Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bitcoin for Gold Exchange

After the craze for Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, it would appear that the trend is currently in favour of Gold.

Indeed, the collapse of crypto-currencies (loss of 70% of the total value of virtual currencies) in recent months and especially Bitcoin which fell below 7 000 USD, encourages investors anxious to preserve their capital to move towards precious metals.

But first of all, what is Bitcoin and what is its origin?

Bitcoin would have been invented by a Japanese named Satoshi NAKAMOTO in 2009. However, this remains a rumour as many people have proclaimed themselves as the inventors of the famous digital currency.

The Bitcoin principle is quite simple. It is a new currency outside the banking system based on what is called the "Block-chain". The block-chain being metaphorically a chain of bicycle of which each link is a book of account which lists a great number of transactions.

In a classic banking scheme, transactions are collected in the bank's computer and validated by the bank. In the case of Bitcoin, transactions are validated by the block-chain which is distributed on a multitude of computers around the world that download and validate transactions from the block-chain. Namely that these computers generally belong to private individuals and are paid in Bitcoin for their work. These are called "miners". Therefore, the advantage of the block-chain lies in these computers whose system is very secure thanks to the many mathematical algorithms used. A transaction cannot be usurped.

On the other hand, the reliability of crypto-currencies has been called into question several times following computer bugs. Moreover, like any currency, Bitcoin is subject to speculation and is as likely to appreciate in value as to lose. Indeed, the Bitcoin having plummeted by more than 60% of its rate since the beginning of this year, worried investors are forsaking digital currencies to transform them into a more real and ancestral value such as Gold.

For example, Bunker Gold&Silver, a leading precious metals dealer based in Singapore, whose customers have turned away from crypto-currency in favour of physical gold. Investors fear and worry that the massive price appreciation is not sustainable. More and more people are realising that these digital assets have much higher levels of risk than traditional assets.

The advantage of gold is the fact that there is no password or digital wallet to lose, volatility is much lower, growth is historically sustainable and most importantly, you can hold your investment in your hands.

Indeed, gold is considered as the safe investment because it has existed for 4 000 years against other currencies such as the US dollar which is the current world reference currency. For example, after a long period of stability between 1792 and 1971 (-100.00 USD on average), its price has soared to over 1,000.00 USD and is steadily increasing. Today, the gold price is approaching 1,400 USD/OZ.

One of the good reason to invest in Gold is for insurance against a financial meltdown, disintegration of fiat currency and or crypto-currency collapse. This is why many investors buy physical gold with their Bitcoin in the end.

*This is a guest post

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Why TPG Telecom Is Not A Threat To The Incumbent Telcos In Singapore?

The telecommunication industry is set to change in the near future with the fourth telco, TPG telecom starting business in 2019. However, I don't think this will be a threat to the incumbents in Singapore and I will tell you why in this post. Previously, I spent 6 years in the telecommunication industry working as a telecommunication engineer. Deploying mobile networks was bread and butter for me and I know this industry inside out including the challenges of setting up base stations all around Singapore just to provide the coverage that is needed.

TPG Telecom announced on 19 March 2018 that it will be launching its first mobile product aimed at seniors aged 65 and above, offering several free perks for them. TPG said it will offer this group of customers a SIM card, 3GB of monthly mobile data and unlimited local calls for free for the first 24 months. This is actually a good move to get customers on-board. However, I would think those who subscribe to the new telco will face a risk of poor network coverage. Why is this so?

Why TPG Telecom Is Not A Threat To The Incumbent Telcos  In Singapore?

Mobile Coverage

TPG telecom has to provide outdoor street level coverage for 4G within 18 months from the start of the new spectrum rights. This should be done by December 2018. However, do note that this is only for outdoor coverage and not for indoor coverage so the mobile coverage is expected to be weak in buildings and underground premises all around Singapore.

Under the spectrum rights, they are only suppose to meet 85% of In-building coverage by 1 Jan 2020 and 99% MRT underground stations coverage by 1 Jan 2022. Imagine subscribing and paying for your mobile phone bills and realise you can't use your phone in your office building, shopping malls and while you take the train? This is a scenario which is highly likely.

Outdoor street level coverage

Before I go into In-building and MRT underground stations coverage, let me talk a little bit about outdoor street level coverage. In order to deploy a mobile network which covers outdoor areas, mobile base stations have to be built and connected to an antenna which transmits and receives signals. These base stations are mostly deployed at roof tops of HDBs, private residential buildings as well as commercial buildings all around Singapore. It is said that TPG has to secure spaces for 3000 base stations in order to meet the network coverage required. This deployment will not be cheap or easy at all.

From my own experience of deploying mobile base station, many roof tops in Singapore have already limited spaces to deploy these mobile base stations. There is constantly a need to seek approval from relevant authorities and private building owners for this. There are also requirements to meet safety standards so the antennas cannot be deployed just anyhow. The challenge is there and I'm not sure how TPG is able to deploy their network in such a short time with existing spaces on roof tops of buildings already taken up by the incumbents.

Furthermore, base stations and antennas are not cheap. I will not reveal the actual cost of these materials but from what TPG said that they are predicting to spend between $200 million to $300 million for the rollout of its mobile network here, I really think they will most likely over spend on this budget.

For your information, according to M1, their fixed asset cost for network and related application systems already cost $517M as at end Dec 2017. This is almost double the budget of TPG telecom. For Singtel, they indicated that they spent $150M just to upgrade their network from 3G to 4G a few years ago. In my opinion, TPG telecom's budget of $200M to $300M seems too low to deploy a new mobile network in Singapore from scratch.

