Saturday, February 27, 2021

Portfolio Update Feb 2021

My portfolio value slides down from $246k in Jan 2021 to $240k at the end of Feb 2021.

This is due to a correction or healthy pullback in the stock market due to inflation worries and institutional funds shifting their big monies from equities to bonds after the rise in risk free rates of treasury bills and bonds, which are considered safe havens.

Looking back at my portfolio a year ago in Feb 2020, the value was only $186k. Hence I believe there is decent progress in building up the investment through steady and consistency injections of capital. The recent pullback is another opportunity to add shares for long term investment, especially the likes of Mapletree Industrial Trust and Mapletree Logistics Trust and I am contemplating doing so.

Portfolio Actions

Nil as I have not buy nor sell anything in 2021

Portfolio Dividends

1. Received $158.88 from Ascott Reit on 26 Feb

2. Received $113.05 from Suntec Reit on 26 Feb

I topped up my SRS account with "free" $300 contributed by the above dividends and IPT allowances from SAF.

My Ultra Long-Term SRS portfolio remains fairly stagnant at $85k from $84k last month. OCBC is the top performer after announcing its latest Q4 earnings which beat expectations and a dividend of 15.9 cents. ST Engineering expectedly will be paying a 10 cent dividend and Comfortdelgro which is heavily impacted by the health pandemic also managed to announce a payment of 1.43 cents which is better than nothing. Generally I am happy with these 5 counters in the portfolio and confident to rely on them for consistent passive income for the next few decades.

Thanks for reading. Stay strong and be safe!

With love & peace,

Sunday, February 21, 2021

10 Reasons Why I am Quitting my Job

I accepted a new job offer, signed the letter of appointment this week and will be resigning from my current job soon to serve a month of notice. While I am excited about the new opportunity, I feel sad to part with my great amazing colleagues. 

I have been working in the current company for a decade and seen my salary more than doubled but plateauing. While I was thankful that this was my first job since graduation to help pay off my tuition loans, build up war chest for investments and grow my net worth, I was resentful in the past year as there were reshuffles and reorganizations that affected my job scope and morale to continue working here.

Here are the 10 reasons that I convinced myself to leave this company and take up the new job offer. 

1. Loyalty is dead?

We now live in an era when artificial intelligence, automation and robotics are on the edge of replacing humans in performing our jobs. I believe that being loyal to one's company and job means nothing. Long serving staff were being exploited to plug in vacancies left behind by staff who resigned or retired instead of being groomed to take on challenging new areas or roles. While I continually upskill and learn new technologies to keep myself valuable, I do not expect the company to keep employing me for another 3 more decades just for the sake of loyalty even if my skillsets become obsolete one day. Working in one place for decades will no longer be the norm these days and in the future.

2. No Recognition

I have been playing supporting roles for projects that are not my own or second fiddle to colleagues in task forces. I am merely a resource being utilised to help others deliver successful work and claim accolades. Although I am being paid by the company to do the work, I am not producing enough visible work or contributions to the organisation when it comes to appraisals. As a result, my work performance has been largely average over the past decade. I do believe I am capable of delivering high quality work to help the organisation achieve significant cost savings and derive great value. I feel my real potential has not been unleashed with a vengeance yet. 

3. Bypassed for promotion

Due to not being recognised highly for my contributions and achievements, I have been bypassed for promotion year after year. Even though I do not possess great career aspirations nor yearn for promotion in the corporate rat race, it becomes inequitable when peers of lower calibre putting relatively same amount of effort to do more visible work are getting better performance ratings and get promoted way faster than me.

4. Weak management

The middle managers in my organisation are indecisive and always hesitate to make firm decisions nor implement changes with hard datelines. Hasty decisions made were often short sighted to plug immediate gaps rather than with great foresight. I also feel that the top management are clueless and not forward thinking or pragmatic enough to lead the organisation to greater heights. Fire-fighting, finger-pointing and cover-ups on a daily basis have become the norm and strategic long term planning were merely paper affairs when the time comes. 

I feel that I am not being mentored or coached after the organisation's reshuffle. There is no evident leadership displayed by my immediate supervisor. There is also an evident lack of proper communication, collaboration, participation and sharing of ideas among the team.

