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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Cash Flow versus Net Worth

Let's have a bit of fun as the year comes to a close. 

Cash flow versus net worth, which is better?


Gold digger

If I am a gold digger, I'll definitely go for net worth - especially if he got a 40 million dollar landed property. 

Look, it's much easier and natural to whisper to him during "pillow talk" to have my name added to the title deed. 

Now try doing that with a partner who is asset light (rents a penthouse condo) but have a 5 million dollars annual salary... 

"Dear, can you include my name in your bank account?"

Now that's a little too obvious, isn't it?   

Wages, salary, and remuneration

Would you prefer to have a 10 baggers in 10 years with no yields; or no capital gains but you get 15% yield annually for the next 10 years?

Let's put this question in another light.

Those of you who are working in the corporate world, you know you have it good when you can negotiate your remuneration in annual terms. Now who wants to be paid in weekly or daily terms?

I am paid in hourly rates for my weekend job :(

(Consultants and lawyers who charge by the hour don't you pretend to cry crocodile tears... You know you will jump at every opportunity to sign a retainer agreement whenever possible!)

Those who have applied for Alibaba IPO may know of Joseph Tsai from Taiwan. He gave up his US million dollars annual salary to join Alibaba in its infancy 15 years ago in exchange for the equivalent of SGD100 per month salary - and of course a share of Alibaba.

Now, if you just have graduated and have 2 job offers - one from a brand name MNC that pays $10,000 per month; the other from a unknown startup that pays $1000 per month but with stock options - which would you choose?

One has good, better, best cash flow from the get go. 

The other sucks in cash flow but offers the opportunity if you are lucky, you could be an instant millionaire if the start up survives and thrives with an IPO 10-15 years later.

So how?


  1. Can I have the cake and still eat part of it?


    1. CW,

      Of course boleh!

      And its so doable that almost every WORKING Singaporean that OWNS a property is doing it :)

      Having both is best!

      Having one or the other also can! Won't die one.

      But no cash flow, no assets... Cham lor!

      Unless you are a follower of St. Francis of Assisi, which is just as cool.

      Hey! It boils down to our own lifestyle choices ;)

  2. all the rich are mostly asset rich and cash flow tight relatively.

    however to a good trader, his cash is actually his asset, which means that he is always cash tight but with nothing else but lots of cash.

    1. which means can see but cannot touch! hands off!

    2. coconut,

      To traders, cash is an ASSET!!!

      I've learnt the hard way its better to take a quick and small loss than to tie up my trading capital on a dead position.

      The $ loss is not the problem. When I let a losing trading mess me up psychologically, I lose even more when a good risk/reward trading setup appears but I now can't squeese the trigger!?


      LOL! See cannot touch!

      Reminds me of the pretty jie-jie I served last Sunday. I shamelessly flirted with her. She says I very "cute".

      Next time she comes again I will ask for her number ;)

    3. Did she meant your fat wallet very cute?

      Your face is now very familiar in Singapore. Millionaire investor. Right?

    4. right on my friend, cut loss is not about cut loss, its about your ability to continue trading...

      hey! don't play with fire, er i mean people's wife!!!

    5. want woman geylang plantiful la...

    6. coconut,

      Wait... I think that jie-jie is married...

      Ai yeah! Why you go spoil my New Year fantasy!?

      You no fun one. I don't play with you!

    7. thats your fantasy?! wah lan....

    8. i think you are not having a sexual issue here, its about your ego issue...

      good luck!

    9. Got money can easily inflate ego one.

    10. there are many ways to solve that ego issue in life, want examples?

      but never use it in trading and with other people's wife, you will be crash!

    11. coconut and CW,

      Ego and sexual issues my foot!

      It's about self-confidence in who I am ;)

    12. now my ego is popping out again, my M6 haha....

    13. coconut,

      Ha! Say me some more...

      You try flirting without props like BMW M6, wear cartoon sales assistant uniform, doing cashiering, and packing up the things she bought.

      You think I so crass like those nouveau riche that deck themselves full with brand names and icons of opulence?

      I look like toad; but I'm a smooth operator ;)

    14. wah cannot joke one ah....so serious, really an ego issue.

