Thursday, May 21, 2015

Frasers Centrepoint Limited bonds allocation table (part 4)

Bonds allocation for FCL is out. The allocation table is shown below for future reference:



A few observations:

1. Everyone will get something because the balloting ratio is 1:1

2. A lot applied between 41 to 50 lots, including yours truly.

3. The allotment favours those who bid 25 lots and below. If you bid anything less than or equal to 25 lots, you get exactly what you want. Does it mean that it's not as hot, as say CMT bonds?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fraser Centrepoint Limited 3.65% pa bond (part 3)

Someone asked me what the returns are like when FCL do an early redemption. The bond is widely published as having a maturity period of 7 yrs, but we have to be mindful of the possibility of early redemption. I wrote more about the details here.


They have an interesting way of paying back the investor if they do an early redemption. The earliest optional redemption is on the 4th year, which is 22nd May 2019. They will redeem back at a price higher than the par value of $1. I've not seen such feature before in the bonds that I've studied. I think it's only fair to compensate the investors by giving them a higher par value for the interest payments that will be forfeited if FCL decided to redeem back the bonds early.


I did out a table to show the returns if they decided to do early redemption of the bonds. There are two factors here at work. Firstly, if instead of redeeming the bonds on the 7th year, they choose to redeem back on the 5th year, you will lose out on 2 years worth of interest payment. Secondly, because they choose to redeem back at a price higher than par, you will get a capital gain if you've bought the bond at a par value of $1. Which of the two factors will dominate?


I did out a table below to see the different returns on an annual basis.




You'll notice that it's actually quite a good deal if they choose to redeem back the bonds early. The missed interest payments is much lesser than the effect of boosting the redemption price of the bonds, netting you a return of 4.106% pa. Obviously as the date of redemption approaches the 7th year, the returns get lesser and lesser until it reaches 3.65% pa on the 7th year.


Is the chances of them redeeming early high? I'll say it's not. Interest rates should go up in 7 yrs time. Unless they do not need the money for working capital or have found a cheaper source of financing, I think they will want to drag out the debt to its full term of 7 years. Anyway, for a good bond, you'll want them to continue paying you forever!


What's the implication of this? I think even though the possibility of them redeeming the bonds is low, it still serves as a value point where the price of the bond will hover around. On May, 4th year of the bond, the price of the bond should be lower than 1.01825 and on Nov, it should be less than 1.014600. It doesn't make sense that the market price of the bond is higher than the possible redemption price at that point in time. But 4 years is a long time...who knows what will happen then? I'll still suggest that whoever wants this bond must be willing to wait out for the full term of 7 years, if not, you shouldn't be in this.


The last post I'll do for this FCL bond series is probably on the results of the balloting.

Here's the rest of the post:

1. FCL bond (part 1)
2. FCL bond (part 2)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fraser Centrepoint Limited 3.65% pa bond (part 2)

This is the second part of the Frasers Centrepoint Limited 3.65% pa bond. The first part is here. I managed to get a copy of the prospectus and read it. Hence, for ease of reading, I summarised the main points of the bonds again here, with some additional information:

-------------------------------------------------------------
Duration: 7 years until 22nd May 2022. 
Option for early redemption: Earliest date for optional redemption is 22nd May 2019 and on each interest payment date thereafter
Interest payment dates: 22nd May and 22nd November. First payment on 22nd Nov 2015.
Coupon yield: 3.65% pa

Open for subscription: 13th May 2015, 9 am
Closing: 20th May 2015, 12 noon
Minimum amt for retail: $2000, with integral multiples of $1000 thereafter

Retail (public tranche): $150 million
Institutional tranche: $50 million (closed!)
--------------------------------------------------------------



I decided to do a FAQ of questions that I had gathered from interacting with others on facebook and the comments from my previous post. The information is laid bare here. It's up to you to decide if this is a good deal or not and I won't answer questions regarding whether it's suitable for you.


1. Can we use CPF to apply?

No

2. Can we use funds from Supplementary retirement scheme (SRS) to buy?

There are two stages in this. Firstly, there is an initial offer of the bonds, which is what they are doing now. Consider this the same as the IPO of stocks. After this initial offer, the bonds will be listed on SGX, where you get to buy at whatever market price the bond is offered.

