Three important money advices

Lifetime Membership Season greetings to all readers of SG Wealth Builder! In the blink of an eye, we are heading toward the third year of the pandemic. It’s incredible how time flies! In this article, I will share my insights on three important money advices. The story is written from the perspective of Christianity but I have adapted the story to reframe it from the angle of wealth building. Note that I am not a Christian and this is definitely not an article meant to spread Christianity. Instead, I believe that readers can benefit very much from this sharing in the course of their financial journey.

In life, we will always receive money advice from well-meaning friends and relatives. Yet, very often, it is only those simple money advices that really withstand the test of time. As a matter of fact, the three money advices contained in this article served me rather well in my financial journey. Thus, I am sharing this article with readers.

money advices

The long journey

Once upon a time, there was a poor young man named David who just got married. The couple lived in a small farm. David wanted a better life for his wife and decided to venture out to find a better job.

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Building wealth together

It was in 2012. Back then, this wealth blog had achieved some level of success which attracted a number of companies looking for partnerships. On one occasion, I was invited by an event company to promote an investment seminar. In return, I would be given a free ticket.

Usually, I would have declined such a request but one of the speakers turned out to be Jim Rogers, my favourite investment idol. Thus, I had accepted the invitation without hesitation and attended the event with much excitement.

Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers, as we all know, is an American famous for building massive wealth from his investments. He shifted his place of residence to Singapore since 2007 because of his belief that Asia would be the best place to invest globally due to its immense potential for growth.

Ideally, he preferred China and Hong Kong to grow his wealth but because of pollution issues, he eventually settled down in Singapore.

During the seminar, Jim Rogers did not share any specific investment strategies nor disclose any stocks that he favoured or avoided. Instead, he provided very generic views and how “white-collar workers would work for farmers in the future” because no one wants to be farmers anymore.

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SGX Bull Charge 2017

Since young, running has been my passion. I developed this lifelong hobby when Dad brought me for a jog at the Bedok Reservoir more than 30 years ago. Hence, when SGX invited me to promote their charity run, SGX Bull Charge 2017, I was very keen and excited.

Although the jog occurred more than 30 years ago, I can still remember it vividly because Dad rarely spend time with the family. As a truck driver, he was always busy making money, even on weekends. So, when he brought my siblings and me to the reservoir for an outing, we were all thrilled.

That run had offered me a rare glimpse of Dad and gave me the opportunity to bond with him. Although it was a short run, we have the chance to have a shared journey, albeit a short one. At the end of the day, I really enjoyed myself even though it was just a simple run. In those days, life was really that simple.

SGX Bull Charge

My family’s journey

That run turned out to be the first and the last one I had with Dad. A few years down the road, Dad suffered from a debilitating stroke that caused him to be half-paralyzed.

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CPF’s Home Protection Scheme (HPS)

The most significant big-ticket item for my family in 2016 was the purchase of our Executive Condominium (EC), The Terrace, at Punggol Waterway. Like many Singaporeans, being able to upgrade to an EC is our Singapore Dream. Arising from this purchase, we had taken a quite a big mortgage loan from one of the local banks and in the course of doing so, I did some research on mortgage loans. In this article, I will share some of my knowledge on CPF’s Home Protection Scheme (HPS).

HPS eligibility

More than 80% of Singapore residents live in HDB flats. If you are using your CPF savings to pay your monthly housing loan instalments on your HDB flats, you are required to be insured under HPS. Note that HPS does not cover private residential properties, such as executive condominiums (ECs) or privatised Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) flats. Because of this exclusion clause, my family is not eligible for HPS cover.

For the current HDB flat that my family is living in, it is covered under the HPS although the loan is from a commercial bank. As our loan amount is only $150,000, the annual premiums is very affordable and can be deducted from my CPF Ordinary Account.

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Protecting my best asset

This is my 600th article! As I celebrate another milestone for this blog, I can’t help but feel that time really flies. I started this blog in October 2010 to share my thoughts and insights on personal finances and investing. In a flash, it’s been six years already and there had been many changes in my journey.  Well, thankfully mostly positive ones. My main financial goal for this year is to go back to the basics and focus on protecting my best asset – my health.

