Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reflections for Year 2014: A Year of Amazing Experience

This is the first time i'm writing my reflection for one full year of blogging. SG Young Investment was started in June 2013. Till now, it has been just 1.5 years. The experience so far was just unbelievable that I thought I've been a blogger for much longer than that.

Never would I have expected that a blog which started out of nowhere could survive till today. I really have no idea what got this blog started. Perhaps its the desire to share on finance and investment. But, I wasn't really investing a lot of money back then in 2012 and in fact was just recovering from losses I had back in 2011. It was only in 2013 that I got back the confidence in investing and made some money. Looking back, it took me almost 2 years to come back again.

My first post was on My investing journey. I read my own writings again and it was just a sharing of my story in the stock market. Reading it made me think back on what I had gone through. In an instant, more than 1 year had passed.

Blogging Highlights of 2014

Took more than 6 months for the blog to reached 100,000 page views which I wrote a post on it on 2nd February 2014: 100,000 page views! This was right after Chinese New Year.

It quickly went pass 1 Million page views on 30th October: SG Young Investment crosses 1 Million

Writing on HDB, Condominium and marriage

I went on to write on topics such as buying a HDB flat, buying a condominium, cost of getting married. Researching and writing on these topics actually helped me to see what I need to plan ahead for. Naturally, because young people are worried about all these costs, these blog posts attracted a lot of views. I hope the posts have helped you plan better as it has helped me too. When we know the numbers and can see ahead, the future doesn't look that scary any more.

Writing on CPF and attending events

Another highlight is the post on the CPF. This was a hot topic among Singaporeans this year. I wrote a simple posts on the CPF minimum sum and CPF life. To say the truth, I have very little knowledge on the CPF prior to writing that post. It was only after hours of reading up that made me understand it better. After that, I was invited to the Forum on CPF and retirement adequacy. This was my first event attending as a blogger. Some other bloggers were there too but I didn't get to meet any of them as I only know that they were there after the event. Later on, I also went for the CPF Focus Group Discussion. It was fulfilling to contribute and interact with the other participants who were there.

Meet up with other bloggers and making new friends

Making new friends was one of the highlights too. From commenting on each other blogs to chatting on Facebook to meeting up face to face. It was great to be able to meet up with like minded people where we could just talk for hours and hours.

My Financial life in review for 2014

For the year of 2014, my active income increased, passive income increased while expenses remained stable. Actually, expenses did increase also but at a lower rate. I've been writing on passive income and this is the result of creating other streams of income. You can see it below from the green bar. This is a distinct difference from 2013 where there is very little passive income.

For the year of 2014, passive/other income has been quite consistent except for the months of Jan, Feb and June. This income comes from adverts such as Google adsense, sponsored articles, direct banner adverts and dividends from stocks. All in all, this income adds up to $3028 for this year.

On average, I've invested about 20k in the stock market this year. I've increased my stocks portfolio to 30k as of today and would probably increase again next year. This still makes up about 50% of my investment capital only.

Promoted and graduated from University

Besides focusing on passive income, I did not forget about my active income as well. This year was a tough year considering I was still studying part time for the first half of the year. But, I was still able to manage everything well and got promoted. Bonus was also better for this year.

Another relief is I finally graduated from the part time degree course which I was taking. This freed up a lot of my time for me to do other things such as meeting friends and writing more. I also took more time to reply the emails from you guys. I just checked and realised I've received more than a thousand emails so far. It's becoming a part time business to manage now.

Meeting new friends

This year is a year of meeting new friends. Through events, I got to network with more professionals. In summary, I got to know a lot more people who are passionate on finance and investments. Its amazing that as I set my path on the world of finance and investment, I start to know all these like minded people as well. Its the law of attraction at work. That is why if we want to attract positive people into our lives, we should also be positive.

As mentioned earlier, I also met some of the other bloggers. As for readers, I recently met the first one just before Christmas. This year, I been contemplating with the thought of forming investment groups for people to learn and interact together to know other people who are into personal finance and investments as well. There are students and young people who want to start managing their money better but do not really know where to start. Forming this group will create a platform for new friendships with like minded people. Let's see how this will develop.

That's all for my year in 2014. Its just 1 day away to the year 2015. I hope you had a good 2014 too. If not, always look on the bright side and 2015 will be a better year.

Happy New Year!! 

