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Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Noosa – Day 2 & 3

Day 2 and Day 3 in Australia

Read more on day 1 and planning tips for my Australia trip here.

Day 2
For day 2, it was whale watching in the morning and sea world in the afternoon. We cooked some simple breakfast before going to the ferry terminal for the whale watching cruise at 9am. 

Out to the sea

Spotted some whales from afar

The whale sprouting water
We did see the whales after some 4 hours out in the ocean. Not a very good experience as most people were sea sick including me even though we took the sea sick pills before the cruise. The cruise was with the spirit of Gold coast whale watching. Their staff were friendly and often asked us if we’re feeling ok. 
I took a video and indeed there’s probably 2 whales which we can see from afar:
After the cruise ended, it was already about 2pm. We were hungry so we went to a popular place called Peter’s fish market for lunch. The fish here is really fresh although portion is quite small. 
By the time we finish lunch, it was already about 3pm so we quickly went to sea world which will close at 5pm. It was quite rush as the whale watching cruise ended too late. It was suppose to finish around 1230pm but dragged to 2pm because we were out at sea searching for the whales for quite long. I guess it really depends on luck for this kind of cruise. 
Sea world was quite interesting. We didn’t have time for any of the rides so its just looking at the animals. They have dolphins, stingrays, polar bears, sharks, penguins, seals etc. 

Baby penguins

Seals

The brown one is actually a baby penguin just born. Looks so big

Sea world closes at 5pm so its another early night. Most attractions and shops there closes early so there’s nothing much to do in the evening. Its good actually as we can have more rest throughout the trip. 
Dinner was cooked in the apartment again. This time, we had spaghetti with a whole chicken bought from the supermarket
Some tips on the whale watching cruise and the theme park tickets

Before the trip, I already pre-purchased the tickets for the attractions. Whale watching cruise is quite expensive in Gold coast costing $99 per person. I bought it at $44 per person through Groupon Australia. For sea world, I bought a 3 park pass from https://www.experienceoz.com.au/en/. This site has many discounted tickets for attractions in Australia and New Zealand. Do check it out if you’re going to any of these countries. 
Day 3

Continuing on day 3, we went to harbour town and movie world plus the beachfront night market in the evening. The beachfront night market is only open on Wednesdays and Weekends from 4pm to 9pm. 
Harbour town is a popular outlet shopping area with many discounts on big brands such as Adidas, Nike and many more. Its very big, similar to the Johor premium outlet place in Malaysia. 
For lunch, we went to this Japanese Ramen shop which sells delicious Ramen. I personally think its better than most Ramen shops in Singapore. Its called Kabachi-Ya and its located very near to harbourtown. The price is reasonable too at just about $10 nett per bowl. I realised all Australia restaurants do not charge GST or service charge so that makes a big difference. 

After lunch, its time for movie world. Actually most of the theme parks are probably more for kids and not very big. You probably can finish in half a day. Movie world is quite small as well. I think we were done in about 2 hours plus. 
Batman came to the rescue
Spotted batman in Movie World

Scooby doo ride. One of the shows I always watch when I was young

Hollywood stunt driver show

Wild wild west town

The superman ride. Unfortunately it was close that day

Movie world has many familiar characters we know such as superman, batman, looney toons etc. Its all under the Warner Brothers brand. I took the scooby doo ride which is a indoor roller coaster. It was quite scary as its all in the dark and we plunge down without any warning. I also took the road runner 4D ride which wasn’t really exciting. Last year when I went to HK disneyland, there was a similiar Disney 4D ride and it was much better than this. 
We were planning to go to the beachfront night markets in the evening but it was too cold to walk. We were there about 8pm. The temperature was probably below 15 degrees and the wind was so strong as its right beside the ocean. In the end, we just bought some Kebabs from the popular Shiraz Moderna. You should give it a try if you’re there. Its quite tasty.
That’s the end of Day 3
Next up is the trip up to Brisbane, glasshouse mountains and the farm stay experience

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Your House Is Not Really Your Asset – How a HDB flat might depreciate over time?

Recently, a particular news shocked many people in Singapore. For the first time, the government has confirmed to take back 191 plots of land in Geylang Lorong 3 when their 60-year lease expires in 2020. For a long while, many people do not believe their housing price will go to zero when the lease expires. This is a confirmation of what is to happen in decades to come for the other housing estates which will have their leases expire in the future.

SLA has said no compensation will be given and no extensions are allowed. Unlike land acquisition by the Government, where compensation is given for the remaining lease, Geylang Lorong 3 residents will not get any since the lease will have run out in 2020, said the Law Ministry’s deputy secretary Han Kok Juan.

Your House Is Not Your Asset In Singapore

This is quite scary for many Singaporeans who thought their house is their asset and they can cash out of it when they are old. This can only happen if your house still has a long lease left. To put the matter into perspective, let’s see what happens to the value of your house as the lease gets lesser and lesser.

Adapted from The Straits times
Click to enlarge

The Straits times has a very good chart to show the value of a HDB flat depreciating as the lease expires. There are a few critical points before the value of the flat goes to zero. If your HDB flat or any leasehold property has 45 years or less lease currently or reaching the 45 years mark, its time to take note of what is going to happen should you still decide to hold it.

