Sunday, December 25, 2016

Phillip now has 0% sales charge on UT

Seriously, I am a strong Phillip supporter.


Platform fees, hehe. Is this a potshot at the already struggling FSM One, "Market Player F"?

Seriously though, when I first started my investment journey, I was looking around at just how to start investing. Unit Trusts are easy to understand, plentiful in asset classes and strategy and practically every bank sells them. But... the banks sell them at cut-throat rates of 3-5% (back in 2013).

Now, I know that I have to justify why unit trusts before I can move on. Our financial media (no help from many financial bloggers too, thank you very much) have totally slammed unit trusts in the recent years. Guys, I get that ETFs are great, I really really do, but ETFs are not the holy grail and ETFs do come with their own set of drawbacks. Do I own and have ETFs? Yes, I do. How about unit trusts? Yes, I do too. In fact, I own a lot more unit trusts and that is because of (1) super shit variety and liquidity of ETFs and (2) super wide variety of asset classes and strategies of unit trusts.

Phillips has always been either 0.75% or 0% on special funds or during special promotions. Without doing anything, you already save by not fattening up your bankers. I really still shake my head at the sorry and screwed up state of our financial industry. I don't know about you, but this bothers me so much that all the "official" ways are the stupidest and most expensive way to do it. Bloody third world country financial industry.

Phillip has it's very interesting MMF option (which was a godsend before the likes of OCBC 365, UOB One, etc), they allow CPF-IS and also SRS investing. There are other stuff that they also have, like CFDs and FX, but I keep my Phillip account nice and clean for me. It's just for my SRS, Unit Trusts and another broker with access to my CDP.

So that's right. It seems that from now on, there is going to be absolutely no sales charge when you buy from Phillip. And that also includes (if you see the small print), no platform fees and no switching fees. That is bloody awesome.

All the banks can go screw themselves. All the people that buy unit trusts are the banks, you guys better be getting some insane promotion or deal to be having to do so, or else you're really much better off just asking your bank R/M to screw off because you're going to open an account at Phillip and pay 0% instead of her this month's commission bonus.

In case you still aren't convinced about Phillip / Unit Trusts being useful if you know what are their advantages and drawbacks, here is a small case study of me going into Russia through a unit trust bought on Phillips and exiting 3 months later with 20% profits. Funny thing is that I have since bought into that same unit trust again for exposure to Russia and my current unrealized gains is about 41% now.

Phillip also has quite a few nice bond funds, and I will now reveal the best tip which I tell all my friends that want to dip their toes into investing without going crazy - check out UOB SGD Fund Cl A. This is the same fund that I use as my bond component in the small portfolio that I run for my family.

I like Phillip a lot. They are really no-frills and straight. Perhaps Phillip might lead the change towards lower stockbroking commissions, but one can only dream of such progress in our backwards financial industry.

If you pay "platform fees"  now, you might want to consider to switch to Phillip.
If you pay ridiculous sales charges through your bank (your R/M will call it "special/promotional" rate), you might want to consider to switch to Phillip.

You might want to consider to transfer out your unit trusts to Phillip. On top of saving money by not getting screwed in the future, Phillip also has transfer-in promotions, although I'm too lazy to find out the finer details. There's the link, you can probably carry on yourself from there.

If you are planning to buy unit trusts, it's really a no-brainer to sign up with Phillip.

If you think unit trusts are shit investment vehicles, I'd agree with you 80%, but I'd also say that beggars can't be choosers. If you want easy access to a specific strategy or asset class - say for example, investing in Russia (hur hur) - then you really don't have much options, do you? It's okay to generally avoid them especially when there are other alternatives (please buy the STI ETF instead if you were thinking of buying a local focused stock fund), but you have to also acknowledge that you are narrowing your options by stereotyping and avoiding this MASSIVE investment option.

And just BTW, Phillip doesn't pay me jack for writing any of this. Which I guess it's fair since I don't pay them jack for their services too. It would be nice if any of these clear-cut better financial services that I use come and approach me to continue using them and also write about why I use them. A nice few hundred as credit into my account would be sufficient payment... Do you hear me Phillip? EMBRACE ME. Oh wait, I forgot that they are no-frills and probably don't have any social media marketing campaigns, haha. Oh well.

Keep staying dirt cheap Phillip, that's what I like about you.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

FSMOne and the our crap Financial Sector

If you don't know what is FSM One, go browse their website yourself.

After that, read this great primer by D&S (I got to say it again, I'm absolutely awed by the quality of the content, and also the edginess of the content from D&S!).

Honestly, it is a bold move.

Singapore has a SHIT financial industry.

Why do I think so? While being highly literate with supposedly genius population and 5/10 younguns sporting some sort of "degree" (read this to see why I call them "degrees"), we are still so lacking.

1. Mainstream acceptance of financial advisors as the FIRST and PROPER way to buy insurance
2. Complete willingness to pay $2500 a month to drive yourself, sit in traffic and do your own valet parking
3. Belief that insurance is savings
4. They have this thing continuous expense called "face" that constantly requires endless amounts of money to maintain

etc, etc. If I was making a list about how bad the financial sense of Singaporeans are, you can print it out and quiz all your relatives and friends. Obviously, if you read financial blogs, you aren't a basket case. You're in the good basket of un-deplorables. For the general population, they are lacking. You might grudgingly admit it, but you would admit it. You know you would.

With such willing lambs that are pretty much self-fattening and self-walking themselves to the slaughterhouse, why would any of the traditional financial institutions stop themselves and their greedy hands?

It's funny how FSM One can no longer do SGX trades.
It's also funny how the only top insurer they have on their platform is NTUC income. (they have TM and Manulife, but not under the search and comparison. You need to contact them for a quote)

Not a surprise to me given that all the brokerages would be pissed at the $10 trades.
And that only NTUC is willing to work with them. It is the NATIONAL trade union after all.

Without access to the SGX market (well played OCBC), the FSM One offering falls apart. Their 0% fees on UT is similar to what they were previously offering, with just quarterly platform fees, so it's not game changing at all. Their insurance platform is a joke until they can get more providers and products. How do you compare if you only have 1 product by 1 provider? Anyone who is already planning to do it online can just as easily go to CompareFirst and buy Direct insurance or go through DIY Insurance and get a premium rebate. Choices are not aplenty, but there are other choices.

Singapore has a shitty, crappy and backwards finance industry, make no mistake about that.

Are things improving? It's hard to say. They did have the fintech expo in Singapore, but there is nothing to show for it - yet. (I'm STILL waiting on Smartly to launch, though I'm afraid that they are pretty much going to launch - if ever - at the peak of most global assets. Their last update was 13 Dec with a year-end launch target, but that doesn't seem likely.)

I'm still surprised by the proliferation of cash usage in Singapore. I know so many people who are "afraid" of credit cards. Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have all been major flops. Perhaps over the next 1 or 2 phone replacement cycles then things will pick up, once more phones and more people have access to such services. Paywave (Visa) and Paypass (MC) are actually moving along quite well. NETS FlashPay and EZ Link still confuses me. Why are there 2 standards? One of them should be consumed by the other. I vote for EZ to be killed off and absorbed into NETS.

