Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Coolest Alternative Investment That I've Known Of - with 15,700% Returns!

The simple definition of investment, by Google, is "the action or process of investing money for profit". So, there are countless investment methods/vehicles that fits this definition. Of course, one that fits the definition of coolest must be something very with WOW factor.  

Today, one of my friend shared in his Facebook that he has made a 15,700% returns with his hobby-tuned-investment. I am really happy for him. 

Curious to know what is this right? Read on...

To its simplest form, it is only a book. 

Of course, it is not an "ordinary" book, it is one of Andrew Lang's book.

He bought the book with mere USD 40+ and resold it with USD 6,300/- 

WOW! Crazy right? 

In the current internet age  as well as the influx of eBooks, one might thought that physical books will worth lesser and lesser. But the truth is, it might just the opposite i.e. it makes the physical books (especially those classics, limited editions) worth more in the future.

Even though I am a physical books lover too, but it surprises me quite a bit as I never thought that someone will pay such an hefty price just for a second-hand BOOK! Of course, such fortune might falls only once in the blood moon (blue moon is out-dated already) but it is still the coolest alternative investment that I've known so far. 

Maybe it is time for you to do some spring cleaning at your bookshelf and hopefully you can dig out some treasure(s) yourself too ;-)


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Everest - Fulfillment Of My Gratification In Sep 2015

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to all! 

At the beginning of the month, I've blogged about one stock (Lippo Malls Indonesia Trust) and one movie that I've determined to get/watched in the month of September amidst my busy work schedule. I am an happy man now as I've achieved both of them (click here for my subsequent post of Lippo Malls). 

As for the movie, Everest, I am happy (or should I said "sad" because of its emotional ending) with what I've seen on Thursday, in IMAX 3D. As I usually do share my personal review on the movies that I've watched in Facebook, thought it might be worthwhile to re-hash it here for friends who are interested to know more about the movie (don't worry, it is spoiler free) : 

Everest (movie review) - Been waiting for this movie and it doesn't disappoint!

With such sterling casts, I guess it is hard to fail. Even though the panoramic killer view of Everest and the nail biting thrill are what I am looking for initially but I was ended up thrilled by the emotional rides that the characters are going through.

There is a fair share of thrillers happening on the mountain but they didn't over do it and put the focus rightly on the heart and soul of the characters.

There are lots of informative and factual stuff about scaling the "beast", a movie that the audience can learn something about.

My rating : 4 (out of 5 stars)

September is coming to an end and it's time for me to think about one stock and one movie to get/watch in October ;-) 

Stay tuned!


Friday, September 25, 2015

4 Ways to Overcome Psychological Obstacles to Investing (Guest Post)

While saving ensures you’ll have funds for emergencies and the occasional holiday, investing sees to it that you’ll have a comfortable retirement. Stocks, bonds, real property, and other investment options are some of the best ways to grow your money passively.

However, many Singaporeans either don’t want to or are apprehensive to do it. Based on an investment survey, 70% of the respondents believe income is essential when investing, yet only 59% invest for retirement.

One of the foremost reasons is the mindset. We fear many things: losing our house, being buried in debt, not having enough money for other things, etc.

The good news is there are many ways to get past your anxiety and eventually overcome these psychological hurdles to investing. 

1. Understand the source of your fear

What causes your fear of losing a house? What is in stock market that you don’t want to deal with?
Fear of investments can be caused by many things:
  • Personal experience
  • Experiences of others
  • Media reports such as economic collapse or investment scams
  • Lack of knowledge or education
  • Complexity of investing options
When you have thoroughly analysed the root cause of your fear, you’ll know what to do next. For instance, if you don’t know much about investing, resources from books to seminars are aplenty.

2. Know your risk profile

All types of investing options have certain risks. It’s up to you to identify how much risk you’re willing to take. For example, if you’re concerned about losing a lot of money, consider bonds, mutual funds, or even money market funds, which have low to moderate risk. If you’re worried about not getting enough from your investments, boost it through putting money in stocks, although this option involves higher risks.

