Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Analyzing an Aphorism

Have you seen this quote before?




On my social media feeds, I've been fed this quote a couple of times this week. The first time I read it, it seems pretty logical. In fact that's the thing I told my wife too when she goes on some bulk purchase to save a couple of dollars. The second time I've seen it, I had a nagging feeling that something isn't quite right. So I went to think and analyse deeper into this statement.

Firstly, what is savings? Savings is what's left of your income after spending. Mathematically, the formula is:

Savings = Income - Expenses

Let's just put a number to these items in order to illustrate the situation better. Let's assume the following:

A) Income = $3000
B) Expenses = $2000
C) Savings = $3000 - $2000 = $1000

The above illustrates the base situation where we did not make the purchases. In our base scenario, our savings is $1000.

Let's analyse 3 possible cases:

1) Discretionary purchases (things you can do without)

For frivolous and discretionary purchases, we usually compare against the case of not buying it vs buying it. Why? Because we can well do without it. If you spend $750, your expenses increases by $2750, so your savings becomes $3000 - $2750 = $250. Between not buying and having a savings of $1000, vs buying and having a savings of $250, you save lesser by $750.



2) Non-discretionary purchases (things you can't do without)

For non discretionary purchases, we usually compare against the case of buying the item at non-discounted price vs buying at discounted price. If u buy at a non-discounted price of $1000, your expenses increases to $3000. Hence your savings becomes $3000 - $3000 = 0. If you buy at a discounted price of $750, your savings becomes $250. Since it's an item that you have to buy anyway, you save $250 if you buy at this discounted price. Notice that we do not compare against the case of not buying it and having a savings of $1000, because it is a purchase that we must make.



3) Investments (things you buy that increases your income)

For purchases that increases your income, the spending of $750 may result in a rise in future income. If your future income increases by more than the amount spent, you save more even after the purchase. If future income increases less than the amount spent, then net net there will be less savings. So, it depends on the investment returns to see if we save more or we save less or we don't save at all.




It's not so simple now, isn't it? As with all aphorism, the simple statement works as a good soundbite - catchy, memorable and impressive. But it simplifies the truth of the matter too much. There's a lot of details that need to be mentioned.


We can put this analysis to the test by analysing the purchase of a car. If a car is a discretionary purchase, the fall in COE has nothing to do with you. Having the cost of the car dropping from 100k to 80k still means that you have to spend 80k. However, if a car is a decision you are going to make anyway, a drop in the cost of the car is great for you. Now you can make the car purchase at a cheaper price, resulting in a net savings of 20k. Finally, if your car can make you earn more income because it extends your range and reach and allows you to save time and energy, it doesn't mean you should commit to the purchase immediately. The next step is to see if the potential increase in income is worth more than the purchase. Frankly, it need not even be just the increase in income, because we could be looking at other intangible stuff that we cannot put a money value to it. If after weighing all the good against the total cost of the car, and you think it's worth it, then we can go on and make the purchase.


Next time when someone says buying something is not a good purchase, you'll have to ask yourself first : out of the 3 scenarios, which one fits your situation the best?

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Learning new things for fun

In the last week or so, I've been learning programming. I've done programming in the past using an ancient computing language typically used in old ancient physics or engineering lab (Fortran, if you must know) back in my university days. This time, it's a new age computing language called Python.

I've never been so excited about learning new things for a long while. One fine day, I just decided I wanted to continue my coding journey, so I just picked a language and started reading about it. I downloaded the python software (free) and started working on it. The time that I usually spent playing games is now replaced with learning and playing with Python.

The very first thing that I did is to code this algorithm I came up with 3 yrs ago here. I've been thinking about this problem for quite a long while (easily 6 to 8 yrs), but chanced upon the most efficient way to mathematically describe the problem 3 yrs ago while teaching some new subjects to a new student. Once I know the math behind it, the next logical step is to code it in this new language.

