Friday, May 30, 2014

Where does the STI go from here? 30 May 2014

It's already 5 months into 2014. Personally the STI doesn't look very exciting to me at its current price.

There are a few reasons why I'm so interested in the STI.
1) I am Singaporean, I live in Singapore
2) Investments in the STI can be done in SGD
3) Investments in the STI can be done through an ETF
4) Capital outlay in SGD to buy 1 lot of the Nikko AM STI ETF is very low (100 X share price, so approximately ~$300)
5) Diversification (30 companies) and Access (Jardine companies have expensive tickers)
6) Dividend payouts

However, as much as I like the idea of the STI as an equity investment, I have to say that I am a humji investor. I don't like paying a lot for something, especially when I think that there is a high possibility of it being cheaper in the future.

When I say possibility, I think I really mean to say probability.

I am stalking the STI so that I can make personal investments, as well as investments for my sister, which I suppose gives me an even extra layer of humji-ness, because I want to make low-risk, high probability trades.

I'm going to show the daily, weekly and monthly charts of the STI, with just 2 simple indicators: the Bollinger Band and the Slow Stochastics.


The daily shows that current prices are at the upper edge of the Bollinger Band. They also show that the SS is in overbought territory.


The weekly shows a very similar scenario. Current prices at almost at the upper edge of the BB and the SS is clearly very bought.


The monthly is perhaps the least compelling of the lot. Prices are above the 20MA of the BB, but they are not at the upper edge of the BB, they are just merely in the upper half of the BB. SS does not show oversold or overbought, but it looks to be able to trend up a bit higher.

Conclusion
Facts: The daily and weekly picture is very clear, the odds are in favour that the market makes a short term and possibly a medium term correction moving forward. The monthly supports this probability as well, but the momentum does not bode as well.

Gut Feeling: Though I would personally give more credit to momentum than probabilities, momentum in the STI does not seem reliable lately. Haven't we been in the same place since 2011?

Forecast (completely unreliable): Short term bottom towards end of June, bigger intermediate bottom end July - August. This could lead to something bigger if it lines up or is affected by the global economy.

Underlying Thesis: Japan and China are imploding, and their implosion will rock the world and scare off investors who have been unhealthily risk-taking. In particular, US investors will reassess their own investments and come to realize that they are not immune to the same problems and risks that are affecting other economies, which will cause a rush out of risk assets. Looking for a turning point to occur anytime NOW, or in Q3.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review of Citibank's InterestPlus Savings Account 2.5%

I was alerted of this new change by a post from Cheaponana. I have got to say, he is the most on-the-ball Singaporean finance blogger when it comes to new deals and promotions!

(screenshot of Citi's promotion from Cheaponana)

Well, I guess with OCBC (360 review here), SCB and DBS (SCB Bonus$aver vs DBS Multipler vs OCBC 360 comparison here) well into the fray of stealing each other customers by offering better savings account interest, it was only a matter of time before the other banks join in the fray. I suppose UOB will be next?

This InterestPlus savings account is actually not new. If I am not wrong, before this revision they used to offer 1.88% or 1.58% interest or something like that on bank balances with the similar kind of requirements.

Apparently now, there are 4 ways to earn interest on balances of up to $50,000:
-spend $25 a month with a Citi card (0.1%)
-invest $250 a month in a Regular Savings Plan (1.2%)
-insure $250 a month with insurance (1.2%)
-have a home loan of at least $250,000 (1%)
However, for those who have no noticed, they do not list the base interest of this account! I have tried searching high and low, but I really can't find any mention of this on their website. I'm sure it's between 0.05% to 0.10% anyway.

Spending $25 a month with your Citi cards is easy, so I'm not even going to elaborate on this!

$250 towards a Regular Savings Plan (RSP) is actually a pretty good and sound idea, especially for personal financial planning. The money you decide to put in a RSP is committed on a 12 month's basis and you get to decide which of the various funds you would like to own through the RSP. The good news is that they are partnered with BlackRock, which gives accessibility to the Global Allocation Fund, which not all unit trust providers offer. This is a pretty good fund, and I would consider a RSP into this just to get exposure into this fund! The minimum $250 a month is also good, since usually you would be required $1000 for an initial investment and probably much larger amounts in the future.

However, the catch here is that the RSP eats up 3% of your investment as the sales charge. 3% is a very very high sales charge to be slapped with, especially since any small time retail investor can get any fund offered by Phillip at only 0.75% sales charge. Some funds that are on promotion offer 0% sales charge! So, get an extra 1.2% on you deposits, but pay an extra 2.25% on your regular savings. Citibank is smart! But not in a way that is good for you.

Insurance, pffft. I think if you read this post, you will have a feel towards my view of insurance. I do not believe in investment-insurance or fancy kinds of insurance. Investments and insurance should not mix, so I can't imagine myself or recommending to anyone to get insurance with Citi just for an extra 1.2% bonus interest. However, for people who are really really financially-basket case and looking for safe returns, then I suppose that this would suit them. I just wouldn't recommend it myself.

Lastly is the home loan. I have no idea about home loans, but Citi does not strike me as one of the better banks that offer good home loans in Singapore. However, if you are taking up a loan with them, then you should definitely milk for the interest.

Summary

Pros
- Bonus interest is based on the larger $50,000 deposit balance (similar to DBS and OCBC)
- Customers already planning to get a Citi home loan would do nothing to get this extra interest
- minimum spend of $25 on your credit card is very very easily done
- access to BlackRock funds

Cons
- non transparent base interest
- interest capped at 2.5% even if you are eligible for more
- RSP has a 3% sales charge
- insurance offered might not be what you need, don't get it just for the extra interest

My personal conclusion? Don't bother with this account. The OCBC 360 really offers much more upfront and direct value without much sneaky trickery. If you're done maxing out your OCBC 360 account, and are wondering where to put your excess cash, then you're having a very good problem that I would love to have. I haven't reached that stage in my finances yet, but hopefully soon I will!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Putting A Thermometer on Gold

Gold just got smashed today.



Both gold and silver are down 2% for the day, which is pretty impressive to me. Personally, I'm more of a fan of silver now, seeing how it is usually seen as the high beta cousin of gold, but it seems to be moving in tandem now. That tells me that silver is actually performing better than gold, being more resistant to the downside - at this level.


http://www.macrotrends.net/1441/gold-to-silver-ratio-historical-chart

The Gold/Silver ratio also lends a bit of support here. With the moving average recently trending downwards, it might be entirely possible for silver to outperform gold on a relative basis, while both metals do well.

However, on the flip side, looking at some macro charts and some cycles chart, silver actually has the weaker picture compared to gold. Maybe gold bugs out there believe that the bottom is in for gold, and it is only a matter of time before we see upside.

Personally, I think that the bottom for gold looks set in deep pretty solid. For silver, I'm not too sure. Technically, I could see it going down further. My thesis on the metals now is that they are going to get smashed, but only once the margin calls start coming in. That would be the final washout for the metals, and we're in for a nice pretty rally, especially since it seems no one learnt anything from the Great Financial Crisis.

However, regardless if the metals are dropping, one thing still gives me conviction, and that is the hope of gold stocks.

http://www.macrotrends.net/1440/hui-to-gold-ratio

The chart is from Macrotrends. They have the XAU to Gold ratio as well, but I think that the HUI to Gold ratio is a much better ratio, even though there is less data available for it. The XAU is heavily tilted towards large caps, with 3 companies making up 50% of the index. The HUI is a lot more balanced, with 16 companies equal weighted.

With that said, the HUI to Gold ratio is look particularly stunning. If you're a precious metals bull, you have absolutely got to own gold stocks. Not only do they largely share the same thesis, they are even cheaper than gold, which many people already think is too cheap!