Seedly actually has a very good offering, but it's more to do with the personal backend of stuff - tracking, spreadsheets and all. It is nice that it is linked to the major banks so that you can see all your stuff together. I can see how this would help really lazy people. I personally still update all my accounts at the end of the month. It takes just 30 minutes and I get to test out my memory with all my variation of usernames and passwords. I'd encourage people to at least use Seedly, if not just manage it personally with a simple spreadsheet. Why?

I personally do not believe in expenses tracking. I think it is extremely time-consuming and it is only useful for a handful of people. If you've spent $500 this month on Uber/Grab and another $500 on drinks and parties, I'm pretty sure you know why your bank account is down $1000. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that expense tracking is useless. I'm saying that it's too much effort for not much reward at all. I'm starting to find out slowly that time is becoming the main limitation of things that I can / want to do, rather than any other resource.

Then again, the main reason why I am saying this is that because I am very aware of what I spend my money on. If I bought something, it's because I need it. If I spent money on a want, it's because I've actively decided that I'm going to save less this month and enjoy more. But that's also because the way that I treat my income might be different from most people. Once my income comes in, I DO NOT PAY MYSELF FIRST. I pay all my recurring expenses, then all my one-off expenses, then 100% goes into my emergency fund (which is full), and then overflows in my savings & investments.

I don't understand why people limit their savings. I have heard of people that do budgeting and realize that they have some "excess entertainment budget" and then goes out and spend the extra on whatever. They are forcing themselves to spend more money. It doesn't make sense to me.

Anyway, I went a little off topic there in the back, but oh well. I guess I'm just gonna wrap this up and post it since it's been a draft for like 2 weeks.

TL;DR - FSM One is bold, but meh.
Our finance industry is greedy and shit.
Expense tracking takes up a lot of time. If it doesn't help you much, having a $100 accuracy of your expenses is good enough (ie. I spent $600 this month - I spent $617.52 this month)
Don't turn budgets into spending #goals

Friday, December 23, 2016

#GivingWeek 2016 Update

This is the update from my previous post at the start of the month.


Anyway, this is just me showing my accountability that I do what I said I'll do.

I found out that the giving.sg offers a much better and smoother user experience compared to when I was using it last year. It's really very easy to donate. Just sign up, add charities to your cart, check out!

I was looking back at my update post about this last year and I remembered the comment that J left about the earning-to-give strategy that some people have when it comes to charity.

I have a friend that volunteers weekly out of pure kindness, so sometimes I feel horrible that I'm not doing anything more for society. Donating kind of feels like the least effort way of contributing. In a sense, I like the concept of the earning-to-give strategy because it kind of helps me justify why I am not out there at the frontlines volunteering for any of the above charities whose mission and programmes that I support.

But then again, the case for earning to give is really quite strong. Even GiveWell, which is one of the most trusted and respected sites for charitable donations weighed in on it. They even mention how it sort of feels like the "easy way out" (just like what I said in the paragraph above), but their view is that earning to give is a good additional route for people to be proactive in their charity, instead of reactive and I do agree with them about this. Having more people with the mindset of being self-involved definitely makes things easier than trying to constantly convince or remind people about their charitable cause.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not dissing volunteer work at all. I'm just bringing this idea up again to examine a more fringe way of thinking with regards to charity work and donations.

Anyway, that was a rather long rambling about nothing financial at all.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I wish everyone Happy Holidays! Have a great end of the year everybody!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

POSB 1.38% 4 Months FD

Don't say got lobang I don't share.


POSB is having a 1.38% 4 month FD promotion with no minimum amount and a max cap of $100,000. Only thing you have to do is to apply and open up a Fresh Fund account and deposit in the money before end of 15 Dec (next Thursday).

Can read more about the promo here.

Personally, I think this is a pretty attractive short-term promotion, especially if you have any money lying around in any accounts that is yielding less than 1.38%.

I might give it a shot. I've been very messy with all my accounts lately. I have too much money hidden all over the place in so many different accounts. If I can consolidate, I might be able to scrape some stuff together to give myself a small little surprise in 4 months time!

Friday, December 2, 2016

#GivingWeek 2016: GMGH Annual Charity Donation

It's that time of year again.


I'm a bit late to the party, but anyway better late than never. #GivingWeek is a national movement that encourages people to give back. I like how it is at the end of every year and near the festive seasons. It's a good time to take stock of how your life and the year went, count your blessings (and accounts) and see if you have anything spare to give to others.

What's different from last year is that the SG50 fanfare is over, so the additional dollar-for-dollar matching by ComChest is over, and the special 300% tax incentive has been reduced back to 250%, the same ol' good number it normally has been since 2009, and it will stay this way until at least 2018. You can of course choose to donate to registered charities that are not approved IPCs, but you will not get any tax deductions. I donate to IPCs because they are held to a higher standard for regulatory compliance and governance, it's easy for me to find the list of IPCs and what's more beautiful than a win-win situation for all?

Last year I made the astute observation that the new giving.sg website looks set to replace SG Gives, et viola, here is the release by NVPC that giving.sg has indeed replaced SG Gives as the online portal for donations. So if you used to use SG Gives, don't be alarmed that it isn't there anymore! Go over to giving.sg and you can do the same as you always do!

Similar to what I did last year (and the year before), I plan to donate all my blog advertisement earnings to charity, as well as match it one-for-one and top up to round up the final donation amount.

The amount of AdSense earnings that I have this year is: $246.57
Add my personal donation of matching it one-for-one is: $493.14
Rounding the amount up to the nearest $10 for easy contribution is: $500

I'll be going overseas, so I might not make the 5 Dec #GivingWeek deadline, but I'll definitely be doing a follow up post as usual.

Although this is what I personally do, I don't encourage or expect other people to do the same. I think that it is very important to have a philosophy and reasons behind why you do something. I'm going to share (re-post) my thoughts from last year, updated with some very minor edits. I still think it's one of my greatest literary works yet.

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Having money isn't a crime to the society

One of the few ires about being an Asian financial blogger is swimming against the tide of taboo that is embedded in our culture, which is that money shouldn't be talked about openly. However, since financial bloggers implicitly do so, apparently it is suddenly okay for observers to tell us what we should do or should not do with our money.

There is a certain notion that people who like to talk about finance are capitalist pigs with no hearts. All we apparently think about is how we can amass more fortune by allegedly screwing over other people. Apparently, we are also ungrateful for the society that we live in that have enabled us to be financially successful. Those who are successful and on the top could have only got there by stepping on other people along the way. Since we are so focused on becoming millionaires, we need to pinch and save ever penny that we can get our hands on and we don't have any human decency to spare a thought for the less fortunate or those in need.

Sure, you can think that, but I don't believe so. That seems to be more like the logic of a sour person who is frustrated with their own lives instead, especially if they keep on making comparisons to others. Everything is everybody else's fault and they are just perfect. Pfft. They are just projecting their own problems onto other people.

