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To retire by age 45, start with a plan.

"Is early retirement the right financial choice?" Jim Ellis discusses long-term financial growth strategies. I have blogged a...

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"E-book" by AK

Second "e-book".

Recent Comments

InvestX Congress and the CPF.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I hope everyone who went to InvestX Congress today had a good time. 

To my regular readers who were there, I hope it wasn't too boring listening to me repeating the same old stuff about the CPF. 

Anyway, for the benefit of some in the audience who told me that they might have trouble remembering everything I shared today, here are some salient points from my segment:

Beef up your CPF account.

You could do these:

1. Top Up your SA (not beyond FRS)

2. Voluntary contribution to your MA (together with mandatory contributions, not beyond CPF annual limit and, on its own, not beyond BHS)

You will also get income tax relief for doing the above. For #1, only for the first $7,000 each year.

3. OA to SA transfer (not beyond FRS)

4. Voluntary contribution (OA, SA, MA) (together with mandatory contributions, not beyond CPF annual limit)

These will not get any income tax relief.

We don't have to do everything to capture all the benefits. It is not like Pokemon GO and we gotta catch them all. Just do what we can.

For me, the big thing was doing OA to SA transfer in the first 4 years of my life as a working adult. I emptied my OA into my SA. 

Did this in the first 4 years of my working life instead of the last 4 years of my working life. 

That makes a big difference because compound interest needs time to work its magic and a bigger base earlier makes it more magical.

Also, have enough in our CPF-MA and the interest income we receive yearly from the government will pay for our insurance. Who says there is no free medical insurance in Singapore?


Here are links to some of my other blogs on the topic:


2. http://singaporeanstocksinvestor.blogspot.sg/2015/01/how-did-ak-amass-so-much-money-in-his.html

3. http://singaporeanstocksinvestor.blogspot.sg/2016/02/the-cpf-is-really-national-ponzi-scheme.html

If AK can do it, so can you! Gambatte!

23yo bought 40yo HDB flat and worried.

Friday, August 18, 2017


I am currently 23years old & married. My husband and I purchased a resale flat last year.

Back then we did not read nor have knowledge about financial planning. 

We purchased what we want and our desired location...

Our resale flat is actually quite old. I think is 40 years old this year...

Many people called us stupid for buying resale flat instead of BTO ones. 

And since we didn't have proper financial planning, we exhausted our entire CPF to pay for the flat.

So, our CPF is 0 now. 

We also took a loan of 25 years...

I am beginning to learn how to invest and starting small. May I ask how can I actually do better in planning my finance? 

Thank you for taking your time to read my email. Hope to see your reply.

How do you start doing better in your finances? That is a very broad question. It is very difficult for me to answer with specifics. 

Here are a few blogs you might want to read:




4. http://singaporeanstocksinvestor.blogspot.sg/2017/07/buying-properties-with-short-remaining.html

There are many other relevant links in my blog. 

Go to the right sidebar of my blog and read those suggested especially those listed under "WEALTH CREATION".
If we to learn from mistakes, we will avoid them and make better decisions in future.

Don't beat ourselves up.

This reader has the right attitude. Gambatte!

Is early critical illness insurance necessary?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I have blogged about the importance of having critical illness insurance before and because I get questions from readers now and then on whether early critical illness insurance is essential, I decided I should blog about it.

Please bear in mind that this is just my opinion and some might disagree.

I've started my investing journey and I am quite amazed I've learnt quite a lot ever since I started reading your blog last year. I would like to seek your talking to yourself opinion. Is it essential to get an early critical illness term insurance? The premium is really high.

When we buy insurance to cover ourselves against critical illnesses, it is so that we get paid a lump sum of money if we should be diagnosed with one of the dread illnesses.

The difference between regular and early forms is that the latter will pay the insured once diagnosed with a dread illness even if it should be at an early stage. The regular form would only pay if the illness is at an intermediate stage.

I am of the opinion that we need regular critical illness coverage because it could be that we must stop working to undergo treatment. We could be too ill to work. 

Critical illness coverage gives us a lump sum payment. Now you know why this is necessary. We need this in case we have to stop working. It provides us with money to continue living our life as if we were still working (for a long while, hopefully) until we get better.

At the early stages of an illness, it is conceivable that we would still be well enough to work and would not have to give up our regular income. So, it is my opinion that it is not essential to have early critical illness insurance. We don't need it.

Any medical treatment required if we should be diagnosed with a critical illness in the early stage should be covered to a large extent by our H&S insurance. Think Medishield Life, for example. We don't need early critical illness coverage to pay for our medical treatment.

The early variant of critical illness insurance is also unattractive because it is very pricey. 

How much more does it cost?

For example, a 30 year old male might have to pay almost $800 per year for a $200,000 death with regular critical illness benefit till age 65 but he might have to pay more than $2,000 per year if he were to opt for early critical illness benefit.

That is 150% more! 

If it were 10% or 20% more, maybe, but 150% more? Mind boggling.

I have blogged about what I feel is the best insurance in life and I feel that the extra money used to pay for early critical illness insurance could be better used towards this project.

If you don't know what I am talking about, see related post #2 at the end of this blog.

Insurance is absolutely necessary against events which we will not be able to recover from easily without financial help.

For all other events, insurance is probably a "nice to have" and not a "must have".

Buy what we know we need and not what sales people want us to think we need.

Related posts:
1. Without CI coverage?
2. Best insurance to have in life.

