Friday 29 December 2017

Me? Top 100 Singapore Blogger?

Of course I don't believe!

Received an email today from some "foreign" website congratulating me they have selected me as one of Singapore's Top 100 bloggers!?

Even so kind as to allow me to display their "free" gold medal award on my blog.

I did a quick "trust but verify" check on the rest of the so called Top 100 blogs in Singapore.

The bleeding heart, the fisherman, and the butterfly blogs all not there. And Xiaxue not there too?


How credible are the rankings?

Lucky I'm already as shallow as piss on the sidewalk. So no need ego inflating devices from questionable sources. Inflated piss smells even more!

I not IT savvy. Wait the copy-and-paste "gold medal" is a Trojan Horse how?

Even if "real", would you go round telling the world you got "conferred" an honourary degree from a degree mill? (Evidently some bloggers do)

I mean if its from NUS or NTU, then that's something else! 

Hello! I snake oil remember?

The "foreign" website trying to press my "ego" and "vanity" buttons.

Good try. 

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Ode To Joy

Sunday 24 December 2017

Where's my 7 year itch?

Another Christmas eve, another me 7 years back:

12 months to financial freedom

I were still in Athens, Greece then.

Now I've been back Singapore for 6 years now...

For most married couples, 7 years would be about time for some "do but don't get caught" clandestine shenanigans!

Surprisingly, I haven't got the itch yet? Hey!

Animals to this watering hole have come and gone. Some come for a visit and then disappear for months and even years... Then pop by again to disappear once again. But they've left a deep impression on me.

Some have stayed from the beginning. They are part of the wacky charm and silliness here. And yes, many readers come here to read their comments more than my blog posts...

There is dialogue here.

During these 7 years, my blogging style has changed and evolved.

From sugar-coated story telling (still pokes) to more in your face "what were you thinking" frying pan to the head pokes.

This is like real life mah!

New friends, new colleagues, new neighbours - we super friendly and fake polite.

When we can poke and "suan" people we've known for quite a while, we know its a deeper and more real relationship - on equal footing. The gloves and masks are off!

I've realised I can talk about anything under the sun. Blogging is a lot easier if you are "rojak"!

And when we don't take ourselves too seriously. I'm not an authority of anything; and no one died and made me Indian Chief!

I also don't spend hours to research and aggregate that sort of thing. Write a summary on a summary on a summary?

I write off the cuff from memory in one flow. I'm not a perfectionist. I'm more "agar agar can oredi". And this lack of "care" shows...

Thank goodness I have readers smarter and more knowledgeable than me that practice "trust but verify", and more importantly, they do point out my mistakes:

Eh! Wrong poet lah! Its Du Fu, not Li Bai!

You mixed up the South Sea bubble with the Tulip bubble leh...

Hello! Your cheena cannot make it! 小时后 and 小时侯 not the same!

If you've played competitive sports before, you'll know we can't improve our game if we only play with weaker players. Wink.

There are some serious dragons at this watering hole here!

The secret for my "longevity" in blogging?

Having fun!

And I hope you had fun too!

Thursday 21 December 2017

How you know you no longer Bei Kambing?

In Singapore's context, most people will immediately think of certifications, diplomas, awards, etc.

My tavern master recent wrote this interesting reflection:

"Learning the different roads and how to drive from one place to another is like learning a language. If your family do not have a car when you are a child, you can learn to drive in your adulthood, but you will never be able to know how to go from A to B without a GPS."

The words jump right out to me.

We can read his statement on 2 levels.

Less start with the easier one. How to know you no longer a bei kambing?

If you have ever bought furniture from IKEA for the first time, what you do? Read the assembly instructions word for word, line by line right, picture by picture. No?

Even so, you may still give up trying to assemble IKEA furniture yourself! You can't understand the cartoon instructions!!! You pay someone to do it. The assemblers came and put everything together without taking a single glance at the assembly instructions right?