Karma and "Fairness"

I have friends from different religious backgrounds and I also have friends who do not follow any religion. However, quite universally between my friends who are religious and those who are not, they all seem believe in a simplified version Karma, which is "Good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people", or "What goes around, comes around".

I know this might come to a shock to most people, but I do not believe in Karma. I don't think that anybody is keeping score and hatching a devious plan to "balance" out the bad, or even reward the good. It is a great way to encourage more positive social behaviour, but I just don't see how that works in any sort of semi-practical way (I admit, it could be argued that it is much too complicated for my feeble mind to understand). In fact, after learning more about philosophy of life, I would quite firmly place myself as existentialist which accepts the absurd and is striving to live life authentically and without bad faith. (all philosophical ideas that I would encourage anyone brave enough to put their entire understanding of the meaning of life up to the test to read up on)

However, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate or understand Karma. It is a great way of thinking. One of the things that I do believe in is that people should treat other people the way they would hope to be treated. The notable difference here is that just because I treat other people nicely, it does not mean that I myself would be treated nicely by others. It's a two-street and I only control one direction.

Is life "fair"? Obviously it is not, and I don't think it can ever be fair. Whether we should strive for fairness is a different debate altogether.

Capitalism and Meritocracy

My non-belief of Karma and my support of capitalism and meritocracy surely conflicts with the idea of charity then, does it not? Surely someone that thinks there is no such thing as divine retribution and also thinks that what people have got is somehow a culmination of what they deserve can't possibly care about others, right?

I believe that individuals or groups of private owners (capitalism) is the best form of economic system that we have so far because the rewards that it offers (money) is a pretty effective motivational tool for most people. The capitalist system also allows socialism to exist in pockets within its ecosystem, but not the other way around. The best example that I can think of are not-for-profit (different from non-profit) co-op credit unions that provides services to their members, such as easier loan approvals at lower interest rates. (FYI, I am a member of a co-op and there are many co-ops in Singapore, but that's a different story for a different day.)

To me, meritocracy seems like something that follows after a system of capitalism has been established. When there is a sense of ownership over assets, which people will then accordingly maintain and look after, it allows meritocracy to thrive. People now have ownership over their own skills and time. Between two people with similar skills, the one who clocks in more hours will get the better reward. Between two people clocking in the same hours, the one who has superior skills will get better rewarded. This isn't rocket science and I think this is pretty much the closest we can get to a universal agreement about the concept of fairness (but like I said, life ISN'T fair). Rewarding people who cultivate and improve their skills and are willing to spend more hours working to produce a final product - be it a good or service - is a good way to motivate them to continue their good performance, and also offers peers a glimpse of what their futures could be. Meritocracy would not exist without capitalism, because people would not be recognized for the different levels of skill and time committed.

I believe that the "skilled and hardworking" should be rewarded the most. This is different from being "skilled" or being "hardworking". Working 12 hours a day on a farm sure is a bitch and it is hard work, but try convincing anyone that a farmer should earn more money than a doctor (not talking about drug farmers). Yes, I took the 2 extremes, but that is just to make the point clear. Hard work counts for nothing if you're not applying that hard work well. Hard work is extremely overrated. I wish people would stop saying, "if you work hard, anything is possible" because it clearly isn't. If you have a smart plan and have realistic steps and actually work to complete those steps (note: no mention of hard work), you can achieve your goals. "Hard work" is too simplistic of a concept. It propagates the fallacy that all you need to do to achieve your dreams is to do it more times. Harder. Faster. Sheer insanity.


Being such a cynic and, so far up to now, heartless, how is it possible for charity to reasonably exist without conflicting with everything else that I support and believe in?

Fitting in the concept of Charity to help those who cannot help themselves

Firstly, let's acknowledge one thing. In a capitalist system, poor people DO exist. In fact, in any economic system there will always be some people who are poor and some people who are rich. The existence of a lower class is not proof of a flawed economic system, because show me a system where there isn't any distinction? Show me a system where poverty doesn't exist. Or at least justify your stance why poor people should not exist!

I believe that we were all dealt difference cards in life to begin with. To think that a son of a billionaire and the average person have the same opportunities and privileges in life is naive. Of course the son of a billionaire is starting the race way ahead of everybody else. Born in a rich family? Great, put in half the effort and get the same outcome. Born into a poor family? Unfortunately, you need to work twice as hard to get the same outcome. Ain't nobody said that life was going to be fair.

However, the world that we live in now isn't so unforgiving and harsh as that and I think that's a good thing. I believe that people who are handicapped just because of the luck of the draw should not be penalized and have no social mobility. Many governments are already "equalizing" the playing field to their own perceived notion of what is "fair" and what is not. I don't necessarily think that this is a bad thing. If the system is already stacked against them to fail before they even start, that to me is not something that I would like to see in the society that I live in. People should be able to determine to at least some degree to how they want their lives to pan out, rather than it already being predisposed from birth. But I'm also not saying that anyone can be Bill Gates.

Personal obligation to give to Charity

With many of my readers below the age of 40, giving to charity is a very confusing thought. Almost nobody is prepared for retirement yet. There are bills to pay, family to look after and raise. How can money be spent on others when there isn't enough for yourself yet? That's a great question. If you can't afford it, don't give to charity. Nobody is forcing you to give to charity, especially if you don't have enough for yourself. Look after yourself first.

However, the next question is... how much is enough that you feel comfortable parting away with some of the excess? After you buy a car? After scrapping the Japanese car for a continental one? Buying a second car? Upgraded to a condo? 2nd property? Overseas property in Malaysia / Thailand? And then London? How much stuff and money do you need so that you are comfortable to give some excess to charity? If the answer is that it is never enough, perhaps now might be a good time to realistically think about what it is in life that drives you and what do you what to achieve in life. If not having a yacht and the latest Apple gadgets makes you unhappy, you have way bigger problems in life then "Should I give to charity?".

Perhaps I have come to this conclusion rather early in life, but I figured out how to be happy, what I want in life to be happy, how to create happiness from different outcomes, what steps I need to complete to work my way there and I'm doing it. Since I'm a hedonist, all that works out great for me. I'm not just talking about doing it, I am actually doing it. With the ground already broken and I can see the work in progress being done, I'm quite confident that I know how things would end up for me. Sure, nothing in the future is confirmed, but I give myself pretty good probability that I'm going to end up in a comfortable situation. And that means that I will have some excess that I can afford to part with.

It's hard to say whether in the future as I become more successful, my lifestyle would also accordingly move up and my "needs" gets upgraded along the way. Personally, I hope it doesn't, but there really isn't anything wrong if it does. You've got the money in the bank, you want to buy a Rolex watch and that would make you happy? Go do it. I'm not advocating a lifestyle of selling all your worldly possessions and living simply and in the rough. I'm not advocating any lifestyle at all. I'm just verbalizing why my views on how seemingly conflicting topics can exist is a framework harmoniously.