1. No Bank loans with less than 35 years lease left

Banks do not lend out for properties with less than 35 years lease left. This means if your property is less than 35 years lease now, a person who buys your property cannot loan from the bank. This is a very big restriction for any buyers of your property and if they do not have cash to pay for your property, they can’t buy it as well. This makes it very difficult for you to sell your property to potential buyers. As such, at the 35 years lease mark, the value of the property greatly depreciates.

2. With less than 30 years lease left

At the 30 years lease mark, the property value greatly depreciates again. This is due to the fact that CPF cannot be used for any downpayment and mortgage servicing. On the other hand, HDB loan is still available if remaining lease covers the buyer up to age 80.

3. With less than 20 years lease left

With less than 20 years lease left, both bank loans and HDB loans are not available. It is almost impossible to sell your property at a high price now as buyers can’t get any loan financing from anywhere in Singapore. If a buyer wants to buy your house, they will have to pay all in cash.


Flats with leases expiring in Singapore

National development minister Lawrence Wong said in a blogpost in March cautioning people that “As the leases run down, especially towards the tail-end, the flat prices will come down correspondingly, So buyers need to do their due diligence and be realistic when buying flats with short leases. This is especially important for young couples, who have to plan for a much longer future.” He said.

For young people, it is especially important to plan ahead when buying a house especially if you’re considering a resale flat. If you buy a BTO, it won’t be a cause of concern as BTOs start with 99 year lease.

There are many old estates in Singapore which are in prominent locations around Singapore. These are especially popular for young people because of the location. But, the lease expiry is a concern now as confirmed by the news of the flats being taken back by the government at Geylang Lorong 3 and also how the value of the HDB flat depreciates over time.
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To check the leases of HDB flats in Singapore, you can refer to HDB website here. I will list down some of the areas that has lesser leases in Singapore.

1. Toa Payoh (Lor 4) – 50 years lease left

Some flats in Toa Payoh has about 50 years lease left. If a buyer buys a flat here and takes a bank loan, he can only get a loan tenure of up to 20 years (to 30 years lease). In 15 years, no buyers can take a bank loan for the properties here anymore.

Click to enlarge

2. Queenstown (Stirling Road) – 50 years lease left

Another estate with 50 years lease left is Queenstown. This is similar to Toa Payoh.

Click to enlarge


3. Geylang (Kallang Bahru) – 55 years lease left

Click to enlarge



4. Serangoon (Lor Liew Lian) – 59 years lease left

Click to enlarge

The above are some of the estates with HDB flats less than 60 years lease. In Singapore, out of about 1 Million HDB flats, 70,000 are more than 40 years old and about 280,000 are 30 years to 40 years old. This puts their remaining lease at about 69 years or less remaining. As a young person, if I want to stay in the house for the next 30 years, I better not buy a HDB flat that has less than 65-70 years lease. It will be very difficult to sell the flat at that time and the property price will depreciate greatly as well.

What about the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers)?

Most people are still willing to pay a high price for a low lease flat because of the hope that their old flats will be redeveloped under the SERS scheme. If you’re hoping your old flat will go under this scheme, it is timely to take note that it may not happen.

Since the Sers was launched in 1995, only 4% of HDB flats have been identified for Sers and the government will continue to maintain the strict selection criteria for blocks eligible for Sers. This is reiterated by Minister Lawrence Wong in his blog post in March 2017. You can read it here.

Which HDB flat should a young couple buy?

With all the above information, as a guide, a 30 year old couple should consider a HDB flat with more than 65-70 years remaining lease. This would ensure we do not meet into problems at later stages of our life.

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Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Noosa – Day 4 & 5

Day 4

Day 4 was the start of the road trip out of Gold Coast. We proceeded to Mount Tamborine, which is about an hour drive from Gold Coast. This is a small mountain and it was relatively easy to drive up.

I woke up early in the morning to take some pictures of the sunrise since this was the last day of our stay at Narrowneck court apartments. Wow, the sunrise was beautiful. As you can see, the apartment is just beside the ocean. Would definitely recommend this place to stay for anyone planning to travel to Gold Coast.

Off we go to Mount Tamborine early in the morning at 8:30am. We went to pump some petrol first as I heard petrol is relatively cheaper in the city. For the first 3 days, we only use $20 of petrol. Driving in Australia is really not expensive at all.

At Mount Tamborine, there are a few places we went. First, it was the gallery walk where there are many local shops which sells quite interesting stuffs such as glass sculptures, olden clocks and also wineries plus some cafes. It was quite quiet when we were there probably as it was not a holiday that day.

Next, we went to Jasmine organics. This is a place where they grow and make their own organic products such as facial cleansers, moisturisers and other skin care products. It was quite a nice place as you can see below:

Jasmine Organics

After that, we proceeded to drive to Curtis falls which is a famous waterfall there. It was a 15 minutes walk down to the waterfall area from the car park. The waterfall isn’t very big so if you’ve seen much better waterfalls, then this isn’t really that spectacular.

