Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Investment Return for Top 10 Stocks in 2008 – What about 2009?

Time to look at the stock investment return that recommend by CNN last year -The Best Stocks for 2008. Here are the investment return results (as in 26 Dec 2008):

Stocks % Return (YTD – 2008)
Annaly Capital Management (NLY) 0.77%
Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) -0.06%
Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) 0.46%
Electronic Arts (ERTS) -3.04%
Genentech (DNA) -0.71%
General Electric (GE) -0.87%
Jacobs Engineering (JEC) 0.79%
Merrill Lynch(MER) -1.38%
Petrobras Energia (PZE) 1.15%
St. Joe (JOE) 1.56%
Average -0.13%

In average, if you buy all these stocks in 2008 and your average earning will be -0.13% which is not that bad given the unpredictable economy crisis. So what is next? Perhaps you should start buying the stocks that recommend by CNN in 2009? – Top 10 Stocks to Buy in 2009

Here are the top 10 picked stocks in 2009:
  1. Altria (MO)
  2. Annaly Capital Management (NLY)
  3. Dell (DELL)
  4. Devon Energy (DVN)
  5. Diamond Offshore (DO)
  6. Fluor (FLR)
  7. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
  8. Medco Health Solutions (MHS)
  9. Pfizer (PFE)
  10. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT)
I wonder why hypermarket stock such as Wal-Mart (WMT) is not listed. Aren't these companies usually performing better during bad times? No?

Related Topics:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Irish Tax Scheme is Pretty High

I don't aware that the Irish tax scheme is so "HIGH". See below...

Tax Rates and Tax Bands

Personal Circumstances

Tax Year 2006 €

Tax Year 2007 €

Single / Widowed without dependent children

32,000 @ 20%, Balance @ 42%

34,000 @ 20%, Balance @ 41%

Single / Widowed qualifying for One Parent Family Tax Credit

36,000 @ 20%, Balance @ 42%

38,000 @ 20%, Balance @ 41%

Married Couple - one spouse with income

41,000 @ 20%, Balance @ 42%

43,000 @ 20%, Balance @ 41%

Married Couple - both spouses with income

41,000 @ 20% (with an increase of 23,000 max), Balance @ 42%

43,000 @ 20% (with an increase of 25,000 max), Balance @ 41%

I read some article which mentions the incomes in Ireland are currently under-taxed and the Irish workers are the lowest taxed in Europe. Is it true?So the rest of the Europe countries have the higher Tax Scheme... Perhaps we should be happy to be Malaysian...

Monday, December 08, 2008

3 Weeks Experiences in Ireland

Just to write down some notes every time I travel around the world. When I was in Shanghai, China, I learned that I can’t deny that Chinese people are indeed very good in business. They basically understand human’s weakness and attack from there. When I was in California, United State, I learned that how systematic the country is. Driving has never been a problem once you understand the how U.S road system works. This round I spend 3 weeks in Ireland, Europe and what did I learn from Ireland? I learned that Ireland is a very relax country.

Why I say Ireland is a very relax country?

This is perhaps a little bit negative observation (depends on how you look at it) that I had while dealing with most of the local people there. This contributes to the major factor why I said Ireland is a relax country. Most of them have “Don’t Care” attitude while I was dealing with them including police man (i.e they call it Garda there), my wife’s land lord, most of the cashier, my wife’s relocation consultant, agents from the air port and etc.

"As long as the things works, who cares? Let’s close one eye as long as no body complains about it. This is good for you and good for me, win-win situation."
Not to go into details about the quality of works, I’m honestly not impressed too. With all these experiences, I conclude that Ireland is a very relax country and they know exactly how to appreciate life. What their main focus is definitely not “Work” but rather than how to enjoy life. Perhaps this also applies to the rest of the Europe which I kind of suspect too.

More things about Ireland (based on my experiences) if you’re interested to know:
  • Irish drivers are friendly
  • Road system in Ireland sucks
  • Building structures in Ireland is amazing
  • The nicest bear that I have ever drunk in Ireland
  • Ireland has a very enjoyable natural environment
  • The best food in Ireland is Indian food

Why I say Irish drivers are friendly?

What I was impressed is while I was driving in the rural area is almost everyone says hi to me while we’re passing each other. Driving is generally aggressive and fast there. Most drivers can drive pretty fast in a very narrow road and what I’m really impressed is they’re still following the rules and drive safety. Unlike in Malaysia, we’re aggressive but we do not concern on the safety and do not follow rules (perhaps we don’t even know what the rules are). Although they drive fast and aggressive, they’re also a patient, polite and friendly driver. They don’t simply use the horns unless it is really necessary. :D

Why I say road system in Ireland sucks?

In short, I don’t think the road system is designed for visitors. It is not really well organized at all. These are the few things are totally unacceptable to me:
  • No sign board, no road names on the road
  • Sign board in the Dublin City is embedded in the building. There is no way you can see it while driving.
  • No lights in the junction. At night it is completely darkness even at the junction of the roads.
  • Some highways, you need to pay on-line before we can use it or else you will get
So basically if you have a map, you can’t survive in Ireland. I bet you will be definitely lost. Luckily I can still survive is because of my GPS device. :D . I 99% depend on my GPS device while driving in Ireland. I can’t imagine what would happen without the GPS. A very funny thing is you need to pay on-line for using some of the highways or else you will get summon. How the hell the visitors will know?

Why I say building structures in Ireland is amazing?

If you like to see all those historical building or castle, Ireland is definitely a place to you. A lot of castles and cool buildings structure there. Looking at those buildings is not really my interest but 1 out of 10 building, I did feel impressed. Wow! How they can build such a thing? Also, they like to use stone to build those buildings or houses.

Why I say the nicest beer that I have ever drunk in Ireland?

Beer in Ireland is unbelievable fresh and nice. It just tastes so much nicer than the one we have in Malaysia. In Malaysia, it is like torturing ourselves with the beer but in Ireland, it is like rewarding ourselves. Used to hate “Guinness Stout”, but it doesn’t taste that bad at all when I visited the factory.

Why I say Ireland has a very enjoyable natural environment?