I'm sticking to my guns and long term investment principles. I'm young and wild, I'm a risk taker, and right now, the risks I see in front of me looks particularly rewarding.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cheapest Physical Silver Dealers in Singapore

If you have ever thought of buying silver as a physical precious metal investment in Singapore, do you know where you should go to buy some and invest at the cheapest price?

Most people will intuitively think their local jewellery or coin shop, but I am personally not so certain that they can offer you the best price. I've heard that the best prices you can get are from investor-to-investor direct sales, usually through a forum or personal contact. Since these investors do not own a physical retail shop or maintain a costly website, they do not have high mark-up over the spot price. However, it is a very opaque market, illiquid, unreliable and requires a higher degree of personal independence and knowledge to navigate this way.

Therefore, I think the best option for people interested in physical Silver is to buy from online dealers in Singapore that sell investment grade precious metals (IPM). Their prices are online and transparent for all to see. Since you can also open up multiple windows and also monitor the USD/SGD foreign exchange rate, the information of these online sellers are available for all to see. (hard to get ripped off, which is a good thing for us investors!)

The simplest way of finding out where you can buy the cheapest silver bullion is just to compare the prices you see online. I am comparing the prices without any special membership or other special connections. The prices that I have found and extracted from the various websites are the actual price that any public retail investor would be able to purchase from them at.

While just simply looking at prices is a good way, I have instead compared all the different sellers to find out what is their 1oz price for an investment grade silver bullion coin in SGD terms (if you decide to settle in USD, there would be a currency conversion fee that can be anywhere from 0.2% to 3% depending on the seller).

After I have found their 1oz price, I compare it to the spot silver price in SGD so that I can find out what is the particular premium that the sellers are charging. I would have thought that the premiums would be fairly constant in the industry, but I was wrong! The premium can range from 17% all the way to 45%, which is a huge range!

Note: The premium over spot price is roughly for 20-25oz of 1oz Silver Bullion coins. ($500-900 investment capital required) As the denomination of the Silver investment increases, the premium over spot price would drop as well. The drop in premium over spot can drop down to as low as 11% for half kilo or larger denominations.

Anyway, I have prepared a table below showing the different sellers in Singapore, the type of Silver bullion that they are selling, the minimum quantity, the minimum price, the per oz price and finally the calculated premium over spot price.


As you can see, the top 3 Silver bullion sellers are very tight and close with each other in offering competitive premiums. They are all under 18% premium over spot and within 1% from each other.

*I would like to highlight BullionStar's Vault Gram as a very special mention. Although it is not the exact same thing as physical delivery, it is very similar in the sense that the claim on the holdings are asset backed (every 1g of silver you have purchased, they have put aside 1g of silver in their vaults that belongs to you). However, they do not do physical delivery, since that adds admin, labour and delivery costs. That is totally fine, since they cut out these expenses and pass on the cost savings to us investors!

As I have previously said, investing in physical silver of over 500g and above can reduce the amount of premium paid over spot to 11%, which can be quite a substantial saving for an investment over $10,000. However, the Vault Gram has a total premium of about roughly 9% (5% premium + 3% spread + 1% friction). Therefore, investing with the Vault Gram actually drops the premium paid over spot to a mere 9% even with just an 80c investment instead of a $10,000 investment!


Personally, if you sleep better at night knowing that you have some physical silver on-hand, in your house or tucked away in a safe or vault, then please, by all means go out and get some physical!

However, maybe you are like me. As much as I like precious metals, I am a cycles investor. I want to purchase assets when they are cheap, and then I want to sell them when they are expensive. After that, I will take my capital and profits and invest into the next cheap asset class. I don't really view precious metals as the holy grail of investment asset classes, BUT I do recognize their power in retaining value, especially against horrible currencies. Definitely a portion of my assets will always be in precious metals, just for portfolio insurance! Given my personal view, I am very happy buying Vault Grams that are physically-backed, have a lower capital outlay cost and most importantly, have the lowest premiums over spot price available in the market.

I can't say for most of the dealers in my table regarding their service, reliability and product, except for BullionStar. I have done my own personal precious metal investments with them (link to a previous post about my first time investing with them and my subsequent review of them as a dealer), and I think that they are a great company. They have an excellent website and user interface. Their processing of orders with regards to buying and selling precious metals was very seamless and easy for me. Although they are not the absolute cheapest Silver dealer in Singapore at the moment, I think that they are extremely competitive in price and I don't mind forking out an extra 0.4% for the comfort knowing that I have dealt with them previously and they have been reliable so far.

That said, I hope this article helps anyone who is thinking about their options regarding physical silver investing in Singapore and manages to find a great company to handle your silver precious metal dealings!

Disclosure: I am a BullionStar affiliate, so I get a small commission from people that purchase items from them through my links here. My personal precious metals investments are stored with them and I pay fees as a regular customer.

Singapore Customs GST Exemption for Investment Precious Metals

Since 1st October 2012, the Singapore government has removed the Government Service Tax (GST)  for investment precious metals (IPM). The GST of 7% used to be associated with all consumption goods and services, but since precious metals are seen as an investment, they have been waived from being taxed!

The customs webpage has a short write up about it here. However, for the full details, you have to go to find the official pdf circular on their website. Well, luckily I have found it and here's the link!

Summary:



IPMs are only for 3 metals - Gold, Silver and Platinum
Gold purity must be at least 99.5%
Silver purity must be at least 99.9%
Platinum purity must be at least 99%


Bars and Coins will only be tax exempt if they subsequently comply with the annex lists.

I've checked and looked out for the popular bars being sold in Singapore. Heraeus, Solar, PAMP, Metalor, Nadir and Johnson Matthay are all compliant. The full list of compliant companies can be found on the LMBA website here.

For Coins, it's more clear cut with less wiggle room. It's just whatever is on the other annex page, shown below.


Anyway, as long as your precious metals investments are compliant with the regulations above, they should be GST-free, meaning that you do not need to pay 7% extra for these goods.

The main reason why I'm extracting this information is so that I can start out with the pure basics of precious metals investing in Singapore. I need to know what counts as an IPM, and then I can compare IPM to IPM products, without the distortion of GST involved!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cashing Out From MySurvey (Part II)

So here is the update from my previous post, Cashing Out From MySurvey.

On 15th May I requested to convert some of my points in MySurvey into money, and have the money sent to my PayPal account.

I have been diligently checking my PayPal account everyday for the money, but I saw no sign of it throughout the week.

This morning though, I awoke to an email saying that I have been paid and the money is in my PayPal account. Excited, I went to check!


So yup, as you can see the money came in through Perks.com, which I suppose is the payment arm of MySurvey.

I am pretty happy with how easy it is to convert the survey points into money and have it sent over to my account from MySurvey! I also really think that the surveys on MySurvey are a lot more easier, fun and short, while still being reasonably rewarding.

Because of that, I have proceeded to cashout all my remaining points in MySurvey. The treshhold is so low at only $5 to withdraw, with no benefits of scale by redeeming rewards of higher value, so it makes no sense accumulating points to withdraw at $15, or to withdraw once you can at $5!


So, I have almost no points left in my account, but I'm sure I will be able to cash out again soon. If you get a survey a week, you can probably cash out $5 a month! Peanuts to some people really, but the work involved is peanuts too!

I would recommend anyone that would want to make slow, boring, easy money online at home doing paid surveys in Singapore to consider using this website. I think it's the best one of the few that I've tried, so just my personal opinion! All you need is a PayPal account to eventually withdraw your money, it's pretty simple!

Now I will be going to Toluna and post the withdrawal process as well, I think people might be interested as well!

Tickers in the Cross-hairs

My best current ideas are GK Goh and New Toyo:
GK Goh @ $0.825-0.830
New Toyo @ $0.290

I would probably look to test water at those prices.

