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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wealth, Success and Love

A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them.

Then she said, "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat."

"Is the man of the house home?", they asked.
"No," she said. "He's out."
"Then we cannot come in," they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened.
So, he said, "Go tell them I'm home, and invite them in!"

The woman went out and invited the men in.
"We do not go into a house together," they replied.
"Why is that?" she wanted to know.
One of the old men explained. "His name is Wealth," he said pointing to one of his friends, and pointing to another one he said, "This man is Success, and I am Love." Then he added, "Now, go and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."

The woman went in and told her husband what was said.
Her husband was over-joyed. "How nice!" he said. "Since that's the case, let us invite in Wealth. Let him come in and fill our home with wealth!"

His wife disagreed. "Why don't we invite Success?"
But, their daughter was listening from the corner of the room. She jumped in with her own suggestion. "Wouldn't it be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!"

The wife agreed. "Then, let us heed our daughter's advice," said the husband to his wife. "Go out and invite Love in to be our guest."

The woman went out and asked the three old men, "Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest." Love got up and started walking toward the house. Then the other two also got up and followed him.

Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success, "I only invited in Love, as you directed. Why are you all coming in?"

The old men replied together, "If you had invited only Wealth or Success, the other two of us would have stayed. However, since you invited Love... wherever He goes, we go with him... because wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to Measure Returns

Azizi Ali, one of our famous local millionaires not only accumulates wealth for himself, but also help others achieve the same by training and imparting his knowledge. I found this topic quite interesting as I get questions or statements from friends and family members who say that market is down, so don't invest! or I'd want to monitor my fund performances on my own (mutual funds, to be exact) so that I know how much returns I'm making..

Special Report: How to Measure Returns
by Azizi Ali

"I made fifty thousand in the stock market in 99!" an acquaintance proudly declare. In fact, it was so loud, he was practically screaming in your ear. Which kind of make you feel inadequate because you only made ten grand. So you quickly change the conversation subject to the mating rituals of extinct Sagittarian Mongolian bisons.

But hold on a second. Though it's true that you made less money than him, it does not necessarily mean that he is one up on you. Because we are only talking of straight figures so far. And that is not how return on investment are calculated.

The correct way of measuring returns is in two ways: in percentage form and on an annual basis.

Return must be expressed on a percentage term

Return expressed in straight ringgit/dollar/yen has little meaning. This is because straight ringgit amount do not reveal the amount of money that had to be invested in order to earn that return.

For example, is RM10,000 a good return? The answer is that it depends on the amount invested. If RM50,000 was invested, then RM10,000 would be an excellent return as it is a 20% return. However, if the original investment was RM500,000, then the return is a measly 2%. If his layout was five million instead, then he would have cried as his return is...0.2%! Pass the tissue paper, please.

Return must be expressed on an annual basis

But the job doesn't end there. Even after expressing the return in percentages, it must also be expressed on an annual basis. This is the universally accepted way of stating a percentage return.

Following the earlier example; if the RM10,000 return from the RM50,000 was realized after just 6 months, then the annual return is 44% (The return is 44% instead of 40% due to the compound effect). And even if the investment was cashed out after that six months, we would still consider the return as 44%.
If on the other hand, the RM10,000 was realized at the end of two years, then the return is only 9.54%. (Again, the 9.54% return instead of 10% is due to the compounding factor).

So now you know that the return of x % in y number of years - often quoted by fund managers - is not the right way of indicating return on investment. A 50% return in five years may look good but that is only 8.44% annual return.

Then we can compare

Once we have the returns expressed in percentage form and on an annual basis, only then we can compare the various returns from different investments. Only then the comparison be fair and sensible. Orange to orange, durian to durian.

Coming back to the beginning example, if the guy made RM50,000 from investing RM500,000, his return on investment is 10%. Not bad. Something to crow about, I suppose.

But since you made the ten grand by investing only RM20,000, your return is a fabulous 50%! Whaddaya know - You are the winner!

Now you can go back talking about sex and dead Sagittarian Mongolian bisons.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Impact Of Goal Setting

Another inspiring story that was delivered to my mailbox. Though the topic is on Impact of Goal Setting, the example given in on the world's greatest investor,Warren Buffet. I guess it would be useful to all investors out there, especially to those who look up to him as the Investment Guru.

In 1952, there was a research study done on the impact of goal setting on the graduating batch of students at Yale University. When asked how many of them had clearly specified and written down goals, only three percent responded. The remaining ninety-seven percent, despite being highly intelligent and hardworking, had no road map where they would be five to ten years after graduation. Twenty years later in 1972, a follow up study was done on the class of 1952. What they discovered was shocking; the combined income of the three percent who had clear goals was greater than the entire income of the ninety seven percent combined! Was it just a coincidence or does having clear goals really have an impact on a person’s personal and financial success?