Next, I tried to code this problem that I knew will be somewhat challenging to me at my current skill level. I want the user to key in the birth month and date, then the program will be able to give the appropriate astrological signs (e.g. Taurus, Aquarius, Libra etc). I like the challenge of transforming a simple idea into something concrete and I was definitely in the flow yesterday as I came up with the process. 3 hrs flew by and I didn't even notice!




A few interesting insight:

1) This is the first few times I do something first before knowing something. What do I mean? I have an objective in mind. I just try coding it immediately. I fail because there are some things I don't know. Then I'll read up and search around, and try again until I succeed. This problem-based learning makes it frustrating but it's this frustration that the thing is nearly within your grasp that pushes you to dig a little deeper. This exponentially increases the way I pick up and retain new knowledge. This iterative process is usually not the way I learn something.

2) I didn't learn this for work purposes, nor for some certification. I did this purely for fun. I'm actually dreaming up interesting projects every now and then, and try seeing if I can succeed. Actually I'm not so interested in the actual coding part, but more about how to come up with the algorithm of doing things. Might be useful in life, but hey, I'm having fun, and that's the most important!

3) A student asked innocently if I teach coding. Hmm, maybe this might turn out to be a money making hobby after all. Totally unexpected and I definitely didn't plan it this way, so it's quite a bonus for me if I did make some income out of it.

4) How come I didn't sign up for those courses at Udemy or skillsfuture? I don't know. I am 'iron-teeth' (colloquial slang for stubborn) perhaps, wanting to do things my own way. I just got a textbook and jumped straight in. I think structured courses makes life easier, but I prefer charging up the hill. The learning is more robust, more practical to my needs and also more open ended. It's important for me to feel like a total newbie trying to master a new skill, based on my own effort. Puts me deep in the seat of a beginner, and so I can understand the difficulties of learning new things. As a tutor, it's important for me to experience being a beginner every now and then. This will put me in the right perspective when I'm teaching.

5) I'm definitely playing. How do I know this? I didn't just code it, I played with the code. I tried ways to make it more efficient, or set my own limiting constraints. Basically I don't just want to see a program done, I want to keep working on it until it's no longer fun. If I just want to get it done, I'll have paid a small sum and used fiver or other freelancing work to outsource it to an expert.


With the internet and google plus youtube, all the information in the world is out there waiting for an interested student to read it and learn.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The key to unlock doors

Today, my wife and I went to grocery shopping. We're looking for a pack of Origins Organic hulled millet that my son is eating as a porridge daily. It's running out and we desperately needed a packet to refill it up. It probably didn't help that it was about to rain heavily and I only have about 30 mins turnaround time to get back home because a student is coming for lessons. In other words, I'm looking for a grab and go situation, not really in the mindset for shopping around.

Not my wife.

I went to the usual shelf where the millet is, but it was empty. I searched around neighboring shelves to see whether there are any hidden packs, but I couldn't find any. I thought that it's time to go back empty handed now, and I'm all ready to give up and go home.

Not my wife.

She saw a employee packing some stuff at a nearby shelf, with several large carton of unpacked boxes on a trolley near her. My wife went ahead to ask her if there's any more stock left for the hulled millet. She said it's still in the process of packing. Right now, most people would have left there and then and accepted the fact that nobody is going to buy any hulled millet today.

Not my wife.

She asked if she can help her unpack the cartons containing the hulled millets. And we started partly opening each carton on the trolley to see if they contain the stuff we wanted. If not, we pack it up and move it to another spot, and repeat the process. To an oblivious observer, it seems like we're actually packing the store. Eventually after moving like 5 to 6 big cartons, we managed to find the exact carton with the hulled millet. I think in the process of helping ourselves, we also helped the auntie just a little to unpack the super heavy cartons off the trolley.




This is one of the lessons I'm trying to learn after coming out of school, that there's no definite yes and no and everything is negotiable. Life is not an MCQ (multiple choice question) where there is only one answer in the marking scheme. Human relations is the key to unlock a lot of locked doors out in the real world. Apparently, I needed a revision course on this particular lesson.