Promising picks in the near future are SATS, SuperGroup and Wing Tai. United Engineers looks interesting too.

SATS looks like it's going down to $3 to me. SuperGroup towards $2.60. Wing Tai to $1.83 and UE to maybe to $2.10.

These tickers in the sights have been bogged down by unimpressive results or some geo-political shifts, but if they near those prices that I mentioned, then I would consider buying since those look like places of logical support.

Anyway, do your own research, let me know what you think!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quick Pulse Check

I did a quite and dirty check on my asset allocation because I don't think I've been doing a good job sticking to my rules.

Cash - 33.5%
Bonds - 30%
Precious metals - 30%

Stock picking - 2.5%
CFD trading - 4%


Which actually gives me a fairly diversified portfolio I think. Disregard the individual trading from the stock picking and CFD trading allocation if you must, and I've got a pretty decent split between cash, bonds and precious metals 3 ways.

Clearly, I am positioned for market turmoil in the coming future. However, considering the prices that I've been picking up bonds and precious metals at? Worth it I suppose!

Sniper Shorts

Pun intended.


I've been taking quite a few shorts recently, and all of them are the different US equity indices.

I took the IWM short because it just looked the most rewarding in terms of risk and reward. As you can see, the IWM was just less than 1 point away from closing out one of my positions!

I have been making money with all these shorts lately, but I've also lost money too. It's a dangerous gamble I'm taking here, that's why I'm getting my shorts close and tight. If I get stopped out, I'll see if I want to short again at a even higher level or just wait it out.

I still have a nagging suspicion about the whole US recovery, especially with their record high margin debt and their P/E ratios so high. But hey, I just act on what I see, the market doesn't care what I think.

The main thing is staying solvent while the market chops around, ready to cut loose "risk on" positions and have juicy investments are targets just waiting to be bottom picked!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

[XMM STI ETF Investing] Broke Even Already!

I started this simple portfolio for my sister on the 1st of April 2014. Just using a current bank account, a bond fund and the STI ETF, I plan to help my sister get decent returns while taking a very slow and steady, risk adverse approach using sound investment principles.

After I received her money, I bought into the UOB SGD Fund Class A immediately and a few days later I got the confirmation of the price that I entered in at.

Just FYI, I purchased 4731.82 units @ $1.678

As of yesterday's closing price, the unit price was $1.691!

4731.82 x $1.691 = $8,001.51

So, in less than 2 months (about 7 weeks), I managed to breakeven on the sales charged tagged onto the bond fund. That means 0.75% gains in just 7 weeks!

Annualized gains at this rate would be a whopping 5.57%! However, much of the year has already passed, so I'm aiming for this bond portion of the portfolio to make a conservative 2% over cost by the end of the year. (upside looks capped at 3%)

STI valuations still do not look attractive to me by a long shot. I doubt I will be entering in any position in it until at least the last quarter of the year.

Portfolio Recap

Cost and Location:
$8,000 in UOB fund
$2,002.70 in OCBC 360

Current Portfolio Value:
$8,001.51 in UOB fund
$2,002.70 in OCBC 360

Total Current Market Value = $10,004.21
Unrealized gain = $4.21

Future Portfolio Developments

While I did previous have a good run through the SGX listed stocks looking for decent tickers, especially based on dividends, I definitely think more can be done.

I think one extra layer of screening should also take into consideration the free float of the company shares. The requirements of SGX are detailed here, but I think I will come up with my own ordinal grouping, since the amount of free float can also determine the amount of corporate governance and also shareholder value creation. Companies with more than 51% in the hands of non-controlling interests will be the highest on the list, while those just near the minimum free float will rank very low.

I also want to group companies by sectors and related industries, for example:

Property: Fragrance, Second Chance, all the REITs
Shipping: HPH Trust, Rickmers, FSL, NOL
Consumer Staples: Sheng Shiong, QAF, SuperGroup
and etc...

Although the economy is linked, certain sectors will be under or over exposed to certain risks, so it would be prudent to look out for these sectors which are temporary distressed with negative sentiment for opportunities, rather than just all stocks as a whole.

Another consideration is also beta. I want to sort out the stocks based on how high or low their beta is. During choppy times, low beta investments would be wise for more stability. Throughout the market cycle, it's easier to keep on eye on stocks with high beta, especially if you're looking towards making exits after a long run, and also to load up after a correction.

Right now, I wouldn't say that my stock picking skills are that bad, but I think by creating different groups, it is much easier to compare and have a much better basis of comparison to a similar company, rather than analyzing the stock individually. As much as absolute fundamental analysis can help in valuing a company, comparative analysis can also provide information about the sector, as well as the company's performance within that sector.

Been super busy studying for my CFA while working and having a social life. Young adulthood is a lot more tiring than I thought it'd be.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Asian Pay Television Trust [Portfolio Buy] May 2014

Hi guys, just bought into this today!


Asian Pay Television Trust basically runs the Taiwan Broadband Communications Group, which does Basic Cable, Digital Cable and Broadband.

Basic Cable makes up 72% of their business, Digital Cable is 11% and Broadband is 17%. Not a complicated business model I feel.

Currently, they are priced at a 12% discount to their NAV. Alongside a projected distribution yield of about 10.8%. 52 week low is at $0.715, which represents at 6% downside from current levels.

I have to admit, I didn't do much research into the finer fundamentals of the company. This is quite an asset play. I'm just looking at the asset price and comparing it to it's past performance. Anyway, this is just a small position in my portfolio, but I feel it is rather a safe one considering it's decline already. I'm quite confident that if I hold onto it for a year, I'll definitely break even on this position.

Anyway, I think that this is quite an juicy offering, with the few risks that I looked at considered.

Bought APTT @ $0.76

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Final REITs

After some consideration, I think I've narrowed down my future pick of REITs to just 4 picks.

1. OUE Comm @ $0.785

2. Fraser Comm @ $1.24

3. Lippo Malls @ $0.395

4. Starhill Global @ $0.775

I must say, other than Saizen REIT which I already own (and have been doing particularly well I must add), attractive looking REITs are Fortune and MapleTree GCC. I have decided against both these investments because I feel that both their property assets are in locations that have had massive property asset bubbles and a massive price correction will be due in place. Rather than try to guess the discount, I think for these 2 REITs, I will wait for the dust to settle before I enter the foray.

The only other REIT which I also think is favourable at current valuations is Ascott REIT. However, investing alongside my thesis, I think that we are due to see an economic downturn in the near future and their assets have a very lux aspect to it. Perhaps we will even see a much more attractive price in the future if my thesis does pan out.

Considering that though, I think that the current REITs that I own and this 4 that I am currently stalking are priced attractively enough for me. They are all about 10% or more below their NAV, which gives a nice margin of safety. Sure, they could go down, but probably not as much as the other ones around!

If I manage to pick these up, I doubt I will be making any more stock picks until the next correction comes around and breeds new opportunities.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Blogging Direction, Personal Updates

Amidst the massive amount of information around us and especially on the web, I've been thinking the past few days about how I can better differentiate myself from the throngs of over financial bloggers out there.

In the Singapore blogosphere, there are actually many fantastic financial bloggers. I know, because I stalk their every post. I really love reading the viewpoints of other Singaporeans, especially when it comes down to issues quite unique to us here.

I've decided that while I might post on my equity buys and other nuggets of information there, I would rather try to be niche and talk about things that I know better. I think that most people that like equities would be much better served by other bloggers out there. Don't get me wrong, I like equities and I will invest in them. However, I much rather take a big picture approach and focus on other aspects of asset allocation, since the equity department is so well served!

Currently as of now, my portfolio that is invested looks about 5% equities, 35% precious metals and 60% bonds. I have to admit, my foray into equity investments has been slow and steady. I just can't bring myself to invest in equities when the fundamentals are telling me that this is likely a horrible time, if looked at a long-term perspective. So don't think me of anything close to an expert when it comes to equity investments!

