Sunday, February 28, 2016

Personal Update - Meaningless Holiday just ended meaninglessly.

Ok, time for another personal update.

a) Law School

I am so demotivated right now, I should actually be vetting my research papers instead of updating this blog.

Right now, I am going through the process of hunting for internships and Training Contracts and made quite a number of number of applications, some rejections have already starting trickling in and I am still shocked at how competitive this game has become ! I am praying for an interview in March.

Rejections as a rule leave a bad taste in my mouth because, to be fair, it seldom happens to me up to this stage in my life. I guess an important part of personal growth is to have the door slam shut in your face. Perhaps 40-something year-olds may look forward to more rejections in the future in Singapore.

To add insult to injury, I just ended a one week break which really isn't really a break at all. I initially rushed through two research papers so that I could consolidate my studies during the holidays but the consolidation took up such a large part of the break, it ended up becoming more intense than a regular study week with classes. Making matters worse, by the time I finished catching up with my work, my group assignment got released.

So for my entire holidays, I caught up with friends for just a few hours and had two fairly rushed RPG sessions.

My only consolidation is  that I did manage to celebrate Durandal's one month with my family.

b) Personal Finance

Is it just me or is the markets doing rather well lately ?

This past month defensive investors are really outperforming the rest of the markets with REITs and business trusts declaring fairly decent dividends. As most of my expenses on my son have been made, I was able to invest some amount I set aside for contingencies back into the markets. There is room for cautious optimism as the Fed would prefer to review their policy of raising interest rates. Where rates dip into the negative, I can expect SIBOR to ease up a a bit to give me more leeway to pump my dividends into the markets instead of pumping it into my CPF-OA to pay for my mortgages. Once floating rates exceeds fixed rates, it means local banks anticipate an easing in the medium term.

My challenge this year is to have net savings from my dividends, I really hope that I can shore up some REIT purchases as they are quite cheap right now.

c) Medical expenses and emergencies.

The year of the monkey continues to ravage this hapless Tiger.

The other event are medical expenses incurred by my mum for her treatment. In one instance, the financial advice from the hospital for a mastectomy was about $200 and I ended up paying paying over $2,200. In another instance, I was advised to set aside up to $7,000 for radiotherapy but the whole bill ended up only about $1,200. Clearly, there is something inherently meaningless when local government hospitals provide financial advise to hapless sick people in Singapore but I shall leave it to other members of the public to lodge a complaint. The first case is devastating to poorer individuals who do not have contingency funds, the second case damages investors who who will prepare the money in cash from their investment portfolio.

d) Readings 

I like books with anything to do with McKinsey Consulting. I read the Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto over a decade ago and the Mckinsey Way when I was published because the anything Mckinsey is idiot simple to read and chock full of practical advice. If McKinsey wrote a book on Poems, Sexual Positions or Baking Cakes, I would buy it for the sake of curiosity.

The McKinsey Edge by Shu Hattori is chock full of tips for knowledge workers from how to structure a set of power-point slides to asking clients intelligent questions. It is a great read.

Right now, I am in the middle of this book called Simple Rules by Donald Sull. When I am done, I might have the tools to distill an entire investment philosophy into a series of simple rules of thumb. More on that later.

Sadly, I was unable to read any fiction this holiday. If I had a chance it would be Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

e) Visited Singapore's Silicon Valley.

Took half a day off to visit Block 79 and the government's efforts to promote start-ups seems to be ramping up to a whole new level. I spoke to a founder and met some ex-colleagues.

I am still digesting some of the news I received during my visit .On one hand the government seems to going all in into the start-up space with tax-payer money. On the other, I got news that a really prominent accelerator is no longer in that business.

On balance, I don't buy the idea of having a Singapore start-up although I would seriously consider starting one in my lifetime. Singapore needs to have the Google and Facebooks set up shop for me to change my mind.

But the free coffee at Blk 79 is good.


  1. May I ask the rationale for pumping yr dividends back to oa to pay the mortgage?
    Why not just use the bank account (that received the dividends) to pay for the mortgage? Just a little puzzled, hope U can reply.

  2. Convenience. My mortgage already deducts from my CPF Oa.