To me, the nicest thing in Ireland is the weather. I love the weather there which is between 0 C to 10 C throughout the whole years. It is like natural air conditional to me. Not much dusk and dirt there even in the larger city or larger town. There are a lot of natural places such as the water fall, cliff, lake are really cool. If you like hiking, camping, rock climbing, I bet you will love Ireland very much too.

Why I say the best Food in Ireland is Indian food?

Perhaps this is a little bit weird but according to some of the Indian guys, they mentioned that the Indian food in Ireland is even better than those in India. I have tasted it myself and I can tell that, it is better than in Malaysia and better than the one I have tried in U.S. too. I love Indian food the most in Ireland. Irish food is okay but it contains too many of potatoes. They're treating potatoes like our rice. As for Chinese food or Thai food, don't waste your money. It is purposely designed for Irish (drinking a Tom Yam soup is like drinking a plain water).


I think Ireland is a very good place for retirement provided that you have enough money to spend in the rest of your life because the living standard is generally higher as compared to most of the countries. To me, it is definitely not a place for me because I can’t really stand on the “Don’t Care” attitude culture. Sorry…

If you just want to visit Ireland, there are 3 things that you can enjoy. The first thing is the building stuff, the second is the natural places (e.g. along the sea side, rivers, cliff) and the third is beer. If you’re not interested in these 3 things, you may as well visit other countries. That’s all about my experiences in Ireland. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Simple Explanation of Blue Ocean Strategy (Review)

Another interesting book that recommended by my very top-level boss – Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

As usual, the Wikpedia explanation sometimes is just too comprehensive and I found a very good video summary in youtube. Let’s look at this video:

This reminds me the from “The Sun Sze Art of World” and the “Thick Face Black Heart” books mention that “Sometimes You Don’t Need to Fight to Win a War”. I personally love this statement. In short, the Blue Ocean Strategy is simply saying that “You Don’t Need To Fight to Win Your Competitor”.

Remember, the "BLUE" Ocean Strategy says:
  • Competition is Irrelevant.
  • Value Innovation – Ignoring the competition and focusing on the buyers.
Isn’t it saying a same thing? Provide what the customer really wants and create a new market for it rather than we compete and kill each other until all our blood spread out to the whole ocean which is called the “RED” Ocean Strategy.

Real Case Examples

(1) McDonald’s restaurant
Have you ever wonder why McDonald’s restaurant is so successful in worldwide? At least this is what I experienced in US, Malaysia and Europe. It always full during peak hour. Look at the graph below, does McDonald trying to compete with the rest?
source: www.csc.com

Apple's products (i.e. iTunes, iMac, iPhone)
Apple is so successful until today in my opinion is because of “Branding”. You feel cool and different status when using apple’s products. Using an Apple product is just like driving the “BMW” car on the road. This market is never exists and Apple creates for it.

(3) AirAsia Airline in Malaysia.
It eliminates over the counter booking system, free food/beverage on the plane, seating class booking system, and reduce "luxury" facilities provided by Airport Lounge, seat quality and many others. Think of it, are all these things a necessity for a customer? Although this is not something new in other countries but at least it is still new market in Malaysia. AirAsia creates this market.


Of course it is not as simply as I say but sometimes this makes a lot of common sense and it just that when we come into practice, it is a whole different story. Don’t you agree?

In summary this book provides a tool and mythology to create a new market space using the blue ocean strategy. You can buy the book yourself and learn the details.

I personally bought it but haven’t finished yet. The question that I have in mind is, will the book help in real business? Or it is just another educational business book? You tell me…

Related link:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Be Careful When You Resign

I have resigned for 2 times in my entire life. So, what will you normally do when you resign? I guess most of us will just copy whatever necessary information from a company, won’t you? The thing that you may not aware is 99% of those copied information are useless. I bet most of you won’t border about those so called useful information after you start working in your new job, will you? But still, you want to copy just for sake of piece of mind.

Let’s see what happen to this guy “Biswamohan Pani”, I believe is an Indian guy, Ex-Intel Employee, is currently being sued by Intel for stealing company Trade Secrets Worth $1 Billion. He claims that the information that he copied is for his wife (also an Intel employee) but those information is irreverent to his wife after further investigation. Imagine he is just 33 years old and he could spend 20-30 years in rest of his life in jail. What the heck?

See the full news here: Ex-Intel Employee Steals Trade Secrets Worth $1 Billion

If you join any multinational companies and most of them will warn you about the serious of this kind issue during your new hire orientation program. The question is how many of us really care about it? Do You? Maybe you should now think about it…

Do you press CLEAR after filing up gas?

I received this some time ago that speculating around that you must press on the “CLEAR” button after you purchase gas by credit/debit card at the petrol pump. They said that the employee from the gas station can use your credit/debit card to purchase their own gas. How true is this?

Apparently this is a SCAM according snopes.com. You can find the long explanation of its origin. Well, I do press “CLEAR” button every time after I use the Photostat machine in my office because the second person can photocopy your content since it still remains in the memory. It looks like it doesn't apply to using credit cards at petrol station...

But anyhow, it becomes a habit that I’m still pressing “CLEAR” button every time after I use the pump with my credit cards. No harm, right?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Virtual Stock Market Game - Updown.Com Review

This is not a paid review and I think it is a pretty good website to share with you all about this Updown.com website.

If you’re not really a single stock buyer and seldom keep up with what individual stocks are doing in the market and would like to LEARN and INVEST in stock market with ZERO RISK of financial loss, this website is for you. It is the free investment platform to practice investing and to collaborate with others who share their stock investment experiences and etc.

You will have $1,000,000 virtual money to start the investment. You can start your own investing group or join the existing group to discuss any investing experiences (e.g. investment strategies, stock picks, give your opinion about why certain stocks are under or well perform and etc.). In fact, you can also write your own review to earn REAL money out of it.

I hope you will find this useful. I will use this website as my learning opportunity in stocks and keep in mind that is virtual. In someday later, we should start playing a real game as soon as possible. I don't think you want to stuck in the virtual stock market forever. Happy stock investing!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

How to Claim Fuel Subsidy RM 625?