Curtis Falls

On the way out of Curtis Falls, there is a look-out place nearby called the Rotary lookout. This place is worth a stop by to take some pictures

Rotary lookout

Next we went to some wineries namely witches fall winery and also the famous tamborine mountain distillery. Do take note they do charge each person for wine tasting. The taste of the wines there are quite special especially the tamborine mountain distillery where we got to try some special ones like roasted coffee, peach and some vodka too.

For lunch, there’s a nearby place called the local Codfather which was recommended on TripAdvisor. The cod fish there is really good with generous portion. Do check it out if you’re there.

From Mount Tamborine, we drove straight to Brisbane which is another hour away. The road in Australia is really smooth with no traffic jams during the 8 days when I was there.

In Brisbane, we stayed at Econo Lodge City Star Brisbane. Its strategically located near to the heart of the city at an affordable price. We booked the family room which has one double bed and 2 single beds in one room. There are fast food restaurants nearby such as Macdonalds, KFC and subway.

After we check in, we went to take a walk near to the famous Brisbane river just when the sun was about to set.

It was quite nice to see the sun setting behind all the skyscrapers

We walked further down to take the city hopper, which is a free ferry ride that goes to various parts of the CBD. It was only a 5 minutes ride across the river into the heart of the CBD.

There were quite a lot of people walking around in their business attire in the evening which I suppose is their off work hours. It was only about 5:30pm. For dinner, we just settled for KFC which we wanted to try how their KFC taste like. Their KFC came with fries again… They really like fries. Surprisingly the fries was quite tasty. You should give it a try if you’re there.

We took a long walk back to our apartment. I think in Brisbane, we really walked a lot as it was difficult to drive and find parking. The whole walking took about an hour plus.

Day 5

In the morning, we went to have breakfast at a Vietnamese restaurant called Cafe O Mai. Oh man, the food here was really good, tasted similar to what I have eaten in Vietnam before. We ordered the beef Pho and the Vietnamese baguette. Really good food here and plenty of place to park along the road side.

After breakfast, it was time to check out and proceed for the long drive up to the farm stay place. We wanted to visit the Brisbane street beach but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any parking nearby and it was quite late already so we had to give up that place. Such a pity actually.

The drive up to the farm would take about 2 hours plus. As it was a long drive, I planned some breaks in between for us to rest and also buy groceries up to the farm for dinner.

The first stop was glass house mountains. Its a scenic drive to the glass house mountains look-out which you can locate easily using google maps GPS.

The road to glass house mountains. Pretty tall trees along the road

At glass house mountains look out

Explanation on how the mountains was formed and how it was discovered

The mountain on the left is the famous glass house mountain

Its worth a visit to this place if you’re travelling to sunshine coast or noosa. Makes a great pit stop for a rest.

After this, we went to a small town called Nambour. No tourists here at all, really its authentic Australia at this place. There was a large pharmacy here selling discounted supplements which is much cheaper than in Singapore. There’s also a large supermarket, Woolsworth here where we bought most of the ingredients for the 2 dinners at the farm. We had lunch at a small Chinese restaurant, near to the supermarket. Quite expensive for a plate of fried rice at $12 and fried hor fun at $12 too but portion was very big. 2 plates is enough for 4 people.

After Nambour, its the drive to Rosecliffe cottage where we will be staying at the farm for 2 nights. The drive up to the farm was gravel road with very sleep up and down slopes. I was really worried if the car could take it but it did eventually survived.

Once we were up there, the views were amazing. Really worth the drive up here. They had many animals on the farm which you can see in the pictures below

The view at Rosecliffe Cottage

Donkey
This horse is pregnant so they put a cloth over her
More Horses
A cow that looks like panda
Cow with her baby
A special type of animal called Llama

The house there is a small cottage with one bedroom, one bathroom, a living room and kitchen. They also have a BBQ pit outside at the backyard with a hood which we did BBQ for the 2 nights there.

It was quite fun actually to BBQ at the farm which was up in the mountains. At the farm, there is only us and another family in another cottage plus the host themselves living in another house. Just 3 house in a secluded farm. It was really quiet and peaceful at night not forgetting the many stars which could be seen at night. 
That’s the end of day 5.

Day 6 continues here

For more of my Australia trip, click on the link below:
1. 8 days in Australia [Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Noosa] – Planning tips and Day 1
2. Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Noosa – Day 2 & 3

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Investors Exchange 2017 by BIGScribe

*[Event is fully sold out]

There are many conferences which cost hundreds and thousands of dollars which I wouldn’t recommend to go for. In view of this, a group of bloggers came together to set up BIGScribe to offer low cost and affordable financial education sessions for retail investors.

You might have already heard of the investor exchange 2017 which is a mega event by BIGscribe. This is a half-day Investor Exchange seminar where you will learn from 7 speakers handpicked by the BIGScribe team to share what works in the market today.

