The Dreaded And Expensive Valentine's Day Is Around The Corner – Here’s Mr Budget’s Plan

The annual dreaded Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

Thanks to the great marketing of Valentine’s Day, we are mostly accustomed to giving or doing something for our other half during Valentine’s Day as our way of showing love.

Throughout last week, Mr Budget was mostly stressed out thinking about what to buy or do for Mrs Budget in order to maintain our peaceful relationship (HAHA!). So I turned to Google to see if there are any interesting restaurants or things to do this Valentine’s Day.

And what I found out gave me a mini heart attack!

What I realised is that, a 4 course meal in a fancy restaurant in Singapore cost minimally S$150+ per couple this coming Friday! 

Of course, there are some cheaper alternatives than a luxury dinner at a fancy restaurant, but because Mrs Budget likes surprises, unique dining experience which caught my eyes were really expensive!

Here are some interesting ones and their cost price:

Dining at Aquarium Singapore $488 per Couple  inclusive of a glass of sparkling wine  5-Course Set
Dining at Alkaff Mansion$148 per Couple 3-Course Set Menu Complimentary – 2 cocktails & 1 bouquet of flowers
Dining With A View at Cook & Brew$188++ per couple
Dining at Alley on 25 at Level 25$88 per person  3-Course Set Menu
Tallship Sunset Cruise$288 per person 3-Course Set Menu Fireworks
Staycation at Six SensesS$420++ per night One Night Stay Dinner for two Unique craft experiences

Honestly the list can go on if I search for more but the more I research, the more I feel like spending the money doesn’t make much sense.

Being more rational than emotionally driven, I tried to see if it make sense for me to splurge $300 – $500 on Valentine’s Day.

My average stock position size is S$3000 – S$6000. To make S$300 in returns from one of my stock, depending on the stock position, the stock will need to return me 5% – 10% for me to cover the cost of Valentine’s Day! I’m not too sure if it made financial sense for me to splurge. Surely there are some other ways! 

So what I’ve decided to do instead, was to look at all the menus of the restaurants, and I’ve decided that I would cook for Mrs Budget a 4 course meal instead!

The menu which I will be trying is cooking a steak and seared scallop, complimented with baked salmon with a little bit of aglio olio pasta, and finish that up with some dessert. Hopefully it’s not too ambitious! From a cost perspective, I think I can get all of these for less than S$40.

Of course, while this sounds like the perfect plan, I needed to get Mrs Budget’s buy in. 

So I decided to tell her my plan. 

Mr Budget:
Babe babe, Valentines day i cook for u ok? Want to book outside but xiao ex haha thinking of staycay also but like want to save money also haha i try cook steak and maybe we sear scallop if we eat outside its at least $150 per pax for like 3-4 course dining meal so maybe i go buy steak, scallop, salmon also, and pasta. we eat at home?  BUT if u want, you can also ask for like an out of home experience

Luckily, Mrs Budget welcomed the idea.

Mrs Budget:
awwww you so cute
no need celebrate v’day la babe
I loveeeeee
hehehe happy excited
wa u nv tell me u stress haha poor thing

So yes, that’s Mr and Mrs Budget’s plan this Friday! Nothing fancy, just a simple dinner. Sometimes maybe quality time is more important than expensive gifts, depending on your partner’s language of love.

And yes, the Valentine’s Day thing is generally an annual stressor for most guys.

What’s your Valentines Day plan this weekend? 🙂

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Lessons From My Historical Trades – Keep Calm And Keep Holding On To Get >100% Returns

One of the recent discussions I had with Mrs Budget was that, I should have held on to some of the stocks I bought when I started investing back in mid 2017. 

Back then, Mr Budget started off by looking at US equities.

Some of the popular counters which I was looking at include NVIDIA, AMD, Micron, PayPal, Amazon, Adobe and more. These are counters that I am familiar with as I see them everywhere.

