Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Have you grabbed POSB's low hanging fruits?

I thought I'll just share this again, in case you missed my informative story "It would have to do".

It's about the POSB national day celebration, where they will give you an extra 1.5% per annum for 3 months if you register after you've deposited in a sum (up to 10k max) in your savings account and not touch it till 30th November 2014. Do remember to register here after you've put in your money.

The dateline for this exercise is till 31st Aug 2014, which is this coming Monday. As long as the funds are new, as in it's transferred from outside of POSB/DBS, through cheques, cashier's order, demand drafts, cash, FAST or MEPS receipt, it'll be okay. I'm not too sure what they mean by not touching your registered new funds. Let's say I've 5k inside, I put in 10k, but spend 3k, does it still qualify? I'm not too sure, but I put it in my dormant bank account just in case. I don't really do anything with that account, so I should be safe.

I know it's not much. It's $37.40 is all that you'll get. True, but it's also not much effort to get this extra money, so I'll do it. Low hanging fruits... I like.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The girl who picks up snail

He was just 22, when he met a beautiful girl
bending over a pavement, while it pours like pearl
With her brown and beady eyes, she pointed to a snail
crawling along the pavement, leaving a moist and slimy trail.
With slow and gentle hands, she plucked it off the ground
and placed it just beside, a soft and grassy mound.
Puzzled, he asked the girl, "Why change the snail's locale?"
Beaming, she answered back, "This is my rationale,"

"This snail moves too slow, you see
It is quietly plodding by,
Its shell is just too frail, you know
A foot, a crush, it'll say goodbye
So please stay strong, let me pick you up,
Be safe and sound, you little pup,
See you again on the other side,
May our paths again, meet and collide."

Before long he was married to her,
a joyous occasion, with fanfare and liqueur.
At age 32, they had a child:
A sweet little girl with her mother's smile.
But the babe was born with a hole in her heart
Is this child's life going wrong from the start?
Worried, he asked her,  "Can our child make it?"
"Surely," she said, "though she's a little unfit"

"This snail moves too slow, you see
It is quietly plodding by,
Its shell is just too frail, you know
A foot, a crush, it'll say goodbye
So please stay strong, let me pick you up,
Be safe and sound, you little pup,
I'll be here to watch you grow,
And march down the aisle with your Romeo."

40 years flew by just like that
Together, he and she grew old and fat
But in his eyes, she's still the beautiful girl
whom he met last week while it rains like pearl
One day, hands together, they were having a stroll
Her grip loosened, she fell, no longer in control
A moment later they were at a hospital bed
He sat beside her, his face full of dread.
His daughter came in, with her own kids,
and saw his worry, his sorrow, roll down his lids.
Sadly, he asked her, "Will ma be alright?"
"If ma can speak, she'll say this," she cried.

"This snail moves too slow, you see
It is quietly plodding by,
Its shell is just too frail, you know
A foot, a crush, it'll say goodbye
So please stay strong, let me pick you up,
Be safe and sound, you little pup,
See you again on the other side,
May our paths again, meet and collide."

Here's an old post to accompany this lyrics/poem : The Little Things

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

OCBC rights issue (Part 2)

I was thinking whether there's a way to make the best out of this rights issue...seems bleak.

For those who haven't read, do read my first post on this rights exercise: OCBC rights issue (Part 1) first.

I thought of a few ways. Let's just assume that the buy in price is $10.20, just to make a comparison. Commission is not included in all calculations, unless otherwise stated. Theoretical ex rights price (TERP) based on $10.20 is $9.92

1. Buy in at 1 lot at $10.20. You'll be entitled 125 rights shares. You'll have a total of 1125 shares. Apply for 875 excess right shares at $7.65 to round up to 1 full lot.

Average price per share: $8.93

Advantages: You reap the maximum number of odd lots need to top up to 1 round lot, just by buying 1 lot of mother shares before XR.

Disadvantages: A lot of people will have odd lots, and I guess not a lot will have a portfolio consisting of multiples of 8 lots of OCBC shares, since it's such a big cap. The pool of unsubscribed rights will be very low. I just don't think they'll be so good to round up your 1125 shares to 2000 shares, giving you a super huge discount due to the $7.65 rights price. Chances are not good that you'll have all your excess rights allocated, if at all.

