Monday, January 6, 2014

Keep Clutter to the minimum

I was rummaging through all the old clothes of which some I can still wear, some I can't, some I could but now can't but never wore before.

Close to a decade of working life later, the bedroom stays the same. The only difference is that there are a lot more stuff stuffed all around Some I have used, some I have not but have always been meaning to or meaning to find some use for. 

Years and years of neglect, even if they might have been useful or I might have find some use for. Age wears. Even if they stay where they have been all these years.

You want them to be around when you need them. But they prevent even more important things from being around. If you use them, they are of use. If not, get them out of your life.

That is the way with things, you never clutter.

Yet, while wildly different, with important people in your life, the less time you spend with them, age wears them but instead of feeling less utility, you lose them forever and the time is never claimed.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fixed Income - Bonds

Bonds are simply debts/loans.

For example,

Bond Selling/Issuance AKA Borrowing

when you borrow $50K from a relative to start a business and promised to pay your relative $2K every year ($1000 every 6 months) as interest and to repay him/her $50K in full in 5 years on 1st Jan 2019, you are essentially selling/issuing a bond to your relative.

The coupon rate would be 4%  ($2K divided by $50K)
The par value would be $50K. (ie. you return your relative $50K)
The maturity date would be 1st Jan 2019. (in 5 years time)

Zero Coupon Bonds AKA Paying Interest Later

Now your relative, on lending you the $50K, decides that he/she does not want you to stress over the interest during this period when you are building the business. He/She decides to delay the interest and says that you can just him/her back $60K on 1st Jan 2019.

Callable Bonds AKA Paying back Early to Save on Interest

Say you are quite confident in your business model and you feel that you can break even in 6 months and double your equity in 2 years, there is a good chance you don't feel too good on continuing paying that interest to your relative: they did do you a favour with the loan but they are not the ones running the business and facing the problems on a daily basis nor did they have any further input into the business. Besides, they have great value interest wise: 4% p.a. vs 0.05% p.a. from the banks.

So when you were borrowing the money, you negotiated a clause that you want to have the option of returning the $50K par value any time from the 2nd year onwards and not having to pay any further interest: call protection. Otherwise, maybe they are ok with forgoing the interest and you returning the full $50K any time.

Secondary Market AKA People Transferring your Loan

Now couple of years down the road, your business is booming and you are making good on the interest but you don't want to pay back the full $50K yet: business is doing great and you want to retain the capital to expand.

Your relative, by contrast, has a sudden need of cash (maybe didn't have an emergency fund) but just nice, another relative of his/her is interested and convinced to take over the loan albeit with a markup at $51K total.

Yields AKA Which is the Real Interest

Now the original relative had he/she held the bond to 1st Jan 2019 ie. maturity, reinvests/loan all the interest (5 years X $2K = $10K) you give him/her at the same interest. Take that and average over the original $50K that would be the yield to maturity.

The second relative should take the remaining interest (3 years X $2K = $6K) over the $51K he/she actually pays: $6K/$51K over 3 years will come to less than 4%.

Pricing & Risk AKA How Much is Your Loan Really Worth 

Throughout this entire time, if your business falters or is seen to falter, your original relative will have a hard time convincing others to take over the loan and certainly at less than the original $50K.

Likewise, if your business is a sure thing or seen to be a sure thing, you could have originally proposed a lower interest at $1K (2% p.a.) and no one would have complained.

If your business collapses, then no one would have gotten back anything or everyone would have gotten back nothing.

Now if the banks are giving interest at 8% p.a., either you would have to be quite close to your relative or your relative would have had a hard time convincing himself/herself to lend you that money in the first place!

See BullyTheBear On Retail Bonds for a more technical narrative.
See Basics Of Bonds - Maturity, Coupons And Yield by John M Gannon

Trading Account Costs - Stanchart

Brokerage & Market Fees

AustraliaAustralian SE (ASX)0.25%0.20%
  • Exchange fee of 0.0028% (max. of AUD75)
JapanTokyo SE (TSE)0.25%0.20%
  • No charge
SingaporeSingapore SE (SGX)0.20%0.18%
  • Exchange Fee of 0.04%
Hong KongHong Kong SE (SEHK)0.25%0.20%
  • Stamp Duty of 0.10% rounded up nearest dollar
  • Transaction Levy of 0.003%
  • Trading Fee of 0.005%
FranceNYSE EN Paris (PAR)0.25%0.20%
  • Transaction fee of EUR 1.40 + 0.0015% (max. of EUR20)
  • French Financial Transaction Tax (FFTT) of 0.20% where applicable.
SwitzerlandSIX Swiss Exchange (VTX)0.25%0.20%
  • Exchange fee of 0.004% (min. of CHF0.50 and max. of CHF55)
  • Ticket fee of CHF1.00
SIX Swiss Exchange (SWX)
  • Exchange fee of 0.01% (min. of CHF0.50 and max. of CHF55)
  • Ticket fee of CHF1.00
GermanyDeutsche Boerse (XETRA)0.25%0.20%
  • Clearing fee 0.0015% (max. of EUR5.70)
  • Ticket fee of EUR0.40
  • Settlement fee of EUR0.425
  • Exchange fee of 0.0048% (min. of EUR0.60 and max. of EUR18.00)
UKLondon Stock Exchange
  • Stamp Duty of 0.50% (Buy trades; GB ISIN shares only)
  • Stamp Duty of 1.00% (Buy trades; IE ISIN shares only)
  • Levy of 1 GBP for any transaction > GBP 10,000 (Buy & Sell trades)
NetherlandsNYSE EN Amsterdam (AMS)0.25%0.20%
  • Transaction fee of EUR 1.40 + 0.0015% (max. of EUR 20)
United StatesNYSE AMEX (AMEX)
New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
  • 0.00174% on sell trades only (min. of USD0.01)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Optimize Your Life By Optimizing your Phone (NOTE II) in 2014

