Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why do Credit Cards charge your future usage ?

From time to time, we may heard news that more and more people are unable to pay their credit card debts. As a result, credit card companies must be earning a lot of money in return. On the contrary, credit card companies have been facing quite some challenges.

More and more people are settling their due payment in full monthly. This results the card company unable to earn money from this group of people. Some users even maximize the interest free period to 2 months and pay nothing to enjoy such great facility.

Due to the stiff competition among the card issuers, every time an annual fee is charged, the card users will simply stop the account.

When late fee and interests are charged, more and more users know how to get them waived.

Generally people are getting better in managing their credit card usages. More and more people are more personal finance savvy now.

Credit card used to be able to get their profit back from the people who owe them money. But now they can keep charging interest to their debtors but eventually the debtors went bankrupt and don't pay at all. Credit card companies ended up didn't earn much from this group of people neither.

This posts a problem. If the credit card companies can't earn as much as it used to be from the people who don't have money to pay. What can they do ?

Well, the other group of people never owe money. That means they must have money. So credit card companies think of a smart way to earn money from them. If you didn't pay your last month balance in FULL, we will charge you interest NOT only on your remaining balance BUT also on all your subsequent future transactions.

How can they get people to buy off with this new innovative but abusive concept ? Well, that has already been show cased in last article.

There you go, as and when people are getting better in their personal finance. Some giant finance institutions may get into troubles, especially those who earn when you spend. As a result, they will always beef up more advertisements and more 'creative' messages to make sure general public are confused what 21st century personal finance is really about.

Shouldn't we let credit card companies earn some ? Since they provide us great facilities ? Well, sure ! They have been earning 1-3% from the merchant every time you use the card. That alone is a multi-millions income every month.

Malaysia Personal Finance - Part 2 Amanah Saham

It was mentioned before that EPF in Malaysia is one of the best things that happens to ones personal finance, because it saves automatically even before you can lay a hand on your money - the main principal of Automated Saving System - ASS.

But not everyone works for someone. Or if your employer does not contribute his part, it makes EPF so much less interesting. So a government's mutual fund is born - Amanah Saham Nasional. If you are not eligible for EPF, you can still save in Amanah Saham.

Despite many disputes and diverse understanding on what Amanah Saham is or should be, one cannot deny that our poverty rate has indeed improved. The gap between rich and poor did narrow down since 50 years ago. That's the power of mutual fund, despite how wrong or how right the reason is when one save in mutual fund, all will be sharing the same return.

A government supported fund is even better for those who don't know what it is. As long as the 'government' is there, your money is protected.

So as far as value growing is concerned, that is pretty much what Malaysia government has done for your personal finance. There is an EPF and there is an Amanah Saham. If you are not adopting any of these tools, you are pretty much all on your own.

Part 2 - Amanah Saham

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Comments on Jupiter 2010 stock picks

Faber Group was one of the worst run businesses of all time. They wanted to do 'everything' and ended up achieved almost 'nothing'. Its one of those stories who involved in property development and didn't quite make it. The whole restructuring exercise took more than 5 years before they finally turned it around. What is interesting however is its consistent up trend in their EPS earning, despite that it started from a negative (84.2) in 1998. Looking forward, if the person who is managing finance in Faber continues to stay in power, this is worth looking into more. It could become one of the best long term keeper. Key to success is if they can repeat 2005-2006 growth now. This can be determined by reading their latest annual report. Challenges are varies of their continuous law suits.

SAPCRES, Oil and Gas, looks pretty good now. It seems like anything under RM 2.49 is a good buy ( and keep for the next 10 years). The problem is technically it is at its all time high now and corrections are bound to occur. Another problem is it has been relying too much on the oil market and fluctuated too much in the past. Internally they should really improve their hedging strategies to smoothen out their track records.

Paramount is properly most well known when they bought Kota Kemuning with cash 7 years ago. Perhaps they should buy another big piece of land now to stimulate next 3 years of growth !? Basically this is also a very good keeper, it wouldn't go too low anyhow so it has a strong safety net but technical correction pressure is quite high at the moment. Its employee share option scheme also make it a less attractive stocks. Potentially a keeper but lack of stimulants now.

