Thursday, October 23, 2008

Get $100 for free

I never thought I would even consider getting a credit card from Maybank but I guess some offers can be too tempting. No matter how shoddy the brand perception of the bank may be.

From now till 31 December 2008, simply apply for any Maybank Platinum Credit Card and you will get a S$100 cash credit to your card upon your first card spend within one month of receiving it. In addition, they are also throwing in a 10 year annual fee waiver just for good measure.

Talk about getting a card for life. More details here.

Tracking your time

Klok is a great time management tool for people working on projects. It allows you to track the number of hours you spend on various projects and is a great way to clock your time so that you know where it goes and how many man hours were actually spent. In a sense, it helps you to discern if your initial time estimations were correct and if a project required much more effort and resources than was initially planned for.

On a personal level, it can probably help students and project managers manage their limited time and resources on various equally challenging and time sensitive tasks.

You will need to first define all your projects/tasks on hand and then choose to either drag it into a calendar view (by week) in one hour blocks or enter in the specific time for each task.

However, I feel the best feature is dragging the project directly onto the top navigation "Currently working on" tab. This activates an actual timer that measures the time spent in real time. After you finish the project, you just click on "Stop" and Klok will record it down.

On a scehduled basis, you can then export your weekly timesheet and it will show on a daily basis, the time you have spend for each project in that particular week.

Download the program here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Value investing

These are turbulent times in the market. With every possible bad scenario happening, the future of the financial markets look bleak and gloomy. Its at times like these, you really wonder if its even worth investing in the stock market and if you should really just cut your losses and keep your cash in a milo tin underneath your bed.

One of my favourite books (and I would never have thought this would be an enjoying read at all!) is Benjamin Graham's "The Intelligent Investor". Warren Buffett describes it as "by far the best book on investing ever written

The gist of the book can be summarize by the analogy of Mr. Market, an obliging fellow who turns up every day at the share holder's door offering to buy or sell his shares at a different price.

Often, the price quoted by Mr. Market seems plausible, but sometimes it is ridiculous. The investor is free to either agree with his quoted price and trade with him, or ignore him completely. Mr. Market doesn't mind this, and will be back the following day to quote another price.

The point of this anecdote is that the investor should not regard the whims of Mr. Market as a determining factor in the value of the shares the investor owns. He should profit from market folly rather than participate in it. The investor is advised to concentrate on the real life performance of his companies and receiving dividends, rather than be too concerned with Mr. Market's often irrational behaviour.

This is the concept of Value Investing. Not trading based on market sentiment but on companies and stocks that hold true value. Graham states certain rules and conditions that a company and stock must fulfill before it can be considered to be included as part of your value investing portfolio.

A definite must read for someone trying to figure out what to do in this current mess.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I heart Threadless

Threadless is possibly the OTHER best example of how community centered collaboration (That honor goes to Wikipedia) at the helm of web 2.0 is sparking new ideas and businesses especially in the E-Commerce front.

Members of the Threadless community (you can register to become a member) submit their t-shirt designs online and these designs are then subjected to a public vote. Designs that are popular (i.e. People like and would possibly buy them) are selected for printing and sold through their online store at Creators of the winning designs will receive a prize of cash and store credit. Basically, everyone wins.

A caveat though - The designs are printed in limited quantities (for all sizes) and the popular ones sell out quickly. If that happens, you can vote to have it reprinted and it enough votes are gathered (i.e. Enough people will buy the reprints), then that design will be reprinted.

These are 2 of my favourite Threadless T-shirts. And no, I don't have them yet because the size I want is perpetually sold out.

Fans of the old TV series would relate to this one, aptly titled "What would Macgyver do".

This one's called "The Beginning".

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The legendary notebook of Hemingway

I've always wanted a Moleskin notebook. Its the coolest and most frivolous thing ever and extremely pricey for a notebook. Alicia, my partner in crime at work got me a Moleskine Sketchbook as a farewell gift (Yes, I've decided to take a leap of blind faith in these uncertain times). She figured that someone who was venturing into the creative field should look the part. Love it!

Check out the fuss at

More TV to watch

2 of my favourite shows are back.

Heroes Season 3 and Entourage Season 5. Time to get busy watching TV. Only its on my Mac. Ah, the perks of the Internet. Not having to wait 3 months for the show to come to Singapore.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How to be a millionaire

Trading common stocks can be a harrowing affair. The other option to grow your wealth is to look at Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). The best ETFs in my opinion are those that track broad based indices like the S&P500. The S&P500 tracks the top 500 large cap companies in the U.S and is generally used to indicate the state of the U.S equity market. If you look at historical returns, the S&P500 has delivered between 8 to 12 % gains annually. Compound this over a period of 20 to 30 years and you've got pretty substantial returns.

The ETF that tracks this is the SPDRS TRUST SERIES 1 (Stock Ticker: SPY) and the investing formula is dollar cost averaging. Because this ETF tracks the entire U.S market, it is essentially neutral and by buying into this ETF at consistent points every year with a fixed amount of cash, you can ride out the ups and the downs. When the market is up, you buy less units. When its down, you buy more. The point is to consistently accumulated units year after year and the earlier you start, the better.

Using the historical market returns of the S&P500 (taking a safe compounding rate of 5%, an initial amount of US$10,000 with a yearly investment growth of 10% (i.e. the same time next year, I will use US$11,000 to purchase more units and US$12,100 the following year), I can look to accumulate US$1,043,003 in 21 years.

The only concern is that your investment is in U.S dollars so there are also foreign exchange risks to consider. There's a local equivalent, the Strait Times Index (STI) and you can look to purchase the STI ETF (Stock ticker: ES3.SI) with the same strategy above.