In-Building coverage

For in-building coverage, it is even more complicated thus the reason why the authorities gave more time to meet this network coverage. In order for mobile coverage to work in buildings, TPG telecom will have to build a base station inside the building itself and lay cables and indoor antennas all over the building just to provide the mobile coverage. You can look up the ceiling of buildings in Singapore and you'll notice some small cone antennas which has the sticker Singtel, Starhub or M1. These are the antennas of the incumbents and the reason why we can use our mobile phones inside the building.

The deployment of mobile coverage inside buildings is a tedious job. Because of the need to lay cables practically on all areas of the building, the job process is long and costly as well. This can only be done at night when the office building or shopping centres are closed. It takes a few months just to complete one building in Singapore. For bigger buildings, it can take up to a year. Can you imagine how many buildings are there in Singapore?

Singtel has a video to explain how mobile network coverage is deployed in Singapore. You can watch it here below:

MRT underground stations coverage

The next level and the most difficult is deploying mobile networks in MRT underground stations and the tunnel itself. In my work experience, it is practically hard to get the mobile network to be deployed in the MRT underground tunnels. The reason is simply because there is limited time for the company to work in the MRT underground tunnel network.

Most of us should be aware that there is major MRT infrastructure upgrades all across Singapore. There is limited maintenance engineering hours because the MRT runs all the way to midnight and starts early in the morning. As such, there is early closure and late opening of the MRT operations since the end of last year just to cater more time for MRT infrastructure upgrades.

The priority will always be given for MRT upgrading works and track access is always controlled by the operator themselves. I am of the opinion that TPG telecom will have a hard time deploying their mobile network in the MRT tunnels as they compete with the MRT upgrading work projects and the limited hours available. The incumbents took many years to upgrade their mobile network from 3G to 4G in the MRT tunnels and some parts are still not ready yet even until now.

It is unlikely that TPG telecom can have much mobile coverage in the MRT tunnels itself.

Another failure in the making?

It will be tough competition for 4 telcos to exist in Singapore altogether. Especially for the 4th telco, it is exceptionally hard to operate in Singapore itself. In the past, there was also another fourth telco in Singapore but it failed and exited the Singapore in 2001 just 1 year after it started. This company was Virgin mobile.

Besides that, a lot of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) have already started their business in Singapore. Some of these operators are Circles life, Zero Mobile, Zero1 and most recently My Republic also announced they will partner with Starhub to start their mobile services. How is TPG going to compete in an already saturated market?

Because of the impending entering of the fourth telco, shares of Singtel, Starhub and M1 were depressed for quite some time now. When Singtel shares went lower to $3.40, I accumulated more along the way and it is currently the largest stock holdings I have in my portfolio. I believe Singtel will be the less affected by the fourth telco even though there are other things to consider when investing in Singtel such as its weaker overseas business.

Ultimately, let's see how the telecom industry develops in Singapore. The future will speak for itself when the time comes.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

The Scary Truth Of Long Term Healthcare Cost In Singapore

Most of us would have heard of the saying "you can afford to die but not get sick in Singapore". There is definitely truth in this saying because healthcare cost is really a bomb and this bomb will get bigger in the future. Healthcare spending budget is the 4th largest in Singapore at $10.2 billion for 2018. This amount is expected to be increased over the years as we prepare for an ageing population and rising healthcare cost.

A more scary cost than hospitalisation bills

While all of us know that hospitalisation bills can be quite scary, I think many do not know that there is another more scary cost than hospitalisation bills. This is the long term healthcare costs after a patient discharges from hospital. Hospitalisation bills can often be covered by Medishield life or private integrated shield plans but long term healthcare cost can rarely be covered by any insurance at all. The best we have is disability income or Eldershield which pays out a sum of money in the event of any disability but not many people would have this.

According to statistics from MOH, in 2016, there are 2.6 Million people with integrated shield plans but only 437,000 Eldershield policyholders with supplements. MOH did form a special committee to look into this Eldershield and some recommendations were made. You can read about it here.

The purpose of my article here is not to talk about insurance but to go into detail the possible long term healthcare cost needed and the various subsidies available. The question is are there safety nets for this in the event if our love one falls ill and require long term medical treatment and are subsidies enough? What can we do to prepare for this?

Another purpose of writing this article is to create awareness on the difficulties which caregivers faced when caring or supporting a family member with disabilities. This is a concern which many people face but help is limited. I've done a survey where many people participated in and voiced out their main concern areas which I will share in this post as well. Thank you to all who participated in the survey to make this post possible.

The scenario of needing long term healthcare cost

A family of 4 with a Father, Mother and 2 children live in a 4 room HDB flat in Singapore. The father is the sole breadwinner of the family and earns about $5000 while the mum is a housewife. Their 2 children are studying in University in their final year of studies. One day, the father suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He survived but the father became disabled and became bedridden. He also lost his ability to eat and drink and requires to be fed through tube feeding of milk only. He is unable to work and the family lost their only income as a result.

The above is a typical scenario of what happens when a family member suffers a critical illness. It can be heart attack in the above case but can also be other critical illness such as stroke, cancer, accidents, organ failures etc. With advance healthcare, most patients survive but the illness renders most people disabled after surviving the episode.

Long Term Healthcare cost required

When a person becomes disabled due to a sudden illness, the income is lost completely. The family members most probably have to find ways to sustain their lifestyle and find as much help as they can. Continuing the above story, it is fortunate that the 2 children just managed to graduate from university and they found a job. They earn a combined gross salary of $7400 which is quite a decent salary and they decided to care for their father at home after he discharges from the hospital.

However, they soon found out that the long term healthcare cost needed for their father are as follow:

NoItemCost per month
1Hiring a maid to care for their disabled father $600
2Levy for maid $265
3Milk Powder$1,000
4Adult Diapers$200
5Home Therapy (3 sessions a week)$1,200
6Home Nursing$200
7Follow up appointments$100
The above cost is for more severe cases of disability. For those with less severe cases of disabilities, the cost may be lower. The costs are also before any subsidies. 

