Saturday, December 1, 2018

3 Movies To Check Out In This Christmas Season

Ho~Ho~Ho~ Christmas is just around the corner! 

Today, we are officially stepped into the month of December and heading towards the festive season, a season of giving. I believed it will be an action-packed month for most of us in the form of year end travelling, shopping (for the gifts), gatherings and feasting. Life is meant to live at the present moment as we can't relive yesterday and pre-live tomorrow, so, enjoy your live NOW!

For a movie buff like me, one of the thing that I am looking forward to is catching the blockbuster movies to be released in December. I've done a bit of research and have since shortlisted 3 movies releasing in December which I thought are worth watching. Seriously!

So, here we go...

1. Mortal Engines (6th Dec 2018)
Director : Christian Rivers 
Casts: Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Jihae
Sypnosis: A mysterious young woman named Hester Shaw joins forces with Anna Fang, a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head, and Tom Natsworthy, an outcast from London, to lead a rebellion against a giant predator city on wheels (from IMDB).


My take: Adapted from Phillip Reeve's novels with the same name (first of the four novels), I like its focus on the futuristic and steampunk version of London. Definitely worth a watch especially for sci-fi fans. 

2. Aquaman (13th Dec 2018)
Director : James Wan 
Casts: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman
Sypnosis: Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world. (from IMDB).


My take: This year's only DC superhero movie. As it is directed by James Wan (whom brought us Furious 7, Conjuring and Insidious franchise etc.), I have confident that this spin-off will be cool! 

3. Bumblebee (20th Dec 2018)
Director : Travis Knight 
Casts: Hailee Steinfield, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett
Sypnosis: On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.  (from IMDB).


My take: This spin-off from Transformers franchise looks refreshingly good. Definitely worth paying for the movie tics.  

Which movie(s) will you be watching this month? Why?

Cheers!

P/S: Talking about Christmas season/movies, if you can understand Mandarin, do check out the compilation of our TOP 5 Christmas movies of all time in the following video clip (I am the one on the left :-)):

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Some Observations/Hacks From My Recent Bergen (Norway) Trip

norway fjord
Just back from 2-weeks free and easy holiday to London-and-Bergen. This is my first time to Bergen (Norway) and everything are pretty new and fresh to me. We spent about 6-full days each in London and Bergen so we managed to cover all our planned itinerary, except 1 in Bergen which I will share more later.

Overall, we have a great time there and thought I should share some of my experiences/observations/hacks in Bergen (Norway) which might be helpful for those readers who are planning to pay it a visit soon.

So, here we go:

1. Transport from Bergen BGO Airport to Bergen City Centre (The cheaper option)
If you are going to Bergen on free and easy basis, most likely you will be staying in the Bergen city centre, there is a convenient Airport Bus service called Flybussen which run on quite regular interval from the airport to the city centre (and vice versa).

It costs NOK115, about SGD19 (one way) or NOK195, about SGD32.50 (return) which is a much cheaper and convenient option (the bus is just right in front of the airport arrival exit hall). Also, it is cheaper to buy the ticket via the automated machine at the bus stop (with your credit card) than buying directly from the bus driver (at least that's what the bus driver told me). 
Flybussen Airport Bus
Oh, the journey from airport to the city centre is only about 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Norway is pretty cold and a true rain city
Being one of the Nordic countries, it is expected that Norway's weather (even for Bergen which is the southern part of the country) will be cold, what we didn't expect is the regular raining and the strong wind. So, if you are visiting Norway during the Autumn or Winter season, besides equip yourself with the proper winter attire, do bring along a "strong" umbrella or ponchos.
Snow in Autumn
For us, we just brought a small umbrella for sharing and we barely "survived". There are a few comical moments whereby our umbrella was flipped by the strong wind lol.

