Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Don't Sweat The Small Stuffs

Cutting coupons, jumping through hoops to earn that extra 1% plus in interest, skipping that drink during lunch, looking for the lowest cost ETFs or brokers...

I know, a little bit, little bit will slowly add up to a mountain as in the words of wisdom from our Malay friends:

Sedikit-sedikit lama-lama jadi bukit.

However, there are 3 major financial decisions that if we got them "wrong", all the nickel and dime above will come to naught...

1.  Your first property purchase

Buying our first home, whether it be public housing or private properties, this is probably our biggest financial purchase till now.

Get it right, or just plain being lucky, we have seen those who have parlayed their first property purchase into their first pot of gold. Those lucky bxxxxxxs!

Get it wrong as in overpaying... You do the math. You paid $100K more for your place than your neighbour next door. Multiply this $100K with bank interests over the next 20 to 25 years.

Pain right?

Now you know why someone the same age as you earning similar pay is able to inject a lot more cash into his portfolio or opportunity fund every year than you.

He paying himself first; you paying the bank first.

2.  To buy Car or not?

I'm not talking about getting a car to get girls or to boost your ego that sort of thing. I won't go there as once we start, there's no end one...

Here we just focus on we can afford a car, but the decision is whether we should spend that $100K first as in killing the golden goose?

Or do we keep the golden goose alive and be patient and slowly accumulate the golden eggs to buy that car?

This way, we can have both the golden goose and the car at the same time!

Problem is... Can your golden goose lay golden eggs every time? No rotten eggs ever?

And what if tomorrow never comes?

Also, driving a Ferrari at 50 is not the same as driving one at 30. Wink.

3.  Insurance

Want to know a fact? Insurance policies are mostly sold to.

Yah what?

If not why insurance companies dangle commissions and incentives to their agents to push these policies out?

When is the best time to push products out to unsuspecting bei kambings (little lambs)? Its when the customers are blur fxxxs, blur spiders, and blur sotongs...

For when these customers are financially literate, they will know HOW to buy WHAT they need online bypassing the agents. Just like how retail investors/traders are able to transact online without calling their remisiers....

Insurance is one area where many readers of financial blogs will readily admit their regrets in buying based on trust from friends/relative peddling insurance policies to them... 

They now know they should have practiced: Trust but Verify.

Imagine saving a dollar here, a dollar there for years... Only to discover you have been throwing away thousands annually in insurance premiums that you don't need or were not appropriate for you.

Don't sweat the small stuffs

Life is not a straight line extrapolation.

Above 3 examples are the "easier" financial ones.

I have not even gone to the much "harder" non-financial decisions like:

a) Marriage - divorces and alimony not "cheap"...

b) Health - well, that's a bucket with leaky holes...

What? We can't choose health? Well, we can choose what sort of lifestyle we want, our diets, to smoke or not; exercise no exercise; etc.... 



  1. Replies
    1. But we can choose not to pass down our DNA

    2. CW,

      Just as long as the choice remains with the individual, I am cool with it.

      Must guard against top down for your own good kind of decision making by others on behalf of us - especially when it comes to whether we want to pass down our DNA or not.

  2. Hi SMOL,

    Ironically, it was an insurance agent "friend" who served as the catalyst to my interest in insurance. I felt something amiss when he shared, but am unable to pinpoint what and where is wrong....

    In situations like that, I nod and smile, politely decline and request for more time to reassess his propositions.

    1. Unintelligent Nerd,

      After completing your CMFAS Module 9 (Life Insurance and Investment-Linked Policies) course, you'll know more than your insurance "friend".

      That's the theory part.

      If you nothing to do after your courses, can do part time insurance sales to immerse into the practical aspects.

      You'll know the commission and incentive structure, the pyramid overriding scales to "feed" your overlords, whether agents themselves buy ILPs, what they think of their clients; etc...

      What we snake-oils talk about our "prey" is not any different from those investment bankers who instant message amongst themselves about "bei kambings" they were feasting on ;)

      But then, we all have to make a living!

    2. SMOL

      There is nothing wrong with making a living. But it should not at the expense of others...