You cannot use SRS funds to buy this bond at the initial offer stage. However, you can use funds from SRS to purchase the bonds from the market after it is listed on SGX.

3. How long do you have to hold it?

7 years, if you want 0% chance of losing your initial capital. There is a slight complication in the redemption date, so please read point number 4 below. You can sell it anytime like stocks on SGX since the bond will be listed there, and you’ll be subjected to the market price of the bonds then. Hence, you might suffer a loss if you sell below $1 or book a profit if you sell above $1. Brokerage fees and comms apply too.

4. Can the issuer redeem the bonds earlier than the maturity period of 7 years?

Yes. In the prospectus, page 47, it is stated that the issuer can choose to redeem back the entire tranche but not in part, of the bonds starting from 22nd May 2019 (inclusive), on 22nd May and 22nd Nov each year. They will have to give 1 month to 2 months of notice to the holders if they choose to do so. Furthermore, should the issuer choose to redeem early, they will not redeem back at par value of $1.

The table, also taken from page 47 of the prospectus, state the redemption price of the bond in % of the par value of the bond at different possible redemption date starting from 22nd May 2019.




For example, if they choose to redeem on 22nd May 2020, which is earlier by 2 yrs from the maturity period of 7 years, they will have to redeem back the bond at 101.0950% of the par value of $1, which is $1.01095.

5. When are the interest payment dates?

The bonds pay out interest twice a year, on 22nd May and 22nd Nov each year, from 22nd Nov 2015 (first payment) to 22nd May 2022 (last interest payment). 22nd May 2022 is also the maturity date of the bond

6. What’s the par value?

The par value of this bond is $1. When it’s listed, it will come in board lots of 1000 ‘shares’. Par value is what the price of the bond is when it is first issued out, and also the price that the issuer will redeem back from you, regardless of market price, at the end of 7 yrs on 22nd May 2022. There is a slight complication, so please read point number 4.

7. What are the returns like?

If you bought the bond at par value of $1, and hold it for 7 yrs, you will be guaranteed your capital. On top of that, you will have interest paid to you at 3.65% per year, paid out twice a year.

If you bought the bond on the secondary market after it had been listed, the returns will then depend on the market price of the bond. If you buy it above par of $1, you will be guaranteed a loss upon maturity of the bond, because the issuer will redeem back the bond at $1, regardless of how much you bought it. On the other hand, if you buy it below the par value of $1, you will be guaranteed a profit at the maturity of the bond. 3.65% pa yield is only for a par value of $1, so if you buy above or below par, the yield will decrease or increase proportionally. For bonds, it’s better to calculate the yield to maturity if you buy it at any market price other than the par value, and at any other times other than the initial offer of the bond.

8.  How does the bond work? Can you explain how the process is like for us to be paid?

If you’ve experience in buying shares, this analogy should clarify your fears. If a company wants to be listed on SGX, they will do an IPO for investors to get in. So investors will buy at the IPO price through ATM or internet banking. If it is oversubscribed, the issuer will do balloting, so you might not get everything that you bid for. They will have an allotment table to tell you how many lots of this IPO you get based on how much you want to subscribe.

After this IPO is over, the company becomes listed on SGX and you can buy/sell it, subject to market price. The shares certificates are kept in the CDP account, which can be linked to your bank account. If the company gives dividends, they will check if your name is under the registrar by checking up the CDP account. If it is, then you’ll be entitled to the dividends. Once the dividend is paid, it’ll be transferred to your bank account tied to your CDP account.

If you sell the shares, the share certificates will be transferred electronically to the buyer after a few days. The money you get from selling it will be transferred to your bank account tied to your CDP account again.

That’s for shares.

For bonds, they will also do an IPO. The ‘IPO’ price of the bond is called the par value. Investors participate in the bond IPO by going to ATM or internet banking to subscribe for it. Again, if the bonds are oversubscribed, the issuer will do balloting so you might not get all that you subscribed for. The allotment will be based on a table just like the IPO of shares. I will highly suggest applying odd and not even number of lots if you want more.