3. Buying Tickets for the attractions
Nowadays, most of the time we will book the tourist attractions ticket online (where possible) prior to the trip to avoid disappointment. However, there are some attraction like cable car ride which are weather condition-dependent i.e. the decision on whether it will be open for business can only be made on that day itself. For such attractions, it is not advisable to buy the tickets upfront (case in point is the Ulkerin365 Cable car ride, the itinerary that we missed due to the strong wind).
Ulkerin365 Cable Car
So, before you book the tickets, do read carefully as to whether the attraction will be ON regardless of weather condition?

4. High Standard of living
I am a little surprise that the standard of living in Norway is rather high. Some personal example:

a. a bus ticket within a standard minimal zone costs about SGD 6
b. a movie ticket (non 3D and non IMAX) costs about SGD 21
c. Two hot drinks and one sandwich costs about SGD40+ (at a coffee join like TCC in Singapore).
Kino - the movie theater in Bergen

I think you got the point...Just ensure you've brought sufficient cash there :-)

5. Top 3 Must Visit Places in Bergen
There are quite a number of worthy attractions in Bergen but if I were to choose, following are my top 3:

a. The "Norway In A Nutshell" Day Tour
This day tour bring you to the selected UNESCO protected Fjord (Nearoyfjord for our case) by cruise and follow by the Flam Railway steam train-ride with spectacular view.
View from Naeroyfjord - reaching the Flam Railway station

On the cruise at the Nearoyfjord

The interior of the steam train - Flam Railway

Brief stop at the train stop for photo taking

The Flam Railway train station
b. The Bryggen
The signature UNESCO site at Bergen.
Bryggen - The UNESCO site
Bryggen - The UNESCO site
c. Floibanen Funicular Ride
Take a funicular ride up to the top of Mount Floyen for a fantastical view. One of the most visited Bergen tourist attraction.
The Floibanen funicular station at the base
View from Mount Floyen

View from Mount Floyen 2
The track of the Floibanen
Hope you like my sharing. Till then...

Cheers!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Everyone can be charitable NOW!

As a follow-up to my earlier post on Besides IQ, EQ and FQ, What About CQ?, thought maybe it is apt to share an positive experience that I've encountered through one of the volunteer event I attended recently. 

Two Saturday ago, decided to attend a volunteer event organized by Direct Life Foundation in bringing wheel-chair bound uncles/aunties to Jurong Bird Park for half-day excursion. 

It is half-a-day well spent as each of us (volunteer) are paired with one auntie or uncle and the mission is to bring them (in their wheel chair) to watch the shows/performances at various places (within the compound of Jurong Bird Park). It is a well organized event. Besides able to spend some quality time to chat with our paired auntie/uncle, it is a joy to see many of the young volunteers are not new to such event, it shows that they are having high CQ (Charity Quotation, you can refer to my earlier post to find out what is CQ) which is an encouraging sign.  

In fact, I got to know this charity event through a whatsapp group, so, it is really easy to get involved in such charitable event and most of the organizer welcome anyone to participate.

So, no more excuse, you no need to be rich or wait until FF to be charitable, everyone can do it NOW!

Cheers!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Is There Any IPO like Venom?

If you have not already know, Venom is the latest superhero movie (or more accurately anti-superhero) movie starred by the competent Tom Hardy (as Eddie Brock/Venom). Before its wide release last week, it has received terrible reviews/rating from the so called professional movie critics (including those in the reputable site like Rotten Tomatoes). 

However, audience from around the world didn't take heed from those "professionals", instead, they (include myself) thronged the cinemas and made Venom the top movie in its first week of release (amassed USD80 millions in the US Box Office along, the reported budget of the movie is USD100). In fact, majority of the reviews of movie goers are quite positive. 

Interesting, Venom is the latest blockbuster movie whereby professional movie critics and general movie goers are having two different extreme opinion, the good news is, the general movie goers get it right! 

So, if I were to use Venom's phenomena in stock, is there any recent IPO whereby the professional brokers are generally having a bleak review but has it has since garnered a very strong IPO opening (because the retail investors like it a lot more than the brokers).If yes, which one is it? 