As long as you can answer the question, "How much is enough?", you would be in a good position to examine your current status to see if you are suitable to donate to charities. If you know how much is enough, and you don't have enough yet, don't worry about it, next time maybe. If you don't know how much is enough, by default, it is never enough. But that's just my thinking about it.

Conclusion

I should wrap up my thoughts because what I wrote is a rather big web of ideas that are all over the place. I think that if you want to be happy, you need to look at yourself, not other people. If giving to charity makes you happy, give to charity. If giving to charity makes you miserable, don't give to charity. The tough part is figuring out if you'll actually be happy or unhappy!

Just like my non-Karmic belief that I cannot control how other people treat me, but I can only control how I treat others, I believe that all you can do is be the change that you wish to see in the world. Whether or not that change does eventually come about, that is beyond our control. But it is a bit comforting knowing that you at least did something instead of nothing.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

EXCLUSIVE TELEPHONE ONLY PROMOTION FOR YOU!


"Hello Sir,

I'm from XXX and I'm calling to let you know that you have been pre-approved to take up this special offer that is exclusive only for you!

Benefit 1)
...
...
...
Benefit 100)

How do all these benefits sound Sir?"

That sounds fantastic. How about you send me an email with all that information and I can get back to you with my decision?

"I'm sorry Sir. This promotion is only by telephone. Maybe I can help you clarify anything that you are unsure about..."

Wait. Wait. Wait a minute.
This is a telephone only offer and you will not send me anything and I just verbally agree over the phone?

"Yes Sir, it's is a special telephone-only offer!"

So I will not receive anything? I don't even want a mailer, I just want an email to look at the terms.

"I'm sorry Sir, we can't do that."


You can't send me an email?

"No, we can't send you an email. However, I can explain the terms again..."

Okay stop. We're wasting both my time and yours. If I don't get anything in black and white, I'm not going to agree to anything, okay?

"Sir, I can explain any terms that..."

Thanks, but no thanks. Bye.

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Holy bloody shit.

First it's all the personal loans, now it's all these weird ass insurance.

My opening line is going to be "Is this a telephone only offer? If it is, then I'm not interested".

I'm not against telemarketers or buying insurance, but this is just a screwed up way of doing so.

Honestly, I feel sorry for the operators and I really don't blame them for having to do this very unpleasant job. I would hate doing their job too.

But fuck this process and companies that do this.

I've got 2 of these calls in the past week.

I was trying very hard to be empathetic, but if these phone operators don't want to get verbally abused, they really shouldn't work for these kind of companies selling these kind of products.

Thanks for wasting 10 minutes of my life on the phone and another 20 minutes to write this post.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Increasing Wealth, Increasing Health

Uncle CW8888 came out with another interest post today: "To save more: Cut Expenses or Increase Earnings? To slim more: Cut diet or Increase exercise?".

For me, the answer came very fast and naturally: DO BOTH.

Of course, any idiot can tell you that. However, I think that there is a hierarchy of what is the easiest to do with the most impact by useful until a certain point, to what is hard to do with slower results, but without as much limitations.

There are definitely exceptions, but I think that this applies 95% of the time.

Taking health for example:

The easiest thing for anyone to do to improve their health is through their diet. Restrict the total amount of calorie intake. Reconfigure the calorie intake to be only from healthy sources. Ensure that the diet are within recommended limits for nutrients and vitamins.

Dieting alone has a natural limit. How much less can you eat if you are already surviving on the bare minimum?

Of course, if you have ALREADY done that, the next level which is hard and slower is to exercise more.

Exercise is able to increase your health to levels that just dieting alone will never be able to achieve. It is a slow and hard processes, but there is always some extra room of improvement to go, although there are diminishing returns.

A lot of people have this order mixed up. They eat all sorts of junk food and think that they can exercise their way to negate such effects. This is very common for people to go to the gym and exercises, but they have very loose control on their diets.

No medical professional in their right mind will tell you that you can continue an unhealthy diet as long as you get enough exercise.

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Now, let's relate this to wealth.

The easiest thing for anyone to do to increase their wealth is through reducing expenses. Limit the amount of monthly expense. Reconfigure expenses to go towards purchasing cheaper alternatives. Ensure that expenses are within recommended limits for each spending category.

Reducing expenses alone has a natural limit. How much less can you spend if you are already surviving on the bare minimum?

Of course, if you have ALREADY done that, the next level which is hard and slower is to increase your earnings.

Earning more income is able to increase your wealth to levels that just reducing expenses alone will never be able to achieve. It is a slow and hard processes, but there is always some extra room of improvement to go, although there are diminishing returns.

A lot of people have this order mixed up. They spend their money on silly things and think that they can increase their earnings to negate such effects. This is very common for people to be very career focused and dabble in side businesses, but they have very loose control on their spending.

No financial planner in their right mind will tell you that you can continue making horrible purchasing decisions as long as you earn enough money.

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TL;DR?

If you want to be healthier, focus on your diet FIRST, then exercise SECOND.
If you want to be wealthier, focus on your expenses FIRST, then earnings SECOND.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Scoop the Poop

Uncle CW8888 asked a very good question: Telcos are no longer defensive stocks with just one add on?

Looking at the charts, it looked like an impulsive downside move to me.

I nibbled a bit more of M1 (I already had some) and some Starhub but not Singtel (at least, not yet anyway).

I also got some hospitality trusts through OUE and Frasers. Why? Because they are sucking balls because tourism is going to do badly. I like bad and horrible stuff, that's just the way I roll.


I'm also looking at lots of other poop.

Centurion
CH Offshore
Chuan Hup
Comfort Delgro
CSE Global
Falcon Energy
Fragrance
Fraser Cpt
HPH Trust
King Wan
Kingsman Creative
Low Keng Huat
Lum Chang
Pan United
Perennial Holdings
SIA
SIA Engineering
Sin Ghee Huat
Singpost
Wee Hur
Wing Tai

AIMSAMP Reit
Cache Log Trust
CapitaMall Trust
CapitaR China Trust
CDL HTrust
Far East HTrust
Mapletree Log Trust
Religare HTrust
Sabana Reit
Soilbuild Biz Reit
Starhill Global Reit

Anyway, these are just brief list of ugly looking charts that I've looked at lately. Plenty of them are bad and are going to stay bad, but I prefer buying things when they are cheap compared to expensive.

I did not believe in the rally that was happening in REITs in 2016 and since Aug/Sep, it looks like we've hit a high there and we're trending lower. I've seen that the markets in the US are already pricing in a 100% chance of a rate hike in December. If that follows through, I think the world would be looking at higher rates for everybody, which is negative for REITs.

I don't believe that now is the time to be buying in general, but when some stocks suddenly move down quite rapidly, it can pay off to examine them and take a gamble if the odds look good.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lie if your Ricebowl depends on it (Iskandar)

I just read this article on property in Today written by Ku Swee Yong (I know, I'm a bit slow) and I thought that it was an excellent read regarding Iskandar and property investing in Malaysia in general.