For non-Malaysian, this is FYI or you can just ignore this post. Do you envy for us since we can claim for the fuel? :D For Malaysian, most probably you may know by now, Malaysia government allows you to claim RM 625 for those who own a car below 2000cc. Basically if you renew your road tax effective date from 1 April 2008, you’re eligible to claim RM 625. For motorbike, you can claims up to RM 150. You can only claim up to a maximum of 5 vehicles per owner.

What You Need To Do

  1. Bring your I/C and go to the post office.
  2. Get the form and fill up the form (Refer the instructions below).
  3. Submit the form and money order will be sent to you.
[Update on Feb 01 2009]
You can also claim the RM625 online through posonline.com.my which I believe is the most convenient way rather than wait for a long queue in post office. You need to register yourself and look for the "Cash Rebate" while you log-in to the system.

Instruction to Fill-Up the Form

Surprisingly, the form is somehow a little bit confusing. Let’s look at this very helpful sample here:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Right or Wrong or the Truth?

In life, we judge by what we see and we make a conclusion. It doesn’t matter the conclusion is the right or the wrong one, as long as majority of people think it is the right one, then it becomes the right one. But is it the truth?

Let’s look at the picture below. Are square A and square B same color? If I say they are the same colors, will you trust me?

Most of us will say they are DIFFERENT in colour. Square A is darker grey than square B. Let’s do a cut & paste by yourself and you will see the following:

Are square A and square B still in different color? If you still do not believe in it, please try it out yourself (copy the original picture and do a cut & paste by yourself).

I wonder how many things in this world we have misunderstood them as a fact. Relationship? Investment? Scientific formula?
  • Can we really trust what we see?
  • Can we really trust the facts that everyone believes it is the fact?
  • Does the real truth really matter when no one believes it?
  • Are those insane guys, locked in mental hospital see what we don't see?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Coping With Rising Petrol Prices

According to a new survey of 539 workers, reports Robert Half International, a Menlo Park, California-based staffing firm, many workers are changing their commutes to avoid high petrol prices.

Below are the results of the survey:

  • 46% say they’re carpooling more often
  • 33% are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles
  • 30% are looking for a job closer to home
  • 18% now walk or cycle to work
  • 18% say their employers are increasing mileage reimbursement for travel
Surprisingly when I met an old friend recently, he was telling me that he is now cycling to work everyday and used bicycle as a primary transportation. I’m not sure if he is joking but he sounds serious. Honestly I don’t really do anything to cope with the rising petrol prices other than invest in Gold.

I have been carpooling with my spouse and driving the most fuel-efficient vehicles in Malaysia. My work from my home is 15 minutes drive and I have been leaving within my means. What else I can do? One thing is I don’t think I can replace my car with a bike, do you?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Story of Stuff (Summary & Review)

A very interesting stuff story by Annie Leonard – The Story of Stuff which tells you how stuff works in 20 minutes video. It is an interesting story and here is my reviews and summary. I do agree with most of her points but not all of them. What is your opinion?

In short this how the whole stuff system works:

  • Extraction -> Production -> Distribution -> Consumption -> Disposal


She also pointed out this system is in fact in crisis because it is a linear system and we live on a finite planet and you can not run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. I personally love and agree with this statement.


The key point about this extraction is “We’re running out of Resources”. I definitely agree with this. The reason is simply due to fact that we’re using too much stuff that are not necessary. I don’t surprise with few facts that mentioned by her such as 80% of the planet’s original forests are gone, losing 2000 trees a minute in Amazon and etc.


The key point in this section is “Toxics in, Toxics Out”. According to her, we use energy to mix toxic chemicals in with the natural resources to make toxic contaminated products. These contaminated products such as computer peripherals contain BFRs which are very super toxic to our brains and eventually inside our women’s breast milk. She got to be kidding? I don’t think toxic in the CPU is flying around in the air, do you?

Another ridiculous example is that she says Toxic in the pillow too. Huh? Is this true? I strongly do not believe in it. I think she uses a wrong example to impress us. Yes, Toxic in but not Toxic out to the air especially in final products…

Yes, I will agree with pollution while making the products or when you simply throw away these so-called contaminated products.


It talks about externalizing the costs and that’s why how we can keep the prices down ($4.99 for a radio). Externalizing the costs which means the company use SOMEONE else money to pay the cost of a product. Example she is giving are people who paid with their loss of their natural resource, paid with the loss of their clean air, with increasing asthma and cancer rates, employees are forced to pay to cover their own health insurance. These people paid for the costs? It is not because of Mass-Production? I’m confused.


The key point that she wants to bring out is, “we consume too much”. We consume over what we suppose to consume and not only that, we’re encouraged to do that to keep the material flowing. Another important point is the “Planned Obsolescence” which I also very agree with this. Some products are really designed in such a way… Another thing is the advertisement which eventually cause “Perceived Obsolescence” that convinces us to throw away stuff that is still perfectly useful. What a crap? Yes, especially fashion too…


How many of you recycle your stuff when you want to throw them? Even you want too, not all stuff can be recycled.


I’m not sure whether the system is in crisis or not now but eventually it will I believe. It is a matter of time but what we can do is to delay it and not to completely avoid it. Can we? It looks like she believes that is something possible.

The first thing that we want to do if we seriously want to solve this problem or crisis is to reduce the world population. With less population, consumption will be less, resources will be used less too and toxics less too. Isn’t that a very simple equation?

The second thing we can do is to consume what is necessary. This is not only good to the environment but also good for our own personal finance. Don’t you think so?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Invest Gold in Malaysia through Public Bank

Finally here comes the “easiest way” to invest Gold in Malaysia. Last month in April, Public Bank announced a Gold Investment Account that allows you to purchase the purest available gold commodity.

You’re no longer need to invest Gold indirectly (e.g. mutual funds that invest in Gold). Whether you want to buy gold directly or indirectly in Malaysia is it always not that convenient (to me) although there are few companies offer this. Most importantly (to me) I’m not sure those company is trustable.

Why I Invest in Gold?

(1) I’m inspired by Jamy - a friend of mine. She earns a lot of money investing in commodities and recommends me and most of us to invest in Gold. See the interesting conversation we had in my previous post.

