Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Great Singapore Sale Stock Market Is Here Again

Every two to three years, we seemed to have a variety of the Great Singapore Sale in the stock market that are back and enticing investor's appetite to invest into the market.

With the STI index now down close to 20% from the recent peak, it appears to have given the cash investors another test to check their perseverance in whether they would succumb their hard cold cash into the market at this point. After all, what the cash investors are aiming are the huge once in a lifetime opportunities and not this sort of minor correction every two or three years.

That's what holding cash are for in the first place I assume.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), this is out of my bound as my allocation are mostly filled close to 100% of the time.

This is where folks are tinkering with ideas and excitement that I generally don't.

However, if you ask me, the best time to invest is where there are full of uncertainties surrounding the economy itself.

With the trade war unresolved, weak earnings guidance or the upcoming mid-term election, these are my "safe-haven" opportunities to invest. It is not when the market is doing all well that I started to put my money in.

With a long term horizon perpetually, it is difficult to see how investors would lose money if they invest in good quality companies. The only problem is if they buy it high enough with little margin of safety. Even so, time will reduce the average costs over time.

The best time to invest in any given market is now. 

You just need to keep adding on through your dividends quarterly when you receive them.

But there'll be lots of noises around when the market will bottom out from here.

It feels like a dejavu over again.

Thanks for reading.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Why You Should Try Out Purchasing Your Stuff From IUIGA?

Following my last week's article on some of the savings strategies I used for buying groceries, I'll be sharing another of our favorite savings tips when it comes to buying some of our furnitures & fittings and lifestyle products.

About a year ago, my wife chanced upon a website called IUIGA, an online platform portal that sells many of the home essentials furnitures & fittings and lifestyle products that some of us may need depending on our lifestyle.

Back then, we wanted to hunt for a good travel neck pillow since we were heading to Taiwan a few months later and so we bought it online at IUIGA which came at a very affordable $16. As we do not travel on long haul flights very often (at least not yet), we were not willing to spend as much on such product.

However, when the product was delivered to our home, we were surprised by its quality. The pillow had a luxurious feel that to me is just as good or better than the ones you get at Muji or Travel Explorer that usually retails for more than $30.

Until today, we are still using it whenever we travel overseas and it has made our travels much more bearable on the plane.

While browsing the website, we also found another product that catches our eye and that is the bean bag which only retails at about $130. Compared to retailers outside, this was a steal given the amount of utilization we've used over the past year.

The quality of the bean bag cover was also good that it doesn't spoil even after we washed it a couple of times. The bean bag itself was also very comfortable when we sit on it.

We found it to be very comfortable especially when we are lying down watching our favorite television programme.

This retails outside for a lot higher
Apart from these things, they also sell other travel products which caught my attention such as the travel luggages, mother and baby products, kitchen essentials, beauty items and many more.

I've been wanting to buy this new hand carry luggage

As an investor myself, I've always been intrigued by how retailers try to price their product competitively in the market without compromising on quality.

Reading the IUIGA website gave me a clearer understanding of their business model as they obtain their products directly from Original Design Manufacturer (ODMs).

According to Wikipedia, an ODM is a company which designs and manufactures a product which is specified and eventually branded by another firm for sale. Such companies allow the brand firm to produce (either as supplement or solely) without having to engage in the organization or running of a factory.

These ODMs that IUIGA uses also manufacture for other renowed retailers like Samsonite, Muji and WMF to market their products at the mark-up they like.

Another thing I like about this online retailer is that they are very transparent about their pricing model, which states how much are their cost of goods and the margins they earn as compared to the other renowned retailers.

Given the prevalent competitive landscape of our retail players, I hope they will continue to thrive in this environment to provide consumers with great value for their purchases.

The next time you are looking for things to purchase or the upcoming Xmas present to exchange, you might want to try out IUIGA and sign up via my referral link here.

When you sign up, both of us will get a $10 (Min $100) off so it's a win win situation.

You might just like it as much as we do.

Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

What Happens to F.I.R.E When A Recession Strikes?