Obviously, these are all high growth stocks and their price were increasing every single day. When I first started to invest, I was a trader and just bought them based on price action and what other financial analysts were saying. 

There were no research done whatsoever on my part, and because my position was very low, to me then, it made sense for me to trade in and out. 

Here are some of the historical trades which I have made.

StocksOpen PriceClose Price% P&LEntry DateExit DateHolding period (months)Current PriceCurrent % P&L
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd$144.34$177.9923.31%04/08/201729/11/20174$215.7749.49%
Facebook Inc.$126.57$175.1738.40%04/08/201729/11/20174$213.0668.33%
The Walt Disney Company$110.92$105.02-5.32%04/08/201729/11/20174$142.5928.55%
Activision Inc$62.34$63.201.38%04/08/201729/11/20174$61.63-1.14% Inc$41.52$38.57-7.11%04/08/201729/11/20174$40.10-3.42% Inc.$979.85$1,152.0717.58%04/08/201729/11/20174$2,133.91117.78%
Micron Technology Inc.$34.51$44.6829.47%04/08/201729/11/20174$57.3366.13%
Mr Budget’s US Equities Trade History
Trade history in image

From the table, you can see that my average holdings were only a few months. The profits from each trade were subsequently poured into the market. 

Looking at the table, if I held on to all the stocks I bought until today, I would have made a lot more! Some of the big multi bagger which I’ve missed out is definitely AMD, Adobe, and Amazon!

For AMD, while I took a 44% profit in just 1 month, if I held on to now (19 months), the profit would have been 211.81%!
For Adobe, while I took a 6.75% profit in 3 months, if I held on to now (36 months), the profit would have been 113.02%!
For Amazon, while I took a 17.58% profit in 4 months, if I held on to now (26 months), the profit would have been 117.78%!

Other positions would also see a profit of between 15% – 70%. 

If history is any lesson, I should definitely hold on to any good US stocks for at least 12 – 24 months, and let the multi baggers continue to go up and just ride along with the bull wave.

Of course, this is easy for me to say now because in 2019, US equities generally had a good run and any US technology equity would have grown up by a fair bit if you went into the US market early last year.

Epilogue – while the tables looked great, in the end of 2018, there was a mini correction and I made a lot of bad calls and sold a lot of my active holdings back then at a loss, hence wiping out all of my profits throughout the first few years of investing. I also conveniently left out these trades towards the end of 2018, all of which are money losing trades haha.

So moral of the story – for strong US equities which are category leaders, be strong and keep holding on as long as business fundamentals remains intact, and the price are continued to be supported by growing EPS.

Don’t be afraid even if the prices are hitting new ATH (all time high) every other month.

Also, trading is mostly bad if you do not have time to actively monitor the counters.

Do you have any counters that you regret selling?

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Does It Matter If The Girl Earns More Than The Guy In A Relationship?

Recently, Mr Budget came across a discussion thread on Facebook which piqued my interest. 

The question goes: 

Does it matter if you’re the girl and your starting salary is already $1000 more than what your partner is drawing and he’s been working for a year already since he graduated from uni? Would it be a potential issue in future where you’ll start to draw a lot more than he does?

As much as I am not a lady, I understand why the person would feel that way, after all, who doesn’t want to have the sense of security provided by her husband. This is also especially true in a society heavily influenced by Chinese beliefs and culture, where money often equates to security.

So where do we stand on that?

First of all, we don’t think that it will be much of an issue if a guy earns less than the girl.

Everyone has a different starting point in their career. What is perhaps more important is that – does the guy have a high future earning potential given his current career path? Assuming the guy earns lesser than the girl at the start of their career, it is not certain whether the guy won’t be able to catch up with the pay.

When Mr Budget started out with his career, his first job only paid him S$2,200 a month in the private sector. Mrs Budget on the other hand, started off working in the government and has way higher starting pay. Slowly, Mr Budget manage to close the gap in terms of income and is now earning almost as much as Mrs Budget – a slow but steady catch up.

