The Savvy You

Psst..pst…Millionaire wannabes…listen here – 20 Mar 2014

Posted on March 20th, 2014 in Food for thought, The Savvy You


What your millionaire neighbour wont tell u


Although having a million bucks isn’t as impressive as it once was, it’s still nothing to sneeze at. Well, guess what? A millionaire who is truly financially savvy won’t be easily recognizable.  This is what we have dug out from one of them at knifepoint!

1. He always spends less than he earns.  In fact his mantra is, over the long run, you’re better off if you strive to be anonymously rich rather than deceptively poor.

2. He knows that patience is a virtue. The odds are you won’t become a millionaire overnight.  If you’re like him, your wealth will be accumulated by diligently saving and investing your money.

3. When you go to his modest apartment, you’re going to be drinking his favourite 3 in 1 coffee instead of Starbucks.  And if you need a lift, well, you’re going to get a ride in his simple sedan.  And if you think that makes him cheap, ask him if he cares.  (He doesn’t.)

4. He pays off his credit cards in full every month.  He’s smart enough to understand credit cards are for earning rewards and points.  Period.

5. He realized early on that money does not buy happiness.  If you’re looking for nirvana, you need to focus on attaining financial freedom.

6. He never forgets that financial freedom is a state of mind that comes from being debt free on a net asset basis.  Best of all, it can be attained regardless of your income level.

7. He understands that money is like a baby; it is incapable of managing itself.  After all, you can’t expect your money to grow and mature as it should without some form of credible money management.

8. He’s a big believer in paying yourself first. Paying yourself first is an essential tenet of personal finance and a great way to build your savings and instill financial discipline.

9. Although it’s possible to get rich if you spend your life making a living doing something you don’t enjoy, he wonders why you do.  Life is too short.

10. He knows that failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.  He also knows that the few millionaires that reached that milestone without a plan got there only because of dumb luck or wealthy parents.

11. When it came time to set his savings goals, he wasn’t afraid to think big.  Financial success demands that you have a vision that is significantly larger than you can currently deliver upon.

12. Over time, he found out that hard work can often help avoid a lot of financial mistakes.   You don’t want to make too many of them. And he wonder why in this day and age, people never learn from scams, preferring to outsource their responsibilities to smooth-talking operators instead of taking charge of their investments.

13. He realizes that bad things happens, whether you like it or not.  That’s why you’re a fool if you don’t insure yourself against risk. The potential for bankruptcy is always just around the corner and can be triggered from multiple sources: the death of the family’s key bread winner, divorce, or disability that leads to a loss of work.

14. He understands that time is an ally of the young.  He was fortunate enough to begin saving and investing in his twenties so he could take maximum advantage of time.

15. Even though he has a job that he loves, he doesn’t have to work anymore because everything he owns is paid for – and has been for years.

16. He’s not impressed that you drive a luxury car and live in a mansion that’s too big for your family of four.

So that’s it.  Now you know what your millionaire neighbor won’t tell you!


This was adapted from a longer post that originally appeared at Len Penzo dot Com. Copyright 2014.


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Private jet owners’ woe in Singapore – 11 Jun 2013

Posted on June 10th, 2013 in The Savvy You

So you want to own a private jet in Singapore?

If so, you’ll be joining about 6 other Singaporeans who own private jets in Singapore.  Here’s a fun fact. The price tag of a brand new private jet ranges between S$5.5m (HondaJet – 4 basic seater) to S$60 m (Gulfstream 550 – 20 luxury seater).

private jet comparison

The annual cost of maintaining one averages S$625,000.  And where does it go to?  The cost of hiring pilots (At least 2 for a larger private jet), engaging a maintenance engineering team, routine overseas maintenance, as well as fuel, over-flyer, landing and parking charges.

But that’s not the point of this article. Apparently, the folks who own these jets in Singapore are unhappy that Seletar Airport where their jets are parked, sells them jet fuel at S$1.52/l compared to S$1.05 at Changi Airport and S$1.11 in Senai Airport (Johor).