Lastly, let's go back to the movie Venom, if you have not watched it yet and can understand Mandarin, do check out my simple movie review with a friend of mine below (in Mandarin though):


Cheers!         

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Besides IQ, EQ and FQ, What About CQ?

Wait! What Qs am I talking about here? 

The Q that I am referring here is "Quotient", so you have the common ones like IQ (Intelligence Quotient), EQ (Emotional Quotient) and FQ (Financial Quotient), what about the last one, CQ? Anyone want to make a guess? 

No, I am not talking about cultural quotient, what I am talking about is "Charity Quotient" i.e. how charitable are you (voluntarily i.e. not due to peer pressure or assignment by your company but do it from the bottom of your heart)? 

Also, "charity" here need not be something big like involving in mega charitable event or donating big sum of money, it can be as small as just spending a couple of hours with seniors from the charity home, as long as it does make a difference in some body's lives (regardless of how impactful the difference is). 

If we can put some ratings for such a quotient, how would it look like? Just for fun, I am basing on my usual ratings for movie review to generate a scale loosely for Charity Quotient as per follows:

Of course, it doesn't mean that if you score a "5", it automatically make a good or successful person (reverse is true too), it just mean that you are more charitable and being charitable, I do believe that you are enjoying life more meaningfully.

Personally, I am at the average of "3", what about you?

Cheers!

Monday, October 1, 2018

5 Things I Learnt From Billion Dollar Whale (Book)

Being an ex-Malaysian and most of my siblings and relatives are still in Malaysia, I am still very much interested in the political development in Malaysia. With the new twist of development in the political scene up there, a new era has began. 

Finally, the first book that provide an inside account of 1MDB (1 Malaysia Development Berhad, Malaysia's Sovereign Fund) is arrived! Authored by Tim Wright and Bradley Hope (Wall Street Journal reporters) with an apt title of Billion Dollar Whale. It took me less than 4 days to complete this 360+ pages of chronicle recount of events. a true page-turner. 

Finally, all the dots seem to be joined together. Following are the 5 things I've learnt from Billion Dollar Whale.

1. If your main focus is always on money (in whatever form), greed is not far behind
In whatever you are doing, if your main focus is always on money, sooner or later, you will become "greedy" in getting/amass more money. Of course, not everyone will be as dubious as Jho Low but I think it would be a sad state if all you think about in life is money. There is a saying in Chinese: 穷得只剩下钱!(loosely translated as "Being poor with only money").

2. Greed is a greedy MONSTER
Greed will eat you alive by swallowing your soul and emptying your conscientious in no time! And most of the time, there is no turning back. So, before you went into the dark side of GREED, think twice before you are joining Darth Vader.   

3. Networking is important, even if you are doing something bad 
From the recount in the book, if not because of Jho Low's well established networks of liked-minded conspirators (especially those from UAE and well known financial institutions), his scam would not be this "successful".  

4. Money can truly buy temporary "happiness" but at the expense of your empty-soul     
From crazily luxurious parties to mega-yacht to supermodels/socialite and celebrities at your whim, I am sure you will be as happy as Jho Low at that particular moment. However, it is at the expense of your empty-soul as all these happiness are pure transactional. So, if you are looking for true happiness, "give/share" instead of "take/buy"!    

5. Greed and Lie are good friends
When you are greedy, you almost always need to tell lie to get more of what you want ; When you lie, greed is almost always your ulterior motive. So, they are good friends in a bad way, please stay far far away from them. 

Have you read the book? What do you think about the book?

Cheers!

P/S: Based on the latest news, the book will be adapted into an Hollywood movie soon. Wonder who should be cast as Jho Low? lol


  

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Will Both Monk and Warrior Eat The Banana?