Health is Wealth

It may sound very cliché but health is definitely wealth. As we grow older, protecting our best asset tends to take a back seat due to various commitments in life. Of course, making money and putting food on the table is important. And very often, I am guilty of being lazy when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But I guess the wake-up call was my medical report in last year. My cholesterol level was too high – at 250 mg/dl.

In the last few years, I struggled to control my cholesterol level due to my work and family commitments. As a result, I neglected my exercise regime. At this stage of my life, finding time to exercise can be excruciating challenging because there are other priorities as well.

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Stroke of Calamity

Since 2013, I have written articles paying tribute to my late father during Father’s Day. This year will be no exception. Dad passed away at home after 20 years of struggle with a major stroke that resulted in him being half-paralysed. It was really a stroke of calamity for our family and the last 20 years were like “lost decades” for us. Dad had played a major role in shaping my values, character and life’s perspectives. I cannot claim to remember everything that he said but most of his important teachings still live in my heart. I hope that by walking down this memory lane, my children will appreciate and learn from his legacy.

As a child, I had very little opportunities to spend time with Dad because he was always working. In fact, he even worked on weekends because in the late 80s, there was a huge construction boom in Singapore. Dad was a self-employed lorry driver and business was thriving back then. He was a typical baby-boomer – hardworking, thrifty and disciplined. Every morning at six, he would wake up and had quick shower and breakfast. Then he would do some quick calculations using the Chinese abacus and then promptly left for work.

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Dying for retirement savings

In facing death, is retirement savings still important? During the recent Parliament sitting held on 9 May 2016, the Worker’s Party raised the possibility of increasing the $5000 cap on CPF Medical Grounds Scheme due to rising cost of living in Singapore. The Minister of Manpower Lim Swee Say rejected the proposal and claimed that he was “hesitant about introducing such a move”. I was truly disappointed with his response and felt that he totally missed the point.

Withdrawal of CPF based on Medical Grounds

You can apply to withdraw your CPF savings on medical grounds if you

  1. are suffering from an illness which renders you permanently unfit from ever continuing in any employment; or
  2. have a severely reduced lifespan; or
  3. lack capacity within the meaning of Section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the lack of capacity is likely to be permanent; or
  4. are terminally ill.

You will be able to withdraw from your Ordinary, Special and Retirement Accounts, the higher of $5000 or savings after setting aside a reduced Retirement Sum in your Retirement Account. Minister Lim clarified in Parliament that the reduced retirement sum has been set at $40,300, which is half of the current basic retirement sum.

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In memory of a Singapore’s investment legend

This is my 500th blog article! For a long while, I thought hard about what to post for this milestone article. It has to be meaningful of course and should resonate with readers on the topic of building wealth. Eventually, I decided to dedicate this article to the late Dr Michael Leong, founder of financial portal, There are many battles that a wealth builder must fight on a daily basis but there is only battle that everyone cannot afford to lose and that is losing our health. On 12th February 2016, Dr Michael Leong lost his battle with colon cancer.

To be honest, I do not know Dr Michael Leong at all but I heard about a few years ago from one of the business associates. He told me that if I aspired to grow my blog, then I must benchmark against the standard of I was curious about what he said and then decided to check out the website.

True enough, I realized that is a powerful data-driven investment website that allows retail investors to make informed investment decisions on stocks. Apparently, Dr Michael had founded the website in 1999 and then sold it to SPH in 2008 for $12 million.

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Lack of monetary wealth led to Kovan double murders?

The recent high-profile trial of former police officer over the Kovan double murders has shaken Singapore. To many, it is unbelievable that such violent murder case could have taken place in a city known for being one of the safest places on earth. Even more shocking is that the accused is a former police officer. I believe that this should be the first case of police officer being accused of murder in Singapore history and it really makes a huge dent in the public confidence of our law enforcers.

As the trial is still on going, I will reserve my judgement on the accused and assume that he is innocent. However, the matter of fact is that the accused had financial difficulties and was facing bankruptcy at the time of the murders. Apparently, he raked up bad debts after his divorce in 2005 and was unable to pay his car and mortgage loans. He also did not declare to his superior that he was financially embarrassed, thus he was taken off front-line duties as an internal investigation was launched against him.

