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Monday, 1 April 2019

The 2 species able to manipulate and change our environment

Of course we humans are one of the two species on Earth that can manipulate and change the environment we live in.

Just look around and you can easily see how humans can totally transform our natural habitat the moment we decide to settle in a place.

Can you guess which other species of animals cando what we do?

This one definitely not in our school syllabus!

I'll give you sometime. When finished, you can scroll down and see the answer.

Its the beaver! 

Did you guessed it?

The beaver can turn a little stream into a pond by building a beaver dam.

Pretty much like how we clear the land to build human settlements. Wink.

In Japan, women who prioritise their careers face a lot of obstacles. These women enjoy their craft, have dreams of their own, and do relish being financially independant (no need to depend on husband/father).

Like the beavers, the strong-willed ones will create their own environment by starting their own companies. Little startups with like-minded women employees as the majority. And no, you don't have to pour tea for your male colleagues!  

Its not new. 

In Singapore, the old Chinese Nantah graduates and the no study; no paper school leavers shared a common fate - being treated 2nd class in a England speaking first environment.

The more defiant ones will not play by other people's rules; they jumped to the deep end by creating their own "environments".

In our community, I've notice there's one "beaver" I quite like and admire.

Starting out as a freelance self-employed tuition teacher, he had to brave Singapore's harsh weather and take public transportation to his students' homes.

Sometimes already on the way students may suddenly cancel lessons at the last minute... 

What to do? Everyone has to pay our dues starting out. Ar ber then?

Then a wonderful thing happened. He got married. 

Yah, got woman dare to marry a guy with no formal job, no CPF from employer, and no health and dental plans for immediate family members!

Bought a HDB 5 room resale flat for their love nest.

Convert one bedroom to be his "SOHO" (small office; home office). Now students come to the mountain. 

Productivity increased. Can teach 2-3 students at the same time or charge more for one-to-one sessions.

Time saved on travelling can now be used for preparing lessons or spending with people that matter.

All the examples above are alternatives to the - when I have X, then I'll do Y goal settings adopted by so many seeking to escape...

Come on. We all know its can be one of those little lies or excuses to kick the can down the road once again!

Wait! I can't start Y now... I've not achieved X yet!!!

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Does it matter WHEN we retire?

My time, it was fashionable for some high achievers to muse about retiring in their 40s.

These people are usually doing very well in their corporate career earning high incomes.

It wasn't difficult for them. 

Just start saving a bigger share of their high incomes, then convert them to dividend stocks, bonds, or rental properties and they can retire... Yeah, just like that!

Investing acumen optional.

Now the youths of today seek to be financially free by 35. Power!

Imagine leaving university at 22 or 24, and in about 10 to 13 years, you have earned and saved enough money to last you till your 90s!

Still don't believe the power of youths is they don't know what cannot be done?

That's only the money part.

Often when we have achieved whatever we wanted, we begin to have second thoughts...

We all had this experience before right?

That girl you always wanted. When you finally had her, you begin to question were you really into her in the first place...

Or that "toy" you always wanted. You know, that luxury watch you saw others having, you tell yourself when you arrived you also must have! Then like that lor... No feeling when you have it. Now it sits quietly in the drawer. Long time never wear...

Remember when we were in school, one year seems like an eternity?

And if you failed your exam and have to be retained, one year lost and behind others is a BIG GAP. Or so you thought... 

Then there are men who complained about National Service... How they have lost 2 years compared to girls. Wow. Really? 

Girls, besides giam siap gui men, stay away from these whiners too. What kind of men will use NS as an excuse for losing out to women in the corporate world!?

Funny thing though. Once we are in the corporate world, time pass super fast!

Before we knew it, decades just flew by...

And being stuck in the same job for 10 years is normal to you.

1, 2, 5 years difference? They don't matter now. 

Especially when you see your peer "wastes" 2 years taking sabbatical to study MBA fulltime, come back got promotion; you still doing the same job.

Your junior took up the challenge to work overseas for 5 years, come back now at a higher payscale than you; you still at the same payscale.

Precision is good. But too much black and white can give you depression if you too anal about 2 decimal places.