Some highlights of the events are:

  • Investors Exchange will feature 7 speakers
  • Topics covered includes stock investing, trading, property investing, scuttlebutting etc
  • There will be a tea break with light snacks for participants to mingle
  • There will NOT be any pitching, only sharing of information
Here are the topics and line up of the speakers:
1. Strategies for Successful Equities Investing 
By Teh Hooi Ling, Inclusif Value Fund

2. Identify Market Trends the George Soros way
By Xeo Lye, Xeolyenomics
3. 7 Deadly Sins of Singapore Property Buyers
By Vina Ip, PropertySoul.com
4. Master your Mind, Master the Market
By Joel Sim, mrfinancesavvy.com
5. 50 Shades of Dividends Investing
By Christopher Ng, TreeOfProsperity.blogspot.com
6. How to use the 3 musketeers of REITs to find strong REITs
By Kenny Loh, MyStocksInvesting.com
7. The Art of Scuttlebutt
By Elvin Hayden Liang, www.epsilonluxe.wordpress.com

Many of the speakers are friends in our small financial blogging community. You may know some of the speakers yourself or have attended a BIGScribe event before. 
Here are the details of the seminar:
Date: 29th July 2017 (Saturday)
Time: 1 pm to 5 pm
Location: DBS Auditorium, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, Level 3
Tickets

$65 $49 (Early bird price)
The early bird price ends on 8th July 2017. There will be a tea break session during the event where light snacks will be provided. Its a good opportunity to mingle around with the speakers as well as fellow investors. 
For more info, visit the website here to find out more info. You can get your tickets directly from the website too. 
This is not a sponsored post  


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How To Have $1 Million Dollars For Retirement

$1 Million is a special milestone for retirement, advocated by many financial practitioners too. Why is $1 Million important for retirement? To lay out the context, $1 Million actually isn’t really a lot of money for retirement. Assuming you have $1 Million dollars at the age of 55 and retire and live till 85 years old, you can spend about $33,333 every year from age 55 onward. This is about $2777 per month for expenses which really is just enough factoring inflation in the future.

$1 Million on the other hand is a good base for creating a steady stream of income for retirement. If we can generate 4% annual interest/dividend on the $1 Million, it is $40,000 which translates to $3333 per month. This is quite a good income for retirement.

In this post, I’ll provide some realistic scenarios on what a typical average income earner’s savings will turn out in his/her lifetime. This will allow us to see how $1 Million can be achieved realistically in our life.

Pure Savings without investment  

If a person just saves money but does not invest, this is how much savings he or she will achieve assuming a savings of about $18,000 to $20,000 annually:

I have added in a $60,000 expense at the age of 30 assuming the expenses is for marriage, house etc, the first milestone of a typical person’s life.

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Age Savings Additional Savings
25 $10,000
26 $30,000 $20,000
27 $50,000 $20,000
28 $70,000 $20,000
29 $90,000 $20,000
30 $110,000 $20,000
31 $50,000 $18,000
32 $68,000 $18,000
33 $86,000 $18,000
34 $104,000 $18,000
35 $122,000 $18,000
36 $140,000 $18,000
37 $158,000 $18,000
38 $176,000 $18,000
39 $194,000 $18,000
40 $212,000 $18,000
41 $230,000 $18,000
42 $248,000 $18,000
43 $266,000 $18,000
44 $284,000 $18,000
45 $302,000 $18,000
46 $320,000 $18,000
47 $338,000 $18,000
48 $356,000 $18,000
49 $374,000 $18,000
50 $392,000 $18,000
51 $410,000 $18,000
52 $428,000 $18,000
53 $446,000 $18,000
54 $464,000 $18,000
55 $482,000 $18,000
56 $500,000 $18,000
57 $518,000 $18,000
58 $536,000 $18,000
59 $554,000 $18,000
60 $572,000 $18,000

As we can see, just savings alone will not get us anywhere near $1 Million at all even at the age of 60. Now, let’s add in investment to see how it will turn out.

Savings with 8% investment

Using the same scenario and adding 8% investment return, this is how much savings we will have:

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Age Savings Additional Savings Investment return
25 $10,000
26 $30,800 $20,000 8%
27 $53,264 $20,000 8%
28 $77,525 $20,000 8%
29 $103,727 $20,000 8%
30 $132,025 $20,000 8%
31 $72,025 $18,000 8%
32 $95,787 $18,000 8%
33 $121,450 $18,000 8%
34 $149,166 $18,000 8%
35 $179,100 $18,000 8%
36 $211,428 $18,000 8%
37 $246,342 $18,000 8%
38 $284,049 $18,000 8%
39 $324,773 $18,000 8%
40 $368,755 $18,000 8%
41 $416,255 $18,000 8%
42 $467,556 $18,000 8%
43 $522,960 $18,000 8%
44 $582,797 $18,000 8%
45 $647,421 $18,000 8%
46 $717,214 $18,000 8%
47 $792,592 $18,000 8%
48 $873,999 $18,000 8%
49 $961,919 $18,000 8%
50 $1,056,872 $18,000 8%
51 $1,159,422 $18,000 8%
52 $1,270,176 $18,000 8%
53 $1,389,790 $18,000 8%
54 $1,518,973 $18,000 8%
55 $1,658,491 $18,000 8%
56 $1,809,170 $18,000 8%
57 $1,971,904 $18,000 8%
58 $2,147,656 $18,000 8%
59 $2,337,469 $18,000 8%
60 $2,542,466 $18,000 8%

With 8% investment return, this person can achieve $1 Million at the age of 50 with the same savings rate of $18,000 annually. Saving $18,000 a year from the age of 30 shouldn’t be too difficult for many of us. Assuming a person earns $4000, he can spend $2500 a month and just save $1500 a month to reach the target.

