Friday, 20 July 2018

Is Cash Really King?

Our government has been advocating for cashless payments and banks have also released many cashless platform. As the saying goes, Cash Is King and in Singapore, it definitely is so. With various platforms being introduced, we are slowly moving to being cashless but for the older generation like my mum, going cashless and paperless would take a much longer time.
 My mum have actually received numerous letters and online messages that her bills and account notifications would soon be turned into online statements which she can access to. And of course, she isn’t too comfortable being as to check her balance and bills online so I have been delaying them for her by ending back that she still requires hard copy for references.

However, I feel that sooner or later she would have to accept the fact that everything is going paperless and she will need to go online t check. I do understand why she is so against going paperless because she doesn’t have any online banking accounts and uses a bank book. With years of having hard copy and thing being presented to her, suddenly asking her to switch would be difficult.

I visit the NTUC at Singpost centre frequently and the supermarket is currently reducing the amount of cashiers needed. Even though you are allowed to use cash as a payment method, it made me think of how things are evolving right now. Moving on, I went to my neighboring NTUC and saw that they had the "robot" cashiers around beside the human cashiers, its frightening yet mind-intriguing how jobs can be evolved and change all to a machine.

If for me, all this seems so fast and new, what must it feel for the older generations, although I am say that I have slow in adapting to changes. For me, when I first created my bank accounts, I have no such thing as a bank book as I received a bank token and had access to ibanking (internet banking). There are definitely some advantages and disadvantages to that.


Convenience and Time

1. In going paperless and cashless, I believe that time definitely can be saved. Currently, my mum uses the AXS machines to pay for her bills and so every time she gets a bill, she has to bring it to the AXS to pay. Of course there is GIRO right now and I have tried convincing my mum to switch over however she says that she needs to check her bills physically to make sure no additional charges are being deducted. GIRO would make her not check her bills.

2. For me, I have also gone cashless but only in terms of card payments. I haven't gotten to using my phone to pay for my purchases yet where you can incorporate your bank or credit card drtails into your phone. I definitely can see myself using cashless payments because it is so convenient. Going to a supermarket and paying like a boss at the cashier with my card and small change is not needed.


Reliant on platforms and people who have no access to technology

1.  Cashless payment is very much dependent on the platform it is on and this can cause trouble. Cash on the other hand is accessible anytime and once you have it, you can use it without a platform. I have experienced situations like this before where payment platforms are not available. Most people think of fast food restaurant as having many different modes of payment.

However, if you have been to a Mos Burger outlet you would realise that they only accept NETS. And it so happen on the day that i visited that the NETS machine was down. I was out of cash and needed to go withdraw to be able to pay. There was also a disruption in NETS services early this year.

2. Another thing about going cashless is about inclusiveness of people in the lower spectrum of the society. For example, to have access to a credit card in Singapore, a minimum annual income is usually required of about $30 000. This means that people who are earning less than that wouldn't usually apply for a credit card. There are also people mostly elderly who do not own a smartphone. This means they are not able to get the relevant apps required.

As we move towards being a more technology-savvy and to increase our competitiveness, we should also have ways that can be more inclusive towards those who have a higher difficulty to transit to being cashless. We are currently still heavy on our cash and with the different kinds of cashless payments popping up, How many cashless platforms are you using currently?

Friday, 13 July 2018

Business Trends and Market Trends

Awhile ago, I registered for a webinar, "Does long-term investing still work?' by The Fifth Person on the 20th June 2018. I found it particularly good for beginners. In the webinar, Rusmin mentioned about what really is long term investing and for him personally is 5-10 years. He also mentioned that having a long term stand in the stock market proved to be more profitable than a short term position.

One point that Rusmin emphasized regarding long term investing was the emotions that the investor would experience. Some years your portfolio would have good performance whereas other years would not be good. He mentioned that with the easy accessibility of news nowadays, it is easy to get swayed by 'noises' that may change or affect your decision. Of course, if you have done your research on the company, holding for 10 years would usually profit.

I have been affected by price fluctuations before and made my first sale based on that. I got into investing for the long-term but lost track of it at that time as I was so immersed in checking prices a few times a day and even a small increase or decrease would affect me. Of course, over time it has gotten better now.

Read more: SGX - First sell transaction of 2018

Another point that he talked about was business trends and market trends which I feel is a good point to talk more on. He pointed out that business trends was an important point rather than focusing too much on the market trends as they tend to fluctuate a lot. Business trends for example, in the case of telcos, he mentioned that Starhub is experiencing decline in it's 'Pay to watch TV'. I can still remember when everyone used to have a Starhub set-up box in their home to watch cable TV channels. However, recently with the rise of Netflix and online access to shows, Starhub has seen a decline. Even my home doesnt have a set-up box now.He mentioned that business trends is a better predictor in the long run than market trends.

The webinar is something different because a substantial portion of time is allocated to Q&A and this allows interaction. Many people used this part to clear their doubts or to have a better understanding of their current knowledge about the stock market. Overall, the webinar is good and you can go to the website to see previous webinars that they have done.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

STI ETF, to buy or not yet?

On Friday, 6th July 2018, the STI ETF fell to a low of $3.23 breaking its 52 weeks low. When I saw this, I did get tempted to invest in it. Itchy fingers but currently, I am still building up on my war chest and definitely I’m not gonna touch my savings to buy so I will need to control myself.

