Category Archives: Ding Neng

Ding Neng Personal Entries

A Great 2017. A Better 2018?

I keep to my promise of at least 1 blog post a year. So I reviewed my 2016 last year.

So this is my post for recollected 2017.

Just like 2016, I enjoyed 2017 too.

Here are my discoveries of 2017. Hope my inspire you some way or another. If not, then wait for my 2018 one, next year!

1. My 1st Year In Investing.

2017 is the year I started to learn about investing.

I started investing in about September 2016, buying a few stocks which I’m familiar with, and based on people’s recommendations.

Obviously, that’s not the right way to invest my money. Nonetheless, that’s how I got started.

But in Feb 2017, I enrol myself in an investing course which teach about Dividend Investing. Which is to learn how to invest in companies that provide good dividend income.

If you invest well, these companies will give out dividends every few months, and will payout even more dividend to you when the company grows.

So after the course, I followed the system of picking good dividend companies, and buy them when the price is right. And then I invest in them.

What about the other companies that I buy before I attend the course?

Based on the trainer’s recommendation, he advised me to relook at my portfolio, and see if those companies fit my criteria.

I re-looked, and realised 3 companies didn’t fit the criteria. And I invest too much into each company without proper portfolio sizing.

Hence, I sold these stocks away, or reduce my holding on them.

And whenever there’s good opportunity to enter these dividend income stocks, I’ll then go in.

By end of 2017, I look back at my Dividend portfolio, I have about 9.2% return for that year.

Not as high as many people, but I’m quite happy with my result.

Here’s why:

Investing is a long-term game. If I can receive dividend every now and then while waiting for their business to grow, I’m being paid for waiting.

It is relatively low risk, as most dividend paying companies are huge stabilised companies. But I do have some smaller companies which are still at the growing stage, but give out dividend as part of their policy.

Investing in stock is liquid, which means I can cash out for money anytime, compared to saving plans or CPF (I do have saving plans/CPF too, but they are for other reasons)

9.2% a year is a good rate of return. Not that high, but higher than bank interest rate, or bank’s 2% return (but required you to do tons of stuff). Also higher than CPF rate, and maybe higher than property rental rate too.

Doing dividend investing, I don’t need lots of time monitoring also. These days, I mostly check with my next dividend payout is going to come in. When there’s results announced by the company, I’ll go read, and just make sure the company is still doing well.

The stocks in my Dividend Portfolio are mainly Singapore stocks, with 2 HK stocks. Singapore stock market is a small market, hence it’s quite illiquid. Stocks don’t jump up that fast like other markets. Hence, it’s better for Dividend investing in Singapore.

Also, there’s no tax on dividends gains in Singapore!

Alright, that’s Dividend investing! But that’s not all!

You see, back in end of 2016, I know NOTHING about investing, other than seeing my father getting dividend cheques every now and then.

But when I entered into the investing world in 2017, there’s so much more out there.

So while I continue to invest in my Dividend Portfolio, I came across another Investing Strategy, called Options Investing.

As I learn investing, I get to know more people who does investing. Also, my line of work allows me to meet some experts who are really good in investing.

So about Sept of 2017, I started to learn Options Investing. Options Investing also allow you to earn passive income.

I don’t know how to explain clearly, but Options is a form of derivative of Stock. Options can only be played in the US market.

Although I’ve some results in dividend investing, it is totally different from Options Investing. One is SG market, another is US market. US market is bigger. Strategy is different too.

However, the analysis of companies is similar.

For options investing, I started with a smaller amount of capital.

I started in September 2017, and by December 2017, I made about 10% return. Within that 3-4 months period.

Quite a good result also I must say.

Time commitment is slightly more than Dividend Investing, but probably 30 minutes or so, on 1-2 days of the month. Which is not a lot also. That is when you want to enter trade, and also waiting for your options to expire to collect the premiums. (sorry, a lot of jargons here.)

But… That’s not about my investing journey in 2017 !

Another thing that took the world by storm in 2017.. is Cryptocurrency! You know? Bitcoin all that?