Same with your ah ma who cooks. Can you remember the last time she looked at a recipe book? Even when watching cooking shows on TV, if she sees an new recipe or new cooking procedure, she doesn't rush to write down the recipe flashed on TV right? Ah ma will experiment it on her own and come out with her own interpretation. She makes the new recipe her own!

Yup. This is easy. You know you no longer a bei kambing in whatever task you do when you don't need "for idiots and dummies" GPS support. Wink.

Before you want to argue back, ask yourself how Master of the Universe you feel when a machine tells you to turn right, you turn right? Good boy! Well done! Pat on the head. Woof, woof!

LP is probably smiling as he knew where I'm going next.

Same applies for those who can read between the lines, or 听弦外之音。

That's the reason why "enlightened" parents expose their children early to soft skills (grey and fuzzy) that may have more impact to their future happiness than academic or technical skills (precision up to 2 decimal places).

These soft skills are more intuitive when its part of "play and fun"; less effective if they were for a SMART goal... How the hell you measure happiness!?

For eg, everyone knows children can pickup new languages super fast. Without taking proper lessons some more! They just pick it up on the playground!?

Just look how you envy your colleagues when they can speak a third or fouth language during that business trip to Europe? Yeah, you boss took notice too.

How about drama and dance? If one has no problem acting, singing, and dancing on stage, do you think you child will have a problem with public speaking as an adult? Or making presentations to boss and clients?

On MRT rides, I often like to spot which women had ballet lessons from the way they sit or stand on the train. Elegance and grace.

Same goes with love for reading. If the child reads because he enjoys reading, it will extend to adulthood. Those who track and record how many books they've read in a month or year... How sustainable is it when the focus is on achieving the (meaningless) goal than deriving pleasure from reading?

Then there's appreciation of the Arts and Culture. Of course there the when Limpeh gets rich Limpeh can "buy" Art and Culture nouveau riche way; and there's the smile on our faces when we discover our dates for the evening were not brought up in a cultural desert.

And of course sports! OK, not everyone can be captain of the football or basketball team. Even if we don't talk about out early exposure to leadership skills, there's this thing called getting along and working in a team. I've noticed quite a lot of grown ups have this difficulty... (Those seeking financial freedom to quit?)

If you are reading and taking courses on how to improve EQ as an adult, I think you are missing the point. Its like taking courses on entrepreneurship...

Then its back to the recent discussion about whether trading and investing can be taught?

Of course can! Just like the GPS, people tell you to turn left, you turn left. Easy! But whether having a GPS will make you a competent driver? Hmm...

Let's see how many years of driving before LP will share with us in his annual reflections that he no longer has any need for the GPS!

On this note. I'll put down my naughty pen.

Wishing everyone Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

P.S. I think I'll take the opportunity to share with newer readers that quite a few veteran bloggers who started blogging 5 years or more ago were spin-offs from having begun as regualr readers at LP's tavern.

I drink water never forget source one OK?

Any yes, I started from "stealing with pride" too!

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Chasing Other People's Dreams

Saturday 16 December 2017

Now this is Real Savings!

This is not about being miserly, or taking frugality to the extreme.

Its about whether you are conscious of the various Jedi mind tricks others are using on you.

If you interested to learn more, free go to the library and borrow a book on Consumer Behaviour.

Don't say I "bo jio'!

By the way, it also works if you want to learn what buttons to press to get others to work quicker, faster, and cheaper for you!

And yes, can help in your investing and trading too!  This one you have to figure it out yourself how.

Ar ber then?

Thursday 14 December 2017

You Think You Know The Fundamentals and Technicals?

When you look at the Sun in the sky, do you know that's the image of the Sun 8 minutes 20 seconds ago?

You may think you are looking at the Sun; you are not.

Talk about looking at illusions. Wink.

When you use fundamental analysis, are you not driving using the rear view mirror?

Unless you tell me you have access to the annual reports for 2018 up till 2048 now?

Same for those of you who prefer the voodoo art of technical analysis. All those beautiful chart patterns and indicators, are they not a snapshot of what has already happened?