One classic example is investor Warren Buffet. Does his ability to come about by chance? Absolutely not. From a very early age young Buffett was obsessed with making money and had a very clear dream of becoming the world’s greatest investor. Born during the depression when his father was close to bankruptcy, Warren learnt about the value of money and the importance of being financially secure at an early age.

Even before his teens, Warren knew that he wanted to be rich. As early as elementary school and later on in high school, he would tell his classmates that he wanted to become a millionaire before the age of 35 (when he turned 35, his net worth exceeded $6 million). It was because of his goal that he constantly thought of ways to make money, while most other kids his age would be spending their parents’ money.

He even memorized a book called ‘ A Thousand Ways to Make $1,000’. At the age of six, he started buying coke bottles at 25-cents per six-pack and selling them at 5-cents a bottle, giving him a 16% gross profit, as he would tell himself. At the age of 13, he got a job delivering newspapers and through innovative marketing and distribution strategies, he served five hundred customers a day. At the age of 11, he took all his savings and started investing in the stock market. His first investment was three shares in a company called ‘City Service’. While most kids his age were reading comic books, Warren spent his time reading company annual reports.

By the age of 14, he started a pinball business and was earning $175 a week, as much as the average 25-year old was earning in 1944. Would he have taken all those actions if he never set a goal to be rich in the first place? Of course not. It was clearly because of his focus of energy and actions that allowed him to become the best in what he does.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Blog Posted by Singapore 's Youngest Millionaire

I just came across this article in my mail. Went through a very fast googling process looking for its source. Ended up at Looks like this guy is from Singapore and made his 1st million at the age of 26 and currently gives lots of speeches/seminars and has written quite a number of top-selling books. His frugal lifestyle is something that all of us should aim to learn and follow.

By Adam Khoo

Some of you may already know that I travel around the region pretty frequently, having to visit and conduct seminars at my offices in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Suzhou (China). I am in the airport almost every other week so I get to bump into many people who have attended my seminars or have read my books.

Recently, someone came up to me on a plane to KL and looked rather shocked. He asked, 'How come a millionaire like you is travelling economy?' My reply was, 'That's why I am a millionaire.' He still looked pretty confused. This again confirms that greatest lie ever told about wealth (which I wrote about in my latest book 'Secrets of Self Made Millionaires'). Many people have been brainwashed to think that millionaires have to wear Gucci, Hugo Boss, Rolex, and sit on first class in air travel. This is why so many people never become rich because the moment that earn more money, they think that it is only natural that they spend more, putting them back to square one.

The truth is that most self-made millionaires are frugal and only spend on what
is necessary and of value. That is why they are able to accumulate and multiply their wealth so much faster. Over the last 7 years, I have saved about 80% of my income while today I save only about 60% (because I have my wife, mother in law, 2 maids, 2 kids, etc. to support). Still, it is way above most people who save 10% of their income (if they are lucky). I refuse to buy a first class ticket or to buy a $300 shirt because I think that it is a complete waste of money. However, I happily pay $1,300 to send my 2-year old daughter to Julia Gabriel Speech and Drama without thinking twice.

When I joined the YEO (Young Entrepreneur's Organization) a few years back (YEO is an exclusive club open to those who are under 40 and make over $1m a year in their own business) I discovered that those who were self-made thought like me. Many of them with net worths well over $5m, travelled economy class and some even drove Toyota's and Nissans (not Audis, Mercs, BMWs).

I noticed that it was only those who never had to work hard to build their own wealth (there were also a few ministers' and tycoons' sons in the club) who spent like there was no tomorrow. Somehow, when you did not have to build everything from scratch, you do not really value money. This is precisely the reason why a family's wealth (no matter how much) rarely lasts past the third generation. Thank God my rich dad (oh no! I sound like Kiyosaki) foresaw this terrible possibility and refused to give me a cent to start my business.

Then some people ask me, 'What is the point in making so much money if you don't enjoy it?' The thing is that I don't really find happiness in buying branded clothes, jewellery or sitting first class. Even if buying something makes me happy it is only for a while, it does not last. Material happiness never lasts, it just give you a quick fix. After a while you feel lousy again and have to buy the next thing which you think will make you happy. I always think that if you need material things to make you happy, then you live a pretty sad and unfulfilled life.

