Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tech hack for android

I'm so glad I found the ultimate technological hack for android phones. Some of you may be aware that amazon had this new amazon app store, supposedly to cater for their new kindle fire tablet so that people can shop for apps through their site. They have this wonderful way to promote their amazon app store by giving free apps on a daily basis. Here's a list of full apps (not the lite version) that had been given away. I came to know of this when I was about to buy a fully paid version of officesuite pro, after trying it for a couple of weeks. I really need to access my spreadsheet on my phone effortlessly, so I thought getting a paid app is great for this specific purpose.

Unfortunately, the free apps is only applicable for US, not for other countries including Singapore. I searched around and came to know of a way to get around it. It can be found here. I tried it and it works perfectly. Great! So now I had a way to get my paid full version of officesuite just by doing a little sleuth work. Saved me $18.89 sgd :)

(On a sidenote, it's interesting to see how your thoughts can turn into reality. I've been thinking whether to get a paid app for my android phone for weeks, searching around for the best kind of office software for my uses. It happened that I was again looking around for such applications when I had an intense desire to just buy the app for 18.89 SGD. But I've no idea how I got into amazon apps in the first place (it's through one of the youtube links, bizarrely) and I happened to see a limited time offer for a free officesuite pro app, which is only limited for today only. Serendipity? Coincidence?)  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Investing in your life goals

It's important to align your energy to fulfill your life goals. That's the only way to lead a purposeful and fulfilling life, isn't it? Why do you want to work so hard to buy things that you don't care to impress people whom you don't like? Once you recognize that doing certain things are not aligned to your life goals, then stop and prioritize your resources. Resources, like time and money (especially time), are limited, so we really have to think hard on where to expend it to achieve the maximum happiness and satisfaction.

People usually gawk when I told them how much I've spent on my housing. It starts from my parents, to my in-laws (I think they haven't yet know the extent of my renovation costs) and to my friends. But there's nothing that really satisfy me than to see a very homely property that I can call my own. In my vision of it, it'll be a place where many happy moments will be spent and where I'll start my family. It'll also be the place where I'll work and no longer have to travel around to earn my income. Many interesting conversations and laughter will be held at the living room when I invite my friends over for a simple meal. How is this not worth the money? I only lament that I didn't start early enough to enjoy it sooner. But life is seldom Utopian, timing is rarely perfect. We can only do what we can to make the best out of what life throws at us.

I guess I spent nearly 150k all in, which is nearly three years worth of my savings. That's what I call a substantial investment in my life goals. With it, I can utilize it for holding social gatherings, be independent and have a place that I call my own, work and possibly increase my career to the next level and lastly start my own family - all under one roof.

When is the last time you invested heavily in your dreams?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Winter is coming

I'm seldom stressed about my financial situation because I don't really spend a lot and I save a major portion of my income. However, recently I've been trying to think out of my financial situation. Without giving specifics, I think I might have spent too heavily on both the COV of my resale and the renovation part. The COV of the resale cost me 40k and I don't even know what I'm paying for. At least for the renovation, I can see something tangible. COV? It's just an excess value above whatever valuation they come up with. It's something that I can do without. But this is Singapore - to get a flat fast in a matured estate, that is the price to pay.

The renovation bit is finally closed. Works out to be around 77k. Wah, jaws dropped... The bad thing about getting resale is that the condition of the flat is not that good. Hacking and planing the walls flat itself cost a few xxxx. I really really hope it's worth it after spending a big fortune on my house. If all things go well from next year onwards, I will be staying at home to work and making the best out of the money spent on the renovation. With such a big capital sunk into the home office, I've burnt my bridges. There's no turning back. I'll have to make it!

There's a couple of household appliances and furniture that still needed to be sourced out before the flat is livable. The major items include fridge, oven, dining table and a dining table for the study room (which is used for my work), sofa, a few tables (bedside table, coffee table, desktop for work), some lamps, a few fans, bowls and plates, cutlery, washing machin , cleaning equipment like broom, vacuum cleaner, mop etc. Did I put in TV and dvd player? No, I purposely left it out because that's going to be the last thing I'm going to need right now. That can wait...I'll have to do a few important things first in the proper sequence, so that my income stream can settle the cashout flow.