Not my wife.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Evolution of worry

Before my kid is born, I am worried about whether he will have genetic faults. The worry is real so both of us went to do some checkup to see if we have any hereditary illness that might be passed down to the next generation.

Then when he is born, I'm worried about whether his hearing is alright. He initially failed the test, but was okay after a second try the following day. When he is still crawling, I worry about whether he can walk. When he starts walking, I worry about when he will start talking.

Basically the worry is always there, just that the thing I worry about changes. That itself is a good thing because the nature of my worry evolves as we grow and mature. It'll be a problem if we keep worrying about the same thing over and over again, because that will mean that we never grow bigger and thus our problems remain the same.

It's interesting being a parent to a growing kid, because you start to see things from its very basic form, evolving to become more complex, and I hope that in the future, it'll become simpler again. A to B and back to A, isn't that back to square one? Isn't that a waste of time? No, I believe the journey itself is the point, not the end point.

My student is sitting for his common test these few days. He worries about whether he will complete the exam on time. But not too long ago, he was worrying about whether he will even pass his O'lvls. I reminded him of it, and he smiled. I also smiled. At the same time, I worry about whether my income can feed the family. Maybe in the future when my health deteriorate, I will worry about whether I can still see my family in the next hour.




While I worry about when my son will start calling me 'papa', I think back about the time when my biggest concern is whether he will be born healthy. All in due time.

And I smile.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

MyRepublic's Uno plan speed testing

Towards the end of May, I switched my mobile plan from a sim only plan from M1 @ $25 per month to MyRepublic's Uno plan @ $8 per month. This plan suits me to a T, because I don't like having a lot of excess data since I only use only 1 Gb per month working at home. I love the free caller id and best of all, there's this thing called boundless data. The plan gives me 1 Gb but if I exceeded 1 Gb of data in that month, I won't be charged for it. Instead, they will throttle the data speed so that you can do the bare minimum of things. If you want a speed that you don't have to rage, then you just need to top up the data and pay more.



The full details of the plan are as follows:

MyRepublic Uno plan 
 - 1Gb data
 - 1000 min talktime and 1000 sms
 - boundless data (throttled speed after 1 Gb)
 - free caller id
 - free incoming calls and sms
 - No contract

The main aim of this article is to highlight the throttled data speed after exceeding the allocated 1 Gb. Does the throttled speed allow you to do the basic stuff like checking email, surf, call (using data) and youtube?

These are the test parameters:

1) I stay in the east, specifically Bedok/Tanah merah area. I work at home and occasionally I'll travel also around the east side. It matters because MyRepublic is under Starhub, so the coverage for different areas will be different.

2) I'm using Android phone, Xiaomi Mi5 and my app for the speed test is Speedcheck Pro.

3) I tested the speed at various timing throughout the day during working hours. No early morning or midnight tests. Also the places where I tested is not crowded with people.

4) I did not do any speed test at any mrt lines while travelling

I'm going to comment on the data speed and quality, email checking, surfing, data calls and also some common apps before and after the throttle.


Here's my data speed before and after the data throttle:


* DL - download speed
* UL - upload speed

I did 6 sets of speedtest before my 1Gb limit is up, and another 6 sets after my 1Gb limit is up. Test parameters of the test had been described above already. You can see that before the throttle, the average download speed is 33.6 Mbps and the upload speed is 9.45 Mbps. After my data limit is hit, the download and upload speed of my data is throttled to 0.23 Mbps and 0 Mbps respectively. In fact, the speed test is interrupted by intermittent connection, especially during the upload part. Can't blame it...each test sends takes 100 Mb of data.