I first heard about it back in 2016. And for some reason which I didn’t tell anyone, I got to own 2.5 Bitcoin in August 2016, where 1 bitcoin is worth about 800SGD. I spend about $2000 SGD on it. But I sold off all my Bitcoin in September, just 1 month later, for $2050. Just about break even point. Back then, I don’t know what Bitcoin is, so I don’t want to hold it too.

End of December 2017, 1 Bitcoin reaches as high as US20,000, which is almost SGD $28,000. So you see, if I had held my 2.5 BTC until end of 2017, my 2000 SGD will be worth SGD70,000! Stupid right? Why did I go and sell away my 2.5 BTC?

On hindsight, everyone is an expert. Everyone can look back at the chart and say ‘what if you buy here, and you sell her?’.

Question is how would I know BTC will rise from SG800 to SG28,000 in 1 year? BTC can also go from SG800 to SG8 that time also. I did regret a little, but I moved on. No point looking back, and asking ‘What If’. I still believe I made the right choice based on my knowledge then.

So in about June 2017, I saw my good friend attend a course about Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency. So I go ask him about it. He told me he bought some cryptocurrency (not bitcoin) to try out. He explains to me the blockchain technology behind it. He told me, bitcoin prices is crazy, the cryptocurrency market is extremely volatile, but this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience something like this.

When I listened to him, I’m still skeptical. By then Bitcoin price is a few thousands. I can’t remember, but it’s about US$3000 to $4000 range. I still can’t get over me selling away my 2.5BTC at 2050SGD. So I still keep a lookout, but didn’t get in right away.

This was also the time when news broke out and claiming bitcoin and cryptocurrency is a Bubble. Whenever Bitcoin price rise by a significant milestone (like when it reaches $10,000/BTC), all news outlets and all sorts of experts come out to declare it’s a bubble! Chairman of JP Morgan, one of the world’s largest investment banks, also came out to call Bitcoin a fraud. So lots of misinformation out there.

But I tell myself, I cannot call something a fraud if I don’t take time and effort to study it. If I don’t know, it just mean I didn’t go and study it, and doesn’t mean it is a fraud or scam, just by listening to what others say.

So I went to study about Bitcoin, Etherem, Blockchain…etc.

So in October, I told my friend I want to get into Cryptocurrency. I want to know more by going into it, and also to make some money out of it.

So I put in a small capital, really small capital than what I put in my Dividend Portfolio and Options Portfolio.

I just put in 2,500 SGD. This is the amount of money I can lose it all, and my life won’t change. I don’t have to sell my house or borrow from loan shark to get back the SGD 2500. So I’m quite comfortable with that.

So with my capital, my first purchase of cryptocurrency is not Bitcoin.

If you have studied about Bitcoin, you will realise that there’s nothing much about Bitcoin, other than it is the world’s first cryptocurrency, it is a coin almost EVERYBODY knows about. That’s all.

On the downside, Bitcoin is SLOW in transaction. Its Transaction Fee is higher than many other coins. It is just digital gold.

But there are many other cryptocurrencies out there which transfer faster, and pay way less transaction fee. Some has already been used by corporations.

My strategy for cryptocurrency is simple. I have a few coins in my watch list which I know have the potential to grow.

Then I buy in when there’s a dip. Then I sell when the price spike up like 30-50%. Then repeat this process.

So end of 2017, within like 2 months, my SG2500 became as SG5300. Almost 100% Return within 2 months.

That’s even more than my Dividend Portfolio and Options Portfolio!

But hey, I’m not putting even more money into cryptocurrency already, unless opportunity arises. I’m just using my profits to continue playing. If I make money, I make money. If lose, then lose.

So 2017 is an enjoyable ride in my investment journey, getting results in 3 pots – Dividend, Options, and Cryptocurrency.

Below are my two investing mentors I follow. Met them at an investing conference in Sept 2017.

 

2. Investing In Yourself

The highest return I get doesn’t come from stocks or cryptocurrency investment, but is investment in my knowledge. Because of my line of work, I get to learn from different speakers. Yes, so I learned about value investing, options investing, and other kinds of investing, I also learn about stress relief, meditation, personality profiling.