By end of this month, the bulk of my income stream would have run dry for this year. Hopefully my savings are enough to last me through the winter months as well as to settle whatever is necessary for the furniture and appliance part. I might need another 5k to tide me over, so perhaps I'll have to increase my saving target to 55k for this year. Just another 5k more to tide me through this extraordinary month, though 10k would seriously be nicer. If I can't hit that amount, I'll have to take off whatever bullets I have reserved for investments out. That would leave me with no emergency cash, though I still have quite a bit of holdings in equities that would serve as the emergency of the emergency. I don't think I'll come down to that though, unless I didn't stagger my purchases for the furniture wisely.

4Q plan:

1. Save up another 5-10k to bulk up my cash reserves before the winter month.

2. Work harder through the winter month instead of taking break. That would generate a low but still helpful cashflow in the winter months.

3. Stagger purchases of bulk items. More use of 0% credit installment, perhaps over 1 yr to ease out the cashflow bottleneck.

Wanted to put (4) Rely on help from family and (5) Buy cheaper and low quality furniture. No, I'll not do that. In life, one has to learn how to be independent, because ultimately, it's the way we can outgrow ourselves. It's also for the best because I'll be debt free - not those financial kind but the relationship kind. It's important for me to stand straight and walk tall among my family, so I'll best rely on my own. What about (5)? I'm thankful my journey learning the ins and outs of investing/trading taught me this very important lesson. Rather than buy cheap and low quality counters, it's better to be patient and wait for high quality counters to become affordable. Price shouldn't be the concern here - it should always be the quality. Get the best that money can buy so that time and energy would not be wasted hunting for new, cheaper ones again.

Alright, I feel better now. I just got to get it out so that it clears my mind. I know what I have to do now.

"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice." ~ Steve Jobs

4 steps to problem solving

Diagnose, Treat, Comply, Maintain.

Sometimes it's so hard to help students. I would diagnose that the reason why they are not performing well in their studies is because they do not have enough knowledge in their mind. Practicing past year papers a million times (without reflecting) just practices whatever you know, so it would be very hard to increase your knowledge base if they do not read the textbooks or attempt to memorise from the notes that I've written for them. What's the point of practicing the same stale knowledge base again and again - there's simply no attempt at all to broaden that base. Hence the treatment is given to them to read / memorise the notes but they do not comply. Even the best doctor cannot cure your disease if you do not comply with their treatment upon diagnosis.

There are times when students complied to the treatment, but they do not maintain it. It's called losing momentum. These people started sprinting from the start when they have another 5km left to run. Unless they have extraordinary stamina, they are going to stop and rest and restart again. Pacing is therefore important in order to maintain the treatment. It's not going to be very effective if they work very hard for 1 week but cannot maintain it and slack for another 3 weeks.

4 simple truths to solve problems and I'm surprised it can be used in a myriad of situations. This is just from the preface of the book by Hill Harper - "The Wealth Cure" which Victoria Taylor from kindly passed to me for a review. Will be doing that shortly once I get some free time to really immerse in the book. I haven't even started reading the actual chapters yet and I've already learnt something interesting. I think it's going to be a good read.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Quick thoughts on strategy

Been super busy at work now, so this is just a quick post.

With the market going down, I think it's time to think of a general strategy to make the most out of it. Since I've already sold what I wanted to sell, there's nothing much more than I can do to raise cash to prepare for the ultimate bear scenario. I've limited cash as I've diverted most of it to renovation and stuff, so I'll just have to make do with what I have now.

The best thing to buy during a deep correction is not reits. No doubt that the price of reits will go down together with the general market, giving a very good and high yield. I think I've enough reits for the time being, so perhaps a smaller bite of selected reits at opportune time will be more than sufficient for generating some steady stream of income. Reits are good when the market is not moving - that is it's trending sideways. That'll be a time for it. The best thing should be the blue cheaps. Some of the major STI components will be sold heavily down and it will represent the best place to look for value. Combined with a small yield brought about by the low price, it'll be okay to hold it and waiting for the general market to recover. In fact, blue cheaps should be the first to recover rather than the mid-tier counters and reits.

As of specific counters to whack, I think it's still an early phase down. The charts will show the way. Patience is needed here.