If you think 8% investment return is too high to achieve, let’s bring it down to 5% investment return

Savings with 5% investment


Using the same scenario and changing it to 5% investment return, this is how much savings we will have:

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Age Savings Additional Savings Investment return
25 $10,000
26 $30,500 $20,000 5%
27 $52,025 $20,000 5%
28 $74,626 $20,000 5%
29 $98,358 $20,000 5%
30 $123,275 $20,000 5%
31 $63,275 $18,000 5%
32 $84,439 $18,000 5%
33 $106,661 $18,000 5%
34 $129,994 $18,000 5%
35 $154,494 $18,000 5%
36 $180,219 $18,000 5%
37 $207,230 $18,000 5%
38 $235,591 $18,000 5%
39 $265,371 $18,000 5%
40 $296,639 $18,000 5%
41 $329,471 $18,000 5%
42 $363,945 $18,000 5%
43 $400,142 $18,000 5%
44 $438,149 $18,000 5%
45 $478,056 $18,000 5%
46 $519,959 $18,000 5%
47 $563,957 $18,000 5%
48 $610,155 $18,000 5%
49 $658,663 $18,000 5%
50 $709,596 $18,000 5%
51 $763,076 $18,000 5%
52 $819,230 $18,000 5%
53 $878,191 $18,000 5%
54 $940,101 $18,000 5%
55 $1,005,106 $18,000 5%
56 $1,073,361 $18,000 5%
57 $1,145,029 $18,000 5%
58 $1,220,280 $18,000 5%
59 $1,299,294 $18,000 5%
60 $1,382,259 $18,000 5%

With 5% investment return, $1 Million can be achieved at the age of 55. Still not too bad.

As we can see, achieving $1 Million is not too difficult in our lifetime with an achievable savings rate. However, the scenarios above assume that our savings is always 100% invested which is rarely the case since we will always have some cash on hand. There should be some buffer when using the above scenarios as a guideline.

Key to a financial free life – ESI

The key to having a financially free life is in our earnings, savings and investing (ESI). If we do not earn enough, we can always try to increase our income. If we spend too much, we can try to reduce expenses to have more savings. The last part is on investing and learning how to invest wisely.

For my life, I’ve focused on increasing my income for the past 2 years. Increasing income is much harder than reducing expenses as there are a lot of things not in my control. Increasing income is all about creating value in our workplace as well as out of our workplace. Skills learnt will always be valuable which people will be willing to pay us for.

This is how my income has evolved over the years:

As you can see, my income has essentially doubled on some months as compared to the past. Over the years, I’ve managed to create other streams of income through writing, consulting and investing. These income did not happen in an instant. It took a few years to build it up. I’ve also changed job for better career progression. There are a lot of things that needs to be balanced to make sure time is allocated efficiently. I’ve also had to, on some instances, reject additional earnings opportunities because I feel it would be too much for me to handle. 
What are your plans for retirement? Do you think $1 Million is an achievable target?
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Unlimited 1.5% Cashback card is back again! And How to get Air Miles to Travel For Free?

*This promo has ended. For the latest credit card deals, please click here

Standard Chartered Unlimited cashback card is back!

A few months back when I launched the new Standard Chartered unlimited cashback card on my blog, it received overwhelming response with more than a hundred sign ups on this blog alone. As I found the card useful and attractive too, I signed up for one myself and received Takashimaya vouchers.

Today, I’m going to bring this card, in partnership with Singsaver, back to this blog again for readers who have missed it. This time, the deal will be $150 Takashimaya vouchers for new customers. For those who are not familiar, the Standard Chartered unlimited card gives unlimited 1.5% cashback on all spending. There is no cap and no minimum spend required. This is very different from the other credit cards in the market which only gives you points or cashback for certain types of spending. There is often a minimum spend too to be eligible for the cashback. This is not the case for this new unlimited cashback card. This card can also be used for public transport with automatic EZ-reload top up function.

Apply for the card through the below link to get your $150 Takashimaya vouchers (Valid till 31st July 2017):

For those who love to travel – How does Air Miles Work?

Do you love to travel? I believe most of us here travel at least once a year just to explore the world or take a break out of our small island in Singapore. The best way to travel and save money at the same time is through redeeming air miles for our air tickets. Let me explain further on how this works.

Many of us have heard of the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program which enable travellers to earn miles and exchange it for free air tickets or vouchers. Did you know, you can actually earn KrisFlyer miles on any spend locally or overseas which means you can actually accumulate enough miles for some good discounts or even free air tickets for your travel.