Warren Buffet says nobody can take away what you’ve got in yourself.

I can lose money in stocks, options, cryptocurrency, but I can’t lose the knowledge of picking good companies, options, and coins after I learned it.

So if you want to achieve whatever results you want, always first invest in yourself.

If you want to invest in yourself, there are 2 ways.

1. Go find a mentor, pay him, learn – need money, but fastest path.

2. Go internet and learn yourself – need time, can go wrong path.

When I’m still a student studying in school, when I want to learn something, I go to the internet to learn. I buy a cheap course of about $500 SG. That’s how I learn SEO, how I learn to build my first website, how I start making pocket money for school. However, back then, I don’t have a lot of money, but I have lots of time. So going to the internet is the best way for me.

But now, I won’t want to go to internet to find all the things myself. At this era, there are tons of fake news and misinformation online.

For example, like cryptocurrency, everyone is saying their own coin will ‘shoot to the moon’ (price will shoot up dramatically), because they have interest in that coin.

or like SEO, people recording videos to teach you how to rank websites. Now I know SEO, when I watch the video, I straight away know if it’s incorrect. These people record videos just to get views, to build up profile, to be ‘instant expert’. So really, too many fake shit out there online.

In 2017, I paid a few thousand dollars to learn investing. Sum is not small. but I’m happy to pay. As I can see, the returns I made back for that year already covered for my school fees. And the good news is the course fee I pay is one-time fee, but the returns I get, is on going.

I know there are many types of course out there. Some people say “Why waste money to pay for courses, when you can learn everything online for FREE?”

First, you must know, all FREE things come at a price. If you want to go online to learn, you pay the Price of TIME. You waste hours and hours to try different thing, doesn’t work, try another thing. Or I can pay money to someone to get him to teach me how he exactly do it.

For something like investing, any wrong move will cost me lose all my money. Just look at the poor folks who buy into DBS Minibonds before 2008. Or poor folks who invest into Geneva gold scheme. Or poor folks who just throw money at penny stocks thinking it can rise 10X that year.

“I attend the course already, but what I learned doesn’t work!”

This is another common complaints I heard from friends who attend courses too. You see, 2 person can attend the same course, learn the same thing, but achieve different result. Why?

Simply because these 2 person have different motivation.

One person want to learn the skill, apply it, and use it achieve results, no matter what it takes.

Another person just want to learn, to try and see if it works. If it doesn’t work the first time, he gives up.

Just like a class of 30 ‘O’ level students. Some get As, some get Bs, some don’t even bother to take the exam.

Does this mean the school or the teacher fail them, or they fail themselves?

Few years ago, I joined an Internet Marketing Program in Singapore. I paid close to $4k for the program. Not a small sum, but because I want to pursue this internet marketing career, I have to upgrade my skills.

In the few months after I complete the course, I made about SG$9k profits. Course fee covered, with spare change some more. I use that money to go US for holidays for 2 weeks.

But some of my classmates who attend with me, didn’t make back as much, so they gave up, and move on to other stuff. Some worse, complain and want refund. But when I ask them what have they done, they just say, “I tried for 1 month, and I didn’t earn money. I want to stop and I want a refund. This thing doesn’t work!”

So weird. We both learn same thing. I make money, you don’t? Or is it I put in work, you didn’t put in any work?

Fast forward today, my line of work is in digital marketing and whatever I learned in the course back then, still applies today.

So here’s my point: If you want to invest in yourself, the best way is to pay someone to teach you. Learn all you can, ask all the questions you can, take massive action until you succeed. Your attitude will determine if you will succeed, not the course materials or the trainer.

Talking about investing in courses, in 2017, I met up with my 2 ‘SEO Masters’, whom I learned my SEO from. We always talk online. They come Singapore for F1. I knew I have to meet them.

3. Earning Passive Income

Passive Income has a negative connotation to it. Passive income is income you have without putting extra work to maintain it. You put in 1 time effort, you collect the income again and again and again… This is the best form of income, because it seems like you only need to work once, and money just keep coming in.