The list above may not be conclusive and there may be more or less items according to different circumstances. Just like that, the 2 children have to fork out additional $3765 a month just to care for their father. This is on top of their current life which they still have to continue sustaining. With combined gross salary of $7400, their combined take home pay is only $5920. After deducting the healthcare cost needed, they are left with $2155 for a family of 4. Is this even enough for living expenses? 

This scenario is more real than we think. I can come up with the various cost at my fingertips because this happened to people around me recently and I've been researching and finding out more in order to help them. 

Also, with their income, they are not eligible for most subsidies even though they don't really earn a lot. 

Survey of People Who Need To Take Care of disabled family members

As mentioned earlier, I had done a survey to gather information on the issues which people face when they are caregivers for a disabled family member at home. With disabilities, there will certainly be long term healthcare cost involved as the disabled family member cannot work anymore and have to depend on someone to take care of him or her. Let's take a look at the questions and the responses in detail:

Q1: Which family members with disabilities do you have to support or care for?

Most people are supporting their parents (66.67%) or their grandparents (25.93%). 

Q2: How many family members with disabilities do you have to support?

Most people are supporting one family member. There are some who are supporting 2 or even 3 family members which is quite tough. 

Q3: Where are the family members with disabilities staying at?

Most of their family members are either staying with them or staying at another family member's house where they have to take care of the family member at home. There are some who have family members staying at nursing home probably due to lack of time to take care. 

Q4: Which of the following assistance does your family member need help on?

Most family members when they are faced with disabilities, they need help for most of the 6 daily living activities with mobility ranking the highest.

Q5: What is the amount you have to fork out in order to support the family member/members with disabilities?

Now comes the financial cost part. Most people have to fork out between $1000-$1999 per month just to care for the disabled family member at home. I reckon this will be for the milder cases of disabilities where the family member still can eat and perform some daily living activities at home. 

There are some who have to fork out between $2000-$3000 a month or even more than $3000 per month for more severe cases of disabilities. 

Q6: Which of the following subsidies do you receive?

Question 6 is all about subsidies. There are various subsidies which I will talk about in a subsequent post. People who are in this situation would have tried to find all kinds of subsidies available in order to continue living a normal life as much as possible. Ultimately, this is not a situation which families would like to be in so it is a tough time to go through. 

For the subsidies, we can actually see that most people do not get the subsidies which are available out there. The most common subsidy which people get is the foreign domestic worker concession levy and the grant where they will be eligible when they hire a maid to take care of their disabled family member. Other than that, most people do not get much other subsidies. I'm not sure if it is a lack of knowledge on knowing the subsidies available or the subsidy is just too difficult to get once you have a higher income. By higher income, the threshold is actually only $2600 monthly household income per person. Once you are above $2600, you would most likely not be able to get most of the subsidies. 

For the response which people put as "Other", most of it is NIL which means they do not get any subsidies at all. 

The Scary Truth Of Long Term Healthcare Cost In Singapore

I hope this article has done its purpose of raising awareness on the issues which people faced when caring for a loved one with disabilities. The last 2 questions I had in the survey were open ended questions where I asked what is the biggest financial cost and also what is the greatest challenge they faced. 

The biggest financial cost comes from the milk feed, medication, transport fees, diapers, domestic helper, hospital bills, medical equipment and many more. The responses were vastly different for different people which shows that the cost involved is quite wide ranging. 

The greatest challenge was more aligned where most people comments were quite similar. Most people stated that having not enough time and money was the greatest challenge. There were also emotional stress dealing with the issues at hand including the worry of the family member's health going forward. 

Being a caregiver is not just about the long term healthcare cost but also the emotional anxieties and stress involved. I'm sure more can be done to support these caregivers in the form of support groups and also financial assistance. There are already schemes in place and support rendered which I will go into detail in the next post. However, I still think more can be done for this group of people. 

If you're from any voluntary welfare organisations or the relevant government ministries, I would love to have a chat and hear from you if there are more things which can be done for caregivers in Singapore. You can drop me an email at and I will get in touch with you.

For those who are caregivers currently, the road is certainly tough and you would probably need as much support as possible. You can refer to AIC silver pages to find some of the help you need:  

Everyone can help to share this post to help create awareness for those who are facing challenges on being a caregiver.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Long Term Healthcare Cost Survey - A Mission to Create Awareness for healthcare cost in Singapore

Do you have family members who have disabilities whom you need to support and care for? The care giving journey is often an unprepared one and caregivers need all the help which they can get in this difficult time. I'm embarking on a mission to create awareness of the difficulties which caregivers face especially when it comes to the long term financial cost involved.

If you or someone you know is caring and supporting a family member with disabilities, do help to do this survey which I will use the result in a blog post. This will create awareness on the difficulties faced by the family members. I also hope to gain the attention of the relevant government authorities so that better care support policies can be implemented. You can help to make a difference by doing the survey here:

Previously I sent out an email to my readers on this survey but realised that the survey had errors and could not be submitted. For those who tried to submit previously but could not, please try again as I've edited and tested the survey to be working now.

Feel free to share this survey to your friends and family members too! Thank you for your time!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

MAS To Allow Singdollar To Rise - How Does This Affect Our Investments And Life?

Singapore's monetary policy is a unique one and also well respected in the international space. Many countries, such as the US, adopts an interest rate policy where they increase or decrease interest rates to steer the economy into a certain direction. However, Singapore is different. We adopt an exchange rate policy where the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) steer the Singdollar into a certain direction.

