The Mission Statement

The mission statement

I first know about mission statements from J.D. Roth’s post on the Financial Independence Reddit.  For some reason, it resonates with me.  So much so that I sent screenshots to my friends the moment I chanced upon it.

Multiple attempts later I realised it is no simple task finding out one’s mission statement. I referenced many mission statements and wrote down many versions but none felt right. It was either too forceful or too blunt. Too narrow or too vague.

I ended up following J.D. Roth’s post and finally got a full mission statement. It wasn’t easy either. I cleared all distractions and wrote the mission statement in the void deck. I think I spent around 2 hours just to get my mission statement right. Even had to touch it up a little after that.

Here’s what I came up with:

My mission statement:

Carefree living, constant learning, periodical traveling, always doing things I enjoy with the people I care about.

Breakdown

Carefree living

Financially stable, no worries about health, family, and friends. Able to do anything I want without worries.

Constant learning

Learning everything I am interested in. This includes going back to school or working in industries I have never worked before.

Periodic travelling

Travel for longer periods (preferably > 1 month) every few months to different locations to soak in the culture.

Always doing things I enjoy with the people I care about.

Life is too short to be doing something I do not enjoy. So either learn to enjoy whatever I do or change what I am doing. Also, I care too much about what people I *don’t* care about think. It is time for me to put my priorities straight and only worry about people I *do* care about.

Verdict

Write your own mission statement.  It will help you understand what means more to you.

A brief history

I have not been posting consistently.  And I think I know why now. 

First, a brief history.

2009

I was earning around 22k gross.  I was unhappy with both my skill set and my foreseeable future.  After intense consideration, I started searching around for a graduate program that suits me.  I eventually found one but the tuition is way more than what my family and I could afford.

Just then!

A friend of mine introduced me to Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).  It was said to be the 5th University in Singapore and all the tuition fees are government subsidised.  I went to do some research and got enrolled in DigiPen Institute of Technology.

I can never forget the day I got into DigiPen.  Squealed the loudest I ever did in the middle of the night waking up my whole family at the same time.  And I **never** squeal.  Well, besides years later after I developed the fear for lizards (I am working on that as I am typing this).

2010

I started DigiPen life.  It was awesome but tedious.  Fun but scary.  Fulfilling but tiring.  I stopped my side hustles 2 semesters in to focus on studying.  I postponed my graduation for a year to get my math minor.  Something that I still wonder (sometimes) if it was worth it.  It was an extra 2,000 SGD and 3 extra modules of my time.  At least I got to experience something new.  And I was already working by then so I guess it wasn’t so bad (?).

2011 – 2013

*DigiPen is a time vortex*

2014

I graduated and got myself a full-time job in a statutory board organisation earning approximately 38k.  I started spending like a typical fresh graduate.  The daily morning breakfast at Mr Bean and tea break at Starbucks became the norm.  Lunch expenses are typically around 10 SGD.  Essentially, with the extra income I have, I started spending more on gadgets and increased my standard of living.  I also got introduced to credit cards and began spending more to hit the minimum to be eligible for cash backs.

I needed to balance things out.

I started looking for side hustles to earn some extra income.  I found many things including surveys, credit card churning and many more.  I thought it would be a good idea to document these ideas down which is how this blog came to existence.  I even joined a writing competition with one of my posts and won. XD.

Then it happened.

During a chat with my childhood friend, I got introduced to stocks and with her help started a trading account with Standard Chartered.  After some random chat with my colleagues to know more about trading I got to know about ETFs and got linked to Shiny Things’ HardwareZone (HWZ) *Official* Shiny Things club – Part 2.

One thing led to another and I find myself on blogs like Mr Money Mustache and Early Retirement Extreme.

2015

Switched jobs, now earning 42k.  I started purchasing some ES3 and A35.  I set aside around 50% of my take-home pay for the rest of 2015.

2016

Switching jobs had me join the hamster wheel.  Busy at work, purchase something to cheer me-self up.  Repeat.

2016 is a year I did not save at all.

2017

The company I am in is having some financial difficulties and couldn’t give us our salary on time.  This is where I noticed I couldn’t make ends meet!  Why do I not have enough money to pay for my credit card bills?!  I am just lucky I at least save a little in 2015.

Tighten my budget and started re-aiming for early retirement.  I also started to buy IWDA.

2018

Currently setting aside around 75% of my take-home pay. — My take-home pay excludes CPF and the amount I give my mother.  Saving money is no longer an issue for me.  Currently, my personal well-being is my priority and I have been striving to be happier and healthier.

Anyways, as can see many things have changed in the past 3 years.  The blog in search of money is no longer a priority to me.  My priorities now are just setting aside enough, be healthy and happy.

Thus, I have decided to forego my unexplainable need to care what the domain name of this blog is and just update post whatever I want.  Anything related to my journey, be it financially related or not.

Bonus

My net worth chart.  As can see, no savings in 2016, not much income in 2017 and consistent in 2018! 😀

*Note: Image taken from YNAB.  Thinking back, I can credit (or is it de-credit) YNAB for my overspending in 2016.  I guess I just assumed using a budget tracker will miraculously make me save more…

High-interest rates bank account without income in Singapore?