After the IPO of the bonds is over, the bond will get listed on SGX and you can buy/sell subject to market price. The bonds are in board lots of 1000 ‘shares’, so the minimum you need to buy is $1000 (exclude brokerage and comms). The bond certificate is also placed in your CDP account and when interest is paid (twice yearly), they will check if your name is under the registrar by checking your CDP account. If you have the bond certificate in your CDP account, the ‘dividends’ of the bond will be paid to the bank account tied to your CDP account.

Should the issuer redeem back the bonds, the money that you get is again transferred to the bank account tied to your CDP account.

9.  Is it really guaranteed?

The guarantee of a bond is only as sure as the solvency of the underlying issuer. You will have to do your own judgement whether Fraser Centrepoint Limited will still be around in 7 years. If you think they have problems surviving till 2022, then it's better not to buy the bond.


Update: I did a post on the returns that you can if they choose to redeem it early on the 4th year. I'm just expanding a little more detail regarding the possibility of early redemption. Please read it here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Frasers Centrepoint Limited 3.65% pa, 7 yrs bonds

I was alerted to a facebook feed regarding this year's first retail bond launch. This is more exciting that the savings bonds thingy to me.

Frasers Centrepoint Limited (FCL) is offering a bond, open to both retail and institutional investors. The terms of the bonds are as follows:



Duration: 7 years
Coupon yield: 3.65%
Open for subscription: 13th May 2015, 9am
Closing: 20th May 2015, 12 noon
Minimum amt for retail: $2000, with integral multiples of $1000 thereafter

Retail (public tranche): $150 million
Institutional tranche: $50 million

This is likely the first bond I've seen in which the retail tranche is bigger than the institutional tranche. This will create a lot of good will for FCL. The usual way to apply is like applying for IPO, which is through participating banks like DBS, POSB, OCBC and UOB ATMs. Take note that you need to put in a min of 2k, with subsequent addition of 1k thereafter.

I suspect this will be taken up like hot cakes. I will personally bid a big part into this, if not for myself, it's also that I can 'sell' some to my parent's retirement portfolio that I'm managing for them. This is quite likely going to be traded in the open market like other bonds. There's a lot more details that I wish I can elaborate, but these details are found in the prospectus that is lodged in Opera MAS site. It's down now and I can't access it. I'll do another post on it soon.


Update: Here's the second part of the FCL bonds. There are very important information that I added after reading through the prospectus, including the optional redemption. Please do read it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Why am I interested in personal finance?

I thought this is a more relevant question that we can answer for ourselves, instead of why other people are not interested in it. As personal finance bloggers, we tend to think that the people from the other side of the fence are not as enlightened, at least in financial matters, as us. I guess those who are not interested in such matters will likewise make similar stereotypical viewpoints regarding these people are are obsessed over money. So I think the best way to convince is to let people hear your story, and how your personal experiences make you who you are. Hence, let's start with me.


Primary school:

When I was in primary school, I was just a normal kid who receives pocket money from parents. There's no entrepreneurial streak in me, as you would typically see in the childhood of people who are great business people. They would have started trading cards or doing some basic buying/selling right from the start. That's not who I am. I did receive a weekly pocket money though. I know some of my friends are getting money from their parents as and when they need to buy stuff. Some received money daily from their parents, but somehow mine is done on a weekly basis. On hindsight, this taught me a lot of knowledge regarding budgeting, that would have been completely missed out by folks by received their pocket money daily or on a needs-basis.

Verdict: I'm not financially acute then. Quite clueless regarding money.


Secondary school to JC:

The weekly pocket money upgraded to a monthly one. And that covered everything single thing - from bus stamps to food to entertainment and books. It wasn't a lot, though I can't remember how much. But thankfully, there isn't a lot of distractions anyway. The monthly pocket money that covers every single thing, means that I have to be a lot tighter in my personal accounting. I've to make sure my money last the entire month. Again, there's no desire for me to work for more money and I did zero vacation work in my entire secondary to JC life.

Verdict: I'm still not interested in money, though the lessons in budgeting due to the monthly pocket money is actually quite a good start to teach about how to maximize your output given constraints in your resources.




