First Steps to Early Retirement: A glaring obvious strategy to retiring early that is ignored by many.

Hi. Everyone, Mr. Minion here.

Today’s topic covers a glaringly obvious strategy that will help you achieve early retirement. Despite it being glaringly obvious, many tend to overlook or ignore this strategy.

The strategy is this – If you want to retire early, you START EARLY. It sounds extremely simple but is hard to achieve.

How many of you out there once had (or still have) this mindset: “I’m still young, I can start saving/investing next year and I will still be ahead of the crowd”?

Many of us, when young, choose to push saving and investing for retirement to the back of our minds on the assumption that we have more than enough time to save for retirement. I am a good example.

Instead of saving and investing throughout national service and university, I chose to spend much of my money on luxuries like a 9 day trip to Taiwan or a new IPad. I’m not saying that my financial situation during those years was a total mess. I did make some good decisions – for example, I applied for my HDB flat in the 2nd year of University, that was a prudent financial decision. I am just saying that if I could turn back time, I would manage my finances responsibly.

I have a friend that was the complete opposite of me. He was prudent with his spending, he started saving and investing for retirement at a young age and now he has a net worth in excess of $100k (he is below 30 btw).

So everyone, don’t make the same mistake I made, start saving early so that you can retire early.

Till next time then.

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First Steps to Early Retirement: First steps to early retirement: Fear rejection and rejection will follow you wherever you go.

Hi, Everyone! Mr. Minion here,

Today’s topic revolves around managing rejection. This topic is something that I have personally gone through many times, during my studies, job hunt and even my career.

If you do not manage rejection well, it has the potential to eat you up and destroy your life.

If you fear rejection, then rejection will follow you wherever you go.

Let me explain:

Firstly if you fear being rejected, you will lose confidence in own abilities. This is followed by a drop in self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in your own abilities, the chances of being rejected (job interview, dates, sales appointments) gets increasingly higher. Who would hire an employee who stutters during the interview and avoids eye contact?

Secondly, if you fear being rejected, you will stop trying. You will stop trying to apply for the job that you think is too good for you. You will not ask out the cute girl you saw in Lecture Theatre 5 during your history lecture. You will convince yourself that if you don’t try, you will not get rejected. However, the fact that you stop trying is a rejection in itself. You have already rejected yourself on behalf of the cute girl/potential employer.

How does this affect your goal of retiring early? The effects are quite obvious. You will lose out on many opportunities simply because you don’t even try. Your colleague will be promoted instead of you. You will end up taking jobs with the lowest barriers to entry – which of course, pay the lowest.

So what should you do when facing rejection? This is what I do.

  1. Laugh it off – if it’s not fated to be, it’s not fated to be. Why so serious? – more applicable to dating
  2. Take this as a lesson to learn what the issue is and improve yourself

I know managing rejection using these two methods are easier said than done. But practice makes perfect.

For those of you who really want to manage rejection, I suggest that you read this book: “Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection” by Jia Jiang.

I borrowed this book from the library 6 months back and found it to be very insightful.

I’m not saying that you should follow exactly what he did – but you can definitely try a toned down version of it.

That’s all I have for you guys today.

Till next time then.

 

First Steps to Early Retirement: This is what we do with our CPF savings.

Hi. Everyone! Mr. Minion here.

Following up on our post titled “First Steps to Early Retirement: This is why we chose to exclude our CPF Savings from our retirement planning.” where we explained why we see our CPF savings as more of a bonus income for retirement rather than a source of retirement income,  today we will explain what we do with our CPF savings.

So.. what DO we do with our CPF savings? Do we leave it in the account to rot? Do we spam it all on housing?

Well, this is what we’ve decided to do with our CPF savings:

  1. Mr. Minion’s CPF savings will be used to pay off the monthly installment for our HDB flat. Any excess will be transferred to the special account.
  2. Mrs. Minion’s CPF savings will be transferred to the special account monthly.

As you can see, we have chosen to transfer anything in excess of the monthly installment into the special account. Here is our rationale:

The ordinary account only pays 2.5% per annum with an extra 1% interest paid the first $60,000 of a member’s combined balances (with up to $20,000 from the OA). This means that you get 3.5% per annum on your ordinary account only for the first $20,000.

If you chose to transfer your money to the special account, you will be able to get 4% + 1% (on first $60,000) = 5% for the first $60,000 and 4% for the rest. It’s basically generating cash at a risk-free rate of 4% or 5%  why not?

Some of you may be wondering why we chose not to:

Use all of our CPF towards the housing loan?

The HDB housing loan is currently pegged at 0.1% above the current CPF rate, which is 2.6%. This is a very low-interest rate – why would we pay this off early? We would rather take the excess CPF money and invest it in our special account which gives us 4% guaranteed returns. We are gaining 4%-2.6%=1.4% for every excess dollar we choose to invest in our special accounts.

I guess the only problem with doing this is if we choose to buy a second property because the existing loan would have an impact on our debt servicing ratio.

Invest all our CPF savings?

I think a guaranteed return of 4% is extremely good. I daresay you can’t find this type of returns anywhere else in Singapore, so we chose to take this 4%.

