Sunday, 30 August 2020

Tale of 3 Jobseekers - Age 40, 50 plus, and 60. Who Found a Job First? Does Age Matters?

Facing one of the worst crises of all time, and with increasing number of workers being laid off or furloughed, it is tough times for jobseekers. The task of securing a job will be even tougher when you are 40 years of age or older, with your whole life of work experiences mainly within the Marine and Offshore/ Oil Energy sector.


Yes, I have three friends who fall within this category. This is a non-fictitious tale.


They are:

·       Mr. A, approaching mid 40s years of age. (Local Dipl, private Biz Degree holder)

·       Mr. B in his early 50s (Local Dip, private MBA)

·       Mr. C who is almost 60 years of age (O Levels)


All are Singaporeans, having more than decade-long experiences within the “marine/offshore/oil energy” sector as sales/business development. All need a job as their main source of income. All have probably the same salary range with B the highest and most wealthy. All have family and children to feed and wife not working. None have first impression “appearance” disadvantage in my opinion.


“So, who will find the most suitable job first? And does age really matters?”


Mr. A – Approaching Mid 40s 


Mr. A is my closest friend among three. I knew him as driven and hungry sales guy in the past, with ability to secure big order sales worth millions. With experiences in MNC, mid-size western company, and small local set-up, I think he is the most qualified of the three to find a job first among the 3 of them. His age is an obvious advantage too!


Mr. A resigned from his job close to 3 years ago due to his unreasonable boss. Thereafter he  became partner for a business. It was a short stint and not successful. Savings drained into the fail venture, and he became a jobseeker.


Initially A, is very energetic and active in his job seeking and have no problem securing many interviews. This is 2018 to 2019 prior to Covid. Over time, one after another interviews fail. No matter how close some job opportunities become, A will always fail the final hurdle.


It is liken to a soccer match, with the striker in the penalty box with only the goalkeeper to beat. Then he will somehow trip, or slip, or hit the post, or near miss, or the goalkeeper putting up the save of the day, to deny the striker a goal!”


As time goes by, Mr. A’s confidence fades. More lamenting also emerged targeting the hiring company/manager. This does not help his newfound interviews either. My sincere advice for A is not to complain. Instead, be constantly aware of our own mistakes. Many times, the hirer are not to be blamed, we are! Review, repent and improve with action.


Upon A’s request, I acted as his professional reference giving him full credit to his potential hirers. Always on the lookout for him,  I introduced him jobs (even to my own company), and aided him to vet/improve his resume, and guided him to anticipate certain types of questions from hirers. Yet, none of the interviews were successful, with hirer thinking he is not suitable for the job.


As a person, Mr. A have few friends to speak of. He also rarely catch up with anyone aside from myself and his family. His own life is centred around his own immediate family and parents and siblings, and nothing else. He also does not have any hobby, or any special things he love doing, outside work and family.


Loss of confidence soon became dejection. Hunger to find a job diminish. Mr. A went overseas to be with family and without household income, added a new family member, and lived on his decent size savings in a very low cost village. Looking for jobs remotely become harder, and the drive also died out. I also felt the laid-back and “laziness” in him over time, as his savings drained dry.

Just like that, 2 years or so, passed without income. Last month, Mr. A was back from overseas and continue his job hunt. I met him and his energy and confidence level was EVEN LOWER than last 1-2 years. I also sense that he is a bit slower in his thinking and is like a completely different person from 3 years ago.


The trigger of this negativity, I feel, is due to the overly simple and easy life in the laid-back outskirt village of a developing area, without income and living on savings with wife and kids. This is not helping his job search at all. And with Covid and oil crisis, it will be an uphill task looking for a new job compared to 1-2 years ago.


Mr. B – In His Early 50s


Mr. B resigned without a job close to half a year ago as company is not doing well, and the boss who took care of him also left before him. B mostly have mid-sized SMEs professional experiences.


Mr. B is vivacious and always very positive, and very talkative. He also know many people, not limited to Singapore but another country. He will always have the initiative to catch up with friends or business associates over phone or “kopi”. He is also not shy to ask for help, and of course he is also helpful and willing to share, if you ask him for help.


After he resigned, we met. He was not at all worry, and told me things happened and just have to move on. Also, he will DEFINITELY NOT do nothing and will always have plans to do something. Since out of job, he also started to make contacts with many people within the industry and catch up with many people over coffee after the circuit breaker. He also worked ad-hoc without income but on commission basis for people in the industry while without a job. At least he is doing something.


One major shortcoming in Mr. B is perhaps his rather short stint in his professional career. That said, it did not stop him from landing a perfect job under the current circumstance.


Just last month, he found a job within less than half a year within the Energy sector. What is heartening to hear is that, he found a very good job in a reputable western company as a senior position guy. Furthermore, the company is supported by tens of billions dollar parent company and will stay intact during this crisis.