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

The American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card lets you earn 1.1 KrisFlyer miles for every $1 spend locally. What’s more, receive 5000 bonus KrisFlyer miles once you charge your first transaction to your card. You can use your KrisFlyer miles to pay for all or a part of your airfare on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir on singaporeair.com, or redeem vouchers for travel on Scoot or Tigerair.

Redemption of miles for free tickets starts from 7500. A look at the Singapore airlines website shows that an air ticket to Thailand is around 12,500 miles. You can redeem a ticket to Japan or South Korea for 25,000 miles and Australia for 20,000 miles.

In additional, you will receive $80 NTUC vouchers when you apply through the below link (Valid till 31st July 2017):

American Express Krisflyer Ascend Card – Get complimentary access to airport lounges and hotel stays

Another similar card which allows you to earn KrisFlyer miles is the American Express Krisflyer Ascend Card. This card has the same benefits as the previous card with additional 4 complimentary access per year to any participating SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore and Plaza Premium Lounge around the world. You also get one complimentary night per year with Millennium Hotels and Resorts worldwide. This card earns 1.2 KrisFlyer miles for every S$1 spent on all your eligible purchases with your Card.

You also get 5000 bonus KrisFlyer miles on your first transaction and additional $80 NTUC FairPrice vouchers when you apply through the link below (Valid till 31st July 2017):

Citi PremierMiles Card

The last miles card I’ll introduce is the Citi Premier Miles card. For this card, you can earn miles and redeem on a wide variety of flights including KrisFlyer, Asia Miles, Royal Orchid Plus, Executive Club, Enrich, Infinity MileageLands, Garuda Frequent Flyer, Etihad Guest, Qantas, Qatar and Flying Blue. For every $1 spent, you will get 1.2 Citi miles. A check on the website shows it requires about 20,000 Citi miles to redeem a flight to Thailand, 25,000 miles to Hong Kong or Taiwan and 30,000 to Japan.

For this card, you will get a bonus 15,000 Miles on your first transaction and additional $100 Agoda eVouchers when you apply through the link below (Valid till 31st July 2017):

Whether its the 1.5% unlimited cashback or the KrisFlyer or Citi Premier miles card, all of these represents savings on some of our most common expenses. All offer ends on 31st July 2017.

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Finance

Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Noosa – Day 6 onwards

Day 6 continues from Day 5 where we reach the farm stay place. To read the previous post, click here.

Day 6
We woke up early on day 6 for a farm feeding experience. All the animals are feed daily and we could join in this activity. 

They had many chickens on the farm too and we could even get fresh eggs from the chicken there. This is the first time I had the chance to pick fresh eggs laid by the chickens.

After feeding the animals and having breakfast, we proceeded to Eumundi markets which is a famous market near to Noosa. The markets had many interesting stuffs which are the locals produce. After walking the markets for a few hours, we proceeded to Noosa heads beach which is quite a nice place to go to. 
Here, we had our lunch at Betty’s burger and it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. After lunch, we went to buy some groceries again and went back to the farm cottage for another round of BBQ dinner! 
Day 7

Time pass quickly and its time to go back to Gold coast for the last night there. It was a long drive back, probably about 3 hours. On the way back, we stop by Beefy’s meat pies to grab some pies for lunch. They are known as Australia’s best meat pies and its really quite good. Its a good rest point also for the long drive. 
Driving back to Gold coast, we went to pacific fair shopping centre for just a short while before checking into our airbnb apartment at Palm beach, Gold Coast. It was near to the airport, just 10 minutes drive, perfect for the night before going to the airport for our flight back to Singapore. 
Palm Beach
This apartment is just about 5-10 minutes walking distance to the beach and had 2 bedrooms plus a living room and also a kitchen. Its a cosy apartment hosted by a great friendly host. You can check out their apartment on airbnb here
Bedroom at the airbnb apartment
Day 8

Day 8 is our flight back to Singapore. The flight is early in the morning and we had to reach the airport by 7am. 

This concludes my 8 days Australia trip in Gold Coast. It was a wonderful experience and a relaxing holiday. 
You can read the rest of my post in this Australia trip series below:
8 days in Australia [Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Noosa] – Planning tips and Day 1
Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Noosa – Day 4 & 5 (Mount Tamborine and Brisbane)
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Finance

Outlook for REITs in Singapore and Globally

REITs have been a popular investment choice for many years now. Even for me, REITs constitute about 60% of my portfolio currently in sectors such as retail, hospitality and commercial.

Recently, REITs prices have mostly gone up which is a good time for a review now. I will look into the different sectors and the outlook plus if there’s any other opportunities to continue investing in.  It may be time to sell some REITs and invest into other opportunities too.

Retail REITs

Firstly, let’s look at retail REITs. In Singapore, we have a few REITs which dominate the retail scene here. Capitaland Mall Trust and Frasers Centrepoint Trust owns most of the shopping malls in Singapore. Collectively, they own 22 of the major shopping malls in Singapore which are mostly near MRT stations.

I have invested in both of the REITs for sometime now. They have provided good dividend income at around 5%-6% pa. However, retail REITs don’t really have much capital gains in general as its quite hard to expand and have more shopping malls in an already competitive environment.