(Those who trade Price Action, I bow in reverence to you. Can't poke you. You trade the here and now.)

Now you know why when prices go up, everyone is an "expert" on that stock they owned. Go round telling their friends and families to own it. Look! Its a no brainer!

Talk and behave like sell side analysts, full of conviction with your recommendations.

But when the same stock suddenly turns south... 

Some jump all over the place searching for answers like headless chickens.

Some get frozen with inaction like a deer caught under the headlights of a car.

Investing and trading is a lot like Zen.

The more I know, the more I realise I don't know. 

Monday 11 December 2017

That's why girls are drawn to men with talent

Thursday 7 December 2017

Useless Financial Life Hacks

Tired of boiling water everytime you want instant noodles?

Boil a large amount in the beginning of the week and freeze them for later use!

Can you think of similar useless financial life hacks?

Can't thnk of any?

Can I steer you towards credit cards?

Yes, you spot them now...

Cashback and frequent flyer miles...

Its the equivalent of saying I've paid $300 for my electricity bills, but look! My aircon usage is totally "free"!

Monday 4 December 2017

The Ability To Read Patterns

Have you read in the papers several years back where some new cases of Dengue Fevers were not diagnosed by some younger doctors?

Experienced doctors are usually the ones who will report to Ministry of Health if they spot patterns of unusually high cases of Dengue Fevers that require a co-ordinated response to root out the breeding grounds...

Similarly, those medical professionals who have experience working with SARs would have the muscle memory burned into them.

Next time if Singapore is once again faced with an "unknown" highly infectious disease, these medical professionals would ensure they protect themselves and their medical staff first. 

If these brave doctors and nurses fall ill themselves, who are left to treat the sick?

For those who've never experienced a car accident or air turbulence before, you would think putting our seat belts on in the car and during our flights is such an hassle... 

"Investors" who started their investing journeys after 2009 would know only one pattern - higher highs, higher lows.

To those of us who have lived through past patterns where markets do decline by -50%, we can't beat youth who don't know what cannot be done. 

We practice Risk Management. 

How do you practice portfolio re-balancing when both equities and bonds are in a bull market?

To youths who have studied business finance, portfolio management, and risk management in polytechnics and universities, have you gone back to ask your lecturers and professors what they've taught you is not reality today? 

Do they still teach when equities go down, bonds in general will go up? 

I'm a student of hedge funds, and yes, I practice the sincerest form of flattery - mimicy.

Its extremely humbling to see quite a few greats in the industry decide to return money back to their investors and retire from the industry. Well not really. They are investing/trading for themselves now.

Better to quit when they are still ahead and avoid the fate of those who have blown-up quite spectacularly! 

All of them have one thing in common - they have made lots of money for themselves and their clients prior to 2008; after 2009, their past strategies don't seem to work anymore...

But then, those of you who started your journeys after 2009 wouldn't care or know. 

And you don't use seat belts anyway.

Those of us who have experienced several bull/bear cycles and thus more "sensitive" to changing patterns, we are the ones who will probably take care of ourselves and our love ones first, before taking care of anonymous people we don't know.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Can Investing/Trading Be Taught?

Of course can!

That's because you've asked the "wrong" question, silly!

Look, if you have not learned financial accounting or business finance in school, of course I can teach you how to do fundamental analysis - look at numbers that sort of thing. And by calling it Value Investing, I can charge you even more by swapping old wine into new bottle!

Same for technical analysis. If you want to learn Candlesticks, I can teach you Candlesticks. If you prefer the more esoteric like Elliot Wave, I can teach you Elliot Wave too. What's so difficult?

But that's not the real reason you asking, right?

You are asking can we get RICH by investing or trading?

Ah! That's a more intellectually stimulating question!

Now not so easy to answer...

But then again, we all knew the answer already. Whether we want to admit it is another question...

Just look at your class reunions. 

