Friday, June 29, 2007

Dealing with Stress

Stress !!!!!!!! Stress !!!!!!!!! Stress!!!!!!!!!!

Step 1: Rearrange our Time
* Set goals and Prioritize
* Delegate some tasks
* Schedule time for breaks and relaxation

Step 2: Avoid negative Thoughts
* Negative thoughts make us nervous and depressed
* Avoid Mind Reading - Eg, My boss see me as lazy
* Avoid Perfectionist Thinking - Eg, I must be right 100%

Step 3: Learn to say "NO"
* We wants to be helpful, but sometimes we need to help ourselves first
* If we obliged to everything, we may become helpless and angry over time

Step 4: Limit stressful changes
* Eg, buy a car, house, marriage, baby, change job etc all at the same time

Step 5: Live a healthy lifestyle
* Proper diet, regular exercise, yoga, etc

Step 6: Get social support
* Try to find people who are non-judgemental, good listeners
* Build strong support with family, friends and social support groups

Thursday, June 28, 2007

When Bad Awi meets Loong (Part 1)

Bad Awi is from Malaysia, Loong is from a little red dot south.
Some where along the beach of Langkawi, north of the Straits of Malacca.

Bad Awi: How Loong?
Loong: Damn sian..

Bad Awi: Why u look depressed? U just got fantastic pay rise and now getting 3 over mil a year; that is 7 million ringgit, ok! Cheer up.
Loong: The salary thing? It almost cost me my job. I have to forego my own raise to appease the people...

Bad Awi: What!?! I thought your people are under firm control...
Loong: They normally ok lah... But my father lah...

Bad Awi: Ya man, your old man still garang ha. He talks tough to your people.
Loong: Talking about the old man; my blood boil. When Tong was around, he never let go. Said he had to keep an eye on Tong. But, he promised to leave me alone when I take over. Never! He never let go. He talk more than me.

Bad Awi: Ya ha. Some Malaysians think that he is still the PM.
Loong: Ya. You know what happened? When I receive foreign VIPs, u know what they ask me? They ask, "Mr Loong, how is your father PM Lee". I almost peng san...

Bad Awi: At least he is your father. Our MM, I mean Mah. Mohd and not even mini Mentor, is worse. At least your MM helps you, my MM is trying to sabo me...
Loong: So, what are we supposed to do today at Langkawi.

Bad Awi: We should work out a scheme to deal with the two MMs....

To be Continued...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Useful Hotlines

Just complied some useful numbers for you:

Police Emergency - 999
Fire - 995
Emergency Ambulance - 995
Non-Emergency Ambulance - 1777
Police Hotline - 1800 225 0000
Civil Defence - 1800 286 5555
Blackout - 1800 778 8888
Lift Malfuntion - 6275 5555
Gas, Water, Electricity problem - 1800 222 2333
Dengue Hotline - 1800 933 6483
Counselling Hotline - 1800 221 4444
Weather Forcast - 6542 7788
Pet loss / SPCA - 6287 5355

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My 2nd Rabbit - "Melody"

Melody was borned on 14th April 07. I adopted it from a friend. It arrived at my house on 31st May 07. It belongs to a breed calls "Mini Lop"

Mini Lops were derived from German lops called "Kleine Widder" lops. They are miniaturized versions of the Lop-eared Rabbit. Mini Lops were recognized as their own accepted breed in the United States in 1982.

The Mini Lop will stay smaller than a regular rabbit and makes a great pet for children. Not only are they very "huggable" and playful, they are known to be successfully litter-box trained.

Together with my 1st Rabbit "Lovely". They will make a "Lovely Melody" for my house.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Unit Trust (Part 4)

In this final part of my Unit Trust Series, I want to share my Methodology in Funds Selection.