The retail sector will be faced with competition moving forward. The rise of online shopping means fewer people will be shopping at the stores itself. I like that the REITs have reinvented themselves where we can see most of the stores in shopping malls now are F&B. Singaporeans still like to eat outside a lot.

Capitaland mall trust recently reported their 1H financial results and one highlight is that shoppers traffic has declined -0.5% in 1Q 2017 as compared to 1Q 2016. This may also be linked to the weak employment data as released by MOM. Unemployment has gone up particularly for Singapore citizens while total employment has decreased for 2 consecutively quarters this year as seen from the preliminary figures released by MOM.

Apart from the poor outlook, we are also seeing some developments in the retail scene. For Capitaland mall, they are redeveloping Funan, which was the popular IT mall in the past. It will reopen again in 2019 with new experiences for shoppers. This will boost the dividend income from the REIT moving forward. For Frasers centrepoint trust, they are doing AEI for northpoint which is a popular shopping mall in Yishun. This is expected to be completed in end September 2017 and they aim to improve the average gross rental rate of Northpoint by approximately 9% upon the completion of the AEI.

Both REITs are trading at prices above book value now with CMT at 1.03x PB and FCT at 1.13x PB.

Commercial REITs

There are many commercial REITs in Singapore. I shall not go into the details of each REIT but focus more on the general trend of the office market in Singapore. As we see previously, total employment in Singapore has decreased but if we dive deeper into the MOM numbers, the decline is mainly due to lesser work permit workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors. This does not really affect the commercial REITs in Singapore.

CCT’s One George street office tower
Image credit: http://www.cct.com.sg/our-properties/singapore/one-george-street/

I have invested in Capitaland Commercial trust (CCT) and also Suntec REIT. Both own office buildings in Singapore with commercial as their main portfolio. Suntec REIT does have Suntec City, which is the shopping mall in their portfolio but that only accounts for 7% of their overall portfolio. Office portfolio accounts for 69% of their income.

In CCT’s latest 2Q financial results, I saw a distinct trend in the occupancy rate chart which they have. If we look carefully at the below chart, the CBRE’s core CBD occupancy rate has declined in 2Q 2017. This covers offices in Raffles Place, Marina Centre, Shenton Way and Marina Bay. It is not looking too good for CBD offices. On the other hand, CCT and Suntec’s committed occupancy rate remains quite stable.

Image adapted from CCT’s 2Q 2017 Financial results

Moving on to office rents, grade A office market rent has remained unchanged Q-on-Q after seeing consecutive decline from 2015. It may signal that the grade A office market rent decline has bottomed out. Supply of office spaces is expected to continue to increase in 2017 so there should still be some pressure on the office rents moving forward.

The stock price of CCT and Suntec REIT has risen by quite a bit these few months. However, both are still trading below their book value. In terms of dividends, base on the current price, the dividend yield is around 5.2%-5.3%.

Hospitality REITs

Lastly, let’s move on to hospitality REITs. A few months back, I wrote about an investment opportunity in the hospitality sector. You can read it here. There have been many articles on how this industry will do well and also coverage by various research houses and analyst. This will be an update based on the latest financial results from some of the hospitality REITs. At this point, I’m invested in CDL Htrust, Ascendas Htrust and Far East Htrust.

CDL Htrust Studio M hotel
Image credit: http://www.cdlht.com/studio-m-hotel.html

CDL Htrust just released their financial results last week with higher NPI and DPS (excluding effects of rights issue). They recently just did a rights issue at an attractive price and I went ahead to subscribe to the rights issue including trying my luck for some excess rights. Its portfolio is doing relatively well with the biggest gain from its New Zealand hotel at 91.9% increased in net property income (NPI) for 1H 2017 as compared to 1H 2016. This is really an impressive gain. The main reason is because its revenue per available room (RevPAR) for the New Zealand market surge 49% year on year.

CDL Htrust Singapore hotel market RevPAR is still declining at -1.1% year on year. As mentioned in previous articles, we should see RevPAR bottom out and start rising as hotel supplies taper off in 2018. As we can see from the case of the New Zealand hotel market, a surge in RevPAR can really improve the NPI by quite a lot.

Visitors arrival to Singapore remains high with 4.4% increase YoY. STB, SIA and Changi Airport Group (CAG) recently launched the second edition of the Singapore MICE Advantage Programme to draw more business events to Singapore as well as a S$34 million investment to strengthen Singapore’s destination appeal and drive visitor traffic.

Elsewhere around the world, Japan hotels are not doing so well as RevPAR has declined due to price competition from increase in new hotel rooms supply. We should see better performance moving ahead to the olympics games in Tokyo.

Far East Htrust and Ascendas Htrust have not reported their results yet though. In terms of valuation, CDL Htrust is already trading above book value at PB of 1.07x. Far East Htrust on the other hand is still trading below book value at 0.73x. It has gone up the past few months and my investment in this is sitting on a 10% return. Hospitality Reits have a dividend yield of around 6.2% currently. It can be a good dividend investment buying at the right price with attractive dividend yield. I’m looking to accumulate further into this sector.