However, many people have abused this term “Passive Income” to sell weird money schemes, scam people, prey on their greed. And people thought that they can have passive income by putting money in something, and doing nothing. So all these people end up putting money in the wrong things, and lost money, and declare passive income is scam.

So it’s quite sad that these people think it is scam.

But it’s good that I don’t think it is.

Same like many others, my dream is to have passive income. But unlike others, I make time and effort to build this income stream.

That’s why I’m into Dividend Investing, to invest my money in income-generating stocks. That is really passive income. I invest one-time, and when the company announces good results, they pay dividends. Did I need to do anything? Yes, I need to analyse to make sure the company I invest is good.

But after that one-time effort, I can sit back and collect dividend cheques, which is what my father has been doing for years.

On top of that, Options investing is also another form of passive income strategy. It is about selling put options, collect premiums, and let options expire worthless. This one need a bit more effort, but it also takes at most, at most, collectively, 1 hour each month.

There are many other passive income strategies out there, which are real and legit!

Like property investment. Buying a property, and rent out.

Like publishing a book, and collect royalties.

Like some internet business models. Set up once, generate traffic, get recurring sales.

So there are many ways to generate real passive income, which I think it is really important. We can’t work forever. Somedays, we will stop working, or can’t continue working. Your salary/income stops, but bills will still come in. You still need to eat.

If you can, go build yourself a passive stream of income.

I’m quite happy with my 2 small pots of passive income at the moment. I hope to grow them more next year.

4. Bank Loans FTW

2017 is also the year I refinanced my first home loan, a bank loan.

Back when I got my house in 2015, like many other Singaporeans, the first loan that comes to our mind is HDB loan.

HDB loan has its benefits, vs Bank loans.

1) When you get HDB loan, you can get up to 90% loan of the house. (If your house is 500k, you can get loan of maximum $450k.) This means you can use less upfront cash.

But for bank loans, the max loan you can get is only 80% (based on above example, $420k in loan).

2) HDB Interest Rate is pegged to CPF rate + 0.1%. Which mean HDB rate is 2.5% (current CPF) + 0.1%. It has stayed at this rate for past 15 years.

But for bank interest rates, it can fluctuate based on market forces.

3) If you can’t pay your home mortgage, HDB won’t confiscate your house right away. They can be lenient with you, after all, they are the government, and has more ‘heart’.

But for banks, if you can’t pay your home mortgage, they will ‘eat’ your house. Which means confiscate. Because banks has no heart. Money talks first.

4) For early repayment, if you want to clear up your home loans faster by paying lump sum to HDB, you can do it at no penalty.

But for banks, if you want to pay early, you have to pay a penalty fee, because if you pay your loan down faster, they have less interest to earn.

So because of these 4 reasons, many Singaporeans go for the HDB loan right away.

Initially, I wanted to go for HDB loan first.

BUT…

Back then, my salary was not that high as I just graduated, and my wife is self-employed, HDB gave us a really small loan of $196,000. The house I’m looking at is about $400,000.

So if I were to take HDB loan, I need to come out with $204,000 in CASH. Where to find?

So we look to the world of bank loans.

And we are very happy we did.

Bank give us a loan of $300,000. So I need $100,000 in cash only. Combined with both our CPF money, empty our bank accounts, and borrow few thousands from parents, we got our house.

That’s not all. The bank give us an attractive interest rate too.

It is a floating interest rate package. The first year is 1.6%. Second is 2.1%. Third year is 2.2%.

First 3 years rate are all lower than HDB Interest rate of 2.6%.

So this year, 2017, is the 3rd year of the package, at 2.2%.

However, there are new home loan packages offered by the bank, hence, I took the chance to refinanced it, down to 1.38%.

I have to pay $500 as admin fee for the refinancing to be done.

But I did my math. After refinancing, I will save about $100 more a month, which comes up to about $1200 a year. So I make back my $500 admin fee after 1 year.

And this new loan package is locked for 3 years. Which means I can save extra $3600 of interest to be paid to the bank.

