Friday, November 30, 2007

Everything rose except my Salary!!!

Let me recap what had increased in price in 2007. This list is only a handful that I can remember.
1) Milk powder and bread prices rose nearly 20%.
2) Govt raise ERP ranging from $1.50 to $5.00 in worst hit area.
3) Medical Cost increased ranging from 10% to 30%.
4) Electricity Tariff rose 9% in 2nd quarter and 4% in 3rd Quarter
5) Cigarette price rose 40cents for a 20 stick pack, translating to 3.6%
6) Bus and MRT rose by another 1 to 3cents.
7) University fees rose by up to 10%
8) Postage increased from 23 cents to 25 cents, translating to 8%
9) Property prices rose to an extent that genuine buyers cannot buy anymore
10) Cable TV prices increased, etc etc...
11) Worst of all, I have not even add the extra 2% GST increase and GST may be increased to 10% in the near future.

Why everything is rising? AND MY SALARY NOT INCREASED??? The lower and middle income group are badly affected. This group will feel the pinch more than the higher income people who gained big time in property and enbloc sales. Somemore, prices of LCDs, high end Digital Cameras, Laptops prices, etc dropped.

Inflation is expected to hit 5% next year. It should be more if not for our strong Singapore Dollar. How can inflation be just 5%??? Anyway, I'll write about inflation in my next article.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My First Personal Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my favourite tea-time snack. I decided to have a try making my own cheesecake last Sunday. I researched from internet on the recipe and I finally come out one modified version that seems to suit my taste. Let me share this recipe.

2 pkt Philadelphia Cheese
3 Eggs
2 tablespoon butter
6 pieces of Digestive Biscuit
1 teaspoon Vanilla
120 gm sugar
2 tablespoon flour
Blueberry jam
Fresh Blue Berries
9 inches Diameter aluminium plate

Preheat Oven to 180 Degree Celsius

The Cheesecake Base
Crush the biscuits till very fine
Mix the biscuit crumbs with the butter till the crumbs stick together
Press the crumbs to the aluminium plate till firm on the plate.
Put the aluminium plate in oven for 10 minutes.

The Blueberry Layer
Put a thick layer of blue-berry jam on top of the base
Lay the fresh blue-berries onto the jam about 1.5cm apart

The Cheesecake Body
Melt cheese in big bowl. Put in Microwave 15sec on high.
Beat the melted cheese till smooth. Then mix sugar and flour slowly
Slowly add the eggs, one at a time till well mixed. Then add vanilla.
Keep beating until very smooth.

The Final Part
Pour the mixed cheese into the aluminium plate
Level the cheese and put into oven
Bake the cheesecake for 40 minutes at 180 Degree Celsius
After baking, allow to cool and put in fridge for at least 4 hours

Cheesecake is now ready to be served.

I was too excited to eat my first cheesecake, so ate part of it then remember to take picture. It taste real good. Anybody want to try my cheesecake? I wanna make a avocado cheesecake next.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Be sure of your Investment Horizon

When we invest without an adviser, we normally do our own Risk profiling
During this profiling, we identify our
a) Ability to Invest
b) Willingness to take Risk
c) Time Horizon in the investment

Many may have the ability to invest and willing to take excessive risk, but they forget their Time Horizon. What they look out for is quick profit and overtook by greed. I had seen many Aunties and Uncles punking their luck in the stock market. They forgot that they may need the money in the shorter term.

My advice is
1) Make sure your investment is for long term. Look out for
a) Good valued stocks or
b) 75%-Large Diversified; 25%-Regional/Theme Specific UTs.
Long term means money that you can live without for more than 10 years.
2) Go Super Short term for Contras and Day Trades in the Stock Market
3) Look out for "Put" Warrants or CFD to hedge your risk
4) If you have no time for such short term tradings, unfamiliar with Risk Hedging and don't have money for long term investments, you can consider putting into Cash Accounts or Money Market in this Turbulent times.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Volatile Stock Markets

STI dropped from 3,850 in Mid Oct to 3,312 today
Hang Seng dropped from nearly 32,000 late Oct to 26,000 today
Dow Jones dropped from 14,300 to 12,800
Nasdaq from 2,860 to 2,580

My investment portfolio falls from 10% profit to a loss of 3% in less than 1 month which translate to 13% fall. The economy is getting volatile and seemingly crazy...
The market sentiment is weak. The housing slump is there, Oil prices keep going up, US dollar keep dropping, Negative Economic news still pouring from US. Are we heading for a recession soon?
Probably yes but brave investors are still looking for good bargains as the stocks seem to bottom. I am still optimistic, especially those in Asia that bourses will shake off these bad news and start rising again in the near future.
I remained invested but cautiously. Using dollar cost averaging, I invest a fixed amount every month into few Unit Trusts with different geography and themes. The extra cash, I look out for good stock which seems oversold.
Good luck in your investments, Guys.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Do you have hearing problem?

