblings got married and eventually set up our own families. I guess tough days do not last but tough people do.

But deep in my heart, I will never forget those lean times and as I look back, …

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Tan Kin Lian Blog

Tan Kin Lian used to be my hero and I started this blog after being inspired by his blog. I like his online work helping to answer Singaporeans’ queries on matters regarding insurance policies.

Recently, I was reading Tan Kin Lian’s blog and came across his posting “Consumers who deserved to be ripped off”. I was quite angry when he made that comment because most people would find it difficult to understand the mechanism of the various insurance policies.

In the olden days, there was a lack of information available to the public for consumers to make informed choices. Thus, most of us would rely on our insurance agents to help us make the best financial decisions. In today’s Information Age, we can obtain information from online easily.

tan kin lian

Make no mistake, I totally agreed with him that we should all buy term policies and hospitalization plan for protection purposes. The rest of the money can then be used for investing or consumption.

But what I am unhappy was that he made all these comments to the public after he stepped down as CEO from NTUC Income in 2008. I have been a loyal NTUC Income for 13 years and bought 3 life insurance policies during Mr Tan’s reign as CEO.

I don’t ever recall him coming out and advocate people to buy term policies instead of life policies back then. In fact, he used to be the face of NTUC Income, until of course he stepped down as CEO. Because of him, I have bought three life insurance policies from NTUC Income. I wish he had made all these comments to the public back then rather then now.

This incident reinforces in my belief that I have a social mission to serve through this blog. My vision is that Singaporeans …

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Baby bonus

In my previous post, “Sentiments of a Singaporean”, one of my readers pointed out whether it is fair to burden taxpayers who are single and do not have children with heavy costs of baby bonus.

It is human nature to feel sour grape seeing others who have babies receiving monies from the government while you are ineligible. Henceforth, it is perfectly natural that they might feel jealous having to give monies to citizen who are entitled to baby bonus. After all, they themselves don’t benefit from it, while should they support such proposal?

However, if we are able to cast aside our narrow-mindedness and place national interest before us, I feel that spending the extra $4-5 billions dollars is totally justifiable. At least from the perspective of a Singaporean. After all, if we don’t implement any drastic measures to increase birth rate soon, we are going to end up paying even much more 10 – 15 years down the road.

baby bonus

People are our only resources. If we are unable to produce enough babies, there could be implications on our economy and defense. This is because in future, there may not be enough young adults to support ageing Singaporeans. We may also lack enough young males for national defense.

For sure, at the present birth rate, we are going to import more foreigners to support our economy. What will happen then? More competition for jobs, schools, scholarships and health-care facilities for Singaporeans who are currently “baby-boomers”, “Gen-X” and “Gen-Y”. In the long run, Singaporeans will end up paying even more, in terms of opportunity costs.

Of course, raising a child requires long term commitment, care and nurturing. Whilst baby bonus would not substitute such responsibilities, the cash gift is a useful financial support for young parents struggling to build wealth in …

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Knowledge is key

Through interactions with some of my friends, I came to realize that no investors become wealthy through herd investing. In order to become a successful investor, we need to equip ourselves with the right knowledge. We must have a curious mind and a thirst to acquire new knowledge. After all, knowledge is key.

It is very important that you start your investment or wealth-building journey early on in your life because that will give you a head-start. But before you start splashing out money on various investment schemes, always remember to build up your knowledge first.

If you plan to invest in property, options, gold, ETF, etc, attend courses and seminars to deepen your understanding on how these investments work. Read up topics on these subjects in the magazines, books and online articles on investment strategies. Talk to people, listen to their tips and learn from their investment mistakes.

knowledge

You may also subscribe to my blog for free email notifications of new articles. Over the years, my followers and readership have been increasing. While this is flattering, I also feel the responsibility to write better content.

One of my motivations of starting this online project – SG Wealth Builder- is to raise my investment competency. Through my sharing, I also hope to level up the knowledge of fellow Singaporeans. My vision is that we can build a better tomorrow together and forge a shared financial destiny. Sometimes building wealth can be a lonely journey. So in building this blog, I aim to shape a community to share ideas and information on how to be better wealth builders.

In short, sharpen your knowledge on investment first before you start investing. Don’t be in a hurry to lose your money. You will realize that the more you learn, the more you don’t …

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Reflections

My blog’s page views will be hitting 25,000 soon! This is indeed a very heartening and encouraging milestone. I am writing this post to capture some reflections.

Although my blog’s readership is nowhere near the millions of hits enjoyed by popular Singaporean bloggers like Xiaxue and Tan Kin Lian, I am pleased that there are quite a few people who took time to read my blog and provided me feedback. It is always a nice feeling to know that people read my articles and appreciate my work. I am also glad that most of the comments had been constructive, which is encouraging as it spurs me to keep on blogging.

reflections

I would like to give thanks to you readers for your precious time and feedback. Although I am unable to blog as often as I used to be (due to work and family commitments), I would try my best to squeeze in time to document some of my investment reflections. The reflections captured in this blog is not only for sharing of knowledge, but also serve as a form of an online journal to me, reminding me to avoid some of the pitfalls I suffered during the early days of my investment journey. Hopefully through this sharing, you and me can become a better and richer investor.

If you have taken notice, my blog consists of investment articles and business ideas articles. Occasionally I also blog about some social issues in Singapore. I believe that in Singapore, there are many money-making opportunities. But then again, as a society, I feel that we shouldn’t focus too much on material gains and comfort. We need to take a step back and do some reflections on what we really want to achieve in life.

I know it may sound very cliche but life …

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Investment Insight 2012: Thakral

In 2010, I invested a fair bit of money in Thakral, one of the listed companies in Singapore. At that point of time, they declared their intention to change business focus and also proposed a significant dividend for the shareholders.

I did some research on the company and decided to invest, tempted by the declared dividend. Eventually, I did receive the dividends, but the stock prices fell in tandem. As the stock prices languished at that price, I sold my Thakral shares after a couple of months. Subsequently I did keep track of the stock price and company performance. For 2 years, the price remained at S$0.030.

Thakral

Recently, due to the penny stock rally, I realized that Thakral had rocketed to S$0.040. I wondered if I had kept faith with Thakral, I would have made thousands of profits in one week. I don’t know if you ever had such investment experience but it sure pain like hell seeing the stock which you once owned rocketed by so much.

I sure am tempted to re-enter the stock market but still stand by my resolution to wait till the next stock market crash and then invest. Hopefully I can make a killing by then.

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Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder…

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