Mr. C – Nearing 60


Mr. C lost his job last year when his company met with financial difficulties within the oil energy sector. C is not as highly educated compared to the rest. He also have mostly local SME experiences. To me, he is the most “crippled” of the three.


Mr C is not the extremely energetic type and quite laid-back, perhaps due to his age. Despite that, he will always have initiative to Whatsapp and stay connected with people around him, all these years. Aside from his family, he also love playing “a particular ball sports” either with friends or with business associates.


Last year, his segment within the Oil and Gas sector is becoming extremely bad, and he was owed months of salary by his previous company too. Things are not looking bright and I was quite worry for him, as he is still very much in need of financial support for his family.


I wondered “How is he going to find a job without a degree, and with old age in the most dire segment within the oil and gas sector?”


Nonetheless, Mr. C seems less worried than I am, although he is the one losing his income. Then, a big surprise to me, was that he managed to find a job within less than 1-2 months last year as the same position, and probably the same salary range, in a decent sized SME, whose bosses are cash rich. Today, he is still in the same company.


Age and Education is NOT always the biggest barrier to find a job, with all other things being more or less that same among the 3 of my friends.


Attitude and confidence level is! Lack of reviewing oneself is also bad. The positive energy, vivacious nature and positive vibes within an individual is one very important consideration for the hirer. Positive energy also means “less suay (unlucky) things” will take place in your life.


The extrovert and talkative character, plus the initiative to call and arrange meet up with people around us, is also a testament of the positive drive and energy needed in a business development role. And this trait must be natural and within the person, without personal agenda, and not just saying “When I find a job, then I will definitely do that!”


In fact, catching up with friends/people are important when you are out of job. It is not just personal agenda of meeting people hoping they will recommend you jobs. This is not correct. It is distasteful to only catch up with people when you need something for yourself. On the contrary, it is genuine nature of thinking that friends are also important in your life that is helping to build positive energy. It is the joy of being together.


Make sure you catch up more with people who can provide the positive vibes. It can also help to ward off the negativity. 2 negative people together = more negativity. 1 negative person + 2 positive people = more positivity.


In addition to the above-said, if you only have a life centred around yourselves and your immediate family, without any hobby to speak of, and mostly low in energy, then subconsciously, you may be building BIG INTANGIBLE BARRIERS in achieving good life, let alone professional career.


My Wife Found a Better Job in Less than 2 Months - With My Advices! (Part 1). Her ex-Company Asked Her to Take 50% Paycut!


My Wife's Company Ask Her to Take 50% Paycut – What is My Advice?

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Rolf's Salary and Income Report Analysis – 2004 to c2020

Inspired by blogger friend Kevin of Turtle Investor, whom I hold high regards of in terms of his personality and his writings, I dug into my annual income tax return recently, and started to tabulate my salary and earnings. Over the years, I have seen many financial bloggers posted their Investment returns, but rarely have I seen anyone post their salary growth and be so transparent about it, except Kevin. 

Frankly, I have never posted the actual figures of my portfolio. Likewise in this article, I will not share my actual salary figures and total earnings. Alternatively, I will normalised my first  full year salary as 100 percent, and with the rest of the earnings benchmarked against it. You can have your own guess.


There are a few reasons for my lack of total transparency in this blog. First, I am still an employee, and it is a bit sensitive in my position to reveal who I am, publicly. Apologies. That said, I am not totally mysterious as I already met with several of the bloggers over the years. Until the day when I am totally on my own, I will reveal myself. Hope it is not too far away.


Secondly, I am quite cautious to reveal actual figures, not solely because I may be seen as proud or big-headed, but I also do not wish to give the wrong motivation to readers. The motivation should never be material success. Instead, it should be the righteous attitude of self-learning, overcoming difficult times, improving oneself and thereby helping others along the way.



Above is my gross income chart from 2004 to 2020. Investment dividends and profits/losses realized are excluded. This can be covered in a separate post.


2020 income is an estimate (i.e. c2020). It is included as I am more or less guaranteed of my current job and is confident to achieve the forecast amount.


Chart representation:

  • Blue bar – Gross annual salary including CPF contributions from both employer and employee
  • Orange bar – Extra annual income generated from property(s) rental, giving tuition, writing etc.   
  • Red line – Total annual income i.e. Addition of salary and extra income.


Normalized to 2004 annual salary

The chart is normalized to 100% of my 2004 annual income. This arbitrarily means,

  • If my gross annual income in 2004 is 30K, then my additional income is 0.13 x 30K = 3.9K. And my 2008 total income will be 5.0 x 30K = 150K p.a. And, if my gross annual income in 2004 is 60K, then my additional income is 0.13 x 60K = 7.8K. And my 2008 income will be 5.0 x 50K = 250K p.a.