Related Posts:
1. New year resolutions and investment strategies for 2014
2. Reflections for 2013

Monday, December 29, 2014

Financial Expedition (FINEX) 2015 - Learn Finance Through An Amazing Race

Finance is a boring subject to many people. Learning finance seems to be even tougher. But what if I told you today that finance can be learnt in a fun and simple way? I'm partnering Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Interactive investment club to promote a Financial Expedition event which is happening on 17 January 2015.

This is a good chance for all students to learn finance through games and also interact with other people from other Junior Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities. There are attractive prices to be won too. I heard the first price is an iPad Mini. You’ll also get an attractive goodie bag together with a nicely designed event T-shirt.

What is Financial Expedition (FINEX) 2015?

FINEX is a team-based financial expedition challenge for students from Junior Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities to gain financial literacy in an engaging and exciting way. 5 game stations will be set around the Central Business District (CBD) in Singapore and participants can access to simplified virtual marketplace designed by committees.

There are 5 games stations with 1 Finale station. They are really quite creative to come up with the games to inculcate financial literacy. 

1st Station: Shop Smart

2nd Station: Pandora Box

3rd Station: Minesweeper

4th Station: Triopoly

5th Station: Young Warren Buffet

Finale Station: Wolf of Wall Street

I'll not go into the details of the stations itself. You'll find out more about it when you join the event. The finale station is quite interesting where students will get to experience how the trading mechanism works in real life. Those of you who're thinking of trading in the markets, be sure not to miss this one out.  

What will you gain from FINEX 2015?

Not just Financial knowledge, FINEX emphasis on application of financial literacy in our life. Each game station will focus on one specific financial instrument, participants are able to learn the basic knowledge or mechanism of that particular financial instrument, and apply the knowledge gained in the exciting games.

You'll get to learn everything from personal finance to investment to trading. You don't have to have any prior financial knowledge. Just go there and learn while having fun.

Highlights of FINEX 2015

Interested in financial literacy, but have low financial knowledge? We have you covered. This is a great opportunity to kick-start your journey, as FINEX covers basic knowledge and application in real life.

This year, organizing committee initiated the virtual marketplace, where it simulates the trading platform. Not just bid ask price, a candlestick chart and economic news which is updated frequently will also be included. Participants can get a taste of a simplified trading platform.

This simulated marketplace will give you an experience on how the markets actually move.

Below are the details for the event:

Date: 17 January 2015 (Saturday)
Time: 9am – 3pm
Venue: Central Business District

For more info, visit their website: www.finex2015.com 

or Facebook page: www.facebook.com/finex2015

You can register for the event directly from their website. Form a team of 3 and play together with your friends. Meet like minded people from all the other schools along the way too. Register for the event today and enjoy yourselves!

Share it with your friends and get them to come along! 

*This is a sponsored post by NTU Interactive investment club FINEX 2015

Friday, December 26, 2014

Chit Chat With Susurrate: Saving $19,000 In One Year

The following is a guest post by Susurrate. He's just like any ordinary guy out there but manage to save close to $19,000 in just one year. Here's his story and how he did it:

Hi fellow readers of SG Young Investment. Recently the Author has been writing about frugality and I guess I could write something as well.

Just a background information for you. I am currently 26 and single and I do go out and have fun with my friends. I come from a low income family, in fact, my parents are WorkFare Income Supplement recipients.

Through sheer hard work and frugality, my parents have supported my education up to a diploma. I am currently working full time earning a middle income and pursuing a part-time degree.

Being brought up in a low income family have allowed me to pick up frugal habits from my parents. Since young, I have been saving money to buy what I wanted instead of asking from my parents, so I guess that’s how I learnt early the value of money.

While I earned more than my parents combined, I do not splurge on luxury or status. Because of this habit, I find myself spending little and have a lot more disposable income than what the media portrays.

Rather than telling people that they should do this and that, or they should not do this and that, I prefer to show than to tell. I have been tracking my expenses for the past 2 ½ years and these are the numbers as well as my take home pay for the year of 2014.

I’d say I’m fortunate to be in a company where my lunch is provided. I have a bento set everyday IF I opt in, instead of rushing and competing with the lunch crowd. I also prepare my breakfast at home and have dinner at home when I have nothing on after work. Clubbing and smoking are not my cup of tea as well.

