Singapore-based financial blog that aims to educate people on personal finance, investments, retirement and their Central Provident Fund (CPF) matters.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

#ICYMI: Crytocurrency movements/trends observation and explanation

Just a few days into the New Year of 2018, I think it would be apt to review the movements in the cryptocurrency market in 2017. After all, the buzzword for 2017 was "Cryptocurency". A self-proclaimed "early adopter" of cryptocurrency where I started mining for Bitcoin before it became cool, cryptocurrency has reached new hypes where more people are entering and identifying themselves as "experts and fanatics" of cryptocurrencies or Blockchain technology. Effectively, all "moms and pops" are now entering the market in search of easy riches (note this sentence).

There have been several major movements in the cryptocurrency markets in 2017. Bitcoin shot through the roof where it reached a price tag of USD$20,000, giving an amazing return for its believers. There was also a major correction to nearly USD$10,000 where people are speculating whether the bubble for cryptocurrencies has burst. Just a few days ago, Ripple (XRP) has increased by more than 1000% in the past month. It has also replaced Ethereum as the second most valuable cryptocurrency based on market capitalisation, after Bitcoin. While Bitcoin became an obscurity, Ripple news are now all over the internet.

However, similar to all asset bubbles that are identified in history (retrospectively), a common symptom was the overvaluation and excessive confidence in the asset that made investors believe that the asset prices will only keep increasing. Referring to the previous statement where everyone was jumping onto the cryptocurrency bandwagon, is this scene replaying itself in another form or cryptocurrencies are inherently worth the price tags?

I believe this question is a huge one for anyone that wants to determine whether to invest in cryptocurrencies. As any investor, one needs to determine the real value of any assets based on assumptions, be it future cashflows or underlying asset valuations. One problem of cryptocurrencies is that they do not have these components to be valued. I do agree with Mr Damodaran's classification of cryptocurrencies as currencies instead of assets (duh, hence the name) (you can read more here: Then how else can we value cryptocurrencies or even attempt to value them?

One convenient way could be modelling fiat currencies with cryptocurrencies, assuming that they are going to convey the similar valuation concepts with identical functionalities. With all forms of fiat currencies, a big component of valuation is trust and number of users adopting the currency. Just referencing to the US dollar (basically because the greenback is the most widely adopted currency), we can see these 2 components being incorporated. Negative news of the country's economic performance or countries abandoning its USD-based reserves trigger devaluation of the currency. Even identifying all components, it is extremely difficult to identify a single valuation for fiat currencies. More commonly so, price tags are all based off market demand and supply pressures from investor expectations as a reflection of the major market movements. Cryptocurrencies also seem to react on these factors where Ripple has been surging as Coinbase, a major cryptocurrency exchange, is considering adding it to its platform, opening access to a wider audience. This essentially increases the number of users adopting Ripple.

Offering my "2-cents" opinions, I do believe the cryptocurrency market is moving towards overvaluation as we have yet to see the implementation of its proclaimed functionalities and remove key cost barriers that are present in traditional banking systems. Even so, there are examples of inefficiencies and problems arising from its volatile prices. One of such is Steam, a gaming platform behemoth, removing Bitcoin as one of its payment methods citing reasons of high transaction costs.

The symptoms where people are turning to cryptocurrencies as a quick way to riches are also worrying. Loads of institutional and retail investments are been thrown into "alt-coins" and Initial Coin Offerings are now the norm. Without regulations, such incidents are likely to increase risks, adding instability to the market.

While this post is not to demerit the advantages of blockchain technology and the promises of cryptocurrency, I believe the media hype and market speculation is likely to derail the market where the community is looking at it for pure profits rather to improve it to benefit the society. Only time will tell whether this is to be true or not..

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

What type of mortgages are people getting?

08:23 Posted by cheez 2 comments

2017 has been a rather bullish year for Singapore’s residential property market, with a healthy number of transactions over the past few months. As the number of transactions increases so does the number of mortgages. As such, if you wonder what kind of mortgages are people securing in this bullish market, here is the article for you.

Mortgage preferences
Singaporean mortgagees generally tend to depict a conservative approach in the mortgages chosen, loving the word ‘fixed’. In the first half of 2017, fixed deposit mortgages constitute of 74.5% of all mortgage types obtained; a huge market share. This followed way behind by fixed mortgages that represent 19.5% of the total mortgages. Board and SIBOR/SOR rates are significantly less, representing at 3.2% and 2.8% respectively.