As mentioned in my brief update post, I was tasked to help with my mother’s retirement planning.  Before I dig dipper into anything I thought it would be an intelligent choice to “park” the extra cash she has on hand first.  After some digging, I found a few choices that are good without the need to earn an income.  As many of us know, bank accounts typically provide high-interest rates only if you:

  1. spend via their credit cards, or
  2. deposit your income with them

Since my mother is semi-retired she would not be able to satisfy either condition.  Hence the research.  Now, the research findings.

Citibank Maxigain

maxigain interest

I think this is of no surprise for anyone who is looking into high-interest rates accounts.  Maxigain has been gaining popularity since it’s launch.  The idea is you can get up to 80% of the 1-month SIBOR rate + 1.2% bonus interest.  Which as of Aug 2018 is 1.208% (80% of 1.51%) + 1.2% = 2.408%.  This is really attractive since the money is theoretically liquid and easily accessible without any risks involved.

But as always, there is a catch.  For this case, a few catches

Step up bonus interest scheme

maxigain step up bonus interest

The 1.2% is a step up bonus.  We can get up to 1.2%, but the rate starts at 0.0% and slowly steps up another 0.1% every month.  This essentially means we only get the maximum interest rates 13 months after account opening.  To “play cheat” a little, we can start the account near the end of the month to get the 0.1% in a few days.  Lol.

Lower balance penalty

The bonus interest counter (12, for each 0.1%) resets if our lowest balance in the current month is lower than the lowest balance in the preceding month.  Let’s give an illustration to understand this further.

Month Balance Counter Bonus Interest
Jan $100,000 0 0.0%
Feb $100,100 1 0.1%
Mar $100,200 2 0.2%
Apr $90,000 0 0.0%
May $100,000 1 0.1%

As can be seen from the table above, the bonus interest counter in April is reset to 0 since there is a lower balance in April.  Hope this helps clarify the restriction.

maxigain counter reset

Note that if the counter is above 6 it will be reset to 6 instead of 0.  The above image is taken from Citibank’s website.

Balance restriction

There is both a minimum and maximum balance restriction to Maxigain.  Well, the maximum is not a restriction on balance, rather a cap on the interest earned.  The base interest rate (80% of SIBOR rate) will reduce to 0.05% for any balance above $150,000.

maxigain balance restrictions

The minimum is a sneaky one.  According to Citibank, “You need to maintain a daily end of day balance of at least S$10,000 in your Maxigain account to earn base interest”.  They, however, fail to mention the Total Relationship Balance (TRB).

maxigain is sneaky

I extracted the above image from a PDF banking fee document from Citibank.  For some reason I Google can’t find anything about the TRB on the Citibank website which makes this so much more sneaky!  Or maybe I am just a bad Googler.  Even if the information is available, I can only find the repercussions, so to speak, of the TRB on a separate page!  Shouldn’t this information be available at one glance?

maxigain is sneaky #2

If anyone is interested, the pages are 2 and 4 for the respective images.

ICBC Fixed Deposit

Yes, I know I know, not a high-interest rate bank account!  It’s a fixed deposit!  But this works so well with Maxigain!

ICBC is offering a whopping 1.85% for a 12 months tenure!  This is one of the, if not the best you can get for 12 months without risk.  Even Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB) is only offering 1.75% for the first year.  And let’s be honest, there are more hoops for SSB unfortunately.

icbc fix deposit

The catch, yes there is ALWAYS a catch with these banks! Is:

Only for e-banking

Though if you are reading this I think e-banking is not an issue at all. 😉

Money locked in

Yes, the money will be locked in for however long the tenure is, but if used in conjunction with Maxigain I think it is not a bad deal at all.  You get 1.85% for the coming year and you just transfer whatever that is in this account to Maxigain after the tenure ends.

Minimum balance

At $20,000 the minimum balance is pretty high for us average joes (or janes).

CIMB FastSaver

This is the simplest account in the list.  It is relatively high in interest rates (1%) and there are no hoops to jump through.  Unless you count the minimum deposit of $1,000.

Wait, where is the catch?!

“High-interest rates”???

If you compare to other accounts in the list this bank account is nothing much.  But it is still something!

Maximum balance cap

Similar to that of Maxigain, CIMB FastSaver also have their interest capped.  Anything above $50,000 will have their interest reduce to 0.6%.

cimb interest cap

Conclusion

So, conclusion, start a Maxigain at/near the end of the month and chuck $15,000.  Place however much you are comfortable being locked up (minimum $20,000) in ICBC Fixed Deposit and the remaining in CIMB FastSaver.

And as always, do your own research!!

The money code.

*Note: I wrote this post back in 2015 (and reposted in 2017) as a guide for fresh graduates to have a simple guideline on how to handle money.  Some things have changed so what you will see below in bold are my updated views of “The Money Code”.

