Travel Review: A review of our accommodations in Tokyo, Japan

Hi. Everyone! Mrs. Minion here! 🙂

Today, I will be doing a review on our Airbnb accommodations in Tokyo, Japan.

Before I start off with the post, how is everyone? I believe that some of you may have started planning for your next holiday trip. If you are planning a trip to Tokyo and looking for an Airbnb apartment to stay in Tokyo, this is the post for you! Here we go~

This was our very first trip to Toyko, Japan. We did not choose to stay in a hotel due to its price. If you are someone who is traveling on a budget like us then staying in an Airbnb apartment is the way to go. Why so? This is because hotels are priced at a very high premium (80% at least?) to Airbnb apartments in the same area.

During our trip, we chose to stay in the Nishi-Shinjuku area (1 stop away from the Shinjuku train station). We will not be putting up any pictures as the pictures presented by the Airbnb host were very representative of the apartment. The Airbnb apartment is suitable for couples and lone travelers. Please see our comprehensive review of the apartment below.

Do note that we are accessing the accommodation based on the 5 factors below.

  • Accessibility
  • Concept
  • Comfort
  • Service
  • Amenities

Accessibility

Once you have booked your Airbnb with the host, a map with instructions will be given to you so it was quite easy for us to locate the apartment. We highly recommend that you do a search on google maps to check the directions beforehand though.

The apartment is located just 2 minutes away from the Nishi-Shinjuku Station. It is also located near Hilton Hotel Tokyo which is also one of the stops for the airport shuttle. So instead of carrying your heavy luggage running from train to train, you can enjoy the luxury of taking the shuttle bus to your doorstep (almost, since the hotel is 5 minutes away)

Concept

This was basically a studio apartment. Despite being small in size, that apartment was comfortable enough for 2 people. They have everything you need ranging from a kitchen (complete with microwave oven and stove) to a washing machine.

The apartment is located on the 2nd floor and there are no elevators. You need to be mentally prepared for this. It didn’t affect us as we did not have a lot of luggage.

The only complaint that we had was that the bathroom is really small.  You barely have enough space to stand to dry yourself after showering. If you are a large individual, you may feel very uncomfortable in the bathroom.

It is also important to note that Japan is big on recycling. Therefore, you will be required to sort your recyclable items and place them into the recycling bins as provided by them. The rest of the trash can be disposed of in the trash can.

Comfort

The room is equipped with a queen sized bed that is quite comfortable. However, do watch out as it is really flimsy. Don’t try bouncing on it or anything The air-conditioner works really well and also has heater functions which you can use to heat up your bedroom during colder seasons. The room is really clean and neat. 

Amenities

As this is an Airbnb apartment, there are obviously no gyms, swimming pools and the like. However, The supermarket is just 6-minutes walk away and there is a family mart 2-minutes walk away. There is also a restaurant right under the apartment. We didn’t dine at the restaurant but it looked pretty cozy.

Services

The host is friendly and helpful. He is available through the Airbnb message function and is very responsive. Do note that the host does not provide any cleaning services. If you require someone to dispose of your trash you will have to contact the host to arrange for a trash pick-up. Upon your request, the host will send someone there to pick up your trash sometime in the afternoon. They have a spare key so you that you do not need to remain in your room to wait for the trash pick-up.

Overall, my husband and I highly recommend this Airbnb apartment to anyone that is traveling to Tokyo, Japan.

Feel free to comment below on your experience with AirBnB apartments in Japan.

We hope that this travel review is helpful for those who are trying to decide between staying in an Airbnb apartment or hotel in Tokyo.

Until next time! 🙂

 

 

 

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The Minion Times (23 November 2017) – A summary of Financial Market News, World News and most importantly, Interesting News

Financial Markets

The CSI 300 plummeted by 3% as worries about a selloff in the bond market overflowed into equities. Consumer and healthcare firms were the biggest losers in the CSI300 index. Yields on China’s 10 year sovereign bonds broke the 4% mark – highlighting the effects of deleveraging activities conducted by the government.

Deleveraging activities conducted by the Chinese government has spill over effects into the liquidity of equity mark. For example, policymakers announced draft guidelines restricting asset management products last Friday and unveiled new rules limiting micro-lending businesses. While neither measure specifically targets the stock market, spill over effects are inevitable. Both initiatives are aimed at reducing leverage, which also means that investors who have acquired leverage through these two channels will have to slash their positions.