My first investment was a bond fund, and I've quite enjoyed bonds so far. My bond portfolio is now currently very mixed, with allocations to the US, EM, IG and even TIPS. None of them are underwater and all of them have broken even on the sales charges. In fact, since slowly building up that portfolio since August last year, I'm currently up 2.1% so far!

Sure, it's nothing to shout about, but bond funds do have a 0.75% sales charge and on-going management fees, so I still think I'm doing not too badly, especially since I continually add to my position every few months, making it hard to compare on an annualized basis!

In the near future, I would like to write a series on why Singaporeans might invest in bonds, what are the choices available, the pro's and con's and how to go about doing it. Personally, I don't think that there are many other Singaporean bloggers that are covering the bond segment of the investment universe.

Following that same line of thought, I think I would like to expand my coverage on precious metals as well. AK does have a blog on precious metals, but it isn't posted on very frequently. Other than that, there are a few other blogs that have the occasional post on precious metals and seem to be fans themselves, but their coverage doesn't seem to be comprehensive enough.

Similar to bond investing, I also plan to do a series that I hope will be of great use to all Singaporeans that are considering investing in precious metals. I want to create a series that will be THE guide to precious metals investing in Singapore, why you might want to do it, and what are the options and ways to start investing in it. As opposed to other Asian countries, I think precious metals have clearly fallen out of favour to the average Singaporean. How many people have any precious metals investments that you know of? I think my aim will be to help anyone who is interested to get a good headstart by gathering all the information that might be needed and prime them to know what to expect when they start investing!

Of course, all these plans sound great, but can I actually do it though? I have been busy with a big work project and every day a new problem comes to replace an old problem we just solved. On top of that, I've been quite drained from studying and worrying about my CFA level 1 exam in a few weeks time. I just attended the mock exam and things does not look good. I still have to be active sometimes too, so I try to work out when I'm not too tired. Add that to my new year's resolution of meeting up friends once a week and I'm totally burned out.

I don't know if you've noticed, I've stopped my portfolio allocation updates! One of the reasons is that of course I've been busy. Another bad reason is actually that my portfolio is currently stagnating in the sense that I've invested all that I am willing to invest. Unless something very compelling appears, I don't want to increase my exposure to financial assets and I am quite fine with my current overall portfolio. I still should update my numbers though, in anticipation of posting them in the near future once I start back up again!

Anyway, that's about it. Expect very sparse posting from me for the next few weeks while I tackle my CFA. After that though, if I pass, I promise I will definitely work hard on delivery the series for bond and precious metals investing!

Friday, May 16, 2014

CDW [Portfolio Buy] May 2014

Another limit buy of mine triggered today, and it was for CDW. I've mentioned it before in a previous post.

With P/E at 4.4 and a discount of 28% to it's NAV, I think it's hard to complain about this company even if it is doing badly.

I'll be expecting dividends of between 4-6%, but it will most likely be in USD! That's going to be like a USD 3 cheque that I have to figure out how I will be clearing it and depositing it!

I've heard you can immediately deposit USD cheques to Citibank accounts and even Citibank credit cards and the amount will be credited to your account with a spread taken out, of course.

DBS is said to have big clearing fees, however it only seems to be for cheques from foreign banks. Apparently if the cheque is a USD cheque issues by a Singapore company with a Singapore bank, just minimal conversion spreads will be charged.

I need to figure out that when SCB issues me a cheque in USD for my dividends, how will it be paid out to me and how can I deposit the money so that it isn't neglible!

Buy CDW @ $0.131

Qian Hu [Portfolio Buy] May 2014

I am now a proud equity owner of a fish company! That sells "sharks" too!



Well, I don't think they are actual sharks, but you know what? They actually sell a lot of different fish, so I wouldn't be surprised if they do sell sharks!

This buy was based on my previous analysis here. A quick summary for the lazy people to read through my previous post: Simple, easy-to-understand business, super low capital requirements (it's basically a penny stock), global reach, 25% discount to NAV and finally a yearly dividend payer. I'm expecting at least 2% payout from them and potentially almost 6% if things goes well.

Honestly, it's just $84. I've spent my money of way stupider things in my life. Just a small, seemingly safe investment that I am just going to walk away and observe from time to time.

Bought Qian Hu @ $0.084

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Picking up more REITs?

I've got my eyes on 3 final REITs to add to my portfolio.

I'm looking at OUE Comm, MapleTree GCC and finally Fraser Comm, in that order of tastiness.

OUE closed at $0.79 today and I will try to pick it up tomorrow at this price as well.

MapleTree GCC closed at $0.87. I will not pick this up yet, I will wait for a pullback to at least $0.84 or perhaps even lower, depending on the trend. It looks due to retrace some gains soon, and I don't see any reason why I shouldn't wait.

Fraser Comm at $1.285 has run up quite a bit since I last reviewed it. It never came down as much as I had wanted it, which is why I didn't pick it up the last time. However, after more confirming research and even walking over to look at their central properties, I think they are still a compelling buy. Looking to buy under $1.250, but I'll see how things goes.

So far, my buys on Croesus and Saizen has been good so far, giving me an overall portfolio return of 5% so far. Looking forward to the dividends soon!

Daredevil Shorts 2: Still Init To Winit

I'm still in here, riding against the waves.



I covered my short IWM position, which actually turned out to be the juiciest drop today of the 3! But from a risk-reward perspective, the Russell looked to be at the bottom of a triangle and any reversal would've been mean and lean.

Still holding onto these shorts, perhaps for a tad longer, but I'm strongly considering just taking my money and leaving the table. I've covered a bit of my position, but this short so far has been the gift that has just been giving.

Kinda tells you something about shorting on non-POMO days after taggin ATH, doesn't it?

Cashing Out From MySurvey

Update 24/5/14: Received the PayPal payment into my account!

As some of you might know, sometimes I feel damn free even though I have a million and one things to do. One of the things that I do in my "free" time is actually to do paid online surveys.

Honestly, it's not that bad. You kind of learn new things when you do surveys actually.

Anyway, I've decided it's about time that I stop stockpiling my credit in my MySurvey account, so I will cash the credits in and get some money sent over to my PayPal instead!


As you can see, I have 1210 points and I did 25 surveys. Now, here is the conversion rate.


It is 280 points for $5. So roughly about 5 surveys for $5, or actually 1 survey for $1! I think the conversion rate is very good, and I don't mind doing short surveys to make a few dollars. It feels quite good actually!

After A LOT of clicking and confirming and double confirming and more clicking, you will finally finish redeeming your money!

Et viola, it is done! After that, I got this email from them:

I guess now all I do is wait for the money to come into my PayPal account! I will update again when it happens! Paid surveys in Singapore as a bored hobby doesn't seem too bad now, does it?

Nostramoney Mid May

When is the market going to finally crack?

I've made money, I've lost money, I've pretty much haven't gone anywhere the whole year! Sad to say, but investing can truly have it's stints of absolute boring moments. I suppose its only exciting when everything is falling apart and there's good deals everywhere!

I still stand by my call that the US and global markets are no where near recovery, and are more likely due for a recession than economic acceleration! I've still extremely light on equities. If nothing happens by Q1 2015, then I have to say, my thesis has been wrong.

The STI has been side winding for the past few years, and I don't think because it's consolidating before it takes off. I think Asian investors are a lot more conservative and we'll be starting to see players take some winnings off the table soon too. No economy keeps going without any hicks. Similar call, looking for the bottom end of 2015.