Here are the main points that I picked up:

  • Completion **TARGET** is 2026
  • Terminus cities benefit from HSR links
  • Cities along the route declined in GDP and fixed asset investment (Malaysian cities)
  • MM2H programme is a complete failure
  • Large number of projects haven't even broken ground
  • Completed projects are empty as shit

And I agree with all of these things. Even with all the fanfare of Iskandar, the very simple matter of fact is that NO ONE I know has relocated their residence or work over to Iskandar. Perhaps there are people that have bought into Iskandar, but they haven't moved over and that in itself is a telling sign. Is it because their project isn't completed? Is it because they realized that it's not what they expected it to be?

Back in December 2014, people had been scared off by the government cooling measures done late 2013 and had started to prospect overseas (Singapore won't be taking off the cooling measures anytime soon. Not I say one, but Lawrence Wong, National Development Minister say one), I did make a prediction that Iskandar would be shit. 

"Iskandar is looking to be a dangerous money-sucking venture. I doubt it will be viable and buzzing until at least the turn of the decade." - GMGH, Dec 2014

Funny how the SGD/MYR has since exploded from 2.63 to above 3 where it is today.

Of course, the funniest thing was actually found in the comments.


To be fair, it is his opinion. His qualified opinion about Iskandar. (accounting jokes, oh dear)


If your job requires you to sell a lie or a shit product, I would strongly recommending considering another job if you don't want to get flamed by people that see through your bullshit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Same Old Shit


We've seen this before. It happens every once in a while, but I think Jeff Snider from Alhambra Investment Partners says it the best:
1. Dollar doesn’t matter, indicates strong economy relative to the world
2. Dollar matters for oil, but lower oil prices mean stronger consumer
3. Manufacturing slump doesn’t matter, only temporary
4. Manufacturing declines are consumer spending, but only a small part
5. Manufacturing declines are becoming serious, but only from overseas
6. Maybe domestic manufacturing recession too, but the rest of the economy is strong
7. Rest of the economy might not be as strong as thought, but only an “earnings recession.”
By the time #8 appeared, which was growing acceptance that full-blown recession might be a very good possibility, it had been two years since the “dollar” first warned about the next global leg down. That difference, however, is important to keep in mind; 2014 was supposed to be the year that the global recovery was initiated, the long-awaited liftoff, but was instead beset by seemingly minor disturbances supposedly unrelated to the US as at least the “cleanest dirty shirt.” In truth, the US was just as dirty a piece of clothing as all others; the only actual difference was that by overlooking the grime the mainstream was able to wallow once more all over again in confirmation bias.
The fact that stocks are at record highs as the “dollar” disrupts still another time is as regular as the seasons. Stocks are fueled by hope which takes time for the “dollar” to disprove through first its own systems and then full economy; as it has time and again.
Excellent piece.

Perhaps like the shitty MSM bias of only reporting the good stuff, people generally seem very positive and upbeat about this eventual (but never here) recovery of the US which will be a boost to the global economy.

From the stats that I come across, it points towards the opposite direction. Anything bad is getting worse and anything good is approaching turning points.

Then again, you can't trust the MSM. Didn't like 99% of all news outlets not only predicted, but cheerleaded for a Clinton win? The MSM is bullshit and your best defence is just finding the FACTS and stripping away the OPINIONS.

PEs for the major indices are insane. DOW is at 21, Naqdaq is at 24, S&P500 is at 24 and the Russell... oh boy, the Russell is tricky.

If you check the WSJ which has all those PE ratios I listed above, the Russell shows a nil. Why? (more detailed explaination by Mish here) Because the Russell has NEGATIVE earnings. Guess what's the PE excluding negative earnings?

1-7-2-6

No, it's not 17. It's not 26. It's not even 72. Or even 172. Or even 726.

It's a freaking mindblowing 1726. (source)

All the valuation guys I follow are out and dumbfounded by this madness. Can the stock markets continue going up? Certainly. Will they remain at these levels? I highly doubt so.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Smartly Review (Beta)

With Singapore done holding the world's largest Fintech event ever, I thought it was a good time to re-visit Smartly.

I first heard about Smartly back in May this year and I was pretty excited about them.

Fast forward a month later, I managed to meet the guys behind Smartly and I wrote my take why Robo-advisors are something that we should want to use.

I've finally registered to their beta, so I'll be showing some screenshots and talking about it:


These first 3 screenshots show the registration process. Honestly, the registration process was very fast and simple and I never felt that they were asking any more information that what was necessary. The near-instant OTP to verify phone number was a nice touch.


This is actually the "Home" page after you log-in. It's a very, very, very minimal design with the most important information - capital, returns and portfolio value.


To start, you need to create "Goals" so that you can start funding them and of course working towards your goals. There are several goals that you can pick, but they are just suggestions and your choice and name doesn't determine the sort of recommended portfolio you will get. That will be based on your risk questionnaire.


Of course as GMGH, how can my risk profile be anything less than the maximum risk? Haha! After a very, very short and simple questionnaire, you will get a recommended portfolio. There are 10 portfolios in total which of course has increasing risks but returns. The good news is that if you feel that the recommended portfolio is too conservative or risky, you can adjust it to suit your preferences.


The last thing is that you have an area that you can transfer funds from one goal to another goal, which I think is a pretty useful feature!

Thoughts

Personally, I love the simplicity of the user interface. Everything is clean and basic. All the most important information is displayed. Pretty much everything else has been stripped away, which is a good thing, not a bad thing! I think too many people get information overload and that might lead to decision paralysis.

Robo-advisors are SUPPOSED to be boring, and that's because all the hard stuff have been outsourced to robots to do. All you have to do is to control how much to invest and the type of portfolio to invest in. That's it. It's looks super sleek and auto-pilot.

If anything, I think people might be slightly disappointed by how simple the user experience feels. But I can assure you that this is the way that it should be - simple, easy to understand, boring.

Just a big point to note is that this is just the beta version, so the public version might be different. I doubt there would be any big changes to the layout or to their UI philosophy though.

Suggestions

I know that the target of Smartly is for individuals who are less savvy and are looking for a simple, all-in-one product. However, for more advanced investors, having the option to "customize" their own portfolio with the current available ETFs would be a very nice option.

This will allow people to use Smartly that will not follow the all-on-one risk portfolios. Perhaps this "feature" could be unlocked and more ETFs can be introduced. I think this would greatly increase their AUM.

I'm looking forward to see more of their non-core features, like the educational platform and also if they will introduce some sort of rewards or referral programme. The core of robo-advisors are essentially the same and what would set them apart from new players would be how well they can handle the non-core features.

Conclusion

I think that Smartly will be a pretty great success (when it finally launches). POSB Invest-Saver have done the hard of conditioning a lot of people to be much more comfortable with the idea of regularly contributing to an ETF and to hold a long-term view of their investments. Anyone who uses POSB Invest-Saver would definitely consider hopping onto the Smartly train for the larger geographical diversification and also the more flexible way to manage funds.