      Hmm... when we do trading and if we win, are we doing it at the expense of others? That's not nice too... But we tell ourselves market is not for bei kambings to make ourselves better. Lol...

    3. Blursotong King,

      Yes, when we win the job interview, its at the expense of the other interviewees that "lost".

      When I win an order in sales, its at the expense of other snake-oils at my competitors.

      And yes, when I made money in trading, its at the expense of another person who took the opposite side of my trade.

      Hence you'll find at this watering-hole mostly fellow meat-eaters.

      There are not many grass-grazers here ;)

    4. Eating grass as grass-grazers is like income investors?

      When part of grasses were eat grazed off; in the next season grasses will grow back to be grazed again. So it is not at the expenses of others since the grass naturally grow back on its own.

      Kinder folks.

    5. CW,

      Remember my Zebra story?

      Only those Zebras brave enough to stay on the outer ring of the herd will get to eat the juicier bits as in the top of the grass.

      Those zebras who follow the assess of other zebras will only get to eat what's left over - the bottom bits and the roots.

      And then the grass will not grow back :(

      That's why grass grazers need to be moved around or do annual migrations.

      Graze at one spot the whole herd will eventually starve to death :(

      And the irony of it all?

      Meat-eaters will understand what I've just written. For we stalk the grass-grazers...

      Meat-eaters evil?

      To plants, meat-eaters are the good guys ;)

    6. SMOL

      How do we address the karma issue here?
      Do we ignore it?

    7. Blursotong King,

      Does Karma apply when the lioness kills a deer to feed her hungry cubs?

      Does Karma apply to an ill vegetarian who takes medicine from animal extracts to get well?

      In a world of plants, they would exhort their followers to be meat-eaters...

      To see plants as "lesser" to animals, is this not 分别心?

      That's why Buddha never said cannot eat meat ;)

      He only said certain kinds of meat cannot eat.

    8. Wah, income investors as zebras sound quite benign.

      Personally, I envisage income investors as the pesky lamprey that relentlessly latch on to the blue whales (chips). Can't kill the host, but everyday drain it bit by bit.....

    9. Unintelligent Nerd,

      Can income investors decide how much dividend to pay themselves?

      No, there are not parasites. You see them too up ;)

      Income investors are more like the African dung beetles.

      Lucky, got big elephant poop. Bumper harvest!

      Unlucky, well, hyena poop is still poop right?

      Oh yes, dividends from stocks pay for my current lifestyle. That's why I don't want to talk too much about the income side of my portfolio.

      Trading is a lot sexier!


  3. i don't agreed with 2!

    i think every body should own a car, i bought my first car when i was 21, right after i got my first job haha...and it drives me be become what i am today haha...

    1. nothing is too expensive or too cheap to buy really, it all depends on knowing what you really need.

      i have no problem buying a M5 if it cost me 30k a year to keep it, that is cheap! but i do have a problem buying a pair of shoe thta cost more than $50 haha...

      thats knowing what you really want.

    2. by the way, it took me in total less than 15 minutes (to decide) to buy my current house and my car (BMW 650) in total, but it will take me more than a week to source for my next broken shoe and at the end, i bought not what i really like haha....

    3. the market had been "sick" for the pass month or 2!, like a sick person, it hardly moves and most of the players had gone away.

    4. coconut,

      Impressive! Provided its using your own money and not relying on daddy's hand-me-downs...

      "It drives me" - now that's good writing!

      Good for you! If you can afford it, and driving gives you pleasure, do it!

      I don't own one not because I'm frugal or thrifty. I have no feeling for cars.

      I don't even have a class 3 licence... I only have class 2B.

      Lucky I don't need a car to get girls ;)

    5. coconut,

      Bloody hell! A BMW at age 21???

      You sell drugs or what?

      Tell me about it!

      Got stopped-out by the Simsci for the nth time last week :(

      I don't play liao. Standing on the sidelines.

      I'll wait for STI to either break 3200 or 3100. Please give me a trend!

    6. well, i'm not sure whether i can afford them, but i know i really want that car and my wife, our stupid house!

      why stupid? becos i can't turn it into cash immedaitely if i need to, i can do it with the car if i needed cash which i paid then in cash, no loan, not qualified!