(2) Last year, gold prices jumped 31% since the end of World War II. Maybe one year of history does not really convincing. Let’s look at chart below, 5 years is about increased by 200% and 10 years is about 400%.

Source: goldprice.org

(3) I invest in property, unit trust and stocks but just not commodities. Why don’t I give it a try? :)

(4) With the recent increase of oil price, do you still think that property, unit trust, stock or whatever investment can still overcome the inflation rate? Which investment has higher chances to overcome inflation? If you look at the history of gold price, it seems like the one.

How to invest Gold through Public Bank?
  1. Go to any Public Bank in Malaysia. Press the “Customer Service” button and wait for your turn.
  2. Tell them you want to invest in Gold. They will get your I/C and prepare the Gold Investment Account book for you.
  3. Then, later you need to take this Gold Investment Account to the normal counter (No need to press for a number, just straight away go to any counter) and they will settle everything for you.
  4. If you have Public Bank Saving account, you can buy Gold by transferring money from your saving account or you can just buy in cash.
  5. Finally, you will get this book! This book is exactly same with the normal saving account book. When you want to invest next time, just take this book to normal counter. It is really very that convenient.

Please note that the initial gold investment is 20g. I bought it at RM 99.72 per gram which is RM 1994.4 for 20g investment. The subsequent minimum trading would be 5g.

Remember this is neither a saving account nor the fixed deposit (i.e. FD), this account would not pay any interest and the minimum 2g of gold must be maintained to ensure the account remains active. You can not deposit the physical Gold but you can withdraw the physical gold in denominations of 100g, 500g and 1,000g.

[Service Fee]
RM 10 annual service fee will be ducted from your saving account if your Gold Investment Accounts falls below 10 grams as at year end.

To know more about Gold Investment in Public Bank, check out their official website announcement.

[Updated: 2 June 2008]
I just found out MayBank also offer the similar package - Gold Saving Passbook Account. [Updated: 22 Sept 2011]: The MayBank link for Gold Saving Passbook account is no longer valid and I lazy to update it here.You can try Google it and find it out. It is kind of stupid for website (and some more this is bank) that do not maintain consistent URL and keep changing the URL. See,  Public Bank has no such problem? The link is still valid since 2008 until today...

[Updated: 17 August 2008]
To get the latest Gold Price in RM, you can refer to the public bank website here.

[Updated: 15 Jan 2011]
  1. You can watch the latest gold history trend (1,5 and 10 years) in MYR and USD for  here
  2. Also, you can now perform Gold Trading (sales and purchase) through Public Bank Online (i.e. PBeBank). What you need to do is to enable the "Gold Trading" in your Public Bank online account and you can start buying or selling your gold in grams.
P/S: One final note here, there are no 100% guarantee in investment. It is all depending on the supply and demand. When more and more gold mine to be discovered, the Gold Price will drop. Another risk is the global recession that caused by the U.S. recession which will lead to a fall in demand for commodities. Good luck!

Monday, May 26, 2008

How do you deal with Credit Card Fraud?

Perhaps you may not aware that credit card transaction is not secure at all. As long as you’re using credit cards, there are chances that you may face the credit card fraud. When you have credit card fraud, how should you do with it? Most importantly how do you prevent it from happen again?

Types of Credit Card Fraud

Cloned credit card is the most common type of credit card fraud. As long as someone can get your credit card, they can clone your credit card by copying your credit card information on to a fake card’s magnetic stripe. It used to be very popular but no longer true after the government enforce all the credit cards that used must be implemented with the embedded “chip”. With this “chip” implemented, the cloning fraud can be prevented.

Surprisingly, this embedded “chip” is not enforced in U.S. I find out this every time when I have visitors from U.S and they always complain that their credit cards cannot be used in Malaysia. This is due to the fact that only the credit card with embedded “chip” can be used in Malaysia or perhaps the Asia Pacific.

Another common type of credit card fraud is online transaction. As long as they know your credit card number, 3 digits behind your credit card, and the expired date, they can purchase anything online on your behalf. This information can be easily obtained when you pay your bill using credit cards in a restaurant. Can you see how insecure the credit card is?

What should you do? Know your rights!

The first thing when you realize your credit card is lost or any transactions that do not belong to you, report to the bank as soon as possible. The second thing is you must know your liability and rights. Different country has different rules.

In Malaysia, the Bank Negara Malaysia’s credit card guidelines effectively limit a card holder’s liability for unauthorised transaction to RM250.
That means the bank cannot charge you more than RM250 for unauthorized transaction. This is providing that you do not take part in the fraudulent transaction and reported the lost or stolen credit card as soon as possible.

In Singapore, you have to pay for all the fraudulent transactions that occur before your card is reported stolen or lost. In UK, you’re limited to pay £ 50 for fraudulent transactions. In U.S. the maximum liability that cardholders have to pay for unauthorized use of a credit card is USD 50.

How to Prevent Credit Card Fraud?

  1. Periodically check that all your credit cards are still with you.
  2. Destroy all copies of credit card’s receipts, airline tickets and any documents that display your credit card numbers.
  3. Carry out online transactions only with reputable companies. Ensure that the websites have security features.
  4. Avoid responding email that request for credit card information.
Lastly, I would recommend you to copy down the Customer Services' Phone number to a safe place. It is located at the back for your credit card. Just in case when you lost your credit cards, you can call this number immediately.

I hope this helps. Have you experienced the credit card fraud before? Any tips to share?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Wisdom Teeth are Finally Removed

I had just removed my upper 2 wisdom teeth yesterday. It is not as scary as I thought. The upper part is usually simple (lucky I am) and less complicated as compared to the lower wisdom tooth (because the nerves is just beneath it).

Here you go, this is my lovely wisdom teeth.

During the Surgery

I felt a little bit nervous at the first but the nurse advised me to open my eyes and breathe with my nose. After followed her instructions, it is much more relief. When you guys have operation next time, you could do the same. It feels a lot better with your eyes open.

After the Surgery

They usually give you antibiotic and pain killer. Because I do not have my gum cut, I only have the pain killer. If you have your gum cut, your face may swell and the doctor usually advice you buy a Cold / Ice Pack from your local pharmacy to put into your face to reduce the swell and as well as the pain.

