Tuesday 30 April 2013

My first poster girl - Farah Fawcett

I was reminiscing at LP's blog about how the landmarks of our yesteryears were slowly disappearing on us.

There was this "Da Zhong" emporium at Margaret Drive/Commonwealth Avenue where I used to hang out after school. Sadly it's demolished long ago...

At the stationery section, I can't help but gravitate towards this poster hanging on the wall. 

Yes, it's the 70s and the era of Charlie's Angels and Six Million Dollar Man!

I'm sure all of us have our first poster girl (or man) in our hearts.
Some of us buy and put such posters in our bedrooms. Some - like me - put them in our hearts as we were too "shy" then... LOL!

Hey! I started noticing older women since primary school!




Tuesday 23 April 2013

HDB - Is the price a bargain?

Female readers out there, if you are into handbags, you will be able to spot bargains when you are travelling to Europe or US - be it Prada, LV, or Coach. 

You have to act quick! There is no time to call friends or relatives back in Singapore to check the retail prices back home.

If you hesitate for a moment, the bitch standing next to you will grab the handbag and you will spend the whole trip sulking.

It's the same for male readers. COE prices dipped below $10,000 some years back. Those who "knew" the car market would have maxed out on a 10 years car loan with minimum deposit - never mind if it's the "wrong" thing to do on paper.

You would have been much better off than those who felt its "safer" to save up a meaningful deposit first so you can limit the car loan to not more than 5 years. Yup, you "saved" on interest; but you got "scxxwd" by the mercurial rise in COE prices by waiting... 

The moral of the story is that if you know what you are buying, you will know instinctively whether something is expensive, fair value, or at a bargain.  No need to ask gurus or your friends. You can squeeze the trigger yourself!

A HDB flat is usually the biggest big ticket purchase for working class readers who are like me. However, it amazes me that most people would spend more time doing research buying a washing machine or big screen LED TV than getting themselves "in-tuned" with the HDB market.

I would like to share 2 real life stories on the advantage of being in the know on what you buy:

Story A - me!

During my time, I can only buy a resale HDB flat when I reach 35 years young. So at 30, I was already eagerly on countdown. During my free time, I was flipping the papers to get an idea of the HDB prices in Queenstown.

I bought my 55 sq m 3S corner flat in Queenstown for $124,000. Officially, this 3 room flat is not a corner unit as it's an old design - the corner corridor outside belongs to HDB. A normal corridor 3S is selling at $118,000.

I saw this unit in the morning and closed the deal in the night. My math not good but thank goodness I just needed primary school math.

After buying this unit, I bought from HDB the 9 sq m corner corridor for $1,000. (Where in Singapore can buy 9 sq m for S1,000? HDB good or what?)
$118,000 divided by 55 sq m =
$124,000 divided by 55 sq m =

$125,000 divided by 64 sq m = 

Story B - my sibling

My sibling bought a 3I HDB flat in Holland Village area last year with cash over valuation at $12,000 only!?

Never mind Holland V area -  where in Queenstown can get this "low" COV?  

I know what you are thinking. Could be a murder or horrible death unit? Or O$P$ ah long harassment unit? This can be easily ascertained if you knock on doors and ask the neighbours.

It's like the handbag example. When I say know the market or product, it meant you have the street smarts to know whether it's genuine or fake.

My sibling came, saw, and closed the deal there and then. No let me think about it. The amazing thing is that there were 5 clients who saw this flat before her! 

How to get to know the HDB market

1) Newspaper classified ads

2) Take a glance at the HDB ads junk mail in your letter box before you throw them away 

3) And for those IT savvy, HDB Singapore

I'll throw in this bonus. Sometimes price is not everything. How to know whether a new BTO HDB flat or an older resale HDB flat is better for you?

Attend house warming parties and invite yourself to friends' flats duh!

You may discover you don't like the size or layout of the new BTO flats. You may prefer HDB flats from certain era. For eg, do you know the differences between 3S, 3I, 3A, and 3NG?

Is your knowledge from floor plans or from kicking the tires?

Price is not everything. That's why to you paying $1 million for a 5 room HDB is crazy; but to the new owner, it's a bargain! For that location, that view, that size, its priceless!   


Friday 19 April 2013

3 Pillars of Learning

"Seeing much, suffering much, and studying much, are the three pillars of learning."

— Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Our Education System

Dedicated to the young readers out there who find it hard to "fit in".

Do not despair, complain, or put yourself down.

You just need to look within and discover who you really are. And celebrate your uniqueness!

Trust me.

The world is not against us.

We are the luckier ones. 

We don't have well trodden paths laid out before us

Oh what joy! We can walk our own paths!
Do not worry. 

In the words of our Hokkien street smart wisdom:

"Crash got sound!"

So keep moving forward!



Wednesday 10 April 2013

愛燦燦 小椋佳 夏川りみ さだまさし 海援隊 武田鉄矢 氷川きよし

Just sharing this song I like very much.

Can't understand a single word; but it gives me an uplifting spirit just by listening.

Every singer is a pro and master in their own right. Each with their own unique singing style and voice.

Young and old, despite their differences, it shows we can still harmonise with one another without having to drown out the tunes of the other singers just to make ourselves stand out.

Dedicated to all who are working in teams (and fellow bloggers - wink wink).

(Yes, it's another SMOL cryptic message to "know sound" out there)   


Saturday 6 April 2013

Just friends - Right... (How to find out the truth)

We're just friends. Honest!

A mom visits her son for dinner who lives with a girl roommate.

During the course of the meal, his mother couldn't help but notice how pretty his roommate was. She had long been suspicious of a relationship between the two, and this had only made her more curious....

Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between him and his roommate than met the eye.

Reading his mom's thoughts, her son volunteered,

“I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you,we are just roommates."


About a week later, his roommate came to him saying,

“Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the silver plate. You don't suppose she took it, do you?"

He said ,"Well, I doubt it, but I'll email her, just to be sure." He sat down and wrote :

Dear Mother:

I'm not saying that you ‘did' take the silver plate from my house, I'm not saying that you ‘did not' take the silver plate 

But the fact remains that it has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.

your son.


Several days later, he received an email from his mother which read:

Dear Son:

I'm not saying that you ‘do' sleep with your roommate, and I'm not saying that you ‘do not' sleep with her.

But the fact remains that if she was sleeping in her OWN bed, she would have found the silver plate by now, under her pillow…


Tuesday 2 April 2013

Remember when CPF was 25/25%?

I was lucky to be working in the late 80s when our CPF personal contribution was 25% and employer's contribution was 25% too.

The unfortunate thing I was earning less than $600 per month then. Would have benefitted more if it's based on my last drawn pay.

Imagine if your employer would be contributing 25% CPF on your salary, would you be happier? Of course the catch is you have to deduct 25% from your take home pay too.

Some will miss the good old days; some will be happier to see more take home pay even if the employer's CPF contribution is also cut accordingly.

I guess it may depend whether you go for instant gratification, how you manage your monthly cashflows, and lifestyle choices.

CPF hurrah!

There are those "luckier" ones (I've learnt that it's better to use luck so as not to sound arrogant or offend) who don't view or have to depend on CPF as a retirement/financial freedom tool - it's more a temporary place to park their funds while waiting for the next investment opportunity. 

Let's put it this way, the elite will not come up with schemes and policies that do not benefit themselves; especially if you belong to the higher tax bracket. 

Some of these luckier ones even do voluntary contributions to CPF! 

CPF boo!

Then there are those who "fear" CPF. 

I'll never see my money they say. Which can be true.

If you have plans to utilise a big chunk of CPF to pay for your home mortgage, pay for your children's tertiary education, and other DIY "investments" - then you know now that come your retirement, you'll likely be asset rich and cash poor. (Education is also an investment right?)

The fear is not whether the official retirement age will be pushed back.

Its whether your market timing is good or "lucky" on the day you call it quits.

Not fun to retire in 2001/02 or 2008/09 when your CPF is heavily invested in stocks and mutual funds. 

Nor was it fun to if you retire with multiple properties during 2002 to 2006, especially if you had bought them during 1996.

On children's education I better don't touch upon. Every family have their own "bible".

Something do not add up

I would have assumed those that depend or have lots of plans for their CPF before retirement would prefer a higher CPF contribution rate  - both from themselves and their employer.

It's ironic the CPF boo crowd prefers to hold cash outside CPF; while the CPF hurrah crowd are putting their cash in!?



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