Gold has been acting quite according to plan I feel. It did drop below 1275 and tag 1270, but it more like a very strong base to me instead. I've been buying on dips, miners and the mutual fund. However, I've also dabbled a bit into the physical through BullionStar and I will likely be adding physical on every dip. With the Silver Fix out of the story and the Gold Fix ending soon, I believe that the natural price discovery is going to lead itself much much higher. Paper gold claims will of course increase in value, but physical will be where it is all at. Not the most exciting thing in the world, but 1g on every pullback every month or so and it adds up to a nice troy oz!

I fully expect gold to get smashed in the face soon though once the stock market goes into free fall mode. Gold will be selling off to finance all the margin calls, but I'll be stacking physical and CFDs every time it finds support. That's hopefully the game plan.

Anyway, shorting and leveraging is definitely not for everything. It's one thing to craft a beautiful and seemingly logical thesis, it's another to trade with it in mind and make money. The markets and tough and this psychological game isn't for everybody.

Daredevil Shorts

Take a look at these shorts I took position in last night:




As great as my short entries are, I always overstay my welcome.

To counter that slightly, I've taken off my load from the IWM (Russell 2000) short since it hit the pre-drawn resistance that I have put up a while ago.

I still have my QQQ and SPX shorts going, but at least I took some winnings off the table.

Let's see how the rest of the shorts go!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cherry-Picking SGX Dividend Stocks

Over the weekend and the Vesak Day holiday, instead of studying for my CFA or going out to relax, I spent my time doing something else that I've wanted to do for a long time.

I slowly went through the entire SGX list of stocks, and I have shortlisted 45 non-REIT stocks that seem to me to be good dividend stocks!

My criteria was quite simple, just a business that consistently pays out dividends, pays dividends conservatively (EPS is always larger) and with a business model that isn't too complicated or hard to understand.

As it turns out, about only 12-18 of these stocks are property related, depending how you would want to classify them. That is a good thing, because I am trying to build a diversified income portfolio. Since a significant portion of my investments would go towards REITs because of their high yield, I want to minimize the exposure I have in the property market and related industries.

The top few names which I am looking at now are: CSE Global, Duty Free International, Food Empire, PEC, Qian Hu, Sing Investments and Finance and TeleChoice International.

These 7 names looks horrible for sure, which is why they look good to me.

CSE Global: P/E of 12, dividend yield looks sustainable at 5%. Business looks a bit complex, but it is a pretty big company. They do big construction projects on telecomms and environmental applications. Not my best bet.

Duty Free International: P/E or 13, the average dividend yield of the past 4 years is 6%. Trading at double the current NAV. The business looks simple to understand, selling duty free and operating a hotel in the heart of KL. I like the vice perspective of this business, haha. Geographically only exposed to Malaysia.

Food Empire: P/E of 11.6, dividend yield hovering between 1-3%. Nothing too great about it, but it is a business that is spread out and has it roots. Food company that distributes all over Asia with a strong presence in Russia.

PEC: P/E of 11.3, but dividend yield seems to be at least 4% for this year. What I really like about this stock is the deep NAV discount that is present, about 35%. Engineering company that does projects and maintenance.

Qian Hu: Trading at a 22% discount to it's NAV, dividend yield is about 6% on average. Not a tough business model to understand either. Rear fish, sell fish. Earning is bad though, seems like a wild card.

Sing Inv and Finance: Implied 30% "discount" to NAV, while the P/E is high at 18. Very strange, I don't really understand the financial statements. A bank that lost money last year. Tough cookie.

TeleChoice: Interesting at P/E of 10, but with a NAV premium. 51% backing by Temasek Holdings, can it go wrong? Dividend yield implied at about 6%. Telecom distributor and network solutions for the region.

My personal top 3 picks would be Qian Hu, TeleChoice and then PEC.

I would pick up QH at $0.085, TeleChoice at $0.225 and PEC at $0.535-0.545.

Maybe I'll pick up a lot of each or more the next time they drop to those levels. I will see! Anyway, the main point of this post was just to let people know that there are actually a lot more choices for dividend (income) investing in Singapore that you might have never heard of, but with interesting businesses other than just REITs and the blue-chips.

Monday, May 12, 2014

OCBC 360 Account, First Bonus Interest Payment!

Hey everybody!

Actually, the main traffic driver of my blog so far has been the 2 articles that I wrote about the OCBC 360 account. The first is about the comparison of the DBS Mulitpler vs SCB Bonus$aver vs OCBC 360, and the second is the complete lo-down on the OCBC 360 account.

Anyway, I have good news! I have finally been credited the bonus interest of my account!


As you can see, I was just credited with them today. According to OCBC, the bonus 1% interest will be credited to your account 7 working days after the end of the month.

Last month I only qualified for 2/3 of the bonus 1% interest rate.

I got the Salary Bonus, which is very easy to get. All you have to do is tell your HR department about your new change in bank account, et viola!

I also got the $400 Credit Card Spending Bonus. In fact, I racked up quite a bit on my credit card spending, since I booked my holiday accommodations and bought my sister's birthday present with it. Usually when I go out for meals with my friends, I will pay for the bill first, then everyone will either pay me back cash, or ibank me over the money owed. It is really not hard to hit the $400 spend criteria this way!

The last criteria, which is 3 monthly bills, well.. hopefully I will qualify for that one this month. I don't think I will qualify for it this month, but maybe everything will be processed and go through quickly. Currently, I am only paying for my OCBC credit card bill and that counts as 1 transaction. The other 2 transactions that I am trying to include is my monthly income tax repayment and also my monthly Aviva insurance premiums.

In the near future, I think I will be applying for the CIMB Platinum Mastercard or maybe the SCB Manhattan Card. That would easily help me rack up the amount of bills I need, while also now giving me more access and benefits to the promotions offered by having more credit cards from different banks.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to my bonus interest next month! I hope you're getting yours too!

My First Physical Gold Purchase In Singapore!

I just made a purchase on BullionStar today!

Given the most recent smackdown of gold, when manipulators sold off USD $230,000,000 worth of gold futures last night, I thought now might be a good time and opportunity to pick up some gold and try out BullionStar!

My purchase today was just 1g of Vault Gram Gold. While some may think that Vault Gram is not really physical gold, I must admit that it does seem like paper gold, but I still beg to differ and I have talked about it in my previous article.


It's a pretty simple and easy process. After I confirm my checkout basket, I get an order number. My order number is 9075 as you can see. Their bank accounts are listed clearly with instructions on each page, so it should be quite clear what to do.

I logged into my i-banking facility, added BullionStar as a payee and made the transfer!


Here you can see what was on my i-banking screen. Just BullionStar's bank account details, plus the additional text description of my order number so that they can match my payment with my order!

Immediately though, you will see that they have updated your account and allocated you the physical gold!


I have to say, I am pretty impressed by how quick and easy it was to buy gold on BullionStar! Now all I have to do to complete this review is to see how long they will take to clear my order. I am sure it will be quick though!

Just for anyone interested, I made a post about the options available for investing in Gold and Silver in Singapore quite recently. I feel that BullionStar is definitely one of the top choices, hence my own personal investment goes through them!

Bought 1g of Vault Gold @ $52.57

Disclosure: I am a BullionStar affiliate, so I get a small commission from people that purchase items from them through my links here.

Stalking Some Non-REITs

Honestly, I love REITs. I think the reason is because the business model is so easy to understand. If you own a REIT, you are a landlord and you collect rent, that's it. Simple stuff, I like it. There's a thousand and one ways to analyze REITs, but I like to keep it simple. NAV, leverage, yield and of course, the properties themselves. So far, I've been doing okay, both my buys into Saizen and Croesus has turned out not bad so bad, and I'm just waiting for my first taste of dividends on my lips!

As mentioned in a recent post, I like Singtel as the best play regarding the telcos. It is a well established brand name and it is quite a diversified and sturdy blue-chip company that we all know. There is room to grow in the peripheral countries and the business of telcomms doesn't seem like a redundant industry moving forward. Perhaps, it will be even more important and integrated with our lives.