5. Stagnation

I am getting too comfortable being in the same role for a decade. I have been executing the same tasks for the same people. Going to office has become like going to another room at home. I am ending up gaining that 1 year experience multiplied 10 times and another 20 times if I stay on for another 20 years. 

Challenging myself is the only way to keep growing. At the present job, there are not enough opportunities to challenge myself. I am stagnating while collecting monthly pay to fund my investments.

6. Not learning new technologies

My current company is using archaic and legacy systems developed decades ago by predecessors who have either retired or moved on. I do not have the opportunity to handle cloud computing, machine learning or any of the latest technology stacks. Hence, staying on will restrict my future career options and lower my market value. 

7. No impact to cashflow

My new job offers at least the same amount of monthly cashflows as the monthly salary is around 3% higher. However, on an annual basis, my earnings may take a hit due to prorated bonuses and incentives. There will be no impact to my savings for fuelling investments to grow my passive income. 

8. Opportunity for managerial path

The new job is a less technical role but gets to deal with newer technologies and more people. Although there are fewer chances to build up technical expertise there are more chances for exposure to new technology stacks and honing my planning and soft skills. The risk will be technology obsolensce and getting easier to be replaced but I am prepared for that because technical roles could also be outsourced or replace by robots in future. 

9. No liabilities

Having no financial liabilities at this stage of life gives me peace of mind to take on risks in career options. I was even prepared to take a slight pay cut for a career move this year but lucky to have gotten an offer that at least match my current salary package. The other risk is moving on from a perm position to the new role which is contract based. As I evaluated that the benefits of making this move outweigh the cons, I decided to call it quits and move on. 

10. Rejuvenation from a clean slate

I wanted to resurrect my career since I have got nothing to lose. A new job in a new decade during a health pandemic presents a fresh start of life. I was able to attend interviews through zoom and webex sessions barefooted in boxers while not in formal clothes. I will also be able to start work in a new "environment" which is the same spot from my bedroom due to WFH. This pandemic has presented opportunities never experienced before. By changing job I will be able to start off from a clean slate by learning, growing and evolving a portfolio from nothing to something greater, better and stronger than before. 

Thanks for reading. As always, stay safe and strong. I wish all readers the best of health and wealth. Happy Niu Year. 

With love & peace, 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Net Worth Update Feb 2021

My net worth remains fairly stagnant at $1.048m compared to last month, despite savings and CPF contributions amounting to more than $8k this month.

This is due to weakening of share prices of the local Reits in my portfolio.

I have completed the $7k RSTU scheme for my CPF Special Account. Next up, I intend to top up my SRS account.

I just listened to the Budget 2021 which reported a -$64.9B deficit for FY2020 in Singapore. The Budget is more business and pro-enterprise to save jobs in times of a health pandemic and also provides a strong social net to help out the low income and vulnerable folks in the society. 

There are not much benefits for the middle class other than the usual Town Council service & conservancy charges, utilities rebates, top ups to children education accounts on top of a meagre $100 CDC vouchers for use in neighbourhood shops. Notably, higher GST applied on low value goods with effective from 1 Jan 2023 is announced by DPM Heng. 

Nonetheless, we should always be prepared for inflation and rising prices of good and services. Investment of our own monies in growth or income producing businesses, investing of own time to learn, self develop own technical and soft skills to get better paying jobs or innovate to create our own businesses are ways to beat inflation and strive towards financial freedom instead of relying on the government for payouts or subsidies.

SGD 1.048m

Thanks for reading. Huat ah!

With love & peace, 

Monday, February 15, 2021

First Time Staying in a Hotel in Singapore | YotelAir Changi Airport Jewel

Today I checked out of a hotel in Singapore for the first time in my life! 

Although I have stayed in many hotels during past travels around neighbouring Asian countries, it is the first time I did so locally as I have never gone for any staycation in the past. 

I booked a Premium Queen Cabin Room in YotelAir, Changi Airport Jewel for around $140 last year and offset using my mum's SingapoRediscover $100 vouchers. A damage of $40 for me to have a feel of the experiences of transit and stranded travellers, as well as enjoying minimalism at its very best.

I checked in around 3pm on CNY Day 3, Valentine's day with Ms Doraemon and the queue was not very long.

It took around 25 mins to check in and get into the room. 