3. Invest in reputable options and institutions

It certainly pays to put your money on trusted banks and choices. Although you can expect to spend fees such as brokerage, rest assured you have highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals working with and for you. This way, you don’t have to worry too much about your money’s growth.

4. Be smart with money

You’ll feel more confident to invest if you know that all other aspects of your finances are covered well and are doing great. You have your emergency fund to help you during very tough times, a mortgage you can afford to pay, and a lifestyle that is just within your means.

You also need to be smart with credit cards since they can potentially trap you in a debt cycle and drain your savings and even investment income. For a start, learn to compare credit card deals in Singapore. Get to know their features, conditions, and fees.

Also, don’t forget to:
  • Pay your credit card dues on time and in full.
  • Consider a balance transfer card to take advantage of possibly lower interest rates in the future.
  • Spend according to your budget or what you can afford.
  • Be cautious when using credit cards overseas due to differences in exchange rates.
You’ve laboured long and hard for many years. It’s time to make money work on your behalf. Conquer the fear and invest today.

This article is contributed by Allyson of

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How Smart People Buy Insurance (Guest Post)

Note : This is a guest post from Levi Henrikson, even though some of the links provided in his article might not be applicable to the local context but the gist of it remains.


Insurance is one of the great inventions of modern society. It empowers ordinary people to take risks that they would not otherwise be inclined or able to take.

How many people would be able to get mortgages if it weren’t for mortgage insurance? How many people would be financially ruined because of an automobile accident if it weren’t for car insurance? Or maybe people would think twice before assuming the risk of owning a home if it weren’t for home insurance (after all a single natural disaster could wipe out decades of hard work and savings.)

The point is, our modern world is fraught with perils and risks. But where there is risk there is also reward. Where there are costs, there are benefits. Whether you aspire to be the next Warren Buffet or simply want to have enough money to spend more of your time doing what you love, we have to take calculated risks in order to obtain the rewards we desire. Insurance helps reduce or eliminate some of these potential risks.

Of course, the insurance industry can be difficult to navigate. Some companies might use clever marketing tactics to sell you less for more and some companies can even be downright fraudulent. As a consumer, how can you reap the great benefits that insurance has without fear of being suckered into paying too much or purchasing insurance that you don’t need?

Here are a few strategies you can employ to become a more savvy consumer of insurance.

Strategy #1: Buy Insurance from an Independent Agent

This is a tip I picked up from Dave Ramsey’s blog. Typically, when most people buy insurance they would go directly to the provider to get a quote. But the smarter way is to get help shopping for insurance from an independent insurance agent.

At first, this might seem counter-intuitive. Normally, when you have a “middle man” the prices go up, not down. However, the biggest advantage an independent insurance agent has is that they are not limited by the options of a single provider.

If you only call on a single provider, of course the sales rep is going to tell you that “they have a plan for you.” Their job is to sell their company’s insurance so they have incentive to persuade you that their insurance will work for you.

An independent agent, on the other hand, has access to an entire network of insurance providers and will do the shopping on your behalf. Different providers might have different quotes for different people. The agent can sift through the data for you to find the best options.

It’s a win-win-win for everyone. The providers save money on advertising by authorizing independent agents to sell their insurance. The agent gets compensated for his expertise and diligence. And you get the benefit of not having to pay for anything you don’t need and getting the lowest available rates.

Strategy #2: Use a Health Discount Plan to Lower Your Health Expenses

Health insurance has become one of the hottest (and most controversial) topics of contemporary politics. Especially since the advent of Obamacare many people are becoming more concerned with the cost and availability of health care coverage.

Health costs have become almost obscenely high over the years. The precise causes for these rising costs are not obvious. However, one thing is clear: the vast majority of consumers cannot afford health care without the aid of health insurance.

Of course, this leads to another problem. Often times health insurance itself is expensive and doesn’t cover all services. And unless you’re well-versed in “legalese” you likely do not know for certain what your insurance actually does and does not cover.

A more direct way to save money on health costs is to use a health discount plan. This essentially works like a “club membership” where you would pay a certain fee in order to gain access to exclusive discounts. This can be used either as an alternative to traditional health insurance or as a supplement. Health discount plans can be particularly useful for dental care as these costs are often not covered by traditional insurance plans.