Driven to desperation, the accused then devised a plan to steal from the victim, who had made a police report a few months ago over a theft from his safe deposit box.

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CPF Retirement Planning

One of the financial mistakes made by Singaporeans is that we always procrastinate retirement planning until its too late. Money issues may dominate your golden years and affect your quality of life if you are not careful with financial planning in your early years.

As a wealth builder, I tend to make this mistake as well but I always force myself to think about what kind of lifestyle I want when I am in my golden years. To do so, mindset needs to be changed. This is because our needs and wants change with time. It may not be realistic to project your future income and expenses based on current situation.

The major reason for so much frustrations among Singaporeans on the CPF Minimum Sum is because most of us depend solely on the amount as the main source of retirement fund, which may not be sufficient given the rising cost of living in Singapore. You need to start investing early and develop sources of passive income, while constantly upgrading your skill and knowledge to achieve better salaries from your day job.

Indeed, you need to have discipline and adopt a long term view when it comes to retirement planning, especially if you have just embarked your working life.

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My financial journey

$250.That was the total amount of savings in my bank accounts when I just started working in 2005. On looking back, it was really a “touch and go” financial situation for me. I had depleted all my life savings because I had stopped receiving allowances from my parents when I was studying for a full time degree at NUS.

I did not want to burden my parents because my late father’s business was not doing well and my mom was a full time housewife. Our household income wasn’t that ideal back then partially also due to my father’s stroke condition.

So I had to supplement my savings with part-time jobs like giving tuition during the school holidays.So if you ask me what is it like to be poor, I can fully empathize. After all, I have went through this dark journey before and I am thankful that I had emerged from that challenging period to become a stronger person.

financial journey

For those who are born rich, social mobility may be a strange word to them, however I do not blame them because they do not know what is it like to worry for money. For the rich and wealthy, Singapore is like a playground where they can indulge in expensive toys like fast cars, yachts and lavish landed properties.

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A little act of caring creates a seamless ripple

The scene was at a supermarket where grandmother and her two grandchildren were shopping for groceries. Her granddaughter saw a lovely strawberry cake and wanted to buy it. However, when checking out the items at the cashier, grandmother realized that there was not enough money to buy the cake. So she promised her granddaughter that she would buy it another time. The little girl was very disappointed but nevertheless, left the shop reluctantly with her grandmother and brother.Just then, a gentleman was standing behind them and saw the situation. He paid for the cake and caught up with them. Gentleman gave the cake to the little girl but grandmother refused to accept it. At that point of time, the gentleman related his story to them.

He recounted that when he was young, his family was poor. On his seventh birthday, he and his mother went to a cake shop but had no money to buy a birthday cake. He was disappointed and refused to leave the shop. Then, a middle-age man who was standing behind them, saw the awkward situation and bought a birthday cake. He then offered the cake to him and wished him a happy birthday.

The mother was so grateful to the man and requested him to note down his address so that one day she could return the money to him.

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Plan for future?

Should Singaporeans plan for their future? As a matter of personal policy, I feel it is not worth the effort and time to write an article to counter the work of other bloggers because I don’t wish to be seen as being cocky or aggressive.
But after reading one of the blog posts written by Teenage Investing, I am prompted to write this article. In his article on 12 September, the blogger felt indignant that one of his readers commented that his advice was a piece of joke and that he would rather not waste time planning for his future. The blogger went on to sign off his article and encouraged his readers to plan for his future.
Investment journey
Life is unpredictable and it is difficult to foresee what the future holds for us. If there are two things that I want to impart to my young daughter, they would be character resilience and the ability to learn transferable skills.
In today’s context, there are just too many obstacles that life would throw at you and having a plan would not help you to navigate through these challenges. I have seen people crumbled after failing to meet their targets and subsequently lost their self confidence to carry on with their lives.
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The reason why Singaporeans are unhappy

As children, happiness was all about getting our desired toys or playing our favorite games. If we did not get what we want, we threw tantrums or cried. When we became working adults, being happy meant achieving our goals and dreams. If we did not meet our self expectations, we became unhappy, frustrated and indulged in the blame game.

As we matured and entered into our twilight years, happiness was about attaining a balanced state of mind. If we were unhealthy or sick-ridden, we could not have a peace of mind.