Army:

That was the time I stopped taking pocket money from my parents, but instead gave them half of my allowance as a pocket money to them. The money back then wasn't a lot. It's about $360 towards the end of my 2.5 yrs, which means it's substantially lesser in the earlier part of my NS days. I spent very little amount in the canteen. I doubt I can afford it, so I always visited the cookhouse for the free food, no matter how sucky it is. If I can do extra duty to earn money, I guess I would at that stage. But my camp do not practise that sort of thing, so my NS allowance is all that I have to survive. Again, not much spending because I don't think I could afford it, though I remember I bought my first CD player from Sony from my hard earned IPPT and marksman award.

Towards the end of the whole army, I saved about 5k from the lot. It's the most amount of money that I have in my entire life, at that point in time.

Verdict: With more exposure to consumerist lifestyle, I realise more and more the importance of having money. I was constantly reminded of the lack of money. I couldn't spend all that I want and expect my parents to bail me out of my debts. The responsibilities of giving money to parents taught me how important it is to pay your salary to something important first, before you proceed to spend it. Again, monetary constraints is the most important lesson to teach regarding budgeting. In army, I learnt how to set aside money for something important. In this case, it's giving money back to my parents.


University:

With more exposure to more social life and a introduction to a young adult socio-sphere, the need to spend more money on clothing and entertainment increases. And hence for the first time in my life, I had to work during the vacation. It was cheap, uninspiring kind of work. I remember that I had to complete 30 mins of work in 1 full working day, dragging longer than necessary because otherwise I had nothing else to do. It was just unbearably painful earning that miserable $5-$6 per hour for 1 month. I also had my first handphone, which I paid out of my own savings. The monthly plan is also paid for by me, using the monthly pocket money given. Thus, I can only afford those free $0 handset that comes with the plan. I remembered at that time, I wish I can start work sooner so that I can start earning my own keep.

Dating is also incredibly expensive. An average restaurant meal will mean I have sacrificed about 1 week of school canteen's meal money. That means I couldn't afford it. That applies to my then girlfriend (and now, wife) too.

Verdict: While I can work my life within monetary constraints in the past, it's getting harder and harder because you need money to have a normal kind of social life. I also realised how expensive dating can be - that need to impress and show generosity. Income needs to be raised because there's only so much things you can limit yourself from buying.


Working life:

For the first 2-3 years, suddenly I have this huge income coming in that I never had in my life. I proceeded to spend it, perhaps partly to compensate for the 'sufferings' I had in the earlier part of my life. I don't recall that I have much savings, if at all. But at least, I didn't bust my budget at all. Even with credit cards, the training from the earlier part of my life kicks in. I paid my bills on time, took advantage of the rewards granted by the usage of the card, and never exceeded more than what I earned.

But I wasn't going anywhere.

During the bull market phase, someone asked me to open a brokerage account together so that we can learn about the stock market. We heard that we can earn a lot of money from there. From there on, it was a roller coaster ride in the stock market. I wrote my journey all over the blog so I won't repeat it here. But after losing and winning money, it makes me want to find out more about it, so I read and read and read. I started reading 52 books a year to cram in all the information available so that I can make more. Those books are initially almost all personal finance, accountings, market analytics based.

It was during that period in time that I started my blog also, which is one of the smartest thing to happen in my life. It gave me a chance to meet like minded people and form an environment in which financial success can take place. You can't expect to fly if you keep mixing around with chickens, so they say. It's this immersion in an environment where I'm constantly reading financial news that makes me want to keep on reading and learning all that is about the money game. You start to form models of people whom you can emulate, and you realise that hey, it's possible to reach a certain level of financial enlightenment. Others can do it, so can I. That belief is very very powerful - that others can do it and so can you.

That's the pull factor. There's also a push factor towards learning more about personal finance, and that leans towards the darker side of motivation.

Sometime during that period, I felt that I was sold a big fat whole life plan that it constantly eating at me. I felt there's something wrong about it but I couldn't figure it out. I was that clueless in financial matters. That feeling eventually accumulated until I was so fed up, I need to research and read more about insurance. That started the whole ball rolling with regards to personal finance. There's a lot of incentives for me to find out what the hell is wrong with my feelings with regards to that big fat whole life plan I was sold to. On hindsight, I took personal responsibility and didn't blame the agent. Though it's a painful experience, it literally KICK start my ass to learn more to cover up my lack of knowledge in this area.