    15. i saw this M6 really selling "cheap" but i'm afraid to let my wife know, i just have to hold on to my fantasy for the moment.


      should i bought it, i'll blame it on SMOL!

    16. CW & coconut,

      Thanks for the bantering and jokes on this cold and grey day! That was fun!

      And thanks for providing the perfect analogy to my gentle poke on "talk talk" goal settings, planning, and New Year resolutions :)

      I only say I wanted to ask for her number next time (a goal? a plan?); but we talk it as if I have DONE it already ;)

      Dragons and phoenixes!

      Every year make New Year resolutions; every year forgot about them...

      Why lie to ourselves?

      If the pain is too unbearable; we will MOVE.

      If the pleasure is so alluring; we will SUCCUMB.

      The DECISIONS will choose to make, or not make matters more than the so called plans or goals...


      I don't share my 心法 in my posts with full nudity. I hide them here in peek-a-boo for the 有缘人and 知音人。

  3. Replies
    1. oh orchard tower then haha...

    2. CW and coconut,

      I not familiar with Geyland, will go explore one of these days.

      But if neighbours and ex-colleagues saw me there, what do I say?

      I just doing my cultural tour of Singapore?

      Hey! If my neighbours and ex-colleagues are there, I should question them instead!

      What you doing here!?

      That's right! The first to ask with a straight face wins :)

    3. Your neighbours and ex-colleagues went there to eat Hot Pot Frog legs

    4. want to go better go now!

      soon it will become china town, real china (national occupied) town, not the one at china town haha...

    5. 1) CW,

      Yee.... Dare not eat frog legs.... Maybe I can try the Teochew muey there?

      2) coconut,

      Yes! I like the Chungking hotpot when I was in Chengdu. Ah! Chengdu mei meis have porcelain white complexion, big round eyes, and lots of curves.

      I think I saw quite a few Chungking hotpot restaurants in Geyland... Always passed by in bus; never actually roamed around in Geyland by foot.

      Eh! If I whisper to the bouncer in lorong 19 that I know you cocount, got discount?

    6. kanna beaten i don't know ok... i got plantiful of competitor there.

      if i grow coconut free right in front the last time i'm there, now it would have been strick by lightning already.

    7. Chair! (How do you spell the I look you no up "chair" in Hokkien?)

      Still dare say "I stationed at 19!"

      Puffing hot air only...

      You bun pi-pi.

    8. all i know is if a place can attract treal and fun, there will be money to make, planty of them.

      i found them in markets too.

    9. OK, I'll take the bait.

      I also go where there's volatility and volume :)

  4. Hi SMOL

    Wah what is all this talk between you and Coconut and Uncle CW about Geylang? How does it go to here anyway?

    Anyway, lai lai lai, I opening up a company offering candidates $500/month salary and a few stock options along the way. Uncle CW can eat both the cake and keep the rest :D

    1. are we still talking about china town, i mean geylang style of business??

      if yes i'm in! sure make one!

    2. B,

      What to do?

      Jazz musicians like to come here. No musical scores; no conductor.

      Sometimes we let each other have our solo moments; sometimes like now, we just jam along whenever we feel like it!

      Freestyle blogging anyone?

      The trick is not to take ourselves too seriously ;)

    3. coconut,

      You just talk whatever comes to your mind.

      What sure make?

      You think you selling durians?

      Wait kenna chased my 10 men wielding water-melon knives how?

    4. thats your night mare or fantasy? you watch too much movie liao!

    5. coconut,

      Doing "vice" businesses, our "competitors" don't follow the rules one.

      And it's not as if we can ask Big Daddy for help, is it?

      I can't help laughing at one case a few years back where the judge ordered the arrest of the plaintiff who sued his business partner for negating the share of the profits from their illegal activities.... Like that also can!?

  5. Hi SMOL,

    My feelings is to go for networth in the earlier part of your career stage first, then go for cash flow thereafter. Cashflow and networth actually can't be separated and discussed without talking about the relationship between them. Both are entwined together.