Instead, what make ME happy is when I see my children laughing and playing and learning so fast. What makes me happy is when I see by companies and trainers reaching more and more people every year in so many more countries. What makes me really happy is when I read all the emails about how my books and seminars have touched and inspired someone's life. What makes me really happy is reading all your wonderful posts about how this BLOG is inspiring you. This happiness makes me feel really good for a long time, much much more than what a Rolex
would do for me.

I think the point I want to put across is that happiness must come from doing your life's work (be in teaching, building homes, designing, trading, winning tournaments etc.) and the money that comes is only a by-product. If you hate what you are doing and rely on the money you earn to make you happy by buying stuff, then I think that you are living a life of meaningless.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Story Of A Little Boy

The other day I came across a very interesting story. It was a story of a little boy. A true story. This little boy picked up an interest in music. For several years, he had been learning to play the cornet. He persisted, putting in hours of practice at home each day, and there came a time, after many painful hours of practice peppered with criticism from his mother, that he was rewarded by being chosen to participate in his school's Armistice Day Ceremony.

Each year on November 11, the entire school went down to the gym for a ceremony honouring the nation's fallen soldiers. In what had become a school tradition, trumpet players stationed at doors on either side of the gym would alternate playing "Taps," one blowing the first dum da dum notes, and the other echoing dum da DUM, and so on.

That year, this boy's cornet skills had advanced enough for him to be given the part of the echo. He woke up the morning of the event, exhilarated at the prospect of performing in front of the entire school. When the big moment came, he was ready.

As the little boy stood in the doorway with his cornet, the first trumpet player sounded, Dum da DUM.

But on the second dum, he hit a wrong note.

"My whole life flashed before my eyes, because I didn't know what to do with the echo. They hadn't prepared me for this. Paralyzed - my big moment" recounted the little boy years later.

Should he copy the other trumpet player's mistake or embarrass him by contradicting what he's played? The little boy was undone. The scene scalded itself permanently into his memory. What he did next he can't remember - had become a blank.

But that little boy learned a valuable lesson that day: It might seem easier to go through life as the echo - but only until the other guy plays a wrong note.
It is a lesson that will serve all of us well. Often, either by choice, circumstances or sheer force of habit, we end up playing the 'echo'. And this was probably the lesson that made him stick to the principle 'Be Greedy When Everyone Panics, and Panic When Everyone Is Greedy'.

That little boy grew up to be the most successful investor of all time and the richest man in the world a few years running. That little boy's name is Warren Buffet.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can You Continue To Invest In China?

There was a BIG hype before the Beijing Olympics, major financial news indicating that the share prices of China and the Greater China were to soar higher. To a certain extent it was true. When the global economic slump began, China was one of the worst to be hit. In the below table, you can see the market returns of many countries/region.

Market Returns from 2 January 2008 to 30 September 2008.








Hang Seng Mainland Composite


Asia ex-Japan

MSCI Asia ex-Japan






SET Index


Emerging Markets

MSCI Emerging Markets


Hong Kong

Hang Seng Index



Jakarta Composite Index



TWSE Index



Kuala Lumpur Composite Index



DJ Stoxx 600





Asian Tech

Bloomberg Asia Pacific Technology



MSCI World



Nasdaq 100



Nikkei 225



S&P 500


Returns are in RM terms

Source: Fundsupermart

Now, the question is : Can You Continue To Invest In China?

According to Fundsupermart's research, '..should be prepared for short-term volatility. China equity funds are single-market funds which may exhibit greater volatility than regional funds in the short term – we suggest investors place China or Greater China equity funds in the supplementary portion of their portfolio, which usually takes up no more than 20% of an overall portfolio.'

Rick Aristotle Munarriz in his article, 7 Reasons to Remember China at The Motley Fool, mentions that ' long as all seven of these companies keep growing, they will be big market winners in four years.'

'...China has the largest population in the world, and it has had economic growth in the last nine or 10 years of at least 9%, 10% or 11%. If the bubble bursts, maybe the economy grows at 7% a year. That's still greater than other economies in the world...' this should be noted as another strong point why China should be a good place for investment during bad times, as written on's China: 'The Best Place to Invest in the Next Five to 10 Years'

It will happen eventually, the question is when? So, in order to be on the safer side, never put the money that you would be needing in less than 5 years for investment.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Which Industries Should You Invest In At Times Of Recession?

Below are the list of some industries that remain healthy, if not doing too well in an unhealthy economic conditions:
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Healthcare Companies
  • Tax Service Companies
  • Gravediggers
  • Waste Disposal Companies
  • Discount Retailers
  • Sin Industries
Read more about Industries That Thrive On Recession at Investopedia. They've also got tonnes of other articles on investing and finance. A very good place to start off for beginners.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

5 Most Important Things To Watch Out When Taking Housing Loans

Look out for the lock-in period.
This is the time frame set by the banks to tie you down with them. Usually they won't allow you to swith to other financial organisations within this period. They also would not like you to pay off the debts earlier than scheduled. If you do any of the above, it is possible for them to charge a fee which would be between 5%-10% of the loan amount.

