Recent updates

Well, this will be just a quick update.

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Property

My family went to see a recent property launch. We wanted to get another property which should be bigger than our current HDB flat (or at least similar in size, and equally comfortable). Unfortunately, I think we tend to fall into the ‘anchoring bias’ when looking at the show flats / sales brochures.

Typically for new projects, the size of the unit would be smaller as compared to say a similar unit completed a decade ago.

In addition, I generally find HDB units bigger than Condo units. I feel that I can actually get more usable space in HDB flats, whereas in Condo unis, the sales brochure may state XX sqm, but after you minus off the balcony and AC ledge areas, the actual size of the enclosed space / rooms is much smaller. Many developers are building bigger balconies and AC ledge (which are typically non-GFA) to make the units appear bigger.

I don’t foresee much need for a balcony (nor a big AC ledge). In addition, in the particular development we saw, there is no yard for the units we are aiming for. There is a Utility Room (comes with a small toilet) for those bigger units. However, this would probably mean that we would have to dry our clothes in the front balcony. I can envision most of the occupants sunning / drying their clothes in the balconies.

Consequently, I find that ‘image’ rather unsightly (like some multi-national flags / under-wears out in the open)—- yeah, sales brochure don’t show you that. Whatever prestigious image I had of the development is immediately smashed when I think about that. Remind me of the Centris Condo at Boon Lay MRT station. I can see all the clothes out in the balconies while waiting for the MRT train.

To jump to the new bigger unit with 1 more room would mean that it has exceeded our planned budget. So basically we have 3 choices:

  1. Choose a unit with the same no. of rooms as our current HDB unit, but with a smaller ‘usable’ enclosed area, which is within our budget. Or
  2. Choose a unit with one more room as compared to our current HDB unit, but this would have exceeded our planned budget by a huge margin. Or
  3. Sell our current HDB flat and go for Option 2 (see above).

I don’t really see the point of going for Option 1. Why pay so much more to squeeze my family into a smaller unit. Might as well stay put (in our HDB flat). Yeah there are amenities like pools, gym, function rooms, BBQ pits etc in the condominium development… but I can do so much ‘less’ with less space in my unit. My son can’t even fit his study table in his bedroom in the condo unit, and I end up with a smaller master bedroom. I feel like I am paying money to ‘downgrade’.

I also can’t afford Option 2. Well, technically I can — just take on more loan. But I don’t see how the ‘value’ justify the added cost.

For Option 3: I really don’t see the point of paying so much to stay in a condo. One main reason for buying a second property is to generate rental income from one of them. The property we stay in is actually not an asset but a liability, it is a consumption item. I don’t need a condo to make me feel good or to make me appear rich or to keep up with the Joneses. At the moment, I do like the feeling of having no loan to worry about (my HDB unit is fully paid for).

Frankly, regarding the purchase of a property, for me, what is of importance is that we find a place whereby we really like to stay in. Not for price / capital appreciation, investment or rental income.

I would like to know that I have bought a nice place for my family. And I should remember that this is the main reason why I bought the property in the first place. This belief is especially important during property market downturns and should the value of the property become less than what we initially paid for. Or even when we can’t rent out the unit at all.

When you take care of the downsides, the upsides take care of themselves.

 

P2P loan / Invoice Financing

It is another terrible news for the past week. Another SME company has gone under. Director ran away with the money. And the company has obtained loans from multiple P2P platforms here. Banks are coming down hard on the company. I have 2 loans with this company.

Yeah, my net profits / interests obtained from my P2P loan / Invoice financing portfolio has dwindled drastically with this bad news. Still a net profit – but a tiny one.

I can’t really reveal the emails which I have received from the platforms as they have asked that we do not post these on social media.

Lesson learnt. I had withdrawn a substantial amount from my accounts within these platforms.

 

Stock Portfolio

I consider this year an abnormality when it comes to stocks, while at least that is how I feel right now personally.

Within this year, I have three stocks in my portfolio delisted (Nirvana Asia, SMRT and Lyxor Japan ETF). Another one will likely be delisted soon – Super Group Ltd. Yes, I know, the price to book ratios of many stocks are low this year.

I have never bought a stock with the hope that one day the stock will be delisted.

I bought the stock because I want to hold it for a very long time (hopefully just before I retire or when I need the money for emergency).