While some think Zhulian is a great MLM company, I personally think they should adopt newer concepts etc. They are still employing 20th century MLM aka. repeat Amway's story but landed on a wrong product to start with. But even with the wrong product, they are in the right market and hence still manage to make it a success in their own scales. My target buy price for Zhulian is only RM 0.66

The rest of the Kurnia, KurAsia, Atrium, TSM and WellCall do not meet volume requirment. So whatever reasons Jupiter recommends them are not based on proven strength analysis - which in turn I consider as speculations. Among all, TSM may be the one what is most speculatable.

My actions ?

I have chosen KNM over SAPCRES in the past before. There is no urgency to change yet although its tempting. Faber and Paramount on the other hands were NOT in my radar before. Can Paramount regains its debut ? Is Faber really undervalued and have their internal issues really addressed ? I may check out Faber's management team first ...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Living Standard @ Personal Finance Level

Like inflation, Living Standard can be a big number where GDP, poverty rate, income growth inequality, life expectancy are involved. But as far as personal finance is concern, what you should really care is your very own personal living standard.

Simply put, living standard is your ability to sustain how you live your life. At one hand this can be calculated very much similar to Living Cost and the increase of living cost over time is inflation. So is living standard the same as inflation ?

But it should be the opposite instead. One would want lower inflation but higher living standard. So what has gone wrong in the formula ?

The keyword is "ability". If you are NO longer ABLE to sustain how you live your life when inflation kicks in, you are facing the risk of lower living standard. Inflation is an external factor. Your ability to fight the inflation will determine your living standard. When your ability increases faster than inflation, your living standard is raised.

Most of the time, this ability is associated to income. The more money you get the less you need to worry about how expensive the stuff has become. Although vastly applicable but earning income is NOT the only ability one can have.

Says the food and rent have been increasing rapidly. You have to rent a smaller place and eat at cheaper places. You change your lifestyle, you are having a lower living standard now.

On the other hand, another guy is facing the same inflation challenge. Instead of moving to a smaller place, now he rent a bigger place and sublet it to collect higher rent. He starts to grow his own food at his spare time. He changes his lifestyle, but he is having a higher living standard now - staying in bigger place while paying the lower rent and eating healthier food.

Which of the above is living cheaply and which one is living frugally ?

Sometimes creativity and innovation plays a vital role in achieving higher living standard, both in generating higher income and also how one can live his life.

Jupiter Online Stock Pick for 2010

Just came back from Jupuiter Online seminar, some of their stock picks for the year of 2010 are:

WellCall Holdings
Sapura Crest
Atrium REIT
TSM Global
Paramount Corp

Talk given by: Pong Teng Siew.

Actually he mentioned these are short to medium terms recommendation only ie. next month to next quarter or so. Overall there are many uncertainties ahead that the bullish trend is really questionable. Hence generally there will be a correction in the market soon, followed by a mainly side trends for the next 2 years.

A few points that I manage to digest are:

Governments backup funds are ending in mid or end of the year, banks are not likely to recover fully and able to stand on their own yet.

USA employment rate is actually higher than reported figures because the number of people claiming un-employment insurance are still rocket high. A lot of part time workers are actually un-willingly working part time but forced to.

China rising inflation may result them pulling back their outflow funds, implying we can't really rely on China neither.

I don't fully agree with all his views but nevertheless shared the similar future trend predictions. I may comment on his stock picks after I eat something ... hungry like a horse now ...

Mutual Fund of the year 2010 ? By the numbers ...

In 2009, about 10 mutual funds thats worth looked into were selected out of 530 choices in Malaysia.

Today lets take a look at how they performed in the past 6 months. Below chart shows their respective return in percentage. From past 1 day, past 1 week, past 1 month etc.