Few things need to be taken care of:
  1. Rinse your Mouth only after 24 hours (to prevent non-stop breeding)
  2. Brush your Teeth only after 24 hours
  3. Eat soft food (e.g. porridge) for 3 days (Up to you)
  4. Eat pain killer only if necessary.
p/s: Remember also to take your MC so you can take a rest at home without going to work. :D

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Get Rid of Worms in Stomach

When I was young, I used to see my dog vomiting worms out from his month. I heard it also happens to human especially small kids. I had never experienced that before because I used to eat deworming medicine given by my parents.

Until recently, I saw a video from YouTube which shows the worms in our human stomach. Here is the video but honestly it is quite “disgusting”.

I only realize that it has been more than 5 years, I have not taken any deworming medicine. So I am so scared that those worms are actually inside my body now. Although I do not have any signs (e.g. itchiness in my anus), I decided to take up a deworming medicine and it is a local brand called “ZENTAL”.

How Do Common Worms Enter Our Body?

Common worms enter our body through 2 main ways:

  • Contamination of food by worms eggs
  • Penetration of our skin by worm larvae (I don’t know this can happen)
I think because of these, children are particular easy to get those worms because they’re outdoors most of the time. But, does this mean Adult will not get that? What about raw food (e.g. sushi and sashimi) that some of us love to eat?

Common Types of Worm Infection

In Malaysia, the most common worm infection is whipworm, followed by roundworm, hookworm, pinworm, threadworm and tapeworm. The one we see from the video above looks to me like a roundworm. Threadworm and tapeworm are hard to kill and you need to take the ZENTAL medicine for 3 consecutive days.

I did take Zental for 3 consecutive days just to be safe because I don’t know what kind of worms that I have. I may have already free from worms, I really don’t know.

So, how often do you take deworming medicine? Do you aware, there could be worms in your stomach?

Related Post:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tax Saving Tips for Malaysian (Individuals)

As you may know, the dead line for tax filing is end of this April. I think this year they enforce you to file through the e-filing system. What you need to do is login to e.hasil.org.my and follow the rest of the instructions there. I personally find it is very convenient as compared to the hardcopy filing which I hate it.

It maybe too late for me to tell you the saving tips on tax filing. :D However, some of these tips can be implemented immediately while others can be carried out throughout the years. I’m going to share some tax saving tips for employee (none business owners). Some of them, you may or may not have already known. Some of them I do not aware of it as well and I label it as (New to Me).

1. Save For Your Child Under National Education Saving Scheme (New to Me)

Any amount that is deposited into a saving account for your child under the National Education Saving Scheme allows you to claim for tax deduction. The limit is RM3K per individual. So together with your spouse, it can bring tax relief of RM6K.

2. File Separate Tax Returns

Usually file separately for couples will fall into lower tax bracket unless one party does not earn much but has a parent’s medical bill that reduces the chargeable income for both. Anyway, the safest way is to try it out to compare them yourself.

3. Increase Your EPF contribution (New to Me)

You may not aware that you could actually ask your employer to reduce your monthly salary but increase or EPF contribution by the same amount. The deductible amount from your taxable income is dependent on the arrangement between you and your employer. RM1000 EPF deduction can save up to e.g. RM2,880 (RM12K X 24%). Cool, huh?

4. Continue Your Master or P.h.d.

A total relief of RM5K per year can be claimed for any course of study at the master’s or doctorate level. This is especially suitable for those who are working and studying at the same time.

5. Read more Books and Magazines!!!

I think previously you’re only allowed to claim up to RM500 but starting from 2007, you can claim up to RM1K for any purchase of books, journals, magazines ad other publication.

6. Get Sporty (New to Me)

You can claim up to RM 300 each year to purchase of any sports or exercise equipments for any sports activity. Another cool thing for me.

7. Buy Life Insurance

This maximum tax relief is RM6K a year for premiums paid to an insurance company for life insurance. This is kind of useless if your EPF contribution is more than RM6K because this limit is shared with the EPF contribution. So, this is only applicable to those EPF’s contribution less than RM6K.

8. Buy Medical or Education Insurance

You can claim deductions up to RM3K a year for education and medical insurance (combined limit for both). If you buy 36 critical illness life policy, you may claim up to 60% of total premium paid. Check out my latest post - Tax Relief for Critical Illness Life Insurance.

9. Pay Your Parents’ Medical Bills

You are able to claim up to RM5K for payments towards your parent’s medical bills. However, this does not include payment for your spouse's parents. Remember to keep the receipts, which should be made out to you, together with details of treatment received.

10. Pay Your Own Medical Expenses

You can claim a deduction of up to RM500 per year for a full medical examination and RM5K for medical expenses for yourself, your spouse or your child for serious diseases. A separate tax deduction up to RM5K is given for necessary basic supporting equipment for disabilities suffered by yourself, your spouse, children or parents.

11. Buy a Personal Computer

You can claim up to RM3K once every 3 years. You can claim it for the purchase of printers and bundled software as well.

12. Buy Property Below RM250K

There is 50% stamp duty exemption for the purchase of house that less than RM 250K and the maximum limit that can be claimed is RM 2K. This exemption is only given for one house per individual and applies to sale and purchase agreement (S&P) signed between September 2007 and December 2010.

13. Invest In REITS (New to Me)

REITS stand for real estate investment trust. There are 11 REITs listed on the main board which their dividends are taxed at 15%. If your tax brackets exceeding 15%, you would enjoy some tax savings by investing in REITs.

Well, I hope this is something useful to you. Are those “New to Me” tips also “New to You” too? Happy tax filing to all of you! :)

Source: Personal Money

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Should you resign to get motivated?

Still remember you first day of work? What happen 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years later? So, you resign and start over the process again. 2 years later, then what you should do? Resign again? How many times you can resign in your career path?

Does this cartoon look familiar to you?