Just last week. MAS announced that they will will allow the Singapore dollar to rise in the first tightening of its exchange rate-based monetary policy in six years. This is in view of the stronger economy where MTI announced a 4.3% GDP growth for the first quarter of 2018. A stronger Singdollar will make exports more expensive and strengthens the purchasing power for us in Singapore. This is more to control any inflationary pressures due to the stronger economy.

The strengthening of the SGD will definitely affect our investments in terms of the earnings of different companies. It will also affect our personal life. Let's take a look at how a stronger SGD will affect us?

If you're interested to know how Singapore conducts its monetary policy especially what is the S$NEER policy band, you can read a previous article I wrote here: How MAS conducts its monetary policy in Singapore?

How does a stronger Singdollar affect our investments?

1. Lesser income for companies that has overseas businesses

A stronger Singdollar will affect the income of businesses who operate in Singapore and reports their financial results in Singdollar but have many businesses overseas. Let's take for example Singtel which has many subsidiaries and associates overseas. When they report their income in SGD and the SGD becomes stronger, its income from overseas business in other currencies will definitely drop when they convert it back to SGD. A case in point is where its share of revenue from its Australia Optus business was affected because the AUD depreciated against the SGD by quite a lot in recent years. Some companies do hedge against this risk though.

2. Lesser dividend payout from companies that has revenue in other currencies but pays dividend in SGD

A company that pays dividends in SGD but receives revenue in other currencies may give lesser dividends to shareholders as the SGD strengthens. Examples are some Reits which receive rental income in other currencies then distributes the income in SGD to shareholders. Watch out as their dividend yield may be affected. I say may be affected is because some of these companies actually fully hedge their distribution to a certain price of the SGD so it is not affected by the fluctuations of the SGD itself. As interest rates can be pegged and hedge to fixed rates, exchange rate can be hedged too.

3. Lesser business for export oriented businesses

For businesses which are export oriented, a stronger SGD will make exports more expensive to other countries and thus may decrease the demand of the goods which are being sold. Do watch out for your investments in companies which are based in Singapore but sells products to other countries. Their profits can be affected by the stronger SGD.

4. Stronger purchasing power for companies that buys overseas products and sells it here

Good news comes for businesses who buy products from overseas and sells it here. F&B businesses may benefit from this as their cost price for ingredients imported from overseas will be cheaper with a stronger SGD and thus increasing their profit margin.

How does a stronger Singdollar affect our life?

A stronger Singdollar is definitely better for consumers as a whole. It will moderate the increase of prices thus making things less expensive. Perhaps the most noticeable effect is when we exchange our SGD to travel overseas. A stronger SGD will allow us to have greater purchasing power in other countries. In fact, the SGD has appreciated against many other major currencies the past decade which is perhaps the reason why Singaporeans love to travel. Cheers to those who love to travel. It gets cheaper for Singaporeans again.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Everyone hates the corporate world but what can we do about it?

Everyone seems to hate the corporate world but we have no choice but to work for a living. Let's face it, even if you like doing the job, you won't like handling the bosses or the office politics that comes your way.

Your choices affect your outcome in life

A fellow blogger and friend who blogs at Investment Moats wrote a post which recounts his conversation with a fellow colleague who decided to call it quits in the corporate world. He resigned from the job at the age of 45 without another job. This was possible because he choose this path right at the start. He planned out his path to exit the corporate world many years ago when he was much younger.

Most people do not act like the colleague above. In fact, most will never even think that they could exit the corporate world so the only choice is to climb the corporate ladder or choose a role which is less tough to deal with. In my previous company, there were many people in their 40s who didn't want to be promoted because they know that they would face more shit if they go higher up the corporate ladder. Well, its a personal choice and there is no right or wrong in our choices in life.

Also in my previous company, I saw some colleagues who were able to call it quits and enjoy the freedom which they set out for in their early years. Yes, all these people have one thing is common. They made this choice early in their lives.

In my current company, most are young people around my age and a lot are busy climbing the corporate ladder at this age. I too am climbing the corporate ladder but I know my end destination should not be getting stuck in this rat race. I do like my analysis job but there are many re-organisation happening which affected morale a lot and having to deal with this is not something pleasant. There are also many additional "jobs" which are not in my control. People not cooperating is another issue to deal with coupled with demanding and unreasonable bosses.

Why its hard to enjoy your work even if you like it?

Its a irony that I deal with data analysis on my blog too which I often break down numbers and create charts to analyse as well. This is similar to what I do at work. However, it is very hard for me to enjoy the same analysis work in office because of the deadlines, bosses comments, approvals and the many meetings (which may be pointless).

Imagine if I have to meet a deadline for a blog post or having to seek approval just to post an article on my blog. Add in many pointless meetings and presentations just to post that one article. That will be disastrous. Ideas flow because of the freedom to think and not fearing of what will happen if we do the wrong things.

What can we do about it?

Getting out of the corporate world does not mean retiring totally. There have been much discussions on the idea of retiring partially which can be achieved at a much younger age. Instead of doing work we do not like and staying in the corporate world, we can generate enough passive income to cover our fixed expenses and do some freelance work to supplement our variable income lifestyle.

Imagine if you have $300,000 savings and invest it to get 5% passive income, you would be able to get $15,000 annually which is $1250 per month. This can cover some fixed expenses or probably most fixed expenses if you have no outstanding debts. Thereafter, some freelance or part time work can be done to get additional few thousand dollars monthly to supplement our income. This is just an example and it really depends on individual lifestyle on how much they need monthly to survive.