Another equally important point is also on money management. While the girl may be earning more, she might be spending more on items such as entertainment, dining out, cosmetics, or shopping, and end up with a very high expenses. On the other hand, the guy who might be earning lesser, may end up saving more and have a higher savings rate

The red flag for any girls should be if the partner is lazy and unmotivated at work (low future earning potential), and is uninterested in managing his personal finance – this shows that he don’t have a strong outlook in life and is quite irresponsible. In this case, this will definitely be a potential issue in any relationships.

At the end of the day, both the couple needs to be open with one another in terms of their finances.

I think having open communications will give a lot of security to the lady in any relationship, and shows that both parties have full trust on each other. Besides, a relationship is more than just the money.

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January 2020 Monthly Expenses Update

At the end of every month, Mrs Budget and I will reconcile our monthly expenses and see what are we spending on, and where we can optimise or cut down our expenses.

We subscribe to the believe that every penny saved is a penny earned – sometimes its easier to save S$100, than to earn S$100, both of which results in the same net worth increase.

In January, here’s what Mr Budget spent on.

Transportation $65.00
Groceries / Home$121.82
Shopping / Cloths$382.53
Phone Bill$56.10
Income Tax$103.05
Hair Cut$34.00
Digital Subs$30.56
Malaysia Mortgage 1$877.73
Malaysia Mortgage 2$366.51
Singapore Mortgage$1,231.80
CPF Top Up$7,000.00
Wedding Expenses$4,855.54

My total expenses for January ended up to be a whopping $17,439.34, consisting of a $2,699.75 fixed expenses and $14,739.59 of variable expenses.

The expenses increases significantly mostly due to the final payment of our wedding expenses ($4,855.54), our recent honeymoon to Japan ($1,819.94) as well as a CPF SA contribution (S$7,000).

Removing all of these one off expenses, the true expenses in January would have been a more manageable S$3,763.86. Of the S$3,763.86, mortgage payment is at S$2,476.04, and the rest is at S$1287.82.

Daily Expenses$1,287.82
Mortgage Commitments$2,476.04
Wedding, CPF Top Up, Honeymoon$13,675.48
Total January Expenses$17,439.34
January Expenses Category Breakdown

For Mrs Budget, here’s what she spent on.

Groceries / Home$121.82
Phone Bill$65.58
Gifts (Wedding Festives)$20.00
Wedding Expenses$4,716.54

Mrs Budget spent a total of $8,227.92, of which $1,244.62 is the fixed expenses and $6,983.30 is the variable expenses.

Similarly, wedding and travel expenses made up the bulk of the expenses in January. 

We don’t foresee to have any big expenses for the rest of the year other than some small travel expenses to Malaysia, so that should ease our cash flow as well as help us build up our cash savings for the year. 🙂

How has January been like for you?

October 2019 Monthly Expenses Update

November 2019 Monthly Expenses Update

December 2019 Monthly Expenses Update

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What We Think About The Wuhan Virus And The Stock Counters We Are Looking At

It seems like the talk of the town is the Wuhan virus. Our social media news feed is full of updates of the virus, be it an increase of new local cases in Singapore, or people overseas succumbing to the virus. 

We came across a great video explaining the virus and we highly recommend everyone spending 5 minutes to understand more about how the virus work and how worried we should be.

How Worried Are You?

To be honest, both Mrs Budget and myself we are not too concerned about the virus yet.

While there seemed to be new cases every other day in Singapore, most of them are imported cases or the result of interactions with imported case.

The virus seems to have a lot mortality rate and those who have passed on from the virus are mostly the more senior patients with lower immune system. 

We also have full faith in the Singapore government to control the spread of the virus and we trust that they will be transparent with Singaporeans and share any necessary updates with us.