Most Asian market indexes dropped, with the Hang Seng Index falling by about 1% from a 10 year high.

23 November

Source: Bloomberg, The Straits Times


Interesting news

(1) The United States is under-performing the rest of the world in equities. This is shown through a simple analysis, taking the ratio of an ETF that tracks the S&P 500 and an ETF that tracks the rest of the world excluding the United States. Ever since the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008, this ratio has steadily increased, showing U.S’s out-performance over the rest of the world. This lasted from 2011 to 2016. In 2017, the ratio started decreasing, showing signs that the United States is no longer outperforming the rest of the world.

Source: Personal Research

(2) The company with the highest operating margin in the world is China’s Kweichow Moutai. You can see the rest of the companies with the top 10 operating margins in the diagram below.

Operating Margin

Source: Bloomberg


Singapore

(1) Singapore has revised its growth forecast for 2017 from 2 – 3% to 3 – 3.5% on strong GDP growth in Q3 (5.2%). This growth was primarily supported by external oriented sectors such as manufacturing, financial service, wholesale trade and the transportation & storage sector. For 2018, the MTI expects Singapore’s GDP growth to moderate (1.5% to 3.5%) as compared to 2017 on tepid growth in Singapore’s external demand markets such as China and Europe.

I wonder how applicable this revised GDP growth is to the man on the street. Sure it’s great that the country is growing faster than expected, but does it mean that our salary increments will be revised to a higher level as well?

Source: Channelnewsasia

(2) Taxes could be levied on online purchases in the near future as the government seeks to diversify its tax base. This is following a speech from the Prime Minister indicating that taxes may increase in the near future on increased spending in certain sectors.

Let’s just hope they either levy GST on online purchases OR increase GST for non-online purchases and not both at one go.. 

Source: The Straits Time


The United States

(1) Based on the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s meeting earlier this month, a rate hike in December is expected even as the debate on tepid inflation continues (below 2% target).  The inflation rate has stubbornly remained under the Federal Reserve’s target, averaging 1.6% this year after excluding volatile food and fuel prices. In September 2017, inflation rate was at 1.3%.

Stocks remained lower, the dollar depreciated and yields on 2-year-treasury notes fell upon release of the minutes.

As all of you know, Singapore’s interest rates is dependent on U.S interest rates. So for all those who are paying off loans that have a floating interest rate, prepare to pay more!

That’s all I have for today. Until next time then.

The Minion Times (22 November 2017) – A summary of Financial Market News, World News and most importantly, Interesting News

Interesting News

According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, $25 trillion in papers that yield 4% or more has “evaporated” since 2008 and this is set to continue.

I wonder what this says for our retirement plans. In a world that is continuously aging at a fast pace, income generating instruments are of utmost importance. If quality bonds with yields that are above 4% are consistently disappearing, is it still worth it to put our retirement funds in bonds? I believe that this marks the start of the “hunt for yield” if it hasn’t already started.

Sources: Bloomberg

Financial Markets

All Major American benchmark equity indexes reached all-time highs.

S&P 500 rose to record highs on Tuesday, at 2599.03 with information technology leading the run. Strong quarterly corporate earnings from top companies in America was another reason for celebration.

Similarly, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 160.50 points to close at 23,590.83, also an all-time high. Apple was the best performing stock on the Dow Jones Index, with a gain of 1.9%.

Buoyed by stellar performance in the U.S markets, Asian stocks climbed to record levels for the second time this month. Leading the pack, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index broke the 30,000 barrier to hit 30003.49 points, the first time in 10 years. It is still about 5% away from its all time high in October 2007.

This year, Asian equities has outperformed its U.S and European peers led by surging Chinese stocks.

22 November 2017

Sources: Bloomberg, CNBC


Asia Pacific

(1) Strong growth numbers seen in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s economy expanded 4.3% Y-O-Y as of the third quarter. Growth data from Singapore due on Thursday to show that activity accelerated to 7.8% on an annualized basis. This shows that these economies will be in a strong position to weather additional tightening from the U.S central bank.

Sources: Bloomberg


Singapore

(1) Taxes in Singapore will increase as government spending on investments and social services grow. While Economist and tax experts foresee raising the ‘Goods and Services Tax’ to be the most likely for of tax hike, they feel that there is no pressing need for the government to make such a move in the near term.

This is just some food for thought for all the Singaporeans (including me of course) out there. You need to be mentally prepared for a tax hike sometime in the future.