Also due to the nature of my job, I have to be my own HR manager and accountant. I have to keep track of where my income is coming from to see how much money I'm making per month. I didn't keep track of my expenses though because I thought it'll be too troublesome. I don't want to be fixated on money. Panzergrenadier, a blogger, introduced me to this book called "Your money or your life" by Joseph R. Dominguez that literally changed my life. In the book, the author talked about tracking your expenses. I wanted to start tracking for 1 month, but it gradually became 6 months, then 1 yr. I've been doing it since 2008, always taking care to update my spreadsheet and improve my tracking. Basically I'm hooked on improving my own personal productivity, and that includes productivity in terms of spending money.

On-going verdict: It started from greed in wanting to get more money, then the winnings/losses make me want to find out more about money. I would say that the fact that my skin is involved in the money game makes me want to find out more about the rules and how the money game is played. If there's no skin involved, we're just armchair critics. Of course, my childhood training in working tightly within budgets makes it one full package. Immersion into the conducive environment is extremely important too. If you want to be financially acute, join such a group in facebook or blogs. It's like learning a language, the more you read and hear, the better you'll be.

We have to learn how to unwind our money journey we had in our childhood. For mine, it's about learning how to relax and spend more. For others, it might be the complete opposite. I'm still learning how to relax a little and spend on things I should spend on, instead of living in a survival mode that I had been in the earlier part of my life.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The price and value of deprivation

Price is what you pay for and value is what you get. Usually this is applied for things that you purchase. But I guess it's equally applicable to things that we choose not to purchase.


If we choose not to buy something for $10, then we would have saved that $10. That's the price we had saved. But did we also correspondingly lost $10 worth of value? Rationally, we should choose to deprive ourselves of something if we can lose a value much lesser than the price of the goods or services that it costs. However, just like when we purchase things and we tend only to look at the price, we also NOT purchase something by only looking at the price, and not the value of the goods that we cannot enjoy.


Let me some examples. In my crazy 50k saving days, I used to scrimp and save on food. I would choose not to eat even when I'm hungry just to save a few dollars. Or, I'll buy low quality food that isn't healthy but is cheap. The price I've saved from not buying better quality food is perhaps a few dollars, but the value I lost is definitely more than the price I saved. Who knows what kind of long term health effects I could get from this? How about shoes? I used to buy cheap-skate shoes that wouldn't last me 1 month. Compared to a better quality branded shoes that cost up to $150 a pair, I might have saved $100 or more dollars. But the value I lost from not purchasing a better pair of shoes and not enjoying them, and even have to keep hunting for a pair constantly, is much more than $100.


Is it worth it?




That depends on where you are in your life stage. When your human asset is low, you have plenty of time and energy but likely have very little money. So, we don't mind going all the way out to save that few dollars. Of course it's worth it to save a few dollars. But when our human asset is built up to a point where we would rather spend money to save energy and time - those two most important and finite things that each of us have, then it's definitely not worth it.


Having said that, do know that while price is uniform, the value that we derive from the same goods and services is different for different people. To a foodie, spending $120++ a meal on an atas Japanese Omakase is a experience well worth the price. The value derived for that foodie is much more than the price of $120 paid. To deprive that joy of eating that meal can save him $120, but he correspondingly lost much more than $120 (If he eats Sucky Sushi, he will lose perhaps $10,000!). To a person who neither appreciates nor care about authentic Japanese cuisine, eating a $120 or a $10 Japanese meal makes no difference. It might not be worth it to spend that money.


So, spend on things you truly enjoy, regardless of how other people think. You are not others, and the value you lost by depriving yourself of something, just to save the price of paying for them, is not worth it, at least to you.


My friend Rolf will said this very aptly - Know yourself.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Is financial freedom a competition?

Recently, I saw this article that resonates deeply with me. It's about how we shouldn't be jumping from the corporate rat race to another unlikely race - that of financial freedom.


It's interesting to think of financial freedom as a competitive sports. Not too long ago, there's this massive spontaneous competition, likely sparked by the Sunday Straits times section, where 'competitors' take part to see if they can hit 100k by age 30. Why 100k? Why age 30? Asking these questions is like asking why we have to do a 100 m sprint, or why certain sports have an artificial demarcations of people above and below 60 kg. It's just arbitrary.


