Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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 cornea transplant which suit my eyes condition. Therefore, my mother hope to send me for this type of transplant which cost estimate $40k per eye.

I like to play piano very much. I also like to try out different kind of music. I even tried out to compose my own music pieces. I spent almost 2 years to compose 4 music pieces and finalise the complete pieces, and I always wish to have a chance to share my music with the world.

Today, I finally have the opportunity to share my music piece. It might not be the perfect one, but I do really produce this piece whole heartily. Hope you will like it.

Words from Adelyn's Mummy, Mary Lim;

Adelyn is a cheerful and optimistic girl. She is always very curious and asked a lot of questions.

She always wonder how the people and things surround her look like. She also very much wants to see herself too.
There is no best gift to be given to her, other than sending her to do the transplant again. How high is the successful rate?? Some may ask. According to eye specialist, her vision is now equivalent to 0%.  No one able to guarantee it will be successful, but there will be totally no hope if we do not try at all.

This is Adelyn's only Hope and my only Wish.

Magically yours

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Robert Kiyosaki & SG Web Reviews

In recent months, I have been receiving enquiries from media and event organizer looking to promote their events on my blog, SG Web Reviews.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 Web Reviews, 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. 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 honoured that my blog, SG Web Reviews, 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 entreprenueurship, investing and financial literacy. One thing I like about this book is that it was written in very layman term and contains virtually no complex financial jargon. When you read, you can actually feel that the author is reaching out to you. Furthermore, the content and theme is timeless and universal, so no matter which era or countries you belong to, the teachings will always be relevant for aspiring investors. If there is any investment book that I have to recommend to Singapore youth, it has to be this book. You would learn about key concepts like passive income, accumulating assets, cash flow and concept of financial freedom.

I know there are many people who challenged his teachings and questioned whether his "Rich Dad" and "Poor Dad" are real. To me, in principle, the Dads he depicted in his book are just analogy and readers should view it as fictitious. I mean who would actually remember so many of their fathers' teachings? I cannot even most of what my father taught me when I was young! What matters more for the readers are the key investment takeaways and the importance of financial literacy.

The above are just expression of my thoughts and feelings. It is meant for sharing and discussion. Robert Kiyosaki did not sponsor this article.

Magically yours.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A new milestone for SG Web Reviews

SG Web Reviews stormed past 51,000 pageviews 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, pageviews for my blog was 8500. The increasing popularity of SG Web Reviews is a compliment to me and serves to reinforce in me that I am going the right direction. I hope that by the end of this year, my blog can reach 100,000 pageviews. I believe this is achievable if I continue to blog frequently and share with my readers my investment thoughts.

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. Some readers emailed me and commented that they prefer the previous template as the sidebars can be seen. I appreciate their constructive feedbacks and will consider switching back to the old template. Some readers have also emailed and blasted me for not replying their comments in SG Web Reviews. 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 did not response to your messages, I hope you would also welcome views from the others who responsed to your comments. I look forward to your continued support and wish you luck in your investment journey.

Magically yours

Thursday, July 19, 2012

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. 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 a falling knife.

Magically yours

Thursday, July 12, 2012

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. 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. Usually when these influential people speak, people usually listen to them because in this world, track records 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 tons of money for themselves, and in the process, burst the bubble. When this occurred, small time investors got burnt and lost their money. Always remember that when it comes to investing, it is always a zero sum game. For every winner, there is always a loser.

So what are the key lessons for investors like you and me? Firstly, whether you like it or not, the market will always be controlled by big players. These movers and shakers are so called "whales". When the whales flipped their tails, a lot of fish like you and me can be injured if you are in their way. So whenever the guru speaks, always think critically of what they said because you never know whether they are vested. Do not speculate or invest in stocks just because some wealthy dudes are vested in these companies. Always do your homework and not to "herd" along with the rich dudes, thinking that you can make money with them or outwit them. You can't.

Secondly, if you follow my blog, I always advocate investing your monies during crisis. Whenever there is a crisis, very few "experts" would come out and encourage people to invest. But these are the only window of opportunities available for retail investors to create wealth. As the saying goes, every crisis comes with opportunity. So grab hold of opportunity when crisis strikes!

Magically yours

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dealing with setback

Recently, I have been doing a lot of reflections. Something nasty happened to me and set me thinking whether I should continue blogging. When I started this blog three years ago, my intention was to chronicle my investment journey and captured the important lessons learned. I hope to document down these lessons, not only to serve as a reminder 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. 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 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's 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 one-up me and do better than me, by all means, go ahead and start to blog for all I care. I started this blog three years ago and painstakingly build up the number of readership this blog enjoys today. This required loads of effort and energy. You have no idea.