2. Buy in 8 shares from the unit share market at $10.20. The unit share market is available to a few brokerage. I know of two - poems and standard chartered bank (sort of). You'll be entitled 1 share of rights. You'll have a total of 9 shares. Apply for 991 excess right shares at $7.65 to round up to 1 full lot.

Average price per share: $7.59

Advantages: You can't get any lower than this in terms of average price per share after the rights exercise.

Disadvantages: You wish! From what I know, the total number of excess rights allocated to you will not exceed the number of total shares you own. This rule is a good guide to follow for any rights exercise: If you have 4 lots, you don't need to apply more than 4 lots of excess rights. I guess for poorly subscribed rights exercise, there's a possibility that you'll be dumped so much excess rights that you'll be scared. I don't think this particular one is going to be a poorly subscribed rights exercise. It's a good rule to follow, nevertheless.

3. Buy in 800 shares from the unit share price market at $10.20. You'll be entitled 100 rights shares. You'll have a total of 900 shares. Apply for another 100 excess right shares to round up to 1 full lot.

Average price: $9.69

Advantages: In the near future, fingers crossed, SGX is going to implement board lot trading size of 100 shares, instead of the current 1000 shares per lot. If that's the case, whether you get the excess rights allocated to you or not, you'll still have round board lot size. Let's say you are not allocated any excess rights, you'll have 900 shares in total. In the near future, this 900 shares will be 9 lots (based on 100 shares/lot). Let's say you're allocated the total of 100 excess rights shares, you'll have 1000 shares, so you'll still have 1 round lot for easy trading. This case is more likely too...getting 100 excess rights to round up to the current board lot of 1000 shares/lot seems to be more possible than the scenario painted in case 1.

Disadvantages: It might not be worth it, especially if you can't get any excess rights. But you won't know until you do it ya? Do take note of commission also, since I didn't include it in my calculations. If you have standard chartered bank, it might be worth a shot. Who knows?

4. Buy nil paid rights during the trading period from 1st Sept 9am to 9th Sept 5pm

Disadvantages: You'll not maximizing the $7.65 issued price of the rights shares if you buy off the market during the nil paid rights trading period. I don't see why anyone would not subscribe to their rights I don't think it'll be seriously undervalued compared to the mother shares to be worth a shot at this.

5. Buy in after the whole rights issue is over

Advantages: Based on the scenario I've seen in all the rights issue, the price will go down after the rights. This might happen for OCBC too, but who knows right? If that's the case, you'll enter with all the complications settled. No need to queue at ATMs and so on. The main advantage is clarity.

Disadvantages: OCBC will CA on this coming Fri. CA = Cum All, so they will also XD on the same day. You'll lose out a bit on the interim dividend of 14 cts per shares. This can be an advantage of sorts, since the price after XR and XD (in combination, it's CA) will push the price down naturally. So when you buy in after all the she-bang is over, you'll not be entitled to the dividend of 18 cts per share (Thks cy for the correction!) That's $180 per lot, not something to thumb your nose at.

So there! All your options I thought of are laid out in front of you. I'm leaning towards (3) and (5). There's also always a last option - not to act at all.

Monday, August 18, 2014

OCBC rights issue (Part 1)

I'm always very interested in rights issue.

There's a new kid on the block just announced today. That's for OCBC. They bought into WingHang bank listed in HK, maybe even over paying for it. The big idea is that they can raise the funds for the purchase by doing private placements (Boo!), borrow money and increasing their debts (not too good, in the light of ever increasing capital requirements by central banks worldwide), and issuing rights. I think they are doing a combination of both rights and debt, which is quite a good move.

The terms of the rights issue is as follows:

1. One rights share for every 8 existing ordinary shares. That is, if you own 1000 shares or 1 lot of OCBC shares before XR, you'll be entitled 125 rights shares.

2. Each right shares is at an issue price of $7.65. The price as of 18th Aug 2014 is about $10.20, thus it's being issued at a discount of 25% at $7.65.

3. Based on pre rights price of $10.20, the theoretical ex rights price (TERP) is $9.92. For those interested on how you get it, this is the calculation:

TERP (based on $10.20) = (10.20*8 + 7.65*1) / (8+1) = 9.9167... = $9.92

Again, the TERP is not a price fixed in stone. It's just an estimation of what the price would be after the rights issue, assuming everything (including price) remains the same. So take it as a rough guide that it is, nothing more.

