Wednesday 22 June 2016

How to be a Financial Freedom snake oil

This ultra spiritual guy does satires, pokes, and parodies so much better than me!

I give him my Stephen Chow's 2 thumbs up!

He is hilarious!

But behind the laughter, don't just watch and believe. Talk to "bei kambings" who have paid ridiculous sum of money to snake oils and you'll find a common thread:

It all started with "Free".

The same sales tactics is used by time-sharing companies, weight-loss spas, hair-loss centres; etc.

And if you observant, by some "religious" organisations too.

People with holes in their hearts make the best "target".

Monday 20 June 2016

I got a 75% pay raise last year


Before I can share my observations on the retail scene live from the selling floor (thank you hyom hyom), I need to update my current weekend work situation to provide the proper context and perspective.

Some readers may remember during November last year, I did a 2 weeks radio silence act?

Well, I moved to a new weekend gig, that's why.

I've been in general merchandise and home furnishings retailing; but I've never worked with electrical and home appliance retailing before.

2 weeks of focused and intensive on-line learning on my new product category and I picked it up readily.

Hey! Selling is selling!

Product different; people the same.

I am now a weekend promoter for a foreign brand of home appliance maker, and they stationed me at one of those big electrical and home appliance retailer at some super ulu location.

How ulu? Well, I passed by an army camp on my way to work. That's how ulu... LOL!

Previously, I was working for Howard Storage World at Plaza Singapura. If you were served by a super handsome bald uncle, that's me!

There were some funny moments when some readers recognised me!

Now to the real reason you're here - my 75% pay raise. 

My click-bait of a post heading is a poke to those who love to count in percentages.

After 1.5 years of "sabbatical from work", I needed to work weekends to rest my "mind and soul".

After looking around, I found Howard Storage World's employees were mostly around my young-at-heart age group - so I applied!

Never mind the near minimum wage hourly rate they were paying.

No way I'm working with young kids and have them call me "uncle" this, "uncle" that! 

Instead of seeing how "low" I'm paid, I was bemused I was getting paid to "rest".

(I was sipping coffee at Ya Kun at Harbour Front and there's a life-sized photo cut-out of one of the shop managers smiling and asking applicants to join them - that Howard Storage Store is now closed and replaced by Mothercare. Yes, this info is relevant to my next post)

If so good why I left?


If you look at my checkered work history at "My Story", I am what you call a "rolling stone".

I've never stayed in a single job position more than 4 years.

Yup, if you are applying for a job and I am the one doing the interview, working at the same job position for more than 5 years is a negative to me. Bite me. Just blame your bad luck for meeting me!

I do get bored easy. I like trying different things.

Hence every other week for the past 2 years, when free, I would just surf one of the more popular job recruitment website. Look see, look see, to get a feel of what's happening out there for non-graduate positions.

Quite interesting. Sometimes you'll see the same company keep on advertising for staff month after month. Its an easy tell either that company is miserly paying below the market rate, or the company's working environment is nasty. 

If that's a listed company... Shameful right? I don't think of money every waking hour, but I do keep myself abreast of investment opportunities all the time :(

Then there are some employers that are proudly advertising they are paying above market rate. Some turned out to be "fake" and you'll see the online community give them flak. Some are genuine as they are willing to pay for performance - which means stress for those who can't hit their KPIs, if you joined. Got free lunch meh?

Well, I was intrigued to find one such company who was willing to pay above market rate for a mature and experienced retail sales.

Even though I have zero sales experience with home appliances, and I don't cook (instant mee cooking don't count), I was hired last November. Wow! It's 6 months into my new weekend gig already!

The take-outs

What works for me is planned job obsolescence on my part - how's that for marketing bullshit for job hopping? (See? Having a wider vocabulary helps)

A moving target is harder to hit. No way I'm staying still and make myself an easy target - 10 years experience but its the same 1st year job experience times 10. Ouch!

You improve the chances of Lady Luck finding you by making it easier for her. I was surfing the job recruitment website for 2 years... How would my luck odds improve if I had just "work hard" at Howard Storage World?

I focus on what I can control and influence. What's happening in the economy and globally I can't control. If everything in our lives is out of our control, tell me - what's your definition of slavery?

Earn more is my way to achieve escape velocity. Of course I got save more. But if I had relied just on save more... By the way, why are you investing or trading? That's not save more, is it? Gotcha!

We are who we are. Even though I don't need the extra weekend pay increase, its already my career modus operandi. It's in my blood. That's the reason why you find billionaires acting miserly - before they got rich, they were miserly. Duh.

So don't read too much into all these talks about needs or wants. If you are born a spendthrift, you are a spendthrift. If you are born frugal, you will be frugal. Your net worth got nothing to do with anything.  

If you believe you can change, all the power to you! Just don't mention reversion to mean in your investment thesis. Wink.


Friday 17 June 2016

What comes before goals and plans?

Watch the below video from Jack Ma from Alibaba first. Don't worry. Got English subtitles.

1.  Before we go on, Singapore is where it is today not because we have goals and plans. You mean other governments and countries have no annual budgets and 5 year plans?