Does this convince you to switch to Bank loans?

If not, let me explain further, and share with you why your fears about bank loans are over-rated.

So let me bring back the HDB benefits above:

1) When you get HDB loan, you can get up to 90% loan of the house. (If your house is 500k, you can get loan of maximum $450k.) This means you can use less upfront cash.

But for bank loans, the max loan you can get is only 80% (based on above example, $420k in loan).

Why this is not an issue: I somehow got mine settled already, so not an issue for me. Should not be an issue for you if you can find cash to pay upfront.

2) HDB Interest Rate is pegged to CPF rate + 0.1%. Which mean HDB rate is 2.5% (current CPF) + 0.1%. It has stayed at this rate for past 15 years.

But for bank interest rates, it can fluctuate based on market forces.

Why this is not an issue: This is the biggest reason why people don’t go for bank loans. Yes, HDB interest rate is ‘somehow’ stayed the same for past 15 years. But it doesn’t mean it will not increase in the future.

Also, right now we are in an environment of low interest rate (ever since the financial crisis in 2008/09), but there are signs of interest rate hike. Interest rates rise in 2016 and 2017, but even after the hike, it is still below 2.6% of HDB loan.

But I know you will say “Who knows… bank interest rates can rise above 2.6%. How?”

Yes, interest rates will rise above 2.6% in the future. However, by then, my loan quantum will be smaller by then, as I’m paying down my loan every year. Even when I’m paying 2.6% or 3% next time, it is of a smaller quantum.

Compare this to a new home owner who pay 2.6% From The Start of the loan, which is the entire loan quantum!

And when is the period when interest rate rise? It is a period when economy keeps growing, and interest rate has to rise. Which is what we are seeing in 2016-17, when economy starts to see a little more growth, which prompt the FED to rise interest rate after so long. (this is economics)

And when bank interest rate rise above 2.6%, what makes you think CPF rate won’t rise too, which means your HDB rate rise too? (Remember, HDB rate is PEGGED to CPF rate. Many people though HDB rate is fixed at 2.6% forever, which is not the case).

Whether CPF rate will rise or not, I can’t predict. But I can do simple math calculations.

But looking at current low interest rates, it is best for anyone to take advantage of it, to pay Low interest rate for a Huge quantum, and even if interest rate rise, you will only pay Higher Interest for a Low quantum.

This is way better than HDB loans which makes you pay Higher interest rates for Huge quantum right at the start.

3) If you can’t pay your home mortgage, HDB won’t confiscate your house right away. They can be lenient with you, after all, they are the government, and has more ‘heart’.

But for banks, if you can’t pay your home mortgage, they will ‘eat’ your house. Which means confiscate. Because banks has no heart. Money talks first.

Why this is not an issue: This is not an issue if you get your house within your limits. For me, my home loan is $300,000 to be paid over 25 years. The mortgage now, as of 2017 after refinancing, is about $1200 a month.

This is a comfortable sum for my and my wife to pay, which is about $600 a person a month.

Let say I lose my job, I won’t be so stressed up, because at most, it is $600 a month only. Worse come to worse, I can go back to design website, or do freelance writing to earn $1000 a month. I still can survive and pay loan.

And if there’s a time where we can’t even pay $1200 a month in mortgage, then it is really a damn bad situation. My first worry is not whether I can pay the mortgage. It is probably a question of survival, if I have enough money to survive. The thoughts on my mind then, will probably be selling the house away, not on that $1200 monthly mortgage.

However, if you get a $1 million house, or a huge loan you sweat to service, then you may need to worry. I know of friends who got huge $700,000 loans, because they buy Executive Condos. If you do the math, $700,000 loan paid out over 25 years, at 2% interest rate (and hey, this is lower than HDB loan already), your monthly mortgage is almost $3000.

Split between husband and wife, each person is $1500 monthly too. If one person can’t work, the stress is damn high. You have to find a job that pays at least $3k or more, just to have enough to pay 50% of your salary to the mortgage.