I recently attended a talk about Hearing Loss. I get to know that as much as 6% of our population are having hearing problem but did not detect early. Treatment was delayed and eventually got serious.

Below are 15 questions to help check if you have a hearing problem.

1) I have a problem hearing over the telephone
2) I have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time
3) I have trouble understanding things on TV
4) I have to strain to understand conversations
5) I have to worry about missing a telephone ring or doorbell
6) I have trouble hearing conversations in a noisy background such as a crowded room or restaurant
7) I get confused about where sounds come from
8) I misunderstand some words in a sentence and need to ask people to repeat themselves
9) I especially have trouble understanding the speech of women and children
10) I have trouble understanding the speaker in a large room such as at a meeting or place of worship
11) Many people I talk to seem to mumble (or don’t speak clearly)
12) People get annoyed because I misunderstand what they say
13) I misunderstand what others are saying and make inappropriate responses
14) I avoid social activities because I cannot hear well and fear I will reply improperly
15) Family members and friends have told me they think I may have a hearing loss

If there are many "Yes" in your answers, you may consider going for a hearing test.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Do you need a Financial Planner???

A Financial Planner is someone who uses a proper financial planning process to help you figure out how to meet your life goals. He/She will look at all your needs including Cashflow Planning, Estate and Taxes, Investments, Insurance and Retirement Planning.

Do you really need him?

You need him if:
* You know that you need to improve your current financial situation but don't know where to start
* you don't have spare time to do your own financial planning
* you want a professional opinion about the financial plan you developed for yourself.
* you need expertise you don't possess in certain areas of your finances. For example, evaluate the level of risk in your investment portfolio or advise in rebalancing your investment plan, etc
* you have an immediate need or unexpected life event such as a birth, inheritance or major illness.

You don't need him if:
* You feel that all planners advices are useless
* You don't need another opinion from anyone

Some people feel that we are useless people who just want to sell an insurance plan or make money from the commission of an investment plan. Though I strongly differs, I cannot force them to think likewise.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Regular Premium ILPs

In a Regular Premium Investment Linked Policy offered by some Insurance Companies, there are two charges that frequently confuses the buyer.

They are "Advisory Fee" and "Insurance Charges"

Take an example from Company "P"
In the middle of the 20 over pages of the Benefit Illustration. There is one paragraph that states

Premium Allocation
Year 1 => 15%
Year 2-3 => 50%
Year 4-9 => 100%
Year 10 onwards => 105%

This allocation means that 185% are allocated to the Insurance company as advisory charges in the 1st 3 years. If $2,000 are invested yearly, $3,700 are taken away.

Insurance Charges
* This is the portion that the investor pay for the insurance on a yearly renewable basis. The premium rate increased from around 40 yrs old and significantly increased from 50 yrs old.
* This charge is illustrated in its appendix showing 2 sets of dense table.
* Investor frequently did not know the amount that he or she is paying for insurance at various age. Sometimes to an extent that the insurance premium is more than the premium that he pays monthly.

So what confused the investor?
a) The advisor may rush thru explaining on the allocation rate. They will not let them know that the charges are actually quite excessive.
b) The insurance charges at varying age should be illustrated. Buyers sometimes thought that the coverage is free.
I am not against insurance people selling ILPs and earn some advisory fee but the charges should be modest and reasonable. In my opinion, 185% of 1 year premium is excessive. Hope regulators will put a cap to this advisory fees and more transparency in the Insurance Charges.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Medisave wiped out by one medical condition

The report by Sunday Times last week about how a Father's money are wiped out by his daughter's Ovanian cancer aroused some interest among the public. It had shown how a medical condition can wipe out ones Medisave and monies and how important Insurance can be.

It will arouse some interest but such things will continue to happen. Why? Let me share

1) Humans memory are short, they will remember seeing such report, but will continue to procrastinate
2) Many Singaporeans still regards Financial Planning as their last priorities and will do all other things before seeing through their own plan
3) General reputation of Financial Advisers in Singapore are equivalent to Salesman. Humans are natuarally resistent to Salesman and avoid them
4) Medical Insurance may not be specially recommended by many advisers because of its low premium and low commission.

Our Government had done great to ensure that every Singaporean will have an insurance from newborn. Medical cost will continue to escalate and insurance premium will not come down.

For anyone reading my blog, I like to post a piece of advice

"Pls go through your financial plan with your trusted adviser"
"Stop Procrastinating!"