According to the speedcheck pro app that I'm using, they mentioned a rough guide on what is considered laggy and good speed (DL/UL) for different uses. These are screenshot as follows:

Email:


Browsing:


Streaming:


Video chat:


Gaming:



Based on the above guidelines, my usage experience before throttle gives me this:

Email: green
Browsing: yellow
Streaming: green
Video chat: yellow
Gaming: yellow

And after throttling:

Email: red
Browsing: red
Streaming: red
Video chat: red
Gaming: red

Wow..is it so bad after my 1Gb limit is reached? I tried emailing myself using a small attachment of about 200kb and felt no difference. Maybe it's a bit laggier, but I wouldn't know much because I don't have a lot of experiences sending email with attachment using my mobile phones. But normal email experience is perfectly fine. While the rating for email is red, I will say it's still usable. Just don't attempt to attach big files to your email and it should be fine.

Browsing feels appreciably laggier. I have to wait for the entire site to load and you can see parts of the site being loaded while others are still waiting. Pictures takes forever to load. I mean I can finish the entire text and still the pictures are still loading. I think browsing experience really deserves a red rating. Don't do serious browsing here, or you'll go crazy and start pulling your hair.

Streaming is a mixed bag. Netflix recommended at least 0.5 Mbps download speed, and we don't have that kind of speed after throttling. I tried to watch Netflix and the "loading...." screen seems to be there all the time. I gave up after a while. As for youtube, you can still continue watching. I find that the best experience for me is to watch it at 240p. Anything higher will have to be continuously interrupted by the loading every 10 s or so. I think 360p is also okay, but you might have to wait a while longer for the loading to be done in ahead before you actually view it. I'm actually surprised I can watch a you tube video after throttling.

Facebook work fine, until you start clicking on the video or the comments. It'll take a little longer than usual to load but it'll work. It's not as irritating as browsing though, so I feel it's still acceptable. Whatsapp messaging feels as normal and I tried the data call from whatsapp too. To me it's okay, and not especially lagging (data call are already laggy). But why would anyone want to data call when there are 1000 mins from voice call? I didn't switch on the face mode though, so perhaps there might be a suitable lag with the data throttle.

I don't game online with my handphone, so I've no comments on that.

Someone did a speed test before and after throttle too and got about the same result as me. The post is linked here. He practically got the same numbers as me, with the download/upload speed as 0.25 Mbps / 0.08 Mbps, so altogether we have 2 sets of independent study on the data throttling by MyRepublic after hitting the data limit of 1 Gb on the Uno plan.

As a side note, I really love their app. At a glance, I can see how much data I have, the number of sms and min of voice call left. If needed, you can top up and get instant data boost. This is one of the most friendly app I've used. I've used starhub and M1, but not circle line. But I suspect these days the telcos are really ramping up on their app to boost user experience.



I especially like it that the app have a date and time to tell me when the next reset is. There are many times when I have to check my contract and guess when the reset is when I'm with starhub and M1. Their app is just not that intuitive. This app even give me the exact time of the reset.


Verdict:

What's not to like about this? As I said, this plan fits me to a T. I understand that there are people who uses more than 1 Gb and this will not be a good fit. As for me, I'm smiling broadly because I save about $200 per year off my handphone bill.


Update 1: 21st Jun 2018 2pm

I just got wind of the fact that 3-4 hrs after I posted this article, MyRepublic no longer have this plan. Now they have 3 plans with the cheapest at $35/mth. Thankfully I didn't wait longer, otherwise I will regret for the rest of my life! Haha, I exaggerate, but yeah...

Update 2: 21st Jun 2018 5pm

A bigscribe member told me that the Uno plan is still available.
1) Go to : https://mobile.myrepublic.com.sg/plans/promotions
2) Go check out forum to see the promo code to get the Friends Of MyRepublic
3) Sign up Uno plan for $8/mth

But better hurry, not sure when they will really stop the plan once and for all.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Easier to be a good dad than a good mum

When I go out, I always see wives scolding or complaining that their husbands are doing a super bad job taking care of kids. The husband literally just stand there and suck it up while their furious wife is pouring out all her troubles in public. I ever asked my wife if she'll do that to me in the future, and she asked if I'll do that to her instead.

