Work, Travel Insurance, CPF, business account, HDB.. what else?…

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 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.

Dec review

Peering thru my window and just thinking to myself, wow, another year flew past. it had been pretty challenging and eventful for me and my industry. Thank God that everything work out relatively well, compared to many others; and at the same time, reminding myself to be thankful for every blessings, no matter how small it may be.

decided to do the review of 2016, and as i tally up the dividends for 2016, i was pleasantly surprised that it was more than the previous year, since most of the counters that i held seems to have cut their payout. it didnt increase by alot (+15%) compared to the previous year , but hey, when the outcome was not expected. it is kinda of a bonus. i did increase my purchase, but not significantly, due to limited warchest  allocated to  other commitments.

  • 2015: $23,718
  • 2016: $27,466 (15.80%)

how did the rest of you guys do for 2016?


August updates

wow, just realised what i long time i haven’t actually blogged.  past few months have been quite trying; job wise not so smooth sailing due to the current weakness in oil price, hence  jobs have been far and few. (in fact, only once to the Middle East, but that didn’t turn out too well either) Hope things get better in the 4Q. Otherwise, income will be taking a pretty big hit for 2016

So let me see, what have i been doing for the past few months?

  1. tidied up up excel portfolio, currently trying to streamline. excel sheet is getting too messy.
  2. still contemplating if I should move my shares from CDP to SCB? (basically, to take advantage of the 0.18% comms. but the sucky thing is there is a 10.70 per counter for transferring in. still in discussion if can get SCB to waive that bloody charge)
  3.  divestment on my counters that ran up
  4. divested some CPFIS UT that i bought during my early working years
  5. took up rights issue
  6. bought some bonds
  7. due to restricted cashflow, could not invest in more counters than i wanted
  8. read up on couple of  books while at work/travel/nua-ing
  9. renewed my term life policy
  10. set up a tiny family portfolio, with contributions from interested family member
  11. identified a few potential 3 or 4-rm HDB resale


since it was my birthday month;

  1. treated myself to a Synology NAS.
  2. transferred $24,000 from OA to SA (in anticipation for my 55th birthday when i retire)


Dividends YTD: $18,088( cash+SRS)                                                                                                    not too shabby, but also nothing to shout about either. unlikely to have much improvement from last year, since most of the companies i am vested in have cut their dividend payout. still a long way from my immediate target of $36,000 p.a.

Total (stocks): $423,599.38
portfolio is in the red due to the O&G counters i am vested in

Total (CPF+SRS): $253,846.53
growing slowly but surely.


last but not least, thanks for Rolf  for your kind advice =)




vezted; a simple corporate news aggregator

I came across this website (through Derek’s and thought it was worth a mention.

Have you always wondered when is the CD, X’D or some particular announcement, for a particular coy, and then have to go SGX website , click this, click that….

I was playing around with this website for a week… and initially, i didn’t have much expectations about it. but the more i used  it, the more useful I found it to be. For a start, if you want to know when a particular coy is going to pay your dividends. It will show you the payable date, as well as the DPS. (and the CD and X’D dates too.) see screenshot below

you can choose which coys to “follow”. just do a quick search using the name, and “follow” to have it on the RHS shortlist. Thereafter, the respective coy’s events are organised in a chronological order. Thought it was a pretty cool feature. As an engineer, I tend to prefer things to be in a certain order, like in a gantt chart type of deal =)

To some, maybe its too simple but I totally dig the clean interface and the ease of use. There is really not much too it, actually, other than the fact that all your vezted (pun intended) coys and those on your shortlist, can be viewed in one clear screen. I know some may find websites that allow you to track your portfolio more useful, but I believe most of us already do it, with a personalized excel sheet or some sort. I view vezted as more of a complementary tool to what you currently have.

Personally, there is only one bugbear; when you start adding more companies to follow, the news tends to load a tad slower. (maybe its my internet connection? since i am overseas.)

Not sure who the owner(s) of this website is, but keep on the good work. !!

PS:. no vezted interest in this website. just a goodie to share to everyone.



Ah, the move that I was finally waiting for. But, reading from the news, it seems like it took some people by surprise though. I did mention it a few weeks ago here, and that i am long on the USD.

(*off topic: watching CNBC while typing this, and they are interviewing the famous Mark Mobius, talking about oil prices etc etc.. Been watching this channel since I came back this week, personally, I think CNBC is freaking awesome. Not sure why I didn’t find out about this channel earlier! )

Back to the topic,  yesterday early morning (14/4), the USDSGD gap up , as you can see from the chart below,  I took the chance to sell part of my USD stash @1.35xx. For now, its good enough, so i can use the funds for other stuff. It was languishing in the 1.33~1.34 a few weeks ago.. will continue to do so as the SGD weakens against the greenback.