4. A lot of details are not out yet. In fact, the rights exercise haven't even been approved by SGX yet. Most likely it'll go through, but here's the indicative timetable of key events:

Shares XR date: 25th Aug 2014, 9am 

(that means 22nd Aug, THIS Fri 5pm is the last trading day before the shares goes XR on the following Mon!)

Dispatch of Offer Information Statement (OIS) : 1st Sept 2014

Period of trading for nil paid rights: 1st Sept, 9am to 9th Sept, 5pm

Last date for acceptance and payment for excess rights: 15th Sept 2014 (930 pm for ATM applications)

Expected date of issuance of rights shares: 26th Sept 2014

Trading of rights shares as ordinary shares: 29th Sept 2014

The full document is here, for those who want more details other than the salient points mentioned in this post.

Okay, so how to make the best out of the rights issue? Again, I'm assuming the viewpoint of someone who doesn't have any OCBC shares to begin with, and trying to arbitrage on the price difference of the shares before and after rights issue. The rights exercise is quite friendly, because for every 8 shares you own, you'll be entitled to 1 rights shares. And since 1000 shares in one lot is actually divisible by 8, you won't have to resort of funny tricks to avoid getting odd lots.

The problem about capitalising on this particular rights issue is this:

1) we have the trading lot size for SGX reduced from 1000 shares per lot to 100 shares per lot. It's coming soon, so they say. But it's been delayed again and again. It's supposed to come in first quarter of 2014, by look where we are now. If it's reduced to 100 shares per lot, the usual method of maximizing the number of odd lots you get will be rubbished. Firstly, there's less incentives for shareholders to avoid odd lots (those not in multiples of 1000 shares), so there's less chance to arbitrage on it. Secondly, the number of excess rights to round up to round lots will be reduced drastically.

2) 1 for 8 rights exercise is too friendly. You won't get fractional rights shares which are usually discarded. I think the pool of excess rights shares that are not subscribed will be reduced drastically.

3) OCBC is a big cap. 1 lot at current price is a freaking $10,200. I suppose not many people will have more than 1 lot of OCBC shares, don't even talk about multiples of 8 lots. So assuming that a big part of the population owns less than 8 lots of OCBC mother shares, then you always end up with odd lots. Let's say you have 1 lot of OCBC shares, after rights, you'll get 1125 shares of OCBC shares. That's odd lots right? So, if we want to apply for excess rights shares to round to 2000 shares, what's the chances of succeeding when almost everyone out there is doing the same?

It's not going to be high, that's for sure.

Perhaps there's still a way to capitalise on this...but let me clarify my thoughts first.

(Update: Here's the second part of the post - OCBC rights issue (Part 2))

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Great Loss

"A Great Loss"

I knew I was unimportant. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life I am invisible to her eyes. Nah – she nary cast a glance at me, and even if she did, I must say the look is never affirmative. Usually it ranges from glowering distaste to say the least, and glaring disgust at the worst.

“Why are you here? Why don’t you go away?” She mutters maliciously.

But I did stay. I did not go. Despite the lack of cordiality and the constant contempt I hang on. I persisted because I know that she needs me. I am there in her lowest moments – to share her sorrow and to bear the burden of her binges. I am there to sustain her purges, when she pounded madly on the machine and work herself to frenzy. I’m by her side always, supporting her every move, even at my own expense – waxing and waning at her whim and wishes.

But today I received terrible news – that she is going to get rid of me once and for all. Apparently, after all I’ve done for her, it is still inadequate. The last thing I am supposed to do for her, is to be a scapegoat and be sacrificed for her sins. She had found the ‘Final Solution’, and is all set to sever the ties that bound us. That a swift, slick, slice is going to put asunder what God had joined together.  I shudder to think of the cold sharp blade coming between us. Why doesn’t she want me? Why make me go away? Am I that dispensible?

Perhaps because I’m really unimportant.

I’m just a fat cell.


Sometimes, when you start off something, you've no idea what sort of paths it'll lead you to. In my case, I recently started a rebel-ution to the rationality and factual way of presentation that is pervasive in the financial blogosphere. I'm not saying that it's wrong, it's just that we need a balance between the proverbial rationality of the mind and emotions of the heart. Stories always tug at your heartstrings, while numbers and facts appeal to your minds. I'm thinking that the pull of the heart is more important.