Exponential growth of salary 2004 to 2010

Year 2004 to 2010 saw exponential growth in my salary of more than 600%. This exemplifies the growth of my human capital in climbing the career ladder. In fact, in less than 5 years since 2004, my salary rose phenomenally by close to 5-folds.


I must admit that the sector boom during this period helps. Yet, it is not entirely luck and timing. Behind every success, there is always an unseen hardwork, sacrifice and perseverance. One sacrifice I made was health deterioration accompanied by ridiculously high workhours. I was hospitalized and it led me to learn about priority in work. In turn, it gave rise to my efficient and balanced time management today.


Sustainability 2010 to 2020

From 2010 to c2020, my per annum total income averages at 615 percent (normalized), while annual salary averages at 547 percent (normalized) in the same period. Income fluctuation is also not excessive. This shows the ability to sustain stable income over a period of more than ten years and not just opportunistic growth. I have seen opportunistic peers, lauded with promotion and pay-rise during boom time, but when the crisis come, they were not spared from the catastrophic crash and firing.  

Additional income 2011 to 2020

From 2004 to 2008, my additional income is mainly from private tuition, something I enjoy doing for more than decade. From 2010 onwards, I started to grow my additional income, by acquiring additional property to have rental income. There is also ad-hoc income from professional writing. I also started to invest in stocks to have additional taps of income. This income is not reflected in the chart though. The capital to invest in extra property and stocks is only possible because of the exponential growth of my salary in earlier years. Hence, I will like to emphasize the importance of human capital!




The “transparent grey” boxes depict period of crises, namely 2009-2010 GFC, 2015 Oil Crisis, and 2020 Covid pandemic and Oil crisis.  In a short span of my career, I had experienced three of the worst crises in the history of mankind and in the oil and gas segment.


Yet, it is interesting to note from the chart, that I tend to do best during crises, complemented with highest earnings. I learn that one important ingredient to be resilient during crisis, is to be very conscientiousness before the crisis or during the good times. This is something that many people fail to realise. In the Bible, Joseph save the entire country of Egypt, by imparting God’s wisdom during their best harvest year, advising the people not to over-spend but to save for one of the worst crises ahead, seven years later.




There are a few important reasons on my income trend.


Focus on Human Capital

I wasn’t a financial blogger or stock fanatics back from 2004 to 2010. It allows me to have full dedication to build my human capital in my career without any distraction, thereby growing my salary. During this period, I also traveled around the world for work and gain invaluable experience and friendships that money cannot buy.


While it is good to be financial savvy as early as possible, it is also important not to over-dedicate your early career years into earning extra ad-hoc income, neglecting the building of your human capital for career or for your own business.


You can do the math. Is quickly growing your monthly salary 5-6 or more folds and keep it sustained, a faster way towards financial freedom or just waiting for your dividends to compile, when you have so little to start with?

The lesser you have, the more you accomplish

Both myself and wife have zero family financial support since the nineties. In fact, it is the other way around where we have to support our parents. Even our poorest friends’ parents we know, will at least have a small HDB to divide among them and their siblings. Or they will have at least parents’ CPF to help them in their studies. We have no parental support, not in the past, present, nor in the future.  When we have nothing, there is a larger impetus to strive harder. It is the theory of the opposite! The lesser the provision, the more we accomplish! The more we are being provided for, the lesser we work and earn.


The more you give, the more you have

My father and my most respected auntie are both very poor financially. However, the type of people they hated most, when they were still alive, are those who are very “niao” (or stingy), saving on themselves at the expense of others. This is something I remember vividly and always remind myself to be generous to those in need. When my financial ability become stronger, a part of my income will always be giving away to the needy.




The explosive income growth during the early part of my career does give me an extra edge, in my financial management effectiveness today. Nonetheless, the importance of it, is not just the money earned, but the knowledge and experiences gained, and the friendships developed, which can translate to long term sustainable wealth.


In the last decade, while the ability to maintain my income level is a good thing, on the hindsight, there is limited growth in my salary. This is probably due to my distributed focus in growing and managing my family, as well as time devoted in my own portfolio investment outside office hours. I hope to change this in the next decade, as I look to grow my total income with a steeper positive gradient.


There are times when I feel that, the more we manage to grow our investment portfolio or dividend income, the more it will impede our salary or career growth and limit our human capital. Somehow, there may exist a hidden arrogance in our work attitude. We will probably look at our boss and think, “I do not need this job anyway. I am rich and have a big enough investment portfolio, and will retire very soon”.


This type of self-aggrandizing attitude will not carry us far in life.  It is those who can overcome crises or work-related problems “even when they have a choice” who are really going to excel in life.


While I am an advocate of financial literacy at early age, I also urge all readers (including my own children) and those who are newer in the workforce, to also consider spending more time to invest in your human capital. In the early years of our career, it is better to focus on learning to increase our knowledge and expertise as well as to build our soft skills, that includes good interpersonal, communication and presentation skills, and the ability to develop good relationships even with the most difficult people.