Greeted by purple illuminated room after opening the door, the cabin room is very small but cosy. It comes with a decent toilet and bathroom. 

It comes with bare essentials for a solo or couple traveller to wash up, rest before heading on to other travel destinations or after a long flight to Singapore. 

The hotel comes with a lounge having views to the fountain in Jewel but it no longer serves food and drinks after Covid.

YotelAir embraces the use of technology with self check-in kiosks and robots to deliver food and drinks for room service but I am not sure if still they are still in operation. 

Overall, the stay was decent as the beds and pillows were comfy. Most of my time was spent lazing on the bed watching TV chrome casting YouTube, sleeping and eating after hanging around in Jewel. 

Without the subsidy from the SingapoRediscover voucher, I would not stay in such a cabin room though as it is only a 3 star hotel offering small sized rooms in the airport with minimal facilities such as a small gym which was closed, a small lounge area and no swimming pool. 

Nonetheless, it was a great experience to have lived in hotel in the world's best airport for 1 night. 

Thanks for reading. Happy Niu Year! Stay safe and strong like the bulls. MOO! 

With love & peace, 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

A $2k Ang Bao I give to my future self on CNY Eve

After my first top up to CPF SA in 2021, today on CNY eve, I am giving myself another $2k Ang Bao into my CPF SA to round up the $7k Retirement Sum Top Up (RSTU) scheme.

At a compounded 4% interest rate p.a, this $2k will balloon to $6,486 in 30 years time in 2051.

I also get to save taxes i.e 7% of $7k at $490 for 2021. If I invest this $490 for 30 years at 5% yield, it will become $2117 in 30 years time in 2051.

In total, I am giving my future self a big Ang Bao of $8,604 from this $2k top up into CPF SA. Huat ah!

Thanks for reading. Wishing everyone a prosperous Chinese Niu Year!

With love & peace,

Sunday, February 07, 2021

3 Levels of War Chests

I have classified 3 levels of war chests to store cash and unlock for deployment into different purposes. 

Savings Accounts, Money Market Fund
The first level is the most liquid cash in savings accounts that can be withdrawn from ATMs for daily cash expenses in coffeeshops or paynow, paylah to pay cash to others instantly. It is also used to receive incoming cash flows from salary, allowances, dividends.

I do not use any of the high interest savings accounts i.e. DBS Multiplier, UOB One or OCBC 365 accounts that pay higher interest rates but dictate the credit of salary, the amount of spending through credit cards, purchase of insurance or endowment plans and loans because I usually have very low cash levels in my savings accounts and prefer freedom and flexibility in using any credit card to make purchases or pay bills.

As I mainly use Phillips brokerage's Cash Management account to purchase my shares and Reits for investments, I usually store cash meant for investment in the Poems money market fund (MMF) account for automatic settlement of trades and management of excess funds. It used to be able to pay more than 1.5% p.a interest but in current low interest environment, the MMF is only able to yield around 0.4% p.a. 

There are many other cash management accounts such as Endowus cash smart, Syfe Cash+, Singlife, LionGlobal etc. that offer higher than average interest rates for you to park your funds in a war chest. The main risk of parking your hard earned money in these money management solutions will be the default risk of these financial institution offering such services. For new entrants or less reputable companies, a higher interest rate is expected due to the greater risk.

Fixed Deposits, Singapore Savings Bonds
The second level of war chests I employ are liquid but usually require some time or effort to unlock the funds. For withdrawal of funds from fixed deposits in banks prematurely before due date, the interests will be forfeited and the principal amount will be returned back together with prorated interest rates at savings account levels which is usually around 0.1%. There is some forfeit of the interests but no loss of your money hence I feel fixed deposits are a good way to store emergency funds.

Another less liquid war chest will be Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB), which have seen the interest rates plummet from the highs of more than 2% in 2 years ago to less than 0.5% in recent months. Redemption of the bonds can be through ATM or Internet banking and your principal amount with prorated interests will be returned back to your bank account but this usually take some time to process. I have $50k of SSBs which I do not have intention to redeem as those were yielding more than 2% p.a risk free.