Choose the right package
Though there would be various packages offered, they can be summarised into 3 broad categoried:-
-starting off with a very low interest rate and later have a BLR (base lending rate) + x%
-a fixed interest rate throughout the loan tenure
-initial high interest and gradually lowering the rates, or having a BLR -x% for the main portion of the tenure.

Now the question is, which is the best package? Well, it all depends on you. The type of organisation you are working for or running your own business, are you on a tight budget now and how you foresee your income growth in the future.

See whether the lawyer's fee/MRTA is absorbed by the bank or passed on to the customers.
In an economic situation like this, most banks try to absorb the legal cost involved and give free MRTA (Mortgage Reducing Term Assurance) coverage.

Choose a bank with the best service offer
When applying for loans, try to apply to as many banks at once. In fact, instead of going to different locations, looking for these banks, if there is any expos going on for new homes, you can get most of the banks having a counter there. Or simply give a call to them and get a sales representative to see you. You can then choose the fastest service provider or the one that really satisfies your condition of customer service. If you face problems in the beginning itself, most likely you would have problems too later on.

Get a longer tenure for the loan
Whichever institutions giving you the longest loan period, grab them!
Though it will boil down to having to pay more in terms of interest, our aim would be to pay more than the stipulated amount monthly. Most banks charge lesser interest rates when the duration is longer. And we can make use of this point to our advantage. When paying off 100 or 200 extra every month, the duration of the loan will be reduced automatically and in bad times, you can choose to pay lesser than what you are used to pay every month and you will feel a great relieve for that.

In Malaysia, there are many banks offering home loans that varies in its packaging. I list some of the more popular ones below:
1. Standard Chartered

2. Public Bank Berhad

3. HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad

4. Hong Leong Bank Berhad

5. AmBank Berhad

6. MaybankBerhad

7. Citibank Berhad

No, I'm not being paid to list the above banks and neither am I biased towards any one of them. It's just through my own experience of getting a home loan. I finally ended up taking a home loan from Public Bank as it met with most of my requirements.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Should You Do With Your Money Now?

The most common questions running on everyone's head now would be:
  • where to stash my cash?
  • is it a good time to invest now?
  • should I sell off my investments (stocks, mutual funds, etc) and keep liquid cash?
So, wanting eagerly to dig out the information from my head for the benefit of mankind (ha ha ha), I started this post. However, as I continued with my research, I found that there were already some very good analysis done on this topic and posted on the net by some very experienced finance guys/gals or just let's call them financial gurus. Cancelling of my earlier idea, I decided to let you all to have a go on their opinion instead.

James B. Stewart has written piece recently on this matter in smartmoney under the title : Crashes, Like Bubbles, Call for a Level Head

I liked what he said: -

"I didn't need to waste much time thinking about what to buy. Everything was beaten down. There didn't seem to be any point in stock-picking. As I've said before, at a time like this what you buy is less important than that you buy something."

" the predominant emotion, which is fear in a panic, greed in a bubble. Psychologists tell us fear is a more powerful emotion than greed."

He's also written another excellent article, For Long-Term Investors, Now Is Time to Buy. This simple title by itself should tell us what we should do now in terms of investments.

We can also make use of one of his valuable tips in investment as I found below:

"....I follow a disciplined system of buying on 10% declines in the Nasdaq, and selling at intervals of 25% gains. These are based on historical averages for corrections (an average 20% decline) and bull markets (an average 50% gain.) The goal is simple: Buy lower and sell higher."

The Silicon Valley Blogger in her latest update has poured out her opinion, even though that is not the main topic of the day:

"...that it would be a total waste of a bear market if we ever miss the chance to dollar cost average even just a teensy bit into it. If we’ve got money to spare, it’s going into our core index funds."

For a more comprehensive read, she has also given ideas on Best Places To Put Your Money When The Stock Market Tanks.

Over a cup of tea with a friend, a question popped out. "If the average person is selling, then who’s buying?" As I was searching for an answer, I stumbled upon a very good article by J.D at getrichslowly. I was quite surprised to find the exact words that we used were actually in his article! Maybe then, it is possible that we were not the only ones discussing about this topic now.

At the end of the day, after listening to the experts, you decide yourself what do you want to do with your money. It is your money after all.

What is Dollar Cost Averaging?