Strategy #3: Find Ways to Avoid Paying for Unnecessary Insurance

There are some types of insurance that we purchase not because it’s a benefit to us but rather because we are a liability to someone else. A good example of this type of insurance is Private Mortgage Insurance. Even if you are a financially responsible person and have a great credit score you will still be required to take out mortgage insurance if you cannot make a 20% down payment on the house.

What many people don’t realize though is that there are ways to eliminate your Mortgage Insurance payments. The easiest way is simply to ask. If you already own at least 20% of your home and have been making your monthly mortgage payments on time you can ask your lender to cancel the mortgage insurance. Or better yet, before you close the deal with the lender see if you can get a commitment that they will cancel the need for insurance once you pay for 20% of your home.

Another tactic for avoiding Mortgage Insurance is you can take out a loan to pay for the remainder of the 20% downpayment. Of course, you need to do the math and make sure the economics of this maneuver work in your favor, but in many cases it will be less expensive over time than getting the insurance.

There are many other kinds of insurance that sound useful on the surface but are actually rather unnecessary. Investopedia has put together a helpful list here.

Strategy #4: Use Insurance to Have Peace of Mind While You Travel

Many people find travelling to be stressful, which is ironic because people usually travel to try to relax. Part of this stress is probably due to the fear of losing valuable possessions.

There are just many things that could go wrong on a trip: you could have to cancel your flight, you could lose your bags at the airport or hotel, you may have to evacuate due to a disaster, your belongings could be stolen, you could be faced with departure delay and have to stay at a hotel, and so on.

It’s for reasons like these that you might want to consider travel insurance when you take a trip. If nothing else, just the peace of mind might be worth the price and you can get some much needed relaxation. The likelihood of something “bad” happening on your travels increases the longer and more frequently we travel. It’s wise to simply expect things to go wrong once in awhile and prepare accordingly rather than panicking as they happen.

These are just a few of the strategies you can implement to be a more savvy consumer of insurance. Insurance can be a great asset in your life if you know what to look for. It provides peace of mind and empowers you to take risks that you may not have been willing or able to do without. If you really want to have peace of mind.

Levi Henrikson is a freelance writer who enjoys music, marketing, personal finance, and self-improvement. He is also a proud father and husband.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Another Perspective Of Annual Reports

If you are a believer of the Fundamental Analysis, like myself, I am sure the company's Annual Reports are your regular reading materials. I must say that at the beginning, the usually thick Annual Report looks quite intimidating, but after reading through a couple of them, you will get the hang of it and know which are the section to focus and which are the section to ignore. Unlike reading a novel, there is no need to read the Annual Report from front to end, unless you are paid to do so or really, really, really like to read the Annual Reports (like Warren Buffett).   

In fact, we should consider ourselves lucky because the Annual Reports of the local companies are usually came with full-color and nicely presented summary that we can have a bird's eye view on the company's overall performance for the past year or so. Nowadays, Annual Reports can be in all forms and sizes, it is testing the creativity of the companies in making it more appealing to the existing or potential investors.  

Besides digesting the performance of the company through their Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flows Statement etc.. in the Annual Report, there are a few subtle and informal hints we can gather from way that the company delivery their Annual Reports i.e. :

1. How creative is the company in promoting their company to the investors? The color, the design, the paper quality used and the tone content of the Annual Report speaks volume! It gives a subtle hint on whether the management put enough attention to the official communication to the shareholders. The quality of free buffet provided during the AGM could an added "bonus" to the shareholders ;-)

2. How Socially Responsible is the company? The theme here : is the company guilty of facilitating the "killing the tree" problem? i.e. does the company doing their best in cutting down the thickness of the Annual Report by focusing on producing quality instead of quantity? Best still, providing the e-Annual Reports instead of the physical ones.  

Do you read Annual Report? What would be your focus when reading the Annual Report?