These two are not necessary mutually exclusive too. In fact, Warren Buffet is known for his folksy ways of presenting normally hard cold financial facts into likable stories. It's his way of marrying story telling and factual presentation that makes so many people want to attend the annual Berkshire shareholder meeting in Omaha.

To those who think that reading fiction is a great waste of time, I empathize with you. I used to think that way too and it's only very recently ('s been about 7 years now) that I picked up a novel to read. And after reading stories upon stories, I came to the realization that the setting of the novel isn't as important as the message that is sent across. The message is masked in between the dialogue and descriptions of scenes, but it's there if you put effort to reflect after reading. The message you get is all the more etched into your mind simply because it's not handed out like a spoon to your gaping mouth. You have to work for it. And the messages changes all the time depending on the moods and circumstances when you read the same book! What sorcery is this?!

You know, in Bullythebear, I never had a guest post. But this is going to be the first. The author of this guest post is infected with the story telling bug too, after reading a few of my short stories:

1. An Empty House 
2. It Would Have To Do
3. The secrets of the millionaire dwarfs
4. My Father

She's none other than my wife.

Her post might not have much to do with the themes that I normally blog about. But it'll give a different perspective and world views in the pretty male dominated financial blogosphere. Diversity of views is always a good thing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A clip from the past

Recently I chanced upon this site on NLB that has clips of Straits times in the past. It's very interesting to read about the past. Things were so different then.

This was the headlines of the day when I was born. President of the US is Jimmy Carter. There's still USSR back in those days. The local police are hunting a con person who swindled an ex-teacher.

2 years later, in 1980, this was the advertisements found in the papers.

Citibank had an ad for fixed deposits. They are offering about 10% pa for various holding periods. Interestingly, the longer you put your money with them, the lesser the yield. The shorter it is, the higher the rates. I doubt I've seen such an inverted relationship with fixed deposit, but things are such in the past.

This was another one offering by Asia Commercial bank. I doubt they are still around after the merging of many different banks in Singapore to form the big local 3.

In the past, numbers are in 6 digits, as you can see from the ad for the department's number (2228233). You might have thought that 10% pa is such a lucrative offer, but nope, it's not. I think the stock market is rising even higher than 10% pa.

How times have changed. Will we ever go back to those times? It's hard to say, but I'll be the last one to say 'never'!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Father

When I was a kid at 5, I never liked my father. He wasn't there when I needed him, to teach me how to bike. Each night I want a kiss from him, before tucking me to bed. Wasn't there to comfort me, as I cry myself in bed. When I grow up as a man, I don't want to be like him.

When I was a teen at 15, I seldom see my father. He was sleeping when I leave at dawn, at work when I sleep at night. Two persons with the same surname, a stranger inside my home. When he took leave from work, stayed at home to rest, he'll often yell and shout at me. His work can't even earn enough, to buy the coolest gadgets, or bring me to exotic countries, that my friends had been since six.

Teenage years was over, and I just turned 25, but when I think about my father, I still hate him very much. When I graduated I didn't invite him - don't want others to know. I'm ashamed that he will arrive, with the smell and sweat of his toil. What's the point anyway? He'll just stand and not mingle. He'll be in a corner and not smile, maybe his time spent is not worthwhile. But I'll start work soon and earn my keep, I'll find a wife and have a kid.

When 20s flew past and I turned 35, I despise father very much. He retired with white hair and tired eyes, does nothing on a couch he sits all day. He keeps calling me to come home for dinner, but I'm too busy with life and has no more vigor. He asks often for more allowance, but I couldn't give him more than just a pittance. "How can I give you more", I said, "when I have my own family to care for?" Despite working all day and night, I just barely earn enough to get by. But that's okay cos my kid's the reason, for me to live and work hard till I too am beaten. I promise to teach him how to bike, and a kiss on the forehead before he sleeps at night. I know I've said that since yesterday, but work as always keeps me at bay. But I promise again my child one day, all the promises I've made I'll pay.

I was 45 when my father left, didn't attend his wake I must confess. Hardly had time to rest after work, but there's still a duty I cannot shirk. So I took leave and stayed at home, to make sure my kid is not alone. I may have raised my voice a little, but my love for him you cannot belittle. I know his friends travel, and their daddies buy them gifts, so that's why I've saved up a little, for a surprise on Christmas eve. I hope this savings won't be used up, to pay for emergencies. But sadly I'm ashamed to say, that it had always been that way.