The user interface is clean and simple and I love that. I have used the word "simple" way too many times in this post, but that's really the best word to describe it. I would definitely use Smartly once they come out, however it would be used as a completely separate method to invest for retirement by going for the "international" strategy as opposed to a one-stop comprehensive solution for me.

From what I understand, Smartly is in the final stages and it is waiting for MAS approval to start their public launch. Hopefully when that day comes, I can be the one proudly telling you about it!

Friday, November 18, 2016

SK Bullion Experience (Part 2)

Earlier this week I blogged about making a purchase through SK Bullion. Well, the delivery came!


So here's the little haul that I bought to add to my treasure chest of gold and silver:

1 X Canadian Gold Maple 1oz
1 X RCM Silver 10oz
20 X American Silver Eagles 1oz

The delivery came by courier and well, it's just like any other package delivery. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Gold Maple in a nice plastic case. I did verify that the ultra tiny year is printed in the Maple leaf, but I'll do a more thorough check on the authenticity of it again later. The RCM 10oz has the 88 serial number which means it was part of their Asian production, so that's cool too. the American Eagles are in their standard packaging of 20 pieces. Everything looked great.

It's hard to decide what kind of bullion to collect, but I've got myself into a rhythm and I think I'm going to stick with it. I have Gold and Silver Maples and Silver Eagles from 2014, 2015 and 2016. I plan to add the same every year just so that I have a nice pretty collection.

I'm honestly a bit won over by their delivery service. Perhaps SK Bullion might be my go to guys for physical bullion as long as (1) their prices remain super competitive and (2) their delivery is free.

BullionStar is still awesome as ever. With Silver under $17 USD, I'm deliberating about backing up the truck a bit and loading up a few more kilos through their vault grams. Maybe on Monday? Who knows, Silver might crash just in time for Black Friday sales and I'll have a party scooping up everything, heh!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

JGB Madness


Japan is losing control of it's huge bond market.

They've basically started unlimited bond purchases in the open market to settle yields at policy levels. FYI, this is pretty unprecedented. WSJ and Bloomberg have also reported it. You can't make this shit up.

Observers might think this helps, but I think this just exacerbates the problem and opens the door that leads down the path of more madness.

Maybe I'm just a cynic, but I just don't get or support their Krugman-esque policies. It doesn't make any sense to me.

Can someone please help me understand why this is okay in Japan and how Japanese people view these crazy policies? To me, it just looks like the BOJ is monetizing it's own debt and is on the path to eventual, major currency depreciation.

Perhaps when the SGD/JPY goes to 200 I would be able to fully appreciate what the BOJ has done to enrich me by robbing the Japanese people. I'm planning to start learning Japanese in 2017. Might be useful when I find myself negotiating to buy a nice apartment in Central Tokyo.

Monday, November 14, 2016

SK Bullion Experience (Part 1)

I have been a client of BullionStar for the past few years and I've always enjoyed my shopping experience with them. I think the most major plus of BullionStar is the ability to execute orders online. I hadn't seen any dealers with such a good system until I stumbled upon SK Bullion.

SK Bullion is a subsidiary of the Soo Kee Group, which is a familiar jewelry shop in Singapore as well as a listed company (albeit with pretty shit performance on the SGX, -45% from IPO in Aug 2015). Their shit performance fazes me not because the beauty of precious metals is that once the goods are in your hand, there is zero counterparty risks anymore. Unless I am storing my bullion, there is no need to me to bother if the company will be around dealing for a long time. For convenience sake, of course that would be good. Of more importance is the authenticity of the products, which I have high confidence in because 1) they are SBMA members and 2) the products that I bought have their own tell-tale signs of being counterfeit.

Maples from 2013 have added security features that fakes have a hard time reproducing.
American Eagles have plenty of ways of checking, but like the Maples, they have very telling visual signs if they are fake.
RCM bars have serial numbers which helps with obvious fakes. However, being is this 10 oz range, I highly doubt getting a fake one from a dealer. The 100 oz are much more susceptible. The finish is also pretty unique, I highly doubt that fakes can replicate the detail of the RCM 10 oz. And like I said, it probably wouldn't be worth it.

Anyway, finally after quite a while of waiting on my ass to buy precious metals, I finally executed my order with SK Bullion. Why? The main thing that won me over was that their overall price was 1.54% cheaper than BullionStar and they were offering free insured delivery for my order which saves me a going down to the BullionStar store to pick up my order.

The pros of ordering from SK are, SLIGHTLY cheaper price, possible free delivery and a very nice summary at the end of the order with ask prices and also the currency rate used in the transaction. I executed my order at $1217 for gold and $17.26 for silver at a rate of 1.4163. Nice extra information to know, but probably not too useful for most people since it's hindsight information.

The con so far that I see is that you need to make the bank transfer immediately and check with them if they have received it or not. Even though the person on their side confirmed my payment, they haven't changed my order status. This is very annoying for me and I'm sure all other precious metals investors. One thing that the whole lot of us have is PARANOIA, so this sluggishness in updating my order status is bugging me quite a lot.

I've schedule the delivery for my goods to arrive by the end of the week, I'll probably do a small follow up post with some pictures of my new collection soon.


If precious metals continue to fall, I will be loading up the truck through BullionStar through their Vault Grams. I think the move in precious metals have already made the bulk of their downside move in this short term cycle, which is why I executed my orders. However, if they do fall further, I wouldn't be surprised. I honestly don't expect my precious metals investments to reap big money anytime too soon. I'm just happily stacking while I things are cheap.

Buy low, sell high.

That's something really counter intuitive, but oh well, I try my best.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump Wins

That's it, I've seen enough to call it. 

It's a Trump presidency.


Back in April, I did a pretty simple prediction post. Trump wins presidency, rate hike gets postponed indefinitely and stock market dumps in Q2.

Looks like I was right about Trump and rates, but not about stocks. But hey, maybe it does dump in Q2, but in 2017 and not 2016, haha!

In February, I did a post about Trump and my 2 cents about the situation and voting process. It is still obviously clear to me that the majority of people in the world thinks that Trump is running to be President of the World.

Wake up ladies and gents, it's called the POTUS, not the POTW.

The sooner people understand that you ain't f--king voting in another country's election and they don't give a shit what some goddamn foreigner thinks, the sooner people can move on and deal with it.

Nasdaq is already limit down.
S&P is about to, or already might have limit down.


Gold is spiking.
Silver is following close behind.

I guess it's just my luck that I have US indices shorts and bond, Russia and gold longs.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Nov 2016 Updates

Hey everybody!

I know I haven't been posting a lot lately. I've been really busy with life this 2016, but the good news is that most of my big and stressful stuff are finally behind me and I suppose that means more regular blogging by me and more articles for yall to read!

I'll just dump whatever is on my mind out here in this post. Most likely I'll be coming back to revisit most of these topics in the near future.

Insurance

a) Shield Plan Rider

I recently saw this D&S article about the recent murmurs in the insurance market about doing away in the riders for Shield plans. They do have a good suggestion, which is to quickly sign up for riders if you currently do not have any riders.