Number of properties owned
First-time buyers or homeowners represent a majority share of the mortgagees at 63.7%. The existence of the Additional Buyers Stamp Duty (ABSD) is seemingly effective, as those owning 2 properties followed behind at 30.8%, while collectively those with 2 or more make up merely 5.5% of mortgages.

Age Dynamics
Contrary to the previous statistics, the market shares for the age profiles of mortgage applicants represent a close fight, with 32.7% making up of those aged 41 to 50 years old, 31.9% constituting of those 31 to 40 years old, and 27.2% making up of the older generation aged 51 years old and above.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that majority of those aged 31 to 50 years old are home upgraders. This may be partly due to the fact that first-time homebuyers generally turn to HDB loans, however, with stronger financial standings along the way, HDB upgrader turn to bank loans which offer attractive interest rates.

Gender Dynamics
Gender-wise, a majority are men with 56.8%, while women make up the remaining 43.2%. Several reasons can be attributed to this numbers, be it the fact that men are generally the sole breadwinner or the fact women tend to be conservative investors as compared to men. Nevertheless, we can expect this gap to further narrow in the foreseeable future as more women make property investments as a result of their growing significance in purchasing power.

Reasons for Mortgages
Our findings depict that there are more people seeking to refinance their loans as they seek to capitalize on more attractive packages, as indicated by the fact that 60.9% of mortgages are for refinancing purposes, an increase from 58% on a year-on-year basis.

Property types
Most of the properties mortgaged this year make up of condominiums, constituting 71.1% of all mortgages. This is significantly higher than HDB of 23.2% and landed properties of 6.6%. The reason being is the fact that generally HDB flat homebuyers tend to seek HDB loans. Simultaneously, the private residential market has been heating up as well.

Banks of Choice
Standard Chartered Bank, making up 28% of the mortgages, was the most favored bank in the first half of this year due to their appealing promotional rates. Nevertheless, OCBC is second favorites while Bank of China, DBS, UOB, and Maybank are close market competitors as well. You can check out a detailed list of mortgage interest rates.

In conclusion, should you require any advice on mortgages, it is best to contact an established mortgage advisory company such as Redbrick for assistance. On that note, you can also check Redbrick’s blog for any further useful tips and insights.

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Thursday, 5 October 2017

Save Money in Singapore Savings Bonds or CPF?

16:46 Posted by cheez , No comments

The Singapore Savings Bond (SSB)
It is a special Singapore Government bond, issued by the Singapore Government and sold to the public as a form of savings.
Introduced as another form of investment and savings plan for people living in Singapore

The Singapore Central Provident Fund (CPF)
It is a compulsory savings plan for all Singaporeans and PR living and working in Singapore.
A portion of an individual's monthly income is channelled into their respective CPF accounts for different purpose; for buying a house, for retirement and for medical expenses,

Differences between CPF & SSB
Differences CPF SSB
Withdrawal No
Each year, you can only contribute to your CPF at max $37,740 - inclusive of both your compulsory contribution and your voluntary contribution.
You will get back the money next month
Investment Limit
Each year, you can only contribute to your CPF at max $37,740 - inclusive of both your compulsory contribution and your voluntary contribution.
You can buy at max $50,000 worth of bonds each month.
Holding Limit No
You can save as much money as you like in your CPF.
You can at max own $100,000 worth of bonds in total
Interest Rates Up to 3.5% on your Ordinary Account
Up to 5% on your Special, Medisave & Retirement Accounts (SMRA)
Up to 6% on your SMRA if you are above 55 years old
Interest rates are fixed
Less than 1% in your first year
Increases every year
Reaches 3+% in the 10th year
Interest rates depend on market conditions.
Interest Compounding Non-Compounding
ReturnsBeats Inflation
With inflation on average of about 3% per year compounding, CPF's SMRA account provides higher interest rates than inflation, meaning you do not lose your purchasing power over time
Probably will not beat Inflation
With an interest of 2+% per year over the long-term, it is less likely for SSB to beat inflation rates.
You are likely to maintain purchasing power or lose a little to inflation
PurposeSave for long-term
Save for Retirement
Save for medical expenses
Save for home payments
Save for short-term
Save for an expense that will occur in a few months or years time, like wedding, or home down payment

Recommended Post: Yes! CPF takes 20% of your salary, BUT...

