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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Free-To-Play & Virginity


I must share a recent funny episode about this mobile gaming community in Reddit.

A gamer proudly screenshot his rank in PVP (player-versus-player) arena but titled his post as F2P (free-to-play).

Basically he was trying to be passive aggressive against those P2W (pay-to-win) players, implying as F2P, he too can achieve such a high ranking...

Making his "achievement", all the more impressive for all to see.



The trouble with internet is there's a paper trail.

Other Redditors were quick to dig up his old posts to show he indeed has bought gaming packs from the game developer during his early gaming days; and his previous posts boasting his collection of hard to get heroes were coming back to haunt him... 

F2P?

Many were calling him a liar. A fake.



Then there are others who are quick to defend this gamer. 

Look! He only bought those gaming packs during his first few beginning months. Sure, they helped, but he has not bought anything since for the past 8 months. 

For all intended purposes, its perfectly fine to consider him "F2P" now. 

Don't be a pedantic and argue over semantics!



I couldn't stop myself laughing.

It made as much sense as your new girlfriend telling you she's a virgin for the past 8 months. 

Try it!

Next time people ask you whether you're a virgin, tell them you are one for the past 3 days.

See if they catch on to the joke... 

LOL!



Jokes aside, you can see this kind of mental gymnastics in our financial community.


Let's take property.

The BTO flat prices offered by big daddy are very interesting. The top 2 floors are being offered at the same prices. 

If you had bought the 2nd highest floor, do you think you can advertise or pass off your flat as the "highest" top floor in your block? 

Do you really think you can get the same selling price as the ones on the top floor when its time for you to sell?  

Yet you are willing to pay the same price as the top floor when you can get the 3rd and 4th highest floors at lower prices...


How about perpetual bonds?

Now think about it. A "bond" with no maturity date...

Can it still be considered a bond?

Or maybe its more akin to equity in practice?

Don't look at me!

That's like lending money to a "friend" who promises to return it back whenever he feels like it. 

I should get more generous friends like you!


Then there's the home-made definitions when it comes to networth or calculating investment returns.

I forgot or didn't include this or that...

This I count, that I didn't....

Look! I only smoked; I didn't inhale...

OK...

Those of you who knows something about accounting will understand that's why we have Accounting Standards.

If we let companies decide what to include and what not to include, and come up with their own interpretations, then no need to pay taxes anymore!



Have fun! 

See if you can catch yourself trying to justify to yourself or others whenever you try to do something that makes no sense whatsoever.

But hey! What's life without a few little lies to ourselves?

Shh....












Friday, 26 June 2020

Buy New, Repair, Or Throw?


What an interesting turn of back-to-back events!

First, my digital watch which I seldom wear - the one with thermometer, altimeter, compass built-in - has the liquid crystal leaked so that the display is now a black smear...

I went to the internet and saw we don't repair watches anymore; they simply change the whole module. 

The damage would be $100 to replace.

Let me see... I bought this watch for $250 more than 10 years ago, thinking how cool it is the wear it for my long walks. 

But then, when was the last time I used it to tell the temperature, direction, and elevation during my city walker treks?

Eh...

Guess what I did?

I threw the watch away. 

No replacement with new as I have another 3 watches anyway.



Then my instant water heater died on me last Friday. 

Come on! 

I'll be moving to my en-bloc new flat end of this year. Die on me now?

I have no problem showering in the cold, but mom needs her hot water showers.

Had an argument with mom who insisted on repairing, while I wanted to buy new.

Mom's generation had the repair mindset, thinking repair is cheaper than buy new.

I had to prove to her no one repairs instant water heaters; its always replacement. 

What the repairman will do is to say come repair, then say cannot repair and suggest a replacement unit - that's how they snake oil uninformed housewives who are now captive customers... 

Hello, I work in this home appliances industry remember?

Found a cheapo China brand online for $70, install $50 - so $120 for 6 months of use max. I just treat it that I've "rented" this instant water heater for 6 months.



Guess what?

Dad called me in the morning just now. 

Yup, his fridge went to sell salted duck eggs...

Son, do you know anyone who can change the Freon refrigerant? 

Dad, can I buy you a new fridge this weekend at my workplace? One that's more energy efficient? 3 ticks?

Your that ancient antique fridge for more than 20 years is bloodsucking your energy bill every month... 

I pay lah! (That's how you win the argument)



You know what?