    In the earlier part of the career, you want to focus more on building up a certain networth. Pay down your debts, don't incur too many debts, reduce your expenses, increase your savings, increase your investible cash. Once you hit a big enough level, preferably after you reduced your debt, you can start to do big things with you money. Invest for cashflow as a secondary replacement source of income. It'll come at a time when your human asset tap is running dry. At that stage, you can either lay back and relax with work (if your passive income can replace your active one) or start a brand new adventure since you've covered your base already.

    Let's see Joseph Tsai. He is currently 50 yrs old. 15 yrs ago, he's 35 yrs old, and he's trained as a lawyer and financier. 1990 to 1995, he worked as a lawyer. 1995 to 1999, he worked in a private equity firm. He's quite a high flier, and I supposed he must have covered his base working for 10 yrs before he leaped at the opportunity to work with Alibaba in 1999.

    If Jack found Joseph Tsai when he was 25 yrs old, would he have joined? That's the question.

    Back to your question of having just graduated with 2 job offers...I've to ask myself whether my base is covered. If I still have a heavy student loan, I'll take the 10k MNC job anytime. If I'm light on my feet, not much commitment or commitments had already been covered (you might be a graduate at 35yrs old, not necessarily 23 or 25 yrs old), I'll leap at the opportunity to start something new.

    Different seasons, different fruits, we have to eat different things.

    1. LP,

      I deliberately left the Joseph Tsai "clue" to provide the empty space for those willing to do the "verification" and reflection bit themselves.

      Yup, without his accumulated net worth at age 35, can Joseph Tsai survive on such drastically reduced monthly cash flow when he joined Alibaba as an active and contributing partner?

      Having said that, if I am single, childless, no need to support parents, no student loan, and so on... I can also join Alibaba at age 25 with $100 per month salary in China.

      But I can't be a partner. Only employee no. 11. And that's provided I can prove to Jack Ma I have something to bring to the table as in talent and competence!

      No cash flow, no assets at age 25; full of passion and lots of dreams also works!

      I like your analogy.

      I'll steal with pride and my cover version is:

      Different people; different outcome

  6. Hi SMOL,

    I find myself agreeing with LP. If I already have an established pot of gold, I can afford to take a risk with my future. But if I am still trying to make ends meet, chances are I want something stable, like a nice paycheck at the end of the month.

    Alas, I am not an entrepreneur. Sorry.

    1. S-Reit System Investor,

      I'm glad you commented.

      I would like to think we have built up a relationship by now that I can reduce my sugar-coated bantering with you ;)

      1) I like you latest book review on "Laughing at Wall Street". Especially with what you say: "we can pay more attention to our everyday environment."

      We are on the same page as its about AWARENESS of the here and now. When opportunities appears, we grab them! Who cares if they are black or white cats?

      2) Now comes the bare knuckle part. Have you noticed the divergence between what you wrote above and your "Reflections for 2014" post?

      "Looking ahead to 2015, my goal is to complete researching on every REIT and business trust listed on the Singapore Exchange."

      Gentle poke: Don't be restricted or hemmed in by a nick. You have all the power to call yourself whatever you chooses whenever you feel like it ;)

      Today I call myself a trader. Tomorrow I may call myself Spiderman!

    2. We read. We learn. We change. LOL!

    3. LOL. I have noticed.

      My defense is I view the 'Laughing at Wall Street' strategy (hereforth I shall call it the LAWS strategy because it sounds snazzy) as how a pundit will buy Toto just to strike the million dollar lottery.

      I will still slog with my left brain to complete my research on REITs. At the same time, I will apply the LAWS strategy with my right brain for the occasional insider (of my brain) tip.

      Oh dear, I have a split personality. LOL

    4. P.S. I do not mind the occasional poke, but please do not use your uppercut on me. I have a fragile ego.

    5. S-Reit System Investor,

      You're a good sport!

      Message noted. Only jabs; no uppercuts ;)

  7. As an investor's (mine) point of view, an asset is an asset only if it can generate cash. If it's not then it's a "dead or future" asset. No use to me now. Might as well sell it.
    While cash flow is very important that you will ensure you will not be caught in a liquidity squeeze forcing you to fire sell your assets at a loss.
    That where asset allocations come into play. Wasn't Joseph Tsai did his asset allocations at that time before he joined ALIBABA? i am quite sure he did.