Yeah, in most of the delistings, I get a net realized profit. And hey, things might turn out worse… share prices could have gone down further (and stay down there for a long long long time).

In the case of Super Group Ltd – things weren’t looking good in recent years. However, I always believe that the company has its strengths and management was doing their best to turn things around. They were focusing on their strength and getting more branding awareness with ESSENSO Microground Coffee. In fact there were good reviews on this coffee product.

Nevertheless, the company is operating in a competitive F&B market and high commodity prices / weak regional currency were not helping much. There are many more 3-in-1 instant coffee mix these days.

However, I have always been tracking the company progress, and did see improvement in their recent cash flow. Their balance sheets are still relatively strong.

Well, the founder / major shareholder have sold their shares. Now it is left to the remaining shareholders to confirm if they are selling theirs (so that the company can be delisted and privatized).

I first bought Super Group stocks in June 2014, and have been staring at red unrealised losses ever since (and adding to that position). Funny thing is, in a single day on 3 Nov 2016, the red losses actually became black. I always thought that I would be staring at the agonising losses for many years to come.

Well, if it is indeed delisted – I would have realized a profit for this stock holding. A profit is a profit. And my cash war-chest will be much bigger than what I planned for or anticipated (after all Super Group is one of my major holding in my stock portfolio – bigger than Nirvana Asia, SMRT and Lyxor Japan ETF combined). My net worth for this year so far has also increased the most as compared to other years.

This might be a good thing, since I always felt that the S&P 500 is too high for my liking although the S&P 500 has fallen 9 days in a row.

I reckon this (increase in war-chest) helps in getting ‘my ducks in a row’, with my list of potential stocks to buy (with a set of target price list of course). I am still waiting for the next ‘stock sale’.

 

Amazon FBA Private Label

I think I have an overdose of motivational Youtube videos on Amazon FBA Private Label. With the recent restriction that prevents new sellers from shipping inventories to their fulfillment centers —- what I can do now is to research on more potential products to sell, work on my listings and read more articles or watch more video about Amazon FBA.

I currently have identified four potential products to sell.

However, I will only do a small shipment for one product in Dec 2016. To ensure that the system works for me.

I have obtained two samples so far, and expect another 3 next week (however one sample is stopped at custom for checking so it may take much longer than I expect). Altogether: 1 confirmed sample for 1 potential product, and 3 samples for another potential product.

Oh yeah, I am also trying not to spend too much on samples. They are not cheap. However, if I am serious about selling that product, samples are necessary (before I spend a bigger amount buying in bulk).

There are many hiccups along the way (and these are not just the new restrictions from Amazon):

  1. 1000 misprinted packages which I have paid for. But I finally got the sample with the right package design — Yeahhhh!.. well, that is a Milestone for me ok. I have never had an actual product with my own package design and brand name (which I invented). It is a good feeling to hold it in my hand (and to know that it cost me a bomb :p). Took photos of it and updated the photos in my product listing in Amazon (darn…. too bad, can’t sell….).
  2. The manufacturer gave me the wrong Paypal account details (twice!), and I actually sent money to that wrong account. Well, I have got pass that and paid her (in the right Paypal account), to get a sample (which unfortunately, is now stuck at the custom for checking). I can’t help getting the ‘unlucky / jinxed’ feeling when I deal with this manufacturer.
  3. Lots of miscommunications…. Too many to count and I don’t know where to start. For instance, quoted prices did not include shipping cost, packages, Opp bags, cutting cost etc…. Had to keep asking and asking. And even their quoted prices can change (after you ask and clarify again).
  4. Had to always negotiate for lower MOQ (Min Order Quantity), samples (the way you want it).
  5. Had to wait for their responses. I typically send emails or messages to these manufacturers / suppliers after work. Since parts of China are in the same time zone as Singapore, many of them would also be out of the office at that time… so I had to wait for their replies — some hardworking ones would reply almost immediately after I sent my emails / messages, some the next day, while others never do (or do so many days after my email— by that time I would have forgotten what I have written :p).
  6. Some of them thought that my messages are too complicated and did not understand what I am writing about. While on the other hand, some asked me a lot of specific technical questions about the product. I would have thought showing them a photo of what I wanted is enough…. no…. they would then come back with: “What is the density I want, what is the thickness, what is the dimensions, what are the edges details, length, colour, material….. ??” Questions overload (I just want to know how much…..). Indeed, a single product can have countless permutations. Then there are others who completely ignore me..:P
  7. I am stilling waiting for my EIN and VAT number. Wonder how they (USA Internal Revenue Department) will notify me on the EIN when I neither indicated a fax number (I don’t have a fax machine– by the way, who uses a fax machine these days?), nor did they ask for my email address (no slot in the form asking for email address). By postal mail….from USA to Singapore? Hmmm…
  8. I am still paying for my Amazon Professional Seller Account monthly subscription fee as well as the Jungle Scout monthly fee. And I can’t ship inventories / sell…..darn! Talk about bad timing. Well, since I am paying for the Jungle Scout platform service – I thought I might as well make full use of it.Similarly, I spend some time doing up my listings in Amazon — like I said before, I think I am seriously over-focused / heavily tilted towards the research phase. I literally had more than 2 months to do research / listing for potential products. Wonder how many potential products I would have identified by 19 Dec 2016. And the suppliers / manufacturers who I am communicating with are probably wondering why I am asking so many questions for so many days / weeks, and not confirming any purchase (or paying them for bulk purchase) :p…..