One of the hardest challenges to be employee is self-motivation. 2 years is usually the case just enough to take down your motivation and enthusiasm. In other words, 2 years you must CHANGE. So the only choice left is to resign. No other choices? Nope, there are few things you can do before you resign:

(1) Proactive Approach

People resign is usually because they do not get the recognition that they suppose to get. Identify the recognition that you want (e.g. promotion) and calibrate with your boss to set the expectation. The recognition must be within 2 years.

(2) Change Job Functions

If you do not get the recognition, you must request to change job function or task. Work on something else that you’re interested in within the same department. Give yourself 2 years again and back to step (1).

(3) Try for Internal Transfer

If none of the job functions those attract you, time to look for internal job’s opportunities in different department. This is one of the mistakes that I made when I resigned few years ago. I should have looked for internal opportunity first. Don’t make the same mistake as I did.

If these 3 steps fail, you only look for external job.

Once resign, you start all over again the 3 steps above. The key is really to make the CHANGE or MOVE in every 2 years. 2 years is the optimum duration in my opinion.

I think this is the best way to keep yourself motivated if you really want to stay in the corporate ladder. Believe me, you don’t want to wait until the day you drag yourself so hard to work every morning. You want to avoid that as possible, don’t you agree?

To avoid that, you need to upgrade yourself in every 2 years.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Are These Petrol Saving Tips Real?

The following petrol saving tips have been circulated around the world for quite sometime and few days ago I received it again. So, I’m just sharing these tips to you. But the question is how true the tips are? Are these tips real?

(1) Fill up your car or truck in the morning when the temperature is still cool.

When temperature high, gasoline expands (less dense), with the same amount money you get less gasoline.

My Comment: It sounds making sense from the physics point of view. I think I will buy in this. You may also interested there is a special pump to compensate the temperature swing but I don’t think every petrol station has it.

(2) If a tanker truck is filling the station's tank at the time you want to buy gas, do not fill up.

This is due to the fact that the dirt and sludge in the tank is being stirred up when gas is being delivered, and you might be transferring that dirt from the bottom of their tank into your car's tank.
My Comment: It doesn’t really matter to me whether it is true or not because it never happens to me (tanker truck is around) when I pump in the gas or petrol.

(3) Fill up when your gas tank is half-full (or half-empty).

The more gas or petrol you have in your tank the less air there is (empty space is small) and therefore gasoline evaporates less.
My Comment: It sounds theoretical right, but have you ever think of the more gasoline or petrol you have in your car, the heavier your car is and therefore the fuel consumption is higher? I wonder the impact is minimum and I think I choose *not* to buy in this. What about you?

(4) When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to the high setting (pump faster).

Hoses at the pump are corrugated; the corrugations act as a return path for vapor recovery from gas that already has been metered. If you are pumping at the high setting, the agitated gasoline contains more vapors, which is being sucked back into the underground tank, so you're getting less gas for your money.

My Comment: Hmm… how true is this? Honestly I don’t believe in it and I definitely has tried it out myself and I don’t see any differences between the low and fast setting. Anyway, I don’t buy in this.

The way I look at it, driving habit also plays a very important role.

The way you drive affects how often you have to fill up. Driving smoothly with as little sudden acceleration or braking could help a lot in your fuel consumption. Research is also showing that if you cut your average speed from 70mph (110kph) to around 50mph (80kph), you will burn about 25% less petrol. Around 50mph is the optimum speed for fuel consumption.

Here is my conclusion for Petrol Saving Tips that I’m going to follow:
  1. Pump petrol only in the morning.
  2. Maintain my driving habit – not to accelerate and sudden brake.
One last thing, buy an "Manual" car instead of the "Automatic" one. Is "Automatic" car really necessary?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

FD, Savings, Inflation and EPF Rates in Malaysia (1996 - 2007)

You may want to ignore this post if you do not interest in Malaysia rates for Fixed Deposit (FD), Savings, Inflation and Employee Provident Fund (EPF).

If case you have not heard about EPF, EPF is something similar to CPF in Singapore and 401(K) plan in U.S.

The chart and raw data below shows the FD, savings, inflation and EPF rates in Malaysia from 1996 to 2007.

Year FD (%) Savings (%) Inflation (%) EPF (%)
1996 7.26 4.10 3.50 7.70
1997 9.33 4.23 2.70 6.70
1998 5.74 3.87 5.30 6.70
1999 3.95 2.76 2.80 6.84
2000 4.24 2.72 1.60 6.00
2001 4.00 2.28 1.40 5.00
2002 4.00 2.12 1.80 4.25
2003 3.70 1.86 1.20 4.50
2004 3.70 1.30 1.50 4.75
2005 3.70 1.30 3.20 5.00
2006 3.80 1.30 3.60 5.15
2007 3.70 1.30 2.20 5.80
Average 4.76 2.43 2.57 5.70

As usual, EPF has the highest interest rate, follow by Fixed Deposit (FD) and savings. Except in 1997 where the FD has higher interest rate than EPF. As you can see from the graph, both EPF and FD outpace the inflation but not in savings. Therefore all my emergency funds are put in FD rather than in savings.

The tricky part of this data is all these rates here are accurate except for the inflation rate. As what Michael said in my post previous - How can I get most updated inflation rate:
"National reported inflation rate is for "Everybody", and I am NOT Everybody."
The inflation rate shown here is national inflation rate and it is definitely not accurate for you because everyone of us have different inflation rate depending on your spending. That's why you see a lot of people have 10% raise but they don't' save 10% more. Why? This is probably their personal inflation rate increases too. Once you have your personal inflation rate, I bet the FD won't be able to outpace the inflation rate as like the data shown above.

Hope this data is something useful to you. You can also look at inflation rate in other countries here if you're interested.

[Updated: 27 Feb 2011]
Apparently the data in this article is only up to 2007 and I will use the following post to keep track of the latest interest rates in Malaysia. Please go to that link:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Do you think married people are richer?

Are you married or are you still single? How do you manage your personal finance while you’re still single? Are there any changes in managing your personal finance after your marriage? Is it become more wealthy or worst?