In the eyes of the world, F.I.R.E means not actively working which means you don’t get any sorts of income and have to depend on living off your passive income in order to survive. 

Many people that I know who’ve achieved F.I.R.E are either invested in: 

  • High Credit Rating Bonds – This applies to those whose capital is huge 
  • High Yielding Corporate Bonds – Lower ratings bonds offering higher coupons 
  • Equities – A Combination of Securities, Stocks or Reits 
  • Property – Rental Income 
Most of these assets are susceptible to recession which can severely hurts the value of these assets in our portfolio. 

And this is why most people gave this excuse about not pursuing F.I.R.E by not embracing them gracefully because they have this large misconception that a recession can destroy all that we’ve built.

You can see this reasoning prevalent in many cases in the comments section of many FIRE articles. 

Here, I want to debunk this myth and misconception that many people have over pursuing for F.I.R.E in the midst of a weak economy. 

Adjust Spending Flexibly 

First, most F.I.R.E folks have mastered the grasp of basic survival of spending. 

F.I.R.E folks are not ordinary people that you see on the shopping street. 

They have been trained mentally for long periods of their gestation survival moment throughout the course of their journey to reaching financial independence. 

These are people who can spend very little on their physical appearance, surviving a few months without Netflix, and probably a couple of years without buying new clothes. They can spend little on indulgences such as traveling or fine dining for peace with only books in their hands can give them enough comforts for long periods of time. 

What I am trying to say here is they have been mentally trained so well on their discretionary expenses that during a weak economy where earnings most likely drop, they are able to adjust their lifestyle as such and nothing drastic will happen. 

This is one of the strongest mentality of the F.I.R.E community. 

Assets Revert Back To Their Fair Value Over Time 

During recession, the most scary thing to experience is to visibly see your networth goes down by half the amount of its original value. 

Imagine working your socks off for 20 years and saving a hard stash of $30k every year until you’ve accumulated $1m, and then the moment of truth came which brings down your networth back to $500k. It is almost inevitably that in everyone’s mind they will start thinking the repercussion effect of a recession. 

Some may think that they have to return to the workforce to work for longer period in order to re-accumulate back that $500k that they “lost” during recession while some may start to play mentally in their mind how scary recession is that they can wipe out 16 years ($500k/$30k) of savings in a single year. 

Many people have this thinking that having the most warchest or cash during recession is the key to survive, but they are not. 

The key to survive a recession is to have the strongest mental. 

While it is true that a recession can cause an asset to drop drastically in their market value, for most of the case, they will rebound back once the cycle is over, assuming it is a strong quality asset. 

All you have to do is to stay mentally strong, continue to pick up good companies during this turbulent times and you’d come out not only unscathed but might even benefit in this recession period. 

A recession cannot destroy a folk with a F.I.R.E ambition. 

Only one with a weak mental will self-destruct during times when everybody is fleeing. 

Stress Test For Worst Moment 

A recession is also a good stress test for those with F.I.R.E ambition because it throws you so many bad scenarios from all angles and test your perseverance and determination. 

Imagine you are one of those being laid off without a job during recession, it is indirectly testing your financial strength to see if you have enough emergency funds as a back up to survive during these periods where you don’t receive any income. 

If you are folks in the F.I.R.E community and own a diversified portfolio of stocks in your fund, your company might also most likely cut dividend during these times to stash some cash as opportunities and hence you might be impacted by the lesser amount of dividend received. Again, this is a stress test to see if you, as a F.I.R.E community, have baked in sufficient margin of safety when you decide to achieve F.I.R.E before the recession. 


If you can survive the recession without impacting much of your cashflow scenario, then you are definitely in a good stead towards achieving permanent F.I.R.E. You are probably one of those in the FAT F.I.R.E scenarios where you have baked in a lot more room for margins error. 

For those who are like me and are barely on the Lean F.I.R.E status, I think it also serves a good purpose in stressing how much of what we can absorb and take in during these times and if not, we can work harder to give ourselves a more comfortable figure before deciding to F.I.R.E. 

The idea here is also that F.I.R.E is not a static moment. 

Things can always change, ideas can always evolve and goalpost can always move. 