During the month of May, I made 2 transactions namely buying SGX and Singtel. Boy, both of this stocks have fallen since then and Singtel broke its 52 weeks low but is now back on track.

Read more: Portfolio updates (MAY 2018): 2 buy transactions

I have realized that the stock market is really unpredictable. It is like a test of patience like if I had hold on a bit longer before making my May transactions, I could have gotten a better deal but it is also a test of emotions. Just when you think prices are low, they can go even lower than you expect. There is no way you can really catch the bottom. But if you have done your due diligence and know the value of the company, buy in at the right price and hopefully everything goes well, haha.

With prices breaking the 52 week low, it looks attractive but no one knows what direction it will go next. I should focus more on income building and to build up my war chest to be able to deploy the funds when needed. Currently, I would take on more of an observer stand unless I can't stand the temptation and deploy my small amount of war chest left. Half a year to go for 2018 and definitely an exciting one ahead!

Friday, 6 July 2018

Did anyone say free vegetables and fruits? - Experience with SGFoodRescue

I took part in the Pasir Panjang food rescue and it was a very enriching experience for me. All along, I have been purchasing my vegetables and fruits from supermarket and of course when I first saw of this event, I was interested in seeing how much food “waste” there really will be. 

SGFoodRescue logo taken from

Process: I haven’t been to Pasir Panjang wholesale centre before and I think the coordination of the whole event was pretty smooth with the meet up at the mrt station followed by gathering at the coffee shop nearby and then having a briefing at a gathering point. The coordinators were very good in guiding and providing instructions. We were then split up into groups and assigned to the different sections of the center.

Our group leaders guided us to the stores and taught us how we could go about asking. Usually the store owners would save some for charity organization who would come and take it in the evening. So our group leader told us that we are actually looking for food that is not good looking enough or was rejected by the supermarket and that if the food given to us are actually meant for charities, we should not take it. I thought that this was really nice and well thought-out. After all, it was about rescuing food and not about getting food meant for the charities.

Overall Thoughts: It was an eye-opener for me as I never knew Singapore as producing such a large amount of waste due to consumer's perception that fruits and vegetables should look good and nice. I do have to say that we pay for food and hence expect it to be good but at the scale that it is right now, the wastage is too large a scale.

For example, on that day, we had a few trays of peaches. The whole seller mentioned that due to the peaches being too ripe hence the supermarket rejected the whole batch. Wow, I never knew that our supermarkets could reject the whole batch due to them being too ripe. I was thinking that maybe one way would be to lower the prices of the peaches sold but it might not be feasible to the supermarket due to the low profit margin.

If I haven't been to this food rescue mission, I would have never knew just how much food waste we are producing. Right now, a walk in the supermarket feels different and I really hope that we are able to create a sustainable recycling system that allows us to reduce food wastage.

Moving on: Recently, I also read an article by Early Retirement SG where he goes around to get bread that is being disposed of by bakeries and I would really want to do that but am a little shy thus hesitant to do so. But maybe in the near future, I would try it out. In the meantime, I hope to join more food rescue events particularly the Little India one as I haven't gotten a chance to join. SGFoodRescue is working to raise awareness about food wastage in Singapore and if managed well, they will definitely benefit so much more people and allow them to appreciate food. In the meantime, I am also planning to join the next veggie rescue!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Dividends collected so far in 2018

I saw SleepyDevil's review of his FY2018 Q2 dividends update. So why not I do one too for the first half of 2018 since I haven't done any record of my dividends. It feel just awhile ago when I just wrote New Year wishes and time sure flies, it's already almost the end of June and I would like to do a collation of dividends received so far as a record. I have collected dividends from:

1. Nikko AM STI ETF
2. First REIT
4. Tai Sin Electric

Nikko AM STI ETF was purchased using my POSB invest saver account when I was completely not sure if I was going to create a CDP account for investing. It was the most direct and easy way of starting so I bought them at a reasonable price and stopped once I had my CDP account. I received $18.83 in January 2018.

First REIT has got to be the one that provides substantial dividends to my pocket and I love it. I like the industry that it is in and looking at its current price, I would accumulate more if I have enough funds. I received $21.50 in February and $21.50 in May 2018.

SPDR STI ETF was bought after I read up more and I realised that besides the Nikko AM STI ETF that tracks the Straits Times Index (STI), SPDR STI ETF also does and has less tracking error. I am just leaving the Nikko AM STI ETF in my POSB invest saver account and for now, I would buy SPDR STI ETF instead of Nikko AM. I received $10.60 in February 2018.

Tai Sin Electric which I got around end 2017 has dropped significantly and I am glad there is dividends given to make me not feel so affected. I received $17.25 in March 2018.

Total dividends collected for 1st half of 2018: $89.68

Upcoming dividends would be Nikko AM STI ETF ($15.86) and Singtel ($53.50) which I have just recently added to my portfolio. Looking at the current Singtel stock price, my hands feel so itchy to get more but it is already a huge proportion of my portfolio and I believe that there are other better stocks that I can buy. So I will control myself right now and also because I do not have much of my war chest left. Hoping to increase my portfolio size and build up on my dividends. The weather has been cold lately so take care!