With tired eyes and greying hair, I struggled at 55. I never thought I'll say this, but I think about father all night. Wasn't invited when my kid graduated, and I don't think I'll find out why. But I'm still proud of him and it's okay, as long as his future's bright. Besides I'm too tired from work to smile, I'll probably stand in a corner. A few more years I'll be retired, and then things will be all right.

I retired from work, aged 65, and there isn't much things to do. So I sit on a couch and wait all day, for the time my kid comes home. There is oft one pair of chopsticks, though I cook his favourite dish all day. I know why my allowance is so little - he's got his family to take care of. Sadly between his kid and his father, I know quietly I'm ranked down further. Father sometimes I'll think of you, calling me home to eat your stew. Father sometimes I miss you so, why didn't I call to say hello?

Now I lie bedridden all day, my age is 75.  What I really want to see, whenever I opened my eyes, my kid my grandson surrounding me, to tell me everything's alright. But the closest thing I'll get, is not the warmth of gentle hands, it's an old faded photo, trapped in a cold and sullen frame. How could things begin so right, in the end become so wrong? I can't stand, can't do anything, except to reflect and think what's wrong.

Kiddo, when I leave this world, don't ever be like me.

Daddy, you'll see when I join you soon, I grew up just like you.


It's quite emotional draining for me to write this. When I first wrote this piece, even voicing it out can bring moisture to my eyes. How much had one generation sacrificed for the next? I think only a parent can say for sure. A tribute to all parents.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Kindle paper white

I thought I would never get another kindle, but I was proven wrong. This time, it's the 6.7 inches kindle paperwhite.

What's so special about this compared to my 9.7 inches old graphite DX?

First of all, there's a back lit for the kindle paperwhite. This makes reading possible when there's no natural light. The brightness level is easily accessible by two touches, so you can adjust the settings on the go. I usually keep it lesser than 25% level (the actual light level I used is about 6 to 8), even when I'm reading at night with the night lamp dimmer on. It's bright enough to make my eyes hurt at 50% level, or maybe I'm just old now. I think this feature is really well implemented. The backlight brightens up the whole screen in a very nice fashion, and you can't really see where the light is coming from. With the e ink technology, I think the contrast is made even better than my graphite DX. The technology for the paperwhite is really something - you have to hold it in your hands and read something off it to be amazed by it.

Secondly, you can adjust different fonts on the go too. That's a feature that I would love to have. I hardwired my kindle dx to change its font because I find that the default font is a bit hard to read clearly. It's not easy to do that because you've to mess around with the settings. There's no menu just for that. With the paperwhite, it's just another option to choose from. There's a lot of things that are customizable in this paperwhite version of the kindle, which adds a little touch to the aesthetic value of the device when using it.

Thirdly, it's touch screen. The screen changes a lot faster now, so you won't notice much time lag when you click on any options. Even the page turning is rendered almost instantaneously, which is not the case for my older graphite dx. I even find the touch screen on the paperwhite too sensitive. The lag for the older graphite dx is not such a problem after some time, because I've trained myself to press it like 1-2 seconds before I finished reading the last words of the last line, so I don't really notice the lag. But I'm sure it's visible for someone holding the graphite dx for the first time. Paperwhite is as smooth as it gets when it comes to page turning and I think this has got to do with the faster processor. It's the most lag free and smoothest I've seen in all my kindle devices. The good thing about touchscreen is that for now, you just need to press and hold a word that you want to check on the dictionary, and out pops either Wikipedia or the built in dictionary. It makes you want to look up a word that you don't know, since it's so easy to check up a dictionary.

Yup, you can see the contrast between the paperwhite (left) and graphite dx (right)

Battery life? I switched off my wireless and I read everyday for the past 1 week, about 2-3 hours each time. It barely dipped actually. I think I've to believe that the battery for the paperwhite will last 8 weeks as stated officially. But I did read reviews where users found that the battery life drops to about 1 week after prolonged usage (about 6 months). I'll have to update on that once I'm there.