If you want to make a play on the growth of Singapore as a hub and the gateway to Asia, I think looking towards Changi Airport is quite a good bet. Changi Airport has been consistently proving itself to be a choice stopover for many travellers in the SEA region, and I can continue to see this trend continue, especially with the amount of extra development and focus on the airport terminals. A good play on this is SIA Engineering that provides MRO to many airlines. I think it's a business that will continue to be strong, given the increasing NEED to travel these days. As opposed to directly investing in the airline business and choosing which carriers business model will do well in the future, a better bet is to focus on the maintenance of the aircrafts. There can be budget airlines, but there is no such thing as budget maintenance.

Somewhat related is SATS, the Singapore Airport Terminal Services. While I always thought that these guys were the people connecting the bridges and driving around luggages, it seems that they do a whole lot more behind the scenes work. They are actually quite a diversified business, doing a lot of catering for airlines and institutions, air logistics, security, linen services, and of course, ground handling. This is the much softer side of the airport play, but I think combined with SIA Eng, these 2 stocks can give a very nice and comprehensive play that the airline industry in Singapore will continue to be top-notch.

Next is SPH, Singapore Press Holdings. What's not to like about them? They are engaged in 3 main businesses - Media, Property and Investment. All 3 of those businesses are going to be around for a while, and they are the heavyweights here. I really like how SPH is quite a diversified company, giving you access to plenty of the well known names in Singapore. Probably if I could only pick 1 stock to own, I think SPH would be it. SPH owns 72% of SPH REIT and 15% of M1, making it a stock with stocks!

Comfort Delgro is an interesting case, very similar to SPH. Since it owns 67% of Vicom and 75% of SBS, why not instead own Comfort Delgro and have access to all their other businesses that are transportation related? With a wide range of businesses spread of 7 countries, I think Comfort Delgro is a great buy since the need for transportation and infrastructure will always be there. I believe if there is any substantial shift in the industry, they will be able to react and respond accordingly!

Lastly, Sembcorp Industries would be my final pick. Yet another diversified business, they do utilities, marine and urban development. Again, they own 60% of Sembcorp Marine, making them yet another stock with a stock. Their businesses are not hard to understand, and I like the sturdiness of utilities.

Special mention goes to Keppel, whose stock price is so high that it would set me back by more than $10k for a lot. F&N is also interesting (but not so much since APB and it's properties arm have been divested), while I have a soft spot for Singpost. These 3 stocks are also definitely worth a look, but I feel are not in the same league as the other stocks that I've highlighted.

Perhaps it is all my readings and what I've learnt that have gone to me, but I think that it is quite clear to see that I like business which are diversified with simple and easy business models to understand. Personally, I would rather hold an equal weight of these stocks than buy into the STI, knowing how bloated it is from the 3 big banks.

Of course, I've listed all the stocks above by merely just looking at their scope of business, I've yet to dive into their financials, and I probably won't be until I finish my CFA level 1 soon. Random posts like these will probably be less frequent while I really try and focus on my CFA studies instead of delightfully distracting myself with articles like these!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Notes on Singapore Dividend Stocks

Unknown to many, one of the resources that I like to use is TopYields.nl. Not because I was a former Dutch PR and I like the .nl extension, but because it is one of the few sites that calculates dividends of the STI constituents without considering special distributions.

I feel that looking at the dividend yield without special distributions is more accurate and more conservative, especially if the aim of the dividends paid out are as income replacements.

Another website that I like is of course InvestmentMoats and his Dividend Screener. He has listed stocks which he feels has - obviously - investment moats. It is a good place to look at which of the non-REITs has been included into his portfolio and then carry on to analyze them from there. Unsurprisingly, the 3 major telcos are listed in his screener. I like that he has special colour coding for factors that are showing extraordinarily good values. It pops out at you and helps you see which stocks looks nice and attractive.

Although InvestmentMoats does list quite a lot of REITs, I think the best resource is actually reitdata. This no-frills website does what you think it does, gives you information on REITs. Another nice major REIT data source, is from My Stocks Investing Journey. He comes up with a monthly analysis of the SGX listed REITs as well.

By the same people of reitdata, they also have yieldstocks, which similarly presented in the same fashion of the REIT data, but instead is used to show other SGX stocks which have promising yields.

Anyway, these are just some of the tools that I use. I use plenty more, but I'd thought I'd share one of the more common ones that I usually reference to have a good overview of the playing field. However, nothing beats sitting down with annual reports and coming up with your own Excel spreadsheet to record down info and take down notes and figures from stocks. For example, if you don't do these kind of dirty works, you'd probably never know that SPH owns 72% of SPH REIT and owns 15% of M1. Instead of holding on to these 3 pieces separately, why not make a more conservative bet by just owning SPH to get exposure into the rest?

Simple Singapore Telcomms Analysis - Singtel vs M1 vs Starhub

Recently, Dividend Warrior updated his May portfolio. It's always nice to read his monthly portfolio update and see how dividends investing is working out for a fellow Singaporean investor. I must admit, he and AK are one of the few Singaporean financial bloggers that give me a lot of hope to slowly build a local portfolio that can generate strong passive income in the future.

Anyway, I was wondering what were his particular stock picks and how they measure up to the rest of the SGX universe. I was quite surprised to see all 3 telcos - SingTel, Starhub and M1 in his portfolio! I would have thought that most people would pick the telco that they have the most conviction with, but to be fair, he has a roughly equal about 10% allocation to each of them, which means he is taking a very conservative diversified approach to investing in the Singapore telecomm industry.

This made me dig deeper to look at the 3 telco stocks. From the SGX Yield Stocks blog, we can see them quite clearly grouped together.

correct as at Friday's 9th May 2014 closing

Note that M1's dividend yield without the special dividend is 4.08%, which gives it the lowest yield of the 3 stocks. Starhub has the highest payout ratio, making it's dividend distribution seem unstable and prone to a future cut or at least stagnation. M1 without it's special distribution, comes in roughly with SingTel. However, Singapore has a more attractive PE, along with a much much more diversified business. Oh you know I love diversification, don't you?

Based on their Q3 FY 2014 presentation, I could work out just how much of their business is in Singapore (For M1 and Starhub, the majority of their business in Singapore). Quick calculations tells me that the Singapore market only accounts for about 40% of their revenues! The other large part of their revenues comes from Australia, with about maybe 10% coming from the rest of the region.

Diversification in location, lowest P/E multiple, decent yields, decent payout ratio, Singtel does look quite attractive to me personally. Being the technician that I am though, I do think that it's recent run up will see a pull back in the coming weeks, and that might be a good opportunity to pick up on some Singtel stock.


According to SGX Data, their dividend payout amount has been fairly constant as well. It looks like it would be able to pump out a nice decent 4% payout annually, and potentially more if the price drops.


Anyway, if it not a wrong strategy to invest in all 3 of them. What if erhaps their business strategy in Singapore goes really bad? It's a good way to make a safe bet on the telco industry in Singapore. However, I believe that the 3 players will be in a constant push and pull with each other. It's good that there is competition in the market anyway, it breeds innovation and improvement.

Personally, if it was a contest now in choosing one of the telcos - Singtel vs M1 vs Starhub, I would say that I would definitely choose to invest into Singtel.

Let me know what you think of my analysis!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Musing on the New 2014 Increase In CPF Minimum Sums

The news came out just a few days ago, you can read it at this article, The new CPF Minimum Sum has been raised by $8,000 from $148,000 to be $155,000 now. Singaporeans can withdraw from their CPF when they turn 55 years old. The Medisave Minimum Sum has also increased from $40,500 to be $43,000 now, as well.

Some related links:
Withdrawing CPF at 55
CPF Minimum Sum

Medisave Minimum Sum
CPF Life


This means that Singaporeans turning 55 can only withdraw from their CPF amounts in excess of $155,000 + $43,000 = $198,000!