I realised the above 3 scenarios can be applied to our stock investing journeys. 

The problem with investing is we often let emotions get in the way of logic. 

No wonder more institutions have moved towards systematic and algorithmic trading strategies...

Can you relate them to your existing stock positions?













Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Strange Weather; Strange Markets?


Is it just me or the weather these few days a bit strange?

It feels like year end December rainy season right? And I thought June is supposed to be one of those hotter months...

Not that I am complaining. 

I'll chose the cool weather over hot and humid any day! That's until I ran out of underwear to wear...

What? 

No dryer lah. I old school. My laundry all sun-dried. Love the smell of sunshine on my clothes.



Quite interesting reading the US financial news recently.

It seems retail is beating the professionals 1st half of 2020. Especially the millennials with their Robinhood accounts!?

What you expect?

Talk about the strength of youth!

Their advantage is they don't know what cannot be done. Wink.



The fastest bear market from January to March has given rise to one of the strongest US bull market since the lows in March! 

Hey! Buy The Freaking Dip is still alive and well!? 

Even more impressive is all this despite the Wuhan virus (I'm a cat person), the lockdowns, the massive layoffs, and the economic pains in the real US economy....



Of course its never about I can do it, so can you...

Last week, a reader SMS me a story about a young 20 year old US trader who killed himself after amassing a $700.000 loss trading options...

But it will quickly be forgotten. 

Market participants know for every tragic story like the above, there will be an "inspirational" story on the other spectrum about that trader in his early 20s that grew his Robinhood account from less than $10,000 to over $2 millions in slightly more than 2 years! (Yup, in percentage terms beat Warren Buffett hands down; trading power or what?)

Make a guess which story will snake oils peddle to wannabes fearing they will miss out?



Hmm...

I wonder whether our local millennials over here are also beating the professionals recently since March?

Or are they like the old fogeys, waiting to breakeven one day....













Saturday, 20 June 2020

I'm so happy! Back to work today!


Yeah, I'm still alive and kicking. 

Nope, did not go sell salted duck eggs yet.


Took an extended 2 months spring break from blogging. 

In case you were wondering, I was heavily involved and distracted with mobile gaming. I think this market got potential to beat console and PC gaming one day...  Or maybe it has already? 

Was pleasantly surprised on the quality of games you can play on a mobile phone nowadays! IT dinosaur me...


Got a call from my company to report to work Wednesday. Only difference now is I can't jump from store to store like before. Must stay put in one store. 

I believe one fast food operator got into trouble when they rotated staff to different outlets; and the price they paid was ALL outlets have to close when their staff got infected. Ouch!  

Containment. Ringfencing. 

In investing/trading, we call it Position Sizing.


I tell you. 

I was lucky to be paid while sitting at home during the weekends for these two and half months. But when everyday is Sunday, Sunday soon losses it meaning...

I noticed there's a psychological impact/toll on me too.

No fun in roaming around Singapore when I can't eat out. Takeaway bring home already cold and not so nice to eat.

And without my 2 days of "rest" during the weekends by working, I've noticed I'm getting a lot less patient with mom during these 2 months.    


Let's hope things will slowly get back to normal.


Be safe. Stay healthy.








Tuesday, 21 April 2020

I surely didn't expect this - negative oil prices!?


I was in the last geographic batch when it came to the Open Electricity Market. 

Finally made the switch March 2019 to enjoy the discount in my monthly electricity bills.



Occupational hazard meant I chose the variable plan. I've a bearish bias on energy prices going forward.

But I never expected negative oil prices!!!



When Brent was threatening USD100 per barrel several years back, I was involved in a project to test shipping one container from Guangzhou and another container from Shanghai to Dortmund, Germany via the Trans-Siberian Railway!?

I mean if shipping rates were going through the roof, we had to find an alternative cheaper land solution - short of moving production back to Europe...



If I were still with my old employer, I wonder what projects I'll be working on to take advantage of the unprecedented crash in energy prices! 








Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Correct Belief vs Correct Practice


I'll steal with pride from CW and do a blast from the past.

When I first wrote it in 2013, you could hear a pin drop... LOL!



Now, maybe some can appreciate it better, having gone through both bull and bear phases in their financial journeys.



Here's the post:


Orthodoxy versus Orthopraxy








When we started out, without any track record to our name, we have to rely on some theories as our foundation. And more frequently than not, these theories or "correct beliefts" were implanted into us from outside in.