Schools teach you how to read, write, and count. Will you send your children to a school that "promises" your child will be a millionaire after they graduate?


Sunday 26 November 2017

One Door Closes; One Door Opens (Hentak Kaki)

I'm in the Facebook group for returned overseas Singaporeans, and was pleasantly intrigued when our local actor Michael Chua shared a short film that he acted in during 2012 that's directed by James Khoo.

Not long, around 12 minutes.

For your viewing pleasure this cool lazy Sunday:

Life is not a straight line extrapolation.

Sometimes things will go bump despite the best of our plans and goal settings...

When we look back to yesterday, we often wish we can turn back time and do things differently. I know, wish you had not married him or her... That's about as practical as a one-legged stool.

And as we look ahead in our little fantasies to escape today, we often tell ourselves we will do this and that tomorrow... See? I have a plan! And a goal too! Well, that's still only as practical as a 2 legged stool.

Who we are today are the sum of the decisions and non-decisions we have or have not made yesterday.

Who we will be tomorrow? What do you think?

Still want to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

When one door closes, whether we can find another door that opens... Well, I think you get the idea.

Friday 24 November 2017

Lizard on the fence

Open field between the old Mei Chin secondary and primary school

The camera picture quality on a mobile phone 10 years ago was atrocious.

Now they are on par with most point-and-shoot idiot proof compact cameras.

Noticed this curious lizard watching the school kids playing football on my way back from breakfast at the Mei Ling street food centre.


I think I better practice more picture taking. Kung fu never use will depreciate one... 

Wednesday 22 November 2017

So what questions to ask, smart ass?

This is a stand alone post, but readers may want to read my previous post, especially the comments section for context and perspective.

Let's say you have done your research and have some experience with buying TVs in the past. You're not a white piece of paper.

You know LED TV is a specific type of LCD TV; both are using the same LCD technology - just the light source is different. So you won't be the "bei kambing" who thinks LED and LCD TVs are using different technologies.

So how to you test whether the salesperson serving you is competent to offer your "advice"?

Contrast "Which brand is most popular?" with "What's the main difference between QLED and OLED versus plain vanilla LED TVs? 

For salespersons out there, when we meet aficionado customers, we can talk shop for hours! Buy don't buy never mind right? 

Closing "bei kambings" is good for the pocket, and downright patronising as we would talk down to customers with, "Don't worry... I assure you... Trust me... This one good for you..."

But if every customer like that we would go crazy!

Even snake oils need to be intellectually stimulated. Everyday serve gullible customers who can "tahan?"

For stock investing, imagine if you get questions like:

"What catalysts do you see for this stock X to get re-rated?"

"Do you share the same opinion the the Oil and Gas sector is currently bottoming out?"

For the person asking, how the question is answered can reveal a lot whether the person answering got "substance" or not. Wink.

But you can only tell if you yourself got "substance" too. Double wink wink.

That's why if you are a white piece of paper or bei kambing, whatever people say, you'll believe!

When things go wrong, you blame others.

You don't reflect why you buy shoes you ask others what shoe size you should buy?

Monday 20 November 2017

Gullible customers I meet every weekend

"Which brand is the most popular?"

"Can you recommend a good brand to me?"

Now that's an easy tell! 

It's like flashing a big neon sign above their heads, "I'm a bei kambing. Come fleece and milk me!"

They are probably the same customers who judge which hawker food to try by the length of the queue in front of the stall. Wink. 

If you were lucky, you'll meet a snake oil like me who wears the white hat. Then I'll try to salvage the situation with consultative selling.

But it'll only work if the customer is willing to make a decision for themselves. 

Its no secret I have little patience for stupid people. So I'll let these "need to be told what to think, what to do" white little lambs go...

Knowing full well they're the favourite prey of choice for my other promoter peers who wear the black hat...

What to do?

I must keep my competitor promoters "busy" and satiated so they'll "release" those "diffcult" (intelligent and/or street smart) customers to me mah!