So for this, I don’t have to worry much. I’m happy with my mortgage amounts. I’m confident to doing extra side jobs if I ever need extra money. So i don’t really need to worry about banks consficating my house. So again, not an issue for me.

4) For early repayment, if you want to clear up your home loans faster by paying lump sum to HDB, you can do it at no penalty.

Why this is not an issue: Not an issue, because I won’t be doing early repayment, as it is not financially smart.

Again, it’s time to be financially smart!

Normal people will tell you to pay down your loan as fast as possible! People use 25 years to pay up, you use 5 years! Just save and save all your money, and clear your home loan in one lump sum!

Sounds smart ya?

But it’s not financially smart. Why?

First, a home loan is the CHEAPEST loan you can ever get in the market. Compare to car loan (3%), personal loan (10%), credit card loan (24%)… you can never find a loan at 1.xx%, which is home loan!

Here’s what I will do, and planning to do:

Take 25 years to pay off my loan. Full tenure.

For the extra money I have, I won’t do early repayment. Instead I use it to invest, to make more than 2.6% a year (HDB interest rate). And I’m confident of that because my Dividend Portfolio gives me 9.2% per annum already.

By NOT paying early repayment to banks, I can use my extra money to grow more money, which is also building up my retirement nest when I retire 20-30 years later.

Who I learn from? Robert Kiyosaki. The Rich Dad Poor Dad guy. Hate him or love him, he surely teach some good stuff.

So really, don’t pay off your loans. Go learn how to invest, and invest your spare money better. Grow it even more.

So you see, that’s why I say Bank Loans FTW (For The Win). And whenever people around me ask me Home Loan or Bank Loan, I will tell them BANK LOAN again and again, until interest rate situation changes.

5. Loving the work you do.

Many people, till today, don’t know much about what I do.

I took Mathematics and Economics in degree. I had a double degree for it some more! So when people heard I have a math & economics degree, the usual assumption is… so you work at a bank? you work as a economist? You teach math in school? Are you a banker? Accountant?

You know what? Even if I want to go in all these jobs, I can’t because I’m not qualified to do so. My results in university sucks so much I don’t even dare to show anyone.

Fortunately, I don’t need to go after all those jobs also, as I don’t have any interest in them too.

Today, I’m doing digital marketing. Big word, but to keep it short, to generate leads and sales using the internet.

And I’m doing just that only.

Previously, I’m runs an SEO agency, helping businesses rank their website on Google search engine to generate leads. I do that for almost 3 years, but stopped finally in 2017. At first, it was good money. Clients pay like $800 to $1200 a month for the work. Work can be from 3 to 6 months, and some 2 years. So quite good additional income for me.

But the more clients I take in, the more headache I have. I do have really nice clients, who knows what I do, and trust me to do the best for them.

But there are clients from hell – appear nice and friendly at the start, but 1 or 2 months later, they turn into devil, demand all sorts of things not written in contracts. Then start to complain, try to deny payment, all kinds of shits, even when results are achieved.

Back then when I need some money, I have to suck it up to these clients from hell. But as time goes, I drop these clients one by one, and don’t intend to take in new ones.

I stop taking in new clients to the stage that I don’t want to accept referrals from my best clients. Because I realise I’m not cut out for Client work. My passion is to do SEO on the website, generate leads, get results… not to handle complaints, customer service, ‘carry balls’, chase payments…

So in 2017, I decide to kill my SEO consultancy business, but instead focus on my own side businesses, where I generate leads via SEO myself. I don’t have to answer to anyone. If i generate less, I earn less. If no leads, I don’t earn. I answer to myself.

Furthermore, it is a good move to kill my SEO consultancy, as I have a bigger role to play in my company, where I lead a team of digital marketers to generate leads via paid traffic channels. Not bad huh, I can master both free and paid traffic sources. 🙂

And this is why I’m saying 2017 is the year I love in what I’m doing. This is real passion, real drive, that keeps me awake and hop to office every morning. Or even check leads generation during weekends. All these become part of me.

I know some people drag their feet to work. Even entrepreneurs who say they can work anytime, also dread facing their clients sometime.