It could be a book we read , a class we paid for, an advice from someone we trusted, or even an anonymois source we swallowed hook, line, and sinker nevetherless!? Hey! Its "free" what!?

  

How did all those "correct beliefs" done recently?

Some are not shaken. Their "faith" strong as ever. Unrealised losses are not "real"...

Some are having their cognitive dissonance moment. 

Some are not letting this crisis go to waste. They are thinking for themselves and making adjustments to their "correct beliefs". 

No need to consult others as they have their own track records to do their own "trust but verify" due diligence. 

Some "beliefs" they had held dear for so many years may have to be thrown out...



Its the transition to grey. 

Where "labels" matter less. Just like you don't care whether the cat is black or white, can catch mice that's what important!

"Correct practice" can also be more apealing to those who thrive on feedback from reality. 

When we do something, there will always be "crash got sound" feedback. 

When all one does is "believe" but never do anything abougt it, how to verify whether its true or not? Wink.








  



  

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Indexing versus Individual Stocks


I think I shall give him a new nickname. I'll call him the Ant Man!

Why reinvent the wheel when I can steal with pride?

Look at the chart below:

Covid-19 Bear Market 2020 - Round 2 Coming??? 




CW's chart is great to gauge our risk/reward profile.


STI index fund or ETF

The advantage of buying a Singapore STI index fund or ETF is it can't go to zero - unless the whole Singapore island disappear under the sea?

But to get a 2 bagger, we'll have to buy around STI 1,500 and wait for mean reversion back to 3,000.

To triple our money, its a scary buy at STI 1,000 - yes, not that far from 1997 Asian Financial Crisis level!!!

I hope you didn't have any illusions of scoring a 10 bagger using an index fund or ETF!

OK, its possible. Buy in your 20s at STI 1,000, and hope STI will hit 10,000 in your 60s?

But in your 20s, how much can you invest? 

Its those in their late 40s or early 50s that have real money to bet, but you'll have to pray for long life like Dr Mahatir...

Then again, you can always gift your STI index fund or ETF to your children, if you believe in buy only - never sell. Ever!



Individual stocks

If you are great at stock pickings, you don't need to wait for STI 1,500 or 1,000. At any level also can! Penny stocks anyone?

You can ask around, there are some astute ones who bought individual stocks in 2009 are sitting on 5 or 10 baggers during 2018. That's provided they sold. Wink.

That's a lot better than buying the STI index at around 1,500 and "merely" getting a 2 bagger ++...

But then again, if you are not so good, individual stocks can go to zero. Trust me, I know...

There's no free lunch. 

You win big; you lose big.



Choose your poison

So there you go. 

Like in a casino, walk to your preferred gaming table, Place your bets!

Just don't be like that young 20 something fresh from school with FIRE dream to retire at age 35, have made wonderful SMART goals, and detailed planning for each and every milestones, only to have chosen the poison of STI indexing... Eh?

I've said this too many time in the steering group when reviewing the goals and action plans of our young shepherds,

"Are you aware your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall?"



 










Thursday, 2 April 2020

Zen Wisdom From A Hawker


This morning, I overheard a conversation from a wanton mee hawker to his customer,

"Can move in or not I don't even know!"



It suddenly struck me as a pearl of wisdom no different from the Zen quotes I've read.



First, the context.

This hawker is in his 70s. 

He stays in one of the Tanglin Halt HDB flats, and his hawker stall is also located at the Tanglin Halt Food Centre. 

In case you didn't know, the whole Tangling Halt "10 storey" area is under en-bloc. We would be moving out to our new replacement flats by end of this year.

For young people, en-bloc is good, better, best! 

Its a windfall and the oportunity to change old lamp to new lamp - just like that, the HDB lease is refreshed to 99 years again. Magic or what!? Talk about being blessed by the big daddy genie!

However, if you are in your 70s or 80s, not everyone is thrilled. Especially if you are not cash strapped for retirement.

I mean at that advanced age, wouldn't you prefer to stay in a familiar surrounding with your existing group of friends and neighbours? A place where you moved in just after marriage, have children, and brought them up to adults. Throw all these memories away just to make a buck?

Since our en-bloc was announced 5 years ago, every other month, there's always a funeral.

Which means not everyone can live till they've moved into their new place....



Nowadays, when I meet neighbours in the mornings buying breakfast, we would often ask each other when we would be moving out.