The actual percentage return is NOT important here. We are comparing fund performances across different fund managers. What we are looking for is a graph that consistently stay above the others. That would give an indication of "consistently outperform the others".

The most apparent winner is OSK Equity Fund and the worst is Public Ittikal. However, this does not imply anyone of them is better than another. The market has been trending up generally. OSK is well verse in stock market and therefore able to catch most of the up trend. Public Ittikal on the other hand only deals with halal and safe instruments. You can be assured that both of these funds are very strong in their fundamentals.

However, one clear message from this chart is that we can take TA away from this list. As you may see, their chart patterns show as if they have no clue how the market will move and don't even have any good strategies in their fund management. They are supposed to be as good as OSK.

So if you think the market is continue to be bullish, exercise DCA on OSK-UOB Equity Trust. Else if you prefer safer haven, try AMB Ethical Trust and Public Saving.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

KLSE Technical 2010-01-21

I have stopped stock market talks for a while based on comments received in the past. But about 20% of the old readers unsubscribed following that. So I am guessing there may still be some silence readers who love stock market talks. And I feel very itchy not to share my view seeing that no one else publishes my opinions. So pardon my incidental randoms.

As some may have known by now that KLSE is damn HOT now! Axiata, PBBank, KYM, RCECAP, LIONDIV, LIONIND, MBSB, AFG etc. all shoot up 8-12% in a day. This has happened since 2 days ago KLSE finally broke its 1300 ceiling after 10 months of 'recovery'.

Things are indeed great. But you may want to know a few things;

Despite higher closing price, MORE number of stocks are dropping THAN rising, 2 days in a roll. This may imply that only a few stocks are being speculated. Investors may even withdraw from other stocks in order to join the hot stocks growth. This also shows that there is NOT ENOUGH investment money flowing within the market now. So whatever the reasons are for the up swing, its NOT going to be able to keep it for long.

There has been a "closing up swing pattern" for the last few months. This shows that certain parties are manipulating the open and closing price so that certain trends are shown in technical analysis (so that other fund managers will join in the game). This is not totally a bad thing but if you are not following what these big boys are doing, its very likely that you don't catch their next moves.

According to Bollinger Band (20d, 2), KLCI is hitting its top band soon ie. 1315 by 25 Jan. So correction is coming very soon. Tomorrow is going to be a red day, if it goes on the day after, then the correction will be confirmed and it will be a good news where you can start accumulating again.

All the other indicators also show that there may only be another 10-20% room for growth in the next month or so.

So what should you do ?

Well, the heat is not going to fade away that fast neither. Tomorrow will be a red day. If you pick some stocks up, you may still be able to get 10-20% gain by February.

If you have already kept some, you may want to plan to profit take when it goes up another 5-10% in the next 2 weeks.

If you don't plan to profit take within the next couple of months anyway, the next obvious chance would be in Q4.

What are the jewels now if you haven't bought any yet ? Well, I have only concluded KNM and BAT for now. Keep KNM for these 2 months and BAT until year end.

Avoid warrants and all derivatives at all cost now!

How do I know tomorrow is going to be a red day ? Well, I just keep my eye on how the whole world market is going before ours are opened ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mortgage vs Loan

Very often the terms mortgage and home loan are used interchangeably. Although it might not cause big harms but understanding the difference may bring positive impact to your personal finance ie. in Property Investment.

In fact, mortgage is the opposite of loan.

When you need extra money, someone can lend you some and in return they gain profit when you repay them. The lender may ask for collateral like your house so that if you don't repay them, they can take possession of your house, sell it and still earn a profit by doing so. They give you a loan.

If you have something valuable and you want to exchange it temporary for some money, you can prove to people how valuable your possession is and why should they give you money for it. You get your money if the lenders are satisfied their interests will be taken care of. You have just mortgaged your belongings.

Loan is a lender's contract,
mortgage is a borrower's contract.

At one instance, it may seems the same. Its just a story told from different angles. But if you think for a moment as a borrower, do you want to follow your lender's contract or should you come up with your own's ?