I just did my own comprehensive insurance review and honestly, I'm very happy and satisfied with my insurance (over) coverage. However, I have the NTUC Assist Rider, which is different from the Plus Rider. The Plus Rider is the rider that covers all expenses. There will be zero out of pocket payments for anything covered. The Assist Rider has a 10% co-payment with a limit up to $3,000 per year.

The difference in premiums can really add up a lot. It honestly makes a lot more financial sense to have the Assist Rider and pay the 10% co-payment (up to $3,000) if you are hospitalized if you are not a very sickly person. From this age, by 43 you can be hospitalized once (this means that if you don't think you'll be hospitalized once by 43, it makes more sense for the Assist Rider). Of course, as the years go by and the premium difference gets bigger, you reach the "milestones" earlier. By 68 you would be able to be hospitalized and pay the maximum co-payment 5 times (for 5 years) and still be the same financially. At 65 (which is retirement age for most people), the premium difference between the riders would be a pretty substantial $13,415!

I did up a spreadsheet and I looked at the difference in premiums and I thought long and hard about it. I even wrote a short post about it. My conclusion is still the same though. In my entire life, I've never been hospitalized and it is actually one of my recent aims and goal to remain fit and healthy. Although I felt like taking action and upgrading to the Plus Rider when I saw this article, I actually think that my Assist Rider suits me well.

b) Early CI / Cancer

For most people, I would imagine that early CI is very unnecessary. In fact, even CI for most people isn't necessary. I heard the claim rate for CI is just 5%, but maybe I need to be fact checked on this. However, I feel that I am a special case because my family has quite a high incidence of getting cancer.

Almost every other male in my family has had cancer. It seems to me like the odds are quite against me for this one, although I do try and keep myself healthy, this seems to be a genetic disposition, as opposed to external factors. I'm focusing on early detection to stay safe.

Early detection however means that you would probably catch the illness in an early stage, which is not claimable under CI since from my understanding the cancer has to be fairly advanced. That is why I am focusing my attention to Early CI.

I'm currently am going to sign up for the CI + Early CI by Aviva through DIY Insurance very soon. I like the Aviva plan because it's super straight forward. Tio any stage of the CI will get 100% payout. No pro-ration factor based on level of advancedness.

I'm also considering the Tokio Marine Protect Cancer policy in the future which solely focus on cancer, although the CI + Early CI plans actually cover cancer as well and only has a slight premium (less than 20%) to cover the rest of the spectrum of critical illness.

Since the TM plan seems very simple and fuss-free to sign up for (and the minimum entry age is 30), I'll just make a mental note to consider this again in the future if I want to have additional protection. However, I am fairly confident that my current coverage will be more than sufficient for quite some time.

c) DPI Insurance w/ CI

With the new MHA insurance which is a souped-up version of the previous SAF GTL, I'm getting way more coverage for almost the same price with Aviva now. However, one of the things that has been bugging me is the fact that the it is a group plan instead of an individual plan.

FWD Insurance has came into the market recently. Most of you know them for the Lifetime 50% NCD for their car insurance, but they have gone into the life insurance area as well. I checked out comparefirst and they are actually cheaper than AXA! What's more is that I managed to find a discount code for 10% off for the first year of premiums, so that's a nice little added touch to it. FWD allows you to apply online and doesn't need you to meet an agent, which is AWESOME because that was one of the reasons I went with AXA DPI in the first place - no need to go down to their branch.

I went onto their website and filled out my info and got a quotation. I'm currently just sitting on it and thinking about it. Not only is it cheaper than AXA, it is also more hassle-free. The plan by FWD is covered by SDIC also, so I'm not too worried about FWD as an insurer. DPI products are highly standardized and plain vanilla, so again, less things to worry about.

However, I currently doubt that I need to increase my coverage, but it is nice to know that there are options out there even I am ever looking.

Housing

I think a lot of people know that I've been ready and waiting to pounce into the housing market at the right time. The right time isn't yet, but I have a strong feeling that it's really going to come quite soon. One of the things that I believe in is that a property agent is not worth it for plain vanilla transactions. If you already know which property you want, how much you're willing to pay, the only thing left are the admin processes which can be learnt pretty quick.

A lot of the info out there is for HDB DIY, which makes sense since HDBs make up most of our housing stock. However, I found a very useful infographic by The Edge when it comes to buying private resale property, which is my intention.

I will probably be making a comprehensive article on DIY private property purchasing, using their infographic and adding in links and also any other relevant info to have a proper, detailed, step-by-step timeline for DIY. Honestly, all articles online are too brief and are very intangible. I've delayed this for too long already, it's time to come out with a good guide!

Robo-Advisor

I did mention a while back that I met with the guys from Smartly and that I was very excited. Honestly, I love their idea and I am eager for it to be launched. From what I read from their FB page, they seem to be wrapping up on the regulatory process.

I do have access to the Beta and now that I'm done with my big events, I have the time to go through the Beta and I will write an article about the user experience and my thoughts and feedback. If things go well, perhaps I can pump out the article by Sunday?

Precious Metals

Just last month Silver dropped to $17.30 USD and I was licking my chops and about to pull the trigger. Unfortunately, I was too swamped with my work to monitor and act on it (although I did say that I was ready to execute!) and I have missed the first boat.

Now we have spiked up because of all the political uncertainty in the US and gold is up higher as well. I was all prepared to dump in a few K to pick up some shinys for myself, but alas the timing right now is not as good as I had hoped.

With the USD and the USD/SGD both looking like it is peaking out to me, and along with the financial shit storm about to hit the deck, along with political turmoil that is just around the corner, perhaps buying now at this slightly elevated prices isn't that bad. I might pull the trigger very very soon if I can find a good time to execute the order.

If we have a meaningful pullback that has legs, I'll be topping up my positions to be a bit more meaningful as well.

Portfolio

I just sold off PEC for a nice profit and I also heard news that Super Group has a privatization offer of $1.30, which gives me a very handsome 30+% profits. I'll probably write a quick post about my divestment in Super Group once I decide to either sell it off now or wait for the offer to go through. It seems like my portfolio is getting smaller and smaller and my winners are getting slowly sold off!

I am looking to dumpster dive into horrible performing names, such as, but not limited to the O&G and Maritime sector. If this weekend is undisturbed, I'll probably be able to pump out a list of companies which I find decent. After that, it's just the waiting game of trying to enter in at a price I'll focus more into.

My gut is telling me that the REIT run-up for earlier this year is short-lived and is gonna get smacked with reality soon. The telcos and the banks aren't doing that great either.

I'll also try to give an update on my SGX portfolio as of end Oct 2016, but I assure, it is mostly quiet on this front.

Giving Week

December is coming really soon, and that is actually our Giving Week in SG!

I wrote about #GivingWeek last year and because it fits in very well with my personal beliefs, I'll be taking part in it again this year.

I'll be taking stock of my adsense earnings and also figure out which are the charities that I plan to donate to, and also so philosophical musings about charity.