Also, unless you only want to serve the small local market only, it is better to have a job that can give us as much exposure as we can, in a regional or even global level. The regional experiences and interactions with foreigners understanding their countries' cultures, can broaden our mindset and expand our horizon. These attributes will definitely be useful in the later stages of our life.


Friday, 21 August 2020

Good Investment Means Owning Good Stock/Asset - True or False?

On 18 June, 2020 I wrote an article “Will Silver Explodes in Price?”  when gold-silver-ratio is close to100 and Silver per oz cost USD17.3.




A reader commented on my post and that such story of Gold/Silver ratio still exist!


The reader also shared his blog post on 2018, how he regretted buying into silver at 14+ USD and Gold, after his ORD in 2009 with no dividends and yet having to pay storage fees. And how he never looks back liquidating Gold/Silver completely on 2014/2015 and enter into SGX stocks that gave him handsome return and achieving his stock milestone of 100K. By the way, his blog post was written in July 2018, and his 100K milestone was in Jan 2018 when STI is at all time high of more than 3,500.


In less than 2 months now from his comments, Silver rises from USD17 topping at USD29 and Gold reaches all time high of USD2,000 per oz. Consider that back in late 2014/2015, Silver is ~USD15 per oz, and Gold is at 1,200 per oz, the return in USD terms today will have been 170-190%.  Furthermore, the exchange rate of USD to SGD is at 1.25 back then, while dollar appreciated another 8-9 per cent now.


Hence, if the reader did not sell his Gold and Silver, his return will have been ~200% in less than 5-6 years, less the storage fees. In stark contrast, STI tumbles more than 25 per cent from above 3,500 in 2015 to approximately 2,500 today, if we disregard the dividends.




Disclaimer: I am by no means trying to mock or avenge on the reader. In fact, I am thankful that he read my article and have the courage and transparency to share his experience, and blog identity.


The point I am trying to make is that, for most times, the reason for our poor investment is not solely because the stock or asset we buy is “lousy”.


The same is with a failed marriage, is not because the husband or the wife is “lousy”.

Likewise, your career is not great is not always because your company or your superior is “lousy”.


Have we ever thought of ourselves as the MAIN CULPRIT of our failures?

Anyway, we are the one who make the choice of the purchase. We are the one who make the solemn vow to say “I do”. And, nobody forces us to accept the job in the first place.




Most amateur investors lack faith and long-term patience.


We measure investment win within a short period of time. Yet, most claim that they are investors, and not traders. We want to see short term returns, sometimes as short as within months.


We are emotionally affected by the rise and fall of asset prices. Immediately after we purchase the stock, if price goes up and we are in extreme good mood! We start to feel proud about ourselves, and think that we some stock guru. We feel invincible! Then, if the stock price fall after our purchase, we feel lousy and blame the stock as “stupid”.


We tend to forget the reason why we buy the stock in the first place! Our faith in the company’s fundamental is clouded by the movement of the share prices.


Remember: The best investment is those with sound long term fundamentals and how you are able to hold them over long term.




Another reason for bad investment is the lack of understanding of the asset.


For instance, I buy gold and silver as a hedge. I envisage that when there is a crisis of depressed stock price and, the precious metals prices rise, then I can rebalance my portfolio. In this manner, I am not trapped in a single directional movement of asset prices.  


Unlike the reader who comment about the myth of gold-silver ratio, my investment in gold and silver back in 2014/2015 gave me good returns today. I am not proud of the winnings, neither am I boasting, but I am grateful to be able to hold on, for so many years. Also, the reason for my initial purchase, which is as a hedge to crisis, had usefully materialised today.




Many will think that, I invest or blog, solely because of earning money. It is not true. I love learning more about investment because it teaches me a lot about life and success and failure of businesses. Investment also help me to build my character, and allows me to learn more about the history of money, and the history of global financial system.


Rolf’s investment philosophy (Part 1) - Building a character!

Rolf’s investment philosophy (Part 2) – Understand the business!


And the further back I am able to look into the past, the farther forward I am able to look into the future, so as to prepare, to anticipate and not be caught in crisis, like now.




Towards the end of 2017 early 2018, the most talked about investment topic was the buying of crypto-currency. The news of Bitcoin is everywhere. Even aunties and uncles talked about it. My wife who knew nothing about investment told me about Bitcoin (BTC) and how her colleagues and friends mentioned to her.


Many people invested into Crypto during the frenzy and lose money after that.


In Mar 2019, I was talking to my child’s classmate’s parent about how unloved Bitcoin was, and with a very attractive price to buy.  He told me he was burnt with big losses in 2018 and will never touch Crypto again.


I bought into BTC early Mar 2019 and realise my profit this year.


Read: Bitcoin, Then & Now – Loving the unloved?