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ali Baba found treasure with Open Sesame

* Shares in surged 165 percent in their first day of trading in Hong Kong yesterday.
* The IPO was over-subscribed 150-fold
* Investor bullishness in Chinese IPOs despite warnings of a stock market bubble is a business to business (B2B) platform and they provide a website for companies directory, product catalogs, buying trade leads for exporters, importers, manufacturers, etc

My observation:
* The investors are gambling and speculating. There are no longer investment guidelines. Everything is about emotion buying for quick profit and over-optimism about the future.
* Fund managers knows the investment psychology of the Chinese Investors well, they know the chinese investors will push the price up.
* The HK Through Train Scheme, a scheme which allows individual Chinese investors to trade HK stocks directly, looks like a certainty to the HK speculators and fund managers. They want to take profit before the Mainland Chinese investors pump their money in.
* Its okay to invest into China, but with prudence. There are factors that investors ignored in the country. Factors such as High Inflation, Social Problem due to income inequality, slowing US economy, rising oil prices, fuel shortage, etc

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Car accident!!! What to do???

1) Stay calm. Move car to the side

2) If anyone is injured, call the police straight away

3) If no injury, take the "Singapore Accident Statement" form and fill it with the other party

4) If don't have the form, note down:
* The number plates of all other vehicles involved
* The names and contact details of the other driver(s)
* Any witnesses and their contact details
* The names of insurers for the other driver(s)

5) Take photo of the damages if you have camera

6) Make a police report within 24 hours of an accident if it involves:
* Damage to a government vehicle or property
* A foreign-registered vehicle
* A hit-and-run vehicle

7) Bring your car to Idac or your authorised workshop, depending on your insurance policy requirements

8) Use the towing service if cannot be driven. Usually can be arranged with Idac or your workship
* Idac Hotline ==> 1800-887-5151

9) Submit claims at Idac or at your authorised workshop

10) If you want to settle claims on the spot with the other party, make sure you write an agreement and he sign it. Else don't admit liability and let your insurers settle for you.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Female Sexual Dysfunction

Sex drive of a woman are normally lower in their early 20s which increases with age till their early 40s. Sex drive of man are normally higher in their early 20s which decreases with age. Don't understand why man and woman are made to be this way.

Like man, woman also have their Sexual Dysfunctions. Let me share a few with you.

1) Sexual Desire Disorder
* Lack of Fantasies or thoughts and hence no libido for sex
* Fear or Probia for sex which results in no interest for it
2) Sexual Arousal Disorder
* Cannot remain excited and aroused during sex
* Result in decreased sensitivity in genitals, lower lubrication and reduced blood flow to virgina or clitoris
3) Orgasmic Disorder
* Difficult or simply cannot get orgasm
4) Sexual Pain Disorder
* Due to physical problem, pain is experienced and hence no sex

How to overcome them?
The problems are often psychological, esp for (1) and (2). A sex counseller is able to address these problems and help you.
* The lack of fantasies, thought or libido can be due to a new lifestyle like a newborn or a stressful worklife, etc.
* Couples need to remove the excuse of "No Time" and and spend more time intimately to rediscover the sexual relations that both of you used to enjoy
* Ladies should not have the pressure of being inadequate for your husband or feeling guilty of having sex
* Learning to focus on fantasies helps in the arousal process
* More effort and time in foreplays. Foreplay can start with a simple phone during the day. Don’t talk about work or your child. You can start with a simple “I miss you”, a romantic dinner, aromatherapic air-con room, etc.
* Have a change in locations, eg Living room, or even hotels, etc
* Experimenting different positions and sensation points may help with the problem of achieving orgasm

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction(ED) is a sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis. It can occur at any age but is more common in men older than 65. Around 1 in 10 men will experience recurring impotence problems at some point in their lives

Effects of ED?
Erections may take longer to develop, may not be as rigid or may require more direct stimulation to be achieved. Men may also notice that orgasms are less intense, the volume of ejaculate is reduced and recovery time increases between erections.

ED can affect a man self esteem and the woman sex life. ED can be a physical or emotional problem that requires treatment.

Signs and symptoms
Occasional inability to obtain a full erection
Inability to maintain an erection throughout intercourse
Complete inability to achieve an erection

When to seek medical advice
It's normal to experience erectile dysfunction on occasion. But if erectile dysfunction lasts longer than two months or is a recurring problem. Although you might view erectile dysfunction as a personal or embarrassing problem, it's important to seek treatment.

Although most men experience episodes of erectile dysfunction from time to time, you can take these steps to decrease the likelihood of occurrences:
* Limit or avoid the use of alcohol and other similar drugs.
* Stop smoking.
* Exercise regularly.
* Reduce stress.
* Get enough sleep.
* Deal with anxiety or depression.