The most important thing is what we set out to choose early in our lives. Do you choose to stay in the corporate world till you're old or you choose to have the freedom in your life? This is an important question and whatever choices we make will ultimately lead us to that end destination which we choose. Remember, there is no right or wrong choices. There are people who like the corporate world but I just don't think that's me. How about you?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Investing In The Hospitality Industry - Breakdown of Individual Hotels Revenue

Its earnings season again. I've received a couple of annual reports as many companies have just closed their financial year to wrap up FY2017. I'm particularly interested in the results of the hospitality trusts which I own as 2018 is suppose to be the year where we should see some great recovery for this sector.

Most of the annual reports are now in a booklet format which saves a lot of cost for the companies as well as the environment. I have to go online or use the CD to view the annual reports. 2 hospitality trusts which I own are CDL Htrust and Far East Htrust.

In this post, I will deconstruct and dive down into the performance of individual hotels which they own which I believe will give us a better picture of the outlook of the hospitality sector in Singapore as well in other countries.

CDL Hospitality Trust - 20 Properties in 7 Countries

CDL Htrust has done well over the years not because its Singapore hotels have done well but because of the stellar performance of some hotels overseas. Let's take a look at the gross revenue breakdown of each hotel:

HotelsGross Revenue FY16 S$'000Gross Revenue FY17 S$'000Variance $Variance %
Orchard Hotel21,70720,712-995-4.6%
Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel18,11718,9488314.6%
M Hotel13,74113,572-169-1.2%
Copthorne King's Hotel7,7337,237-496-6.4%
Studio M Hote7,0476,875-172-2.4%
Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay20,92021,6937733.7%
Mercure Brisbane2,5702,57660.2%
Ibis Brisbane1,7141,71730.2%
Novotel Brisbane5,2175,227100.2%
Ibis Perth1,9561,96040.2%
Mercure Perth2,9812,98760.2%
New Zealand
Grand Millennium Auckland13,27419,4196,14546.3%
Angsana Velavaru8,3048,289-15-0.2%
Dhevanafushi Maldives Luxury Resort17,48114,587-2,894-16.6%
Pullman Hotel Munich-5,4685,468100%
Hotel MyStays Asakusabashi5,9945,701-293-4.9%
Hotel MyStays Kamata4,5784,144-434-9.5%
United Kingdom
Hilton Cambridge City Centre21,41820,344-1,074-5.0%
The Lowry Hotel-16,05316,053100%

As we can see, most of CDL Htrust's income comes from Singapore. It makes up about 56.8% of its net property income. The Singapore hotels performance largely remained flat with Orchard hotel as its main contributor of income. The boost comes mainly from its one and only New Zealand hotel which contributed $6 Million more to its revenue in FY17.

Far East Hospitality Trust - 8 Hotels, 4 Serviced Residences

Far East Htrust is a pure Singapore hospitality investment. All its properties are located in Singapore which has not been doing well for the past few years. Similarly, 2018 should be the year of recovery for the hotels in Singapore as the hotel supply tapers off this year.  Let's take a look at the gross revenue breakdown of each hotel:

HotelsGross Revenue FY16 (S$Million)Gross Revenue FY17 (S$Million) Variance $Variance %
Village Hotel Albert Court5.
Village Hotel Bugis11.511.2-0.3-2.6%
Village Hotel Changi109.5-0.5-5.0%
The Elizabeth Hotel6.96.3-0.6-8.7%
Oasia Hotel Novena14.313.1-1.2-8.4%
Orchard Parade Hotel20.620.3-0.3-1.5%
The Quincy Hotel3.
Rendezvous Hotel Singapore13.512.4-1.1-8.1%
Serviced Residences
Village Residence Clarke Quay9.28.9-0.3-3.3%
Village Residence Hougang2.92.2-0.7-24.1%
Village Residence Robertson Quay4.94.4-0.5-10.2%
Regency House6.

2017 was a tough year for Far East Htrust. Both its hotels and serviced residences properties suffered a drop in gross revenue. In 2018, it will have a new addition to its portfolio which is Oasia downtown hotel where they acquired just recently. Another hotel, The Outpost hotel at Sentosa will also be opened in the second half of 2018. These 2 hotels are expected to boost its income for FY2018.

Artist impression of the outpost hotel, Sentosa

The hospitality sector is very much affected by the demand and supply of rooms. Tourist arrival is expected to be strong in Singapore increasing by about 4% in 2018. Supply of rooms will be low in 2018 as compared to 2017. Globally, the economy is on track for a recovery and this should benefit tourism as a whole. As corporate demand increases, serviced residences should be in demand as well. Let's see what happens in 2018 for the hospitality sector. I continue to be vested in this sector.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Reflections on turning 30 years old

I have officially joined the 30 league today. To me, turning 30 years old is a milestone in life. The 3 in front of the age psychologically makes one look older too. I started this blog back when I was 25 years old and named it SG Young Investment. I grew with this blog and it has been 5 years now. Can't believe how time flies just like that.

This blog is a personal blog where I document my journey towards financial freedom. It is also a blog where I write on my thoughts on finance stuff. I have learnt a lot just by blogging for the past 5 years. Yes indeed as I write on various topics, I learnt the most myself too. Over the years, my motivation changes as I grew older and experiencing life's happiness and sorrows as well. This post will be some thoughts I have for turning 30 years old today.

1. Money is not everything in Life

A big realisation in my life is that money is not everything. Over the past 5 years, I made more money and my net worth grew because of the plans and goals I set for myself. I was able to generate multiple streams of income and spend more on the good things in life too.

However, after all these, honestly I don't feel much happier just because I had $100K more in my bank account. Don't get me wrong. It is still important to save up for our future especially if we want a good life for our love ones. But, honestly, money is not everything in life.

2. Life can hit you hard when you least expect it to happen

Life is not always smooth sailing. In fact, the past few days before my birthday, I felt an intense sadness reflecting on what had happened in the past and worrying about the future. I realised that I have totally no control over what would happen at all because of some unfortunate experiences in the past 1 year.