To many who bought into Keppel and Sembcorp in the past few years, and is reeling with paper losses may have think that both stocks were their worst investments.


However, to some, like CW8888, these two stocks are part of his all-time favourite stocks, that may have even help to pay off his children’s university school fees.




To conclude, good investment does not entails good stock/asset picking alone. It requires more than that. 

I feel that there are many Singaporeans who are very smart and have a lot of potential to do well. Most of us, especially the younger-Gen are more opinionated today, have good analytical skills, resourceful in research, having good communication and writing skills (especially “keyboard”) etc.


Nonetheless, there are room for improvement for most of us, when it comes to faith, patience, perseverance and endurance. Together with humility and acknowledgement of mistakes, these are very important factors for successes in life, marriage, parenthood, career, wealth etc.


I also feel that we as a nation has become more conceited by short term and small successes. Constructive criticisms have a much lesser place in Singaporeans nowadays. Sometimes, if there is no one telling that we are wrong, we can never have the required feedback loop to improve the system.

Read: Three important traits that most retail stock investors need to have for good success


Do not be muddled by Short-Term successes. It is over the Long-Term, weathering through several crises, that truly set apart the winners and the losers, through Faith, Patience and Perseverance. And it is over the very long term that you can really look back at your good memories.



Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Warren Buffett Adapts to the New Normal and Joins the Gold Rush

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BH) joins the gold rush by buying into one of the largest gold mining companies, Barrick Gold Corp, spending USD563 million.


Ok… all fairness to Oracle of Omaha that BH is buying into a gold mining company and not really the actual gold itself. That said, what is the good of buying the shares of a gold mining company when you think that gold price will fall?


Anyway, it is not the first time WB contradicts himself. He used to shun away from Tech stocks, but today, Apple is the largest holding of BH. Airline stocks weren’t his favourite in the past, but he bought it, and then sold it during the pandemic this year. He also dump his favourite bank stocks recently.


Yes, Buffett contradicts, but I think he is wise to accept that he make mistakes, and adapt to the new normal.




Buffett use to denounce gold as a "cube" that doesn't do anything but sit there and look at you. In his 2011 shareholder letter, he wrote as below,  


“Gold, however, has two significant shortcomings, being neither of much use nor procreative. True, gold has some industrial and decorative utility, but the demand for these purposes is both limited and incapable of soaking up new production. Meanwhile, if you own one ounce of gold for an eternity, you will still own one ounce at its end.”


“Today the world’s gold stock is about 170,000 metric tons. If all of this gold were melded together, it would form a cube of about 68 feet per side. (Picture it fitting comfortably within a baseball infield.) At $1,750 per ounce – gold’s price as I write this – its value would be $9.6 trillion. Call this cube pile A.


Let’s now create a pile B costing an equal amount. For that, we could buy all U.S. cropland (400 million acres with output of about $200 billion annually), plus 16 Exxon Mobils (the world’s most profitable company, one earning more than $40 billion annually). After these purchases, we would have about $1 trillion left over for walking-around money (no sense feeling strapped after this buying binge). Can you imagine an investor with $9.6 trillion selecting pile A over pile B?


In fact up to recent times before Covid, Buffett is still a non-believer of Gold.




On the contrary, Ray Dalio said in 2012 as follows:


"I think gold should be a portion of everyone's portfolio to some degree because it diversifies the portfolio. It is the alternative money,"


When asked of Dalio if Buffett is wrong about not owning gold back then, he said,


"I think he's making a big mistake."


Nonetheless, Dalio admits that in the long term, gold is not the best investment because it's an alternative to cash, although he feels that everyone should own at least a little bit of gold as a useful hedge.




In fact, I still read lately from local investors/writers who idolised Buffett (blindly) totally denouncing any usefulness of the yellow metal or even silver metal in investing, citing Warren Buffett’s negative quotes on gold many times. Perhaps after the news of Buffett’s joining the gold rush, you will hear no one citing Buffett’s discouraging quotes on gold anymore.  

To be honest, you cannot actually compare “apple to apple” Gold and Stocks or Dow’s return over the years. Both are different asset classes. Furthermore, Dow started more than a century ago, while Gold only de-pegged from the dollars in the 1970 with loose monetary policy at its insanity after the 2009 GFC.




To me, Ray Dalio is the investor can see things more clearly. Ray’s ideology and economic principles also make more sense to me. He tends to see the bigger picture better, and also have the insight into the future, learning from the what has happened in the past.


He also has a fantastic all rounded life, at least up to now, with success in almost every aspects of life – Health, Family, Wealth, Charity etc. I also like the fact that Dalio is very transparent and extremely humble in interviews. He loves to share the good things in his life to others via the books he wrote, and the Youtube videos he created and posted.   


I also do like Warren Buffett a lot. I have read his biography “Snowball” and several other books from him. He is a humble, kind hearted and warm.  