    7. my first car was a 6 years old mitsusbishi lancer 1400! cost me $9,500 and i believe i took a loan of $10k haha...

      my second car was a mazda 323 1.3, my 3rd was a datsun 1200,, my forth was a toyota corola 1.2, my fifth toyota twincam lavin!!! my sixth alfa romeo ..........

    8. i bot my alfaromeo 2.0 twinspark, my sixth car, i believe i'm only 25/26 years old hahaha...

    9. coconut,

      My bad. I thought you bought the BMW M5 as your first car at age 21!

      That would confirm you as a drug dealer ;)

      Wow! You change cars faster than I change shoes...

      Eh. If you can turn your house into cash for trading anytime you want, who dares to marry you?

      Better don't touch the house. Let your woman have some sense of security lah.

      If you self-destruct and blew yourself up in trading, at least you have something to leave her...

      Whether she'll let you stay that's another story.


    10. temperament probably own a car that i sold to him haha...

      nobody will self destruct themselves, the market will do it for you! everyone will die in the hand of the market, be you a trader or an investor!

      one can only hope to out run the market before his time expired.

    11. coconut,

      What a small world!?

      You and temperament met before?

      Quick! Say goods sold are not refundable!

      Yes, we will all die in the market. The survivors are those wise enough to get out and never return.

      My respect for you has gone up a few more notches!

      You philosophy power!

    12. same to you my friend, your writing show you had improve quiet a bit in your trading.

  4. temperament,

    coconut smoked me :(

    OK, my respect of him just fell a few notches...


    Ah! You rather buy your own new shoes than wear other people's old shoes ;)

    I can understand that feeling.

    However, in recent years, I am now open to the idea of buying 2nd hand furniture, books; etc.

    For relationships - divorced, widowed, other people's ex-girlfriends, all I take. I don't judge.

    Just as long they don't laugh at my bald head and my pot-belly :)

  5. Hi SMOL,

    Agree. It's the pareto principle, that 80/20 rule thing at work again. That said, I also think that it takes some perspectives to know what are the big and the small stuff in life. That takes some experience and experience means making mistakes here and there.

    I wish someone would go back in time and tell me what are the big stuff to sweat and what are the small stuff that i don't have to. But in reality, even if someone were to really go back in time to tell me, I might not follow. Haha, talk about making my own life my own way :)

    Life is complex :)

    1. LP,

      Confucius is right.

      I became less "distracted" when I'm around my late 30s to early 40s - 四十而不惑。

      Yes, my own life; my own pace :)

      That's the paradox. If we didn't have the life experiences and learnings from our past mistakes, we wouldn't have the perspective and "wisdom" we have today.

      I wouldn't go back in time to change the younger me; I may come back and find myself turned into a "bei kambing"!


  6. SMOL

    I am quite opposite from you. When I am in my 30+, I have goals and work towards them. After I met them and I am in my 40+, I am quite clueless what to do next. I become more "distracted" looking for answers which I cannot find.

    you are a bei kambing, you will not even know about it. You will be clueless what hit you.

    1. Blursotong King,

      Free I must write another post on goal settings and how most are using them "wrong" ;)

      Most just jump straight into goal setting mode without first knowing WHO they are...

      The same can be said for "Bucket Lists". Some thought life is about checking things off a list and that's living???

      Goal settings and bucket lists are easy. Anyone and everyone can do it.

      That's the trouble! The reality is most are living other people's life through mimicry - hence all the "benchmarking" - which is keeping up with the Joneses in disguise...

      You say you were "inspired" by so and so. Reality it just meant you copy paste.

      Now try these tough questions:

      WHO am I? WHY am I here? WHAT do I want? WHERE should I go? WHICH is the real me? WHEN would it be all over?

      When we have answered the above questions, that's where the HOW to get there question finally pops up.

      This is where goal settings and bucket lists, as tools, are useful to assist us to answer the HOW TO part ;)

      If goal setting was the solution to all our sufferings, Buddha would have offered it instead of the Noble Eightfold Path ;)

    2. SMOL


      I am looking forward to your post on goals...