Step 1: Knows your objective
* Capital Preservation = Lower Risk / More Bonds and Money Market component / Diversified Portfolio / More Defensive Funds
* Wealth Accumulation = Higher Risk / More Equities component / Can have more narrow focused funds

Step 2: Asset Allocation
* Decide % of equities and bonds you want in your portfolio
* Set aside some for liquidity such as Money Market, Cash Fund or Fixed Deposits

Step 3: Select Regions / Sectors / Countries
a) Identify Core Portfolio ~ 60% - 70% that mirrors the world indexes.
b) Identify Speculative Portfolio ~ 30% that focused into Countries, industries, sectors, etc
c) Identify Emergency portfolio ~ 0% - 10% to top-up in event of major market corrections. Can park in Cash or Money Market Funds

Step 4: Select the Individual Funds
* Once you select the regions, sectors, etc, you can identify funds based on
a) Reliable Historical Returns over 1, 3 and 5 yrs - Compare Peer Funds, Sharpe Ratio, etc
b) Reputable Investment Management
c) Funds which are Large and Diversified
d) Low Expenses Ratio

Step 5: Rebalancing
* Monitor and rebalance your funds periodically. Special scenerio calls might be made to reallocate assets and regions if necessary.

Funds selection is a delicate, yet complicating process which involves some level of skills and judgement. If you are not sure how to do it, you can also choose a simple option
* Buy into a Well Diversified Global Balanced funds with good track record and reliable managers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Unit Trust (Part 3)

How to measure Unit Trust Risk?
1) Standard Deviation of Returns
Measures the dispersion or spread of Unit Trust's Returns about its arithmetic mean returns.
* Higher Standard Deviation = Higher Risk
2) Beta
Measures the responsiveness of a Unit Trust's returns to changes in the returns on the market index.
Stock market has a beta equal to one. If UT has a beta greater than one, it means, its returns fluctuate more than the market

Unit Trust measures of Performance
3 common measures: Sharpe Ratio, Treynor Ratio and Jenson Ratio can be used. Sharpe Ratio is one that is more commonly used for UTs.
Sharpe Ratio
The Sharpe ratio tells us whether the returns of a portfolio are due to smart investment decisions or a result of excess risk. This measurement is very useful because although a fund can reap higher returns, it is only a good investment if those higher returns do not come with too much additional risk.
The greater the Sharpe ratio, the better its risk-adjusted performance

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Unit Trust (Part 2)

Why Invest in Unit Trust?
1) Risk diversified
Unit trust consist of many different stocks and bonds. If you owns $5,000 of UTs, you are actually owning a lot of different investments, not just 1 or 2.
2) Fund Management
You can engaged professional fund managers to choose the stocks or bonds to invest
3) Liquidity
You can buy and sell your UTs anytime. Unlike shares, you need to find a buyer.
4) Low Capital Requirement
With as low as $1,000, you can start an investment
5) Access of Foreign Financial Markets
You can buy into different countries, different sectors. Unlike stocks, you likely to buy only local ones.

Unit Trust Charges
1) Front End Charges (Bid-Offer Spread)
Payable whenever you first buy the UT. Usually 1% to 5% of the value of the fund at point of purchase
2) Switching Fee
Payable whenever you switch from one UT to another. Usually 1% for funds in the same management, 2.5% for funds in different management. Free if its an ILP.
3) Management Fee
This fee is paid to fund managers. Its usually around 0.5% to 2% of the total fund in management.
4) Other Expenses
Other operating expenses such as
Trustee Fee, Admin Fee, Custodian Fees, Advertising Fees, etc

(1) and (2) are the Charges on the Investors' end. They affects your starting invested funds.
(3) and (4) are the Charges on the Investment Fund. They forms the Expenses Ratio which will affects fund returns.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Unit Trust (Part 1)

Unit Trust is one of the most common form of investment in Singapore. We can use Cash, SRS, CPF Ordinary & Special Account to invest in it. It is perhaps the most accessible way for small investors to invest in Stocks and Bonds locally and abroad.

What exactly is Unit Trust?
Unit Trust is an investment scheme where a fund manager pools money from numerous investors to invest in a portfolio of assets such as money market instruments, bonds and stocks.
The investors pay a management fee to the fund manager in return.