But sometimes I think people tends to blindly idolise Buffett because he is the richest and the most successful investor of all time. And people just conveniently use Buffett or Graham investment style to “teach others” being the easiest way to earn money or a name for themselves, so that newbies will see them as expert.


We have to remember that Buffett at 90 y.o. has a longer investment journey, when he started investing at the age of 11 y.o., compared to many other investors. I am not discrediting Buffett’s investing expertise. Who am I to do that?  But it is a fact that Buffett was born at the right place at the right time for investment, when USA saw the boom of the century!


Frankly, I think WB is wise enough at the age of 90 to adapt to the new normal of the world. Like Buffett, I think we should learn to put away our past stubbornness, accept the new world normal and adapt to it. Above all, keep on learning from mistakes and correct ourselves to improve.




Silver Explodes Past USD22 Per Oz, and Gold Surges!

Understand the divergence of Physical versus Paper precious metals? Where and how gold and silver is traded, and what determines its price.

Gold and Silver – Things you need to know before investing (Part 1)

Gold and Silver – A peek into history to understand its impact on the world monetary system (Part 2)

Gold and Silver – History always repeat itself (Part 3)

Ray Dalio’s Concepts of All-Weather Portfolio and Holy Grail Investing

Ray Dalio - The Man Behind The Economic Machine!

The 5 stages of an empire - Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio’s Exceptional Insight!

Warren Buffett talks about Great Depression - Nobody knows what the market is going to do tomorrow

Monday, 17 August 2020

Frugal is Good, but Cheap is Not! Give Freely and Become Wealthy; Be Stingy and Lose Everything!

There are many stories told in the financial blogosphere on how we can minimise our expenses. While keeping expenses low is one of the great virtues, there is fine line between “Frugal and thrifty” and “Cheap and stingy”.



Frugal and thrifty people, live simply and use their money and resources carefully and not wastefully. They prioritize in spending, so that they can have more of the things they care about. They will never save at the expense of others and they are generous and helps the needy. 


Value over money

For example, as I become more financial savvy from 2012 onwards, I have been more conscious about my expenses, even though my income has not reduced. I tracked my household expenditure on a monthly basis and cut down the amount and frequency of lavish spending. This led to the selling of my firsthand conti-car, replaced by cheaper second-hand Japanese car. I rarely changed my household appliances, or personal gadgets only when they are not working. Spending on expensive apparels and in high-end restaurants reduced greatly too, only on special occasion. There is also neither renovations nor upgrades of my house since then.



That said, it does not mean that I don't spend and are saving every cent. Instead my priority in spending is more on my family members, health, investment portfolio, friends, and also hobbies I love that coincidently does not cost that much. It does not mean that I will not buy a better car later, nor visit good restaurants anymore, nor buy expensive goods. It simply means, I am more conscious about the value return over the cost I pay, and I have better priority in my spending, depending on which stage of the life I am in.  


Be generous and charitable

Also, we ought to be generous to the needy and contribute to the society. I started donating since my university school days even though I am poor. Over the years, my charitable expenditure also increased greatly despite my rising expenses as a result of the enlargement of my family.


Personally, I always have extreme empathy for less fortunate children and the visually handicapped. Hence, perhaps a suggestion is for you to be a child sponsor via Worldvision and donations to SAVH via Giving.SG.


During CNY, it is not necessary to be over calculative on Ang Pow money, such that you will calculate into every details to make sure you have net inflow or at least breakeven. They are your relatives and friends, and the people you are giving to are the kids or the elderly. Even if the parents are the one keeping the money, there is no need to be bitterly calculative. This is because...


"The misers will end up poorer, if not now, but one day. And even if they keep their wealth, they will not be able to keep their health or their relationships, or their children will be divided and chaos will find way into their homes."




Cheap and stingy people love to save money at all cost and at all instances. They are always thinking about how much it costs. They feel a sense of achievement when they save costs. This is even if it is at the expense of others, or at the expense of losing value, or losing their precious time. They are also generally selfish and self-centred and only care about themselves and their immediate family.


There at times when they appear generous, but they don’t really mean it. Even when they pray, it is always for, “me, my wife and my children, full stop and no-more!” They live in their own world and are unaware of the outside world or simply don’t care. Their thinking are narrow minded. All they care about are themselves. They think that issues that matters to their family and them, are the only important things in this world.


Save at the expense of others

The most hateful are those who count every single cents, at the expense of others. For example, you may recall having a friend who always never pay for his drinks or food when there is a gathering. He or she find joy when others pay their bills, as many times as possible.  How about, those kind of people who always wanted to save on their transport, but always asking others for a lift even if the far distance totally make no sense. However, when they drive, they will never offer anyone a lift, even if it is on the way, or not too far away.  