In my opinion, I do think majority married people are richer than those who are still single for the following reasons:

(1) Dual-Income but Expenses Remain

When I was in single, I spend $2k per month but after my marriage I spend $3k per month together with my spouse. Since both of us are working, we have double income with $1k saving (theoretically should spend $4k per month with 2 person). I interviewed few of my colleagues and friends. They are experiencing the same thing. In fact, one of friends’ expenses is lower than his single’s life expenses after marriage. Wow!

(2) Changing in Personality and Lifestyle

My single life and married life are totally a different life. At least this is to true for me but I do see people still enjoying a single life after marriage. However, I believe that is only for temporary unless you divorce every often. While I was still single, every action of mine usually requires me to spend money (e.g clubbing and etc.). On the other hand after my marriage, every action on if mine I think about saving first. Married people are more responsible and tend to save for the future, think about how to build wealth but usually single don’t think so much. Both of them have totally a different mind-set, don’t you think so?

Marriage is a very Powerful Financial Tool

Whether you believe it or not, marriage is a very powerful financial tool to help you build wealth. If you’re single, you may probably disagree with me but I think that is just statistic data. I would like to know your comments. If you’re married, you may want to make sure of this very powerful financial tool and don’t misuse it. If your marriage is causing you to move away from wealth (yes, some people do – they spend more after marriage), it is time to think about it.

Theoretically, single people can manage a better personal finance than those are married one especially they have kids. Don’t you think so? If you are single, you do not have to care about the expenses of your kids. You do not need to care the kid’s education fees and many more. However practically, it doesn’t happen in the real world.

Most single screw up in their personal finance. How true is this statement?

Other posts that you may interested:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

If Only I Had (Live Within Your Means)

Look at the cartoon below, does this happen in your real life? Do you see your friends have what you don’t have and you really admire him? You wish you could be him and own what he owns now and you know what, I bet he is also wishing for the same thing that could own something that you’ve already owned.

Okay, there is nothing wrong with wishing!

You wish for something you don’t have is a good thing. In fact, wish for something is the basic fist step in the Law of Attraction. Without wish, your dream won’t come true at all.

The problem is to complain about it!

A lot of people like use the complain as an excuse and usually this people wont get any far. They may get short-term gain but definitely not the long-term gain. Unless you’re complaining something that within your control, but that is not called complain already. It is called influence.

You may also compare wrongly!

We have to understand that everyone has their own problem. The person that you admire may not be as good as you thought. They may even worst than you as a person just because they do not show the negative side of themselves. This is especially true for the Chinese (Of course not everyone), because of their faces are the most important thing than anything thing else. Faces mean giving the best positive side of yourselves even thought sometimes that is not the real you.

Here are my conclusions from this cartoon:
  1. Wishes are good only if we able to transform them into action (not complains)
  2. Live within our means (to accept there are thing we have to do without). It is in fact the secret of wealth and happiness.
  3. Compare ourselves is always the best strategy because we know the comparison is valid.

p/s: I know talk is easy and I also understand comparing is a human nature but just don’t spend too much time on it. Focus on something else that made a difference. :)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How healthy is your bone?

Few weeks ago, I walked by in the grocery store and somehow accidentally did a bone health check (attracted by a pretty promoter). :D It was organized by Anlene in worldwide. What surprised me was not my result but the result of a young guy who queued in front of me.

I am happy that I have the highest score that indicates my bone is at healthiest level. However the fellow in front of me has -2 score. He is very young and looks really healthy. So I silently peek on his personal particular data, he is just 27 years old! Oh my god, 27 years old at the moderate risk?

This tells me that bone problem (sound more technically it is called Osteoporosis) does not happen to old guys only but also young guys. I read the handout from Anlene and it says the following which may explains why this guy has a low score.

“You may think your bones are strong this is because you feel strong from the outside. What you don’t know is your bones could actually be rotting and decaying form the inside.”

“Do you know that your bones have 2 layers? The outer layer is hard and solid. But the inner layer is sponge-like, making it weaker and more vulnerable to decay. Because of this, bone decay usually goes unnoticed, until it’s too late.”

Understanding Your Bones

You may not aware that our bone is living and growing tissue. It is constantly breaking down, rebuilding, regenerating and repairing itself. Through this cycle, your entire skeleton is completely renewed every 10 years. Because of this reason, you can change your health bone status to become better or worst. Since I have a healthy bone now, I will have to make sure I maintain the healthy level:
  1. Continue my exercise routine (At least twice a week)
  2. Continue eating diet rich in calcium (E.g. Milk, yogurt, fruit and green vegetable)
  3. Continue my healthy lifestyle
    • I smoke and drink alcohol occasionally but I guess I have to stop smoking completely.
    • I think I will still drink alcohol occasionally because I think drink a little bit is in fact good for health. Is it the true?
    • I will still continue drinking coffee but maximum is 1 glass per day.
  4. Perform bone health check in every 5 years.
Do you have a healthy bone? Maybe you should start doing bone health check now if you haven’t done so :)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Calculate Investment Return on Real Estate

If you buy property or real estate, how do you calculate the ROI (Return of Investment)? Is it by your rental income or capital gain? Do you include the ownership fees to purchase your house? How about renovation cost? Let’s look at the calculation below how to calculate the ROI by rental income and capital gain. Calculating the ROI for property can help you decide whether you should buy that house or not.

ROI by Rental Income

If you purchase a house for the purpose of rental income, you may want to calculate your ROI based on rental income.

Property Purchase Prize: $180K
Ownership Fees: $2K
Renovation Cost & Furniture: $40K

*Ownership fees are legal fees, government stamp duties, loan agreement fees and etc.

Total Purchase Price = $222K ($180K + $2K + $40K

Maintenance Fees (Monthly): $100
Monthly Rental Income: $800

* Maintenance fees are insurance, security fees, property damages and whatever cost to maintain the house.

Monthly Net Rental Income: $700 ($800 - $100)

ROI = Net Rental Income for Year / Total Purchase Price X 100%

ROI = 3.8% ($700 X 12 / $222K X 100 %)

So, the ROI for income rental gain is 3.8%.

ROI by Capital Gain
Total Purchase Price: $222K (Calculated from above)
Selling Price (in a year): $230K

ROI = ($230K - $222K) / $222K X 100%

ROI = 3.6%

So, the ROI for capital gain is 3.6%.