Reading the news/reports/ blogs, it seems that after this “surprise” move, all the economist and experts are hyping about doom and gloom, and saying we are heading into a recession, the sky is falling, etc etc…. huh, duh,  i thought that’s something we already know, since, erm what, last year (?)… Anyway,  i am still sitting infront my computer, sipping my kopi-o-kosong, so it can’t be the end of the world, yet.

The second figure below shows a good summary of the monetary policy of Singapore – it uses a policy band rather than interest rates.

1Q’16 ending; what’s next?

As we come to a close for the 1Q ’16, perhaps it is time to take check and see where we stand. The three months flew past quite quick for me, and it has been quite  a volatile , yet interesting first quarter. I did not buy as much as I would love to due to other priorities and opportunities that came up.

I am sure most of the people can still recall in the beginning of the year. At the point of writing, things seem to have pick up a bit, relatively.  But no one has a crystal ball, we can only the benefit of 20/20 hindsight to decide if we have made the right choices.

My earlier posts  have mentioned that I am slowing shifting a percentage of my portfolio into bonds/ETF. I am done on the local portion, but still researching on the international portion. So far, it has been quite interesting, and have been communication with some of the more experienced bloggers. Will update again when that is completed.

For me, the upcoming key events:

  •  MAS monetary policy statement (exact date unconfirmed)
  • outcome of the FOMC meeting on 26-27 April.

I am watching closely on the movement of the USD as I have vested interest in the USD. I believe, it is a matter of time before FED increase the rates again, and the SIBOR will go up. Those with existing home mortgage, should consider switching to the FHR.

I am long on the USD, and waiting for it to hit 1.4+ again. (sorry folks, who are fervent amazon buyers, your purchases might get a bit more expensive in time to come)

The outcome of both events will affect the direction of the Singapore Dollar. This in turn influences the flow of funds into or away from risky assets including equities. The decline in the USDSGD from a high of 1.44 in January to as low as 1.35 recently helped fuel a flow of funds to Singapore equities.
With inflation in Singapore likely to remain negative for most of 2016 and with downside risks to growth, our economist expects MAS to ease the exchange rate policy by shifting to a zero (from gradual) appreciation path for the Sing NEER policy
band. If true, investors’ anticipation ahead of the event should result in a rebound in the USDSGD from its recent low of 1.35. This in turn could halt or reverse the funds inflow into Singapore equities.
The outcome of the 2-day FOMC meeting on 26-27 April will be the other event to watch. Our economist sticks to his view for 3 rate hikes this year. Core CPI inflation is back at pre-crisis level and well above the Fed’s 2% target. We expect the FED to hike
rates once in 2Q that will lift the FED funds rate to 0.75%. This should occur either at the April or June FOMC meeting

*as quoted by DBS Vickers

ABF SG BOND ETF (A35) – rock steady?

My portfolio is highly skewed towards equities. As I get older (forming-a-one-pec aka beer belly), I want to slowly shift a percentage to bonds to get that stability in my portfolio … I know it is probably at an opportunity cost of getting higher returns on your capital, but priorities change.

Then, I found this ABF bond fund (A35).. so what exactly is this?

A35 is a bond ETF, it holds many bonds to maturity. One can treat it like a bond. It’s stable and yields about 2%. As you can see for the past 5 year historical  chart, it is an extremely boring trend, when STI plummeted early this year, there wasn’t much movement. expense ratio of this fund is 0.25%.

The holdings of A35 are generally the SGP govt, LTA, HDB etc etc. Pending a WW3, or zombie invasion, I have faith that it will hold up pretty well.

Will be using POSB to RSP into this fund for 0.5% sales charge. i think is reasonable.



Using Google sheets to track your portfolio

The Finance Smith posted an article on using Google sheets (GS) which i thought was quite interesting. He teaches you how to add the code, so you can pull data for the buy/sell prices of a particular stock in SGX and overseas.

for myself, i have been using excel since i was in Uni.. i have a lot of links and references in the formulaes that link up each other. Not sure if it will screw it up.  A bit reluctant, but i think its a useful feature. Personally, i like the fact that you can see the live prices.

as they say, cant teach an old dog new tricks. so, we shall see if i eventually move it across.

anyway, here is the link if anyone is interested.

using google sheets

Feb holdings

*alphabetical order

2ndChance W170724
Croesus retail trust
Far East Hosp Trust
IPS Securex
IREIT Global
Keppel Corp
KimHeng O&G
Religare Hosp Trst
Soilbuild Reit
SPH Reit
Starhill Glb
Sabana Reit (SRS)
Starhill Glb (SRS)
Deutsch China Eqty Fund CL A
Eastspring Inv UT Asian Bal
Eastspring Inv UT Dragon Peacock
NAM Shenton Shorterm Bond
PineBridge Acorns of Asia Bal Fd
United Int’l Growth Fund