You may think, wah why these Singaporean tycoons so cheapo, their fuel cost cheaper than my petrol price!! Let’s do the maths. With private jet fuel tank ranging from 4000 to 23,000l, a full tank would cost them between S$6000 to S$35,000, compared to our humble S$100 full tank at a Shell station.

The point is, even these tycoons who have many zeros in their bank account gripe about such cost differential. They have build up their wealth by sniffing out good deals and never leaving too much on the table. The same goes for fuel price. Leaving too much on the table knowing that there are cheaper jet fuel alternatives nearby makes them peeved, to the extent that they are making their displeasure known to the Singapore authorities through private jet operators. Of course, there are vested interest at play as these private jets could be leased for chartering when not in use by their owners and the high jet fuel cost eats into the margin.

Like these tycoons, be savvy. Accumulating wealth is not just about how much you earn. How much you save is equally important!

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How much are you leaving on the table when you buy a brand new car? – 7 Jun 2013

Posted on June 8th, 2013 in The Savvy You

Opel Car (Shrunk)

Yes, you must have read somewhere (for the umpteen time) that Singapore is indisputably the most expensive country to purchase a car, even more so than Hong Kong.

Just to illustrate, at today’s COE price averaging S$70,000 for 1.6l cars, an entry level Toyota Corolla Altis goes for S$120,000. In Malaysia, it cost about S$42,500. Faraway in US, this car is yours for about S$20,000.

As an ex-public officer, I understand the intent behind the high car tax structures and ERP gantries that mercilessly serves the objective of reducing congestion and discouraging ownership. On my part, I invest in a good GPS so I don’t waste petrol and time getting lost. “Happily retired” also means I can run my errands at off peak hours and avoid peak hours congestion and ERP charges. That’s how i adjust. Oh and I cycle (enjoy it thoroughly) and take public transport too.

If a car is a necessity to you, sure, go ahead and get one. Be mindful however of what you leave behind on the table for the dealer. I believe in a fair deal and avoid buying cars that are highly marked up.

If you study the table below which I’ve compiled from public data provided by LTA as at 1 Apr 2013, when COEs were $61,029 and $67,010 for Cat A and B respectively, you will be astounded by the additional taxes (Additional Registration Fees – ARF, Custom Duties, Registration Fees and COE) paid above the open market prices (OMV) and the dealers’ markup which varies from -2% (Yes, it’s no typo as that NISSAN model was priced to be offloaded) to more than 50%. No prize though for guessing which brands and models are highly marked up (Feel free to ask for serious freebies from their sales staff!) There are a couple of surprises though and you’ll have fun drawing your own conclusions.

As a savvy car buyer who sees my car as a form of transport rather than an ego booster, you will not see me coveting those cars with extremely high dealer margins.

Happy savvy car shopping!