Would you be happier if you had achieved your financial freedom goal to retire by 35, but go sell salted eggs a few years later? 

(In our community we got that self-styled guru who wanted to create lots of millionaires and the investing doctor who sold his business. Financial freedom is not a free pass to immortality...)

Or is it that bad if you had missed your financial freedom goal to retire by 35 and only able to retire at 50? You know, the more you planned, the more things backfired?

But you get to live to your 90s and beyond? Like lao lee and Mahatir?

I personally think Mahatir must be smiling to sleep every night. He has outlived his political rivals for the win!

I don't know. 

I would love to live till 90 and beyond, provided I'm in good health. I've this greed to enjoy life!

However, If invalid or in pain, I would much prefer to go as quick as possible! 

And if the doctor says I got one more year to live, I'm mentally and spiritually OK too. 

You know what?

Right here, right now, I'm OK (typical Singaporean response). I have a reason to get up every morning.

I don't have to worry who will take care of mom and dad as I have 2 others siblings to take over. 

What I have can be gifted to them to lighten the load, at least financially speaking.

Sometimes I do pinch myself.

Am I lucky or what?

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Change, regime change, and dreams...

Its quite fascinating looking at the Brexit process currently undergoing in UK right now.

Especially when I contrast it against how Singapore got kicked out of the Malaysian Federation in 1965.

I guess we were lucky we had strong leadership in 65 or what?

It brings to mind what I've gleaned from history - strong leadership is always about one - the Queen Bee or Alpha Male.

Weak leaders always got a council, a committee, a tribe, a horde... to hide behind. 

UK joined the then EEC in 1973. Now it wants out... Maybe? 

Its like getting a divorce 40 years into your marriage. Well, it lasted longer than the quickie shotgun wedding like ours! 

Time can be quite the tempest after lulling us into complacency through long periods of calm and predictability.

Long established political parties that had ruled forever and ever can suddenly find themselves in the wilderness of being in the Opposition. Think LDP in Japan, KMT in Taiwan, and now UMNO in Malaysia. 

Of course the next big one to watch is the CPC in China. I wonder whether it will happen in my lifetime?

Now that would be an interesting macro trade if I still around! (Singapore would definitely be 10 million with the influx of super rich immigrants! Property still boleh?)

Looking back more than 30 years when I started my jouney into the adult world at 16, comparing to the goals and dreams (or lack of) I had then, it quite amazing none of them were remotely close??? LOL!

My life definitely is not one of those who started out with goals and plans, and everything turned out as exactly as they've planned!!! They'll probably make good central planners?

No. Mine was more like a leaf in the wind. 

I defintely did not expect to be bald! (But I look cool OK?)

Then again, some say luck is preparation meeting opportunity....

I've no control over opportunity; I can do preparation though. Wink.

Wah lau, what talking you?

I catch no ball!

Well, I don't patronise you by explaining everything in cartoon like the brochures pasted next to our HDB lifts. 

You see what you want to see. Your take out may also depend on your own life experiences - whether you are starting your journey, reaching your mid-life crisis, or strolling down the mountain.

It can be harder for those who go toilet must jio others to go along...

Just saying, in case you didn't catch what I meant by leadership of one. Wink.



Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Josephine Teo’s data of Singapore Elderly’s Low CPF Payout is Depressing?

We see what we want to see.

It reminded me of the story why steel helmets for soldiers were reintroduced to soldiers during WW1.

During medieval sword fighting times, of course everyone uses metal helmets. But with the invention of the muskets and other firearms, metal helmets and armour were considered obsolete...

In 1914, there were in fact no major armies using a steel helmet.

Once hostilities started, steel helmets were quickly deployed.

You wouldn't have guessed based on the battleground statistics of the injured soldiers at the beginning of the conflict before steel helmets were reintroduced.

On the list of the injuries sustained by injured soldiers during combat, few injuries belonged to head wounds.

If head injuries were low on the list of injuries, why then the focus to offer protection to the heads of soldiers?

Make a guess why?