Who are involved in a Unit Trust Arrangement?
a) Investors
Can be an individual, company or financial institute. They have the money and wish to maximise it. The investor obtains dividend income and capital gain if he is able to sell units at a higher price than the original purchase price
b) Investment Management Company
The Investment Management Company appoints fund managers to manage the portfolio of the Unit Trust. The fund managers monitors the financial market on a daily basis and pick the best securities to invest. They take care of the administration of the Unit Trust such as annual reporting, auditing and payment of dividends to investors
c) Trustee
Usually a financial institute that is independent of the investment management company. Their role is to safeguard the interest of the investors. They will check the fund managers regularly to ensure that the fund fulfils its investmnet objectives. They ensure proper accounting and strict audits to minimise fraud by fund managers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

3 CPF changes wef 1st Jul 07

Singaporeans and PRs have to keep more money in their CPF account wef 1st Jul 07.
No wonder people says that
CPF = Cash Prior Funeral...

Higher CPF Minimum Sum
* Increased from $94,600 to $99,600.
The new amount will apply to CPF members who turn 55 between 1 July 07 and 30 June 08. CPF members who set aside the $99,600 fully in cash will receive a monthly payout of $790 from age 62 for about 20 years.

Higher Medisave Minimum Sum
* Increased from $28,000 to $28,500
Members will have to set aside this amount, or the actual Medisave balance, whichever is lower, in their Medisave Account, when they withdraw their CPF at or after 55 years old.

Higher Medisave Contribution Ceiling
* Raised from $33,000 to $33,500
This is the maximum balance each member may have in his Medisave Account.
Any Medisave contribution in excess of the prevailing MCC will be transferred to the Special Account if he is below age 55.
If he is above age 55, the Medisave contribution in excess of the prevailing MCC will be transferred to his Retirement Account if he has a Minimum Sum shortfall.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Anything or Whatever???

When your friend asked what you want for your drink in the past? You might say “Whatever” or “Anything”. Your friend will tell you that there is no such drink!
Not sure who is this fellow who came out with the innovative idea of naming the drink “Anything” and “Whatever”. They also came out with all teasing ads on TV and Bus-stops. But whats exactly are in these drinks?

"Anything" – 6 Carbonated Soft-drink
1) Cola
2) Cola with Lemon
3) Apple
4) Fizz up
5) Cloudy Lemon
6) Root Beer

"Whatever" – 6 x Non-Carbonated Flavoured Tea
1) Ice Lemon Tea
2) Ice Peach Tea
3) Apple Tea
4) White Grape Tea
5) Chrysanthemum Tea
6) Jasmine Green Tea
The ads are fresh and I believe a lot of people will buy them out of curiosity in the short term. Over a longer term, we shall see how this company changes their marketing stance.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Buying Land or Oil Field?

Stocks, UTs, Structured Deposits, Endowment Policies, Bonds, etc are some common investment instruments in the Financial Market that most of us engaged in to generate a higher returns for our assets.
Are you aware that there are some alternative investments that one can engage themselves with?

Quote you 2 examples:

Land-Banking ==> You might have heard of Warton International, UK Plot, etc. You are actually collectively buying a large plot of land in the country with many like-minded investors. When the land is sold to various developers with higher prices agreed by X% of investors, the returns are then shared among the investors. Over the past few years, some of those who had invested here had their returns doubled or even tripled.

Oil/Gas Mining ==> You might have heard of Oil-Pods. Instead of land, you invest in Oil Fields. You collectively buy into the oil field with other investors. Monthly proceeds from the sale of oil or gas extracted are shared amongst all investors according to the proportion owned. During times when the oil prices rise, you will get very good returns as the invested amount is based on a lower oil prices.

The returns are better than a Balanced Portfolio of Unit Trust or Endowment Plans. However, remember the phase “Higher Returns = Higher Risk”. Although the companies may provide some sort of guarantees, they are nevertheless not regulated according in Singapore. In event of liquidation or fraud, there is little our government can help.

My advice is: Its okay to invest part of your asset into such instrument, but put it under the speculative portfolio. If you are interested with properties or land, you can also invest into REITs or some property developers stocks. If you are keen with Oil and Resources, there are several Unit Trusts that deal with it. The returns are just as attractive, except that they don’t provide any guarantees. Never put all eggs into one basket.