Total Take-Home Pay:$38,656.31
Home related expenses:
Phone and Broadband$710.88
Public Transport$1,323.07
Dining Out$675.37
Gifts / Weddings$478.54
Life / CI / TPD$3,718.08
Personal Wellness:
Clothes & Shoes$32.85
Wallet (one-off)$56.58
School fees$3,814.55
Income Tax:$19.00
Total Expenses:$18,973.09
Unaccounted Expenses (5%)$948.65
Total Savings:$18,734.57

So there you have it! A savings of $19,000 a year or almost $100,000 in 5 years for a middle income fellow, if I can keep this up (I could probably save more as I would no longer have expenses for my degree). Add another $15,000 in CPF contributions from my employment and I am $34,000 wealthier for the year.

If you notice, I spent more on things that matter, like parents’ allowance and their medical check-ups and outpatient bills, my insurance policies, and building meaningful relationships with friends. I believe that being frugal is all about spending your money wisely, not wasteful spending.. I am grateful for everything I already have.

Lastly, I’d like to leave a quote,

“The rich man isn’t the one who has the most, but rather the one who needs the least.”

My Thoughts:

The guy is a friend whom I've known for the past few months. He's the same age as me and we're on the same journey to financial freedom.

Like him, I do not come from a rich family. I too studied part time for my degree and paid it up completely with the money I earned from my full time job. Even after paying for my school fees which is a five figure sum, my financial position is still healthy and I'm on the way to meet the target of 100k savings in 2 years time. I'll update my income and expenditure on a separate post as we approach the end of 2014.

What has your savings been like for the whole of 2014? Hope you enjoyed the chit chat post. There'll be more to come. Stay tuned!

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Related Posts:
1. Chit Chat With a 17 Year Old Young Couple on Financial Planning For The Future

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chit Chat With a 17 Year Old Young Couple on Financial Planning For The Future

I wanted to call this an interview but decided to call it a chit chat instead. I've received quite a lot of emails from young students from as young as 15 with regards to planning their finances and investing. I've always been curious on why some of these young students will realise the importance of financial planning while others will not.

Today, I would like to feature a young couple who's studying in a local Junior College. Yes, you heard me right. They are a couple who emailed me separately and I found out their relationship some time later. The interview questions were answered by the girl herself but they did discuss together beforehand. The below ME represents the girl and HIM represents the guy. They requested to be anonymous. In this interview, you'll get to see what triggered them to start financial planning early in life and how they balance it with their social life.

Let's get started!

1) Both of you are young and already want to start planning for your future. What triggered the thought of it?

Me: Hahahaha mine I don't have one particular trigger it was like a train of thoughts? So like one thing led to another then I suddenly felt motivated to plan for my future.

Ok 1. was that I really want a car in future. My family's car's COE expires next year, before I can actually get a license and drive it so that sucks and I really cannot imagine life without a car. I guess I am pretty pampered. Car to me is not a need but it'll be really convenient if I own one in the future haha. I understand that COE in Singapore is insanely expensive so since I have the benefit of still being a youth I should start planning like right now to reach my goal of owning a car even sooner haha.

2. Was that I worked as a banquet waitress so I witnessed many weddings and I can't be sure if it's true, but Singaporeans are getting married later and later haha. I don't know what's the actual cause of it but I guess the expense of wedding and the life after that is really huge so similarly, since I have the benefit of still being a youth I might as well start planning now.

Him: His parents didn't plan their finance properly which in turn affected the family's living condition. I guess in general, we both realised the importance of managing our finance and planning our future in order to have a future of our dreams.

2) Are you a spender or a saver?

Me: Spender I guess. I think my priorities are really wrong. I spend at the things like clothes bags and save on like food but I'm coping so I guess that arrangement's ok with me haha.

Him: Spender too HAHA he spends mostly on food but he works more than me in the holidays and his earnings are > his spendings so all is good too haha.

3) As a young teenager living in Singapore, there's so much entertainment around and food is getting more expensive especially for young people who likes to go to cafes. Are there any savings tips you would like to share? 

I myself really like to explore Singapore's cafes and people like my sister and her friends really often ask me where I get my money to go cafes. Last year Dec I came up with this plan: Stop going franchises like pasta mania, MacDonalds, Nihon Mura etc when deciding to go for casual dinner.

For e.g. if I were to decide where to eat for dinner tonight with my friend somewhere at my nearest shopping mall, I'd go for kopitiam food (around $2-$3) instead of pasta mania (around $7-$10++) so I can save the money to go cafes when I really wanna relax with my friends/bf. I like to either eat really budget at kopitiam or try new cafes so I'll cut the in betweens (the franchises). Also, I'd cut down on like Starbucks, Gong Cha which people like to buy and drink as they shop haha.