The above philosophy perhaps summed up what happiness represents in different phases of our lives. In recent years, there were a lot of articles on this topic and there were also much debate on how Singaporeans view the quality of their lives in the lion city.

This is a natural progression of our civic society and many Singaporeans have began to think beyond the pursuit of money.


Obviously, money is important and we should always respect money. But many of us begin to realize that life is not all about making more and more money. There are many things in life that money cannot buy – respect, love, kinship and friendship.

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Survey revealed that married Singaporeans are more financially secured than singles

According to a May 2014 survey done by Friends Provident International, 45% of married Singaporeans feel financially secure compared to 37% of Singaporean singles. The study also revealed that more than one third Singaporeans feel financial insecure as compared to last year. This could be attributed to rising cost of living as a result of high property prices and economic slowdowns in the western countries (USA and Europe). Not surprisingly, medical expenses had moved into the top three priority for saving needs. The survey was conducted on over 1000 affluent investors across Singapore and Hong Kong and highlighted interesting findings on their attitudes towards investments and savings.To be a successful wealth builder, we need to learn from the affluent people on how to invest and make money. The data showed that many married Singaporeans are in a financially stronger position than the singles. While I respect that one’s decision to get married is purely a personal decision and should not be based on financial factors, the survey has indicated that you might be financially better off if you are married. This finding may seem illogical because most people assume that having a family would set them back financially due to the increased in household expenses, child education, medical, etc.
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Lending money

Lending money is always a sensitive topic for all. Last month, I completed my two weeks of National Service reservist training. I met the bunk mate who tried to borrow money from me several times. Initially, it was a bit awkward for both of us as I had refused to lending money to him. But after a while, after realizing that he did not have any ill feeling towards me, I had a good chat with him.
I found out that he left his previous contract job and was jobless for almost half a year. He tried to look for office jobs but to no avail. He holds a N-Level certificate and his previous job skill was obsoleted. My advice to him was to take on part-time jobs, working either as shop assistant or cashier. At least that would bring food to the table and allowed him to sustain day-to-day activities.
Singapore Finance Blogger

But to my surprise, he declined my suggestion because he wanted to be focused in looking for a permanent office job. At the back of mind, I thought that since he already had money problems and had no income, it was financial suicide to carry on like this. The more he dragged, the harder it would be difficult for him to find a job.

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Family Wealth Management: Seven Imperatives for Successful Investing in the New World Order

Singapore, October 3, 2013 – Mr. Mark Haynes Daniell is the founder and chairman of the Raffles Family Wealth Trust, a Singapore-based strategic advisory boutique focused on strategies for wealthy families and their investments, transactions, and businesses. He is also the founder and chairman of his own family office in Singapore.

Mr. Daniell is a former senior partner at Bain & Company, director of Wasserstein Perella, and president of k1 Ventures, a strategic investment company publicly listed in Singapore. He created and chaired the Private Wealth Management Initiative as part of the Singapore government’s Economic Review Committee in 2002. He is a director of various listed and private companies, including Olam International, Tiryaki Agro, Aquarius Investment Advisors Pte Ltd. (vice chairman), Sacoven PLC (chairman), and a cofounder of Capital Partners of Georgia.

His new book, Family Wealth Management: Seven Imperatives for Successful Investing in the New World Order (coauthored with Tom McCullough; John Wiley & Sons, August 2013), is a comprehensive guide to family wealth management which integrates all aspects of family and financial wealth strategy, from family vision and philosophy of wealth through asset structuring to serve multiple purposes, addressing state of the art asset allocation models, traditional and alternative assets, specific approaches to management of wealth in turbulent times, the integration of a family business into wealth management plans, careful monitoring of performance against internal goals and external benchmarks, and ending with a long term plan to engage and educate the family to ensure a positive environment is created for the current–and future–management of family wealth.

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Living with stroke for 20 years

On 5th Jan 2013, Dad passed away peacefully at home. He was only 58 years old. His demise ended 20 years of suffering from stroke. I am writing this article to pay tribute to a great man who had struggled and sacrificed so much for my family.

