Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Your Options For Funeral Insurance (Guest Post)

Most people do not want to start on the topic of reviewing their options for Funeral Insurance. The good news is that it is not as daunting as so many make it seem. In fact, many people enjoy comparison shopping when it comes to insurance policies.

Funeral insurance costs are designed to cover all the expenses of your funeral. The thing about some plans is that when you subscribe to these, you end up paying more in premium payments. Some of the risks associated with these include:

  • Premiums that can be fixed or increased every year which vary according to your gender and certain habits, such as smoking and drinking.
  • When premiums are not fixed, you won’t know how much the amount rises in the years to come. This can be tricky, especially if you like to plan your cash flow ahead of time.
  • If you do the math, you will find that premiums can actually add up to around four times the real cost of the funeral.
  • Probably the worst thing about these policies is that as soon as you stop paying, the amount that you did put into the policy is no longer there for you to claim and neither is the insurance coverage on any partial level.
Fortunately, there are other suitable options that you can go for, such as life insurance policies, funeral bonds, and pre-paid funeral plan solutions. 

Funeral Bonds
Funeral bonds are offered by friendly societies and life insurance companies. They require you to make a lump-sum payment and pay in installments. The money is then invested and can be used to cover for a funeral. The bond can either be in one person’s name or a joint agreement between two people. With a joint plan, the benefit is paid at the time of the death of the first owner.

Life Insurance
There is a great alternative to getting yourself a feasible funeral plan; plain old life insurance! Life insurance works as a standalone policy as well as a superannuation fund. The amount that is covered does not only include insurance for funeral costs, but also results in a payout for the people close to you, especially those who rely on you.

Pre-paid Plans
The pre-paid option covers either part or all of your funeral expenses. Usually, this is done at current prices. The services that you pay for are covered at the time of death no matter how much the plan costs at that particular time. 

There are plenty of ways you can pre-pay for your funeral through these plans. You can go for Small Contributory Funds where you make regular, small payments. The Pre-Purchases Plan is where you pay for a cemetery plot, the wall niche and the spot in the memorial ground. You pay for the entire funeral in the Pre-paid Funeral Policies. You can even make a deposit to pay installments over time. However, it should be noted that not all services offer a refund when you decide to cancel.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How Is My Minion Portfolio Doing In 2016?

Time flies, we are one-and-a-half week away to bid farewell to 2016, most people are starting to recap/review their hits and misses in 2016 and making resolution for 2017 and beyond.

So, I would like to take this opportunity to recap my portfolio's performance in 2016. Even though there are still a couple more days to go but since my transaction volume is usually low and bearing in mind of my minion portfolio size, I don't expect it will change much during these few days.

Here goes the summary of my portfolio (status as at 21/12/2016):

Current Portfolio:
Total Invested Capital                                 : SGD 47,060 (from 9 counters)
Total Current Market Price                         : SGD 39.,460
Dividend Collected                                     : SGD 4,160
Unrealized Gain/Loss (Exclude Dividend) : -SGD 7,600 [-16%] 
Unrealized Gain/Loss (Include Dividend)  : -SGD 3,440 [-7%]

Realized Gain so far (include Dividend) : SGD 570

As you can see, I am still paying my "school fee" (i.e. making a loss :-)). Two of the main contributors are EV Energy, my only US stock which is related to O&G industry and King Wan. Also, through this short investing journey of mine, I've further confirmed (stamped and double chopped) that I am not good (or should I said not enjoying) interpreting/digesting the numbers. Not sure how many retail investors are like me but you know you are not enjoying it (the number crunching) when you tends to procrastinate it and don't have the sense of satisfaction. 

Having said that, it doesn't mean that I will stop investing or totally ignore the Fundamental Analysis, just that going forward I might not spend too much time in crunching the numbers, or I might start to learn some basic Technical Analysis to supplement my investment decision. Something for me to ponder in 2017 and beyond...


Thursday, December 15, 2016

From Fourth Telco To Fed Rate Hike - Exciting December

Exciting week! 

Exciting December!

While many of us are busy planning/clearing our leaves in the year end as well as cracking our head on what Christmas presents to buy, just within the span of one week, we've two major announcements (even though mostly anticipated, but still) smacked right on our face. I am sure at least one of the announcement has direct impact to what you are investing or about to invest.   