    As for liability, i still don't know how to use it to make money. Only know how to use it as a kind of protection. Even than i find it very difficult to use.
    If you are very, very rich, the wasteland you buy now may be an asset down the road for your next, next generation. So now this piece of land is a "dead" asset and why you still buy it?
    If only i am that very , very rich then i will know.

    1. Hello temperament,

      I don't buy Robert Kiyosaki's definition of what is an asset ;)

      I keep it simple and straight forward - any tangible object that can be EXCHANGED for cash is an asset.

      So yes, old newspapers, damaged TV and disused washing machine are assets. If not, why would the karang guni pay money to us? Your old handphones don't want please give them to me!

      Isn't the former Citiraya a listed karang guni company? See? Can make money out of thrash!

      One man's trash is another man's gold; and if that is not the essence of deep value investing, what is?

      You are right. Majority of the super rich have learnt how to master the power of leverage. If you don't like words like debt, leverage, margin, we can call it taking advantage of other people's money (OPM).

      Now, an insurance company or bank is a great vehicle to tap OPM - Warren Buffet fans would know ;)

      Using leverage is a skill.

      Some choose to learn and master it; some choose to ignore it.

      Just like some of us choose to ignore the utility of knowing Chinese ;)

      It's a free world!

  8. Hi SMOL,

    I missed out on all the Geylang talk. Hor Fun or Frog Leg porridge! Hahaa…..

    Cash flow Vs net worth, which is better?

    Have to agree with LP & SRSI, it depends on which stage of your life. I agree with both of them because I am “Kiasi” and not a great entrepreneur and that’s why we are still commoners (not Jack Ma) blogging now…No offence…all bloggers, me inclusive.

    A true entrepreneur will start his own company ignoring his financial situation at his time, because he is crazy!!! Some people say if you are too sane you cannot be an entrepreneur.

    My bro in law (very poor family background) gave up his JC in his times, also gave up poly halfway in 80s to go and sell TV3 antenna and started many business for the next 10 years. All failed!!!
    Even up to the point when he is married in his 30s and have house and lots of expenses. No Money, and my sis had to pay and pull through with him!!! It was also once in the Chinese newspaper once. Today he is humbly successful entrepreneur. But I am sick talking to him…(haha)..because he everyday and everywhere He only talk about his business throughout the 25 years I know him later. A true entrepreneur Must be Insane!!!

    Now let’s think. Even if I give you one pot of gold now at your 30s say S$500k-1million, will you go for the startup??? Or continue to lead your safe life. Or just put the pot of gold into our so call Portfolio and continue to look at excel sheet every now and then and update our blog. Again me inclusive.

    Talk so much…still have not choose. Now you know I so “Kiasi” definitely not an entrepreneur. I will choose cash flow and then grow my own asset.

    Gold digger… Pillow talk and name added…. Be careful do not end up like Yang Yin tour guide!

    MNC 10k Vs Startup 1K???

    I choose MNC 10k. From day one I will need to know I want to strike my own after the MNC journey end. For 5 yrs there, I earn and learn as much as possible while practise my start up plan. Dun say cannot, I have a frd who worked in Accenture and did exactly that having a part time non-conflicting company. Now his own company is successful after 5 years in MNC.

    Startup 1k salary with stock options. Must be damn “Heng” Not everyday Sunday! Most fail than succeed. Even succeeded, the company still not yours. You can be forced out of the game anytime!

    I know you guys must be wondering I had so many stories, blab la bla all successful. But the fact is it is not me inside these stories!!! *sob* sob* sob* and continue be a commoner and lead a dangerous free life.


    1. Rolf,

      That's the essence of my irreverent posts - everyone is different. We have our own karma and own paths.

      There are no "magic" formulas where if we copy others, we will get the same result.

      And why must we always try to "fit in" to what others say?

      Earn more or save more? Of course I say earn more!

