Friday, December 1, 2017

General updates

Wow, been sometime since i blogged. Lots of things happening in real life that got me sidelined from blogging.

Addition to the family:
Welcomed my daughter to the family in November. A bundle of joy. To make this post remotely finance-related, i shall classify her as a 21 year endowment plan. Returns on investment, unknown, and no projection available as well.

Cost of investment: Very high.

I think it's not an investment you will go into based on the numbers alone. I mean, the initial outlay into this is quiteeee high.

Giving a rough breakdown of the costs associated, and i give only approximate figures here:

(1) Regular gynae check-ups: 250- 350 a visit. Roughly 12 visits (monthly, then moving to shorter intervals as the due date approaches)

Total for check ups: $3,600

(2) Miscellaneous medical costs associated: Pre-natal check-ups. There used to be an oscar test to test for Down Syndrome, which costs about $300-500 and have a 75% accuracy ration, we decided to go for the Harmony test. It costs $1,500, but have 99% accuracy reading. That plus other supplements/tests/scans that needs to be undertaken.

Total miscellaneous medical: $2,000

(3) Nursery room: Outfitting a room for the new member costs money. Baby cots, dressers, clothes, strollers. These things do not come cheap

Total for nursery: $5,000

(4) Food expenses/supplements: Grocery bills went up. Went marketing every week to buy cod fish for the wife to eat. And that is like.... premium. Bird's nest, Chicken Essence become par for the norm. I did not track this expense though.

(5) Cost of delivery: Went for delivery at a private hospital (Thomson Medical). Apparently it is one of the more affordable private hospital compared to the others. Cost of delivery varies depending on the complexity of the procedure, i.e., if you are going for a caesarean operation, normal delivery, with or without epidural (anesthetist required)

Total for delivery: $9,000*

*Note: Medisave could be used to help defray the costs up to $3,000 for normal deliveries. More could be used for Caesarean-section deliveries.

You would have noted that i did not exactly scrimp and went for the lowest cost option. Decision was not made on cost as i think being pregnant is not easy, and paying (quite a bit more) for comfort would help go a long way to making the process for the wife much better.

There are ways to save on this: going to a public hospital (delivery and gynae check up costs would be much lower), but weighing between the 2 i consciously went for the more expensive option. Sure, it could have helped purchase a few lots of STI ETFs perhaps... maybe 20 years later i would rue the choice, but i guess some decisions have to be made.

So what's the total cost i incurred for this 'investment'?

A whooping $19,600.

And going forward, there would be monthly 'cost averaging into this', and who knows the potential payout 21 years later?

Economically, i think the maths don't work out. ;)

To balance this out a little, the government does help out a little.

(1) Baby Bonus: $8,000 for the first born, spread over several tranches disbursed
(2) Child Development Account - $3,000 first step incentive into the child's account, plus up to another $3,000 dollar for dollar matching

There are tax incentives given for parents with babies, which will help out a little

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Income Review 2016

Not many streams of income left in 2016 that will bring me into 2017, having liquidate most of my positions to purchase a second home.

Passive income:

As can be seen... my passive income dropped from 2016 as compared to previous years. Liquidated most of my assets to get another house which i am currently staying in. So it will be like a fresh start in 2017 when i try to build up my portfolio again to get income from dividends. Meanwhile, also hoping that the rental from my HDB will add a much needed boost to my passive stream.

Been holding cash a bit the past few years to buy another house, I guess that's why my dividends income wasn't that significant anyway.

Also only managed to get 1 month of rental out of my flat, and i net the agent's commission off. My US apartment continues to generate income, although there seems to be en-bloc interest in that. Let's see if i am forced to sell out, which is not ideal as i kind of like the regular USD income stream.

Portfolio as at 31 December 2016:
A grand total of $2,130. Now that I do not expect to use huge amounts of cash anymore in the near future, I am more comfortable in placing more into equities. Although the current amount i am placing now is still $300 a month. I should be looking to increase the amount in 2017. Waiting for my expenses situation to stabilize further, and to build up a bigger financial buffer too.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Expenses Review 2016

That time of the year when i look back at my expenses in 2016... and see how much better or worst did i fare financially...