If you start thinking the whole money borrowing thing from your own angle and for your own interest, you may just come up with some unique and interesting arrangements.

Items that can be mortgaged are not limited to your own properties. If you are holding some collaterals from other people, you can mortgage them to higher bidders.

You don't have to mortgage 100% of your property. Since it is really up to you, you can even split a single property to 4 different mortgages and borrow money from different sources. However, you would need some very good reasons why people still want to lend you the money. But if it is a 4 sections building, it wouldn't look that ridiculous anymore, would it ?

Item that can be mortgaged does not even need to be mortar. An idea or a method can be mortgaged too. As long as someone believe in your value judgement and their interests taken care of, they can lend you money. So you can literary mortgage your property for money without giving it out as a collateral at all. Especially applicable when you are earning revenue from such properties.

Loan or Mortgage ?
Borrower or Mortgagor ?
Lender or Mortgagee ?

As mentioned earlier, this is just a matter of how the story is told. Do you want others to control your story or do you want to tell your owns ?

Monday, January 18, 2010

HLA Guarantee 12.5% saving plan

Hong Leong Assurance offers a plan that guarantees 12.5% return. Basically you only need to save $3,932 for 6 years and you are guaranteed to receive $500 every year starting from the 1st year for 35 years.

So 500 out of 3,932 is more than 12.5%

$500 x 35 years would give a guarantee amount of $17,500. If you do not withdraw this money, it will accumulate more interest. On the 35th year, you will get $50,126 instead of just the $17,500.

In addition, there is a dividend payout where the minimum is expected to be $200. Not guarantee but pretty guaranteed as in insurance layman terms. With the most conservative assumptions etc. you will get more than $105,000+ at the end of 35 years.

Most of the older readers should know this trick by now. There is no such thing as insurance saving that gives guarantee and higher than Fix Deposit return in normal circumstances.

If you save the same $3,932 in a bank account that gives you 1.72%, it will give you a total $41,082 on the 35th year; equivalent to the guarantee yearly $500 plus capital preservation. So the guaranteed return you are really getting is less than 1.72%. Because your capital is NOT guaranteed in this plan.

If you keep the $500 and go for the guarantee $50,126 return at the end, that is equivalent to 2.35% return. Currently bank is offering 2.5% FD rate for annual renewal.

Lastly if you are really getting back $105,862 at the end, that is equivalent to 4.72% annual return.

Consumers need to know what the effective rate is when comparing plans. For crying out loud, insurance field agents please upgrade yourself and calculate what the real effective rate is. May be you don't need to tell everyone about it but when some personal finance savvy consumers asked about it, it is more reputable if you can give some valid figures.

4.72% is NOT a bad return at all. But 35 years is too long.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Charge your future usage : how did it happen ?

The way credit card companies forward calculate interest has sicken many users. Together with the 5 cents round up mechanism, there are cases where its not even the users fault not to totally pay off their last month balance.

Some are still in shock how consumers can be abused in such a way. Well, this is how ...

Credit card companies used to charge 18% interest on the amount you underpay and owe to them. Seeing that this high interest has caused many people in debt and even bankruptcy, banks are urged to reduce that rate. So the project of multi-tier interest rate was born.

If the amount you owe is not that much, banks may reduce that rate to 13.5% for example. Like wise, if you continue not to pay, banks will have the rights to charge 18% interest again. So lower interest rate is imposed on lower loan amount.

So far so good isn't it ?

Well, banks are going to give you more. In addition ...
We will give you 22 days interest free on all transactions, if last month outstanding balance, as per monthly statement, are settled within due date. In cases where this interest free is not applicable, we will charge interest on all transactions from the posting date.
Don't doubt my grammar, its a carefully formulated sentences very similar to the actual terms and clauses. All the commas and periods are there for a good reason.

It is still fair isn't it ? What it says is if I paid last month balance in full, I will not be charged interest for another 22 days. Else of course I should pay interest.

There are 2 sentences up there.