      I rather earn 1 million and spend 1 million (on wine, women, and song) with zero savings than to have 100% savings rate on zero income. Ar ber then!? At least I have got experiential memories even though both of us are technically penniless at the end of the day :(

      Cash flow or net worth? This one is harder as it's like asking whether the egg or chicken comes first?

      We need cash flow to accumulate net worth (unless its inheritance, theft, fraudulent means, etc) ; and net worth can in turn generate cash flow.

      All I know is that 5% yield on 200K has less options than 5% yield on 2 million.

      In percentage its the same; but once we accept the reality in money terms, we know what we must DO.

      And that's more important to me than trying to come up with the "right" answer :)

    2. Hi SMOL,

      In one of my previous post, you say you don't smoke, don't drink and don't vice, except gamble. haha.

      You need not thank me. I will help you take care of the wine and women! hahaha

      If you look at all famous/great investors, they earn n earn first, before they become great, then they invest! Even fund managers like Peter Lynch are considering earning, since it is a job for them.

      Earning 5% on 20k, difficult lar....!!! Ooops....sorry you mean 200k. Eh..not so easy to earn 200k!. Wah... 2million. Siao!!!

      Earn, save, invest and compound. Notice Earn is in front.
      Sorry Earn replaced by Trade....


      By the way, its already eve of 2015. I wish you and family a prosperous, healthy and wealthy year ahead.

      PS: Stop poking Mei Mei in 2015 hor.....!!!


    3. Rolf,

      Don't anyhow twist my words....

      I said I don't drink, don't smoke, don't gamble (Toto is a hedge against my life insurance). Other than that, I have no other vices. LOL!

      Yeah right! All the "wah" and "siao" from someone who has a 2nd rental property. Cash flow buy property; property generates cash flow. Wash, rinse, repeat.

      OK, peace, peace. No poking each other during New Year's eve.

      Wishing you and family joy and happiness for 2015!

    4. Hi SMOL,

      Apologies. I only poke those with a big bleeding heart. You are definitely one, although you always deny. No = Yes!

      2nd rental property is a down to earth HDB older than me, but younger than...hmm....*mouth tight* Use to be our first flat, and we love the flat.

      My wife cleverly chose the NAV while I chose the Cash Flow.

      When we are older, we may consider shifting back. Now is too small for 7 of us. Therefore shoebox unit like some advocates is not for us at the moment.

      By the way now, why do you want shoebox when Minister KBW is going to offer cheaper and beautiful HDB. GE is nearing.


    5. Rolf,

      You got smart wife ;)

      Well. Crash got sound.

      Shoebox units have a place in the city centre. You sacrifice sqm for time convenience. But shoebox in suburbia?

      Shoebox units were new to most Singaporeans when they were introduced. The first generation of shoebox investors would pass on their wisdom to the next generation of shoebox investors.

      After their initial goals, plans, and hopes have been washed and rinsed through the baptism of hands on experience ;)

      I guess most people have forgotten or have not visited the HDB 1.5 room flats before. They were common in Mei Ling Street near where I used to stay and there's one block left.

      There is a reason why HDB are phasing them out... Now they are called studio apartments for the senior citizens.... Wash, rinse, repackage ;)

    6. Hey hey hey...I remember the 1.5 room. So nostalgic. My auntie use to stay in those flat in Mei ling.
      That is the only size flat I yet to stay in before.

      Agree that shoebox in city makes more sense. Suburban maybe 15-20 years down the road, when aging population set in. I think eventually HDB will also build more, but now, they still need to encourage people to breed…so maybe cannot have too many shoebox.

      As for condo shoebox, I use to consider Alexis also near Meiling there, because I stay nearby. My sis asked if I wanted to jointly own it when it cost 400-500k. But I had only low 5-digits money! And I told her ok…but not enough, she lamented!!! I think prices was 2x after 1-2 yrs of our consideration.

      Wah Lau…just read from property guru. Reviews sucks.


      Wash, rinse, repackage...does not sound very delicious by the way for food. For house, ok!

    7. Rolf,

      I almost bought into Alexis too ;)

      But when I found out the shoebox units have no windows??? Hello, that's a prison!!! Have windows must buy 1 bedroom and above.