Personally, I have witnessed the sickness and death of 4 close relatives in just 1 year alone. One of which was a close cousin who was younger than me where he died in an accident. It hit me really hard that life does not give second chances. We can have all the plans we want but how it turns out later is unpredictable. I struggled a lot because I have been a person who believed in planning for the future a lot. It made me think what's the point of planning anymore.

Fortunately, my parents are still healthy but after seeing unfortunate things happen to people around me, I begin to worry for them also.

3. Keep walking is the only way in life, relationships and hope brings peace to our hearts

Yes there are worries and hurts in life that will bring us down. However, time does heal wounds as long as we continue walking. In fact, this is the only way in life. We either continue walking or we stop walking. But, I don't think to stop walking is a choice at all in life.

In times of trouble, we will know who are the people who really care for us. Relationships are tested and those that can withstand the test of times will become stronger. Even in the midst of all the worries, hope will bring peace to our hearts. I learnt not to give up hope no matter what happens. Whatever may happen in the future, I tell myself not to give up hope as well.

In the financial blogging world, we bloggers know each other in real life as well. It is these relationships that makes blogging much more alive and real. We are all still passionate about financial education which is a common goal we have. We also have families and some of them have spouse and children whom they work hard for.

I asked myself what is my motivation in life after 30. Deep down in my heart, my motivation comes from providing a good life for the people I love especially to my fiancee who will be my future wife. There is still a long road ahead to experience the good things life have to offer. My parents are getting older too and its time for them to enjoy life in their golden years.

Its a coincidence this year that my birthday falls on the same day as Easter Sunday. It reminds me to focus on what God has given me and to give thanks for the small things in life. Happy Easter everyone! :)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Visualisation of HDB resale prices in Singapore

Have you wondered where is the best place to buy a HDB resale flat in Singapore considering your budget or the remaining lease left in different towns in Singapore? I've been exploring data analysis through visualisation and did up a dashboard of the various resale prices in different towns in Singapore. This is done using the data on

It is often hard to find all the information we need as its all over the place even when we have Google search. With visualisation, we can see the data at one glance. The visualisation software I am using for this post is called Microsoft Power BI which I've been learning and using for my work as well.

The average HDB resale prices below are based on the sale transactions from 2015 to 2018 February.

Average HDB resale prices by town

Let's first look at an overview of the average HDB resale prices by town. Using a treemap, we can straight away see that Bukit Timah town has the highest average HDB resale price and Yishun has the lowest:

It may be too small to view on my blog so you can click on the image to have a better view. I've set the diverging colour to be green for the lowest prices, amber for mid range prices and red for the highest prices.

Average HDB resale prices by town treemap

To illustrate the resale prices more clearly, you can refer to the bar chart below:

Average HDB resale prices by town bar chart
Do take note again that the prices above are based on the resale sale transaction prices from 2015 to 2018 February for all room types so if a town has more 2 room or 3 room flats as compared to 4 room or larger flats, then the average price will be lower.

Average HDB remaining lease by town

When buying a HDB, we may also consider how old is the estate as the remaining lease does have an impact on the prices of the HDB as well. From the bar chart below, we would be able to see that the newest towns with still quite a lot of lease remaining is Punggol and Sengkang while the oldest towns seems to be Marine Parade and Geylang. This is probably due to the fact that Marine Parade and Geylang doesn't really have much new flats being built there so the town's average remaining lease is much lower as compared to other towns.

However, Geylang town had some good new BTOs being launched there just a few months ago in Eunos and Ubi which could change this in the future.

Average HDB remaining lease by town

Average HDB resale price by remaining lease

To confirm if remaining lease has an impact on HDB resale prices, I also did a visualisation to sort the HDB resale prices by its remaining lease.

Yes, it does seem the general trend is that the lower the lease remaining, the resale price of HDB is lower as well.

Average HDB resale price by remaining lease

More exploring of HDB resale prices 

I decided to go on further to see the real price of HDBs by flat type in some towns. Let's start off with Punggol which is on the far north east of Singapore. Do you think the flats are still cheap there? Not really actually. Let's take a look:

The average price for a 4 room flat in Punggol is about $442K

In Bishan, executive flats are going for an average price of about $893K

From previous analysis, we see that Yishun has the lowest HDB resale price among all other towns. Let's take a deeper look at Yishun.

Yes it seems like Yishun is still affordable with 4 room resale prices at around $359K.

That's all for the visualisation of HDB resale prices in Singapore. I hope this post let's you have a glimpse of the HDB flat prices in Singapore. If you find that the housing prices are too expensive, you would be happy to know that there are several grants for HDB resale purchases. You can refer to my previous post here on the various grants for HDB resale purchases.

Do take note the proximity housing grant has been enhanced as announced in budget 2018. You can refer to the info-graphics from HDB below for the changes:

*All data used in this post are HDB resale prices from 2015 to 2018 adapted from

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Why Young Adults Should Not Focus On Investing At The Start Of Their Career

Two young adults, Kimberly and Johnathan starts out in their careers at the age of 25. Kimberly saves $20,000 a year and invests her money to earn only 4% investment returns while Jonathan saves $15,000 and invests his money to earn 7% investment return. Who will have higher net worth after 15 years?

Surprisingly, it turns out that Kimberly would have higher net worth in 15 years at age 40 even though she achieved lower investment returns. How is this possible?

Let's take a look how this pans out in a chart as seen below:

As we can see, because Kimberly saves an extra $5000 a year, she is ahead of Jonathan even though she only earns an investment return of 4% vs 7% which Jonathan earns. This shows that investment returns doesn't matter as much at the start of our lives or career. We should focus on saving more and earning more in order to save more.