Will REITs continue to perform?

I’ve touched on 3 different sectors namely the retail, commercial and hospitality REITs listed in Singapore. REITs present a good opportunity for those who buy at the right valuation. For me, I look at the outlook, the valuation, its financial stability, dividend yield and management strategy. Where possible, its good to check out the properties of the REITs wherever possible. Seeing crowds at a mall and all the shops having business is a good sign as oppose to an empty mall with no business.

I would look closely and monitor the developments of the retail and commercial sector while continue investing in the hospitality sector moving forward.

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Far East Hospitality Trust 2Q 2017 Financial Results – Review & Action

Far East Hospitality Trust just released their financial results last Friday and I thought it would be good to do a quick update since I’ve been writing a lot on the hospitality industry as an investment opportunity.

Net property income still decreased by -6% in 2Q 2017 as compared to 2Q 2016. However, this is a smaller decrease compared to the 1Q decrease of -10.4%. Average hotel occupancy was 87.1% in 2Q as compared to 88.1% in 1Q. Comparing year on year, occupancy increased 1.9%. RevPAR remains stable at $134 which is a good sign that it has bottomed out. Comparing year on year, RevPAR decreased -4.6% in 1Q while it decreased -1.3% in 2Q. This is a smaller decrease which is again a good sign that RevPAR is bottoming.

Credit: http://www.fareasthospitalitytrust.com/rendezvous-hotel-singapore.html

In summary, hotel occupancy has increased by 1% for the 1H of 2017 while serviced residence has decreased by -8.7%. RevPAR still remains low but shows signs of bottoming out. Far East Htrust portfolio consists of 64.8% hotels, 12.9% serviced residences and 22.3% commercial which contributes to its gross revenue. From the time I invested in this stock, the stock price has gone up by 10% and I’ve divested a portion of my investment in this stock at 0.67. It is still trading at a PB of 0.74 which represents a discount to NAV of 26%. The dividend yield at current price is about 6.24%. The reason for divesting it is to lock in some gains first while monitoring it for any other upside.

I also did a check on one of its competitors, Frasers Hospitality Trust and looked at its Singapore properties portfolio. I noticed that Frasers Htrust Singapore properties registered a higher RevPAR for both its properties. It is an impressive gain of 4.1% Y-Y.  For all its other countries portfolio, the gross operating profit also increased. Frasers Htrust will be the next investment opportunity I’ll be looking at. However, it’s trading at a PB of 0.99 and dividend yield of 6.53%. It seems to be at a fair price currently so if we want to invest now, there may be limited upside. I shall monitor and keep it in my watchlist for any good entry points.

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Comfort Delgro Q2 2017 Financial Results

Comfort Delgro just reported their Q2 financial results last week and this was what I was concerned about as I’ve invested some money into it. Being affected by Uber and Grab’s private hire services, Comfort’s taxi business took a hit and sent its share price going down which makes it look like an attractive investment at that point. After I bought, the share price still continue to went down by a little and seems to have stopped at around $2.30.

Anyway, its Q2 financial results still doesn’t paint a good picture. Net profit fell by 6.8% mainly contributed by lower revenue of its taxi business and unfavourable FX from the weaker UK Pound and RMB. For its taxi business, there is lower revenue from Singapore, China, Australia and Vietnam. The only increase in revenue was from UK but it was completely eroded by the weaker Pound.

The only saving grace is from the public transportation business where SBS Transit’s bus revenue increased due to the transition to the bus contracting model (BCM) and also higher revenue contributed from higher ridership on DTL and NEL/LRT. Australia’s public transport business registered an increase in revenue too with  higher charter revenue from rail replacement.

Despite the bad quarter, comfort is giving higher dividends of 4.35 cents for FY17 as compared to 4.25 cents in FY16. Cash generated from operations also registered an increase as compared to last year. It is still a financially stable company with gearing of 12.5%.

Moving forward, I’m still seeing quite a lot of comfort’s taxi on the streets but also seeing more people using the grab and uber app all around. However, we have to note that Grab incurred a combined loss of nearly US$40 Million in 2014 and 2015 alone. As for Uber, it said that it lost US$708 Million for its worldwide operations. Grab and Uber are giving discounts to riders so heavily and on top of that giving incentives to drivers too. This doesn’t seem to be sustainable. I believe when the discounts end or when the incentives for drivers decreases, the taxi industry will pick up again. I did try to drive for Uber for 2 weeks last year and from my experience, you don’t really earn much as a driver if you don’t get the driver incentives. This is what is attracting more drivers and even taxi drivers to drive for Uber and Grab instead but it will end when incentives are no longer available.

As for its public transportation business, Revenue is expected to continue to increase as the DTL 3 opens in Oct this year. Rail revenue is expected to double as ridership doubles as well. There is also the new thomson east coast line which has yet to be awarded as well.

Its PE is currently trading at 15.42x with dividend yield of around 4.5%. To me, I still think its a fair valuation and I will continue to hold on to this investment.

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