Just how much money would $155,000 be anyway, assuming you have more than $198,000 in your CPF account and you withdrew until the required balance? Well, you would still have the $43,000 required of the Medisave Minimum Sum and you will also then be having the CPF Life annuity plan, with the payout as follows (using an example, of course)


Honestly, $1,200 in today's term a month is pretty good I think! I'm assuming that you already own your property in full (no outstanding payments) that you're going to live in until your deathbed, and you will have no other source of income.

However, the public reaction to this has not been good.

Many people are currently unhappy with this news. In both the taxis that I took in the past 2 days, the taxi drivers were complaining to me about this increase. I really can sympathize with them. How many people actually have CPF in excess of $198,000? If they don't, then they don't receive a dime from their own money (the locked-up CPF) until they reach the age of 65 and the payouts begin. So for most people, early retirement with the view of enjoying and living off your CPF savings when you reach 55 is false! You still have 10 years of living and providing for yourself until you reach 65!

Taken straight from the CPF website, this shows the historical increase in the CPF minimum sum. Add in the recent announce of the new $155,000 and now you have the full picture.


Now, here's the inflation rate of Singapore since 2003.


Now, let me combine these information and make it into a nice and pretty table for you all to see and compare.


Even though I have data from 2003, I don't have a previous year of comparison, so I only used it to calculate the 2004 difference. Since I don't have the 2014 inflation stats yet, so 2014 is of course also excluded. The main error here is the time matching error, since the period of increase starts in July, while inflation is all year round. However, you can see that it does not matter, since the increase in the Minimum Sum is always larger than the annual inflation rate!

Honestly, I am quite shocked. I always through our government to be quite prudent and transparent in their dealings. No doubt, the facts and figures are available and transparent. My concern is how the process in deciding the increase in the minimum sum is calculated, and how can it be justified? If the Minimum Sum increases were 1 or 2 % higher than the annual inflation rate, you can always use margin of error as a good excuse, as well as the real increase in living costs in Singapore. Is an annual extra 3.6% increase justified? I think not.

The biggest shock to me is how large the difference in the geometric total is. Basically, you are required to lock up an additional 50+%, for no reason! Purchasing power is the same, since the inflation figures are there for adjustment. Sure, it is stated that they want a real increase in the CPF minimum sum, hence the continued increase in MS above inflation.... but why? Has basic costs of living since 2003 and now increased by 50% in real terms?

As much as I am a strong supporter of government assisted pension plans and the psychological benefits (and of course, economic benefits) of forced savings, which are tied-up and locked away from hands with temptations, I feel quite strongly against this recent news. The increase in the CPF Minimum Sum is not fair and not warranted in my personal view.

I will be monitoring the massive blow back by the public. More importantly, I will be monitoring the current government's way of handling this and their rationale behind this stark divergence. I will, of course, vote accordingly to express my pleasure / displeasure in the way they manage this in 2016. I urge fellow Singaporeans to be more active and involved in this particular topic, since it affects all of us. If anyone has any opinions, I would love to read your comments.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Primer to the new CPF Minimum Sum

I read the news yesterday about the increase in the CPF Minimum Sum again. I saw the news headline through an app on my phone, but I was out having a social life last night to read deeper into the announcement.

Apparently there has been quite a lot of social media backlash regarding this, especially during lunch time when the blue collar workers are taking a break and surfing the internet, reading and sharing these pages.

I've yet to read all of them yet, but of course I skimmed through the post by InvestmentMoats. Very interesting insight as usually.

However, this post is just a primer so that I remember to write a more detailed post about this later. Of course, it has to do with the increasing Minimum Sum, but also inflation in Singapore and my personal take on it.

Honestly, unless you are not a Singaporean, this issue going forward is going to be a big one and affect the lives of us all, so I would advise people to look and question what is going on!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

[XMM STI ETF Investing] Brief Update (still underwater)

Hi all, it has been a while since I did an update on the progress of my sister's account. See my only portfolio buy so far, in early April. It was a purchase in the non-equity portion of this portfolio strategy because I don't think the STI valuations has shown a good entry point since I started helping my sister manage her money in April.

As of now, everything is status quo.

Portfolio recap

Cost and Location:
$8,000 is UOB fund
$2,001.54 in OCBC 360

Current portfolio value:
UOB Fund = $7,973.12 (sales charge was $60 or 0.75%, regained about half, only down 0.33%)
OCBC = $2,001.54
Total = $9,973.66 (down 0.25% on the whole because of the sales charge of the UOB fund)



The STI itself looks horrible actually (from a potential investor's point of view). The markets looks ripe and ready to correct very soon. I wouldn't be surprised for a waterfall drop over the next 2 months. A buy signal from the STI looks to be at least that far away.

No rush to get into the market yet, doesn't seem like a good time! Cash and bonds are also positions and you shouldn't trick yourself that equities will always outperform, because that is only true in the long term, not the short term! Slow and steady people!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How I Saved $500 and Spent Only $800 For a 5 Day Holiday in Hong Kong!



2 weeks ago, I went to Hong Kong for my 1st holiday since I started my working life as a young adult! When I was an exchange student in Europe, I really lived the budget backpacker lifestyle. Now, as a working adult, I am still a bit influenced from my younger days. Cheap travelling, with the focus on experiences and memories, that's my motto!

Don't worry, this is not going to be a post where I rub my happiness in your face. Instead, this will be a post where I share with everyone how I managed to keep my expenses low (or save money), but still had the time of my life in Hong Kong!


Air Tickets

Airfares are going to be the major expense for any overseas trip. Let's face it, regional plane tickets are not cheap, especially when compared to the prices that they have in Europe (Ryanair, come to Asia please?)

Good news though, I stumbled upon this article titled, "When should you buy your airline tickets?". It is a pretty recent article posted in Mar 2014 with all sorts of interesting statistics, but check out this graph!


They have identified the sweet spot for booking airline tickets to be precisely 54 days! However, since it really depends on the route and period of booking, generally booking between 1 and 3 months in advance before your flight should ensure that you get quite a decent deal!

I booked my tickets through CheapTickets, and managed to get a really really good price on my airfare! I also like to look at SkyScanner because they also do a fantastic job of helping to search for flights with good prices too!

Currently, how much is a round trip ticket to Hong Kong, booked about only 1 weeks in advance? Answer:



How much did I pay?


Wow, amazing savings! What a difference timing makes! I saved about $256 by deciding to buy my tickets early and travelling during a period which has nothing special about it!

Notice, I also flew on a proper, full functioning airline, not a budget airline! The timings of my flight were also pretty good, meaning that I didn't have to wake up in the middle of the night to catch my flight, nor did I waste a day by having my flight too early. At the time of booking, budget airlines were very similarly priced, so I knew that Cathay was offering a great deal!

Moral of the story: Plan early and book early! Shop around and don't only look at some airlines, because some of the others might be having some great promotions!


Accommodation

Accommodation is usually the next biggest item on your travel list that will cost you! However, I always check Agoda and look for the best rates available! I have used Agoda before many of my trips overseas and I have never had any problems with any of my bookings. I have tried looking at alternative websites when planning this trip, such as AsiaWebDirect and Expedia, but they do not offer rates as good as Agoda! I compared the prices of the same rooms at the same properties, and somehow Agoda always managed to price themselves lower than the competition!

http://www.agoda.com/en-sg/city-guest-house/hotel/hong-kong-hk.html?cid=1646281

The hostel was exactly as I expected, except cleaner and nicer, haha! Of course, the room was small, it is Hong Kong after all. If you had decided to stay in a single room in a "starred" hotel, expect to pay a lot more. Even Agoda's good pricing can't save you! 3 star hotels are between $100-$180 per night, averaging around $150. Staying in a private room in a budget hostel was perfect for me, especially since I don't plan on staying in my room, except to sleep! Why pay so much just for a place to sleep for a few hours?