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

PSI indicator is hotter than market stock indicator at the Moment

Last evening, NEA's site was down for a couple of hours and I believed they are struggling to fine tune their site in view of the influx of the traffics from the worrying residents... Last night's PSI shoot passed the 200 unhealthy level and luckily it went down slightly to the 130 level at the time of writing this post.

Just like stock market index, PSI is unpredictable but at least we can physically feel and experience the effect (the smell, the congested chest etc). Many a time, we are quite sure that the PSI reading is much lower than what we are actually experiencing. 

Unlike in the stock market, if we are not comfortable with the sentiment, we can always exit from it, we can't do it when comes to haze. Not unless you are prepared to sacrifice your annual leaves and temporarily escape to the countries not affected by it... In any case, this has became an annual misfortune (thanks and no thanks to our "friendly" neighbor) and what we can do to mitigate the risk (of getting sick) is by staying indoor as much as possible. 

Oh, do drink more water too.

May the haze be with you (Indonesia) and only!


P/S: Contrary to what many has predicted, the STI dropped 29.53 point and ended the day with 2,841.94.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

GE2015 - My Thought On The Polling Day

Today, 11th September 2015, is a big day for Singapore and all Singaporean as the result of today's voting might change the direction (to better or worst) of Singapore's future. We (my wife and me) woke up earlier and done my part in the Polling Station, in less than 10 mins, we've cast our vote.

It is still early and the result of the Poll will not be announced until late night today, I have a few thought to share on this hazing Polling Day :

1. Comes tomorrow (or early mid-night later), there will be a bunch of citizens in ecstasies and another bunch of people in tears (either out of joy or defeat), and yet another bunch of people feeling nothing at all. Whatever the outcome, life goes on and whoever win, our lives will not be changed overnight and we should still continue to live our life on our own accord instead of too reliant on what the Government (old or new) can help us. We are the captain of our own future, not the Government.

2. From the past 2 weeks, if you are an active user in the social media (especially Facebook), I am sure you will witness many sharing on the Rallies, grievances and trolls (for both from Ruling Party and Opposition Parties) from your friends. Through the sharing, you can roughly gauge who they are supporting. Of course, we all have our rights to support the party that we deemed worth supporting, but whoever we are supporting, don't expect miracle to appear within the next 5 years, in the sense that all issues/problems we faced today will suddenly disappear! There is no such thing as the Ruling Party (whoever it will be for the next 5 years) are also normal human being that cannot create miracles. Again, we are the captain of our own future, not the Government.   

3. The best policy that will really change your life will never be the Policies introduced (or to be introduced) by the Government. In fact, the best policy that you should be seriously look into is to INVEST in YOURSELF via education and continuous learning. Again, we are the captain of our own future, not the Government.

Have you cast your vote? Remember, Voting is compulsory ;-)


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

One Down (Lippo Mall), One More To Go

As per my earlier post (click here to see more), one of the thing that I've determined to do in the month of September is to nibble on Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust (of which I have been monitoring for quite a while).

Finally! I got it at $0.31 yesterday! 

With this price and assuming the DPU distribution stays, I am looking at around 8 - 9% of dividend yield. I've written about Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust's CNAV Analysis and 5 Years History but nothing beats getting it at the lower than expected price ;-)

By now I believed you folks would have already known that the other thing that I determined to do is to watch the upcoming blockbuster movie, EVEREST!

Are you vested in Lippo Malls? What is your view?


Saturday, September 5, 2015

One Stock And Movie I Determined To Get/Watch In September 2015

Time really fly, didn't realise that my last action in the stock market already a couple of months ago. Also, due to my busier work schedule, I have watched fewer movies in the past few weeks/months, my last movie is Mission Impossible 5

I am not really into politics and hence couldn't care less on the upcoming GE too, but I will still do my part and vote wisely. 