I suppose Singaporeans are always quick to judge and criticize others' work when they are online.  Very seldom, we take a hard look at ourselves. I treat these feedback as a setback and of course, there are several takeaways for me as well. Going forward, I shall be more careful with the way I express myself in this blog. I don't want to impress upon my readers that I am a financial guru. I am not. In fact, I am still learning. Secondly, I shall improve my writing and be more selective in the topics I blog.I will work hard and hope that my readers enjoy or gain something after they read my articles.  In conclusion, I wish to thank the many positive comments and praises I received in this blog. These are what kept me blogging for the past three years and I hope to have your support in the near future.

Magically yours

Sunday, July 8, 2012

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. 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".

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 varies and depends on your spending power. There are no hard and fast rules and its all within your call. So whenever you are in a bad mood, you activate this fund and splurge within this limits. Of course, there are months whereby you did not encounter bad moods, so you can bring over the amount to the next month. Having this Bad Mood fund can ensure that you do not spend irresponsibly when you are in lousy moods. It requires discipline and takes time to cultivate. But once you get the hang of it, it can bring balance to your emotion and financial well being.

If you are married, it is essential that you discussed with your partner on setting this Bad Mood Fund in your family budget plans.  In fact, I shared this idea with my wife and established a Bad Mood Fund of $200 for her. This is to motivate her when she felt down and tired from taking care of our baby girl. I hope you find the article above useful and consider setting a Bad Mood fund for yourselves or your close ones.

Magically yours

Thursday, July 5, 2012

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 fifities. 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". 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 to a  neighbouring country 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, so he "need" to be "rich". I would like to share with him my experience. Just like him, I got married in my early thirties. I had my first kid only recently. It is indeed true that getting married and having babies are costly affairs in Singapore. But I wish to correct the flawed thinking that there is a need to be "rich" in order for a guy to establish himself in Singapore. I am a living example. I got married last year and had a kid, but I am not rich! I had paid for most of the expenses like proposal rings, wedding banquets, bridal photography, honeymoon, dowry, etc. I shouldered most of the expenses because I considered it as a guy's responsibility to pay for his own wedding. Although it was a bit tough for me back then, I am glad I went through it and now have a happy family. Of course I had exhausted my life savings and is now back to square one.

My advice for Eric is to plan and budget carefully for your wedding. If the overall cost of the wedding is too much for you to handle, try to stagger the payments. Alternatively, you may want to hold back your investment plans for a while and use your investment monies for your wedding instead. In addition, communication with your partner is also key to solving money issues. Many times, you would realise that expectations can be moderated after discussion with your partner, hence, lowering the costs for your wedding. But one thing for sure is that you definitely need not be "rich" in order to get married in Singapore.

I hope that my readers will not take the above comments too personal. My objective is to reach out to the younger folks and share with them my life eexperiences. It is not my intention to criticise and put down other's comments. I hope you will find this article beneficial and useful.

Magically yours

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How to be rich in Singapore

 How to be rich? How to be rich quick in Singapore?

A few months ago, I wrote an article on how to become rich in Singapore. The articles has since garnered more than 2500 page views and remained one of my most popular postings. The article has also received several feedbacks from my readers. I suppose at the back of most Singaporeans' mind, most of us wish to know what is the shortest route to being rich in Singapore. I shall attempt to discuss more about this topic.

I always pondered aloud, what is the defintion of being rich in Singapore? Does it mean setting a monetary target of $10 million in the bank or does it refers to the state of the mind? Just yesterday, I read an article from a local Chinese newspaper about the plight of a senior engineer who was addicted to gambling. The article stated that the engineer earned more than $10,000 every month but owed gambling debts of more than half a million. Unable to withstand the constant harassment from loan sharks, the engineer committed suicide. For most Singaporeans, a monthly salary of more than $10,000 would probably make us among the top earners in Singapore. Yet apparently for this engineer, his monthly salary was not even enough for him to satisfy his gambling addictions. So I suppose the moral of the story is that it is not how much you owned or earned that make you feel rich. Rather, being rich is a state of the mind. You can have a super-scale salary of $10,000 but still struggle financially if you don't manage your personal finance wisely. You can have $10 million in the bank but ultimately this money would evaporate if you were addicted to gambling.

So what is the secret to being rich in Singapore? I did a mini survey in my workplace and came to realise one thing. Many Singaporean in their fifties became wealthy through property investments. Many of them still hold on to their jobs and are humbled with their financial successes. They live simple and do not engage in gambling activities. I know there are people who made big money through stock, gold or forex investments. But apparently, the circle of my friends did not make their wealth from these financial instruments. So definitely there are many ways to become rich in Singapore, but I think the key is to get rich slowly. It is only through hard work and slow accumulation of wealth that you can truly appreciate the value of money.

Investing in property is one of the safest bet. Of course, things doesn't always go in exponential curve. In financial markets, there are always cycle of ups and downs. This is applicable to property too. So always make sure you do your homework before committing your monies on property investment.

Magically yours