Similarities between CPF & SSB
Similarities CPF SSB
Guaranteed Principal By the Singapore Government,
one of the remaining few AAA-rated countries.
Confirm can repay you back the money you put/save with them
Guaranteed Interest  By the Singapore Government,
one of the remaining few AAA-rated countries.
Confirm can repay you back the interest you have earned
Ownership It is your money, whether in CPF or in the Bonds,
the money is still yours
Risk Level Low Risk, or No Risk
By the Singapore Government,
one of the remaining few AAA-rated countries.
Confirm can repay you back the money you put/save/earn with them

If you want to save for the long-term, go with CPF. It pays a higher interest over the long-term and ensures that your itching hands will not be able to squander it away.
But if you are just looking for a place to save before spending it (say on your home down payment), then save with SSB, it is less risker and provides a good enough interest to ensure you do not lose too much to inflation!

Recommended Post: How CPF Provide 5 Insurance to You

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Monday, 11 September 2017

SGX Bull Charge Charity Run 2017

19:53 Posted by cheez 1 comment
Join us at this year's annual SGX Bull Charge 2017.
It is an annual Charity Run hosted by SGX to rally the financial community as well 
as the SGX listed companies to come together and contribute back to the society
Contributions from these organisations enable beneficiaries like the Community Chest, 
Autism Association Singapore (AAS) and many others to deliver better care and assistance to those in need. 
There will also be movie screening, popcorn, food truck, live perforamnces and more!

Date of SGX Bull Charge:
Friday, 17 November 2017
4.00pm to 9.30pm
F1 Pit

This year, InvestmentStab is privileged to be able to participate in such a meaningful event. 
To show our appreciation to our readers, we are offering 10 of our readers complimentary tickets to the event!
Simply email us your full name and email by this Wednesday 23:59.
You can Facebook message us at InvestmentStab
Instagram message us at InvestmentStab
Or even email us at
Tickets are on a first come first serve basis.

For more information on the event, you can refer to the official website:
If you would like to donate to the cause without participating in the run, you may do so too via the link above.
We hope to see you there are the SGX Bull Charge Charity Run 2017.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

How CPF Saves You 5 Insurance Plans

11:39 Posted by cheez , No comments
Have you ever thought about CPF as more than just a scheme to lock Singaporeans' money?
There could be a lot more to it if you dig deeper - like really deeper.
There is a reason why most financial advisors actually advise you to keep your money with CPF.
Not because CPF pays them, but because CPF as a scheme is quite good - except the part where you cannot withdraw money as and when you like.
Instead of looking at the CPF Retirement Sum as a target where you can withdraw money after a certain age, look at it as a Savings + Medical + Life + Home + Annuity insurance plan.

Savings Insurance
It helps you save up money for housing, medical, kids' education, and retirement.
The "forced to contribute" part ensures that you really save your money every month.
The "cannot withdraw" part ensures that you do not anyhow withdraw this money to spend it.

Recommended Post: Save with CPF or Save with Fixed Deposits?

Medical Insurance
We have got Medishield Life, Eldershield, and other medical insurance schemes that are paid by the Medisave Account.
Medishield Life covers you regardless of your age or pre-existing conditions.
Most private insurance will not cover your pre-existing conditions - if you have asthma since young, chances are you are not going to be insured for it under your private health insurance plan.
However, it will be covered under the Medishield Life.

Life Insurance
In the event that you passed away, all your CPF money will be passed to your dependents. 
If you had bought the Dependents' Protection Scheme (DPS) for yourself, in the event of you passing away or becoming mentally or physically unable to work anymore, you will receive an insurance payout of $46,000.

Home Insurance
There is also a Home Protection Scheme (HPS), a housing insurance that will pay your mortgage in the event that any mishap falls on you and result in you no longer able to pay your mortgage.
If you are paying your HDB loan using your CPF savings, it is mandatory for you to purchase the HPS.
However, the monthly premiums are paid through your CPF - you save cash.

Annuity Insurance
An annuity is an insurance that you pay premiums to an insurance company every month, and in return, when you reached a certain age (usually retirement age), the insurance company will pay you a fixed monthly payout for as long as you live.
However, if you die early/young, the payouts will stop, which is not worthwhile if you paid 20 years of premium and took only 10 years of payouts.