Recently, the personal finance blogsphere is filled with a vibrant debate between the monk and the warrior (and recently a few farmers and a Voltron also joined in the fun). I think it all started because of the blog post by Alvin Chow of Dr Wealth (Are Financial Blogger Sufferings?). In case you still do not have a clue of what I am referring to, in summary: if you are in the monk's camp, you have a strong mind to endure "suffering" (read rigorous saving) and if you are in the warrior's camp, you have a strong mind to do bold thing (read rigorous earning streams). 

Of course, there is no right and no wrong answer here, just a cultivated preference. Oh, the Voltron whom joined in the fun recently came from owner of The Finance SG, you can read Derek's I Am Voltron post for more details. I think enough sharing by the peer bloggers on this topic, some of the more prominent ones are from:




I will not dwell much into whether the monk or the warrior is better? My only question is : Will both monk and warrior eat the banana?

You see, either monk or warrior, they also need something to keep their brain/mind/body afresh so that they can continue with their respectively lives "fruitfully"(whatever it means to them), so banana here is just a symbolism of something "of value" to them.  

I think the most sensible answer is "it depends!" 

Depend on what? A few thing...

1. Whether the monk or the warrior like to eat banana or not? Just like me, if you ask me to eat fish, it is a no-no (unless I've got no choice).

2. Whether the banana is within their reach? If the banana is not available (our of stock), too bad for them. 

In short, my point is - instead of just focusing of weather you are more of a monk or of a warrior, I think it is equally important for everyone to better understand yourself whether you will eat that banana or not? If not, how about apple? Orange? :-)

Cheers!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

What Is Your Next Breakthrough?

We are coming to the last week of the 3rd Quarter and soon we are heading to the last quarter of 2018. Like last year, and the year before last, and the year before last last year (I think you get what I mean), we are living with hits and misses every single year. I am not only talking about your personal finance or your investment but rather life in general. 

We are deemed growing only if we learn/do something new, otherwise, we are just passing the time with repetitive daily routines. So, it is important to have regular breakthroughs in experiencing new things (of course I am referring to something legal and morally right). Today, I "conquered" our highest Bukit Timah Summit for the second time and it's a breakthrough to me. Wait! why is second time still a breakthrough? You see, this time round, we trekked with another NEW route and it took us shorter time to reach the summit (around 25 minutes) as compared to the previous round, which took us around 40 minutes. Also, we extended our trekking to another path which lead us to a Quarry that we never knew exist.

Also, personally think that breakthrough need not be something grand or massive, even though the satisfaction level might not be as great, but I would rather collecting many smaller breakthroughs rather than only one or two big breakthrough in life. Remember, life is not a sprint, life is a marathon. 

My next breakthrough probably is in the space of art. I always wanted to try my hand on those freestyle water color painting to reignite my creativity/imagination, so, I guess I will arrange one in the near future. 

What about you? What is your next breakthrough?  

Cheers!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Those Who Like To Complain Tends To See The Glass Half Empty

Recently, the famous vlogger, Nas Daily's video about Singapore - "The Almost Perfect Country" has attracted a fair share of sour grape comments from fellow Singaporean. Of course, everyone has their own rights to provide their opinion (be it online or offline), having said that, such negative comment on such a positive video do reflect something about them i.e. they tends to see the glass half empty. 

Again, there is nothing wrong to be on the side of "glass half empty", just that people on this spectrum tend to forget (consciously or unconsciously) the water they already have in the glass. To me, able to enjoy and appreciate what you already have is the panacea to happiness. Without contentment, regardless of your current stage in life, you will never view yourself as well as others as "enough", like what Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) said in the Crazy Rich Asians, "You will never be enough!"

In case you have not watched The Almost Perfect Country from Nas Daily, check it out below:


Cheers!  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Captain Marvel - First Trailer Is Finally Here!

If you are a superhero movie fans, especially from Marvels, I am sure you are aware that the upcoming movie in the Marvels Universe is Captain Marvel (not so soon though, it will be released in March 2019). Apparently, this newly introduced superhero character i.e. Captain Marvel has quite an impact towards the development of the Part 2 of Avengers - Infinity War.