Safe Treasure
Gold, Long term bonds, Endowment Plans, Properties

The most illiquid form of war chest will be assets that are physical or will incur more time or penalty if they were to redeemed into cash. Gold, silver, antiques and even branded or electronic goods are some examples. I do have gold and jewellery that I do not factor into my net worth. Older folks and some people do have the habit of pawning their gold or jewellery in pawn shops for short term cash loans and then redeem their assets back at high premium when their cashflow situation is less tight. This is why the businesses of Money Max and MaxiCash still thrive in today's environment. 

Carousell offers a platform for us to sell off our preloved electronic items such as phones, computers, clothes to encash. Long term bonds are less liquid and traded with low volumes on the market but are still valuable assets that can be encashed if need be. For insurance or endowment plans, usually there will be hefty losses of the principal capital if we terminate the policies early because such plans will take 20 to 30 years to breakeven. There are companies such as Reps Invest and Sg Asia Capital which actually buys back insurance and endowment policies at slightly higher amount than if we were to terminate them prematurely. I think they could actually resell those policies to interested buyers who are willing to take over for insurance protection and coverage of health and critical illness. 

Lastly, properties especially spare ones generating rental income could be sold off to raise funds for huge purchases or to tap on great investment opportunities. I have not achieved such level of asset class yet but I do know a handful of people nearing retirement have achieved such great feat of having a tertiary war chest which could be unlocked or when locked, still offers consistent passive income. 

I have briefly talked about the various levels of war chests. I hope it helps to prompt your thinking and restrategization of your own financial management methodologies to meet your daily needs and seize investment opportunities that arise from time to time. 

Thanks for reading. Stay strong and be safe!

With love & peace,

Friday, February 05, 2021

Booked my first property in District 13 (City Fringe) beside an MRT!

After applying for the Toa Payoh BTO in the Nov 2020 HDB sales launch, we are balloted a 1XX queue number out of 184 units for 3 Room flats. Initially, it may seem that chances to select a decent mid to high floor unit are low as the queue number is almost at the back end. However, as the selection process goes on, with a 20% drop out rate and applicants ahead of us preferring to select unblocked low floor units, by our scheduled selection day, there are still several decent mid to high floor units left on not so popular stacks that are west facing or blocked. After much thinking and deliberation, me and Ms Doraemon decided to book a unit on our selection day this week.

The Toa Payoh BTO project in Nov 2020 consists of Bartley Beacon and ParkView@Bidadari located within the Bidadari estate in Toa Payoh town. Bartley Beacon is conveniently situated beside the Bartley MRT station and Maris Stella High School along Mount Vernon Road while ParkView@Bidadari is a few mins walk from Woodleigh MRT station and is located nearby Alkaff lake, Bidadari Park and a Heritage walk under construction. Both sites are located in district 13, rest of central region (RCR) on the city fringe in Singapore.

        Bartley Beacon's artist impression from HDB website

I am open to several options in property purchase/investment in Singapore. Besides applying for a new HDB BTO flat, other alternatives I considered are resale HDB flat, Executive Condominium and private property. The downsides of getting a HDB BTO flat is the long waiting time and dependency on luck in getting a decent queue number and unit. On the other hand, the upside is about getting a new HDB property at lower rate than the resale market. There is obviously a huge tradeoff between time and money amongst all the options. The more we pay, the more flexible and more time can be saved before moving into the property.

Why get a small unit?

While we could afford a larger flat based on income and financial health, we decided to go for a smaller unit in order to avoid taking on hefty property loans that will add on to financial liabilities. As working couple, most of the time in the day, the flat will be left empty. The flat will be only used to store our possessions and furniture, and become like a hotel where we wash up and rest in the evening. If we are able to live in cosy hotel rooms smaller than 30 sq m during our backpack trips, we do not see the need for a huge living space that will make us become debt slaves for longer period of our lives. In fact, we plan to fully pay off this HDB flat when we collect our keys in 5 years time.

Why this location Bidadari?

A quick check on PropertyGuru for nearby BTO flats that have just MOPed revealed that 3 Room HDB flats in Joo Seng are asking for more than $500k with a 94 years outstanding lease. Joo Seng is located further away from Bartley MRT and some distance away from Tai Seng MRT. Hence, I believe the 3 Room flats in this project will easily fetch above $550k after MOP in 2030. The 4 Room flats will easily be above $700k and not to mention the 5 Room flats in Bidadari all asking for close to $1m. Congratulations to all couples who have gotten or are moving into your new homes in Bidadari! The location of Bidadari is the middle ground between my current home and Ms Doraemon's place and is conveniently within 30 mins away from our workplaces. This project is the second last BTO in Bidadari and coincidentally the last Bidadari plots have been released by HDB this week for applications, which have been overwhelming.