We just need to be flexible with our adjustment and do not be afraid nor give excuse about the underlying external events which are unrelated to us.

Thanks for reading.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

What People Misunderstood About My Combo Savings Strategy

When my recent article got published on Yahoo Money Matters (Link Here if you are interested), there were many attacks remarks on the comments section and also on the social media and hardwarezone forum in particular to the way I save on things.

They think that by being able to get to where I am today, I must have scrimped on things so badly in order to amass such a high percentage of savings even though I am the sole breadwinner of the family and our family have two young children.

At least 50% of the crowd thinks the maths doesn't add up, or they must think I live a misery life that I am missing out on most of the "fun" things in life.

The other 50% of the crowd thinks I must have a high income equivalent to a scholar working for the government.

Everywhere on the comments was an assault.

Almost none was complimentary or at least try to believe that it is true.

That is where I know that we here in the financial blogosphere are the minority outlier who believes things can happen for a reason.

There are many people who I felt had misunderstood when I say that we have to be aware on the things that we buy in order to accumulate more savings at our end.

Savers folks like us do not scrimp on non-discretionary items that we have to spend on.

We spend by being smart about buying them and looking for every value that we can buy.

For instance, I have two young kids at home who obviously need the most important things in their lives right now - Diapers and Milk Powders.

That doesn't mean we do away without them by depriving them of these things but rather we try to source for these items that have the same quality yet cheaper alternative.

In my earlier years for instance, I would buy them over at our neighbourhood country whenever we visited JB on the weekends when we had our short trip travel. With a strong SGD equivalent when  converted to Ringgit, the price that we pay for these items would have halved the amount that we pay in Singapore for the same imported items.

We did the same whenever we had the chance for our frequent travel to Bangkok.

Over the past few months where we did not travel anywhere, we would purchase them through Redmart, an online grocery shopping portal which takes the inconvenience out of the way for us for bulky items like rice, oil, tissue roll paper, diapers, etc.

To add spice to the convenience deal, we also sprung up a few combo savings strategy which resulted in very decent savings at the end of the day.

1.) The first is through logging in to Shopback, a great e-commerce online shopping platform that partners with so many merchants that you literally have to use them.

p.s: if you are a first time user, you can sign up using the link here and immediately redeem yourself a $5 reward start.

$230.89 - That is the amount of cash rebates I get in recent months through my routine mandatory item purchases
2.) Once I logged into my Shopback, I will activate the rebate to get into Redmart and does my routine shopping option. 

I usually choose bulky items such as rice (they have a great japanese rice at affordable price which I highly recommend), oil and diapers which I am too lazy to carry outside since we are car-less people.

Redmart often has a promo-tie with Citibank credit card which you are entitled to around 8.8% off your spend ($12 off with minimum $135 spend). Again, I buy mostly items that can last a few months ahead so I just store and add them up accordingly.

CITIUP12 - My favorite code
3.) In addition to the above, by being smart about using the right credit card and in the above case Citibank card, I'll get an additional 8% cashback that goes back into my citicard (see tie-up link above).

4.) Last but not least, Redmart also has a partnership tie-up with Live-Up where it gives you further perks benefits by just signing up an account with them. They currently have a free 60 days trial with a free 2 months Netflix if you sign up an account with them, after which you'd be charged $28.80/year.

But just look at the savings I have over the past month with them, it's easily over $50 and I have redeemed my initial charges with them.

My Combo Savings Strategy

My final purchase would look something like this:

I purchased something that's worth around $135 (you will get around the same amount if you purchase them at your usual grocery stores) and get the below combo savings deducted:

$135 x [1% (through Shopback for existing Redmart customer) + 8.8% (Citi promo tie-up on almost every Cyber-Tuesday) + 8% (additional Citi cashback reward) + 5% (Live-up) = $30.78

This translates to a savings of about 22.8% for almost every time I purchased via Redmart over the past few months.

My Combo Savings Strategy
Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, savings is about being smart about buying things.

The first being able whether to segregate between discretionary vs non-discretionary items.

And the second to the extent of being able to extract the most value out of the things that you buy.