My father did not receive much education and worked as a lorry driver in his youth. He was a very hardworking man and worked every single day of the year, except for Chinese New Year. As he was the sole breadwinner, he was also very careful with his money but always ensure that my siblings and myself received good education. There were frequent quarrels with my mom over money issues but he always ensure that my mom has enough to spend for the household. In the eighties and early nineties, Singapore construction was booming with many projects in the pipeline. Dad’s small lorry business began to do well and we were not doing too bad either. There were frequent family outings and durian treats at home. In those days, under the old scheme, COE was even higher than today, but my dad managed to buy a second-hand Toyota family car. Things were looking pretty well for us.

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Money & marriage

I saw an interesting article by fellow blogger AK71 on the topic of money and marriage. In his article, he illustrated a married person in his early 30s who keep borrowing money to support his family of four and pay monthly housing loans. The person’s gross income is $28k and he is the sole breadwinner and has two kids. AK71 wrote that the person “should not have gotten married” and that he should not have bought a 5 room flat, given his dire financial situation. I have different views from AK71.


Married for the wrong reason?
Firstly, I can understand what the person is going through. After all, I live in a 5 room flat, is a sole breadwinner, my wife is a full time housewife, have a baby girl, support my parents, support my in-law and own a car. So the burden on my shoulder is no less than the person in question, albeit I drew a much higher salary.

But in my opinion, his current financial plight is not caused by his decision to set up a family. In fact, it is a misconception among many Singaporeans that “if you don’t have money, you should not get married in the first place as marriage requires financial commitments”.
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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.

SG Wealth Builder

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.

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Difference between miser and smart spender

I always like to browse through some of my fellow blogger’s postings. I find many of their postings informative, useful and at times, engaging. In fact, their articles help to shape my current philosophy on life, personal developments and investments. I am just so glad to have embarked on this learning journey because it just keep making me become a better person. In this article, I am touching on the difference between miser and smart spender.

One of my favorite blogs is Janny Cole’s “How to be Rich, Happy and Free from Scams”. One unique aspect of her postings is that she covered both United States and Singapore financial tips and news.

In her latest posting, I learned something new again and that is the difference between miser and smart spender. I agreed with her wholeheartedly that time is money and that if your hourly income is more than what you would pay for someone to do the household chores, then hiring domestic helper makes perfect financial sense.

Smart spender

Working or doing business in Singapore is already so stressful and at the end of a busy tiring day, the time saved on doing household chores can be invested to relax, build bond with family or brainstorm new investing ideas.

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Attaining personal financial success in Singapore

Some time ago, I wrote an article, “Three Ways to Become Rich in Singapore”. Recently, a reader commented that I made it sound so easy to become rich in Singapore. In this article, I would examine how to attain personal financial success in Singapore.

Striking it rich is never easy, especially in Singapore’s context. After all, if most Singaporeans are willing to toll 16 long years to obtain a tertiary qualification in the hope of securing a good job, what make you think that financial success can be achieved in a couple of years?


The hard truth is that the route to wealth is never easy and the ideas which I mentioned in my post, “Three Ways to Become Rich in Singapore”, merely explore how we can become rich. It was never my intention to spread the belief that attaining financial success is easy. After all, I am not a self-made millionaire (yet) and making money really requires lots of hard work. In this respect, I think its worthwhile to share a little bit more about my thoughts.

No short-cuts
I belong to Gen-X and believes in hard work and sacrifices to attain financial success. Nowadays, the new generation of youth think otherwise and many of them believe in quick success with less effort.

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The truth about money

Last month, our Education Minister commented that employers believe Singapore students lack drive and the willingness to try new things to succeed. After reading the article, I have mixed feelings because I think he missed the point on the truth about money.
Look, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our education system has been result-driven and highly competitive for the past three decades. Everyone in Singapore knows for a long time that the education system is all about ranking, examination results and streaming. Obviously, to excel academically in such merciless system, one has to put in tremendous amount of effort and study real hard (unless of course if you are a genius). Henceforth, there is a lack of drive among our students to explore new ideas and new things. Much less to think about how to create money.


So what is the point of telling Singaporean an obvious fact that has been happening for the past decades? What is the Ministry of Education going to do? Just like many Singaporean in their thirties, I went through the education system and was taught to get a job, buy a house and save money for my retirement fund. At the end of the day, I have been asking myself, has the Singapore education provided me adequate knowledge to succeed in life?

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