As usually, before the movie hitting the theaters, fans are looking forward to the teasers/trailers, it's akin to looking forward to the announcement of dividend when you are invested in a dividend-paying company's stock. Of course, you know that good dividend yield doesn't equal to good company i.e. good trailer doesn't always mean good movie.  

Today, the very first trailer of Captain Marvel has been released, if you have not already seen it, check it out below. What do you think of this dividend announcement, oops, I mean  the trailer?


Personally, the trailer doesn't give me the sense of excitement that I will usually get from the superhero movie trailer, but it is OK i.e. not too bad. Hope that the actual movie provide more punch!

What do you think?

Cheers!  

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Book Review - Breakfast Club For 40 Somethings

Recently, I've just finished reading a book called "Breakfast Club For 40 Somethings" (by Vanessa Stoykov). It is a lighthearted and fun novel but also a financial planning book in disguise. Even though the book title mentioned about "40 somethings" but the financial teaching/sharing in the book is kind of universal and applicable to anyone at any age. Also, the story is based in Australia and hence some of the financial setting/context like more relevant to Australian, like the Super Fund etc... but we can always replace it with our local context like CPF fund etc.. 

A long-awaited reunion of six high school classmates in their 40-somethings unraveled more shortcomings of their respective current lives than they are prepared to disclose, but it also changes their lives for the better, with the help of an "angel" in the form of financial planner (their ex-classmate).

I would not disclose too much of the story line/plot here but I think it is beneficial for me to share the "5 Pillars To Wealth" that I've learnt from the book. Regardless of where are you at your current financial position, there is/are always one or more pillars that you can learn/unlearn to further improve your situation. 

The 5 Pillars:
1. FOCUS - Do you have a long term financial goal that aligned with what brings you happiness, or just focus on what's in front of you e.g. the next party, the next holiday, the next job? Most of the time, we can't see our focus quite clearly when we are younger (say in the 20s or even 30s), but with time and experience, our focus will get clearer as by then we would know what really brings happiness to us.  

2. DESIRE - We all have desire, owning things that are wants and not needs, hence, it is necessary to strike a balance before it went into shackle of debts. 

3. TIME - Time is unstoppable and ruthless. When we are much younger, we thought we still have lots of time to prepare for our future and by the time when we hit certain age, say the big 40, it might be too late! Time here is not only applicable to wealth, it is applicable to relationship, love as well.  

4. BELIEF - What you belief, you become! Mindset about money can be both nature and nurture. So, if you are not satisfied with your current financial situation, you need to change your belief. It is not easy, but it is definitely possible. 

5. ACTION -  Last but not least, you need to take action on whatever learning/planning you have, otherwise, they all mean nothing. 

Do you agree with these 5 pillars?

Before I end the post, just like to share that I really enjoy reading the book as it is easily one of the easiest personal financial book to read :-) 

Cheers!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

SkillsFuture - Have You Made Full Use Of It Yet?

Beside the money under your pillow or in your bank account(s) and the shares/REITs in your CDP account, as well as the physical properties in your real estate portfolio, the other equally important asset that we all should amass is the skill sets/knowledge. That's where SkillsFuture initiative came in to promote lifelong learning. 

I have checked with a few of my close friends and understand that all of us (including myself :-)) have not really made use of our SkillsFuture Credits (SGD500) since the implementation in 2016. Have you utilized yours?

These are the free money from Government to help upgrade ourselves (be it for career or personal purposes) and I think we should make full use of it, as early as possible. Not only that, Government has up the offer recently by providing additional funding for many of the eligible courses/workshops/programmes i.e.:

Singaporeans and Singapore PRs are eligible for 70% course fee funding for registration with effect from 28 October 2017.

Singaporeans aged 40 and above will enjoy 90% subsidy of course fee.

These are substantial funding! 