Travel

I've been working too hard this year and I only managed to travel once this year - to Japan! 2017 is coming up and I already have 1 trip booked, another trip in the works and I am hopeful for perhaps another trip in the later part of the year. I'm putting this out here because it seems to be that my posts on my budget but fun style of travelling gets quite a lot of views and I really am doing my next trip rather budget, but I think you guys will be quite amazed with the amount of awesome I can squeeze out from my budget!

Summary

2016 has been really busy for me on a lot of fronts, but things are settling down and I am growing and becoming stronger and more powerful. All the things that are coming for me in 2017 will be faced with more confidence and more experience, so I am leveling up in life and getting better at it!

As always, where do people find the time to do nothing? My life is a constant whirlwind and I think I've got above average time management skills and I deal with things quite decisively already! I'm also thinking of doing an article about my productivity and work flow, just to show how much stuff I can deal with, and how I manage to take down big tasks seemingly quick.

Oh well, time for self-reflection will come at the end of the year and when I'm away travelling! For now, it's all about crushing the rest of 2016 tasks and getting shit done!

TIME TO GET MORE SHIT DONE!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The State of the Market (Nov 2016)

Jesse Felder's most recent article is a punch in the face back to reality.

Of the 3 punches he throws, I read and respect both the views of GMO and John Hussman. Hussman points out that valuation is beyond ridiculous right now. GMO predicts future 7 year returns are -3.1%. High valuations = Shitty future returns. You don't need a CFA to work that one out.

Yet the INSANE valuations are being ignored by most investors.


While the US stock market is only 5% down from ATH (2085.18 from intra day high of 2193.81), people are already calling this a massive buying opportunity because of the weak hands that are cashing out early.

Buying into US stocks at these valuations require some serious hallucinogens or just a very general and strong lack of ability to give a f*** about what you're actually buying. 

Yes, I did get the memo that this is the longest losing streak since 1980. And sure, we're reaching technical supports in the major indices and the streak cannot go forever, so we're bound to bounce somewhere along the way.

In fact, I actually think that the US elections would be cause a temporary spike up in the stock market when Hilary wins. (Although I personally would vote for Trump if I was an American, but I am not)

(I'm not going to debate US politics on my blog today. Please comment at your own risk)

But I'm not your day trading email newsletter stock picking guru that can tell you if the market is going up or down tomorrow.

All I can say is that it the correction of these ridiculous valuations is inevitable and we're much closer to sooner rather than later.

Here's 1 bonus chart that is different from Jesse Felder's ones and it is one of my favourite charts that Doug Short updates regularly.


If you honestly, really, seriously, touch-your-heart feel that this 5% pull back in the US stock market is a good entry point for the long-term, there's nothing more I can say other than "Good Luck".

Friday, November 4, 2016

Early Critical Illness Pondering

Among the level of my grandparents and my parents, aunts and uncles (2 and 1 levels above me in my family tree), 40% of them have got cancer and not all of them are over 65 yet.

Basically, based on my horrible genetics, I think that there is a very high chance that I would likely be afflicted with cancer in the future. Of course, health is wealth and I will definitely try to mitigate this risk by exercising often and going for regular health check ups to make sure I detect any illnesses early.

I might not be the fittest, but I am rather proud to say that I have never failed a single IPPT in all my years so far. Sure, I don't get gold, but this passing streak is a pretty good feat considering how sedentary most of our lives get once we start working, especially for people with desk jobs.

While the last medical that most people did was in NS, I've gone for medical check-ups on my own 3 times since then. So far, my tests are all showing that I am fit and healthy, and that's a good thing. I'm scheduling my next medical for December or January 2017. 

However, if tio then is really tio. Although prevention is better than cure, it's good to have contingencies for both.

If (early) CI does strike, as of now I have H&S insurance with NTUC to take care of the hospital bills. With my Assist Rider, I'll only be shelling out a maximum of $3,000 which is my co-payment limit. No stress on my emergency fund at all. 

If the CI detected is one of the standard ones in the LIA definitions, then great, I get to claim to AXA DPI CI rider and my Aviva MHA CI rider for a nice cool $200,000.

If the CI detected is an early one, unfortunately I am only covered by the MHA Early CI rider which may or may not cover the CI that I am afflicted with. Cancer is my biggest concern and it is covered though.

I have been thinking if I should boost my early CI coverage, especially since I am probably one of the few people who actually have better than average odds of claiming due to my genetics.

I have compared the MHA insurance along with a standalone policy by Aviva for Early CI / CI taking myself as an example with coverage only until age 65.

Findings

Aviva covers 51 CI and terms are more encompassing (+)
Total Aviva CI + Early CI premiums until age 65 - $26,573.40 (1.5% more expensive)
Aviva premiums are level throughout (+)
Aviva premiums start out high and paid yearly (-)
Aviva plan for CI and Early CI are mutually exclusive (-)
Aviva plan is standalone (+)

MHA covers 37+10 for 47 CI and some terms are up to insurer (-)
Total MHA CI + Early CI premiums until age 65 - $26,169.60
MHA premiums may be revised, both up (+) or down (-)
MHA premiums start out low and are paid monthly (+)
MHA plan for CI and Early CI are independent of each other (+)
MHA plan is dependent on group partnership with insurer (-)

Conclusion

In terms of cash flow, the MHA insurance actually seems better because of the lower premiums initially (when we are in the start of our lives) and the option to pay monthly without any penalties (good for hitting bank GIRO requirements). However, cashflow to me isn't a problem and this just seems to be an admin and logistical negative, as opposed to a product issue.

Product-wise, the only one-up the MHA insurance has is that it's policies are independent of each other. This means if you claim for an early CI and later discover another CI, you'll get both claims. For the Aviva insurance, after the first claim, you are paid out 100% so your policy collapses.

The Aviva insurance is standalone, which I feel makes it very attractive. It is not contingent on the SAF/MHA partnership with Aviva, and that is one of the main reasons why I am looking for another policy - not because I don't think that the money is enough, but I am worried about their partnership and the implications for people like me if the partnership really dissolves.

The Aviva product also covers more and looks to me to be more lax about the conditions to make claims.

My conclusion is that for pretty much the same price (1.5% price difference), the Aviva product is superior because it is standalone with a wider coverage.

I will let my thoughts bask in my brain for a little while, but it is highly likely that I will be taking up with Aviva plan very soon unless some new information or argument can convince me otherwise.

As always, I welcome any thoughts and comments on this article.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Margin Call No More

After 84 days of being in margin call, with the S&P finally crossing back down the 2,100 mark, I no longer have to pick up calls everyday from my CFD broker and listen to them lecture me about funding my account, haha.


I am still holding the stubborn view that the US markets are due for a CRASH. Yup, not some little piss 10% correction, but something at least 20% down, if not more. The US elections may actually help it start picking up momentum and I'm not expecting it to stop sliding til Q2 2017.


I can only hope for more blood on the streets. It makes me sick with joy and woozy in the head just thinking about how bad everything is going to be. I am a financial asshole after all.