The truth is that it's easy to be a good dad. In fact, it's easier to be a good dad compared to a good mum. The standard of a good dad to hurdle over is way way lower than that of a good mum. I mean a dad just needs to do a little housework, maybe cook a little, wake up at night perhaps once a week and change the diapers once in a month, and he'll be hailed as a national hero to be lauded with praises. "He's a good catch!", says random friends and relatives.




But the mum, despite having to work, look pretty, do housework, cook daily, do night duty almost every day and change the diapers almost every time, will still fall short of expectations. "How come you're still so fat 2 yrs after giving birth?", asked concerned random relatives during family gathering. "How come the baby is waddling in the mud, tsk tsk...the mum is not doing a good job", says observant random passerby.

I see it and I try my best to correct the inequality and unfairness in the whole dynamics. I did my fair share of work, but due to conflict of interest, perhaps only my wife can comment on whether I am really fair and equal in sharing the duties of child caring between ourselves.

To all the fathers who are ticked off by their wives in public, I wish I can help you deflect some of the attention, but you know I can't. The best thing you can do is to step up to the challenge and start being a good dad, by living up to the standard of being a good mum.


Happy Father's day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Astrea IV private equity Class A-1 bond

Astrea IV is a wholly owned subsidiary of Azalea Asset Management Pte. Ltd, which is indirectly wholly owned by Temasek Holdings. They are issuing bonds from their private equity funds, so this marks the first time we have a retail bond linked to companies that are not publicly listed and thus not accessible to the general non-accredited retail investors like you and me. Wholly shit.


BOND DETAILS

Name: Class A-1 Bonds 10NC5

Interest: 4.35% pa, semi annual payment. If not redeemed after 5 yrs on Jun 2023, will step up to 5.35% pa

Maturity: 10 yrs, on 14th Jun 2028 with scheduled call date on 14th Jun 2023. "Scheduled" is not "optional". If there is sufficient cash set aside for the class A bond to be redeemed, it must be redeemed. It's not an option. 

Application for IPO: Min $2k, with integral multiples of $1k thereafter

Period of application for IPO: 6th Jun 2018 9am to 12 Jun 2018 12 pm

Rating: Expected to be rated Asf by Fitch and A(sf) by S&P

Extra features: There is a bonus redemption premium of an amount not exceeding 0.5% of the principal amount. This means that if the par value if $1.000, the bond might be redeemed at less than or equal to $1.005, if conditions are met. The condition is that the sponsor receives 50% of its total equity (US $313 million) on or before 14th Jun 2023.

You can read more details from the full prospectus here. Product highlight can be found here.


Kyith has a more in depth and detailed write up on this same bond, so if you're into the nitty gritty details, you can check it out here. Kenichi kindly shared this video by Azalea regarding the bonds. Have a look below:



PERSONAL TAKE

1) Firstly, this is not Hyflux. This is a rated A bond by the rating agency. While I don't give a shit what they say about the bond, ultimately a rated A bond is still better than an unrated bond because the financials support it.

2) Putting money into a bond is lending money to others, who are likely going to take the borrowed funds and invest at a higher returns while giving you a lower interest. If you're not comfortable lending them at 4.35% while they earn an astronomical returns of 15 to 30% and pocketing all the difference, then don't lend. The risk profile of investing in private equity fund directly and lending money to private equity fund in the form of bonds are totally different. While it's true that private equity investors have higher upside, they have a greater downside as well.

3) After IPO, the bonds is going to be transacted in the open market at SGX on 18th Jun 9am. If you're not going to hold until they redeem back, you can sell it off at the market price. The market price is just what the name suggests - it can be higher or lower than the capital you put in, and you still have to include commissions. If you hold until maturity at the 5 yr or 10 yr mark, then you'll get back all your principal, and perhaps plus a little more because of the bonus redemption premium.