Eventually losing more

I have known many “Kiam Siap”, selfish and self-centred people, who only cares about themselves and their immediate family who will never lose even a dime on others. These are the people who may lose even more money than the small money they saved by being stingy on others. Somehow they may see more accidents, more health related expenses, or have more disputes etc, giving rise to unexpected several ad-hoc high expenses, that outweighs the money they try to save for themselves.


I believe that when you try to save money for yourself at the expense of others, Heaven always a way for you to lose even more than what you hideously save.


Penny wise but pound foolish

Buying cheap stuffs may seem good upfront, but it can also be not as reliable at times. Safety can even be compromised! The cheap stuffs may break down more often, and require repairs or replacements which are even more expensive eventually. Queuing for hours just to save a few dollars, is also not wise, because time is money. The amount of time wasted can easily be translated into useful learning to increase knowledge or improve relationships socially, that can possibly give much valuable gains in the longer term.




Car gives me more time for family and friends

For me, having a car is very important, as I not just need it in my work, but it also help me to reduce a lot of time in commuting, which can give me more time in doing many other things I enjoy. I have a big family, and a car gives me more quality family time. This is when all of us are singing and talking in the car, without worrying about public opinions.


Convenient of travel with a car also provides me with higher frequency of social gatherings. This expands my social network and deepens my relationships with people around me. Of course, gatherings can be at home and be sure to be generous in your house offerings of food or goodie bags for kids.


Do NOT have an agenda for being generous

As long as we are generous at all times, whenever we are in need of help, there will always be unrequested helping hands available for it. Be assure that this will happen, whether from people around us, or from unexpected miraculous events by the almighty.  


Yet, do bear in mind that you should not have an agenda for being generous. This reminds me of the teaching of one rich man. He said, “we should buy lunch for people who are more knowledgeable, richer and who have or can helped us in our career.”


This kind of ideology is DISGUSTING! We should extend our helping hands to all people of different social classes and not just for those who can help us to profit in future.


Invest on your family and yourself

Invest on your family and children is very important. For example, I invested a lot of money for my kids’ sports enrichment such as table tennis and swimming, which gives them better health, better focus, discipline and perseverance. Their friends' network also expanded, giving them better ability to socialize and mingle with crowds, which will help them when they grow up.


With time spend on sports, they are less fixated to mobile phones, ipads or TVs. Too many times, I have seen electronic gadgets doing the majority of the parenting of kids rather than the parents themselves.  

Last but not least, we need to invest on ourselves too and set aside money on books or courses that can improve our knowledge and wisdom. Spending on hobbies and holidays should not be avoided too, just to save costs! We need leisure or holiday to recharge our minds and bodies.




Give freely and become wealthy,

Be stingy and lose everything.

The generous will prosper,

while those who trust only in money will fall eventually.


Before I go, I was reminded of my 2015 Fujian trip when I met with Mr. K, who come from one of the richest families in Asia.


Fujian Trip (Part 2) - A Pleasant Encounter with Mr. K in the Air


Mr. K lost 40 millions during the 1997 crisis, and was mounted with debts to be repaid by himself without the help of anyone. While many will be so brooded by the repayment of debts, Mr K did more charitable work instead. He realized that his debt problem is a wake-up call for him to start contributing to the society.


Therefore, for every 10k earned, he will donate 5k to charity. At one time he told me that he donated so much money to charity that all his friends started to ponder that he must be extremely rich. On the contrary, Mr. K showed the friend his bankbook which was still 18 millions of net liabilities. His friends could not believe it! Today Mr. K had cleared his debt. 


The joy derived from charity, matters more than anything! 




Is Work Life Balance Only For the Financially Freed?

Work Life Balance - Part 2: Choice, Discipline & Desire

Yahoo News: 8 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Li Ka Shing, The Richest Man In Hong Kong


Saturday, 15 August 2020

I Finally Made My Will and LPA – It Is So Important!

Last month, after almost a decade of first saying I want to make my will, I finally did it. Thanks to a close friend who end of last year reiterated to me, the importance of it. 

I have made my Will and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) at PKWA Law firm. My lawyer is a very friendly, informative, and accommodating, and without any air. I paid SGD500 for the Will and SGD300 for the LPA. Now there is a promotion probably due to the Covid with a promotional price of SGD590 for both.

By the way, you must be at least 21 y.o. to make the Will and LPA.




It is so important to make your Will and LPA, so that you are clear to your Beneficiary(s), and also that your Executor(s) or Donee(s), can have a faster authority to act on your behalf. If you do not have a Will and LPA, decision on how to handle your assets, will be subjected to Public statutory acts which will take longer time to come into effect.


For instance, if you lose your mental capacity to make decision and you have not made an LPA, you next of kin will not automatically be your Donee. This means that your family members are not given the right to make legal decisions on your behalf. This can hinder the ability for them to care for you, as they may face challenges to manage your bank accounts, properties etc.