Its more intellectually stimulating serving customers who know what they want and have done their prior homework.

I do enjoy the 15-20 minutes of "foreplay" the most!

Especially when customers (who are shepherds or landowners themselves) challenge me and I help them discover their blindspots...  

Now that's work satisfaction!

In the investing and trading arena, we get the same:

"What stocks to buy?"

"At this price can enter or not?"

If you're lucky, you get a bleeding heart who will patiently explain and coddle you; but leaves the final decision making to you - which leaves you frustrated as there's no clear, concrete, black and white answer.

So you go to the snake oil who is ever so helpful - tells you what stock to buy, at what price to buy and at what precise price to sell.

See? It wasn't so hard right? All for a small fee in wool and milk only...

If all you do is to follow the backsides of other zebras (inside joke to regular readers who have heard my zebra story), do you think after 10 years you'll be still asking others what stocks to buy and at what price to enter?

Like that might as well hire shepherds to invest (mutual and hedge funds) or trade (managed accounts) for you?

Or adopt passive investing (cough, cough)?

Won't this free up your time for other more interesting pursuits in life?

Its quite evident you are not into the craftsmanship of investing/trading anyway...

Why ownself bluff ownself?

Thursday 16 November 2017

How to avoid saying you jobless

Jobless sounds negative. As if you can't find or hold on to a steady ob.

Unemployed is worse. Now people assume you got fired or retrenched... No employer wants you...

Some may say there are "in between jobs". Good try. People are not fooled. They straight away think you jobless or unemployed. LPPL.

So what to tell others and at the same time can make ourselves feel good? Never mind they are little lies we tell ourselves?

1.  I'm studying; I've gone back to school.

Ego feels better right? For the next 1 to 3 years, no need to stress or worry about finding a job. That's until the course ends...

Then its reality bites again... Still, its a good stop gap measure against prying relatives during CNY. 

2.  I'm financially free!

You are living off your savings and investments. In the meantime, you try to put on a brave front until you find a new job.

Have you noticed quite a few have started their own small businesses, yet instead of acknowledging they are now business owners, they like to still claim they are "financially free"? 

Being a business owner so shameful meh? Unless...

3.  I'm a stay-at-home dad or mom (or bum).

You are living off your working spouse or parents...

Hey! If they don't mind, why should we care?

I personally find its very cool, provided its because you want to; not because you do it as a form of "escape"...

4.  Sabbatical from work

I like this the best!

"Retired" sounds too old... Like we've been put to pasture...

Sabbatical "officially" meant you are still employed but have taken time-off to pursue your own interests - with either fully paid, part paid, or unpaid leave.

Since all snake-oils like to take creative license with words, I'm no exception!

So I say I'm taking sabbatical from fulltime work.

Which gives me lots of wriggle room. Wink.

Words are powderful

No way I'll tell anyone I'm jobless.

Or unemployed.

Or retired.

Tuesday 14 November 2017






Sunday 12 November 2017

Makeup in the Morning

Thursday 9 November 2017


Quick "Trust but Verify" test.

What's the first thing that comes into your mind when you read or hear this word - minimalism?

Close your eyes and no peeking below!

If you "see" minimalism as in architecture, art, literature, music, fashion, and home decor, you are on the right track. You are Western educated - "ang moh pie".

You know minimalism is a visual arts movement that started around the late 60s in the States.

If you think of Zen, you are also "technically correct" since minimalism got some of its influences from Japan. In Japan, the philosophy of Zen got intertwined with the Japanese aesthetics of simplicity or ma (間) - empty or open space. You are more Oriental biased.

You know your aesthetics. Wink.

No. Minimalism is not about saving money or frugality.

Minimalism is about stripping down to its bare essentials, aesthetically speaking.

Yes, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are "minimalistic" when it comes to their work clothes - its the same turtuleneck and T-shirt - although they may own 10 pieces of the same clothe!

Not exactly "frugal" is it?