First, the announcement of the fourth telco in Singapore. Finally, it was officially awarded by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to TPG Telecom (Australia). It made the winning bid of S$105 million for the spectrum on offer. For more details, check our the article from Channel News Asia. 

If you are currently holding or looking at the existing telcos (Singtel, Starhub or M1), what would you do now? Personally, I have some odd lots of Singtel and am looking into adding some during these few days. Failed to get it at $3.70 today and will try my luck again tomorrow, before the XD on 19/12/2016.

Secondly, the anticipated Fed Rate hike is REAL now! Finally, the central bank raised its key short-term rate to a range of 0.5%-0.75% from 0.25% to 0.5%. If the report is true, more rates hike is expected in 2017. 

The impact? The more obvious ones might be the stronger greenback, weaker gold and oil price and the performance of REITS (negatively). Certain industries will feel more heat than the others. In any case, my move is no move at the moment or like the saying in Chinese,  静观其变.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Are You Happier In Saving Extra $X OR Earning Extra $X?

There is a saying (from personal finance perspective) : "How much you earned is not the key, the key is how much you've saved"!  

Do you buy it?

Of course, again, there is no right or wrong answer to this but more of a personal viewpoint.

Having said that, I think it is beneficial for us to identify our own preference so that we can focus on the action that will make us happier. Hence, the purpose of this post :

"Are you happier in savings extra $X OR earning extra $X?"

Assuming all things being equal, you can either :
A) Save extra $1,000 per month  OR
B) Earn extra $1,000 per month

Which option (A or B) will make you happier?

1. For Option (A), you need to find way to cut-down your expenses in order to save the extra $1,000 ;
2. For Option (B), you need to find way to earn the extra $1,000 and can save or spend all or part of the extra money you've earned, it's up to you.
3. For Option (B), it can be passive or active income but try not to be restricted to the income from investment only
4. In measuring your happiness, please exclude the potential accumulated net-worth as one of the criteria, otherwise, Option (A) will have unwarranted advantage over Option (B).

Personally, I used to be more inclined to (A) but have since moving towards (B) nowadays. My rationale: Option (A) is limited to how much (expenses) you can cut while Option (B) has limitless upside AND opportunities to create multiple income streams (passive or active) is much more promising nowadays.

So, will it be Option A or B (not both) for you and why?


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Disconnected - Another Perspective From My Boss

Recently, in one of my company section meeting, our boss shared a stack of pictures/photos (in the Powerpoint slide) revolving around the theme of DISCONNECTED (service). 

Two of the pictures shared that I can still remember:

1. At one of the cinema chain (no name will be mentioned here), long queue being formed to buy movie tickets and beverages.

2. A copy of cheque (with some highlight on the section whereby we need to write the amount in numeric as well as in word forms).

So what is the disconnectedness here? 

Let me explain (or rather recite what my boss shared with us)...

For the first photo (the queue at the cinema chain), if you noticed, nowadays most of the cinema chains allow you to buy movie tickets as well as food and beverages at the same counter (actually you have no choice). In this setting, the counter staff need to juggle between dispensing you selected movie ticket(s), getting your coke as well as packing the popcorn of your choice. Hence, don't you think it make perfect sense why the long queue is being formed? 

If you are frequent movie goers, you will know that a couple of years ago, there are separate queue for buying movie ticket and food and beverages and usually the queue is not that bad. So, why fix something that is not broken? See the disconnect here? 

As for the second photo (the cheque), I think the disconnect is kind of due to legacy but the point is why do we need to write the cheque amount in both numeric and word forms? To catch the error (for what?)? To double confirm the intended amount to be issued by the cheque issuer? 

Personally I think it is to counter fraudulent or at least minimize the risk. But is it the only way (now) and at the expense of cheque issuer (for double work)? Whatever is it, nowadays lesser people are issuing cheque but it is still a good point to ponder. 

I am sure there are many more other disconnectedness examples that we are encountering in every aspect of life but that might not be a bad thing, it just means that there are rooms for improvement. 

Come and think of it, what is the disconnect in our local equity market that you can think of? 
- The minimum share price of 20 cents that was introduced not long ago? 
- Why the IPO can only be subscribed through selected bank issuer's ATM and not all? 

What do you think?


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