The different income levels in Singapore

Much have been said about paper qualification and not to paper chase in the society. However, reality still hits us hard on the different income levels in Singapore especially those of the graduates and the non graduates. A recent article on the straits times said that fresh university graduates earned a higher starting pay last year, with some getting as much as $4,000 to $5,000 a month in areas such as business and computing. As compared to a non graduate, the startinf pay is only about $2200.

MOM releases statistics on the different graduate starting salaries of those from ITE, Polytechnic and Universities. The latest I found is for the year 2016. Let's take a look at some of the different salaries for the different groups of graduates.

ITE graduates

CourseMedian Gross Monthly Starting Salary ($)
Higher Nitec (Engineering)$1,700
Higher Nitec (Business & Services)$1,652.50
Higher Nitec (Info & Communications Technology)$1,650
Nitec (Engineering)$1,545
Nitec (Business & Services)$1,690

Polytechnic Graduates

CourseMedian Gross Monthly Starting Salary ($)

University Graduates (NUS, NTU & SMU)

Course (4 year degree programme)Median Gross Monthly Starting Salary ($)
Bachelor of Accountancy$3,000.00
Bachelor of Accountancy & Bachelor of Business$3,500.00
Bachelor of Arts (Chinese) (Honours)$3,300.00
Bachelor of Arts (Economics) (Honours)$3,300.00
Bachelor of Arts (Education) / Bachelor of Arts with Diploma in Education$3,525.00
Bachelor of Arts (History) (Honours)$3,000.00
Bachelor of Arts (Honours)$3,500.00
Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics and Multilingual Studies) (Honours)$3,365.00
Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) (Honours)$3,200.00
Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) (Honours)$3,500.00
Bachelor of Business Administration (Accountancy) (Honours)$3,075.00
Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours); Bachelor of Business Management$3,500.00
Bachelor of Communication Studies (Honours)$3,000.00
Bachelor of Computing (Honours)$4,000.00
Bachelor of Dental Surgery$4,050.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace Engineering)$3,675.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Biomedical Engineering); Bachelor of Engineering (Bioengineering)$3,200.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering)$3,400.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering)$3,450.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering)$3,400.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science)$3,500.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Engineering)$3,710.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical Engineering); Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Electronic Engineering)$3,400.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental Engineering)$3,300.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Industrial And Systems Engineering)$3,500.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Information Engineering and Media)$3,350.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Materials Engineering)$3,300.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Materials Science & Engineering)$3,540.00
Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)$3,390.00
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Arts, Design & Media)$2,700.00
Bachelor of Science (Physics / Applied Physics)$3,450.00
Bachelor of Science (Biological Sciences) (Honours)$3,175.00
Bachelor of Science (Chemistry & Biological Chemistry) (Honours)$3,149.00
Bachelor of Science (Economics)$3,700.00
Bachelor of Science (Education) / Bachelor of Science with Diploma in Education$3,525.00
Bachelor of Science (Honours)$3,300.00
Bachelor of Science (Information Systems Management)$3,600.00
Bachelor of Science (Maritime Studies)$3,398.00
Bachelor of Science (Mathematical Sciences)$3,500.00
Bachelor of Science (Mathematics & Economics)$3,300.00
Bachelor of Science (Nursing) (Honours)$3,500.00
Bachelor of Science (Project & Facilities Management)$3,000.00
Bachelor of Science (Real Estate)$3,200.00
Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours); Bachelor of Social Sciences$3,300.00
Bachelor of Sports Science and Management$3,200.00

There are certainly differences with starting salaries for different groups of graduates. It seems like the median income for ITE graduates is about $1600, for polytechnic graduates is about $2200 while for university graduates is about $3400. This is quite a lot of difference for those who are starting out in their career.

Higher income will allow us to save more without compromising on the quality of life we still enjoy. Of course, there are people who are still not able to save even with higher income but that is another issue on its own.

For young people, it is important to invest in our own education to get a better head start in life in terms of the income we earn. Many young people look to investment in stocks thinking it is the answer to a better life but more often than not, it is not the case at all. As seen by the examples of Kimberly and Jonathan earlier on, just saving $5000 more every year will allow us to do better in life even with a much lower investment return for 15 years.

When will investment returns matter more?

Having said that investment returns does not matter as much during our early days, it does not mean we should totally ignore investing in itself. Investment returns will matter more when we have accumulated a substantial sum of money through savings.

Let's look at Kimberly and Jonathan again and extend their life by another 10 years to 50 years old:

This time, Jonathan has surpassed Kimberly as he continues to invest and earns 7% investment returns. But do take note he only surpassed after about 17 years which is really a long time. If Johnathan saves more at the start, he would have been much better off earlier.

Another thing to note is that investment returns are unpredictable. We can never be sure how much investment returns we can make but we can control more on how much money we can save. Increasing your savings rate can have a more massive direct impact on your net worth over the first 15 years.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back And Up To $220 Cash And Vouchers Giveaway For This Credit Card

How does it sound to have unlimited 1.5% cashback on all your spending? There is no cap and no minimum spend required. This is very different from the other credit cards in the market which only gives you points or cashback for certain types of spending. There is often a minimum spend too to be eligible for the cashback. This is not the case for this new unlimited cashback card which was just launched last year. This card can also be used for public transport with automatic EZ-reload top up function.

I have got an exclusive offer for readers here where you will get all of the gifts listed below for sign up of any SCB cards at this link
  • Up to $120 cashback
  • $100 Takashimaya Vouchers
  • First 2 years annual fee waiver

I have been using this card for about a year now and the cashback is always credited to my card on time every month automatically to offset my bill. The $100 voucher will only be given if you apply by clicking on the above image. Be sure to follow the instructions on the page to claim your free voucher. One more thing, the card has 2 years annual fee waiver so we don't have to worry about paying for the fees upfront.