Just take an example from one of the Fintech programs that I am considering at the moment: Fintech Talent Program (an 80-hours joint program from NTUC, Singapore Polytechnic and Fintech Association), the original course fee vs subsidized course fees are as follow:

For me (obviously above 40), the after-subsidized fee is only $320 and I can make use of my SkillsFuture credits to cover this in full, so, it's a FREE course!

What the government trying to do is to remove/minimize the impact of one of the usual key considerations for us when talk about learning/upgrade i.e. the fee, the rest (like the time commitment) is up to us to juggle. 

I do encourage all friends to make full use of your SkillsFuture and the related subsidies (ASAP) to upgrade yourselves as I do believed that such assets has compounding effect too. Besides, such funding program might not be here forever! :-)  

Cheers!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Kahoot - A Fun Tool For Learning and Sharing

Recently, I've chanced upon a fun tool/app called Kahoot! The name might not ring a bell for many but I like it very much and thought some of you folks might find it interesting too. 

Kahoot! is a tool with the ultimate aim of make learning FUN again. Basically, it's a game-based learning platform, it's suitable for schools, businesses or even social setting, as long as learning (or sharing) is the objective. You can create as many games (they call it Kahoots) as you like and host it (online or in physical setting) for the students/colleagues/audience to play. As long as you have smartphone (who doesn't have one nowadays?) and can connect to internet, the game is ON!

Creating the game is very easy as the tool is quite intuitive, to try it out myself, I did a 4 questions fun game for my colleagues (around 20 of them) to play during one of our department meeting and we have fun with it.

Check out the promotional video below and share the joy:


Cheers!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

We Are All Fall For Consumerism, One Way Or The Other

First, I wish to clarify that the "consumerism" I am referring to here is not equate to materialism even though the latter usually lead to the former. The idea is that you can consume something without the need to own it. Examples of consumerism that not equate to materialism are:

1. The addiction of consuming free wifi at any possible public/private locations (whenever you are in restaurants that provide free wifi, you will hear the common question from the dinners - "what is the wifi password"?)
  
2. Aggressive Consumption of news, especially junk news from social media

3. Playing the free games like Candy Crush, Pokemon GO etc..

4. Movies/TV serials binge on the go

I must admit, personally, I am guilty of such behavior (addictive consumerism), besides the above top 2 items, I am also leaned a bit towards materialism (but not an aggressive one, I hope), example:  

I have 2 mobile phones (1 Apple and 1 Android) with 2 service contracts

I subscribed to Straits Times newspaper

I subscribed to Netflix

I bought quite a number of Man Utd jerseys etc...

I am not here to promote consumerism or for that matter, minimalism (the opposite of consumerism), instead, I am of the view that it's just human nature for us to consume (may or may not be owned), either for pure survival, enjoyment or pure status conscious. 

The problem is NOT on consuming, the problem is on the ADDICTIVE consumption, just like anything in life, as long as there is imbalance, it creates problem. So, over spent our time (or life) in consuming (Outside In), we need to spend more time in contributing, producing and creating (Inside Out). Of course, it's easier said than done, try asking a smoker to quit smoking and you will know what I meant. Maybe it's time for me to try out the Pomodoro timer (productivity tool/app) that shared by the lecturer in on of the workshop I attended recently. 

Are you addicted to consuming? How do you deal with it?

Cheers! 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

OCBC Service Outage - Is Singapore Really Ready For Cashless Society And Smart Nation?

If you are an OCBC account holder and trying to use your credit card or making some online transactions with internet banking or even withdrawing cash from ATM in the past hour (from 9PM+ onwards), I believed your action is futile as OCBC is experiencing a complete service outage (at the time of writing, all services are still unavailable). 

While we are still fresh from the Singhealth hacked a couple of weeks ago, this new event set me thinking whether we (Singapore) is really ready to be a cashless society or for that matter, our smart nation dream? 

What do you think? 

Latest update from OCBC via their official twitter handler:

Cheers!

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