2.  Do you keep thinking of money every waking hours? Is it healthy? Is this the reason you are here on Earth? You are very practical and a realist - no money; no talk. And you wonder why others are happier than you...

3.  Have you realised where you are today is the sum of all decisions you have made or not made? No choice? Was it really "no choice", or the truth is you capitulated and took the easy way out? 

By the way, during one of my Buddhist seminars, one business owner from a neighbouring country asked Ajahn Brahm, "Where I come from, nothing gets done without giving bribes. But I'm a devout Buddhist!"

Without being a Buddhist yourself, you would know how Ajahn Brahm would have replied. Or would you tell the business owner its OK to tell little lies to himself? No choice what?

4.  Would you sell combs to monks?  Is this why insurance agents are not really held in high esteem by the general public? To be fair, every industry got their share of bad apples. 

My fellow sales and marketing brethren, have we ever sold combs to monks?

No choice again right? We got sales targets to hit, KPIs to achieve...

Who is the master, who is the tool?

In corporate life chained by goals and objectives; in our own private lives we continue to use the same very tethers to seek our financial freedom? 



Wednesday 15 June 2016

I am humbled (Lucky I'm not salaryman in Japan and Singapore)


It can be fun and games until I found out recently how fortunate and lucky I am.

A new reader to the bleeding heart's blog shared his recent retrenchment; and the shame and anguish that ensued... Glad his nightmare is over, albeit taking a 1/3 pay cut at his new job.

The new reader is just one year my junior at 48; and he has 3 teenage kids. In an alternate universe, I could be him...


In Japan, its the senior who "screws" the youth.

With their seniority based system, youth can only secure part-time positions or be temporary contract workers - do the same work as regular employees but for much lesser pay and benefits.

It was meant to be a temporary arrangement until the economy recovers. But after two lost decades, you can see graduates in their 40s living at LAN shops - eat, live, shower there.

Why? That's the cheapest accommodation they can find in Tokyo. Too ashamed and too proud to return back to their hometowns.

To dull their dreary existence - no, they did not seek financial freedom through investing or trading - they pursued their favourite idol groups and stars. I know. I have a bit of otaku blood in me.

Don't judge. We all have our own opiate.


In Singapore, notice there's a difference?

It's youth that triumphs over seniority! 

Those of you who are in your late 40s or early 50s, you constantly worry right? All of sudden, those fat annual increments you have gained in the past now work against you.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that younger employee sitting next to you is able to do the same job as you for less pay and benefits.

So when a company needs to shed some excess fat, where do you think they will target?

And you probably thought as a "senior" or "old bird", you can relax a bit...

What's the opiate of choice for weary middle-aged executives in Singapore?

Yup, you've guessed it!

What we decide, we become

We can't choose where we are born. But we can make our own decisions in other aspects of our lives:

Where to live and work

Work for others or for ourselves

Whether to get married or stay single

Have children or not

What to spend money on

What to save money on

And so on.

Luck important or not?

You bet you!!!

But no harm in giving Lady Luck a helping hand by making it easier for her to find us.

You think why in my profile pic I'm stretching my arms wide wide (slip in a bit of Singlish for spice) with palms facing up?

To catch stardust, it helps to spread ourselves as wide as possible!

Monday 13 June 2016

Follow your OWN passion - not someone else's

Follow your passion.

Nothing wrong with it.

Except as with all good things, when they get "parroted" by dumb people, they become clichéd or hackneyed.

I personally prefer this Japanese word: ikigai - the reason you get up in the morning. 

Less used, but its "similar" with passion.

But if a famous author or big time motivational speaker starts to use ikigai, then everyone and anyone will start to put ikigai on their lips.

Ikigai this, ikigai that.

And if I want to attract your attention, what do I do?

Write a book and titled it: Don't follow your ikigai!


In marketing, we call it Product Differentiation. In investing, we call it being a Contrarian.

Yup, its all bullshit. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

Don't follow your passion is a winning strategy?

You know and I know the majority of readers and bloggers in our community are seeking financial freedom to escape from their dreary jobs.

If we love what we do, and we are having fun, why would anyone want to retire from it? Duh!

So how is not following your passion working out for you?

Not much good as the opiate for the masses, does it?

Everyone wants to open a café

Notice this trend?

For those not in the financial freedom community, who do you do when you hate your job?

Open a café!

Be your own boss!

If anyone quotes Rich Dad Poor Dad about being a Business Owner, I'll put my middle finger into my mouth.

I tell you, sooner or later some snake oil will start to run workshops or seminars on how to open your own café with no money down!

Nothing new. Old wine in new bottles.

Those with more experience in life may laugh off the silly "distractions" we lived through...

Remember MLM - Multi Level Marketing? You smart; others not stupid.

There were a time when our classified pages were filled with ads screaming you can become a millionaire by becoming an insurance or property agent - build your own "business"!

Clever right? You are "not" working for others.

Like that, are taxi-drivers also "business owners"?