That's how I get my relatively high savings rate even until today, we save what we need to save and not what most people misunderstood by being stingy on things.

I hope that gives some clarification about things.

Thanks for reading.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

What Would You Do For 10% Raise In Salary?

I stumbled upon this article (Link Here) which they gathered about 1,200 Americans people to survey what would these people give up in order to get a 10% immediate raise in their salary. 

The question is of course, hypothetical in nature and by no means reflects an opinion which we might personally have it ourselves but I thought it’s still an interesting exercise to ponder about just for fun. 

To add some spice to this, I’ve picked up a few questions which I thought was interesting to have, and I have added my own opinions on the questions. 

You can let me know your own thoughts in the comments below. 

Working Related

1.) 55.9% would work an extra 10 hours per week for life 

B: To be frank, an extra 10 hours per week isn’t exactly a lot because it translates into about 2 hours per day which technically means you are working for about 10 hours in total. This is probably the reason why most would go for it given that they are probably already doing that. For me, I wouldn’t vote for this because I am literally buying an extra time with money, which I am already deprived of for most of the day. Working an extra time means lesser time to do other activities that we love and this is not in line with the financial independence concept that I pursue. Of course, if you are already doing the work that you love, then this just adds a spice dimension to it and I don’t see why not. 

2.) 50.4% would work one day every weekend for the next year 

B: This is not much different from the question above given that you are essentially buying time for money with the only exception that you only have to do it for a year and that’s it (compared to the above where you have to work for life). Literally speaking, the majority of these people who have voted yes for this could have find a weekend job and work for it. It doesn’t make sense for them to wait for the reality to kick in. Personally for my case, I wouldn’t vote for this as well because weekends are my treasure days where the family could be together doing common activities. 

3.) 15.27% would give up all of their paid vacation days for the next five years 

B: Generally speaking, we have about 14-18 paid leave in a calendar year so from a mathematical point of view, the monetary benefits seem to favour the give up. Plus, this is only for the next 5 years so essentially you can resume back your paid leave after that. Again, personally for me, I wouldn’t go for it because I usually utilized my paid leave for quite a few activities that I am working on and they are priceless to me. 

Social Related

4.) 53.55% would give up all social media accounts (facebook, Instagram, twitter) for the next five years 

B: Wow, this is a hard one for me! I know that social media accounts are generally tabloids that are filled with the latest gossips in town or newsfeed of your friends happening but to be without them for the next five years is still too much to accommodate for me. No as well on this one. P.S: It’ll be interesting though to see how others might vote on this one. 

5.) 88.61% would give up watching Game of Thrones for life 

B: I'm game for this one. I am not a big fan of GOT personally and would readily give up for an extra 10% increase in my pay. Give it to me right now! 

6.) 43.86% would give up exercise for the next five years 

B: I need my exercise after sitting in the office for almost half of the day, especially on a weekend. No for me. 

7.) 73.42% would give up all alcoholic beverages for the next five years 

B: I think I can do with this one, though five years without alcohol does seem a bit odd weird taste in my mouth. My mouth will get itchy but it is something I can do without. 

Others Related

8.) 34.98% would give up the right to vote in all elections for life 

B: This is getting more to the political side. This is a bit of a hard one as well but I’d favour a yes on this one for the sake of that 10%! Do it before I change my mind! 

9.) 12.2% would break up with their partner or significant other 

B: I seriously don’t understand this. Why would anyone be willing to break up with their significant other for only a mere 10% increase in your pay? Surely your other significant half is worth more than 10% of your entire salary! Wake up please! 

Final Thoughts

Even though this is just a fun exercise, we can deduce what are the factors that are important to us in life. 

Most of the easy yes or no comes from the fact that we are already not valuing that, for example in my case above I have not watched a single episode of the GOT but what if someone who are a big fan of GOT would reply? It’s always harder when you have to weigh the sacrifice that you are already doing for something that you need. 

It’s also interesting to see if we change the question to maybe a higher amount, say for instance a million dollars instead of a mere 10% increase, would any of your answer have changed then.

Thanks for reading.

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