Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Optimise living expenses Part 1

I am a true-blue minimalist in that I only buy things that are necessary. However, I do own a car 'cos I am tired of taking public transport to/fro my home in one of the most populous areas in Singapore. Another reason is I can afford to do so :) My annual income can buy an entry level car with COE included. You can read about it here

Let me share with you how I optimise my expenses in various areas without sacrificing much qualify of life. Sometimes I'd only give a broad guidance and won't go into the details.

  • I used to buy HSBC movie cards (for HSBC card owners only) which are just stored-value cards that allow purchasing of a fixed number of tickets online/offline at a discounted price. I'm not sure whether GV still offers it.
  • I stopped buying those cards until I realised I can watch on weekdays at the lowest price. A typical 2D movie costs $6.50-$7.50 at GV per pax on weekdays. On weekends it can go up to $13! Some credit cards offer a slight discount and you can even get cashback on ShopBack.
  • You can take up the free GV membership which offers perks and 1-for-1 tickets during your birthday month.
  • Don't buy the over-priced and low-quality food at the cinema. 
  • To take it further, you can go for the cheapest Netflix subscription at only $10+/month but the latest movies won't be available. You can get a free 2-month Netflix subscription by signing up to be a LiveUp member via Lazada, etc.
  • KTV: Well you can go to Civil Service Club, Teoheng and those not-as-branded ones. The prices should be cheap during off-peak hours. However, do note that CSC might not have the latest songs.
Phone plans:
  • Take advantage of corporate scheme discounts and reimbursements.
  • You can subscribe to $20/month SIM-only plans -- if you don't want a new phone with a 2-year contract. A SIM-only plan is quite decent given the price. For example, Singtel offers 3 GB (no talktime, no SMS, no caller ID) for $20. You can add on 200-min talktime and Caller ID for only $5 / month each. I don't think anyone needs SMS. With a 12-month contract, the same SIM-only plan offers more perks: 5GB, 150 min and 500 SMS.
  • Alternatively, you can get a new phone with contract and sell the phone at slightly below retail price to earn about $100-$200 one-off depending on the phone and selling price. However, this comes with a risk of not being able to sell the phone.
  • You can also try cheaper telcos such as zero1 and Circles.Life with better perks and lower prices. They have no physical shops to save on operating costs. However, be prepared the customer service may take a long time to reply you. Well after all they have to cut costs somewhere to pass on the savings to you right? Both virtual telcos lease infra from M1 so the coverage is the same as M1's. But of course, SingTel offers the widest coverage with free ST WiFi at many locations.
  • I personally have been a long-time SingTel customer. After my contract ended, I switched to SIM-only $20 + $5 for 200-min talktime. I don't have caller ID so I risk picking up overseas spam calls. Now I am contemplating swapping talktime for caller ID. I rather pay $0.16 / min (as-charged) for talktime as I usually use data to call people. I hardly use SMS and it costs only $0.05 / SMS anyway.
  • Try to buy during sales periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday when steep discounts are offered. However, the best policy is to curb the urge to buy. Ask yourself whether it is truly necessary. I have lived pretty well with just a phone and laptop for many years.
  • Don't chase the latest trends. Usually a gadget can last for pretty long, at least 5 years in my experience. So far my external harddisk and laptop have no problems. For a phone you can change the battery and it will be like-new again.
  • I personally use iPhone as I prefer paying a premium for quality phones (compared to Xiaomi, etc.). The screen size is also just nice for my jeans pocket. Ladies usually prefer the Plus version 'cos they put in their bags instead of pockets. It has been 2 years now and I intend to change the battery to use it for a few more years. 
I will share more next time in Part 2.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Reflection on owning a car in the most expensive city

Mr 15 HWW has kindly referenced my previous articles on car ownership at https://www.my15hourworkweek.com/2018/08/07/4-insights-for-potential-car-buyers-in-singapore/

Previous articles:
I have shared some tips both car and non-car related on my blog:

Minimising car expenses
 My Expenses

I also shared my rationale for buying a car:

Saving money on car ownership in Singapore

I am quite frugal excluding the owning of a car.

Having a car is great. It gives you freedom and a sense of control if you like driving.
It also allows you to explore remote and unique/interesting places.