Minimalism is not about using the same detergent for washing your dishes, clothes, and bathing - that's when policemen still wear shorts - you really want to use that Lam Soon long bar soap for dishes, laundry, and bathing now? Seriously?

To appreciate minimalism, one cannot be hungry or worried about roof over head matters.

How come people are talking about minimalistic living or lifestyle in financial blogshpere?

Well, clever marketing isn't it?

I mean if I want to start a blog or sell a book, which sounds sexier - frugal living, "giam siap gui", thrifty squirrel, or the minimalist?

Who wants to be known as a miser?

So you convince your wife minimalism is about having one pair of shoes.

If you wife believed in your "Jedi mind trick", well, I am most envious of you...

That meant she has a pair of big big ding-a-ling-ding-dings! 

Sunday 5 November 2017

Investment Not Required - Real Life Cases

I think I'll follow up with more real life cases where Singaporeans are living or retiring well without the need for investments.

Remember this old post:  Landed Property and Car with $6K per month Household Income

Here's one interesting case about a 67 year old ex-Regional Sales Manager's retirement in Singapore:

What's my takeaways?

1.  Staying healthy can be more important than dollars and cents.

2.  CPF savings enough if you had a good career and didn't over invest in properties so that you are asset rich but CPF poor. 

3.  Flexibility and adaptability give us options. Driving weekend taxi is not "beneath" an ex-Regional Sales Mananger...  "Downgrading" from HDB 4 room to 2 room is not a loss of face...  Isn't doing what we feel like doing without fear of what others think - freedom?

Investment Not Required

Let's be honest now. 

The harsh reality is for the majority of people, the more we invest, the more we lose.

Everyone is sharing "succcess" stories, but where are the "chop fingers" examples?

Only CW mentioned about them in his blog.

Just like entrepreneurship, can't be the majority of new startups and new businesses all succeed right?

You really believed the spin vested interests are telling you?

Look, if you don't invest, how do they earn commissions and fees from you?

No, I'm not telling you not to invest.

Financial freedom is more than $XXX passive income or multiple baggers in capital gains...

If you are a stay-at-home dad or mom, your CPF is a pittance. But if you had brought up your children proper, do you have to worry about your retirement and anxious your CPF not enough to qualify for CPF Life?

Wait. Is there such a thing as retirement from being mom and dad?

No, invest only when you enjoy so. 

If you don't enjoy this craft of investing, then no big deal!

Don't have to feel pressured to join the other lemmings. Yes, most of us have no clue ourselves!

In bull markets we are louder than a peacock; in bear markets we are quieter than the church mouse... 

With a bit of common sense and listening to your heart, you'll find your own path.

Its OK to take the path less travelled.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

97% Will Fail This Test

I got this test question from my Buddhism class coursemate in Facebook.

Amazingly, everyone in his Facebook got the answer WRONG!?

All 80 plus of them! 

I don't want to embarass anyone. DON'T write down your answer at the comments below.

Just write out the answer in your head, and more importantly, HOW you got the answer as in the calculations.

I'll reveal the answer in the comments section.

Monday 30 October 2017

Which CPF Life Plan To Choose - Part 2 of 2

Its easier to score distinctions in Science and Math subjects as the answers are more binary - you are either right, or wrong. Precision. It's either black or white. Simple! 

But for Arts subjects like Literature, there's no such thing as right or wrong answers - you are marked according to how well you've argued out your case. Its grey, murky, and fuzzy, but we can see all 7 colours of the rainbow!

(History can score distinction that's because you have memorised the version that's told by the victor; if you ask the subjugated, they'll have another version - hence the many revisionist attempts. Its grey.)

If you tell me you are confused when faced with different, alternative, and opposing viewpoints, as a people reader, I can bet you're not from the Arts stream!

Its very comforting to know big daddy is moving away from the 10 year series rote learning style of education. The earlier children start to think for themselves, the better!

What's the point of financial literacy if we can't think for ourselves? (Don't encourage your child to drop Literature?)

