Friday 28 January 2022

Man In The Arena


Monday 24 January 2022

Living On A Fixed Income for 30 years After 65


In my previous day job as part-time coach to the new potentials in our Leadership course, I often noticed highly educated people (especially those not from the Arts stream) like to do 2 things:

1)  Use excessive "precision" when non is needed.

2)  Like to express and rattle of numbers either to fudge, or to impress.

I had to nudge, poke, coach my mentees to use imagery with words, if they want to be understood better. 

Those of you who writes or likes poetry, you already know words work better than numbers when it comes to impressing the panties off girls!

I give you 2 examples.

In supply chain, we often spew off numbers in cubic metres how much this or that inventory is taking up our warehouse space... 

What's a better way to express these cubic metres?

What if I say we have around 30 x 40' containers of inventory instead?

Even if you never worked in supply chain before, you have seen a 40' container on the road right?

Isn't it easier to visualise 30 of these containers sitting in your warehouse than some abstract numbers in cubic metres?

What if I write in my report it cost us millions in customer returns annually?


We have billions in sales.

How to instill a sense of urgency in your communication?

Now if I write our customer returns is equivalent to the annual sales of 5 retail stores, I'll bet top management will take notice!

Can you imagine day after day, month after month, year after year, 5 of our stores are selling nothing but total crap to our customers!?

When it comes to retirement planning, lots of numbers are just thrown around casually.

Inflation, expressed in CPI numbers, is a number many like to parrot out of context, as if inflation affects everyone EQUALLY... (No, it does not)

If you are depending totally on CPF, and to be precise, CPF Life for your retirement needs after 65, that's a good example of what's it like to be on a "fixed" income. Its the closest to the pension schemes of other countries.

Now let's say you are blessed with long life like lao lee and Mahatir - you believe you can last till age 95.

That meant you'll be living on a relatively "fixed" CPF Life payouts for the next 30 years. 

I know, some of you want to be cute by saying we can choose the CPF Life Escalating Plan. Sure. But how many of you will really chose that plan? (Got you!)

Friend, if you can live till 95, ALL 3 CPF Life plans are same, same lah! Remember the monkey story of 3 bananas in the mornings, 4 in the evenings?

CPF Life sucks if we "up lorry" early. Period.

The trick to squeese blood from stone is live to 100 and beyond!

How to visualise what's life on a fixed income for 30 years?

For old fogeys age 50 and above like me, easy!

Just use our take home pay 30 years ago. 

Now imagine if we never had any pay increments or any promotional pay raises for the past 30 years.


If you take home pay was $10K per month 30 years ago, even after all the price increases all these years, life is good right? Still got left over for wine, women, and song!

If its $5K per month, I mean its still tolerable right? Maybe downgrade a bit from condo to HDB lifestyle as we get older? 

But to the average university graduate, I think take home pay $2K per month 30 years ago is more common. 

Hey! That's around the monthly CPF Life payouts if we decide to tap the CPF Enhanced Retirement Scheme at age 55! 

Well, there you go!

That's a better way to visualise how CPF Life payouts of $2K monthly would be like for you from age 65 to 95.


Not what you thought you needed? 

Well, better to realise it now than wait till you're 65!

For the past 30 years, did your life get better financially?

What did you do?


You already got the knowledge and the tools to help you decide!!!

What vehicles to ride, which path to take. Wink.


You are stuck financially like you did 30 years ago. Still earning the same $2K monthly.

$2K monthly was new graduate's pay 30 years ago. Now $2K can qualify for Workfare.

Workfare is government subsidy for low income earners... 

(Eh, this $2K can be a metaphor, not only used literally)

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result,



Friday 21 January 2022

Are You Financially Literate On Our SingDollar?


Jamus Lim to MAS: Let Singdollar strengthen to boost our purchasing power.

The average Singaporeans riding the ComfortDelgro bus probably have no interest in our Singdollar exchange rate.

You too, if you are a Singapore koala bear or panda - only invests in Singapore properties or Singapore stocks exclusively.

When you should.

Would overseas investors come park their money in Singapore stocks and properties if they think our Singdollar will slowly weaken and weaken over the next 10 years?

Would you invest in Malaysia properties if you think the MYR will likely reach 4 to 1 in the next 10-20 years?

That meant your Malaysian property has to appreciate by more than 33% just to breakeven what you have lost in currency conversion....

The good news is that youths are probably more savvy than old fogey koala bears and pandas in our community - when it comes to Singdollar exchange rates.

Especially when they are already vested with US options, stocks and cryptos. The same goes if they held passive ETFs with LSE or Hang Seng listed China tech stocks.

Even for those youths not in our financial freedom community, they are fully aware and know how to take advantage of our Singdollar strengths and weaknesses - especially when they like to buy stuffs online from overseas!

Before this Wuhan virus thingy, whenever a country's exchange rate has "bombed" against our Singdollar, you'll see a spike in holiday travels to that country! 

You think why so many visited Korea with the recent opening up?

The thing about Singdollar exchange rate is that its a bit like our property prices.