      So easy to tell if the developer got class or not. But how many can have a clear head when buying properties were like Hello Kitty craze?

      Oh well, my money went into equities instead.

      Big daddy is very oriental (like me?) and conservative (not me!); shoeboxes - opps - studio apartments are meant for asset rich cash poor seniors to downgrade as a retirement option.

      Thank goodness HDB studios got windows!

      I've got my plan Z liao! If all else fails and I self-destruct ;)

  9. Oh Ya....by the way, Geylang which number is nice??? Which Frog Leg stall I mean!

    1. Rolf,

      I not familiar with Geyland.

      OK people, who knows which frog leg stall is good to recommend Rolf?

      I very "ang moh" when it comes to food - no bones; no shell. And no exotic animals or body parts!

    2. I cannot see any moh in your picture....haha... Just kidding...dun kill me....:)

  10. No wonder some people want to be vegetarian in this world.
    i mean contrarian in the market. Not to be "poisoned" by the things(news and what not) the masses swallow lock, stock and barrel.
    Joking only.
    But i just like to find out why i am different.
    Don't you?

    1. temperament,

      Why are you different?

      Your Lord loves you the way you are ;)

      You do it at Valuebuddies while I do it here. We throw a brick out and see if we get sticks and stones thrown back at us.

      And if we are lucky, we sometimes attract jade ;)

      I blog not to "educate" others on financial matters, help others get rich, or for world peace.

      I blog because it's fun and for those scintillating moments when I "got it" after a "passionate debate" with readers who totally disagree with me :)

      How else to test the strength of my sabre if not in actual combat?

  11. Thank you. Your honest answer touches me. Don't forget the (my) Lord loves you for being yourself too. Anyway can i be somebody else. Very, very rare in my whole life though i would not say i never.
    i learn a lot from you too by wu liu chit chat with you.
    Ha! Ha!


  12. Hi SMOL,

    What gold digger? Be the gold you want to dig lah!

    Just don't mistake booger as gold. LOL~

    Happy 2015! A toast to prosperity!

    1. Endrene,


      And may 2015 be filled with ecstasies and climatic moments you sassy girl!!!

  13. i think i wanted to provide my point of view but didn't have the time until now. i thought the one at thefinance actually have more examples but this one looks more strip down.

    in a lot of cases i do agree with the first one where networth is a better get rather than if the rich man gave a large consistent cash flow. it feels like biosensors cash flow, great just not sure when it will end.

    for the rest of the example is an example of present or future cash flow. the word cash flow is good compare to the word income in that, income gives you an idea you got to work on something to earn it. in the case of cash flow, spending down your networth principal is also a cash flow.

    at the end of the day when you garner a piece of cash flow you probably are looking at its future propensity as well. a 2% yielder but growing at 25% per year is somewhat akin to the ali baba example.

    1. Quote: "spending down your networth principal is also a cash flow."

      Good strategy if one decided not to leave behind too much money for others to spend.

    2. Kyith,

      I am glad you have chimed in and shared your point of view ;)

      Words can illuminate us; yet they can also trap us if we argue over semantics...

      Very happy you can see beyond words and see it's true nature.

      To me, networth is like a big ice cube, and cash flow streams of water from this ice cube.

      As you have correctly pointed out, we can melt ice cube to form streams of water.

      And if we collect streams of water and freeeze them, we get a giant ice cube!

      You are getting mellow like fine wine :)

    3. CW,

      Now that will be my greatest market timing adventure!

      I am glad I have the downgrade to HDB studio apartment option as plan Z - if I blow-up big time!!!

      Sometimes we worry too much.

      There will be solutions or there be none.

      If yes got solutions, why the worry?

      If no solutions, never mind it. Whatever will be will be.

  14. Hi SMOL,

    Have to agree sometimes we think and worry too much on things that have not happen. This is what my wife always lecture me on!

    But on the contrary she do not think so much and have been living greater than me, and yet all smooth smooth for past ten year or so!

    Careful is good, but over pessimistic is not good. 杞人忧天!

    1. Rolf,

      Got woman to complement you so good!

      I now go hug my bolster now - it's also called Dutch wife ;)

      Oh well, we can' have everything!


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