The first one evolves around monthly statement. If the bank generates your statement on the 1st of the month, you don't need to pay interest of the amount on that statement up to 22th. Which is also usually the payment due date. Ok still ...

The 'all' in blue color means all the transactions on that monthly statement. Not 'all' the other transactions you used before and after the statement. Guess what, the transactions you used before is a brought forward balance, so its NOT a transaction and therefore will continue be charged interest and excluded from this interest free offer. You are also NOT getting interest free for all future transactions because they are NOT on that statement yet.

The second part starts with "if interest free is not applicable". It doesn't say if you don't pay then we charge you. There are many other reasons interest free is not applicable and no matter what they are, you will be charged. So there is ONE specific scenario you may get interest free period and ALL THE OTHER scenarios would allow us to charge you. Thats basically what it sums up to.

Now there is also a word 'all' in the 2nd part. This time, there is no statement mentioned. This 'all' would mean ALL transactions including the future ones you are going to make. And the interest is calculated based on the posting date which is totally ok even if it is a future date.

I am not quite sure if I have presented this clearly. There is the trick of saying something seems genuine and simple but yet a small word in it turn the whole thing around. A seems-to-be very thoughtful offer has been given, most of us were ok with it and now its too late to turn the game plan.

Banks came to us on day light, offered us lower interest tiers and a new way to calculate interest ( with interest free period !! ) and we bought it. So now its too late for us to pursue normal channels to change this. Whatever left is to propagate this knowledge to more and avoid to be taken advantage off.

If still want to do more, please get more people to read this series of articles ...

How did it happen ? ( this article )

Thursday, January 14, 2010

5 cents Round Up mechanism

Most of the Malaysians are already used to the 5 cents round up despite how silly some of the transactions could become.

BNM has already clearly stated that this only apply to cash transactions where we are trying to get rid of 1 cent coins. But it is obvious that even if you are paying with credit card, check and online transfer, most of the retailers will still round the 5 cents up.

When you go to bank and make a payment of $9.98 over the counter. You may write down $9.98 in the bank in slip. Upon making payment, the cashier will have to get $10.00 from you. Which is fine since now the rule is to round it up. When the transaction is done and you get back your proof of payment, what do you think your paper work will say you paid ? Correct, $9.98 !

So be smart, round it up and write down $10.00 because that is the actual amount you pay.

What if the amount is $9.96, you would definitely have to pay $9.95 but should you write on the slip $9.95 or $9.96 ?

If you did write down $9.95 as in honestly you have just paid that exact amount and not 1 cent extra, you may face the risk of another funny finance scenario ... credit card forward interest calculation where your 1 cent ignorance could have cost you $15 !! Well, not that funny but its happening everyday ...

Guess what, with this GST coming soon ... we consumers may not see it how it comes at all, we may NOT even realize after many years ... but all these little things combined together are THE ONES that kill your personal finance, especially if you don't know.

Government and the big boys can do all kind of tricks to keep the national inflation number down but what really matter is your own REAL personal inflation rate!

Credit Card forward calculate interest

If you have a remaining unpaid balance of $0.01 in your credit card from last month,
and then you use $1,000 this month ...

You may think the interest 18% should be imposed to your 1 cent balance which is ignorable but in actual fact, the interest is calculated based on your future expense as well. So ...

$1,000.01 x 18% -> pro rate to 1 month => $15

See the magic of finance ? You could get charged $15 from your $0.01 remaining balance. Despite your $1,000 usage is not even due yet !

A handful of local banks are already exercising this interest forward calculation method. Most of the international banks on the other hand agree this is ridiculous and didn't enforce this calculation on small remaining amount.

But recently banks lose many credit card accounts so they are quietly imposing this again to upbeat some profits.

Many good card users are caught only after some time because they just couldn't believe such a ridiculous abusing technique can exist around us for more than 2 years already.

When inquired if banks have approval from Bank Negara to do this, a very ambiguous respond is given. Apparently when banks were gaining approval for "multi tier interest", this forward calculation method is part of the small clauses. It is unknown if BNM was just being sloppy or they just quietly pass it through.