Sources: The Straits Time, TODAY

(2) 19 stations along the North South Line (2) and East West Line (17) will be closed fully on December 10th & 17th 2017 to allow extended engineering hours. Additionally, these 19 stations will close earlier on Friday and Saturdays at 11pm and start operations later on Saturdays and Sundays at 8am from December 8th to 31st 2017.

For all you commuters out there, please take note of the changes in operation hour and prepare alternative modes of transport should you need to travel at that time. Grabhitch comes to mind…

Sources: Channelnewsasia


That’s all I have for today. Until next time.

The Minion Times (21st November 2017) – A summary of Financial Market News, World News and most importantly, Interesting News

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the first ever issue of The Minion Times. The Minion Times is an attempt for me to summarize news articles (that I feel are relevant or interesting) from various sources and present it to readers in the form of a short news snippet with my commentary at the end. Please bear with me as this is my first time attempting something like this. I’m sure it’ll get better as time passes. My plan is to publish these types of posts daily, from Monday to Friday in the evenings, say about 6:00-6:30pm. Remember to subscribe if you like this sort of posts. Thanks!

Financial Market Summary

US Stock markets advanced while waiting for tax-reform details. Best performers in the indexes are IBM and Verizon for Dow Jones, Delphi Automotive and General Motors for S&P 500.

Similarly, Asian markets rose, with Hong Kong and China leading the pack at 1.91% and 1.78% respectively. Hong Kong Markets rose to 10 year highs as Ping An insurance and Geely Auto rallies. The Hang Seng index has increased by over 35% this year on pickup in earnings growth from Chinese firms.

Untitled

Interesting Reads

First Article

What happened? – Bitcoin soars pass US$8,000. This asset class has advanced more than 700% this year despite seeing 3 separate slumps of more than 25%, all of which ended up in subsequent rallies. In this case, Bitcoin is very similar to that of a roly-poly doll, no matter how much you hit it, it just bounces back harder than ever.

Date of publication: 20th November 2017
Source of publication: Bloomberg

The United States

First Article

What happened? – Janet Yellen to leave the Federal Reserve completely once her successor, Governor Jerome Powell is sworn into office. She has chosen not to remain on the central bank’s board. This gives President Trump immense power to re-shape the U.S central bank as more than half of the board positions are empty.

How does it affect you? – It will be interesting for us to see which candidates are chosen to fill up the 4 vacant seats (out of 7) left on the board. The candidate’s experience, education and perspective will have an impact of the policies implemented by the central bank and therefore has the potential to affect the markets.

Date of publication: 21st November 2017
Source of publication: Bloomberg

Asia

First Article

What happened? – In a study conducted by Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development, Hong Kong topped Singapore in a tight race for the best of Asia’s talent.

How does it affect you?  – Some job seekers may be looking to Hong Kong for their next career move. However, it is important that they bear in mind the high cost of living in Hong Kong (Property prices, duh) and the fact that the figures shown may be skewed towards some industries, say banking for example.

Date of publication: 21st November 2017
Source of publication: Bloomberg

Second Article

What happened? – China’s total debt is projected to reach 327% of GDP by 2022, 2 times the level in 2008. While this might not necessary create a financial crisis, it does certainly increase the chances of one happening.

How does it affect you?  – For investors looking into the China market – this is something that you can think about before putting your money into China. For investors in general, this is something to look out for as a market crash in China will inevitably affect the entire Asia market.

Date of publication: 21st November 2017
Source of publication: Bloomberg

Singapore

First Article

What happened? – A train on the east west line in Singapore was struck by lightning yesterday. As a result, train services between Tanah Merah and Paya Lebar was delayed for at least 10 minutes. There were no causalities. However, the train captain was injured and has been sent to Changi General Hospital.

How does it affect you?  – Doesn’t really affect anyone at this point of time. Just thought it was an interesting read. SMRT is really not having a good month.

Date of publication: 21st November 2017
Source of publication: The Straits Time

Second Article

What happened? – Fewer people are applying for build-to-order flats. The overall ratio of families per application for three-room and bigger flats fell from 3.3 in February to 1.5 in November. Reasons cited for this trends are 1. A more attractive resale market 2. First re-offer of balance flat exercise held in august.

How does it affect you?  For young couples looking to get their BTO flats, this is a good opportunity for you to do so. However, do note that application rates vary very differently based on location. So the average of 1.5 family per application does not apply across the board.