A financially literate parrot is still a parrot...

You OK; I OK

When someone chooses a CPF Life Plan different from us, that does not mean you right, they wrong.

Ask how and why they have made the choice they made. Maybe you're the one having second thoughts now!

If a person tells you he based his decison making on precision math and logic, and you discovered its based on bad math and poor logic, walk away...  What's the point right?

There's such a thing called the Distribution Curve.

I'm frequently turned on by intellectually brilliant and elegant debates, even though we have totally opposite viewpoints. Its definitely not the purpose of this 2 part post to change anyone's mind. I'm not a bleeding heart, remember? You die your problem!

You are not aligned

In Zen and coaching, we like to use these questioning techniques to help others figure things out for themselves without telling them the solutions or what to do. 

Let's have some fun now!

1.  CPF Life is an annuity plan. Tell me what you know about the Good, the Bad, and Ugly aspects about annuity plans in general? 

Eh? You've made a decision without knowing what's an annuity? 

2.  You like to parrot, "Buy Term and invest the rest".  Now, is an annuity plan closer to Term, Wholelife, or Endowment policy in reverse?  

3.  The initial introduction of CPF Life Plans only include up to max the Full Retirement Sum (FRS) contribution - which means around $1,400 per month for life from age 65 onwards.

Is your paycheck at age 55 or 65 around $1,400 per month? 

Whatever happened to the rule of thumb to retire at 70% of our last drawn paycheck?

Do you think you were the target group for CPF Life?

4.  OK, crash got sound. Thanks to overwhelming "demand", now we can contribute more to CPF Life through Enhanced Retirement Scheme (ERS) - increase the monthly payouts to around $2,000 per month for life, if we so wishes.

Now tell me. Is this the reason you studied hard (to get to the right schools), and worked hard (to outrun the other hamsters) - so that at age 65 and beyond, you get $2,000 per month for life?

5.  You always try to frighten and shock your love ones they must invest for their retirement early or else! Money shrinks through inflation and rots in the bank! Cannot rely on savings alone! Must invest!

How do you square the circle now that you are OK with receiving the same $2,000 per month for the next 30 years?

I remember 30 years ago, new graduates earn around $1,000 per month. Can you accept no pay raises for the past 30 years?

By the way, what are you investing for again?

6.  Is $100K mickey mouse money to you?

I mean if you 100% sure you'll live up to 90 and beyond, there's really not much different between the different CPF Life plans. OK, if you insist to split hairs, the new Escalating Plan will win out.

But if you compare the bequest differences between Basic and Standard Plans on ERS  when you visit the la la land between age 80 and 85 (acturial science betting BIG on you here), that's a cool $100K plus!

Even if you chose to contribute less to CPF Life under FRS or BRS, its still tens of thousands you are leaving on the table...

All this for that measly $100 to $300 more per month? 

Do you hate your children or siblings that much?

Are you a rock?

Are you an island?

You hate math, do you?

I am not you; you not me

Its not a secret. I've shared elsewhere that I'll go for the Basic Plan even though I'm single and childless.

The idea of me subsidising anonymous people I don't know does not appeal to me.

I rather leave my money to my siblings. (Keep it all in the family, I cheena or what?)

One is richer than me; the other likes to spend a lot. 

If they don't need my money, they can jolly donate it to their favourite charity or church. That's their decision!

I know. I throw my problem to them. What are siblings for? LOL!

If you ask me today, and since I can't opt out of CPF Life, I would choose the Basic Retire Sum since that's the least demage for I never wanted an annuity plan in the first place.  

Hello! I'm a full time trader and investor remember? 

It makes as much sense otherwise as someone who quits work to invest full time using a low cost passive indexing strategy... Wait. What!?

Having said that, from now till my age 65 is still a good 15 years away...

If I blew up my trading account and my investment account has been decimated by a prolonged bear market that lasted 10 years or more... 

I can't be certain I won't capitulate....

If I did, I'll probably choose ERS and swore off investing and trading for good... Chop fingers!