What's missing on the paperwhite is the feature where you can get the device to read out to you. I suppose with so many audiobooks that are professionally voiced, there's no real need to have a robotic voice reading out to you anymore. But I'll like to have that. Sometimes, on rare occasions, I would just like to eat my packet lunch and listen to a stiff female voice read to me in a weird google-translatish voice. I can do that with my graphite DX, but not with kindle paperwhite. At least, after using it everyday for a week, I haven't seen that function yet. If you had one and know where it's hidden, do let me know!

The smaller 6.7 inch also means that now, it's palm sized, very portable and can be carried around easily. Kindle dx is a tad heavy - you do get tired holding the reader and lugging it around. Hence for people who like to read while commuting on public transport, the smaller 6.7 inch palm size do work wonders. It's no surprise I've NEVER seen anyone in public with the bigger 9.7 inch kindle dx, but plenty with the smaller paperwhite or the older kindle 3. However, I prefer the bigger one because I do read pdf on my device and it's easier to read it on a larger device. I almost never bring my kindle dx out anyway (I think reading is best done in bed), so it's never a problem for me.

Lastly, how much did I buy it for? I bought the no advertisement (dubbed "without special offers" by Amazon), wifi only version of the paperwhite at SGD $185, everything in. If you don't mind advertisement, it's even cheaper at SGD 100. Throw in another SGD 7 dollars and you get it delivered to your doorstep. I bought it from the Qoo10 website (formally Gmart) from one of the sellers. It's from Japan (you can see it from the box) and it was delivered to me within 2 days of ordering it, to my pleasant surprise.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The secrets of the millionaire dwarfs

"Bwahahaa! Those are yer good ol' times, ain't ye?", bellowed Drurim Drumsbearer as he gulped down his fifth pint of Heineken. The good dwarf had long ago hung his battle-worn oaken shield that had been passed down from his bloodline and exchanged his trusty old battleaxe for his Louis Vuitton's leather briefcase, perfectly tailored pinstripe suit and a pair of brown, calf leather oxford.

Drurim wasn't supposed to drink, but of course, Heineken isn't considered alcohol to him. They just don't brew like in the good old days now, you know. Drurim is well past his middle age, but dwarfs live longer than humans, especially now that less of them died from battle. His physician had told him long ago that he had to watch his blood pressure, given that his lifestyle is not longer as active as before. Considering that there are no longer Orcs around to bash, 2 out of 3 dwarfs suffered the same kind of 'modern' lifestyle diseases common to most humans.

Yea, something like that, but without the helmet, the armor. Drop off the shield, the axe and boots and replace it all with modern western suit and a pair of dress shoes. Oh, add in a leather briefcase.

He was reminiscing the good old days with his fellow kinsmen. Most of them are considered very wealthy by human standards. Besides being very industrious and hardworking, dwarfs are blessed with a strong constitution and a stubborn will to live, and that enables them to carry on working till they are way past the normal retirement standards of other races. There's even a dwarven wisdom for that - "Sleep when yer dead".

But the real reason for their wealth comes from what the gnomes invented aeons ago. Master tradesman and inventive by nature, gnomes invented the concept of compound interest and this remains the greatest proof of gnomish ingenuity so far.

Drurim had deposited a sum of $1,000 in HSBC for 3% per annum back when he had first learned how to handle an axe at his teenage age of 30 yrs old. That was the inheritance he got when his grandfather was called up by Dumathoin, Keeper of the Secrets Under The Mountain, for his eternal rest by His side. Today, he had $1,070,500 in that bank account alone!

It must be gnomish techno-magic at work! What else can thousands multiply itself into millions?!

Do u know the secrets to transmute less money into more without the pains of active labour? If so, pray tell exactly how old is our good dwarf Drurim Drumsbearer?


The idea of a modern day dwarf is very appealing to me, very Shadowrun-ish. We all know the magic of compounding, but imagine the normal lifespan of humans is no longer a restriction, then what happens? That's when compounding gets even more magical. Ever wondered why the vampires in movies are never portrayed as the destitute poor? All the time, they are insanely rich, to the point that they don't ever work for money, but for power. Just a small amount of money deposited in a money bank (not the blood bank...lame joke I know) increases exponentially by itself over the passage of time.

You'll read more of Drurim Drumsbearer for sure.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

It Would Have To Do

I'm on a roll. I must say this new development of dispensing financial information through the use of short stories is making me excited about blogging on personal finance again. It keeps me thinking of imaginary characters making imaginary conversations. Actually they are not so imaginary. It's always based on fragments on some real aspects of my life, or on the life of others around me. If you will, it's more like my own brand of mixing facts and fiction together. Fun stuff.