Date of publication: 21st November 2017
Source of publication: Channelnewsasia

Third Article

What happened? – A few Uber users in Singapore were charged for transactions that were obviously not authorized by them.

How does it affect you?  – If you use Uber, please check your credit card statements!

That’s all I have for today. Till next time then.

First Steps to Early Retirement: Want to retire early? Then get the little things right.

Hi. Everyone, Mr. Minion here.

Sorry for the lack of updates in the last few weeks, as mentioned in one of our previous posts, Mrs. Minion and I went to Tokyo, Japan for a leisure trip. We will be following up with reviews and tips about traveling to Tokyo in our Japan travel review series.

Today’s topic is about getting the little things right. As we take our first step towards early retirement, it is important that we do the little things right. It is not advisable to just focus on the big-ticket items. Why?

Firstly, on certain occasions, getting the little things right have a strong influence on the probability of you getting the big thing right. Here is an example. If you don’t save consistently, how will you have enough capital to take advantage of market corrections? Some of you may suggest leverage, but that is playing with fire. Someone who leverage within their means (which is influenced by the amount of savings he has) and someone who leverage beyond their means reacts very differently during investing and trading.

Secondly, as William H. McRaven once said “”If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.” That is rightly so. If you can’t be trusted with the small ticket items, how can you be trusted with big-ticket items? You’re not going to ask someone who can’t even get the numbers on the spreadsheets right to model the valuation of a company, will you?

Last but not least, making money in the markets is more about winning small multiple times, rather than winning big a single time. First of all, in order to win big, you need to put in big money. Not everyone has that kind of money Second of all, it is easier to win small than to win big and obtaining multiple small victories may have a greater effect on your assets as compared to obtaining one big victory. For example, compare someone who aims to make 10% on their money yearly by investing into an index or a basket of stocks for his working life (20 years) to someone who aims to make it rich by making 600% on a single stock. Who makes more money? Of course, it is the person who aims for small victories (1.1)^20 = 6.7x VS 6x on large victory.

So let us all start by getting the little things right.

Until next time then.

First Steps to Early Retirement: You can’t fast forward to retirement and waiting sucks. So this is what you should do.

Hi Everyone! Mr. Minion here.

Everything takes time and that applies to your journey to early retirement. You can’t fast forward to the end and skip parts that you find boring because life is not a movie.

I know that waiting sucks – they say patience is a virtue, but who likes to wait? No one likes to wait. It’s insanely boring. I know, because I have felt this way before.

So what can you do? Suffer in silence? No, there is something that you can do to stop life from being so boring.

What I find helpful is to have many small milestones or goals instead of a few large ones. For example, let’s say you have a goal of having 500k in net assets before you hit 32 (assuming you are 24 right now). This is a goal that will take you 8 long years to achieve. That is a long, long time. What you should do is break it down into several smaller goals – having 100k in net assets by 26, 200k by 28, 300k by 30 and 500k by 32.

While the achievement is the same, it just makes the journey a little be more bearable. It also helps you to keep track of where you are in terms of achieving that ultimate goal. You can also arrange for some small rewards should you achieve each small goals early or on time.

Make your journey to early retirement into a fun game, or else life will be really boring.

Till next time then

 

First Steps to Early Retirement: First you envision, then you act.

Hi. Everyone, Mr. Minion here.

How many of you have encounter this question before? “Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?” I think many of you if not all, have encountered this question before. You could have encountered it during your job interviews, from your relatives during Chinese New Year and even during first dates.

Personally, I believe that asking yourself this question is crucial when it comes to the topic of early retirement. We all need to first be able to envision our end-goal before moving towards that goal or else you will get lost along the way.

This is simple logic – yet many of us get it wrong. More often than not, we choose to act first without envisioning a goal in mind. Let me give you an example.

As a fresh graduate who has just entered the working world, I have heard many people (ranging from my mentors to my parents) telling me that being young is your competitive advantage and that you should be utilizing it so you can get “further in life”. In layman terms – you are young and you can work long hours. Go ahead and work long hours so your bosses know that you are committed and hardworking. This way you can get promoted faster and earn more money.

While every word of this statement rings true, it might not be relevant to everyone. It will be relevant to someone whose ultimate goal is to be at the top of his or her field, but will not be relevant for someone who has a more family oriented goal.

What I am trying to say is this: if you have an ultimate goal in mind, it is easier for you to make important decisions, reduce mistakes made and to get to where you want to be in a shorter period of time and with less effort.

Till next time then.