If you purchase the property for the sake of investment by earning the rental income, the ROI is 3.8%. To be more optimistic, you may also include your capital gain which is 3.6%. So the total ROI for the house that you invest is 7.4% (3.8%+3.6%).

If you purchase the property for staying, you can only calculate the ROI based on the capital gain. In this case, your ROI is 3.6%. Please note that you’re now enjoying the house and at same time you’re also enjoying the capital appreciation at 3.6%. Isn’t this a perfect investment?

My 2 Cents

If I am buying a house for investment by renting out my property, I would look at the property that has at least 7% ROI (exclude the capital gain – conservative calculation). Reason is the Fixed Deposit (FD) is 4% and my average investment return from unit trust is 7%. If the ROI is less than 7%, I may as well invest it in unit trust. Remember that the rental income gain or capital gain from property is not the actual gain because we haven't consider the mortgage interest yet. On the other hand, if I am buying a house for staying, I will also look at the property with at least 7% ROI as well. The reason is same with what I mentioned.

How do you calculate the ROI for your property? What ROI value will make you decide to buy the house? Do you really calculate the ROI when purchase a house? If no, maybe it is time to think about it.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Is Singapore a Clean Country?

Is Singapore a clean country? Yes, I used to think that but I no longer sure after this trip. I just got back from Singapore for a business trip. I arrived in Singapore on this Tuesday. This trip really changes my impression to Singapore that I had 8 years ago. Of course, 8 years ago I only visited Orchard road and I thought all areas in Singapore is like in Orchard. It turns out that I was wrong.

Hotel Sucks and Dirty!

After staying for 2 days 3 nights in a hotel called "Lion City Hotel" in Singapore, what I bring back is the reddish spot on my hands and this reddish spot very itchy sometimes. Luckily it just on my hand and I hope it won’t spread to my whole body. I stayed in the Superior room type which costs me about S$124. Due to the cost saving of my company, our budget is around S$150. I don’t have many choices and it seemed like the Lion City Hotel is the best candidate. If you look at the website, it really seems fine (at least clean enough). Don’t you think so? But, when I reached there the first night, it was really a nightmare!
  1. The room is very smelly. One kind of smell when first entered the room.
  2. Toilet is also very smelly and looks dirty.
  3. Toilet paper has been used before. No brush and toothpaste provided.
  4. Carpet in the floor is broken and if you look inside is it dark the dirty. I don’t know how to describe. It is just like shit or someone just vomit there.
  5. TV is very unclear and no remote control.
  6. Dust is everywhere. You can see the dust on the TV, Window, furniture and the corner between 2 walls. Yuacks!!!
  7. Inside the water boiler is like have a shit and mold stick with it. It is dark and black in colour. How can I pour coffee?

Rubbish Everywhere!

Surprisingly the area nearby the hotel is also full of rubbish. I saw rubbish is everywhere on the floor. I saw people just throw whatever to the floor (e.g. cigarette, food, plastics beg). A lot of people smoke in public too. I thought Singapore disallow people smoke in public? I thought Singapore disallow people simply throw rubbish too? Why this place is an exception? Is it because it is near Geylang, the red area - famous due to the prostitution business? This is really disappointing.

It seems like Singapore is just like another normal country like Malaysia. It is not as clean as I thought. Well, it seems like every country must have a place like that. Don’t you think so? Of course, Singapore is not an exception. What do you think? Is Singapore a clean country? Perhaps what I experienced is just a very minority?

p/s: Btw, I hope my reddish spot is not some sexual viruses. It should be due to the allergy. Don’t scare me. It is kind of worry me. :D

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Is Credit Card or Debit Card better?

Are they the same? Yes, they are the same physically – a piece of plastic but they serve different purpose. If so, what are their differences? Which one is better?

Credit card is for you to buy things without paying first. The bank will pay for you first and at the end of the month, you pay back the bank. You can decide to pay back the bank in full or partial. When you pay bank the in partial, you basically owe the bank. You’re actually taking the loan from bank. So the bank will charge you the interest based on the amount of loan you borrow.

Debit card on the other hand is for you to buy things with the amount of cash that you have in your saving account. Unlike the bank is paying for you, you’re actually paying yourself for the things that you buy and the money is deducted directly from your saving or current account once you swap you card.

In my personal opinion, the following factors determine whether you should choose credit or debit card.

(1) Which one is more convenient?

I owned a debit card before (VISA Electron) and it seems like the problem with that is not well accepted in a lot of places. Debit cards it not widely accepted as popular as credits card. However, this is probably only happen in Malaysia. When I traveled to US last year, debit card seems like as widely accepted as credit card. Not only that, I can use the debit card as an ATM card to withdraw cashes without any extra charges.

(2) Which one has reward points?

Does debit card have a reward points system? Not that I’m aware of. One of the reasons I choose credit card over debit card is because of the reward points. You can collect points when you spend your money with the credit cards and you can redeem the points for cash or other stuff. So far, I have redeemed the cash and 6 months prepaid phone card. I love this reward points system.

(3) Which one has cheaper fees?

I have been using credit cards more than 5 years and I haven’t paid them a single-cent. Just call them to waive the fees or cancel your existing card and apply for the new one with promotion. Usually the promotion will give you free annual fees. Some even give you free for life time. As for the debit card, I think the fees should be free as well.

(4) Which one is better control of your finances?

People says using debit card can gain more control of your finances because you can’t spent the money more than what you have. My belief is that if you can’t control your own finance, no matter what cards you’re using, you will end up with trouble (e.g. overdraft facility in your current account). Using the debit card is just an excuse. If you can control your own finance (aware of your spending), it is really doesn’t matter that which card you’re using. As long as you can use credit cards wisely, I don't see there is a problem with that.

Has anything that I left out? I personally prefer credit card because it is convenient and I can used it all around the world. Not only that I don’t need to pay for the fees at all, at the same time I can enjoy the reward points. If debit cards can fulfill all these requirements above, I don’t mind using it as I’ve already used the credit card as debit card or cash. I always pay my payment in full every month.

So for me, credit card is still a better choice for me at this moment. What is your choice?

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