4) The interest rate is going up now, so in the event of a huge rise in interest over the next 5 yrs or so, the market price of the bond might go lower. If you can't hold for the entire duration of the bond until they redeem it, you might have to suffer a capital loss. But if you hold till redemption, it'll be redeemed at the principal value, minimally. In other words, it's capital guaranteed upon maturity.

5) Since the interest rate is going up, there might be more enticing bond than this in the future. I wouldn't put my whole warchest into here. A suitable allocation here should be fine. I'll be applying for this. Initially I wanted to put in some new funds from my parent's retirement fund into here, but I think I'm having second thoughts.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Voluntary contributions by self employed

Not too long ago, I received a letter from IRAS that I have to pay for my mandatory contribution to my medisave account as a self employed. It comes up to be $6393. I was mulling through the options that I have, so I might as well share it here since I know there is a dearth of write up just for self employed by self employed.

My situation:

1) I've done voluntary contribution to my CPF for ages, and the reason is to reduce my income tax and also to build a buffer in my OA so that if I have a bad year of income, I can rely on my OA to make payments to my mortgage, which is my biggest expense. And since I've switched to a loan with a floating interest rate, there will be a time when I need to prepay the loan when the interest rate shoots up sky high.

So far, I've saved up about 14 months of full mortgage payment in my OA account. Usually the mortgage payment is split 50-50 with my wife, so this 14 months is full payment for both of us. This means that if both of us are in a tough situation where we don't have income, I can use my OA to pay for the entire mortgage for another 14 months. I'm using a floating interest rate now, and I'm using the figures for the monthly mortgage payment with the assumption that the interest rate increases by another 40%. Should be safe enough but I can do more. Maybe 24 months?

2) Based on my age band, every dollar contributed to CPF will contribute to the accounts in the following ratio:

     OA :     SA   :  MA
0.5677 : 0.1891 : 0.2432

Since I need to do mandatory contribution of $6393, if I were to do voluntary contribution to 3 accounts, I will need to contribute $26,287 (6393/0.2432). That is way way too much for me. I don't want to put in so much into the CPF, tax relief or no.

Of course there is another way out for me. I can also do a voluntary contribution direct to MA alone. So since I need to do mandatory contribution of $6393 to MA, I just need to pay $6393 to MA.

In summary, it's a contribution of $6393 direct to MA or a contribution of $26,287 to the 3 CPF accounts. Both have tax relief, if you satisfy certain conditions.

3) It's a bit more complicated than that, because of the conditions for tax relief. I wrote about the conditions and the various types of contribution here.

I didn't do any voluntary contribution direct to MA in tax year 2017. According to the rules, if I didn't do VC to MA alone in last year, and I want to do VC to MA alone for this year, I won't be eligible for tax relief for this particular contribution. I've checked and confirmed with an officer from IRAS and got affirmation that my thinking is correct.

I did, however, done voluntary contribution to the 3 accounts in tax year 2017, hence if I do the same thing in tax year 2018 (that is, this year), I will be eligible for tax relief.

This means that in tax year 2018, I won't get tax relief for doing VC to MA. There will still be tax relief for VC to all 3 accounts.

3) Hence I came up with 3 plans. Basically it's a combination of both VC to MA direct (without tax relief) and VC to 3 accounts (with tax relief).

Plan A:
Contribute a total of 12k, of which 4.6k is directly into MA, and 7.4k into the 3 accounts.

Based on 7.4k contribution to the 3 accounts, I'll have 1.8k in my MA (7.4/0.2432). Add this 1.8k to the 4.6k contribution direct to MA, I'll have a total of 6.4k into the MA, which satisfies the mandatory requirement for me.

Plan B:
Contribute a total of 14k, of which 4k is directly into MA, and 10k into the 3 accounts.

Based on 10k contribution to the 3 accounts, I'll have 2.4k in my MA (10/0.2432). Add this 2.4k to the 4k contribution direct to MA, I'll have a total of 6.4k into the MA, which satisfies the mandatory requirement for me.