From my understanding, the Singapore government has been preparing for a case like this since SARS, and have a playbook on how to handle a health care emergency like this now that it has happened. So the best thing we can do now is stay calm and let the government do their thing. Besides, we are lawful tax paying citizens 🙂

How Bad Do We Think It Will Be

The 4 new recent cases are a result of an interaction with a Chinese tour group. As the Chinese tour group linked to the local transmissions had visited at least six places in Singapore, we expect the number of cases to spike in the next few days.

As contact tracing had inevitably started by the government, hopefully the at risk individuals have been identified and have been quarantined. We probably expect the confirmed case to hit 50 to 100 before plateauing off.

Source: Channelnewsasia

In the grander scheme of things, 100 confirmed cases in Singapore only represent 0.002% of the 5 million people in Singapore – so we should be ok.

Indonesia Is A Wild Card

That said, the media rightfully pointed out something that ought to be an area of concern.

Outside of China in the midst of the global health emergency, Indonesia, which has a population of over 264 million people, has yet to announce any case of the virus.

Seems a bit weird if you ask us. If one small tour group from China can result in local transmission in Singapore, surely Indonesia which has more inbound tourist from China should have at least seen some local transmission.

What is scary to think is that, the government there might not even be aware that the virus might have been in the country already and there are already widespread transmission which goes undetected due to the lack of proper resource. After all, Indonesia is a huge country.

Are We Wearing Mask

For now, Mrs Budget and myself are still not wearing masks although we have some stocked up at home.

However, if we do visit high risk areas such as a crowded event, or visiting the local polyclinics, we will be wearing them. During our day to day commute or when we visit our neighbourhood, we are not wearing them.

The government also mentioned that there is actually no need for us to wear mask if we are feeling healthy, and to only wear them if we are sick. Practicing a good personal hygiene is equally if not more important than wearing a mask.

Stock Counters We Are Looking At

Of course, the stock market has been taking a beating since the virus spread. Our stock portfolio went down as much as 3% at one point but has since recovered a bit. If the market continues to fall further, there are some stocks that we are eyeing at:

  1. – we have been looking at this for a while now and recently the price went down to the USD1800+ range. If it falls to below USD1700 range, we will be initiating a position.
  2. MTR Hong Kong – we have been following this too thanks to our friends at Fifth Person – great business to own (Hong Kong’s MRT) but it has been facing a stock selldown due to the double whammy of the Hong Kong protest and the virus now. If it falls below HKD43, we will be initiating a position.

Other than that, we are not really eyeing any other stock counters as we have recently been looking at investing through roboadvisors.

None-retail or hospitality REITs are also very resilient and prices are sky high now, hence we probably won’t be buying any of them as we are quite happy with our current portfolio now.

Some other stocks nearing their 52 week lows that are worth looking into are probably Jumbo, SATS, Comfort Delgro, Breadtalk, and more but nothing really stood out to us as it is hard to see short to mid term price catalyst or high long term potential.

We will continue to accumulate our cash and see if there are any further future opportunities. 

In the meantime, stay safe everyone and let’s hope the wuhan virus will get better soon!

Which stock counters are you looking at?

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A Look At Syfe’s New Robo-REIT+ Portfolio

Recently, Singapore’s Roboadvisor Syfe has just announced the launch of their new real estate portfolio.

As the name suggest, with the new Syfe REIT+, you get to invest in a basket of REITs in Singapore.

The portfolio also combines Singapore listed REITs and Singapore Government Bonds and rebalances both the composition based on market sentiments.

For example, during good market condition, Syfe will auto rebalance the portfolio such that there is a higher proportion of REIT and a lower proportion of bond.

Here’s a look at the Syfe REIT+ composition breakdown: 

At first glance, the Syfe REIT+ portfolio looks really enticing and sounds somewhat too good to be true!

With just a fraction of cost from as low as S$100, you can get access to all the high quality Reits in Singapore, such as Ascendas REIT, Keppel DC REIT, Mapletree Logistics / Industrial Trust and more. Investing via Syfe means you dont have to pay any additional transaction fees or CDP fees as the stocks will be hold as a custodian stocks for you.