This is the proof that I have explored many places with my car during the past 2 years of ownership:
Where else to go in Singapore

feel free to ask me more questions on money-saving tips. I consider myself an expert in saving money and exploiting systems heh, still while enjoying life.

Last time I also thought that I could taxi everywhere which is still cheaper than owning a car. But over time after I built up my savings and grew discontented with public transport, I decided to buy one.

If you ask me whether I regretted buying, I'd say partially, due to the COE dropped quite a fair bit, causing more depreciation to my car. Other than that, I'm very satisfied and I'd say my quality of life has improved.  Barring accidents on the road, and rare traffic congestions, the car has greatly reduced my commuting time to/fro work by 30-50% depending on the traffic condition. This is much better than taking MRT and buses, having to stand and squeeze with others.

The best time to buy a car is probably during a recession, like stocks, lol.

Once you own a car, you wouldn't feel like going back to taxi/public transport, even despite the high cost of ownership.

Not to mention having a car helps in getting you the girl.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

SRS account 34% return in 6 months

Previously I have explained why I contributed to my SRS account here.

I have been wanting to do this update but couldn't find the time to do it.

Since then I have done trading with my SRS fund and obtained superior returns thus far.
As SRS account earns peanut interest, I am compelled to invest/trade.

From the period of Jan to Jun 2018, I have grown my SRS from 15.3k to 20.5k. A whopping 34% return in 6 months!

Below screenshots show my transaction history. Thus far, I must say I have been very lucky and have picked the correct stocks to trade. All the trades have been 100% profitable.  All of them have weathered the fearful trade war and rising interest rates period.

The trades all involved blue-chips. Who says you cannot earn from blue-chips :) ?
They involved various strategies such as dividend play, speculation play, etc. It takes a lot of patience and observation of the market to be able to achieve such a feat.

Hope this inspires people out there to grow their retirement nest.

Some tips:

  1. Be very selective.
  2. Stay away from what you do not understand.
  3. Do not chase high prices. 
  4. Be patient.

I will regularly release stock tips, so please follow my blog and click the "Like" button at the top.

Feel free to ask any questions below. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Net Worth Update

I recently received my bonus.

I thought I'd do an update of my net worth as I am quite obsessed with wealth tracking.

Cash (CPF & SRS)$170,000
Cash & Equivalent$453,000
Investment $189,000

One of the several accounts holding my cash. Details masked out.

Total: $924,000

I am very glad that I am one step closer to financial independence.

The market this year has been lacklustre thus far. Otherwise we could see more upside.

I have a large cash hoard waiting to pump in during a market downturn.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Use Chope and Quandoo for FREE food and CASH

This is more of a lifestyle article. I frequently use Chope and Quandoo which are the 2 biggest restaurant reservation apps here.

Recently I have redeemed 1000 chope-dollars (points) for a $30 dining voucher sent via email. The process was instant and fuss-free.

Details masked out

My partner and I used it to order a delicious platter at some restaurant by the sea on a romantic night.

Huge Meat Platter: Juicy ribs, Spicy curry, Toasty bread, Crispy chicken wings, and tender sausages

I have also often redeemed 1000 Quandoo points for $15 and have gotten more than $100 in CASH so far just by visiting restaurants. No extra effort. It works by crediting the cash via bank transfer.

One of many credited transactions.

Here's the deal: every visit to a restaurant earns you 100 Chope or Quandoo points which are worth $3 and $1.50 respectively. If you use any promo code, you may even get more! If you write a simple review on Quandoo, you get additional 25 points. Recently I got 400 points easily just by doing a Chope survey.

Start using Chope and Quandoo today!

Sign up for Chope here to get a $10 restaurant voucher https://cho.pe/hh9U2

Earn up to 750 points on your first restaurant reservation with Quandoo using code: LUKAS176JFV.

Get the app now! iOS: http://bit.ly/QniOS //// Android: http://bit.ly/QnAndroid

Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018 New Buys

Below shows the trades I entered so far this year (as at Mar) which are only a subset of my portfolio.