Source of CPF data: CPF Board Website

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

First Steps to Early Retirement: This is why we chose to exclude our CPF Savings from our retirement planning.

Hi. Everyone, Mr. Minion here,

As all of you know, planning for retirement is a very important issue. This is especially so if you are aiming to retire early because you will be unemployed for a longer period of time. You will need to plan well in advance to ensure that you have sufficient funds to tide you through that retirement period.

Now that we have established the importance of planning for retirement, the second step is to consider how you will support yourself throughout your retirement period. Are you going to survive on savings alone? will you be living off your dividends? Or maybe you are hoping that your CPF savings will be sufficient to support you.

The main purpose of this post is not to teach all of you readers out there how to plan for retirement (that’s for another post). The main purpose of this post is to explain why we have chosen to exclude our CPF savings from our retirement planning.

So why have we chosen to exclude our CPF savings from our retirement planning?

First Reason:

Who knows what the CPF retirement age (where you can withdraw your money) will be in 20-30 years. It is definitely not going to be at 55 years old as it is now.

Second Reason:

For those who want to withdraw their CPF savings and live off that, who knows what CPF’s full retirement sum will be in 20-30 years. Historical data shows that CPF’s full retirement sum has been increasing over the decade up till now which is $166,000.

If you have property to use as collateral, you can opt to go for the “basic retirement sum” which means you will be able to withdraw anything above the basic retirement sum. CPF has projected this basic retirement sum to gradually increase from $83,000 (2017) to $90,500 (2020). This is about 2.2% CAGR. Imagine what the retirement age will be at 2050? A quick calculation shows that it will be about $170,000 with a CAGR of 2.2%…

This also means that the full retirement age will increase.

Source of CPF data: https://www.cpf.gov.sg/members/schemes/schemes/retirement/retirement-sum-scheme

Last Reason:

Will CPF really last? No one really knows.

Conclusion:

If you are fully or even partially dependent on your CPF savings for retirement, you will never truly be in control of when you retire. This is quite obvious.

Let’s say you have a million dollars in your CPF account and you plan to retire at 55 (today’s retirement age) where you can withdraw about $850,000 based on today’s minimum retirement sum. What happens if the retirement increases to 60? Then you will have to retire at 60. What happens if the minimum sum doubles? Then the amount of money which you can withdraw decreases. That will have an impact on your retirement lifestyle.

This is why Mrs. Minion and I chose to exclude our CPF savings from our retirement planning. We see our CPF savings as more of a bonus, rather than an asset that will support us throughout retirement.

Till next time then!

 

 

Travel Review: Studio M Hotel Staycation Review

Hi, everyone! Mrs. Minion here!

Today, I will be doing a review on our staycation experience at Studio M Hotel Singapore.

However, before I start off with my post, I would like to thank all of you readers out there for visiting and reading our blog posts.

I believe that most of you might have read Mr. Minion’s blog posts on personal finance and early retirement – I really hope that those posts were relevant to your current situation and interesting to read.

Back to the review- I believe that going on a staycation is getting increasingly popular amongst Singaporeans – especially with the younger crowd. While I wouldn’t necessarily say that going on a staycation is a good substitute for traveling, it is definitely a good way for all of us to take a short break from life. This is especially so if we are stressed from work.

Personally, I love going on staycations with my husband. Not only do I get to take a break, the staycation brings us closer to one another.

Over the Hari-Raya weekend, my husband and I went on a staycation at Studio M Hotel Singapore: https://www.millenniumhotels.com/en/singapore/studio-m-hotel/

Please see the review below. Do note that we have allocated different weights to different categories.

  1. Service: 25%
  2. Concept: 10%
  3. Comfort: 30%
  4. Accessibility: 20%
  5. Amenities: 15%

You might notice that we did not allocate a weight to the price of the stay. We thought that allocating a weight to the price would be quite irrelevant as we all have different financial situations. A $200 room may be a 2/10 for someone who is not so well-to-do but 10/10 for a well-off person.

This idea of this review is to rate our overall experience and you can judge if this experience is “value-for-money” in your context.

Service:

The hotel lobby looked great and smelled great. The staffs were really friendly and approachable.

We were given a room at level 7 (it’s not the highest floor) We were also given a free room upgrade as it was our anniversary. Kudos to Studio M Hotel for going the extra mile.

Upon request, we were also given a late check out at 2 pm with no extra charges.

Conclusion: 20/25 for this category

Concept:

The room had a funky and unique concept and we loved it. You can see the pictures below.

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Mini Bar is complimentary! This is including the cup noodles AND the beer.

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A really small bathroom.

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Conclusion: 8/10 for this category

Comfort

The bed was really comfortable and soft. The rooms were clean. The bathroom was on the small side but that didn’t pose much of a problem for us.

While functioning, the air-conditioner isn’t that great. It takes some time to cool down the room. This can be really irritating on a hot day.

Additionally, if you take a closer look at the photos posted above, you can see that this room is a little tired. There are defects and graffiti in many areas. Here are some close up shots for you to take a closer look. While not being a deal breaker for us, these defects definitely did influence our grading for this category.

