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Monday, 7 December 2015

We do better what we focus on

That's a given.

How can we be good at something we don't really appreciate or care about?

Let me take an investment mindset approach to the discussion on what is your net worth or asset.


If we don't consider CPF an asset or part of our net worth, your focus would not be how to optimise the benefits and freebies big daddy has been dishing out.

Like transferring money from one CPF account to another, making voluntary contributions, or utilising the SRS scheme, for example.

If you are a regular reader of Singapore financial blogs, you'll know the "bleeding heart" has a big following on how to milk big daddy to the hilt!

Don't complain; get even!

Then there are the financially savvy ones who know how to leverage CPF to make investments in properties or equities to create higher returns than what CPF can offer.

And yes, if you are able to generate returns better than CPF rates, you have earned the right to say - buy term insurance and invest the rest.

Try saying that with a straight face if you are leaving your excess CPF funds untouched earning whole life insurance like returns...


I think you get the drift.

Don't consider property is an asset? If you are middle-aged and above, have you caught yourself being envious of your contemporaries who are more property centric than you?

Move house every few years, end up with multiple properties or have a bigger apartment than you - yet they are earning similar pay as you!?

Got right?

Be careful now. If you capitulate, you'll likely be the ones who buy right at the property peak as you can no longer stand your subordinates living in bigger apartments or having more properties than you... 

It's perfectly OK

That's right. You can have your own definition of net worth or what is an asset. Just be aware that there's a cause and effect - that's all!

If you consider your career skill is an asset, and have no time for investing or so called financial literacy, being successful in your chosen profession and happy in what you do, what's wrong with it?

Some may focus on building their own businesses. Where got time for investing to escape? How ironic the majority are trying to buy shares to achieve financial freedom, yet the business owner is trying to IPO and sell the shares of his business to achieve his dream?

And for those who value their families as an asset, not count in dollars and cents, do I need to say more?

People reader

If you pay attention to what people say or write, you'll have a quick sense what they focus on, or what they are likely excel at.

Just like you the reader will know what I suck at - anything that I don't focus on or talk about!


And that's why salespersons encourage you to talk about yourself. The more you reveal, the more we know what buttons to press. Wink.


  1. Ater some time, we should switch our focus and will be better at it. Up mountain and down mountain needs re-focusing. :-)

    1. CW,

      It's double satisfaction when readers got what I hid between the lines.

      During our capital accumulation phase, if we are a picky eater as in carnivore or herbivore, than less vehicles to tap on.

      With blinkers on, we see less opportunities.

      But if we are an omnivore, well...

      There's always time to specialize when we are coming down the mountain ;)

  2. Yes! Switch focus to how to preserve and spend our money better.

    1. temperament,

      I think you and CW add a very important counter-balance to the discussions in our community :)

      Young, some many save and scrimp to invest and take calculated risks to ensure we have enough in our happy years.

      During our happy years (乐龄), the opposite may occur. If we don't spend what we have before we go, how many more years do you think we have left?

      Wars are fought by young men; but the spoils of war are divided by old men.

      When we are deciding how much to give to whom when we are gone, where's the motivation to accumulate more?

  3. Realised I was already doing all these without thinking too much. Maybe all those years of grinding in resource management games had prepped me for this.

    All it's all luck and hopefully stay that way!

    1. Patty,

      That's high level Zen stuffs!

      No mind.

      No goals, no plans, no agenda, no bucket lists, no nothing.

      Hungry eat; tired rest.

  4. Hi SMOL,

    Hahaha, go one big circle to poke me LOL

    I suck at CPF, that's for sure. All the percentages and contribution I'm very noob at it. I got so frustrated with the cpf site recently (i think their services had been done for 2 weeks) and I can't do my compulsory medisave contribution. They are not making things easy for me, or maybe I suck at navigating their site haha

    1. LP,

      Took me bloody 5 years to finally find an opening :)

      How's that for patience?

      You're definitely a good sport!

      Hello. You think big daddy will make it easy for you to milk them?

      Just look at SSG bonds. Must open CDP account and that's perhaps the 2nd biggest reason why response a bit meh...

      If financial blogger can can't be bothered with CPF, what more for the common ah pek and ah soh riding the Comfort-Delgro bus when it comes to SSG bonds?


      I feel good. I have closure :)

    2. Hahaha! Poke lah poke lah :) Poking is caring from you, so the more you poke me, the more you care. Good for me :) I can take all the caring LOL

      If SSB is an IPO, wah, they fail miserably lol They didn't use all the tricks employed, like restricting number of public float, big names with huge stakes in it etc etc. I mean if they say that who and who minister themselves also park a big sum inside, I think that will be quite a wonderful marketing and PR exercise ;)

    3. Shh...

      Not so loud lah!

      There's only so much man love we can declare openly ;)

  5. Hi Jared,

    You got the last bit right! People think that salespeople need to talk a lot, but actually we need to listen even more. We talk so as to prompt them to keep talking! Haha.

