just got back from a long work trip, finally taking some personal down time to just sit back relax, kiao kar and zhuo bo time. But i wasn’t being idle, took this chance to sort out personal and family administration.
work : O&G exploration activities are picking up, albeit sporadic, mostly in the Middle East region. oil prices still hovering +/- $50 for the longest time ever, which is neither here nor there. gone were the days where oil companies were splashing out the moolah extravagantly, with long term contracts, but now they are mostly going on trial well basis, or per X number of wells. its really shitty terms, and the margins are so razor thin, its almost like working for free. and those are furthur down the foodchain aka yours truly, the pie gets so minutely small, that you might need a microscope to see where the pie crumble fell off. those interested to get deep insights on the O&G should read Rolf Suey blog. He has some really good insights. He may come across as always seeing the glass half empty at first, but after you read and when you delve deeper, it is enlightening.
CPF: Parents were asking me what to do with their CPF; since they dont need the money at the moment. Due to the ever changing cpf rules , and depending on how old you are, there are certain rules that may or may not apply to you. i tried to read the website, but its too frustrating and gave up coz myself and both my parents, have differing rules. we decided to make a trip to the nearest cpf branch. next day, we went in late morning and waited 15min for our turn. people waiting were 95% folks above 55 (duh), and surprisingly quite efficient and organized. the whole discussion with the cpf officer took about 90min, and ate into her lunch time. oops.
anyway, the conclusion was to to max their limits on their MA and RA to ERS. there are still 6 months to end of this year, so lets see how much interest they will get come 2018. I believe it is going to be bountiful =).. one thing to note though, if one is still working, dont top up max; do leave a buffer of at least 7K , so that you can do a VC to claim personal tax relief of the same amount.
there is also this little known rule, which i didnt know: if one has >$4000/yr in income (rental, work, etc), there is no 7k personal relief for the sender. so unless your recipient is house maker with no declarable income, then this 7k is very useful.
btw, since i was there, i went ahead with my CPF nomination too… i got that idea when i read about it at B’s blog (CPF) previously, and i thought, why not. since i have no dependents, i just nominated my siblings.
biz account: I registered a sole proprietorship (SP) business with ACRA, $165 for 3 years, including the entity name. I wanted to segregate the monies from my personal account, so researched into what time of business account for small time biz, esp for SP. i guess if you open a separate savings account, should do the trick. But i wanted the SAL giro code to be reflected in case, i do decide to pay out a salary in the future. I went with Maybank flexibiz account.as it is the most simplified; no min bal, no monthly fee, ibanking available, its a pay-if-you- use feature. i must say, its quite headache free and simple.
there is good blog post to compare the 3 most common biz account (3-top-choices-startup-banking-partners)
USD account: Ever since DBS started charging for OTC USD transactions early this year. i stopped using their multi currency account (MCA) for moving USD. i withdrew the USD in cash and kept it home collecting dust. Recently i found out about the SCB high account (USD), which seems to be actually even more practical than DBS MCA. ie they provide a debit card which means, purchases on US website is direct deducted. so no need for shitty fx rate from visa/mastercard/paypal. and also a cheque book, which , to be honest, not sure what i am going to use it for.
the other useful part, which to me is the best; you can use these USD funds on the the SCB trading platform, to buy US-denominated equities. SCB is known for their lousy internal fx rates.
interest rate is paltry, so don’t bother to ask. that’s not the point for opening this account anyway.
update: just received the USD debit card in the mail today. only 2 days after i opened the account. impressive.
travel insurance: a months before my annual plan was coming up, i was shopping around, i usually just take the cheapest one, since there is not much loyalty ie NCD that kinda stuff to stick to one company. last year i was on direct asia (DA) about 230+ / year, worldwide. there premium increase abit more like 10+ bucks, which is not much.
for those who travel more than once a month for work or leisure, i strongly urge to get your personal travel insurance. maybe your company provides travel insurance, but it is usually only on TPD situation. but thats another thing altogether. for me the insurance is to give me a piece of mind, esp nowadays, when you can get bumped off the flights, delays are getting common. (a few days ago, T2 got shutdown. can you imagine the start of the holiday getting delayed, and the domino effect?)
there was an incident many years ago, that luggage on my maiden trip to latin america was misplaced. as there was only a daily flight. my luggage will only turn up 24hrs later. usually the standard is $200 per 6 or 8 hour block of delay (depending on which company). so you do the maths. just one incident like this is enough to cover the cost of the insurance and still left over for a impromptu early shopping trip to the nearest mall.
as i was comparing the different offerings (there are too many! and they all have different disclaimer on the types) i didnt bother to look at the death payout. i whittled it down to the benefits of the travel inconvenience; narrowed to baggage delay, travel delay, medical claims overseas, loss of valuable etc. these are the most likely to happen. at that time, i have not decided which one to go with yet.. but few days before i was due back home, i had some personal claims due to travel. and, my personal experience with DA has been surprisingly nothing short of amazing. you would think that the insurance coy will drag their feet on claims and payout. but their claims officer is very prompt and the best thing, is you always deal with the same person, so no need to keep repeating the same thing over the phone to different operator. after submission of the proper docs, i got the cheque in my mailbox in <10 days. sweeettttt…
needless to say, i renewed with the next day =) **btw, this not advertorial. i don’t get any nuts for it.
HDB: still looking around for a 3~4BR HDB resale near my parents. went for viewing but the resale prices still seems on the high side. dohh.. the resale index sis misleading man
For the financing part, my plan (for now), is to use as much cash as possible for the D/P and use bank loan, instead of hdb loan. solely basing on the difference in interest rates. not sure if this will be a wise move, since hdb loans are more flexible than bank loans. have to study that part abit more. my preference is to leave the cpf untouched as much as possible. i did a transfer of roughly half from OA to SA/MA previously to let it slowly compound till my withdrawal age. In any case, i intentionally left the balance in the OA that will be enough to pay for at least 2 years of installment.
not sure if any readers out there have insights on HDB subletting: if i get a resale, and i want to rent out just a room, do i need to fulfill the 5 year MOP? ie, i buy today, can i rent out one room tomorrow. i know for sure, if whole flat, you will need the 5 year MOP. not sure about if its just a room.