Either way, you should have another proof that the big guys will NEVER take care of your personal finance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Different types of retirements

There are many ways to retire. Some are easier than others. And some still think there is no way they can retire at all :)

There are 2 main factors in retirement;

1. IN : how much do you have and
2. OUT : how much will you use during your retirement

So naturally if you have more IN than OUT then you can retire.

One of the ways is to calculate how much your OUT would be and then accumulate IN as fast as possible. You may have read that its rather simple for a single woman to retire at young age.

There are 2 main influence on the figure OUT;

1. if you live a luxury life, it may take longer to retire ... if ever ...
2. if you live frugally, you may retire sooner.

Some may think they live frugally but actually they may have been spending more than they should. A good way to quantify your OUT is to look at how you have been expensing for the past 10 years. It would most likely be how you will spend in future. The way we use our money is deeply embed in our subconscious. Its easier to discover it than to change it.

Once you have figured out how much you need to retire, you can work on the IN part. There are 2 ways to accumulate your IN;

1. Lump sum : save as much as possible until you reach the same amount as OUT, then retire.
2. Passive income : find a way to consistently receive your IN in smaller amount but continuously without doing much.

Now the key of successful retirement is you will need BOTH ways to accumulate your IN. Simply put, keep your day time job and start learning and building your passive income at the same time.

Problems come when some focus only on one Lump Sum to achieve retirement but a sudden expense surge in future may kick them out of their retirement. Some others only aim at luxury goals by only pursuing passive incomes neglecting the use of Lump Sum Saving method as a backup plan.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Some data on Malaysia Property

First of all, Malaysia property is one of the cheapest in the region ... so smaller foreign property investors ( less than 10 millions) who are interested in this region may be interested in us.

Our rent is also low ... so its rather easy to rent a place and start business here. So this means its rather easy to rent out your property ... especially if you explore with foreign business men.

The interesting part is our rental yield is quite high at 8.86%. This is actually common in developing countries. This ... however ... will go down in years to come.

This one is similar to rental yield but just shown in a reverse manner. This means you will get back your total investment rather fast in Malaysia.

The cost of both buying and selling is low too. But this usually subject to other terms and conditions like different fee imposed on different sale period.

In the past 5 years, Malaysia property has risen more than 14%

But the whole of last year is almost stagnant.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Sabah Property : HOT !

Famous Feng Shui sifu said that new sabah property is going to continue to be HOT for the next 20 years. As a matter of fact, he refers to both Sabah and Sarawak. Some may have already seen that properties development have been on the rise in East Malaysia for some time now especially in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah.

Although there have been critics that such a trend has no sustainable growth and therefore they considered it a bubble rather than a living standard up scale.

However it doesn't really matter how right they may be or how noble you are, the market doesn't really care. If it continues to have more buyers than sellers then the price will continue to trend up, despite anything else i.e. no one actually utilize those properties.

It shouldn't be too hard to understand the rise. First of all, Borneo is an island. Island has limited land. So 'eventually' the price of land will rise. Its been proven in Japan, Hong Kong Island, Singapore and even Australia ( a continent but nevertheless an island geographically). And its not just any island, its the 3rd largest island in the world. Imagine you can fit 1,000 Sinagpore in Borneo !!

But not all islands have great track record. The largest island in the world - Greenland - doesn't do so well, most of the very small one man islands do not do well neither. Is Borneo too big or could it be just nice ? New Guinea (2nd largest island) and Madagascar (4th) are both not that encouraging. The list continues down until Great Britain, the 8th largest island who obviously did pretty well in property growth. Limited land of an island may be a good starting point but other deciding factors seem to be more influential.

What other positive notes do we have ? Politics movement is good for Sabah property. As a matter of fact, due to Malaysia politics instability, the paying master political party has to move to East Malaysia. Whether or not you need houses, more will be built. How do they justify building more ? They will get buyers if you don't. Property trend is a developer's game. If they have the power to sustain selling price during bad time, the only thing left is up trend.

