Sunday, March 27, 2011

Patriotic to own a Beemer

One of my classmates bought a BMW recently. I know she earns about $10,000 a month and technically speaking, she is buying a car that cost roughly twice her annual salary. There is nothing wrong to enjoy the finer things in life though it means she is also patriotic as well.

Why patriotic?

In Singapore to own a car, you will be paying a huge load of tax to the government. Take my classmate’s BMW, she has paid the following to the government:

Open Market Value (OMV)= $58,000

Thus Additional Registration Fee (ARF) will cost 100% of OMV =$ 58,000

Excise Duty: 20% OMV= $11,600

Registration Fee: $140

Certificate of Entitlement= $45,000 (few months ago)

GST: OMV x 7% (approximate) = $ 4,000

Total tax payable to government coffers: $118,740

The total cost of her car was about $210,000 then, which means the gross profit margin for the car dealer was 43.4%.

In order to own her dream car, she has to contribute in excess of $100,000 to nation building, I have respect for that.

Good thing is that she only took a 1 year loan and has only a couple of months to fully pay up her car. As for me, it will be unlikely that I will ever own a BMW, probably the furthest I would go is a Toyota Camry.

My rationale is simple. Consider a $200,000 lump sum investment to grow on a compounded basis of 10% (1.1^10), this initial sum would grow to $518k after 10 years. The opportunity cost of $318k means that she might have to work another additional 3 years to fund her retirement. Coupled with her 2 years salary to purchase the car at the onset, she potentially could have retired 5 years earlier.

Yup, 10 % PA might not seem realistic. But if one has the investment horizon and purchase some China Equity fund, we should be looking around this level of returns. China will be overtaking America as largest economy in my lifetime, according to most analysts.

Well, to each his/her own. I prefer to retire earlier and spend my days reading, writing and travelling when I am still able. As for owning a nice car, I think I will hitch a ride when I meet up with her in school instead.

Life is tough, retire early. That’s for me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What is the stock market to you?

My colleague thinks it is just an electronic platform to buy and sell shares.

Some believe it is a gambling table. Perhaps that’s why Genting is often the most traded stocks.

Another might think it is a place to park retirement funds in blue chips for steady return.

Yet another might think it is a place where the big crocodiles eat up the small fishes and avoid it at all costs.

I believe it is the best place to generate excess return amongst all asset classes.

My grandmother doesn’t know the existence of it.

It is subjective to define what a stock market is because different people have different experience and thus perceive it differently. Just like how the blind men describe an elephant:

The First approached the Elephant,

And happening to fall

Against his broad and sturdy side,

At once began to bawl:

“God bless me! but the Elephant

Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,

Cried, “Ho! what have we here

So very round and smooth and sharp?

To me ’tis mighty clear

This wonder of an Elephant

Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,

And happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands,

Thus boldly up and spake:

“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant

Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,

And felt about the knee.

“What most this wondrous beast is like

Is mighty plain,” quoth he;

“ ‘Tis clear enough the Elephant

Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,

Said: “E’en the blindest man

Can tell what this resembles most;

Deny the fact who can

This marvel of an Elephant

Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun

About the beast to grope,

Than, seizing on the swinging tail

That fell within his scope,

“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant

Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong!

Poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) based on Jainism and Buddhism. Udana 68-69: Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

We are still quite blind to the concept of stock market isn't it?

Monday, March 14, 2011


Be greedy when others are fearful, be fearful when others are greedy. I sense fear now. What are you waiting for?

Honestly, the last time I see such a scenario was during the Lehman Crisis in 2008. The selldown back then was even more earth shattering than this.

The last time STI went below 3000 points was roughly in August last year. This means that for STI has given up its 8 months gains due to the earthquake.

That said, 2800 points seems to be a safer entry point for long term investors. At that level, most banking stocks are giving at least 4% dividend yield on your investment.

Honestly, I have not much luck timing market cycles. Hence I try to always buy and rarely sell to build up my passive portfolio income.

If you are reading my blog and not invested, congrats. Buy now and hold as long as you can. Please buy me coffee when you have made money, on my right panel, thanks!