I've another one here.

It Would Have To Do
“Eh dear, come take a look at this!”, he said after putting down the cup of SOBE fresh soya milk (original). He would have much preferred the less sweet Trim version, but alas, the supermarkets are out of stock.

It’s not a very good time to talk to her. She’s rushing off to work and as usual, there’s a lot of last minute things to pack for the journey. It doesn’t help that it’s cold and drizzling outside. The brightness of his voice doesn’t seem to dissipate the gloomy greyness outside.

Sparing a precious few seconds of her time, she came over to where his fingers are pointing. She saw an advertisement in the Straits times with a mish mash of words. In the 2 seconds she needed to scan through the entire full page ad, a few words stand out amongst the rest. She first saw a “POSB”, then a “National Day”, something about a “celebration” and some short string of numbers (“1.5”).

“What’s this?”, she said with a slight hint of impatience. She furrowed her brows before disappearing into the dressing room. From the living room, he can hear the sound of things being unpacked and packed.

“Oh, they are giving out special interest if you top up your POSB bank account this month…erm, up to 10k only, at 1.5% per year”, he explained.

“10k? I have 10k in my account. They do it automatically ah?”, she said it proudly before disappearing into another room.

“No lah, must be fresh funds. You put in a minimum of 1k and a maximum of 10k into your account, hold it till 30th Nov this year and you’ll get 1.5% pa interest for that 3 months from September to November. Not too bad lah.”

But Her Majesty needs to go off now. Her subjects need to wait for an audience, perhaps later in the evening during dinner time when things are a bit less hurried. Till then, a kiss and a quick goodbye and her Majesty is off for work.

“If I put in 10k, I’ll get 37.40 as interest. Okay lah, I better do it before 31st Aug then. Still need to register online after topping up the fresh funds”, he said to his cup of SOBE fresh soya milk (original). He would have much preferred the Trim version though, but it’s out of stock, so it would have to do.

Just like how he would have preferred his 10k to earn higher interest, this 1.5% per year for 3 months would have to do.


Register here and read the full terms and conditions here.

Monday, August 04, 2014

An Empty House

Financial bloggers always use rationality to convince readers. I think there's another tool that is seldom used to persuade, and that is through story telling. I can blog out an article with 5 pointers, complete with reasons and supporting evidence, but it will not tug at the heart strings of my readers. It's emotionally dead and will reside in my blog as one of those useful but useless advice that is repeated ad nauseam.

Let me try a different tack. I'll write a short story instead. Stories are robust because they are open to different interpretations. Stories tug first at your heart, then your mind. Stories let you empathise when rationality fails. This is my first short story with the general theme in personal finance.

The Empty House
This is what he would have wanted.

He sat down in his spartan 3 rm HDB flat and looked at the lonely clock that hung on the wall. In some parts of the wall, the paint had peeled off, revealing the moldy and stained areas.


In another alternate universe, his wife would be eating chicken rice and drinking a cup of kopi-o with him in a quiet coffeeshop downstairs. His 2 kids, boy age 10 yrs old and his sister, 12, would both be taking a 30 min journey in a feeder bus on their way back home from school. Fun and laughter will transform his 5 rm HDB flat into a home, and that is well worth sacrificing his time and energy to earn the income to support his family.

But in this particular universe, he dreams only about that elusive early retirement and the holy grail of financial independence. He lives below his means and yes, he still cycles 25 min to work to save up on transportation costs. All his life, his only mantra is that his passive income exceeds his expenses. That's his sole reason for living.


In a few more minutes, he will be going downstairs to buy his $2 50 lunch. Alone. The uncle behind the economic rice stall knows his favourite dishes; he always order the same repertoire of salted fish fried with bean sprouts and the spongy, orangy tao kua, together with a small heap of rice swimming in a watery, spicy gravy of Chinese styled chicken curry. No drinks. That will burst his daily budget of $10 per day for food. His life is nothing without discipline, frugality and prudence.

During the quieter moments of the day, he will sometimes think that his life is indeed nothing. But this thought only last a fraction of a second and the idea has no chance to take root. He will brush it off immediately. This is what he would have wanted.

It must be what he had wanted.