    Please start talking more about love and relationships then :P

    1. Jes,

      Lucky got you, dimpled girl, rainbow girl, Joyce, and bb girl and other babes as commenters.

      Just the other day, a lady reader was teasing me why I am always bantering with other men and never writing about proper financial stuffs (topics she more interested in)???

      Without you lady readers, wait people think I "happy" guy; jump into yellow river also can't explain...


      Not to worry. All my posts have a people element in them. When there's people, there's relationships. And where there's relationships, there's love (and hate).

      Ah love... So sweet and beautiful, yet can be so bitter and painful...

    2. Hi Jared,

      Got girls as commenters but maybe we are more like your 'jiemeis' what... haha! Oops. Let's see how 'happy' your are :)

    3. Yeah right...

      Pretend pretend to be jiemei.

      Then out of the blue complain why I never call, why I never spend enough time with you, why never buy you gifts...

      Married or attached women please move aside hor. Don't block single jie-meis out there.

      Give chance ;)


  6. Hi SMOL,

    U hit the bull eye when u say some people (and that's me!) feel envious of people earning tons of money from properties.

    I have wanted to blog about this inner evil before but decided not to cry without pain (无病呻吟)

    The inner demons voices:
    Especially when those who earn big from properties are just "Heng" because they say things like "properties only go up", they dun talk about leverage yield whatever. They just got the cycle right and earn lots of money

    Sour grape right? The same people trumpet that oxley bonds are good buys ... Tell them leverage is high, they answered construction companies have high leverage what. Hello, oxley is a developer not a construction company (not sure if they have their own construction arm, but they dun change anything)

    The demon is so bloody big that I told my wife if market corrects 30% for property I also want to play property LOL.

    Got her really excited which I regret lol


    1. Sillyinvestor,

      Thanks for your testimony ;)

      Friend, if property corrects 30%, make a wild guess how much will STI tank?

      It's all about asset rotation. Sometimes, there's a lag between asset classes.

      That's where you'll see some people who made money in properties rotate their winnings into equities; and vice versa.

      Even if one is a koala bear and only interested in nothing but equities, knowing when to rotate into cash can be an important focus.

      Unless one declares cash is not as asset in their net worth calculations...

      And I'll show you a sheep who does not know the value of liquidity or cash flow.

      He definitely does not have a business owner or shepherd mindset!

  7. So I am koala bear and only interested in nothing but equities.

    1. CW,

      You learned the hard way for not being interested in cash as a separate asset class from equities.

      And you are not going to make the same mistake twice ;)

      No prizes for guessing why the panda and koala are both on the endangered species list...

      Specialised is good. Too specialized is another story ;)

  8. Hi SMOL,

    What we choose to focus on is in a way our priorities except for some emergency situations whereby we are forced to switch our focus. Which is why it's important to meet a partner who has the same priorities in life as you and in the same order if not it would just be trying to fit a square peg in a round hole...I agree with Jess though...think you would make a good jiemei! Haha

    1. Joyce,

      After suffering a big drawdown in equities, that's how I learned - why be an equities man-whore when I can be an asset class man-whore?

      Learn by doing is most painful; but the lessons sink in.

      We all know the old adage don't put all your eggs in one basket; but how many really apply it in practice?

      Learn by reading/listening? Can do well in written tests; but during practical tests...

      Does that make me an honorary member of your ladies club?

      If you chicks don't mind letting a fox into your hen house, why should I mind ;)

  9. Hi Jared,
    As usual I am late to the entertaining party here ...
    I agree with you - in a way. I am convinced that once we focus on what we want (not the have-tos!) instead of what we don't want, we will let the things we want come into our life.
    In other words focus on the positive, your strengths, your goals and then mind your own business a bit more. Of course not forgetting to smell the roses along the way and taking in the occasional detour leading to the most interesting places, people and opportunities.

    Jared, I really have no clue on what you could suck at, because you seem to write / talk about everything under the sun. LOL

    1. Andy,

      I avoid talking about math. I'm horrible with math and numbers.

      Let's see... I've yet to talk about the kitchen sink ;)


    2. Hi Jared, I hope your numbers nevertheless do add up for you.
      Hey, the other day I tried the kitchen sink burrito at that Mexican Restaurant. It was fantastic. Every single bite a slightly different flavor.

  10. Hi Andy,

    I am even later. "Better late than never!"

    Hi Jared,

    I like this post very much esp on the part on property, ipo n career skill as an asset. Hit the sweet spots!

    1) Money 2) Women 3) Wine - Men's greatest weakness. How come the article never focus on wine and women? Only money? hehe! Ok the comments box touched on women!

    1) Stocks 2) Property 3) Career

    When I first started blogging I was amazed that most in the blogosphere here whose focus is in stocks are not really big fans of property or career success! I recalled writing blogs or making comments with regards to property or career success outweigh stocks in the early part of our working career. And it was definitely NOT the most popular for most readers.