If you genuinely clueless, its probably a tell why you suck at fundamental investing... You can't read the numbers.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Subject-based banding - 地球上的星星

Who knew O' levels would be scrapped in my lifetime?

Subject-based banding to replace streaming?

Now that's what I call progress!

I'm happy for youths of tomorrow.  

Respect to big daddy for recognising the unintended problem of "labelling" from the streaming model. Yes, streaming cuts down the number of school dropouts, but it created a "caste system" in its wake..

Regular readers know how I feel about "labelling". Yup, calling yourself an "investor" does not make you more competent or skilled. 

For those of you who understand Mandarin, you can watch this Youtube clip:

《地球上的星星》    -  20 minutes long.

For those of you who can read English, if interested, you can watch the full Hindi movie with English subtitles here:

Taare Zameen Par      -  2.5 hours long.

If the actor looks familiar, he also appeared in my ancient blog post here:

The 3 idiots - Inspirational and philosophical movie!

No. What we have done is not "new" or revolutionary. Many other countries and education titans have discussed and explored it before. Both today and during ancient times - think Confucius and Socrates. Yeah, that old!   

The biggest difference is big daddy dare to squeese the trigger and implement it on a nationwide basis. Power!

Feels good and proud we no longer need to rely on the Cambridge "halo" after so many decades...

Singapore is already an education hub for the region today. Just look at the diversity of foreign students that come to Singapore to study - from primary to the tertiary level.

I guess just putting Singapore on our certificates and diploma is enough to win academic respect from employers and foreign universities alike. Wink.

Don't pretend you were surprised with the changes. You knew it was coming. 

Where got people during national day rally speech talk about competence and down playing of paper qualifications?

You forget the speech by pinky about O' level holders being generals and CEOs already?

Monday, 4 March 2019

Wanton Mee 加面包?

We had a new promoter that joined us this week.

He left Singapore to study in Canada and stayed there for over 20 years.

Came back to Singapore 3 years ago as his mom is ill...

Our story almost same same.

I must share this hilarious culture shock story about him getting use to Singlish and Singdarin all over again!

While waiting in line to buy our wanton mee, he heard the lady in front of him placed her order.

"Wanton mee 加面包."

Puzzled, he asked the hawker when his turn came, "Do we add bread to wanton mee nowadays?"

The hawker looked just as lost and puzzled. Then burst out laughing!

"Orh! Its wanton mee 加面 (additional noodles); 包 (takeaway) lah!"

That's the hallmark of Singlish and Singdarin!

We super efficient or what?

Cut out lots of extra words and what grammar?

Use the bare minimum of words to express oursleves.

A lot of blanks for missing words are "understooded".

We also like to rojak everything.

Wanton is Cantonese.

Mee is Hokkien.

加面包 is Mandarin.

Come to think of it, although I call myself a "trader", I'm very Singlish and Singdarin when it comes to my investing and trading!


Thursday, 28 February 2019

Leaving HDB flat to your children - awkward pause...

Whenever we hear people say they are leaving their HDB flats to their children, what's our initial reaction?

Awkward pause right?

I mean its totally different if its private properties as in landed (good, better, best!) or condos (no fish prawns also can)...

But HDB flats?

There are several scenarios we feel uncomfortable digging deeper. People sad case already you still want to twist the bayonet?

1.   We know new BTO HDB flats are affordable to 2 young couples who have worked for 5 years. Provided they not choosy or want something they can't afford.

And these young couples don't even have to be graduates. That's how affordable our BTO HDB flats are!

Not many cities in the world can do that. Its something we should not take for granted. 

2.  No. Your children won't want your HDB flat; they prefer to have one of their own. 

You can give yours to them, but in accordance to HDB rules where you can't own 2 HDB flats at the same time, your flat will be sold off in no time!

In case you didn't get the memo, HDB flats will be taken back by big daddy once the 99 year lease is up.

So I don't think they will sell their newer BTO flat to move into yours with less than 50 years lease remaining...

3.  That means you are aware your children have "special needs"; suffer from personal demons like gambling, drug taking; or have financial issues like business failure and/or the inability to hold down a job for more than 3 months...