Stay debt free

This is the #1 rule. ALWAYS stay debt-free. Credit card debts have over 20% interest rates. You don’t want that accumulating!  I have since had more understanding about debts and realised low-interest debts can actually be used as leverage so long as we understand the consequences. So the key would be: Stay away from high-interests debts and understand the risks involved before taking on low-interest debts.

Pay bills on time (or ahead of time if possible)

This goes hand in hand with staying high-interest debt-free. Also, to avoid accidental late payments, it is good practice to pay ahead of time.  This is always true regardless of high or low interest.  Additional admin fees are best avoided.

Keep an emergency fund

Keep 3 to 8 6 months of monthly expenditure (this includes insurance, family contribution and day-to-day expenses). Emergency funds are great protection against any financial stress. It helps fight against emergencies, job losses and over expenditure.

Refrain from unnecessary expenditure(s)

As a rule of thumb, always ask “Is this necessary?” before any purchase.  I usually add an item into my online shopping cart and think it through for around a month before making the purchase.

Calculate the odds before getting the lottery

Basically, treat lottery as a form of entertainment. It is never a form of investment.

Reduce routine expenditures

You know what I am saying. Yes! The Mr Bean / Ya Kun during breakfast as well as the Starbucks during lunch or tea time!  The key is to not develop bad spending habits.

Wake up early

No, I am not saying this to be health conscious or for self-help. I am saying this to remind you to avoid taking the taxi and to let you have ample time to prepare your own food or snacks.  I now make a cup of keto coffee every morning before I head to work and I love it.

Moderate entertainment cost

Instead of a movie night in a theatre, suggest movie night at someone’s place instead. It is a lot of fun and you get to talk and be as loud as you want. Pick up cheaper or free hobbies. Also, go for the cheaper alternative. Instead of buying books, borrow or get the e-book instead. E-books are usually much cheaper. And many of them are free!  I now cook for my friends and I enjoy it. 🙂

Avoid instalments

If you cannot afford it, you should not get it. Well, unless there is a special promotion for instalment payment. Make sure you have enough money to pay it all!

Dodge subscriptions

Subscriptions are just as bad, if not worst than instalments. Many people do not fully utilise the subscription and money just goes to waste!  I am actually worried about the future, especially for software, since many companies are embracing the subscription model.

P.S. As can see from the image above, the title of this post is actually inspired by The Bro Code from How I Met Your Mother, and not the other books titled The Money Code.  Just thought I should clarify some stuff.  Also, big fan of HIMYM.  Not the ending, but still love it.

P.P.S. I just realised I have posted this back in 2017 and I noted that I love HIMYM back then, too!

Brief update.

I am physically in Johor Bahru as I type this post. Here for a short (around 24 hour) get away with the girlfriend. It’s 5:41 am. Rose early and thought I should just type a brief update since Google AdSense reminded me I have a website that I have been neglecting (oops).

Job

Work’s fine. Managed to get an increment near the beginning of this year, and as usual looking forward to the next increment. Occasionally feeling burnt out, but I attribute it to the fact that I have not been “getting away” (hence the JB trip) as well as the inefficient work that I have to deal with recently. I still enjoy my job, just need to find a balance and not feel burnt out I guess.

Family

Recently went through my mother’s finance and found out she is in an optimal position for retirement. Even more so since both my other sibling and I will be providing her with part of her “income” so to speak. I would need to do more calculations, but for now, I am just searching for places to “park” some of her on hand cash from the (not so recent) CPF withdrawal.

Life

Life’s been awesome. Boring, but awesome. Been cooking a lot more. Especially for my (very picky) girlfriend, who has been making my cooking-life super hard. But nonetheless enjoying all the cooking I have been doing. Recently (less than a week) started trying a low carb diet and have been enjoying it. It is surprisingly easy to find food that I can eat. Though I would have to make some sacrifices. Example saying goodbye to my beloved latte. The keto coffee makes up for it though.

Investment

I have “bought into” both Great Eastern’s GE205 and GE270, which I had to move a portion of my emergency funds into (word of caution, not a good thing to do). I have been building up my emergency funds since, for the past few months whilst investing enough to cover not spend too much on the account maintenance fees from Interactive Brokers (IB).

Bought some EIMI recently after the slight dip (not quite low enough when I bought it, but we can’t really time the market, so just close our eyes and DCA in).

Been trying to find out what ratio of Singapore stocks to international stocks I should be holding. The “traditional” Shiny Things’ (Joshua Giersch) method is to maintain a 50:50 ratio between ES3 and IWDA. However, I recently found out about another HardwareZone (HWZ) forum-er, BBCWatcher has a slightly different approach which made sense to me. According to him, we should hold no more than 20% of Singapore stocks during our wealth accumulation period and slowly draw down our international stocks as we age / near retirement. Of course, that is if we intend to retire in Singapore. I am actually lost in what to do at the moment so before I can decide I will set a ratio in between that of Shiny Things (50:50) and BBCWatchers (20:80). I’d likely go with 35:65 for the moment and see how things go.

*Note: I advocate on finding out about your own finances yourself. Do not blindly listen to any single person.

I guess that would be it for the updates. Will attempt to stop neglecting this site. But I make no promises. =X

Live long and prosper everyone!