I guess this wanton hawker is a bit upset being asked for the umpteen time...

Hence his remark above.



But when you pause an think about it, there's a lot Zen in that statement.













Monday, 30 March 2020

How to know if you are overreaching?


To the "lucky" few, self-awareness comes easy.

Like my ex-colleague many years ago who lost $5K "investing" in stocks, and just like that, he forever swore off investing in the financial markets!

To him, the pain of losing money is more than the fear of missing out....



Unfortunately, to the majority of us, especially when we have started our "investing" journeys in a bull market, this self-awarenes may take a bit longer...



However, with the recent extreme volatility within a short space of a few weeks, we all had our "tyre meets the road" moment.



Let's use the jogging analogy.

If we are jogging at a comfortable pace, we can have conversations with our jogging partners without losing our breath... Some of us can even even joke around and have a few laughs along the way!

But if you are struggling, and your mind can't think straight except catching your next breath, you may want to slow down your pace a bit. You are pushing yourself too hard...

And if you prefer to jog as a group and not alone, you may want to find new jogging "kakis" that are more on the "same level" as you? Why do this to yourself? Trying to fit in when you are not ready?



For those who drive, ever wonder why do we need the tachometer?

I mean got speedometer to tell how fast we are moving.

Then got odometer to tell how far we have travelled.

Come to think of it... What's the tachometer for???



If we rev our engines until we get to the redline zone for an extended period, you'll know.

Chatty person suddenly becomes quiet...

Quiet person now super talkative...

You take out your anxieties and frustrations on people that matter (spouse, children, parents)

Its affecting your day job at the worst possible time ...

Messing up your sleep...



Tired rest; hungry eat.

Listen to your body.

















Thursday, 26 March 2020

Is Investing/Trading a Team Sport or Solitary Game?


In PC or mobile gaming, its easy to observe 2 main kind of players.

There are those who enjoy playing in clans, join guilds, actively participate in group chats. They love debating the most META strategies, and flexing on the in-game gears and trophies acquired. 

Gaming is a social thing for them.


Then there are the lone rangers. They are more into PVE (player versus environment) over PVP (player versus player) gameplay. They do their own thing. Like collecting waifu characters or playing the game in a non-linear manner...


Make a guess if you are the game publisher, which group is easier to monetise?




Its the same with religion.

Some are in it for the social interactions. They are "religious" only on certain days of the month or week. The rest of the days, they don't act or speak as if they are "religious".

And definitely not deep into the theology or philosophy. Just as long can "parrot" some catchy hackney phrases, they are good to go!


On the other spectrum would be those who prefer to practice self-cultivation. Maybe an occasional meeting or discussion here and there, but mostly they prefer to walk the path themselves. 

These people don't ask others what shoes they should buy; or need others to tell them what shoes they should buy.




Have you noticed the same in our community of traders and investors? And those who seek FIRE?

Of course the biggest "sell" of being in a group/club/discussion forum is we can pool the resources and individual research of everyone. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole...

Surely an investment thesis or trading idea from the "herd" is better!? 


The reality is a few "Indian Chiefs" or "Star Shepherds" are doing all the talking. The rest just parrot or monkey see; monkey do

Ask yourself: Do you feel good when the stocks you owned are also in the portfolios of others?

That's a silly reason to own stocks right?  




Nowadays, there's so many forums and platforms to gather and talk shop. As we speak, many more are popping up.

Its just a numbers game. 

The more people joined, the easier it is to monetise. Its a business. Cool. I get that.



Is investing/trading a team sport or solitary game like chess or golf?

This you have to figure out for yourself. We are all different.

Its quite interesting to read some bloggers sharing their reflections on this topic.

(A quick shoutout to 15HWW for taking personal responsibility and not blaming his friend)

















Monday, 23 March 2020

Paul Immigrations Reviews: Becoming a SPR!



During my 3 years in Athens, Greece, I am so glad my company hired a consultant to coach me in my annual employment pass rituals. 

Talk about administrative bureaucracy! I had to visit 3 to 4 offices to get rubber stamps. Yes, literally!

These offices had mountains of files and papers stacked on top of one another. I do wonder what were the computers for? Minesweeper?

But I should not be complaining. I was chauffeured and escorted to these offices all the time. My experience was a breeze compared to the hapless applicants trying to figure out which queues to join. Imagine waiting in line for more than an hour to only be told to go queue at another counter!

