Update on Progress / Key Financial Moves Taken

The last time I took stock of my financial position was about 2 months ago, towards the end of 2016 here. I was actually planning to take stock every 6-monthly, but because I did quite a couple of things in the first 2 months of 2017, I thought it might be useful for me to keep track of them in my blog.

1. Top up my mum's CPF

As a promise I made to myself, I contributed yet another $7000 to my mum's CPF Special Account sometime in Jan this year. As CPF interests are computed monthly, I made a deliberate decision to put in the entire sum right at the beginning of the year to maximise the amount of interest I (or rather, my mum) can receive. It wasn't as hard this time round since I've very much prepared myself emotionally for it.

2. Made multiple investments in stocks.

I built up my stocks portfolio quite substantially in the last few months, taking advantage of price weakness whenever they surface. I am just starting out on this journey of investing for the long term, and the hardest part is controlling my own emotions. I used to trade a lot with very bad results. Lost a sizeable amount of my savings. Hopefully I will learn to be become a more skillful master of my own emotions.

Specifically, I bought the following:

a. Asian Pay Tv @ $0.38
b. FIRST REIT @ $1.255
c. AA REIT @ $1.275
d. DBS @ $15 [But I sold it off too early at 16.35. Another hard reminder to myself not to meddle with my positions unnecessarily.]
e. M1 @ $2.39 and $2.16

I made a deliberate decision to divert some of my funds for foreign stocks to reduce geographical risk. I didn't like US because of the high taxes, choosing Hong Kong instead. I bought the following:

f. TVB @ $25.70 and $26.90
g. SJM @ $6.02

3. Made a partial capital repayment of $2665 for my HDB mortgage loan (by mistake).

I am receiving about $2500 monthly from renting out my HDB. For the first 8 months, the cash just goes straight into my savings account. However, the amount of cash I am holding has reached a point where I find it hard to generate decent returns. I've used up all my options already: UOB ONE, OCBC 360, and BOC SmartSaver. Any additional cash that I continue to accumulate will have to go straight to CIMB Fastsaver, which only earns 1% p.a. To be fair, it's a good rate given that there are no hurdles to jump through. However, as compared to the 2.6% which I am paying for my mortgage, earning 1% on my cash will mean that the cost of holding that amount of cash is actually 1.6%, which to me, is rather high.

So I am left with 2 choices. First, I can use those accumulated rental income to make a one-off partial capital repayment of my loan, hence saving me on interest. However, this will mean that my income tax will increase as my rental income less interest paid will increase. Or, second, I can use the monthly income to pay the mortgage installments, so the money in my CPF will be left untouched and can start to build up and earn the 2.5% interest. When I eventually stop renting, I can then have the option of using the entire sum in my OA to pay down my loan. The cost of holding "cash" in OA as compared to paying off the loan straight off is only a mere 0.1% (ignoring the additional 1% to be earned on the first $20k in OA for simplicity).

Mathematically, the second option is better, as money in OA is a form of buffer to continue servicing the mortgage loan should I lose my job. I will also be better off as the amount of additional tax I would have needed to pay is more than the 0.1% holding cost. Hence, given all these reasons, I tried to find ways to pay my outstanding monthly mortgage in cash before deductions are made from my CPF accounts. To cut the long story short, I made the cash payment, but the CPF deduction still happened. I emailed HDB to ask them how can I change the default payment method from CPF to bank GIRO. Waiting eagerly to hear from them.


So that's it! These are the few things I've done in the last few months. My personal cash savings is still at $110k, and joint savings with my wife is still $50k. Nothing else has changed much besides the above.

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