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Car Model
Taxes + COE
Total Base Cost
Dealer's Price
Mark up
1 B.M.W. 520I 2.0L AT 41,422 128,904 170,327 267,800 57%
2 B.M.W. 528I 2.0L AT 46,849 138,044 184,893 288,800 56%
3 B.M.W. 730LI AT D/AB 4DR 73,795 192,939 266,734 413,800 55%
4 B.M.W. 740LI AT SR LED DSC 91,023 228,843 319,866 473,800 48%
5 B.M.W. 640I GRAN COUPE 4DR 78,589 202,930 281,519 413,800 47%
6 VOLVO XC60 T5 38,611 124,171 162,783 235,000 44%
7 B.M.W. 320I AT D/AB 4DR ABS 36,665 120,894 157,559 223,800 42%
8 VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN 2.0 TSI AT 36,250 120,195 156,445 221,300 41%
9 VOLVO XC90 T5 R-DESIGN 50,391 144,165 194,556 275,000 41%
10 B.M.W. 116I AT ABS D/AIRBAG 27,412 99,331 126,743 178,800 41%
11 B.M.W. 316I 1.6 AT D/AB 4DR 32,808 108,419 141,226 197,800 40%
12 TOYOTA CAMRY 2.0 AUTO 24,391 100,225 124,616 169,888 36%
13 TOYOTA ALPHARD CVT 43,728 132,789 176,517 238,888 35%
14 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT 1.4 TSI DSG 27,406 99,321 126,727 169,300 34%
15 HONDA CR-V 2.4L SUNROOF 29,892 109,488 139,380 184,900 33%
16 HONDA ODYSSEY 2.4L EXV 29,337 108,553 137,891 182,900 33%
17 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE 1.2 TSI AT 19,367 86,036 105,403 139,300 32%
18 TOYOTA VIOS 1.5 E AUTO 11,077 75,391 86,469 113,888 32%
19 TOYOTA WISH CVT 23,453 98,646 122,099 159,888 31%
20 MERCEDES ML 350 BLUEEFFICIENCY 66,385 177,496 243,881 318,888 31%
21 VOLKSWAGEN SCIROCCO 1.4 TSI AT 25,861 96,719 122,581 159,800 30%
22 TOYOTA LEXUS GS350 LUXURY AT 64,609 173,796 238,405 307,000 29%
23 HONDA CIVIC 1.6L VTIS AT 17,740 83,947 101,687 130,900 29%
24 TOYOTA LEXUS GS250 AT 49,007 141,678 190,685 244,000 28%
25 VOLVO V60 T4 35,310 112,631 147,941 189,000 28%
26 VOLVO S80 T4 37,153 115,736 152,888 195,000 28%
27 TOYOTA COROLLA ALTIS 1.6 A 15,150 80,622 95,772 121,888 27%
28 VOLKSWAGEN CC 1.8 TSI AT 34,019 116,439 150,457 190,800 27%
29 VOLVO V40 CROSS COUNTRY T4 30,323 104,234 134,557 170,000 26%
30 VOLVO S60 T4 32,088 107,206 139,294 175,000 26%
31 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA 1.4 TSI AT 20,994 88,523 109,517 137,300 25%
32 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 1.2 TSI AT 15,572 81,163 96,735 120,800 25%
33 KIA SPORTAGE 2.0(A) SUNROOF 21,319 95,052 116,371 143,999 24%
34 JAGUAR XJ 3.0S/C PL LWB 79,069 203,931 283,000 350,000 24%
35 KIA SORENTO SUV 2.4 6AT FWD 27,373 105,247 132,620 163,999 24%
36 HONDA STREAM 1.8L RSZ 25,024 101,291 126,315 155,900 23%
37 TOYOTA AURIS CVT 25,193 95,595 120,788 148,888 23%
38 JAGUAR XF 2.0L GTDI 49,939 143,248 193,187 238,000 23%
39 MERCEDES E250 BLUEEFFICIENCY 52,209 147,955 200,163 244,888 22%
40 JAGUAR XJ 3.0S/C PL SWB 74,694 194,813 269,507 328,000 22%
41 HONDA ACCORD 2.4L AT 30,784 110,991 141,775 168,900 19%
42 MERCEDES E200 BLUEEFFICIENCY 50,759 144,933 195,692 229,888 17%
43 MERCEDES BENZ SL 500 152,203 356,342 508,545 587,888 16%
44 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF A7 1.4 TSI 25,520 96,145 121,665 138,800 14%
45 NISSAN MURANO 2.5 CVT ABS D/AB 39,717 126,033 165,751 179,800 8%
46 NISSAN SYLPHY 1.6 CVT ABS 14,902 80,303 95,205 102,800 8%
47 NISSAN TEANA 2.0L CVT ABS 25,208 101,601 126,809 136,800 8%
48 NISSAN QASHQAI 2.0L CVT ABS 21,174 94,808 115,981 119,800 3%
49 NISSAN ALMERA 1.5 4AT ABS 14,511 79,801 94,312 92,800 -2%

Car Prices as at 1 Apr 2013. All figures in SGD

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