When you reach 55, CPF automatically enrols you for CPF LIFE, which is an annuity plan that pays you a fixed monthly payout when you reached the retirement age (65).

However, it is better than just an annuity plan. In the event that you passed away before fully utilising the funds in your CPF LIFE, the unused money (the whole sum) will be passed to your dependents just like a Life Insurance. This feature is usually unavailable for most annuity insurances.

Recommended Post: Yes! CPF takes 20% of your salary, BUT...

And that is the 5 insurances CPF provides you with.
Are there any more that you can think of?
Share with us!
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Friday, 18 August 2017

Save with CPF or Save with Fixed Deposits?

17:23 Posted by cheez , 3 comments
This post will contain a tip on how to increase your CPF returns, namely in the form of interest.
One way to earn more interest from CPF is to transfer your extra money, into your CPF Special Account.

The choice between CPF or Fixed Deposits is determined by how much flexibility you want.

The less flexible the option, the higher the interest.
Your Ordinary Account (OA) currently earns 2.5%, Special Account (SA) and Medisave Account (MA) earns 4% interest while your normal bank Fixed Deposit (FD) earns less than 2% annually.

Recommended Post: Yes! CPF takes 20% of your salary, BUT...

If you want to be able to touch the money (to spend or to do other things), putting it in a Fixed Deposit ensures that you will be able to use the money when the situation arises. 
Of course, this would mean you will be getting a lower interest.

But if you are confident that you do not want/need to touch the money and would like it to grow faster, depositing it into your CPF account makes sense and cents (many cents).
In addition, you will get tax relief if you top it up into your SA or Retirement Account (RA), which reduces the amount of tax you pay, double win!
The interest on your SA is double that of your FD. This works even better as you get older and approaches 55 because you are closer to the age you can withdraw money in your CPF accounts.

Real Life Example:
My mum is 48 this year. She wanted to buy a 10-year Fixed Deposit which gives less than 3% per year. I suggested that she put her money into her CPF to earn the CPF interest.

Based on her current age, she can put $7,000 into her SA and earn a 4% interest. She will be able to withdraw $5,000 when she reaches 55 years old in 7 years, or any amount in excess of her Full Retirement Sum (FRS).

Of course, if my mum fails to meet her FRS, the money that goes into her CPF will not be returned to her at the "end of the maturity" - instead, she will get it as future monthly payouts via CPF LIFE.
But there will be other factors to consider and there will be ways to withdraw the money out, which will be explained in future posts.
Recommended Post: If Li Ka Shing was 20+ years old now, he would....

All in all, if you wish to have a higher interest rate than Fixed Deposit and risk-free, you can consider putting your money into your CPF, especially if you are near 55 years old - where the risk-return profile is more skewed in your favour.

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Thursday, 6 July 2017

So many styles but which style?!

As times change, the markets change together with it as well. This is due to the forces that shape human behavior have changed and influences how people interact in the markets. From fundamental analysis to technical analysis, to leveraged trading such as contra trading, to computerised trading such as quant trading. With so many trading strategies and techniques in play, the question now is: Which is the one that is most profitable?

While most people are pre-occupied with just profits, it is far more important to know which trading style is suitable for your personality and risk tolerance. If you are comfortable using a strategy and are disciplined enough to stick to it, trading success will also follow.

Hence, the first step is to find your winning strategy. Getting to know all the various strategies, their advantages and risks. It is important to obtain and read as much resources as possible to widen the possible trading or investing tools that you can use to enhance your trading style. It can be through books, online resources, seminars or even through back-testing of your own formulated strategy. It could also be the case where not just 1 strategy is suitable, but rather a hybrid of 2 or more. Personally, I use fundamental analysis to identify potential investment options with viable target prices while using technical analysis to better time my entry and exit points.

Exclusively for our readers, we are glad to broadcast that ShareInvestors will be having a seminar by Ronald K, who is a self-made millionaire in the Stock Market. He will be introducing the Contra Squeezing strategies and trading using tick charts. Tick charts are just another way of presenting trading prices in charts, similar to line and candle charts. This is up to the preference of the traders using it as different charting styles present and focus on data differently. Ronald will also be introducing a risk management plan that is specifically for the Contra Trades.

If you wish to register or know more information, you can visit the link here:

Remember: Wealth is not about the money, it is about the options that it gives. Having more options to earn money will then generate more wealth.