If you have not make a Will or LPA, the Public acts kick in, and the authorities will take a longer time to verify the legal beneficiaries. For e.g. if you have an outstanding mortgage as sole-borrower,  there exist possibility that before the time whichever Public acts verify the legal beneficiaries, the bank may already claim default on your property mortgage repayments. Then the bank will have the right to foreclose your property.





·    Testator – the person making the will

·    Executor 1 - the person legally responsible for executing the will

·    Executor 2 – backup in case Executor 1 shall pre-decease.

·    Beneficiary – the person receiving the will

·    Legal guardian 1 – the person responsible for taking care of deceased's children below 21 yo.

·    Legal guardian 2 – the backup guardian in case Guardian 1 shall pre-decease.


The making of a will in Singapore is governed by the Wills Act (click here). 


·    The will must be written (or typed)

·    The will must be with testator’s and 2 witnesses’ signatures at the foot of the will. The 2 witnesses must be present to witness the signing of the will in the presence of the testator.

·    The 2 witnesses present must not be beneficiaries (person (s) receiving the asset(s) of the prepared will. (in my case, the two witnesses, are the two lawyers from the law firm.)


Executor can also be the beneficiary. Executors can be stated to act jointly or severally. Executor can also be the trustee, but trustee is not necessary is the executor.




Note: If you are the sole-proprietor of your Property with outstanding mortgage, the property it cannot be listed as your asset to distribute to your beneficiaries. The bank is still the owner of the house.


However, the Executor/Executrix can decide on behalf what he/she want to do with the Property(s).


1st Scenario: Your executor has access to your funds and it is sufficient to pay off the outstanding mortgage (immediately) to own the house. Or if there is an insurance payout, then it can be used to pay down the outstanding loan. 

o   For private properties, you can buy the Mortgage Reducing Term Assurance (MRTA) Insurance, if you are qualified.

o    For HDB flats, you are protected by the Home Protection Scheme (HPS) which is mandatory, which is like an insurance.

o    Note, however, that HPS is not mandatory for Executive Condos (ECs)


2nd Scenario: Your executor has access to your funds but not enough to pay off the mortgage. In this case, the most likely option is to sell the property and distribute the proceeds to the beneficiary/beneficiaries.


3rd Scenario: Your beneficiary/beneficiaries is/are able to assume the loans and continue with mortgage.


4th Scenario: Your beneficiary/beneficiaries is/are unable to assume the loans or pay mortgage, banks have the rights to fore-close the property. 


To understand more about what happen to the debts when you die, refer here.



·    CPF is not as part of will. 

·    In case you wanted to nominate a beneficiary, you need to do a CPF nomination.

·    Refer to CPF website (click here).

·   If you have NOT make a CPF nomination, your CPF money will be distributed via intestacy laws (i.e. law of a person passing away without will). For E.g NON-Muslims,


o   if you have a spouse and 2 children, you spouse will get half of your wealth, and your 2 children will equal portion of the other half.

o   If you have spouse (no child) and 2 parents, then you spouse will get half of your wealth, and your 2 parents will get equal portion of the other half.


Refer to Singapore Intestate Succession Act for more info (click here) or Moneysense website (click here)

·    For distribution via Intestacy laws will take time to locate the legally-entitled beneficiaries, and a fee will be payable to the Public Trustee's Office to make the distribution.




LPA allows you to appoint someone whom you trust (called the donee) to manage your finances and your welfare if you should suddenly become mentally incapacitated (certified by a doctor).  



·    Doner – The person making the LPA

·   Donee (s) – The person/people making decision of the Doner in case he/she lose his mental capacity to make decision.

·    Replacement Donee 1 – Backup to Donee in case Donee shall pre-decease.

·    Replacement Donee 2

·   You can choose what decision powers to grant to your donee(s). E.g. Personal Welfare, Property & Affairs or Both

·    If you have more than 1 donee, you can choose to have:

o   Jointly - donees have to act together, cannot act separately.

o   Jointly & Severally - donees can make decisions together or separately. Both types of decisions are valid.


Refer to MSF website (click here)


Differences between LPA, Power of Attorney and a Will.


·    LPA will only come into effect when you lose your mental capacity (not death).

·    Power of attorney allows your Attorney to act on your behalf when you still have mental capacity.

·    Will come into effect, only after death.


If you do not make an LPA, and subsequently lose your mental capacity to make certain decisions,


·    the Mental Capacity Act allows someone else to apply to the Court to either:

o   make the specific decisions for you, or

o   appoint one or more persons to be your deputy to make a decision for you.

·    Refer to Mental Capacity Act (click here)





Upon preparation and completion of the will, you shall keep a copy of it in a safe and yet accessible place, and inform your executor(s) and your family about the will.


For LPA, the law firm will help you submit to Office of Public Guardian, and records are hold there.