Another SCB card is the Standard Chartered Spree Card. This card seems to offer the highest cashback of 2% for all online spend and also all contactless and mobile payments. Its easy to find contactless payments now all around Singapore which shouldn't be hard to get the 2% cashback. Just use visa pay wave easily at many locations island wide.

  • Up to $120 cashback upon sign up
  • $100 Takashimaya Vouchers
  • No minimum spend and up to $60 cashback monthly
  • Earn 3% cashback on all online spends in foreign currency and all vPost spends
  • Earn 2% cashback on all online spends in local currency, all contactless and mobile payments
  • Earn 1% cashback on all other retail spends
  • Many other privileges for Singapore Post and vPost services
  • Annual fees waived for 2 years
  • Minimum annual income of $30,000 for Singapore Citizens and PR

Sign up at this exclusive link to get your $100 Taka Vouchers and $120 cash back.

Offer ends 31st march 2018. 

If the SCB cards does not suit your needs, OCBC cards are coming soon with the same $100 Takashimaya vouchers.

*This offer is brought to you in collaboration with Singsaver

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

3 Tax Reliefs You May Not Know Of To Reduce Your Tax In 2018

The tax filing season is here again. All of us would have received an SMS from IRAS that we need to fill our tax by 15 April for paper filing and 18 April for e-filing. As our income goes up, tax can be quite a significant amount in the thousands. Just to give an example, a person whose take home pay is $3500 plus 3 months of bonus will end up paying $1425 in tax. We can actually reduce our tax by knowing the different reliefs which we may be eligible for. Let's explore the different reliefs in this article. You may not even know some of these reliefs existed.

Course Fees Relief

Those who have studied courses or part time diploma/university courses while working, you are actually able to claim course fee relief on the course fees you paid. The course fees claimable is the actual course fees incurred by yourself up to a maximum of $5500 each year regardless of the number of courses, seminars or conferences you have attended. You can claim only the portion of course fees which you paid. Any amount paid or reimbursed by your employer or any other organisation cannot be claimed.

There are a few criteria to meet for the course fees relief according to the IRAS website:

  1. Any course, seminar or conference you attended in 2017 leading to an approved academic, professional or vocation qualification
  2. Any course, seminar or conference you attended in 2017 that is relevant to your current employment, trade, business, profession or vocation; or
  3. Any course, seminar or conference that you completed between 1 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2016 which is relevant to your new employment, trade, business, profession or vocation in 2017
I have personally claimed this relief for my part time university studies before so I can ascertain that this is claimable. University course fees are definitely more than $5500 so just input this maximum amount for your claim. 

There are some courses which are not eligible for the relief. They are: 

  1. Courses, seminars or conferences for recreational or leisure purposes;
  2. Courses, seminars and conferences for general skills or knowledge (e.g. Internet surfing course, social media skills, basic website building skills and Microsoft Office skills); and
  3. Courses, seminars and conferences to acquire skills or knowledge for a hobby instead of your profession (e.g. photography, language and sports courses).
  4. Polytechnic/University courses if graduates have never exercised any employment or carried on any trade, profession or vocation previously.
For more info on this course fee relief, you can refer to IRAS guide here

CPF Cash Top-up Relief

A popular tax relief is the CPF Cash top up relief. If you top up your own CPF Special Account or CPF retirement account in CASH, you are eligible for up to $7000 tax relief per year. An additional $7000 tax relief is applicable if you also top up your family member's CPF special/retirement account.

Examples of family members are:
  • Parents or Parents-in-law;
  • Grandparents or Grandparents-in-law;
  • Spouse; and/or
  • Siblings.

For example, if John tops up $7000 cash to his CPF special/retirement account and also tops up another $7000 cash to his spouse or parents CPF special/retirement account, he will get a total of $14000 tax rebate for the year.

A point to take note is there are income threshold for top up of CPF for spouse/siblings. To claim tax relief for cash top-ups for your spouse or siblings, the spouse or siblings must not have an annual income exceeding $4,000 in the year preceding the year of top-up. Annual income includes taxable income (e.g. trade, employment and rental), tax exempt income (e.g. bank interest, dividends and pension) and foreign-sourced income regardless of whether it has been remitted to Singapore. This income threshold does not apply to parents, grandparents, handicapped* spouse or handicapped* siblings.

There are other limits which can be quite confusing to explain in this blog post. You can refer to IRAS page here for the detailed information. Anyway, you do not need to manually claim for this tax relief. The relief is granted automatically to those who are eligible based on records sent to IRAS by the CPF Board.

Parent Relief / Handicapped Parent Relief

If any of your parent is not working and is 55 years old and above in 2017 or is handicapped, you can claim tax relief also. If your parent is totally not working and does not have any form of income, you can claim $9000 per parent if they stay with you. If they do not stay with you, you can still claim this relief but it will be $5500. Do note that if they do not stay with you, you must have incurred $2,000 or more in supporting him/her in that year to be eligible for the relief.

The family members whom you can claim for this relief includes:
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Parents-in-law
  • Grandparents-in-law
For handicapped parent, you can claim $14000 per dependant if he/she stays with you and $10000 if does not stay with you. You can also share this tax relief with your siblings or other family members for all the above relief. 

You can click here for more information on the Parent Relief / Handicapped Parent Relief. 

There you go, 3 tax reliefs which you may be able to claim if you meet any of the above criteria. There are also other tax relief such as NSmen relief and reliefs for donations made in 2017 but all these will be automatically calculated for us. You should see the relief under your tax assessment form. Its good to file our tax early and get it over and done with.

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