    Just as I agree with you, I also will like to add that the sequence for stocks, property n career is probably 3, 2, 1 instead of 1,2,3!

    For the younger starter in career, the focus should really learning how to earn first, then get a roof (Peter lynch also say this). But if investing comes along earlier it will be the best, but the priority n time allocation must smart

    Property or stocks? Long or short hair women can both be as beautiful!!! :-)

    1. Rolf,

      There's no such thing as "late" since I do not have a time limit on comments ;)

      Some readers even add comments on posts 3-4 years ago!

      I'll reply and respond as usual :)

      Focus on property does not mean flipping or buying 2nd rental/investment properties.

      If we can buy our live in apartments $100K less than our neighbours, that's $100K less to repay to the banks in terms of being debt free sooner as in time; especially to those with by Y years goal to achieve financial freedom ;)

      And a $100K more to our opportunity fund for equities can't hurt :)

      I suspect quite a lot of "investors" can be too "digital" as in black and white. Analogue a bit and chill on the compartmentalization may do them some good.

      Who cares if it's property or stocks - just as long we make money!

      You have pointed out one often overlooked constraint in investing for most of us mortals - it's time.

      For some readers, this may take some years to figure out...

  11. Ok, i am the later one.

    This post has too many take-away but I don't like guessing. haha.

    Property, CPF, stocks...None of them are my forte. I just know these "products" like my friends that I have to live with. So, what is my forte? Actually, it is my life, my love, my hard-earned money. :)

    1. Frugal Daddy,

      You are on a similar spiritual path as me.

      You see.

      Are skill sets and talents net-worth?

      Steve Jobs has high "net worth". After being fired, can start another successful company like Pixar. So Apple was not a fluke.

      Similarly, if we have to start all over in another company, sector, or even country, can we still flourish?

      That's when we know how much "net worth" we have; and how much of our current "success" were because we were piggybacking on big daddy ;)

  12. Better late (to the party) than never, I say! Ah-ha! I think I get it. The key to getting more words of wisdom from you is to post controversial stuff and see whether you will comment or not! Oops.

    I think I'm the "greedy" sort of person. I like to "know" a little bit of everything, but that doesn't mean I will or can do something about everything cuz my circle of competence is very small :)

    1. Kevin,

      Well, it only works on people I respect or like.

      I practice proper rules of engagement. I poked you and LP at your blogs in your face before writing what I think over here. I don't backstab ;)

      There's some crazy shit being written out there (including mine of course), but you don't see me poking them.

      Why should I?

      They are preaching to their acolytes and choir boys.

      Nowadays, we can believe all kinds of voodoo - from religions to politics to economics. And of course the common peddlers of unicorn and pegasus - financial freedom ;)

      It's great to have you all as a competence group, sounding board, and touch-stone!

    2. You mean that was a poke at my blog? Haiyoh, so gentle, can hardly feel it. Wait. Did you just hint that you 'like' me? *gasp*

      Bantering aside,说的也是. Internet就像是龙蛇混杂的江湖,形形色色,千奇百怪的角色都有。I try not to sound bored or simply just stone-stone around, LOL! (I write rubbish too!)

  13. CPF is like a safe haven. I don't like to anyhow touch and jeopardise the 2.5% interest I get.
    Property also cannot anyhow touch. Too much rules and regulations and commitment. Private property is too ex, HDB must wait till get married or age 35 then can buy.:(
    Career / skill sets would indeed be good investment for net worth. But we must also know the 'trend'. I am contemplating to get out of my 'old' profession and expand my skill sets by venturing to something different before I get too old to do so.

    1. Rainbow girl,

      The who we are today is what we have or have not done yesterday ;)

      Thinking, planning, contemplating - are just that until its turned into action.

      That's why all of us are different; we each have to find our own pace and choice of "vehicle" to hop on.

      That's when many years later we either celebrate and thank ourselves for the choices we've made; or we have regrets like:

      a) I should have studied xxx instead...

      b) I should have joined a SME instead of a MNC...

      c) I should have gone into sales instead...

    2. Hi SMOL,

      You are so right. 不愧是老姜。

      I supposed it's all about calculated risk. If one can take the worse possible consequences in stride after weighing the pros and cons, then - just do it.

    3. 老你的头!



  14. Hi SMOL,

    I like this interesting post!

    If one has not attained any measurable success in anything in life thus far, talking about milking CPF, stocks, property, and career is just building castles in the air. If one can't be strategic in developing and monetising his/her skills (i.e. managing self as asset), it is fat hope thinking about growing rich trying to leverage whatever wealth generating vehicles out there.

    Keep our nose to the grindstone and focus on self development first. :)

    1. Endrene,

      Thanks! I flashing my 1 dimple smile right back at you.

      I'm a craftsman.

      I believe in dedication to craft.

      I think a phrase used by women can be most apt:

      There's no ugly women; only lazy women.

    2. Haha. Precisely, that's why I only dare to claim to have 三分姿色! LOL.


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