If we are not vested and looking to buy a property in Singapore, we'll support big daddy's property cooling measures. Who doesn't like lower prices?

But if we already vested and looking to sell our properties, we'll probably send our "regards" to big daddy for capping our profit taking...

Similarly, if you are looking to take profit from your overseas investments, and bring the funds back to Singapore, you'll hope our Singdollar will weaken... The lower the better!

But if we are looking to diversify and invest overseas for the first time, we'll sing another tune... Let our Singdollar strengthen leh!

Its fun when overseas investing is like going to JB; everything is so much cheaper than in Singapore!

Until you got burnt.

Then you'll become born-again koala bear or panda. 


Wednesday 19 January 2022

Buying Toto is like buying out-of-money options?


The beauty of buying options is from the get go, we know the MAX we can lose.

Worst comes to worst, we just let the option expire worthless.... We lose the premium we have paid. Period.

Note: I'm talking about BUYING options.

If you are selling options, and you have not hedged your position, your losses can be unlimited.

Isn't this similar to buying Toto?

If you buy Toto system 8, you just pay $28. That's the max you can lose - $28.

But if you struck the first prize, its like buying deep out-of-the-money options and hitting the jackpot!.

Yet, even when the losses are limited and known in advance, we have people having their lives destroyed by "playing" Toto and options...

Do you know the reasons why?

Once you know the reasons, then its a matter of discipline in not going there.

And the self-awareness of knowing when you have crossed the line and need to seek help...

Monday 17 January 2022

I struck Toto!


Click bait!

OK, I did win $510. (I guess I can splurge on CNY goodies?)

4 numbers x system 8 = $460

3 numbers x system 7 = $40

3 numbers x ordinary  = $10   

A far cry from the 2 lucky souls who won $5 million each last Friday...

Oh well, at least I did win some of my capital back for future draws. Wink.

Anyone into Toto will know we only care about the first two prizes. Any other prizes is just recycling of capital back to dump back in.

So did I really "win" $510?


I've been buying Toto for 30 odd years now. Never won the first two prizes. Which meant I need to win the first two prizes before I die in order to "win" at this Toto game. 

Net, net, I'm still underwater.

Come to think of it, Toto is a lot like the PG version of the Squid Game - the many lose so the few can win. 

Why am I sharing this?

This is how we snake oils use half-truths, or truths without context, to sugar-coat what we spin until like got dragons and phoenixes!

There's this running joke in the trading community:

How to have a million trading options, forex, futures, CFDs; or any other instruments of mass destruction?

Start with 10 million.

Trust but Verify. Few do so.

During my weekend sales gig, you'll be surprised how many "educated" customers fall prey to simple selling tricks or gimmicks.

I mean how much can we lose buying the "wrong" home electronics or appliances right?

Overtime, we become better with each "crash got sound" experience. 

Imagine if you never bought any home electronics or appliances on your own ever your whole adult life, now in your 60s and flushed with money, do you think you'll make better consumer buying decisions than someone who has been buying, repairing, and replacing these durable goods for 30 to 40 years pior?

It takes practice to see through Lies, damn lies, and statistics!

Friday 14 January 2022

Big Daddy's (Not Invisible) Hand Over Property Versus Stocks


When we invest or trade Singapore stocks, we don't have to worry about big daddy coming out with equities "cooling measures" to curb the perceived rapid speculative price appreciations right?

No free lunch.

That also meant there's no one to ring the bell at a stock market top...

Which is why in a bear market, the percentage losses is always far greater for stocks over properties. I guess this is not news to old fogeys out there. Wink.

Contrast this to Singapore's properties.

The moment when things get exciting, big daddy not shy to remove the punch bowl to the dismay of all vested interests....

Singapore property investors can't be blamed if they're envious of their counterparts in Hong Kong; US; Australian; and Canadian cities. Their property prices can shoot to the sky and stay there at their lofty levels for years.

That's until they crashed.

That's when Singapore property investors take comfort although we also have our property "crashes" and bear markets, we have less to fall from giddy heights...

Less alcohol from punch bowl, less hangover the next day.

That's something Singapore stock investors/traders found out the hard way - crash got sound!


There's another interesting difference. 

When stock market crashes, other countries may manipulate intervene by propping their local stock markets.

Japan is doing directly with their central bank buying ETFs of Japanese stocks. While US and Europe support their stock markets indirectly through "money printing".


But when it comes to Singapore properties, its not always about property cooling measures... People often forget we do have property boosting measures! 

Let's take the more obvious one like in 2005:

  • The relaxation of foreign ownership rules on apartments

  • An increase of the maximum loan-to-value ratio from 80% to 90%

  • A reduction of cash down payments from 10% to 5% for home purchase

  • Allowing non-related singles to use their CPF to jointly purchase residential properties.


Then there's the Upgrading and Asset Enhancement for HDB flats. Remember those?

How about big daddy's policy on foreign talents and immigration? 

Population 10 million?

And my favourite of all, HDB subsidies for BTO flats and all those housing grants and what not! 