      Let me attempt to answer your questions
      1. WHO am I? Blursotong King
      2. WHY am I here? Still trying to figure out.
      3. WHAT do I want? To be happy.
      4. WHERE should I go? Anywhere that can make me happy. You know where?
      5. WHICH is the real me? Me lah, is there a difference? Do we have so many persona?
      6. WHEN would it be a over? Don't know. Maybe tomorrow, maybe 40 years.

    3. Blursotong King,

      Are you really Blursotong King? When we wrote and met up, I don't recall calling you that ;)

      I have many names.

      Mom and my siblings don't call me Jared ;)

      My childhood neighbourhood friends holler out a nickname that I cringed - especially at my age now.

      My NS mates call me by my surname - SEAH.

      I got different nicknames from different companies I've worked in.

      As a blogger, people call me SMOL.

      WHICH is the me that's most resembles the REAL me?

      That's the reason why after hitting all our goals, there's still a lingering feeling of emptiness ;)

      The most important information when we open up a map is to establish WHERE ARE WE first.

      Without it, all the goal settings, milestones, plans got any meaning?

      We could be walking round and round in circles for all we know!


    4. SMOL

      Name is just used to identify a person. Does the name really matter? You know my name, I have nothing to hide. What is in you matter more! This, I am still confuse. I am still having an identity crisis once I have reached my goal.
      Where I am? I can understand your point on walking in circle. I became aware of that about 3 years ago before I decided to break out of the circle just late last year. But it seems like I am now I am back walking in another circle. Having prior experience, I notice this circle walking within 2 months into a new job. Still searching for an answer... Hope you can enlighten me.

    5. Blursotong King,

      A rose by any other name is still a rose.

      Yet, the different names/titles others address me may reveal the different "me" I "project" to others.

      Which is the REAL me?

      Am I a son, a brother, a neighbour, a childhood friend, a classmate, a boss, a subordinate, a team member, a secret competitor to my colleagues, a blogger, a trader?

      SMOL is definitely not the most important me ;)

      I am first and foremost - a son - right here; right now.

      When we have a hole-in-the-heart, we may move to a new environment to "escape"; but it only works if we are able to leave our hole-in-the-heart behind...

      I am not Bodhidharma. I cannot ask you to bring your heart to me so I can 把他安好 (bring peace to it).

      If you are a Buddhist, walk the Eightfold Path? (Walk as in practice and not just read the sutras)

      If you are a Christian, invite Jesus into your heart?

      If you are agnostic like me, watch a cosmos or astronomy documentary? (In the grand scheme of things, we are mere specks of dust; we don't matter. Keep our egos in check.)

    6. SMOL

      Thought a lot what you have said.

      Who am I? It will be different at different circumstances and different timing according to what you deem important then. But there still should be a primary you at that moment. I understand what you are saying now. Thank you for your kind guidance.

      Leave as to detach? As all things are impermanence?

      Why did you select to be agnostic after studying both Buddhism and Christian?

    7. Blursotong King,

      贪,嗔,痴 - take you pick which you prefer to detach from ;)

      I find Science more intellectually and spiritually uplifting.

      To know that I'm made from stardust, and when I die, I return to the stars.

      Now that's poetry or what?

      Hence my profile pic with my outstretched hands welcoming and collecting stardust ;)

      Funny I never liked science when I had to study it for exams. Now that I learn science without any goals or objectives, it suddenly has opened my eyes :)

      I wanted to study Islam too. But the English course was only available during weekends. So couldn't make it yet.

      The Masjid Mujahidin Mosque in Queenstown has banners in English translated from the Quran.

      That's a very friendly neighbourly thing to do. I appreciate it.

      Reaching out to non-Muslims like me :)

    8. Hi SMOL,

      I am the opposite, I read about space from my son's books and found quite a bit of parallel to Buddhist teaching, and was rather intrigued.

      I would not stretch it to say they are similar, but at least it's not 2-dimensional LOL

    9. Sillyinvestor,

      There are interesting parallels between Taoism, Buddhism, and Science ;)

      1) The Taoist symbol is the first computer binary code. Then there's Ying and Yang like Negative and Positive energies found in atoms...

      We wouldn't exist if the conditions on Earth is not "balanced". Of all the planets in our Solar System, Earth just happened to have the "right" conditions - or harmony in Taoism ;)

      2) Buddhism, with its tradition of verification, is one of the few faiths that does not rely on "faith". Seeking and knowing the Truth is what Buddhism is all about.