This month, I determined to get/watch the following stock/movie :

STOCK/REIT : Lippo Malls Indonesia Trust:
I have been monitoring this stock/REIT for quite some time and have provided some coverage on it here (CNAV Analysis) and here (5 Years History). In fact, I have been queuing for a couple of times but just didn't manage to get it through... At the last trade price of $0.315, I will give it a try until I get it through ;-) 

MOVIE : Everest:
Being a movie buff, watching movies is one of my favourite past time, too bad, I have not been watching as many movies as I like in the recent weeks/months but I determine to catch this upcoming soon-to-be epic disaster movie, EVEREST:

If you are not sure what movie I am talking about, check out the movie poster and trailer below:

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Elizabeth Debicki, Keira Knightley, Jason Clark and Josh Brolin, it definitely looks promising to me. Oh, by the way, it will be in IMAX 3D too.

What do you think about the stock and movie that I've just shared? 


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Useful Tips for New Investors (Guest Post)

Investing is a simple or complicated as you want to make it. Sure, you can go off the deep end and start arguing about Chaikin money flows, DeMark sequential indicators, the performance of quant funds, etc. But you don’t need to. Even if you’re not an expert, a grasp of the basics can still build that retirement fund:

1. Don’t Start Investing Without Goals

Wanting to “make more money” is not a goal. Wanting something specific, like receiving dividend payouts of $1,200 a month by the time you are 62 years old, is a goal. 

These goals are your financial road map. They tell you whether you are on track, how to re-balance your portfolio if you are not, and what sort of risks you can take. People who invest without goals will get random results, and tend to lose more than they make in the long run.

If you are not confident of planning your financial goals, speak to a wealth manager or financial advisor. 

2. Don’t Try to Time the Market

For most new investors, timing the market (trying to buy low and sell high) is inadvisable. It is not easy to identify when the market has bottomed out, and when it is at a peak. Remember that each successful trade requires two correct decisions: you must not only buy at the right time, but also sell at the right time. It is like a coin toss game, in which you need two consecutively correct guesses for each win.

You are better off looking at long term, passive investments. Think blue chip stocks or Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Buy them, reinvest the dividends, and hold for 10 to 15 years. This is also much less stressful, as you will not need to worry about fluctuating stock prices all the time.

3. Buy the Whole Market

If you are unfamiliar with reading annual reports, understanding D/E and P/E ratios, etc. then avoid picking your own assets. Consider buying an index fund (e.g. ST Index fund). This will automatically diversify your investments for you, across different companies listed on the exchange. The returns of an index fund will closely mimic the index (with some variation due to fees and tracking error), and there is no need to make difficult trading decisions.

4. When Buying Funds, Watch for Fees

Funds have a fee, often expressed as the Total Expense Ratio (TER). This is the amount taken from your returns to pay the fund managers, pay its office staff, cover the marketing of the fund, etc.

The TER eats into your returns. So if the fund provides returns of 7%, but has a TER of 2.5%, you are only really getting returns of 4.5%. 

In general, actively managed funds will have TERs of around 2 - 3%. An index fund (see point 3) has a much lower TER, often 0.5% or under. This is one reason ETFs often generate higher returns than mutual funds: 

If a mutual fund with a 2% TER generates a 5% return, you would only really be getting 3% returns. But if an ETF generates the same 5% return, and has fees of just 0.5%, your return would be 4.5%. 

5. Follow Your System

There will be days when your investments take a beating, or when the news is broadcasting a financial meltdown. You might feel a strong need to “cut and run” when this happens. However, this is potentially the worst thing you could do: if you sell when prices drop, you would be buying high and selling low. That’s the opposite of a profit making decision.

Instead, you should remember you’re in this for the long haul. Over 10 or 15 years, irregularities in the stock market tend to get ironed out. You need to shut out the noise, and at most talk to an advisor about rebalancing your portfolio a little. Never start selling in a panic, just as you would not rush to buy on impulse. 

6. Don’t Invest with Borrowed Money

Institutions do this all the time, but individuals shouldn’t. If you engage in margin trading, or seek any form of leverage, remember that it amplifies gains as well as losses. And one of the silliest things you can do is take out a loan to invest the money: it is improbable that you can out-invest the 6-8% interest on a loan. Even if you did, your returns are 6 - 8% lower because you need to pay back the loan anyway! 

If you really want to maximise your options with personal loans, keep it toward debt consolidation, or dealing with crises.

This article is contributed by Allyson of

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