Dollar-cost averaging (DCA) is a wealth-building strategy that involves investing a fixed amount of money at regular intervals over a long period. Now, most of the time, we hear this term being associated with mutual fund investment. Is it only good for that?

Dollar-cost averaging is simply an investing method of a fixed dollar amount at pre-determined intervals.It can be used in stocks investments as well as mutual fund investments or just any other kind of investment. Yes, you can apply it on real estate investment too, if you want. However, the problem would be the amount of cash that you would need to apply this strategy. For example, let's just say you bought a property at 200,000. Can you invest the same amount on a regular or monthly basis? That would be ridiculous!

But it would be an excellent strategy to be used on mutual fund investment or in the share market. The amount of money invested at each interval remains the same over time, but the number of shares purchased varies based on the market value of the shares at the time of a purchase. When the markets are up, you buy fewer shares per dollar invested due to the higher cost per share. But frankly speaking if the market is on the uptrend, it would not be advisable to invest, right? However, usually investors in mutual funds are known as passive investors, therefore they just let their investment grow over the years and probably they don't have the time to monitor their investment as well. When the markets are down, the situation is reversed and you purchase a greater of number of shares per dollar invested. It's a strategic way to invest because you buy more shares when the cost is low, so you get an average cost per share over time, meaning you don't have to invest the time and effort to monitor market movements and strategically time your investments.

It enables even low-wage earners and folks with tight budgets to invest a minimum amount that they are comfortable with on a regular basis.It cultivates investors to get into the habit of saving, and these small amounts can really add up over the course of a lifetime thanks to the power of compounding.

Now, the next common question would be - 'Can't we do lump sum investment for mutual funds or in the stock market?'. To learn the pros and cons of each strategy, there's an excellent research done by the Silicon Valley Blogger on thedigiratilife.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cancel your credit card before you die.......... (Hilarious!)

Just received this joke via email. Hope you people out there enjoy this too... the lighter side of finance!

Now some people are really stupid!!!! Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die. This is so priceless, and so, so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00.

A family member placed a call to Citibank. Here is the exchange:

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'
Family Member: 'Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.'
Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'
Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'
Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'
Citibank: 'Excuse me?'
Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'
Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'
Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'
Citibank: (Stammer) 'Are you her lawyer?'
Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given)
Citibank: 'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'
Family Member: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given)

After they get the fax:

Citibank: 'Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'
Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'
Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.' (What is wrong with these people?!?)
Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'
Citibank: 'That might help...'
Family Member: ' Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'
Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'
Family Member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???


Thursday, October 9, 2008

10 Top Things To Check For When Buying An Apartment/Condominium

As I just moved into my own apartment, I'd like to share some of my experience as well as the mistakes I made when I bought it. Hope it would be beneficial to others.

One of the main reason people move in to apartments these days is security. So make sure that sufficient security officers are at duty. You can even try to enter the apartment and see how difficult/easy it is to gain access. From there, you can judge on your own the efficiency of the security in that apartment before you decide to purchase your unit.

Piping system
Living in an apartment is a lot more different from living in a house. In a house all repairs have to be taken care by the house owners themselves. However, in an apartment you are responsible for your neighbours too. For example, if your neighbour right below your apartment unit complains of leakage from his ceiling, you have to take action to rectify this problem. If not, he can even sue you! But be careful, as you won't be able to detect leakage in your own walls if the property is painted with a new coat of paint.(as I am facing now!)

Ensure that the property is close to whatever facilities you require such as shops, school, workplace, mother-in-law's house, etc. mmm...maybe you want it to be really far for this last point..:)

If you own a car, make sure you get an allocated parking space. If you need additional parking space,(maybe your spouse owns a car too) check for the charges and whether they are covered or not.If you expect frequent visitors, then you have to consider visitor's parking as well. Some apartments are really facing problems in this area and resort to double parking (as I've faced before especially in the heart of the city) and this makes the area really congested and not an ideal place to live in.

Public transport
Some people depend on public transport very much. For those in that category, make sure you can get your preferred transport easily. And if you have to travel a bit to the nearest train station, consider the amount you have to fork out for that near distance as well as time taken to get there. However, expect lots of noise and pollution in a place where there is good public transport system.

Occupancy rate
Please check with the management office about the occupancy rate. An ideal situation would be occupancy rate of between 80%-90%. Higher occupancy rate means that the value of the property has a fair chance of appreciating in the future. You will also find it easy to rent out your unit in case you decide to do so in the future. (I made a mistake here too.)

Know your neighbours and love them! Make sure your neighbours are the exact kinds that you would enjoy or comfortable living with.If you are in a multi-racial society, ensure it has a well accepted ratio of people from all communities. If you have kids, ensure that it will be a healthy environment for them to grow up.