(Imagine if I buy Singtel or DBS stocks, I can get a grant for staying near my parents!)

So there you go!

You want to drive without speed limits, without annoying big daddy reminding you to wear seat belts, you choose that path.

You like big daddy's warm and reassuring hand holding your bxlls palm, you go that way.

Just know that BOTH paths can equally make, or lose a lot of money.


You don't want to lose money ever?

Well, there's always CPF... (just don't call it investing OK?)

Tuesday 11 January 2022

Is Property A Good Inflation Hedge?


Well, if you ask old fogeys likes us, those with 30 or more years of life experience after school, the answer is crystal.

Especially for those of us that have benefitted from the past asset enhancement exercises and price inflation appreciation of the past decades.

Together now, "Thank you Mr Shorty!"

But to someone just starting out in your 20s, it can be confusing as there are conflicting messages from all over the place...

Have you read the article below from our nation building institution?

More People Couldn't Fully Repay CPF After Selling Property in 2020

Its like looking at a glass of water with ice cubes - we see what we want to see...

If people can't repay CPF together with the accrued interest of "only" 2.5%, do you think their properties have beaten inflation?


Like that might as well use cash to pay property loans and let our CPF money earn that sweet sweet 4%?

Wait a minute. Not so fast!

Read carefully. Its for year 2020! (Its driving using the rear view mirror)

In the article, there's this paragraph:

"In the whole of 2020, private home prices gained 2.2 per cent while HDB resale prices rose 5 per cent."

5%... That beats CPF's 4%; now that's a start! 

Sorry to private property owners though... (But no one crying for you; count in money you still beat HDB heartlanders hands down)

And next sentence below the above mentioned paragraph:

"Flash estimates for last year (2021) showed that private home prices climbed at a faster pace of 10.6 per cent while HDB resale prices surged by 12.5 per cent.

It changes everything! Doesn't it?

That's not what the headline suggests right?

What do you think?

Come this July 2022, want to bet CPF will report more people are able to repay their CPF after selling their properties during 2021?

What's the take away?

1.  Read the actual article! Not just the headlines... LOL! (I know, I know; reading is hard)

2.  Market timing is real. (You can call it Luck if you prefer)

3.  To find a hedge against inflation, you have to first have an opinion (gasp!) on what's the future inflation rate going forward...

Last Nov 2021's CPI is 3.8%. We'll have a 2% increase in GST this year...

If you believe we'll continue to have relatively low inflation rates between 1-2%, then certain vehicles may make sense.

But if you believe the inflation rate would probably range between 3-4%, then certain vehicles will be out... Wink. 

There's a reason why big daddy evaluates GIC and Temasek performance after discounting the global inflation rate.

No worries if you are a koala bear/panda as you buy Singapore local/local properties and stocks only. Just use our domestic CPI figure can oredi! 

4.  Trust but Verify. Do you own thinking. Decide for yourself. Take responsibility.


Thursday 6 January 2022

Why 1M65 CPF Acolytes Always Count In Money...


Noticed something funny?

When you see Earn More retail "investors" share their end of year portfolio returns, its almost always in percentages.

But when Save More 1M65 CPF acolytes share their end of year CPF "returns", its ALWAYS in money as in dollars and cents?


To avoid the awkwardness and embarrassment when you noticed you're wearing the SAME shirt or dress as everyone else at a party?

In the immortal words of Oprah Winfrey,

"You get 4%, you get 4%; everyone gets 4%!"


Monday 3 January 2022

Yet Another Money Losing Year!


They say 3 strikes and we're out!

Lucky owner of the trading fund is also me.  

If not, I would have fired myself as CTA (commodity trading advisor) for my futures account! 

I can't even beat those 1M65 CPF "eunuchs" (no baxxs)!? Talk about "malu" (shame)...

I lost 10 cents this year. 

Started 2021 with $10.88; ended the year with $10.78.

Or in percentages, its - 0.0092%

Had to use precision at 4 decimal places, if not can't even see the difference!

Normally I would have considered it a "flat" year - no win, no lose.

But that would be unfair to those long suffering victims whom I've poked in the past - especially the 1M65 CPF people. Wink.

Don't say I not sporting OK? Poke away!

I got 金钟罩,铁布衫; no worries.

Folks who like to throw rocks at glass houses must always be prepared for the blowback!

2021 - Down -0.0092% (Eh... I think I'm still going in the wrong direction...)

2020 - Down -3.5% (This got to stop!)

2019 - Down -3% (Smack to the face. In your dreams! Recover your head!)

2018 - Up 6% (Road to recovery?)

2017 - Down -8% (Opps!)

2016 - Up 13%... (Shy, Shy, Shy - Yes, its from K-Pop Twice's Cheer Up MV)

2015 - Up 88% (Double happiness!)

2014 - Tripled it! (Godlike!)

2013 - Doubled my trading account (Rampage!)

For context:

Another Money Losing Year - This Got To Stop!

OK, need to visit Waterloo Street Kwan Im Ma for celestial help, even though I'm atheist...

Now that's capitulation!


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