4.  Are you eyeing your parent's HDB flat right now? 

If yes, life has not gone in accordance to your goals and plans, has it?

P.S.    What is life without some exceptions? 

If you lucky to own those Tiong Bahru walkup apartments or Queenstown landed terrace flats built by SIT (predecessor of HDB), you have struck gold!

Your children would be happy to get your hand-me-down!

These "3 room HDB flats" got money also may not get... Supply so limited and demand very strong amongst the well heeled.

And yes, these buyers don't mind the leases are below 50 years.  Or the fact their properties will expire worthless in several decades later...

Not when you are not pursuing financial freedom. (That means you got it already)

When people are financially secure, a lease is just another word for rent.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

How to tell if you're good at investing?

Its the selling or exit part right?

That's where you get the "respect" from other veteran old muttons. 

And your wallet will thank you!

Even if you got the rock bottom entry buying price, at best you get compliments you lucky this, you lucky that...

Tio bo?

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Crash Got Sound - What Doesn't Kill You Will Make You Stronger!

Once upon a time, Chinese stocks can do no wrong. Hence everyone loved China IPOs! From Nasdaq, to HKEX, to our local SGX. 

Then the investment world discovered fundamental analysis and fair value quite meaningless when you can't even trust whether the cash on the books really existed...

Then there was the commodity boom (similar China growth story). 

Soon we learned we don't really understand the industry at all... 

Hands up you know the supply chain of coal, sugar, coffee?

The short sellers were right.

Remember flavour of the year thematic plays for Water, Myanmar, Oil and Gas plays?

Some "buy-and-forget" investors learned you don't do that with cyclicals... (On a side note, they remind you of Bitcoin, no?) 

What are High Yield Bonds? 

Some accredited investors belatedly realised they were known as Junk Bonds in the past. Oh!

How safe are preference and perpetual shares?

Well, now we know.

Why buy REITs when we can get higher yields from Shipping Trusts?

Finally some get the poke about yield hogs and how both bulls and bears can make money, pigs just get slaughtered... 

Peer-to-peer lending at 18% yield good, better, best?

Well, usury or "ah long" can be very profitable! 

Go find out how much authorised money lenders charge their clients. 

How much illegal "ah longs" charge their victims

And how much credit card companies charge for lending unsecured loans to consumers.

Compare what are the various illegal and legal methods the above can recover their money when their clients/victims default.

Now ask how are you going to recover your peer-to-peer lending in a default?

You think you smart; others not stupid.

But then, this you only know when crash got sound!

Friday, 15 February 2019

SleepWiz - ErgoLush Gel-infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Some of you may have just returned from your CNY vacations.

I myself went for a 4 days 3 nights staycation at Jens Orchardgateway, the week prior to CNY.

Ever noticed the beds at the 4 stars and above hotels are very comfortable?

Next time, lift up the bedsheets and take a look at the mattress. 

Good (and atas) mattresses usually have 2 sections - the main bulky and thick part for the support, and a thinner part on top to provide the plushness and "sinking-in" feeling.

This part can be attached and sewn to the main mattress, or come as a separate topper that's laid on top.

I prefer the removable version.

I don't know what you do in bed, but we can spill, soil, and squirt quite a bit of mess in bed when we're having fun!

Of course when mom or mom-in-law came visiting, we act all innocent and sing song its because we like to have breakfast in bed. 

Its just coffee stains. 

Yeah, right.... 

With a removable mattress topper, its a lot cheaper to throw away the evidence than changing the whole mattress. Wink.

Memory foam used to be expensive. Now the price has come down by quite a bit. 

Some of you may have memory foam insoles from the new walking shoes you've bought. Comfy right?

Take a look at this website from my kind sponsor:

SleepWiz - ErgoLush Gel-infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper

At the low price of $87.90, how's that to enhance your sleep quality at night?

Don't say got lobang bo jio! 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Are you retail or industry insider?

I suspect you can guess I'm quite bored with the markets...

Nothing to do so go find friends to poke lor!

Sometimes it backfired big time! 

Like my recent feeble attempt to poke CW's grammar... Ouch! 

