Tuesday 31 October 2023

Month of October 2023

It's been a long while that I attended a relative's wedding dinner. Among my younger cousins, there are some who choose to remain single or some who just want to ROM and one who held dinner with only guests of my parent's age. I guess that's the trend nowadays. The propensity for grand celebrations has slowly disappeared. Why so? It's probably a combination of dinner costs, shifting expectations of the older generation and changing ideals of married couples to go for an experiential trip instead. What a big difference compared to my wedding. In my time, the entire village of relatives (regardless of age) would be invited by default. This time, perhaps due to the limitation of the venue to 18 tables, I got to meet about a quarter of the usual faces. It was held at Skai restaurant, atop level 69 at Swissotel Hotel. The emcee was good, fantastic ambience but a little let down by the food execution. Nonetheless, I cherish the opportunity of such a gathering as we Yum Seng several times and brought the party to another round at Chijmes. I was flat out the next day.

Over a weekend brunch with the kids, we decided to go try out a nearby and recently opened cafe. It was a surprise to see T, an ex neighbour whose wife still keeps in close contact with mine. We chatted a while and then settled down in our seats. T is a Chartered Valuer who worked in several GLC and finance firms over the years. In between, he took a year off to be a stay home dad, even though his wife was a willing housewife. Something which not many would go through especially when their children were still young. Soon, our coffees arrived and it was T who served us. This was his first day at work. He had gone through a barista course and starting out as a service crew to gain experience in a new full time role. I applaud his courage in pursuing a passion. His reason for leaving the previous job? Burnout.

The television is such an important part of my life. Most families would have at least one set though I know a friend who doesn't as he strictly enforces the 'No TV' rule to promote home interaction and lessen media influence. Well, I obviously don't follow that and instead have two sets in the house, one in the living room and the other in my room. The children already have regular screen time via their ipads and phones so rather than taking those away, I prefer to see the television as their alternative. During dinner, it's switched on and always tuned to Channel 8. What usually comes on is the news segment and critically, spoken in Chinese. Sometimes, I use some of the reports to teach certain words or question the children's understanding, hoping they hear, learn and make that slight improvement. On the other hand, the television in my room is used solely by the wife and I for night entertainment. Before turning in, we would be eased in bed, typically choosing Taiwanese talkshows or Netflix. This month, it was a rewind back to 1990s as we revisited a long forgotten series, The X-files. It's such a good show as we mused along the mysteries, laughed over incredulous costumes and appreciated the ingenuity of the producer and casts. For almost every night we watched, the wife would fall asleep first while I carried on for another episode. Luckily there's another 150 more to go!

Tip: Pt Leo Estate Pinot Gris 2019, aromatic, fresh guava with a little pink sea salt

Sunday 15 October 2023

Finance Investment Movement 38

Another month, another new record. Whoever bought that Bishan HDB maisonette at $1.45m just helped to raise the bar for many aspirant sellers and their hopes of a coming windfall. This unit might have been unusually bigger and while the psf achieved was not as formidable, a good number of units sold breached the $1m mark. Even if million dollar HDB flats are the minority of the overall transactions, the regularity of such big ticket sales is uncomfortable to me. This coincides with the current all time high for COE prices. Why would an ordinary person pay $150k when other necessities are getting more expensive? But if I'm a rental car business owner, then it makes sense as it's still a profitable venture. A simple calculation of renting out at $150 per day means a rough breakeven point of four years. My opinion is the government has gotten it wrong by mixing personal and commercial car usage under the same COE category. This has isolated different groups of people but I feel especially for families with young children and elderly parents. Even general businesses will be affected as the cost of logistics becomes a heavier burden. It will be a social policy disaster if the price trend continues. I will be watching keenly from the sidelines and conclude in 2025, when the next election is due. Meanwhile, just have to work on saving for a next car. In any case, this decision would only be due in 2026.

There weren’t much options to shift idle funds as I couldn’t meet the requirements for both Scb and Hsbc accounts. Although there are other bank accounts offering decent deals, I decided not to open any more new ones unless something irresistible pops up. So it became a case of investing into money market funds (moomoo and poems) and 2000 shares of CICT at $1.78, a price last seen a year ago and which I thought gave a decent yield. Given the expected longer period of high interest rates, I’m prepared to wait to pick up more Reits shares if the prices are attractive. One happy moment was when I invested OA into Tbills for the first time and received that unexpected 4.07% yield. This month's SSB should see increased demand and I'm definitely applying for it.

Tip: Chateau Prince Anjou Blanc 2019, stone fruit, medium palate, walnut in the background