Avoiding the instant gratification of yield (SingTel, Starhub and REITs).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My blog has pretty useful content in the comments section but many do not read the comments section, I found out a long time ago. 

So, there was a time when I would share the comments in a blog post so that they reach more people. I stop doing that after I found out that Google didn't like it and it affected my blog's page ranking. 

However, I have decided that it really should not matter to me and that making sure that the content reaches more people is more important. 

This was a recent conversation:

redponza said...
Hi AK,
There is a 4th telco getting into Singapore, don't you worry about the intensified competition?

Also, unlike REIT where there is minimum capital expenditure, telco needs to upgrade their network consistently to maintain competitiveness. With the lower yield, and meh growth potential, not sure why it is better than REIT.

In the telco space, isn't Starhub better with a much higher dividend yield?


AK said...
Hi redponza,

SingTel derives less than 20% of its revenue from Singapore. It is truly an MNC.

As for CAPEX, selling away most of its stake in Netlink NBN passed a heavy baby to other investors. SingTel retains only a 25% stake in the newly listed entity.

If you are worried about the 4th Telco and increased competition in Singapore, you should be more worried about Starhub since it derives about 70% of its revenue from Singapore.

This is also probably why Mr. Market demands a higher dividend yield from Starhub which incidentally also has a higher payout ratio compared to SingTel.

One more thing, we really shouldn't be comparing Telcos with REITs. The yields are not comparable.

SingTel pays out a percentage of its earnings as dividends while REITs pay out from their operational cash flow.

If we were to use the same yardstick for both, we would worry about REITs since their DPU is usually higher than their EPU.

redponza said...
Is telco attractive?

From my point of view, return = dividend yield + dividend growth, taking debt into consideration.
There is lower growth and lower yield in telco, thus I am puzzled why telco is even considered in the first place.

And from a price to book standpoint, they can never beats a REIT =.=

But on the other hand, I saw famous investors grabbing telco companies, hence I must be missing sth here?

AK said...
Hi redponza,

Like I said, they are different animals.

It depends on how we look at investments and how value is created.

Most REITs pay out more than they earn. They do not retain any earnings.

SingTel pay a percentage of their earnings and they retain some earnings so that they become more valuable over time.

I like some REITs and my portfolio is rather heavy in REITs. So, it is sensible to become less dependent on REITs especially when conditions have become less benign for them.

It is about having a more holistic approach.

Frankly, not all REITs are good investments.

We should wonder at the sustainability of distributions.

A REIT could have high CAPEX down the road:


A REIT could see their assets disappear in the not too distant future:


So, we must be careful when we lump REITs together to say that REITs can never be beaten in terms of return on investment. The quality of returns and the sustainability are pertinent considerations.

To new readers of ASSI, please read related post #1 below.

Related posts:

1. Instant gratification of yield.
2. SingTel and Netlink NBN Trust.

SingTel and Netlink NBN Trust.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Some people keep asking me what have I bought recently. 

Hmm. Let me see.

Eggs, extra virgin olive oil, butter, dark chocolate, matcha ice cream and some other stuff.

What? Wrong answer?

Jokes aside, to those who like asking me what did I buy or if XXX stock can buy or not, you should know you would be disappointed most of the time with my answers.

You have been warned. ;)

Anyway, in an interview a few years back, when asked what was the first company I ever invested in, my answer was SingTel

Like many Singaporeans then, we were given a chance to buy discounted SingTel shares by Mr. Goh Chok Tong who wished for Singaporeans to think about investing in stocks to help grow our wealth. People my age or older would probably remember this.

I am still holding on to those shares and collecting dividends, year after year. 

Is that the best way to achieve greater returns? 

I don't know but I know it generated pretty decent and safe returns.

Since then, over the years, I went on an adventure as an investor, trader and speculator in the stock market. 

I made some money and lost some money. 

I think I must have made more money than I lost or else I would probably be in IMH by now.

In my retirement, I tell myself that I must not be too adventurous with money. So, I bought more SingTel shares in 2015. 

Informed by charts, I added to my investment in SingTel as its share price retraced to what I think are supports and I did that again recently.

My decision is now partly emboldened by the listing of Netlink NBN Trust which effectively strengthens SingTel's coffers by some $2 billion. 

So, SingTel has become a more valuable company after the sale, more valuable than it was in 2015.

When asked whether I was interested in Netlink NBN Trust at its IPO, the answer was in the negative. A 5% yield just didn't cut it for me.

With relatively high depreciation and replacement costs to be considered as well, a structure that pays out most of its cash flow to shareholders probably means much higher debt in time to come. 

I wonder about the sustainability of its dividends in the longer run. 

To invest in Netlink NBN Trust, therefore, I would demand a much higher yield than 5% as a compensation. 

This could be achieved through a higher DPU which is unlikely or a lower unit price which is probably more likely to happen.

In comparison, I believe that SingTel's dividends are more sustainable. 

There is talk of a special dividend but whether there is going to be a special dividend from SingTel or not does not matter to me. 
With a payout ratio of 60% to 75% of net profits, I will be quite happy with a 3.5% to 4.5% regular dividend yield. Lower than Netlink NBN Trust's 5% but it gives me peace of mind.

Looking at the chart, it looks like there is a chance that SingTel's share price could weaken again in future but it could bounce up first. This is the trader in me talking. 

Don't ask me what could cause this because I don't know.
However, I do know I would like to buy more if SingTel's share price should go much lower, all else remaining equal.

Related post:

1Q 2017 passive income.

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