I really only started tracking my expenses in 2015 when i got YNAB, and my first year expenses were recorded in 2015 expenses review.

It was pretty interesting to see where my money went to. I guess it would be even more interesting (for me that is) to see where i stack compared to last year.

Car Expenses: $31,687.88 (2015: $33,198.99)
Pretty consistent here. The slight disparity was because I did without a car for slightly under a month where i sold off my fancy ride to get a more down-to-earth vehicle. I expect the expenses in this category to drop in 2017.

Fixed Expenses: $17,792.31 (2015: $14,234.21)
This category is getting higher, and boils down to me increasing my insurance cover as described in here. Also taxation is higher (if i recall, there is a 1-off relief previous year) due to slightly higher income. An area which i can manage better, with SRS, topping up with CPF perhaps. I have been putting this off because I kept some cash on hand to fund my home. Now that that is out of the way, I can look to reducing some income tax expenses.

Monthly Bills: $2,322.48 (2015: $2,943.24)
Phone bills, gym membership. Slightly lower this year, as I managed to get reimbursement for my gym fees late last year as part of corporate benefit. Also my phone bills gets transferred to my 'family account' as part of a total package from Singtel. So likely i will drop this category in 2017.

Daily Expenses: $7,566.51 (2015: $9,081.47)
Total family expenses goes here (food, entertainment etc). Went down due to a conscious effort to cook more at home. Although in the grand scheme of things - it didn't look like it helped much. Maybe savings of $100 a month.

Holidays: $2,839.81 (2015: $8,239.05)
Too busy to take a break - a good thing for the wallet!

Personal Expenses: $6,538.75 (2015: $6,175.5)
Somewhat similar to last year. Was higher this year because i cabbed everywhere when I was without a car. Surprising to me though - because I thought I DID try to watch my spending on other areas like office meals and social entertainment expenses.

Bringing me to a total of $68,747.74 (2015: $73,872.46)
So, after a year of belt tightening, I cut my expenses down by $5,000 p.a. Which is about $600 a month.

Total essential expenses would be $43,897.57 [$31,897.57+$12,000 family expenses] (2005: $42,140.98)

And the daily maintenance expenses would be $3,500. Approximately same as last year as well. Having said that though, I still need to factor in the mortgage of my new house. So in reality, the figure per month is higher.

Overall, I think it is quite surprising to me. Looks like the efforts I have put into cutting my expenses did not bear as much fruits as I thought it should. It certainly felt like I put in more effort than satisfaction I get in the return for the savings!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Transactions in December + hitching

Coming to the end of the year, where did 2016 go to?

Did my regular savings plan of 300 bucks a month, and this month, i decided to get some bonds instead. So i purchased A35 at $1.141. I had left overs from my previous purchases of STI ETFs, so even though the total purchase amount is $343, I had enough to cover the transaction amount.

 Bonds are less volatile... good for people who are getting old like me. I used to be 100% in equities, but some diversity couldn't hurt!

I envisage that as I progress with more savings, I would slowly increase my bond component. At the moment, I'm happy to let it be at around 10-20%.

Also, i am looking forward to collecting more dividends next month. A grand amount of $24.54. Since I restarted my portfolio less than half a year ago, with $300 a month, i am happy that the dividends can last me for a week's lunch. Although that is only hypothetical as I would not be spending it, but going to reinvest it eventually with my regular RSP.

From my previous posts, you would know that I sold my flashy 2 door car, and downgraded to a more modest 4 door vehicle. My previous vehicle wasn't approved by Uber because it is a 2 door (and they can only allow 4 door). With my new ride (yes, i know it is still a luxury item), I can sort of monetize the liability a little. Now when i go out and if my company wants to get a taxi, i get him/her to call for a hitch driver (and I will accept the booking). Grab pays incentive for hitch drivers, and i would be the beneficiary of it. :)

And, not forgetting to wish you and your family, a very Merry and Blessed Christmas, and a happy new year ahead!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Transactions, happenings Oct/Nov 2016

Didn't blog for 2 months, was kinda busy. Did my monthly purchase of 100 units of either G3B or ES3.
Guess 100 units work nicely based on savings of $300 a month.