This way I not only save money I cut down on sugar too HAHA. I feel that since I really love exploring new cafes in Singapore, not just for the food but the ambience, I have to make adjustments to my lifestyle so on days where I just want a simple dinner, I'd try and eat cheap or at home. As for my bf, he splurges on food and I'm trying to instil this thinking into him haha.

3) Finance is a boring subject to many people. What made you guys interested in it?

Hahaha well I guess the idea of achieving the life and dreams we want that motivated us to do something about our current lifestyle and planning which includes understanding finance better haha.

4) Where did you learn most of the personal finance concepts such as saving money, investing etc? Does your school offer such classes?

I think in the past, my school (like my pri school) did teach us how to save. But of course it's those 'save 20% of your pocket money' kinda thing haha. As I grow older I manage my personal finance like saving money. I don't have a systematic way to save money which is not exactly ideal...... hahaha oops. I guess the way I save is to like have a minimum amount of money in my bank e.g. maybe this holiday I want a certain amount of money in my bank so once it's around that amount I'd stop withdrawing money from my bank and wait for my next allowance instead hahah. But recently I started a savings plan which I'll elaborate on it later on!

As for investing, I only got interested this holidays cos I always thought that was an adult thing. It was until this holiday my boyfriend told me there are actually people who invest at our age so that got me interested haha. My parents did a bit of investment. More last time until something happened so now they only invest in those stable ones? I'm not really sure either but I know my parents have some experience in it so I talked to my mom who referred me to her financial adviser so I guess from now on I can consult that financial adviser cos she's now my financial adviser too haha. Oh and of course, both of us also read up online (e.g. your blog) about personal finance concept. Nah as far we're concerned our school don't offer any classes on personal finance concepts haha.

5) Are your peers interested in finance stuffs too? If not, are there any ways to get more young people like you to get interested in planning their future? 

I guess in general, they would want money (of course hahahah) but they don't really know how and aren't exactly motivated to search for ways etc. Most of them are choosing the 'trouble-free' way out which is to work to earn money but they are unaware that that's a temporary solution and that planning/saving is more important for the future.

I guess most of them ( I admit I used to be like this too) are more concerned about life now than life in future. I feel that there's really minimal anyone can do to get young people interested in planning for their future. There can be talks and speeches by successful people, by finance consultants etc etc but i think their growing environment and their character plays a big part. If they are surrounded by like successful people for e.g., they would naturally want to be the same.

Then again, character acts as a factor as well, one can be offered many opportunities but if he feels contented with his life or something along that line, they wouldn't wanna do anything more. I don't know if I'm making sense to you haha I'm bad at words. I think the most direct and effective way to get someone interested is when they really look around them and realise there are many successful people and they want to be like them. If they are really uninterested, the talks, speeches, shows, any form of moral suasion will only bore them.

6) Are there any other thoughts you would like to share with the readers here?

Hahahaha I guess the takeaway of this whole interview/post would be, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and that applies to not just finance, but everything in life :)

My Thoughts:

You can see how bubbly the young girl is. I enjoyed interacting with them and am encouraged by their energy in life.

For myself, I realised the need for financial planning much later than the two 17 year old students above. I was still obsessed with the camera phones that were in trend at that time. I even bought a $300+ phone for myself at the age of 17.

To realise the need for saving money at a young age is good. Even though they may not have much money, the act of putting aside even a small portion of their allowance will instil a good habit of savings which goes a long way. 10% saved today may only be $10 but it will be a few hundred dollars when they start working.  The next part is to create a financial plan which is achievable for their long term goals. The purpose is to balance saving and spending money. We don't want to end up saving too much and be a miser or spend too much and worry about money later.

Money is not just an adult thing. Young people can start managing their own finances early in life too. If you're a student and reading this, I hope it will encourage you to start your journey to financial freedom too. Nevertheless, for young students, studies should still be prioritised and career planning is important too. Having a good income will give you a good headstart in life. This will be discussed in the next blog post.

Christmas is just one day away. Here's wishing everyone Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday ahead!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Days Trip In Jakarta Indonesia

I'd never have thought that I would go to Jakarta for an overseas trip. Prior to this trip, the only thing I knew about Jakarta is its immensely populated city which causes massive traffic jams. Jakarta has a land size of 740.3 km square which is quite close to Singapore's small land area of 716.1 km square. Singapore has a population of about 5.5 Million while Jakarta itself already has about 9.6 Million population. I heard from a taxi driver that in some days, the number of people in Jakarta can reach 15 Million as people from all over Indonesia flock to the city. The traffic gets really bad during peak hours.