      I find theoretical physicists and Zen meditating monks quite fascinating. They both ask weird question to mind fxxx themselves.

      The theoretical physicist will ask, "How will I look like at the opposite end of the Black Hole?"

      The Zen monk, "Who am I before I was born?"

      Science and Buddhism have no conflict.

      The Dalai Lama has said where Science has contradicted Buddhist scriptures, he will go with Science.

      A lot of those "super natural" stuffs recorded in Buddhism texts were just metaphors used for a "less educated" audience of that time.

    10. Hi SMOL,

      yes, I agree about the metaphor part, for different people to understand, and the tier content for people to progress

      Thats why it kinda of irks me when people focus only on the form and not the substance/ of various practices. Ask why did you insist on doing something in a particular way, the answer is "faith" or its various manifestations.

      I have been through many times, aware of differences, understanding the similarities, everytimes it goes it circles but every time it is different

      Cannot put it clearly

    11. Faith is extremely impt, but without personally experience it supernaturally n so vividly and each day progressing more than yesterday such that it manifest to the blessings of the rest, what is there to claim the "faith". It is all theory!

    12. Sillyinvestor,

      I know what you mean.

      My Buddhist teacher for basic Buddhism at Bright Hill Temple is so fun!

      She likes to veer off the course material and poke Buddhists who like you say, were more interested in "form" than in substance.

      She'll did it so well most of my fellow classmates were not aware she is poking them! LOL!

      Like 拜佛 and 学佛 are not the same. No prizes on which one she advocates more ;)

      Or how many Buddhist devotees like to "bribe" or "bargain" with Buddha - if you do this for me; I'll do this and that in return...

      And the ridiculous practice of 放生... You catch the animals and then "pretend" to release them???

      Sadly, after the 1st semester of the 2nd year, she abruptly left without any notice... That's where I dropped out of the 3 years Buddhism course when her replacement just read off the prepared script :(

      I'm a Buddhism school dropout...

    13. Rolf,

      I respect your choices.

      I just prefer evidence based over personal testimony ;)


    14. for the pattern of this world makes us to believe things only with our 5 senses and sight. And yes need evidence.

      But what good does it makes of us if we only believe in things we see and when it happen. Isn't this for the majority. And have we not already realise the majority are always wrong.

      For in stocks, do we only believe when it rises or decrease, can we then profit from it when it already happened? Or can u profit when u believes it first, do and reap the profits?

      For perhaps even with evidence right in front our eyes, we may still dispute that we have not hear it, or feel it or... being skeptical.

      This is because the world make most of us only believe in ourself and nothing else. That is why the world today is separating humans from humans, not physically but mentally and soulishly.

      Have a thought about it! Its not easy to understand now, but everything happens for a reason and purpose, i always believe.


    15. Rolf,

      Of course we can be tricked by our senses.

      Its so easy to make the mistake that the Sun revolves round the Earth, until Science removed the wool covering our eyes ;)

      You Jedi I Jedi; just different school. We both can bend minds.

      But we know it'll only work on feeble-minds. Meow.

      I love this watering-hole!

      I don't know how we ended up here from my post about not sweating over the small stuffs!?

      This is what happens when we did not set any agendas or pre-set any objectives :)

      Thanks for making the discussion so much livelier and interesting!

      Sex, religion, and politics - I'm game!

  7. Hi Jared,

    I think I 'inspire' you to write many posts leh. Either to shoot me, poke me or correct me... wahaha! Ok thick skin I know. I like to look at the positive side of things :)

  8. Hi Jared,

    Focus on the bigger things in life is more important and hence I always believe big picture or top down is more important.

    Looking at the smaller details from start to end, u will never be able to find out the truth and the never able to see the root causes of things.

    Hence setting priority and ability to see the final destination right is really utmost important.

    1. Rolf,

      Our spiritual paths differ, but we share similar macro top down perspectives ;)

      We both are very lucky in that we had the opportunities to work with land owners, and thus benefitted from their counsel first hand.

      More importantly, listened to what they DO ;)


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