Plan C:
Contribute a total of 16k, of which 3.3k is directly into MA, and 12.8k into the 3 accounts.

Based on 12.8k contribution to the 3 accounts, I'll have 3.1k in my MA (12.8/0.2432). Add this 3.1k to the 3.3k contribution direct to MA, I'll have a total of 6.4k into the MA, which satisfies the mandatory requirement for me.

It's all summarised in this table below. The tax relief is only for the VC to 3 accounts because I didn't do any VC to MA in tax year 2017 (stupid me).


4) This morning I saw the post by Kyith about 2018 July's Singapore savings bond here. The 9 yr rate already exceeds OA's interest rate of 2.5%. 10 yr rate average interest is at 2.63%...wow. This instrument beats OA's interest rate, yet allows you to withdraw relatively short term (1 month max) compared to the CPF. What more do you want?

So, instead of having the CPF contribution, maybe we can do a plan D:

Contribute a total of 6.4k directly into MA. Then put in whatever amount (likely in the range of 8 to 10k) in the Singapore savings bond to get a return similar, if not better, than the CPF-OA account. There is no tax relief for this plan, but I can treat that as a 'cost' for more flexibility in the usage of my funds without the hard lock in under CPF.


I still have half a year to decide and think through the options, and I bet I'll be coming back to this post around Dec to decide by then.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Bigscribe mega event of the year: Investors Exchange 2018

Bigscribe is running the mega event of the year, called Investors Exchange 2018, coming this July. They are known for their value for money courses with down to earth speakers that everyone can relate to. Last year's event was a sell out, so they thought it's time to up the game by introducing a great line up of speakers. Take note that these are not sneak previews to entice you to sign up for the 'real' course. THIS is the the real course.

Here's a brief introduction to them:

Stanley Lim (from valueinvestasia)

He writes for Value Invest Asia, a blog with a wealth of information, with his team of equally knowledgeable analyst. He will be sharing on how to spot growth stocks with real case studies of existing companies.

James Yeo (from smallcapasia)

I know him as he frequents investingnote, focusing on finding the gems from the investing universe. He will be sharing on the 'GARP' strategy, and hopefully you can use it to sieve out the real gems from the Garbage out there. There will also be real life case studies on how it works in the markets.

Brian Halim (from foreverfinancialfreedom)

Everyone knows Brian as he shares his insights from his stock picks from his blog. Unlike the previous two speakers, he will be sharing more about dividend investing, titled Evolution of Dividend Strategy. As a bonus, there will be a peak into his current portfolio. This will be of interest to people who prefers the real hard cash of dividend in the pocket rather than from capital gains.

Rusmin Ang (from fifthperson)

Rusmin is from The Fifth Person, a group that introduced a series of great courses for the general public. Quite a number of my friends had attended their course and found it very helpful. Here, he will be sharing on how to build a consistent stream of passive income and to maximise the dividends. If their courses are anything to go by, there should be plenty of pointers to take note of here.

Christopher Ng (from treeofprosperity)

Chris is the scientist among the local financial blogosphere. I'm very sure he will share his latest well research findings in his talk, backed with journal articles. In this talk, he will talk about the concept of F.U money (no, it's not what you are thinking of) and how we can retire earlier by understanding the concept of FIRE.




All these great line up for an early bird discount of $49, valid until the 30th June. If you are interested, do not wait until the last minute to grab the tickets. The Bigscribe events, especially the mega events like this, are known to sell out way before the last day.

The link to more details can be found right here.

Pro tip #1: Since there are no slides given, do bring along the good ol' pen and paper. Oh, and make sure your handphone is charged fully because you might want to take pictures of the slides. And to take pictures of your famous investing idol/oppa, of course.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Surviving vs Thriving part II

I talked about thriving and surviving in this post here. That theme keeps creeping into my mind in the quieter hours and I thought more about it. Decided to post it here to further consolidate my thoughts on this subject matter.

