Friday, May 18, 2018

People fail because they major in minor things.

The last article where I spoke about the complexity of Singapore life attracted some amount of constructive criticism from bloggers like La Papillon and Richard Ng, so I went back to the drawing board to see whether that idea can be reviewed or salvaged. 

In many cases, they are right, complex societies do not exist, only complicated people. And I think I tend to be more complicated than an ordinary Singaporean. In many matters, Singaporeans do have it easy compared to their international counterparts. Our tax code is simple and we do not spend too much effort trying to optimize our taxes unlike our friends in the US. 

One salvageable idea in that article is the advice that I give to readers not to major in minor things. I think this idea was invented by Jim Rohn and made famous by Anthony Robbins. 

According to Tony Robbins : People fail because they major in minor things.

Here's an example of what I did recently.

At this stage of my life, I don't want to be beholden to any employer. If I work for someone, I want the work to be interesting, rewarding or both. To do that, my finances must be able to sustain joblessness better than my 4 years of law school. Even better, I must be able to save more than most working folks even when I am jobless.

So I really wanted to optimize my expenses so I went through my broadband and mobile phone commitments. I went to a Starhub outlet and started to work with a salesperson to re-contract my phone and cable TV. The salesperson was actually quite nice and was willing to offer to me cheaper SIM only and no-frills cable TV plans. The total result of my effort was to shave off $50 from my telco expenses every month. Let's just say that in 2 years, this would have saved me $1,200.

Another hack I did was to buy a battery changing kit from a China vendor for my Oneplus 2 phone for about $20. With an extended battery life, I can now avoid buying a Google Pixel 2 and maybe even wait for the Google Pixel 3 to be launched. This can potentially save me another $1,300 over the next two years.

Net-net my micro-managing efforts yielded about $2,500 of savings over the next two years.

Now, suppose I move $200,000 of my portfolio from Tech stocks to my REITs margin account. I can push my dividend yields from 5% to 10%. This subtle change can net me an extra $10,000 in dividends every year. Of course, more effort would be required to do some research, but even if I miscalculate, an additional $5,000 with an improvement in the Sortino/Sharpe Ratio of my portfolio is quite a reasonable result.

As such, fooling around with Telco plans and optimizing some credit card benefits may be considered a minor thing compared to simple portfolio shift from Tech to Leveraged REITs.

But some decisions are even bigger than those involving your investment portfolios. Your decision to study for a degree will have a major impact on your total income you will make within your lifetime.

Choice of a degree affects your human capital. 

You can easily find a website and dig out statistics on starting salaries and employment rates of a degree program.

To stay politically correct, I have listed the worst NUS degrees you can apply for after your A level exams, omitting the truly abysmal numbers coming out from SIT. The third column from the right contains the median monthly income figures and the percentages are employment figures after 6 months of graduation.

In many cases, people do really major in minor things.

Enjoy !

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