Why Bartley instead of Woodleigh?

On the selection day, there were high floor units i.e #14, #11 left in ParkView@Bidadari but we opted for a mid level unit in Bartley Beacon mainly due to close proximity to Bartley MRT station on circle line. Although ParkView@Bidadari is also within walking distance to the Woodleigh MRT station, the north-east line is usually crowded during rush hours with people rushing back to or from their homes in Punggol or Sengkang. Things may be better recently due to more people WFH due to Covid. Furthermore, there are no amenities such as supermarket or shops in the ParkView@Bidadari project. Not to mention the units in ParkView@Bidadari command a higher premium due to being more southern and has closer proximity to a future Woodleigh mall, park and CBD town. Also, a check on older 1984 map in the Bartley vicinity reveals that Bartley Beacon resides on the grounds of former Mount Vernon Secondary School and not on cemetery grounds which are occupied by other Bidadari HDB BTO projects, including the likes of Bartley Greenrise, the current BTO open for application, which is residing on a former Muslim burial ground.

Some stacks of ParkView@Bidadari will be situated opposite to a future Mount Vernon Funeral Parlour complex. Bartley is very close to the industrial park in Tai Seng and is a great catchment for tenants and future buyers. After MOP, there should be little difficulty with flipping away the property for a 50% gain or renting it out for passive income. This plot is also closer to a larger mall, Nex in Serangoon than the Woodleigh Mall which is still under construction. Although there were better options in the past BTOs and in the future BTOs, the time is now or never.

Here it is. We have booked a unit beside Bartley MRT along Mount Vernon Road in District 13 (RCR) for around $370k!

How and what to prepare before HDB BTO selection day?

1. After receiving the email and SMS from HDB that notify the flat selection appointment date which is usually around 2 weeks later, login to HDB webpage using SingPass to view and download the appointment letter, project information and other documents.

2. Apply for Home Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter if you have intention to get a HDB loan.

3. Gather and print out payslips of both applicants for past 3 months prior to application month. Notice of Assessment (NOA), CPF Yearly Statements, CPF contribution Statements are also required especially when you have intention to apply for the various grants i.e AHG, SHG.

4. Check the available units, research on site layout, floor plans, directions facing, various stacks and shortlist the stacks and potential units that you intend to select. Try to come out with a list of units more than the number of applicants before your queue number a few days before the selection day. Eg. shortlist 20 units 3 days before your selection day, knowing there are 18 people before your queue number so that at least 2 units from your shortlist will be available for selection.

5. Do the financials to ensure there is sufficient amount of savings in your CPF OA or money to pay for down payment of flat, as well as affording the monthly mortgage loans in the future.

6. For students, widows, or other special schemes, do check out HDB website for the details of documents and information required to apply for those schemes successfully. Always be well prepared and know what is required beforehand.

On Selection Day

1. Remember to bring NRIC, ATM card for payment of option fee, and the printed documents wherever possible.

2. Can enter HDB Hub 30 mins before scheduled appointment. Go register at kiosk by entering NRIC to get queue slip.

3. Then check out the optional components on display i.e. the doors, tiles and also the model displays for your BTO project.

4. Monitor your queue number on the display TV and the level and counter number. Once queue is called, proceed to the assigned counter to meet the sales officer.

5. Tell the sales officer your selected unit and block number, sign all the documents and so on. The sales officer will also give time for you to confirm final decision before confirming your unit selection in the system as all decisions made are final and irreversible. The sales officer will then explain the financing methods and calculations on how your CPF OA will be used to fund the down payment, purchase and in 5 years time, how much loan will be needed depends on the improvement of your financial health.

6. Sign the option to purchase agreement and pay off the option fee by NETS.

7. In 4 months time, there will be another appointment to exercise the option of purchase, sign the lease agreement and pay the down payment.

8. The collection of keys for BTO flats since Covid will be at least 5 years later.

Thanks for reading. Stay strong and be safe!

With love & peace,