No. We always ended up in the express line or appointments only counters. There is a simple reason for it – TIP.

It stands for – To Insure Performance.

It is not free, but the money paid was well worth it. 

My company paid for the professionalism and competency of the consultant to ensure a smooth, efficient, and painless process. 

It won’t be like my application would be delayed or rejected due to me forgetting to dot an “i” here; or cross that “t” there. You get the picture.



Want To Become A Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR)?

Of course I don’t have to spell out to you what are the benefits of becoming a SPR. This you knew or you won’t be interested to become a SPR in the first place.

If you are already working or studying here, you can see the benefits with your own eyes.

And if you are the aged parent; spouse; or child of a Singapore citizen or PR, you just want to be with the person that matters most to you, what other benefits can beat that?

That’s not the struggle you face.



Common Struggles Face By DIY PR Applicants


First time applicants

Tedious paperwork with a strict time frame

Unfamiliarity with the application process

Difficulty navigating the e-Service

May not fulfil all criteria required by ICA

Lack knowledge on how to make their application stand out


Reapplicants

Face multiple times of rejections

Tedious amounts of paperwork

Difficulty navigating the new e-Service

Unsure where to upload the additional documents

Unaware of the reasons for the past applicant’s rejection



Do You Need A Professional?

This is where you exercise your TIP – To Insure Performance.




Paul Immigrations is a professional immigration consultant that specialises in the application of SPR.

What sets them apart from other immigration consultants?

1. Professional knowledge and professional care management

2. Strong complete documents package

3. Minimise hassle and time wastage

4. Strategic approach in handling complex issues




This Is How They Can Help


Offer expert guidance

I don’t know about you, but I would welcome the edge over other SPR applicants by gaining access to their team of specialists.

The tips and insights I can glean from them would make the complicated and tedious SPR process a lot more palatable.


Documentation

When you submit your SPR application yourself using the online portal of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA), if you mess up on any steps of the process, or miss any essential documents, this will render your application invalid.

Argh!!! Delays and have to start all over again!

Why do this to yourself when you can leverage on other people’s talent (OPT) by using their team of professionals to ensure everything is in order from the very get go?


Essential document preparation

Beyond the necessary documents required by ICA, their team of specialists – with their years of experience in securing SPR for other successful applicants – can and will recommend other documents that will bring out your best qualities and contributions.

For eg, by including a letter of recommendation from your employer, it will make your application stand out a lot more!


Specially crafted cover letters

Remember that time you had to draft your own cover letters for multiple job applications?

Let’s be honest. Are you a wordsmith? Is English your mother tongue?

I suspect as much. Better let the pros do it.


Guidance throughout the process

How was the experience buying your first home? Especially when it came to the dreaded paperwork for conveyancing, applying for bank loan, fire insurance, etc…

Aren’t you glad you had a property agent to guide you through the whole process?

The same logic applies here.


Less hassle and minimal time wastage

As an IT dinosaur, I hate it whenever I have to fill in forms on any online portals.

Make any mistakes have to click back-page and redo. Especially when they only prompt me I have missing fields not entered after I’ve clicked the “submit” button.

Where did I do wrong now? Talk about time wasting!

Similarly, the ICA e-Service portal can be daunting if you are not familiar with it.

Yup, you know what I’m going to say…

Let the pros do it! 





What Some Happy Clients Have To Say

“The consultants at Paul Immigrations were very patient. They provided detailed explanations to my queries too. I’m so happy to have them handle my submission & even more so now that it is approved!”

Priya Darshini, 27
India, Accountant (LTVP to PR), PR approved in 6 months


“So glad that I finally got my approval in 5 months! Thanks to the consultant and team of Paul Immigrations, the troublesome applying process is so much less stressful for me! Kudos to the team!”

Yap Khai Wen, 32
Malaysia, Corporate Communications Executive


“Booked a consultation with Paul Immigrations after knowing about them from a friend who engaged their professional service. The process was so much easier than trying to do it on my own!”

Sandra Liu Hua, 35

China, Lead Engineer, PR approved in 6 months



Free Resources To Your Questions

You can access your eligibility now to find out more.

I find the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of the webpage has a ton of useful information. 

And if you scroll up, you will find a tab under “Free Tips”. That’s super helpful too. 



Oh! And welcome to Singapore!







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