Other significant updates:

(1) Finally secured a tenant for my HDB - market is indeed softening... the house sat empty for 1 month. While logically I know there is definitely a vacancy period, I can't help but feel that every day the house sits empty, I am losing money. All is good now though - the rental deposit is now in my bank account. Ka Ching!
Rates have come down slightly - but still not too bad for a stream of rental income.

(2) Sold my flashy car... after listing it on consignment for 1 year... there is finally a taker. Love that car - especially the cool breeze at night when you drive top down. But after 5 good years, i think it was time to let go... Uber didn't even accept my car as it was a 2 door ride... (back when i was thinking of getting extra cash). In case you think i am being extra financially prudent by selling the car and taking public transport, i have to admit, i am not. I just downgraded to a bread and butter car. It is indeed very tough (i am very pampered) after driving for close to a decade to get back to BMW (bus mrt walk) - doing it for a few weeks now, and actually Uber is quite okay, if there are promotions going on.

So, i guess it is a compromise between wanting to save more money and still have a car around... i know it delays retirement by a couple of years, but it is indeed a conscious decision.a

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Transactions for Sept '16 + accidental lifehack

Continued my DCA into the STI index. Another 100 shares for the month. Using the transactions capture from SGXcafe. :)

Incidentally, i chanced upon an accidental life hack from for a small amount of free cash flow. So i signed up for an insurance policy using the OCBC Cashflo card which breaks any purchases into monthly installments. And then because another policy came up which i preferred.... i freelooked the old policy (and got the cash refund from the insurance company in 1 lump sum).

End result - i got interest free installment from the insurance company. It wasn't my intention, but it is indeed an accidental life hack for a small amount of cash flow.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Insurance Review

Been busy recently trying to renovate my house.... costs of renovation is definitely way different from what i remember when i did up my house 8-9 years ago! My curtains and lights are double of what i spent previously. Although regrettably my record keeping the last time has been far from ideal, so wasn't able to do up a very comparison.

Any how.... due to the taking on of additional liabilities (and with getting older), decided to do an insurance review. I guess with age, one feels more afraid, with more things to lose... hence unwilling to take on risks which I can pass off to others.

Hospitalization and Surgical:
With the launch of AXA shield plans, i think it is currently one of the best shield plans around, with the highest annual policy limit (1 million per year), and longest pre and post hospitalization benefits. Meaning, one can claim for certain hospitalization visits after 365 days from discharge. I am currently with Aviva, and may be switching to AXA while i am healthy and still able to switch.

Critical illness:
I have Great Eastern's critical illness plan at the moment, but was quoted a similar one for AIA but at close to $1k cheaper per annum. The differences are, to me marketing tactics by GE to charge a premium.
 - For example, a shorter survival period of 7 days compared to 30 days. If one were to come down with a CI and passes away within 7 days... the CI will not pay out, true.

However, the purpose of CI is to help defray the costs of medication/differences in lifestyle after being diagnosed. If one were to die within 7 days, then the purpose of CI payout will not be required. The death benefit from my term life would pay out. The argument is that the premiums paid for CI policy would be 'wasted'. However, that's the purpose of buying insurance - i always treat it as an expense. People don't like to see wastage, and hence the sales of 'life policies' where you get what you paid for your premiums back is always higher. People fail to realize that a life policy is just a bundle of 'wastages + lending the insurance co to invest for you and return it back to you at a low rate of return'.

Death Benefit/TPD:
Increased it quite significantly, given the taking on of additional liabilities. IF something happens to me, i would not want my family to be saddled with a huge mortgage. The term life policy comes with TPD, so I am covered for that as well.

I got this instead of a reducing balance policy as i think the difference in price is not that material, and if i have additional obligations in the future, i would need to top up my coverage next time anyway.

Disability Income:
I added this as this is part of the holistic insurance package review. I feel that we should look at insurance needs as part of a holistic strategy... and this was how i viewed it. If i fall sick and needs to be warded, my H&S would kick in and pay for the bills. But if i cannot work due to the sickness, this disability income will kick in and pay for my monthly expenses (and mortgage).
If it is due to CI, i will be able to use the CI lump sum to pay for whatever bills that the H&S do not cover. This might include new drugs under approval which could prove effective, but not approved by H&S as yet.

I think i'm almost done, except for a personal accident plan.