Mobile smartphones really took off from the launch of the iPhone in 2007. 

Prior to that, mobile phones, smart or not, were, in reality, only limited to the functions of calling and texting. So this change meant that phones went from being your electronic device to being your personal mobile computer.

That also meant that if they lag like your home desktop computer or laptop (if you still own those), you should learn to optimize them. Back in the day, we had tricks like not putting any folders on your desktop, increasing your virtual memory space, remove unnecessary background running programs, remove startup helpers.. etc. Many of which we still do need to discipline ourselves to do.

But really, if your mobile phone is dominating your HCIs, then the major time savings from this segment will come from optimizing your mobile phones.

I use a Samsung Note II and this post is biased towards that:

Speed Up from Home ButtonDouble tap the home key > Press menu > Settings > Open via home key. It will remove the delay caused by the S Voice on using the home key between apps.
Stuttering AnimationsGo to Settings > About device > Tap the build number 7 times > Go back and select Developer options > Turn off the Animations Scale options. This will disable the animation whenever you open apps on your device.
From Pencil to EraserIn order to avoid tapping the pencil or eraser back and forth using the S Pen, use the button on the S Pen itself then tap the screen to quickly shift to the other function.
Idea SketchIf you want to draw something and wanted to get some sketch provided by Note 3, hover the S Pen on the screen for a second, then press the pen's button to go straight to the Idea Sketch option.
Quick One-Hand KeysInstead of going all the way to the Settings just to make your keyboard work on one-hand operation, go to Messaging or any similar apps wherein the keys automatically pop-ups then pinch quickly on the virtual keyboard to use it for one-hand typing.
Use Other Home LaunchersSome home launchers are better than TouchWiz UI used by Samsung on Galaxy Note 3. Head to the Play Store then download third-party launchers such as Nova Launcher. It will not remove the TouchWiz UI inside the system but if use it as default, the device will use it after a reboot instead of TouchWiz.
Root AccessRooting your Galaxy Note 3 will enable you to remove the TouchWiz UI itself but the current warranty and Galaxy S exclusive apps are all going to be erased if you do this. Make sure you are completely okay living without TouchWiz.
Custom ROMAfter root access, you can use customised ROMs and replace the original firmware to free the device from bloatware such as Galaxy S apps. Custom ROMs also come with several tweaks provided by developers to make them faster than the TouchWiz running Note 3.

Courtesy of:

Tools Actively Used

Page serves as a list of my personally most commonly used software tools.



A list of tweaks for windows 7

The Eternal Internal Conflict

People have 2 sides; the emotional & the logical.

On a daily basis, they do battle on the biggest of decisions and on the smallest of decisions.
Have a meal in an aircon food court VS have a similar meal in a crowded kopitiam.
Buy a private condominium on historical ow borrowing rates VS buy a right sized HDB flat at a reasonable price.

Is either right? How would anyone know? Only on hindsight; you can only connect the dots looking back.
How would anyone know how having an habitul latte would impact upon their retirement?
How would anyone know how sleeping late could affect their fat burning?
How would anyone know how buying a car in Singapore contribute to the local economy and affects their personal financial standing?

Why bother if either is right or wrong? The real trick is to decide the best you could considering both sides with information at hand at that point in your personal history.
Just bear in mind: the emotional side often wins in this case.

Yearly Financial Checklist

The first of a new year. Stumbled upon a yearly financial checklist. A nice useful journalistic finance post by Strait Times that I hope will find readership amongst my fellow Singaporeans.

Now and then, we see checklist posts use leading sentences as such: as the year end approaches and also to close out the year and beginning of the year is an opportune/good time.

Really, there is no better time than NOW if you have not done it before or didn't have it scheduled previously.

Other than that, there are certain times for people in certain circumstances to time their activities in various orders as well. Example for the self employed, the best time of the year to decide your tax relief for this current year (and by association, your self determined annual income) is at the very beginning of the year. Also, for the employed with bonuses, nothing better than the beginning of the year to determine your expenditure pattern and usage of bonus from the previous year.