Well, I like to see things in a positive light (probably the after effect of watching the motivational Youtube videos on Amazon FBA). Perhaps with all the new restrictions and hiccups that I have encountered, these might eventually turn out to be a good thing. There could a silver lining.
Also at the beginning, I did not set a target date or milestone dates for myself (eg. to meet the year end sale period etc)… so there is really no rush for me.

I think for next year, I would probably avoid the Oct, Nov period to ship things. I probably want to do it earlier – like in Aug or Sept.

There will always be changes and new regulations (for Amazon FBA). Change is the only constant. I guess I will just have to deal with them as they come along and learn from the experiences / mistakes.

Another new restriction on Amazon is regarding the ban on incentivised reviews. Well, there are other ways to get reviews from buyers- for instance sending out ‘Thank You’ emails to the buyers after they bought your products. There are lots of platforms which offer this service eg. Feedback Five, Feedback Genius, Salesbacker, Kibly etc… I have signed up for a free account with Salesbacker.

 

That’s all for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About apenquotes

Born in 1976. Married with 2 kids (a boy and a girl). A typical Singaporean living in a 4 room HDB flat.
This entry was posted in Portfolio, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Recent updates

  1. Raven says:

    Hi,

    I have a number of loans, mainly with Capital Match. I remember that you are using the same platform. Which company/loan is the one that has gone under? Was that loan a disclosed or non-disclosed loan? Was the platform still able to claw back payment from the debtor since the invoice should still be valid?

    Like

    • apenquotes says:

      TLC Car (They have applied for loans in FS and CM).
      Currently the platforms if I am not wrong have engaged money collectors.

      It is not an Invoice Financing loan, rather a P2P loan. So no invoice involved and technically these are considered as unsecured loans .. and would not be given priority as compared to the bank loans (which I understand TLC Cars also applied for).

      Like

  2. Sgdividends says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences

    It’s a good read and opened my eyes. Can only imagine the resilience in you :). And you must be a positive thinker who I must learn from

    Regarding the wrong PayPal account you sent the money to , did u get a refund ?

    Like

    • apenquotes says:

      I have been emailing to that wrong account.
      PayPal only let you escalate your dispute to a claim after a number of days. I just escalated it to a claim yesterday.

      Like

  3. LorrySG says:

    Hi APenQuotes,

    Once again, thank you for the great blog.
    Hope you will find your dream condo soon.

    Btw, thanks for the guidance on the past 10 years EPS in morningstar.
    How do I fond the past 10 years PE ratio? I could not locate it in morningstar.

    With Warmest Regards
    LorrySG

    Like

  4. LorrySG says:

    Hi APenQuotes,

    Once again, thank you for the great blog.
    Hope you will find your dream condo soon.

    Btw, thanks for the guidance on the past 10 years EPS in morningstar.
    How do I find the past 10 years PE ratio? I could not locate it in morningstar.

    With Warmest Regards
    LorrySG

    Like

  5. LorrySG says:

    Hi APenQuotes,

    Thank you so much for all the advice and guidance. 🙂

    With Warmest Regards
    LorrySG

    Like

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