Then I'll claw back to my cage like a domesticated animal that has been let loose to freedom in the wild, but found freedom on my own too daunting...

I'll stop pretending to be a cat.

Woof, woof!

I'll be a good obedient dog.

Look! I'll even wag my tail for you!

Woof, woof!

Friday 27 October 2017

Which CPF Life Plans To Choose? Part 1 of 2

Its amazing isn't it?

One would expect questions on CPF Life Plans to come from financially illiterate people or those not very into DIY investing or trading - not those from our community of financial freedom seekers...

I mean if one can't make an independent decision ourselves, it sort of brings into question our abilities to practice active DIY retail investing and trading, doesn't it?

Half the readers will leave in a huff now.

Good. Now that I've filtered out the freeloaders, lets move on...

I come with foreplay; I'm the man with the slow hands.

Its all our fault

Remember a time when seniors before us can withdraw their CPF savings at age 55 pronto without ifs and buts?

That worked well for the majority of seniors at that time were quite "obedient" in selling salted eggs at around age 65 - more or less exactly as what the actuarial science has predicted.

Then something went horrifying not according to plan...

People started living longer than "forecasted".  

CPF savings that were "enough" suddenly became woefully inadequate... 

Make a wild guess who is the party most concerned with everyone doing an Oliver Twist act and begged, "Sir, can I have more?"

Hence, the start of the "crash got sound" era of constantly moving goal posts.

But that came at a political cost...

Surely we can't move the goal posts indefinitely!?


I do like our CPF system. 

When I were in Athens, Greece, I had the opportunity to witness how the pension system can be ponzi scheme like - those who collected the pension benefits early are better off than those who collect much later.

The Greek senior who retired 20 years earlier had the consolation he got 20 years of full pension benefits in contrast to that poor soul who just retired when the Greek economy blew up - and found out his "promised" pension is now cut by half...

Similarly, some cities and states in the US are near bankrupt... Would you like to be the young working adult contributing to social services to fund the generous pensions promised to seniors ahead of you? And knowing the kitty is pretty much empty when its your turn to collect? 

How about those rapidly aging countries like Japan, China (due to the one child policy), and Western Europe? I suspect when their pension systems were designed, it has 5 working adults (or more) supporting 1 retiree; not 1 working adult supporting 5 retirees...

No. I like our CPF system much better!

Our monies are clearly compartmentalised. My money is my money; its not mixed with my neighbour's. If my neighbour blew his money on wine, women, and song, that's his business! I'm not subsidising his indulgences!

Spreading the Risk

I ask you. Can you figure it out why CPF Life was introduced?

I stop my foreplay now. You finish off yourself.

Can read, can write, can count

No serious! You do it yourself! 

That's the purpose of our 10 years of primary and secondary education.

If you can't read, can't write, can't count, then you may want to jio me out for coffee. It will cost you though! 

For those who can, here's an excellent website from a professional fee-based financial advisor:

I'll guide you a bit - especially those who tend to miss the forest for the trees...

For those who have read other blogs or websites on the same topic, you may noticed there's a lot of discrepancies in IRR calculation between everyone!? Can you spot where's the frequent mistake made?

I'm not surprised. I've poked enough financial bloggers on their "home-made" versions of XIRR calculation! LOL!

Here's another thing to look out for. 

Beyond the numbers, see if you can spot which CPF Life Plan is murky and grey where your money is mixed with your neighbour's in a dark pool pretty much like those pension schemes.

And which plan is more or less like our current CPF system where my money is my money, and your money is your money? Only the tail end is pension scheme like.

You show me yours; and I show you mine

If you game enough, it would be fun to hear what's your chosen plan, or what you intend to choose when you reach age 65.

Do add in a few short sentences your reasons why.

Those who have already made their choices but have regrets now, it would be most appreciated if you can also share with us why you have changed your mind too.

Of course I'll show my choice and reveal my reasons why in my part 2 post. 

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