I think the most important essence of financial freedom is the freedom from thinking about money. And since the pursuit of money takes up a majority of our lives, freedom from money also gives us the freedom of time. Deconstructing financial freedom is important, because ultimately, after chipping away all the pieces that are not David, we end up with a splendid Michaelangeloestic piece of sculpture.




Thus, to understand what is financial freedom, we have to know what is not financial freedom. It's not to see who saves the most. It's not to see who gets the most passive income. It's not to see who can survive the longest with the least resources. It's not about living a frugal life of extremes and forgoing the things you really want because others are also not doing it. If we remove all these things that are not financial freedom, what do we get? We get a life where we're not concerned with the pursuit of money anymore. We also get a life where we stop the incessant comparison with others.


Now, I get it that you need benchmarks to pace yourself and know when you're slacking off. But the benchmark should be motivational. Motivation is a good emotion. Jealousy and envy isn't. If you can benchmark other people's achievements without the negative emotions, then I think you already have the financial freedom mindset. If you see someone having a much higher passive income than you, or having a higher savings ratio than you, and you start tearing down his achievements by looking at how his parents helped him or how he is born with a silver spoon, then you're still trying to win in a competition that you had subconsciously taken part.


If in the pursuit of financial freedom, you're still bounded by the rules of the rat race, then what had changed? You're still a competitor, even though you're taking part in another event.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fooled by randomness?

I've ever seen a student who is delusional. When he gets right, he'll claim that he's smart and clever. Especially if he didn't put in the effort compared to those 'muggers' who studied all day and night but scored worse than him. When he gets it wrong, he'll blame circumstances (oh he's sick, the paper is too hard, he's studying for another subject etc). What I think is that he didn't study at all, and it's just luck that got him good results, or luck that got him bad results. Basically, it's not consistent.


There are people like that when they participate in the stock market too. Except that they research deep into the company and bought it, and when the bullish market brings everything up, they mistook it for skill. These are the people whom you see screaming x% returns in y days. But when the market turns down, will they blame bad luck instead? People should read Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Fooled by Randomness. It's a good thesis on how we are fooled by seemingly random events, taking those good events as your own achievements, label it as 'skill' while discarding those failures and call it 'bad luck'.




I think it's useless to think whether your method of participating in the stock market is successful if you didn't test it in at least one cycle of bull/bear. Even then, I can't be sure if the method is successful. It's always work in progress and earning in progress. What the market provides, it can just as easily take it away. Don't ever think that because you reaped so much from the stock market, you're a smart market participant. The market might be starting the next round of fighting while you're still celebrating your victory from the previous round.


It's not easy behaving with the carefulness and humbleness of a newbie when you're no longer one. That's the lesson we all have to learn, if we want to be a long term survivor.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

The conversation between a caterpillar and a butterfly

Somtimes, the strangest tale comes from the inspiration of fellow bloggers. In this case, SMOL's post on butterflies got me thinking. I'll be the first to admit. This short story below is adapted from another book that I read.




Emile the butterfly floated down to the Francis the caterpillar, who is her friend. But Francis didn't seem to recognise who the butterfly is. I mean, how could anyone blame Francis? Emile looks so beautiful and was floating with the wind! Nothing could be more different than a hairy caterpillar!

"Follow what I do, Francis! You'll be free from your earthly bounds! Oh goodness, why can't Francis understand what I'm saying?!" Emily nearly screamed in exasperation.

Just a few days ago, Emile said goodbye to Francis because she's going on a personal journey.

"Where to?" Francis asked sadly. "Can I tag along please?"

"No, Francis," Emile replied firmly. "This is a personal journey. And I have to go alone. Sorry."

But Francis didn't let Emile go alone. He followed her quietly, and saw Emile crawling up a branch solemnly and started pulling white threads all around herself, until she was fully covered with this white silky tent. Francis was still faithfully waiting for Emile to emerge out from her strange retreat, believing that she just needed some time off for herself. He was there waiting, every single day. But one day, seemingly overnight, Francis noticed that there is an opening at Emile's silky tent. Cautiously, Francis crawled near to it to check if Emile is finally out of her retreat.

There's nobody around.

Except now there's a strange colourful winged creature near Emile’s empty tent. It's floating near to Francis, seemingly trying to tell him something. It landed near to the ground at Francis, and then floated to Emile's empty tent, then again to an empty spot on a branch. This creature repeated the same pattern again and again.