Moral of the story: Compare, compare and compare! Add that with combining reviews and photos, it is very possible to find a cheap place, with a good location and have a great stay!


Expenses

I never took a cab when I was in Hong Kong. My friends gave me tips, and I took the cheap airport bus from the airport to my hostel, and the opposite way when I was returning back home. Each trip was only 33HKD, compared to 100HKD if you took the Airport Express MTR!

I also walked and took public transport when I was in the city. Getting an Octopus Card (similar to EZ link) was a good idea, since you can use it to travel hassle-free. I took the MTR if I was going somewhere far, and I always took the super cheap ferry 2HKD (60 cents?!) from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and back whenever I could!

Food and drinks in Hong Kong is not very expensive too. I think it is very similarly priced to food in Singapore, with a good price range of offerings as well. Wanting to keep expenses low, I searched for all the most hotly reviewed local places which served great food at wallet friendly prices! You don't necessarily have to spend more money to have a better experience, and I think most people will agree that $3 chicken rice ALWAYS tastes better than $6 chicken rice, haha!

Leisure was not priced too high, it was quite fair I felt. The only real tourist place that I went to was the Peak, which had fantastic views! Well worth the price I paid, I don't remember exactly, but I know it was not too expensive (not like Singapore attractions!)


Conclusion

This is the breakdown all everything that I spent for my 5D4N holiday in Hong Kong!

Airfare: 286 sgd
Accom: 224 sgd
Travel Exp: 30 sgd
Food + Leisure Exp: 261 sgd (or about $52 per day!)
Total: 801 sgd

If I had been a spoilt traveller, with bad last-minute planning, high-class food taste and too lazy to walk around, I can imagine by trip being quite expensive:

Airfare: 500 sgd
Accom: 400 sgd
Travel Exp: 70 sgd
Food + Leisure Exp: 400 sgd (about $80 per day? I think I'm too nice!)
Total: 1370 sgd 

I spent a grand total of just $801 SGD when I went to Hong Kong for 5D4N! That is really not bad, if you think about it! I didn't live like a beggar, I had plenty of good food and most of all, I enjoyed myself! Even while doing all of these things, I could still be mindful of how I spent money. If I had spent the extra $500, I don't think I would have also been able to see as much of the local culture as I did. Most of the locals travel by public transport and eat at local places too. Why travel to a foreign country to NOT observe the local culture?

Anyway, this is just my opinion and a personal sharing how you can be on a flexible but tight budget, and still have an amazing (budget) holiday without the budget experiences! If anyone has any good travel tips on how to keep costs low and still have an enjoyable time, please comment because I would love to hear it!

Disclosure: I am an Agoda affiliate because I believe in their website and I personally use it myself, as well as recommend it to my friends and family. I earn a small commission if you make a booking through the links here.

Making Money Online in Singapore (and not by trading or being financially savvy)

Much of the content in my blog is directed towards the heavier and complex content of finance and investing, and me ranting and over-analyzing situations.

In light of that, I have decided that I should also try to vary my content and include what I love to do - sharing information with other people and teaching them what I know. I would have love to been a teacher, probably in economics, or perhaps a tutor teaching finance in the university, but my path in life has taken me another direction. For now, this blog is my special place to share my love of education and finance together.

Anyway, enough chit-chat, let's go!

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Have you seen ads like that before while surfing around the web? Usually at the corner of your screen, an annoying pop-up, or even a clip with audio starting with "hey, let me tell you a secret....".

Personally, I believe that anything in life worth having, does not come around free and easy. I'm not saying that you can't make money online, I'm just saying that it's not going to be as easy as you think. So, let me walk you through the options that I discovered while wondering how I can boost my earning power and make some extra alternative income at home and through my computer!


Real Work

Really? There's real work on the internet?

Yes, there is! See if you have any of the skills and talents to do the following:

Programmers, App developers, Website builders, Writers, Logo designers, Digital Artists, Photoshopping, Video Editing, Translators, Personal Assistants, Data Entry and many many more!

Well, if you do, you really can actually work from home and earn money online! Websites like ODesk and Elance are real online job portals with jobs specifically for people who want to work over the internet. If you don't think you can do any of those jobs, pop over to those websites and browse what other people are trying to sell themselves for! You can also look at job requests and see if you have the skills to take on any jobs or give you an idea of what skills you have to sell.

https://www.elance.com/

https://www.odesk.com/

In all honesty, I think this is the most legit and serious way for people looking to make a decent extra income on the sidelines. Since you are able to work from home, you can look for the perfect job that meets your needs and personal skill set to offer. Why not come back after work and unwind, then pop online to take up your "second" job that you can pick for yourself and earn a little extra! Since it is job-based, you don't really need to worry about long term commitments of this work relationship.

I know of people who freelance from these websites full-time and are earning a living and providing for themselves! Since almost everyone has internet access and a computer these days already, there is virtually no start-up costs. Consider honing your skills in something in particular and looking for a e-job if you're serious about making decent money for your work.

*Hot Tip* Transcribing jobs seem to be something that most people would be able to do. Just listen to speech and turn them into text. An interesting option for people with less marketable skills, but I think it is especially good for students who are adept at typing, to earn some extra pocket money.


Paid Surveys

Seriously? Are these things even for real? My quick and simple answer is YES.*

Why the asterix then? Well, mainly because it really depends on which of these paid survey sites you sign up for. When I was googling how to make money online, this is always the first suggestion that came out, so I thought, heck, I'll give it a shot.

The problem with paid surveys websites are that YOU are the most important asset to this equation. You have to be the right person that companies seeking your opinion are looking for. That means you have to be in the right location as well! Look for survey websites that are localized, because then you have very high chances of being asked to participate in the survey, as well as being paid in the local currency. The best way to find out if they are localized is by looking at their rewards. Most of the survey companies will team up with local merchants and try to offer the local merchant's vouchers instead of cold hard cash. It really is up to your preference!

I have tried a several paid survey websites, and of all of them, I only still faithfully participate in 2 of them. They are MySurvey.sg and Toluna. They both have local tie-ups and they both can directly credit money straight into your PayPal account!
http://www.mysurvey.com.sg/
https://sg.toluna.com/

They both do have referral programs, but I none of my links are referral links. Paid surveys can be quite a rewarding activity to do, especially on bored nights or days with bad weather. I feel that MySurvey is slightly more generous with their points and really do want to reward you for your participation. Toluna on the plus side has an option of cashing out your rewards into a nice fat $50 cheque! Personally, I like them both, so why not sign up for both instead of having to choose?

If anyone knows other similar paid survey websites which are good, please do let me know so that I can review them and perhaps include them for others to know about!


Blogging

Don't take my advice on this one, I haven't made a single cent from blogging yet! However, I have been told that blogging can be quite rewarding, especially if you're blogging about things that you are passionate about. You're getting paid to do something that you would have done free anyway, isn't that the best deal of all?

Money from blogging can come in various forms. Of course, there is Google's AdSense that puts up ads on your blog. There are also independents that might ask you to write an article on a subject in your particular style to subtly promote something.

The last method, which is the most interesting one to me, is the use of affiliates programs. Companies are looking for affiliates that can drive users to their websites and use their services or purchase their products, it is very similar to referral programs. Once a user has gone through an affiliate and made a purchase, the company and the affiliate will engage in profit sharing, which the company facilitates.

The reason why I find this very compelling is because you can get to choose which companies you would want to work with and what products you would like to be associated with. This can actually help your blog by promoting to readers personal brands that you also support and believe in!

Off the top of my head, I can think of Qoo10, Agoda, Amazon and BullionStar.