It is very important to consider the position of the apartment (whether it faces north, south, east, west) as well as the arrangement of the living room, toilet, kitchen and hall in it. As more have started believing and practicing the ancient geomantic sciences such as Feng Shui and Vaastu Shastra, you will find it easier to sell later on if you have adhered to these principals as well.

Lift/Escalator services
Ensure that there are sufficient number of lifts and they are serviced periodically.In case you are looking at an apartment without these services, try to get a unit on a 1st or 2nd floor. Ground floor would be too noisy and climbing up 5 floors daily wouldn't be a comfortable experience!

Age of building
By knowing the age of the property you are going to invest in, you can roughly estimate the repairs that you have to do such as wiring, plumbing, etc. Apart from that, if the property is a lease-hold, you know how long you can continue living in the same place and after some time, if you plan to mortgage the house to take loans, you have a rough idea from now itself the ease/difficulty that you will face.

If you have any experiences you would like to share, I would love to hear from you.

Fast money anyone?

Almost everyone that I know of wants to be rich fast. No patience in waiting to grow their wealth. Well, probably that includes me too, when I was much younger.However, after dabbling with various websites,blogs, magazines, books,classes and seminars, I've managed to slowly crawl out of my shell.

The group that falls mostly in this category are the ones aged between 20-35. At least that's what I find when I talk to my friends of that age group. I figured that while less than 20 would not have worries or plans about their financial future (because most probably they are still depending on their parents for survival), those above 35 must have had their share of life's experiences for them to have a different opinion.

During that age(20-35), as I recall clearly, me and my friends used to sneak into casinos and illegal gambling spots that kept mushrooming in the city to fulfill the needs of high adrenaline rush in youngsters like us. And make money we did!

My personal favourite was the Russian Roulette and Horse Racing (computer animated). We used to do all crazy stuffs, especially when it was pertaining to bring us luck. After a while lady luck seemed to get bored and decided to leave us.

Then, slowly we began to 'graduate' and move on to more serious ventures known to many as 'Get-Rich-Quick-Schemes' or 'High-Yield-Investment-Products'. Those agents/con-men that we met were really convincing enough for us to part with our money. The main reason people are still throwing in their money in these kind of schemes despite reminders and warnings from the authorities is plain greed. People just can't let go of the idea of being rich overnight and are willing to take BIG risk for that.

There are plenty of those schemes out there, both local and foreign ones, but I'm not going to list them here. Some deals are done face-to-face while others make use of the technology where they come up with really professional looking websites and systems to attract their potential 'victims'.

Then as I grew more matured (or so I thought),I started going into the stock market, without the slightest knowledge about the vast financial world out there. The result? Burnt my fingers of course! But it was a worthy experience, since I learnt it at quite a young age, now I can restrain myself from going into the stock market just by relying on 'tips' from friends.

So, now whenever I advise people to invest in a more reliable and trusted source (such as mutual funds,etc.) and they don't seem to agree or understand, I just remain silent. After all, I've been in their shoes before!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Much is Enough?

When I was just working as a part-time clerk in the bank, my basic salary plus allowance and overtime roughly brought in RM1500. I did not know the value of it then, but figured that it must have been quite low since it was only a clerk's salary.

All the money earned was either spent (not all of it) or saved in a normal savings account. It actually brought a smile on my face each time I checked the balance because it kept growing from month to month. In short, I had more than enough.

My expenses were kept to a bare minimum because I still lived with my parents, commuted using public transport and meals were at the local stalls that served reasonably good food at a low price. Oh, and before I forget, I was still not married then!

Now, after almost a decade later, earning more than double the 1st salary, I'm still trying to figure out where my money goes at the end of every month. Currently married (dear wifey is also working), living in my own house, own 2 cars and have applied my knowledge of diversification to some extent in my investments. A big portion of the salary is used to pay off our fixed overhead expenses.

However, our day-to-day living is a real example of frugal living. Definitely no extras to spend like those days! At such, can you say that earning more would be enough? What is your take on this matter?

I’m tagging the Digerati Life, and thetaoofmakingmoney. If I didn’t tag you and you want to answer, tell me in the comments or post it on your own blog and post the link in the comments.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Clocking in the extra hours in your current job or putting in the hours separately to build an alternative income stream?

Lazy Man's article prompted me to write this article.

We all want to have a comfortable life, provide good things for the family, etc. To achieve this, we see people spending more than half of their lifetime at work. They clock-in more hours as to accompish more task set by their bosses and impress them. Their full concentration and
undivided attention is given to their bosses (and job).Is this a smart move?

