Author: Help your own money

Keeping the mind open. Seeing the good on some unpopular financial products

It is a good habit to keep an open mind and see things from the other side of the fence. When people disagree with you, the value of their information content is higher. It is uncomfortable emotionally, but essential to arrive at the right decisions. I have been personally affected negatively by insurance agents selling high-commissioned insurance products, financial training courses and Multi-level Marketing (MLM). It is hard to keep an open mind on issues that impact a person negatively on a personal level. Nevertheless, I will try to see the other side of the coin. It is a...

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How I respond to financial product promoters on train stations

As a buyer of consumer products, one observation I made : when a product needs to be sold aggressively by salesmen, it probably isn’t a good one. The best products sell by itself without help from aggressive commission-based salesmen. This is especially true for financial products. The best financial products I bought are usually not promoted by salesmen. It is getting common to be stopped by financial promoters at train stations nowadays. This is my usual responses when approached by financial promoters at train stations. Response to insurance products promoters“When buying insurance products, my main prority is protection. Please...

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Learning through cheap books/internet versus expensive training courses

I have never attended any trading/investment courses before. Not even free ones which are usually sales preview. I declare upfront that I am personally biased against training courses that charge more than $1000 and last only a few days, since I used cheaper alternatives such as books and internet to pick up financial knowledge. I cannot make fair comments about the quality of these courses since I have never personally attended any myself but one thing I can say objectively is that they are certainly much more expensive compared to books and internet resources. My financial education was mostly...

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More Singaporeans need to be entrepreneurs but …

I have always respected entrepreneurs. Even more if they are fellow Singaporeans. They dare to execute on their dreams despite the high odds of failure. How to not respect? I am glad to be of assistance to give free product reviews of fellow worthy entrepreneurs on my blog in the past. I recently stumbled on an article which lamented that Singaporeans are not risk-taking enough and that this is bad for the country because the country needs more entrepreneurs and more workers to join risky entrepreneurial start-ups to create value. The writer, Mr Devadas Krishnadas, is an entrepreneur with...

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A value investment course that is simple to understand and simple to execute

Alvin first communicated with me after I wrote a eulogy on his late teacher (Dennis Ng). He wrote books on trading and published interviews with Singapore Trading Gurus. Today, he conducts a value investment course. It is good to be open-minded and flexible. There are many ways to make money from financial markets. Without being exposed to the different ways, it is difficult for a person to pick the best one that is suited to his temperament. Alvin asked me if I would like to attend his course. I had always been a lone operator in investing and never...

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Stocks versus property. Why I prefer stocks over property.

Singaporeans love the property market. The fact that it took our government seven anti-speculative measures to dampen Singaporeans’ love affair with property since 2007 is evidence that it is very hard to break this strong love. In the meantime, the lack of success is not exactly bad news to the government. They have made 1 billion in tax revenues from the property curbs. There is substantial anecdotal evidence that more Singaporeans made more money from property than stocks. Just ask and look around. Our parents’ generation who dared to invest in property have secured their retirement. It is small...

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Characteristics of a good fund manager

I have a theory about hiring smart people to work for you. Once you hire people with the right talent, you can just sit back, relax and wait for good results as long as you drive him with the right incentives. On the other hand, if you drive him with the wrong incentives, he will destroy you despite paying him top dollars. We have seen this phenomenon happened in Wall Street and this almost destroyed the world financial system in 2008. Closer to home, would it serve Singapore better if our smart civil servants were incentivized to raise the...

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Choosing your Valentine from a Value investing standpoint

The most important decision a man can make is arguably his choice of wife. A wrong choice can ruin his happiness for the rest of his life. If he tries to regain his happiness by getting rid of the wrong wife, he risks financial ruin because of the huge cost of divorce. At least women gain financially when they divorce. Therefore, it is very important for men to put very careful thought into the screening criteria for potential wives.  ALL men, including me, start off on a wrong foot when we look for wives. We are immediately turned on...

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Suggestions to Olam in their fight against Muddy Waters

When Muddy Waters (MW) strikes, the immediate aftermath will be a double-digit percentage plunge in high volume in the share price of the stock being shorted. When MW strikes, it always provide lessons and entertainment for investors unless you happen to be vested in the company attacked by MW. MW sends shudders down the spine of CEOs of public-listed companies. Olam CEO Sunny Verghese must be cursing MW now. Why me? When he learnt of MW’s first strike, it was fearsome enough to make him cancel his flight while waiting in the departure lounge. Olam is a component stock...

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The right investment vehicle for retail investors – ETF

It is an open secret in the fund management industry that most fund managers under-perform over the long-term (around 5 years). Very few people who are in the business of selling investment-linked products will reveal this embarrassing secret to their clients. A simple search on Google will show the facts. You can always verify next time someone persuades you to buy an investment fund. Don’t blame the salesmen if they are not forthcoming because they cannot sell if all the embarrassing secrets are out. Two years ago, I wrote about relying on fund managers for our investments. What I...

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Update on my favourite life insurance plan (Aviva SAF Group Term Life) for Singaporeans

Last year, I wrote about my favorite life insurance (Aviva SAF Group Term Life) for Singaporeans. It is still my favorite today and I just got an update that the maximum coverage allowable has been raised to SGD1 million. This will cost SGD1536.00 annually and I signed up for it with little hesitation. Based on my personal experience, I seldom need to pay the full premium each year because Aviva gives partial refund of the premium at their discretion. For Singaporean NSmen with dependents, this is a no-brainer if the objective is to use minimum sum of money to...

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Different ways of spending money leading to different wealth outcomes

How nations spend their money will ultimately determine their wealth. Same goes for companies and individuals. I will talk about the different ways we spend money and why certain organizations fail/succeed because of the way they spend money. Before that, I confess that I am not smart to think of such a powerful, yet simple concept. This credit goes to Milton Friedman, arguably the most influential economist of the 20th century, who introduced the concept in his book “Free to Choose”. Children in western societies love Christmas because they receive gifts from adults. Children in Chinese society love Chinese...

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In memory of Dennis Ng Kah Wan 吴加万

Money gurus who charge thousands for their courses are viewed skeptically by experienced financial practitioners. Going by their hourly rate, their students pay more for the course compared to an MBA from a reputable university but do not get a recognized certificate upon graduation. Skeptics will ask … “if you are such a good investor and love the game so much, why don’t you invest and make money for yourself? Why are you sharing your secrets to strangers and diluting your future gains? Are you making more money teaching than doing? Have I hit the nail on the head?”...

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