Now what has replaced those classified ads of yesteryears by social media?

You tell me. LOL!

Follow or not follow our passion?

If you have to ask or get your answer from others, then it doesn't really matter. Does it?

P.S.  A special shout out to Passivepeon who's comment in my previous post was the catalyst and inspiration for this Roar of the Heart post.

Friday 10 June 2016

Bishan Park - Virgin Visit

Very embarrassing.

Bishan park is just opposite the Bright Hill Temple where I've spent 1.3 years taking my Buddhism studies in the evenings (yes, I dropped out of the 3 year course, that's a story for another day) - but yesterday was my first time exploring this park!?

Very typical Singaporean right?

You must also have a place where you've passed by almost everyday, but you never seem to find the time to stop and explore... No?

When 2 guys (women would have been better) "jio me" to have brunch at this Bishan park yesterday Thursday morning, I took the opportunity to arrive 40 minutes earlier to look, look, see, see, a bit.

2 dads with the people that matter most :)
Now that's a surprise! 2 dads playing with their children on a Thursday morning? They don't like shift work service workers... My money is on teachers having their June holidays? Could have been stay-at-home dads too... Maybe.

Don't they look nasty?

I don't know about you guys, but the first thing that popped into my twisted mind is: Rectum.
I know, I know. I have issues...

Chaise Lounge? That's so cool!

Eh? This chaise lounge like park bench is so unique! We don't have it in Queenstown. On behalf of residents of Queenstown, can we have them in our parks too? (Others have, we also want mah!)

Can you figure out what's the black surface area?

Interesting area in the park. I not sure whether the little bird squatting there in the sand patch is pooping or trying to lay an egg... Wait! Its a bird for crying out loud - not a cat or turtle. LOL! 

Well, its better than sitting at home staring at paint

I don't know whether its legal or not, but who says no fishing spots in Singapore?

Or is it a case of - we can do anything we want, just don't get caught?

Senior men of leisure gathering, or maybe its the biker gang?

Met 4 senior men of leisure talking "male chicken" in the park. When I tried to approach nearer to listen in to their conversations, they dispersed like the wind???

I quickly lifted my arm to smell my armpit. Was it me? I "bursuk"?

Nice spot to do Taichi or Sun Salutation

Calm and peaceful. I wonder got wedding couples come here to take their wedding pictures?

You shoot others; I shoot you.


Can I take the rainbow cake? Or will the ultra religious object?

All the pictures were taken with my Xiaomi phone. Not bad. Colours came out quite alright in low light conditions. No wonder prices for compact point and shoot cameras have come down by so much... Who needs them when smart phones will do?

Neat chairs! I like the distress effect.

3 bums talked from 11am to 2.30 pm.

2 men of leisure and 1 teacher on leave.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Something is not right if you still need that cheapo platform after 5 years...

I wanted to say 2 years, but I remembered I was small once too...

But then, I was ikan bilis small, never that itsy bitsy krill small.

I guess that's the advantage of starting my investing/trading journey at age 32?

Unless one is a day trader or trades a lot, come on, there are more important things to worry about than transaction costs!?

Ask your father, uncles, older cousins - how did they survive when our brokerage fees before liberalisation were 1%?

That's right! A round trip would cost us at least 2% - and yet retail contra traders that time can still make money on such trades!?

Of course I would like to pay less for what we buy. But there's a reasonable market price for everything.

If you spot a hawker selling fish ball noodles for $2, at the back of your head, you'll know the fish balls and mee portions would either be much smaller; or the meal would taste so so.

Don't be that clown that pays budget airline prices, but expect SQ level service!

What? Me pour cold water?


Why I'm a cheerleader! (Just don't look at my hairy legs)

To youth, don't you worry. Just as long you continue to grow your portfolio or trading account, your transaction costs WILL come down. There's such a thing called volume discounts.

Don't you forget why you started this journey in the first place. Don't get distracted. (Why does it sound familiar?) 

If after 5 years you're still stuck at the beach (a miracle how you survived for so long), you may want to have a 2nd opinion to double confirm you really are a sea turtle?

P.S.  If you're a commercial blogger or hobbyist with aspirations to morph into commercial one day, don't tell people you using that cheapo platform.... (face palm)

Look at your slick "professional" peers. Take picture must include a pool by landed property (no need to own; borrow from friend can); or include a fancy Continental sports car (car rental anyone?)

Must project "success".

How you expect people to follow a krill? (Eyes-roll) 

Buy me a drink I can be your spin doctor. Throw in a meal I'll call you, "Daddy!"

Thursday 2 June 2016

Live in JB and drive back for work?

I wrote this post in April 2016 - Landed property and car with $6K per month household income

Yup, that's the kind of terrace house I was talking about.


Some of us have ready options just waiting in the wings!

We can live on landed property and afford a car - right here; right now.

No need goals, no need plans.

Just need to make a decision only.


Making a decision is a lot harder than setting goals and making plans right?

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Learn to say No

When a woman learns to say, "No"; she discovers empowerment.

When a man can say, "No"; he is his own shepherd.

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