On the other side of the coin, we also get to hear people working more than 1 job at a time. Yes, multi-tasking is not limited to computers only. Beware computers, human beings are catching up! This is not something that was probably heard at all during our grandparents' time.
Some people prefer to have an alternative source of income with a 2nd or 3rd job.

What do you stand to gain by the first method - working longer & harder in your current job?
  • potential for promotion and enjoy the perks and benefits that comes with it
  • strong excuse when demanding for a pay rise
  • more responsibility
  • more security as some people see it

Advantages of the 2nd method - alternative source of income:
  • you set the targets of how much you want to make
  • work is based on your own flexibility
  • no one is blowing down your neck
  • you decide what you want to do to bring in the income (can also be a hobby that started to pay off)
  • if you are persistent enough, your alternative source of income can balloon into a main source and become your new career or business
Personally, I would choose the 2nd method (this blog is a proof of that! ha.. ha.. ha. :) ). Anyone has anything to share or have other opinions, please do.

How To Make Some Extra Bucks - By Doing Nothing

I love the title - do nothing and make some money at the same time. Almost nothing, that is…

1. Put aside the change

Put aside all the coins that you receive everyday into a piggy bank - yeah, mummy is always right. Just continue to do what you were trained to do from young. After some time, you will be surprised that you have some substantial amount of money in your savings.

2. Terminate your gym membership

No, don’t get me wrong. If you are actively utilizing your gym membership, by all means go ahead and exercise. After all health comes before wealth. But, if you are not using them and paying hundreds of dollars every month hoping that you will be using them soon (and this has been going on for a year or so), it is about time you looked into terminating the membership immediately and try to exercise at home instead using simple equipments such as the skipping rope and dumb bells.

3. Change to regular petrol

Unless you own a very new car and too sensitive to the performance of your car, you can always change to the regular petrol from your premium petrol. This will save you a few cents for every litre and for the few hundred litres your car is going to gulp down over a few weeks or months, you should be having a thicker wallet.

4. Use credit card instead of cash

Let me warn you first - you have to be extremely disciplined to follow this step, or else you will end up cursing me for giving you this idea. Credit card companies usually give out points to their customers for every swipe of the card that you make. Just make sure you record every transaction that you make with your card and before the end of every month, make a full settlement on your card. This way, you are not charged for your card, but you get something free instead for this service. At times, after a certain period of accumulation, you can even go for a free vacation! That’s a brilliant idea, wouldn’t you agree?

5. Disconnect your cable TV

For a person who is concerned about his finance, cable TV would sound too luxurious. Instead of being a couch potato, the time can be utilised to earn additional income or exercising or doing some better things. Or at the least, try to minimize the channels or switch to a lower plan, if available.

After following the steps mentioned above, you would have made some amount of money. Well, a dollar saved is a dollar made!

What Can You Do To Supplement Your Income?

There are many things out there you can do to supplement your income. However, since most of the time people don’t get to do what they love to do in their primary jobs ( they are most like to be working for the paychecks) first of all you have to ask yourself a few simple questions. This is an important step as you want to enjoy yourself as well as earning some income at the same time.

  • What is your hobby?
  • What is it that you can continue to enjoy to do even though there’s no money involved in it?
  • Can you get support from your family members in what you intend to do? (not necessary but you will soon find that it will be much easier if you had their support or understanding)
  • Do you need any special facilities or equipments and how much cost would be incurred?

Having thought about all these questions mentioned, you have various choice of jobs that you can start-off as a part-timer or as a hobby. Besides generating some income for you, it can continue to be your favourite past-time. You can relax yourselves and free yourselves from the daily stress.

Among the popular choices that you have:

  • Teach part time - This can include at colleges/institutes or giving private tuition.
  • Baby sit - If you find that you love kids, you can always offer baby sitting service, starting from your relatives.
  • Designing websites - You can help to design and maintain websites for the small business owners and gradually as your skills improve, you may even offer your services to the corporate group as well.
  • Service computers - Usually customers find it difficult to troubleshoot or maintain a pc (from viruses, de fragmenting, installation of software,etc.) after their warranty period is over. Why not offer your service in this area?
  • Tailoring service - If your service is good and you are good with your hands, you are sure to have your hands full especially during festive seasons.
  • Bridal & make-up service - This seasonal service is also good for a part-timer who is artistic and creative. Together with this, you can have decoration service also included.

The examples given above are merely to jumpstart in case you are having difficulties looking for ideas. But hey, the sky is the limit. You don’t have to limit yourself to these jobs alone as you can come up with your own method to supplement your income as you should know best what you are good at!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Successful Bloggers

Over the weekend, I had the chance of meeting 2 of my old friends. 1 of them is an engineer while the other was in the IT industry. Though the meeting was on separate occasion with each individual, surprisingly, I had 1 common topic for discussion. You guessed it right! It was on how to make more money.