That is classic what my kindergaten teacher complained to my Ah Ma many years ago, "Your grandson himself don't know still like to teach others!?"

You can say I've not grown up or improved one bit... I'm still stuck at kindergaten level!


Oh! Must give CW a compliment. He let me off without giving me a slap. Hee, hee. He big hearted or what?

Either that or he has developed calluses against my "bau" nonsense! 

Then there was my poke to B when he swallowed what the newspaper wrote instead of trusting his own eyes. Newspaper can't make mistake one?


Where is the biggest public library in Singapore?

It was so funny.

Eh, no one cares or is counting the admin departments lah! Just include the floor area with books.

So, is the one at Bras Basah bigger or the new one at Vivocity bigger?

Remember a time when the most "valuable" section of a library was the reference section?

What happened to the reference section in our neighbourhood libraries for "retail" today?

Got Google people forget how old fogeys used to do "research". Wink.

Regular readers know all I've written above is just "foreplay". 

Where is the real poke?

Coming lah!

Some words used in common everyday language meant one thing, but inside the industry we use more specific industry terms as the common everyday words are just too vague... 

If not, how to tell who is "retail" who is "pro"?

Just take annualised returns for our portfolios.

Most just assume its IRR (Internal Rate of Return) and use the excel tool XIRR to calculate it.

IRR is actually quite black and white specific; annualised return is grey.

Eh? Are they not the same?

What if I tell you under "annualised return", there are 2 major computation methods?

One is Time-weighted (favoured by public fund managers)

The other is Money-weighted (which is IRR by another name)

I won't bore you with the specifics. You google yourself if you interested to know the differences.

But I'll give you a simple summary for you to ponder over:

Time-weighted returns measure how well the investor did at growing their assets over time.

Money-weighted returns measure how well the investor did with the timing and amount of inflow and outflow.

So the poke is not whether which method is better or more "superior".

The poke is what kind of investor are you?

Are you a long term or buy-and-hold investor?

Or do you practice market-timing with your entries and exits?


Sunday, 27 January 2019


Wednesday, 23 January 2019

School never teach...

Have you ever heard some of your friends or others saying it?

How about you yourself?

It says a lot about the person saying it, isn't it?

Friday, 18 January 2019

So Easy Until Pros Are Shutting Down?

I call myself a Trader.

That's only to make myself sexier to the babes in pickup lines. 

I don't really believe in labels, but if it helps me to impress the panties off them, call me a man-whore also can!

Notice a psychological quirk that we do after buying into something that were sold to us?

We tend to "jio" others to do the same? (Politicians, marketers, and religion shepherds have taken full advantage of it)

It's as if we were suffering from cognitive dissonance or buyer's remorse... 

So, if we can "inspire", "influence", or "motivate" others to do the same as what we did, it suddenly felt a lot better? 

Often, you do this "sharing" not based on your own user experience or using your own words; you simply "parrot" the same sales spin that were sold to you. 

Don't bluff! You did it!

It's the herding instinct lah!

You didn't mean any harm; it just more comforting to know if die, all die together!

Have you ever read or heard me say because I like to trade, so should you?

The cheerleading you often hear from me is crash got sound!

Don't try how to know?

Whether the shoes fit your feet how would others know?

And I've always given trading its due respect - I treat it as a craft. 

If you say you can't tell the difference between a craft from a hobby or pastime, then you're even more dishonest to yourself than you think! 

What's the point of goal setting and planning if they were based on little lies you've spun for yourself?

Trading is definitely not for anyone and everyone. 

Its in the realm of Earn More. 

If you can Earn More, you wouldn't have the need to seek FIRE to escape, would you?

Talk about the irony!

Something to mull about this weekend:

SocGen Considers Shutting $4.7 Billion Prop-Trading Unit

P.S.  While you are at it, if you consider yourself an "investor", you may want to ask yourself why are you "condemning" trading when you have never tried it before?

Or if you have tried and failed in trading, are you not behaving like that cad whose girlfriend dumped him... Now go telling everyone his former girlfriend was a slut?

Now think for a moment how a skilled shepherd (snake oil) would take advantage of such human tendencies?

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