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This is how I 'saw' the conversation between the caterpillar and the butterfly. How would the story end? Would the butterfly give up and join the rest of the butterfly? Would the caterpillar give up and grieve for his lost friend? Or would the caterpillar have an epiphany that he also had to follow the unknown and uncharted path that his friend Emile had hinted him?


Some things just cannot be taught - it had to be experienced. If you had not experienced the transformation, you wouldn't be able to speak the same language as those who had been metamorphosized. You can show others, but you cannot make them change. And yet everyone has the potential to be transformed, if you'll only want it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saying 'I CAN'!

When I first started working as a full time tutor 10 years ago, I had many self limiting beliefs. Looking back now, it seems rather ridiculous that I had those beliefs, but I remembered that these beliefs were very real and very limiting to me at that point in time. Let me list down some of them:


1. No working during standard meal times

I thought that I'm normal and I should have a normal working hours. I assume that students will also have fixed meal times, so I didn't want to schedule my lessons around 12 to 130 pm and 6-8 pm. It was such a limiting idea, because it restricts the number of lessons, and hence working hours, that I can do. It took me about 2 years to fix this limiting belief. After that, I'm all set. I can have my dinner at 1030 pm, which is what happened yesterday night after my lessons. Or I can eat my lunch at 1030 am. Makes no difference to me, though I try not to eat my dinner late at night because it'll disrupt my sleep routine.


2. No work during public holidays and on weekends

Again, when I first started, I thought I should have a normal working hours with normal social life. This is one of the first self limiting belief that I discovered I had, and the first one to go. It just wouldn't do if I can't work on weekends and public holidays, as I know I wouldn't be able to clock enough hours to make a reasonable pay working as a full time tutor. These days, public holidays and weekends are my busiest, as it should be.


3. I can't teach what I didn't know

I used to reject assignments that I deemed are beyond me. I started teaching secondary school Emaths. Then someone asked me to teach them Amaths, so I was very reluctant to do so because I'm not confident. But confidence comes from preparation, and the fact that I can work harder and longer and do more than my tutee. It's a mind blowing principle. If you're not confident to teach, prepare harder than your students. They cannot know more than you do, otherwise you're not doing your job. So one thing leads to another, I'm soon teaching the entire spectrum of secondary school subjects, jumped to Primary school subjects, next to A'lvl, then IB, and after that it's poly engineering modules, followed by business statistics modules and then to university's statistics and financial modules.

If I had listened to my inner voice not to step outside my comfort zone, to only teach what I know, then I wouldn't have expanded the repertoire of what I can teach. I wouldn't be able to learn independently what I needed to do to teach someone.


4. I'm not worth the fees

I'm constantly upgrading my self worth. Funny isn't it? Sometimes I still think that people shouldn't pay me so much for tuition. I think my tuition fees is as high as my own self worth with regards to my career. I started off with $22/hr, and every other year I'll have to reason to myself whether I added value to others before I can increase it. There's a mental block inside me to ask for higher fees. And I realised not every tutor has this mental block. It's a confidence issue, I believe. Some undergraduate fresh from A'lvl charges even higher than what I charge as an experienced full time tutor. They can do it, but I can't. This is something that is still work in progress.




The very first step to remove self limiting beliefs is to identify them. It can be so pervasive and ingrained that you do not even think of it as a self limiting belief. It's the ability to hide among your consciousness that causes these beliefs to become your reality. Let's say you want to save money. Perhaps these are the self limiting beliefs that you have:


1. I don't earn enough money like the rest, so how do I save?

2. I'm not like the rest - I've a family and a lot more commitments, how can I compare with them?

3. I need my car (or coffee, or bags, or gadgets, or whatever other material things). Life's not worth living without it. What's the point of suffering so much to save?

4. YOLO (you only live once), might as well enjoy while we can.


Everyone of these is a self limiting beliefs. If you believe it enough, they will become a reality. If you don't question your basic assumptions about how you live your life, then how can you change it? Start by taking charge of your life. Be open to changes and just say YES first. There's enough naysayers around you who do a very good job of saying NO, so be the first to say YES to yourself. Give it a go...what's the worst that can happen?


At most just F.A.I.L. That's just a First Attempt In Learning.