  • Both of them were very keen and enthusiastic about generating a higher income for themselves and their family but didn't know how.
  • Both of them wanted to start off some business, but didn't know what business they should venture into.
  • Both agreed that they lacked in marketing skills which is of utmost important to have in running a business.
  • Both had limited funds for investment in the business.

  • Both had Internet connection + computer facility at home.
  • Both had spare time that they could devote to everyday.
  • Both had some experience/expertise that they could share with others for their benefit.
So, I suggested that while they were thinking about a more appropriate business plan, why not do some blogging. To my surprise, they were quite unfamiliar with that term. One of them even kept pronouncing 'BLOG' as 'BLOP'!!! And continued to explain how you go about doing it and how bloggers make money and what were the potentials for the bloggers. So, in that process of finding more resources for them, I stumbled upon a list of really successful bloggers.

This brought back the confidence in me to continue blogging. Reason No. 1 was for the amount of these successful bloggers made and Reason No. 2 was the notion 'everyone is blogging these days, so you can't make it' wasn't true. At least not in the case of my friends. So there still must be a BIG opportunity out there in blogging. Ok, enough of the talk, let's look at the list of bloggers who has started bringing in the $.

List of Successful Bloggers (Source: BusinessWeek)

Launched: January, 2000
Revenue: Over $1 million a year
Launched: January, 2007
Revenue: Estimated $5,600 a month based on ad rates and self-reported traffic data
Launched: October, 2005
Revenue: $12,000 a month
Launched: July, 2003
Revenue: Estimated $8,100 a month based on ad rates and self-reported traffic data
Launched: March, 1998
Revenue: Estimated $5,300 a month based on ad rate
Launched: November, 2000
Revenue: Estimated $45,000 a month based on ad rates and self-reported traffic data
Launched: September, 2004
Revenue: Estimated $111,000 a month based on ad rates and self-reported traffic data (and 13 other sites in the "-ist" network)
Launched: January, 2003
Revenue: Monthly average of $50,000 to $60,000 over the past 12 months
Launched: June, 2005
Revenue: $200,000 a month
Launched: July, 2004
Revenue: Estimated $6,240 a month based on ad rates and self-reported traffic data
Launched: July, 2005
Revenue: Estimated $166,000 a month based on ad rates and self-reported traffic data (multiple sites)
Launched: November, 2004
Revenue: Over $100,000 a year launched: June, 2004
Hot Air launched: April, 2006
Revenue: NA

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What is some of the best financial advice you’ve received?

For the first time ever, I got tagged and I'm responding to it! Silicon Valley Blogger from The Digerati Life tagged me to answer the question:

What is some of the best financial advice you’ve received?

Since I was brought up in an environment where 'Money is not everything' and 'Money is the root cause of all evil', you can't expect much of financial advises. Instead, focus was given on education of oneself to secure a promising job and hence, a bright future. (Reminds of of the famous book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad).

However, if you ask me what is some of the best financial lessons I've learnt, then, I can point out one or two.

Compounding interest will definitely be an eye opener for me to the financial world. When I was about to purchase my house, I started to look into all places where I may possibly have stashed away some cash.
My search revealed a mix of good news and bad news.
The good news - I had some amount of cash stashed away.
The bad news - I had it for a few years and it was all kept in a normal savings account!

Savings account only gave a miserable 0.2% interest per annum. At least if I had the initiative to transfer them to Fixed Deposit account, I would have made a 3.5% - 4.0% per annum. Hmmm.. looks like my money was resting in a corner without doing any work for me. My mistake!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The top 20 jobs most likely to survive a recession

Though the top 20 jobs are listed down, it is important to note here that only highly skilled people are in demand always, whether it is a technical or non-technical job.
So, in order to be still saleable, it is recommended that you should upgrade yourself with additional paper qualification, whether it is a degree or a simple plain certificate. Other than that you can also opt to check out certifications, such as the brainbench certification, some of which are provided for free on the Internet.

Jobs that most probably will survive a recession:

1. Sales representative/business development

2. Software design/development

3. Nursing

4. Accounting and finance executive

5. Accounting staff

6. Networking/systems administration

7. Administrative assistant

8. Business analysis (software implementation)

9. Business analysis (research)

10. Finance staff

11. Project management

12. Testing/quality assurance

13. Product management

14. Database administration

15. Account/customer support

16. Technology executive

17. Electrical engineering

18. Sales executive

19. Mechanical Engineering

20. Government contracts administration

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The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand)
September 6, 2008 Saturday