20 more years of HOT property growth is a surprisingly SHORT period given that it is a land of more than 700,000 square kilometers. So this prediction is actually an insult to those who truly love Sabah. The only reason why it can be hot for another 20 years is because outsiders will come in to Borneo, harvest out all the benefits and then leave. If they don't leave in 20 years time, they will start to pay just like the permanents. Where the business and finance ecology have been exploited, not to mention the environment.

How can we grow Borneo's property and leave a long term positive effect ?

1. Create MORE forestry reserve lands. this makes sure land is really limited.
2. Focus on ONE main theme - it should be along the nature's line ...
3. Form environmental alliance among Brunei, East Malaysia and Kalimantan.
4. This alliance has authoritative power over real estate development.
5. Beef up sea lines transport, bring in the industries

Then all the other developments can follow suit ...

So do we need that coal plant ? Well, I hate to ... but we do need to address the problem of water and power supply first.

If Borneo can be made into an eco-self-sustain-island, it can be the Eden for human races. Not only property will continue to rise forever but it could also be our last hope ...

And to iron out the whole architectural solutions in the next 5 years, we will need USD 20 billions now.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Best Retire Young ? How possible is it ?

Is it best retire young? Have you ever heard some people retire early at their 30s ? Do you think they got lucky or they must have own some businesses to become rich before they can retire ? Here are the stories of 2 persons who retired at their mid 30s and they only have worked for other people before.

( due to consent issues, the figures are generalized just to illustrate the concept )

They started working at their early 20s with starting salaries of $1,800 to $2,000. After more than 8 years of working, their monthly income were more than $6,000 and then it didn't increase any much further after that. Usually the salary big jump occurred during career move and they have changed career once or twice. Together with bonuses, they have earned a total of $800,000 in total after 12-15 years of working.

Through out those time, they have saved aside a total of $175,000. Initially they save their money in fix deposit getting about 2-3% return but very soon they move on the mutual fund and stock market. Over the years, their average return is 6.3%. So when they retire, their savings are more than $260,000.

Their monthly expenses is about $1,000 and their personal inflation rate for their life style is 2.8%. So with this saving alone, it can last them until age 75.

They also have an EPF ( like 401K ) that is more than $100,000 at their mid 30s. When they can withdraw it at their 55, they should get at least $200,000. With this, they will still have a $500,000 balance when they are 100 years old. Of course they don't plan to live that long but this is their surplus money.

At the time they retired, they also have a home and a vehicle that are already fully paid off. The property was worth $100,000. They ended up paying about $120,000 for it with their 10 years loan. Conservatively this property is expected to worth more than $200,000 when they are 60 years old, just in case and in time for them to enter old folks home where care and friends are around.

The first few years they retired, they literary sit around doing nothing. But very soon they got bored and started interacting with they industry they are used to. From time to time, they provide freelance consultancy to their friends and earn some extra income too, ie. $10,000 to $20,000 a year sometimes. With these incidental incomes, it pushes their 100-year-old left over to $3 millions !!

They may have lived frugally all along but they are enjoying life the luxury way more often now. They don't run any business, they didn't get any lucky in their investments but they must have been good at their jobs because someone actually paid for their services after they retired. But then again, a $10,000 yearly consultancy fee doesn't sound like a real consultancy at all, its more like a very small incidental assistance in one small project only. On the other hand, a $6,000 salary employee is a good employee but its no where near CxO positions neither. So there can be many good employees, this is not one of those only-one-man-scenario.

Some of the keys to their early retirement would be;
  • Save First
  • Live frugally first
  • learn to invest
  • bought a motorcycle - just to get around
  • bought a small apartment - just enough for him and his visiting friends
There is really no trick here. If there has to be one, they are singles. Some of them may be married but with no dependencies, meaning no need to take care of parent and no kids.

It is really not that hard to retire young.

One last key difference between young retirees and others, their hobbies do not cost them money. As a matter of fact, some other young retirees actually make their hobbies their life time businesses after they retired.