If you’re one of those people who hate their work, then you got to change. Let go and find the things that work for you. I stopped doing Client Work as I realise it doesn’t suit me, even though I made quite good money from it. I rather pursue something that feeds me, than sucks me.

Also, let me share with you a bit more about my work.

Some people are quite amazed by my work. I wear jeans and t-shirt to work. Sometimes when I meet friends after work, they thought I go home and change (Lol?!?!). I skip morning rush hour as I report to work at 10am, and end at 6pm.

Easy lunch hour, with table tennis session after lunch. Now we have pool table some more. I never had to work OT before. But on some days, I went home late, because I stayed back in office to play 2 hours of Table Tennis.

These are just perks and features. But what’s more important? My job allows me to be me.

I love to talk cock sing song. Lame jokes every few minutes. Puns in every sentence I say.

But what’s more fun? The people at my workplace are also like that. Full of jokers.

But when it come to work, we are serious. Dead focused.

But when we play, we go crazy.

We set our own rules. Our boss don’t interfere much, as he gives us the freedom to explore, to try, to fail, to learn. And when we win, the boss throw in celebration for all of us.

Just like this year. We all went to Phuket to play.

Lots of fun at Phuket. But just 1 photo here.

Not forgetting the times we eat and eat and eat…

But we also exercise together…

like going for morning walks at East Coast Park at 5.30am

And also yoga.

Another thing I like? I get the opportunity to speak.

Some of you may I know I was very active in the Toastmasters back in my university days. For 4 years, I trained myself up in public speaking. But after graduation, other than speaking in toastmasters, there’s no other places I can speak, or no other topics I can speak about.

So there’s a struggle within me back then. I was wondering “Where can I make use of my public speaking skills?” “I want to be a speaker, but what can I speak on?”

I’m finding a stage for me to utilise my public speaking skills.

And so, whenever my company organises events that needs emcee, I’ll go in. So far, I’ve emceed 6 major events, in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

The feeling is like giving a gamer a gaming computer, a swimmer an olympic size pool, and a speaker a stage. I can do what I do best. I can unleash my passion.

So really, I can’t really complain much about my job. “Job’ has a negative connotation..

like having to work under a boss (which i’m fine as my boss is quite good)

like having to work 9 to 5 (which I’m fine as I work 10 to 6 with long lunch)

like office politics (which I don’t have in my office)

like doing shiity work and OT (which I don’t have as I enjoy my work and no OT).

You can say I probably found my dream job!

6. Miles FTW

Okay.. lots of talks about money and work. Let’s talk another fun topic. A bit money related, but I think something which you may be interested in.

Flying First Class at 90% OFF.

2017 is the year we went for our honeymoon.

And we flew in SQ Suites to London. Whohooo!

 

A SQ First Class Suite one-way ticket to London cost about $7k SGD if you buy at the SQ website in cash. The price is crazy. It is almost 3 months of a fresh grad salary.

But hey, both of us fly SQ suites there.

Of course, we didn’t pay $7K SGD (or $14K SGD) for it la.

We use miles.

We started collecting miles in mid 2015.

We use some miles to fly business class to HK, which is quite shiok. So we decide to use miles again, to fly in style for our honeymoon to UK.

Why Miles? Why not Cashback?

Most people go for cashback. When i started to use credit cards, I also go for cashback. Because it is the most straightforward game to play. If your card gives you 1% cashback, you spend $1000, you get $10 back. Simple Math. Immediate returns.

But for miles, the maths is more complex, but it is still simple. But it is more worth it.

For miles, so far in the market, you can get 4 miles per 1 dollar spend. So if I spend $1000, I’ll get 4000 miles. To get a 2-way business class ticket for SG to HK, you’ll need 55,000 miles. To get 55,000 miles, you’ll need to spend $14,000.

You may start to think… wow! I need to spend $14,000 just to get a business class ticket to HK. Not worth it!

Wait.. hold on. Let’s do some maths again. Let’s compare miles vs cashback card.

Let say your card has a higher cashback, say 6% (which is really high).