There are three categories here:

1) not surviving
2) surviving but not thriving
3) thriving

Basically these are states which describes your level of excess mental and physical energy. Not surviving means you don't have enough physical and mental energy. Surviving means you just have enough and not much to spare. Thriving means you have more than enough.




SYMPTOMS 

Those description above are too fuzzy, so I'll describe how each category will look like to you.

1) Not surviving

This is when a person do not have enough physical and mental energy. He will feel tired and sleepy, always wanting to rest more. There could be psychosomatic illness, like migraines, vomiting or fever and flu when going to work, which miraculously recovers when work is stopped. This person complains all the time. This is not a good state to be in. This is not a state of equilibrium and there is a lot of push factors to establish a new equilibrium state. Over time, either the person will be forced to leave the task or the task is forced to leave the person.

2) Surviving

This is when a person have just about enough mental and physical energy. There is enough skill to reduce the energy expended to do things mechanically. This is a comfortable state of equilibrium to be in, where the energy spent to do things is about the same as the energy you have and this state can be continued perpetually. But there is a hint of resignation that this is the best that life can offer you. There is not enough push or pull factor to jolt the person out of this stage of balance, or status quo. In temporary moments of sanity, the person might regret not taking on more risk to expand his circle of competence, and fight for something more meaningful to live for. But when such moments passes, the person shrugs and concludes that he is waiting for the right time to move on. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day to move on, but he does not realise that today can be a very very long day.

3) Thriving

This is when a person has excess physical and mental energy beyond what is needed to do the task. So what does one do with the excess energy? The person engages in free play. Free play is when the purpose of the play is the play itself, and not some rational outcome to be derived from the play. The person will be like a baby with an abundance of excess energy, and he  experiments just to see what will happen. Maybe some good will come out of it, or maybe not, but that's not the point. The important thing is that it is fun. However, this is not a state of equilibrium too. Perhaps one of the creative experiments will lead the person to explore a tangential path, and he starts the cycle from category 1 again. Or that abundance of energy is sucked into some black hole or to fight some energy vampire somewhere. Or perhaps there is only so much things to experiment with and eventually one will get bored and have to find a new pasture to play again.


APPLICATIONS

In terms of work, I'm thriving. I usually don't get drained by work. On the contrary, work tends to revitalise me somewhat, as long as I'm not doing 14 hours a day. My free play will be to experiment with different ways of teaching the same thing and to come up with better worksheets or analogy to explain something better. Recently I am teaching a poly engineering student some really hard engineering math, involving Laplace transformation and Fourier series. If you've not heard of it, you it's only natural. Nobody except those doing some deep calculus or electronics will get to do such stuff. I took home the lecture notes and had a good time 'playing' with the tutorials. If I'm just surviving, then this will be yet another chore I had to do. Instead, I treat it as play.

Last year, I was on survival mode in terms of taking care of my kid. I'm just taking care of him mechanically because I've barely had enough energy and will power to do anything extra. Now, he is about 1.5 yrs old and just starting to walk in his quirky way. I've started a night reading program to expose him to written words and dictation. Also starting to treat him as an adult, talking to him despite him not knowing how to talk. I've no idea whether it will work, but I'm experimenting. And since I'm experimenting new things, I must have energy to spare. 

But the thing about parenting is this. Just when you thought you had mastered everything, the baby evolves to a new higher level and you start scrabbling to unlearn and relearn how to survive and then to thrive. Rinse and repeat. Hence, I think as a parent, being on survival mode with occasional sparks of thriving will be quite good already. Come to think of it, I think for everything else, being on survival mode with infrequent thriving mode is a very ideal situation.




Maybe that's what cruising is all about. I'm not young anymore. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I also know what I want out of my life. I don't need to pursue every opportunities that comes my way. I have the power to say no, and I intend to say that to most of things that come my way. If I don't feel 'hell yes', then it should be a 'no'.