Individually, these counters are trading at high PEs now and you will have to fork out a lot of money to own all these REITs. To buy all these individual stocks, you will have to pay the individual stock transaction fees and CDP fees. These fees will definitely add up and will not make sense for small positions of S$1000 – S$3000. I’ve previously done a calculation for the fees here.

Also Read: What Is The Ideal Stock Amount To Buy For The Brokerage Fees To Make Sense

So from a fees perspective, you will end up saving a lot just by buying these REITs via Syfe REIT+.

Returns wise, here are the projected 15 year returns provided by Syfe REIT+

The returns are also in the range of 6 – 10% IRR for a 15 year forward looking projection – and that sounds really attractive!

When I compared the returns to the global equity portfolio, the Syfe REIT+ is projected to also provide almost similar returns as the global equity portfolio, and this gave me quite a shock – Shouldn’t the global equity portfolio provide a higher return since they are a higher risk instrument and comes with more downside risk? 

For context, here’s the projected returns for the Syfe Global Equity portfolio with 25% downside risk:

Syfe Global Equity Projected Returns

The most likely returns for the global equity is at S$321,164 while it is S$315,874 returns for the Syfe REIT+ portfolio!

There are other articles that says that actually REIT as a investment class is behaving more like equities now since they are providing equity-like returns, and most REITs in Singapore has been benefitting from a low interest environment over the past few years. Hence we are seeing REIT as attractive investment options in Singapore. 

Knowing that, will we shift our monthly contribution from Syfe global equity to Syfe REIT+?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure.

I do manage my own portfolio of REITs at this point, and can definitely use more global diversification, hence I started a RSP into Syfe’s global equity portfolio. 

While the new Syfe REIT+ provides a really attractive alternative for me to continue my exposure to Singapore’s REIT market, I guess for now it makes more sense to continue my RSP into the global equity portfolio as I have a relatively high exposure to Singapore equities and REITs. 

Here’s a look at my current portfolio composition:

Pension Fund36.03%
Global Equities13.85%
SG Equities & REITS27.03%

However, if you are looking to get really high quality Singapore REITs at a low cost, you should definitely check out Syfe REIT+. If I don’t already own some of the REITs in the Syfe REIT+ portfolio, I would definitely start a RSP into the new Syfe REIT+ portfolio.

If you do sign up for Syfe, do use my Syfe Referral Code: SRP6X8B8Y and you will receive S$50 when you invest with Syfe.

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The Dangerous When-Then Trap That We Never Knew We Might Be Caught In

Recently Mr Budget came across an article and some pointers which is worth sharing – there is this trap called the When – Then Trap, which most of us are prone to fall into.

Basically, most of us might think that when we achieve something, only then will we do what we always wanted to do.

For example in our lives, some classic examples of the when-then trap:

  • When I hit S$1,000,000, then I will be happy. 
  • When I get this new job, then I will spend more time with my family.
  • When I hit 80kg, then I will start eating more healthy and cut down on my weight.
  • When I get my bonus this year, then I will start investing.
  • When my kids grow up, then I will spend more time with my wife.
  • When I get a promotion, then I will sleep more.
  • When I get a new kindle, then I will start reading more books.
  • When I get a gym membership, then I will start exercising more.

For the first case, most of then time, when we hit S$1,000,000, we will aim for S$2,000,000, then S$3,000,000 and so on. And at the end, we will end up not pursuing happiness. 

Also more often then not, what we think we will achieve when we do something, we almost always never deliver on the “thens”. 

When we hit S$1,000,000, will we truly be happy?
When we get the promotion, will we really sleep more?
When we get a gym membership, will we really exercise more? 

As we head into the new year, let’s be mindful that we set out to achieve the things we set to do in the new year, after all, we did promise ourselves that when the new year come, then we will change things and make things better, didnt we? 🙂

So it’s a good time to remind yourself (and your loved ones) to not fall into the When – Then Trap. 

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