6% of $14,000 is $840. Wow. Quite a lot of cashback yea?

And if you use miles card, you get 56,000. You can use it to redeem Business Class HK ticket, with 55,000 miles.

And what is the price of a Return Business Class HK ticket? I checked the website, it is $1788 SGD.

With cashback card of 6%, you get $840.

With miles card of 4 miles per dollar, you get $1788 back.

Now, you may say ‘But I don’t need to fly business class to HK. I don’t want to waste money. I want cold hard cash on hand.’

Don’t worry!

You can sell your miles away!

If your friend is going on honeymoon, or looking to experience SQ business class, why not sell them the $1788 ticket, at 30% discount.. and they pay you $1200 for it?

Or even better, you can go Carousell to sell away your miles. People are selling away at 2cents per mile. So if you have 56,000, you can sell away for $1120.

Isn’t that better than your $840 cashback?

But hold on, if you think miles game is complicated, wait till you play the Cashback game.

There are even more restrictions for Cashback!

Look at your own cashback card:

1) They state you must spend a minimum of $XXX a month to qualify for the cashback bonus.

2) Each month, the amount of cashback earned is CAPPED. They restrict how much you can earn in cashback a month.

These are the 2 most irritating restrictions you’ll face.

1) You are being forced to overspend so that you can activate your cashback %. Otherwise, you lose your cashback for that month. For miles card, there’s no such restrictions.

2) For miles card, the miles earned are not CAPPED. You spend more, you earn more. You spend less, even at $100, they will still award you miles.

But wait.. you may still say “I heard miles expire! I don’t fly often, so of expire, then all become worthless!”

For some credit cards, you first earn points (like DBS points, UNI$, Citi…), then you convert these ‘’bank points’ to krisflyer or Asiamiles. Some of these bank points don’t expire, while some expire after 1 year.

Either way, it doesn’t matter. Just convert your miles every year will do.

Once converted to Krisflyer, your miles stay there for 3 more years.

So in this way, you have 4 years to spend your miles. Don’t tell me you won’t even travel once for the next 4 years.

And if you don’t really travel ONCE for the next 4 years, so what? Like I said above, you can still earn the miles, and sell the miles to someone else, which allow you to earn more than cashback!

Now you see why I say miles FTW?

It’s the best life hack game I’ve played so far. To the extend that I’m telling my friends around me to go for MILES MILES MILES! And throw away their Cashback card. I literally look down at people who use cashback card. Really. It’s a lousy card!

So far, I’ve converted 3 friends to go for miles, to help them get business or first class tickets at 90% off!

What about you? Go for miles!!

7. Working towards good health

Health is important, but sometimes due to pursuit of success, I put my health 2nd. I’m not suffering from anything or sick or what… just that i don’t eat properly. I eat everything. So my weight goes up.

But when I know my IPPT is nearing, I’ll work it out for 1 month to pass it.

For 2017, I pass with $200. Not bad, provided I work out hard 1 month prior only.

but after that, everything goes back to normal.

So for 2018, I want to have a more consistent work out regime.

In Sept of 2017, I’ve also gone back to my previous MLM company to purchase health supplements for myself and my wife.

Weird hor? MLM is bad right? Their products sucks right?

Nah.. not every MLM company is bad.

I was with this company back in 2009-2010, because of its amazing health supplement. They deal in lutein and hydrogen-concentrated water. Lutein deals with eye care, hydrogen deals with anti-ageing. However, back then, I tried to do the MLM all alone with 1 upline from Taiwan, and we struggled. The products were good, but we make much money. So I quit.

But I will never forget how good the product is.

So 9 years later, I went back, just to purchase the product for my own consumption. As I got earn money now, it’s good to eat well too. But the MLM business wise? I’m not so active on it. The team I’m joining are very active, they have a system all that. But that’s not my focus. If anyone wants to buy the product through it, I can still refer to you. Otherwise, it is fine for me. 🙂

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That’s all for my sharing for 2017!

2018 is gonna be an awesome year!

As usual, my next post gonna be 1 year later!