 Entry Price  Units  Market Price   Capital invested excl fees    P/L   ROI 
Sembcorp Ind  $       3.170 1700  $         3.060  $        5,389.000  $       (187.00) -3.47%
Singtel  $       3.370 2300  $         3.350  $        7,751.000  $         (46.00) -0.59%
Venture [sold]  $     23.050 600  $       28.020  $      13,830.000  $      2,982.00 21.56%
A Reit  $       2.590 2800  $         2.610  $        7,252.000  $           56.00 0.77%
UOL  $       8.400 1100  $         8.700  $        9,240.000  $         330.00 3.57%
ST Eng  $       3.300 3300  $         3.390  $      10,890.000  $         297.00 2.73%
HMI  $       0.635 8800  $         0.635  $        5,588.000  $                -   0.00%
Thai Bev  $       0.910 11000  $         0.815  $      10,010.000  $    (1,045.00) -10.44%
Capitaland  $       3.590 1900  $         3.600  $        6,821.000  $           19.00 0.28%
Total capital invested  $        76,771.00
Total profit  $      2,406.00

During the correction in Feb I bought some counters at a discount to their prices before the correction. These are the counters I bought using CPF, SRS and cash.

In this uncertain climate, I am switching to an active short-term trading style and will take profits as soon as possible. I also invested more $ this year as I became more comfortable with deploying more $ after 2 years of intermittent dabbling in stocks. I am still holding on to a large amount of cash though, looking for bargains to buy. Seems like a lot of good stocks have rallied quite a bit, am waiting for them to cool down first.

Last year I traded Venture and netted a profit of $471 (200 units) which translates to ~11% ROI in several weeks.

Similar to last time, I was not greedy and wanted to take profits as soon as possible at $26 due to the volatile nature. However, it exceeded my expectation and shot up to $28 due to institutions' $$ buy-in which perhaps helped to boost the rally.

I was quite lucky able to exit at $28 before it dropped back to $27 and hovering there til now.
I actually bought at $23.05 right before the correction and it dropped to $21.xx at one point before rallying up to $28.20 after the correction. As a counter that has shot up so quickly since last year (literally woken from hibernation), I was afraid it may fall a lot during the correction and never recover.

I think it will drop back to $26 or even $25 and I'm waiting for a good reentrance.

Thai Bev
This is a disappointment, it dropped sharply by $0.05 right after I bought it due to an institution dumping the stocks because of the dismal earning result. The sharp drop triggered others to follow suit. I think everyone was waiting for consumption to resume and for the company to post higher or normal earnings. With the high acquisition costs and the dismal consumption, the sharp drop in earnings just make it look very bad.

However, I think there is still hope as the acquisitions should bring long-term market share and hence greater earnings in the future. Some analysts including OCBC even maintained a BUY rating, albeit with a lowered target price than before.

This had quite a strong uptrend, I managed to enter when it dipped down to $8.4 from $8.6. I was waiting patiently for the fish to bite the bait. Hopefully it can rise by 10-15% after which I will take profit and rotate to another stock.

I bought these last year and they rallied up as the dark period for banks is over. I think my ROI is around 50% since I entered. I missed the chance to sell at $29.5 for DBS before it dropped to $28.xx. I think it will fall further to perhaps $27 before rallying up again. Perhaps I can average down.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Best brokers to buy/sell stocks

DBS Vicker Cash Upfront


  1. Stocks you buy will be credited to the CDP by T+3. Currently there is a promo as shown until the end of June 2018.
  1. Inconvenient: Have to login through Internet Banking website. Authenticate 2FA twice.
  2. Order type: No stop loss.


They have revamped their offering and they allow selling of shares from CDP for 0.12% only.

Buying of shares is currently only with cash and will place shares under their custody. CPF IS is not supported. 

I clarified the above with FSM's customer support.

Buying of stocks using CPF IS is still expensive at 0.28% (DBS) or 0.275% (OCBC).


Buy using Vicker and sell using FSM! Beat Stan Chart's 0.20% hands down with CDP protection! However, Stan chart offers stop loss order type which Vickers and FSM One do not.

Optimise living expenses Part 1

I am a true-blue minimalist in that I only buy things that are necessary. However, I do own a car 'cos I am tired of taking public trans...