This trip was made possible with my cousin's help to bring us around the city. He stayed there for a period of time before. He could speak the local language there too which makes it easier to communicate. I went there together with him and another friend. It was solely a trip of exploring the culture there, meeting new friends and of course tasting lots of local food.

I can't remember exactly the places that I went to but will show you some of the malls and also the food that you could try if you're planning a trip there. Total cost for the trip was just slightly more than $350 for the full 5 days inclusive of airfares and accommodation. It is relatively cheap to take a budget plane there which cost only $76 and accommodation is cheap too. Flight time is only about 1 hour 30 mins.

Here's my itinerary for the 5 days:

Day 1

Arrive at Jakarta at about 6:30pm. Took a taxi to the apartment where we were going to stay at. They call it apartemen there. The traffic was getting quite bad at this time of the day. Took more than an hour to reach the apartment in Central Jakarta. My first meal was at a roadside stall just outside the apartment. Cost for one bowl of noodle was just RP 10,000 which is just slightly more than $1 Singapore dollars.

Fancy a Magnum Gold? It was just RP 12,000 (S$1.30). Bought this at a convenience stall after having the noodles. Don't think I can find this kind of price in Singapore.

Day 2

Below is the map of Jakarta. That's where I stayed on the map.

This was the view just outside the apartment. Seems like some Kampung area there.

Went to a mall called central park mall near the west of Jakarta. Watched the Exodus: God's and Kings movie there. Ticket price was just RP 55,000 (S$5.90) on a Friday night if I didn't remembered wrongly.

The unique Teh Botol there which is tea with sugar in a bottle.

Had dinner at a Chinese restaurant which specialises in Lor Mee. Portion was huge. Cost for the meal for 5 person was about S$40.

Day 3

Some sights of the traffic in Jakarta. The small blue vehicle is actually a taxi which is a cheap form of transport in Jakarta. It can take a maximum of 3 person but no air-conditioning. The normal taxi was cheap also. Each trip would typically cost on average S$6-$7.

The famous landmark in Jakarta called the Monas. Didn't went in there though.

Here's the Business District area in Jakarta. You'll be able to see a lot of luxurious hotels such as Grand Hyatt, Ritz Carlton and even Mandarin Oriental is there too. The subway (MRT) there is still under construction. Hopefully it'll ease the traffic congestion there once its ready. 

The stock exchange in Jakarta

Went to an area called block S which is not far from the business district. Lots of local food there. There's a distinct difference there from the business district.

Satay cost just 20 cents a stick.

After tasting out local food at Block S, we went to Grand Indonesia mall which is really grand. All kinds of luxurious brands were in that mall. There was this interesting Magnum cafe which we decided to check it out. You could customize your own Magnum.

At night, went to a seafood restaurant for dinner. This particular restaurant called D' Cost serves delicious and cheap seafood. The fish there on average cost just about $6. We ordered 10 dishes which cost about S$50. 

After dinner, decided to explore a local Pasar Malam (Night market). The number of people there is just scary with vehicles and people trying to squeeze through every space there is.

Day 4

Went to a local church on a Sunday morning with some friends. After that, went to a restaurant called Angke to have lunch. Food is more expensive here with 5 dishes at S$60. That plate of chicken was a famous dish here which already cost S$16.

Saw some old Dutch buildings. Jakarta was under the Dutch ruling in 1740. This building must have been a few hundred years old.

This was a mall at Pluit city. A mall owned by Lippo group (LMIR).

Day 5

Slept the whole morning before going for lunch at D'Cost restaurant again because the food was just too good. We ordered 3 different types of fish this time round.

Ended the trip with a dinner at A&W at the airport before taking the flight back to Singapore. Many Singaporeans would remember we had this root beer float in the past.

Jakarta is definitely an affordable place for a short holiday. There's nothing much to tour there except from the malls and trying out local food. Maybe a maximum of 4 days 3 nights would be sufficient to explore Jakarta.

That's all for the short update on my trip. I know the stock market has been wild for the past few days especially today as the STI closes down -79 points. This is one of the worse one day drop I've seen so far this year. It doesn't really affect me these days as i'm positioned to accumulate more as time goes by. I actually entered a small position in Semb Marine when it dropped below $3.

Anyway, It's Christmas season soon. Here's wishing everyone Merry Christmas and happy holidays ahead!

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My other Travelogues: 
1. My 8 Days Taiwan Trip at $705/person
2. 8 days North Vietnam trip at $600/person 
3. My 3 months stay in South Vietnam - An unforgettable experience