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Conclusion: 19.5/30 for this category (Serious points were deducted for the graffiti and defects)

Accessibility

The hotel is located in the vicinity of Clark Quay but is not near to the MRT station. It takes you more than 20 minutes should you choose to walk from Clark Quay MRT station.

The nearest mall (Liang Court), might take you about 10 -15 mins to reach if you go on foot.

If you are a person who loves to walk, this is the place for you.

Conclusion: 6/20 for this category

Amenities

The hotel has a Gym and Swimming Pool (infinity pool) – we did not really visit the gym but the swimming pool looks great. It is right next to the breakfast area.

Their breakfast is served in an open air restaurant, where you can enjoy the natural breeze while having breakfast.

There were a total of 8 hot dishes which includes Sausages, Cauliflower, Baked Beans, Hard Boiled Eggs, Bacon, Hash brown and a few other dishes.

They also had an omelet station and a salad station. They also serve the usual breakfast items – cornflakes, coco crunch, bread, and fruits.

Drinks served during breakfast include – Fresh Milk, Fruit Juices (two types), and Coffee/Tea.

I would say that their breakfast was quite disappointing and was not what we expected. That being said, it was not that bad – unless you are a picky eater.

Conclusion: 10.5/15 for this category (Mainly a review of their breakfast – we didn’t really use their gym or pool)

Overall: 64/100

In conclusion, we enjoyed the staycation with Studio M Hotel Singapore, despite the room defects, graffiti and the less than stellar breakfast.

We paid about $210 for the “second class” room but was upgraded to the “first class room”. You can check out the price of the room on Agoda.

Have you ever stayed with Studio M Hotel Singapore before? Tell us about your experience by commenting down below.

Have a great day! Till next time then!

 

 

 

First Steps to Early Retirement: Want to retire early? Then start learning how to sell.

Hi Everyone, Mr. Minion here,

Most people have a natural aversion to the word “sales”. I don’t blame you. I used to and still have that natural aversion. When most people hear the word “sales”, they picture insurance agents walking around on the street, trying to get you to do a survey. They picture aggressive sales assistant in the mall, pushing their products.

Bottom line – no one likes to be sold to.

However, the ability to sell is of utmost importance during your journey to early retirement. It is almost as important as picking that right stock or choosing that right partner.

Let me explain why sales is part and parcel of life.

In University

When you are making a presentation in University, you are basically trying to sell your idea to your professor. If he buys it – you get a good grade, if not, you’re screwed

Job Hunt

This is quite obvious. When you are interviewing for a job, you are selling a product – You. If they buy it, congratulations! You are hired. If not, keep on looking.

Your Career

It’s quite obvious if you are in sales. If you can’t sell, you don’t make money for the company. If you don’t make money, then it’s time to let you go.

This is applicable to positions other than sales as well. If you can sell to the boss the fact that you are doing a great job, then say goodbye to that promotion/pay increment/bonus that you deserve.

Dating(!?)

Yes, this is applicable to dating as well. If you can’t sell yourself as a good partner to have, who will date you?

How does this all link to early retirement?

It’s quite simple – while you will still probably achieve early retirement without being good at selling, being good at selling help speeds up that process. For example, if you get promoted faster because your boss buys the fact that you contributed significantly to the company, you will get more money and you get the rest.

So dear readers, if you have some extra time on your hands, learning how to sell would be a good investment. You can start reading books about selling and try applying it to your everyday life. I do that.

Till next time then.

 

Money Saving Tips 101: Want cheap gym membership with no lengthy contracts? Read on to find out!

Hi. Everyone, Mr. Minion here.

Today’s money saving tip is on how to get a cheap gym membership.

About 8 months back I started looking for a gym. I wanted to be healthier and make sure I build a strong foundation on my journey to early retirement.

After endless research and phone calls, I came to one conclusion – gyms are not cheap. If you want them to be cheap then you got to sign a lengthy contract with them. I won’t be listing down the prices of all the gyms here – that’s not the point of this post. I can tell you on average that gym memberships cost about $100 and up – and that’s with the year-long contracts and such.

So how can you get affordable gym memberships that will allow you to work out during your lunch hour? Here’s how.

YOU BUY INSURANCE

Now you’ll be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. How does buying insurance get you a cheap gym membership? Don’t I have to pay even more because I am taking up a new insurance plan?

Of course not. You’ll be saving money – trust me.

So here’s how it works.

  1. Do you have any AIA insurance policies? If so – go straight to step 2. If not, go sign up for AIA accidental insurance plan – go for the cheapest one. It doesn’t matter whether if you have any other existing accidental insurance plans.
  2. You join their AIA Vitality program
  3. Once you are a member – sign up for the “True Fitness” membership on their website.

Here’s a rough calculation on the amount that you will spend per month using my method.

  • Cheapest insurance plan with AIA ~ $15 (think it’s cheaper, but can’t remember)
  • Gym membership after discount for AIA Vitality members is ~$72
  • AIA Vitality membership is ~$5

Total Cost: ~$93

You must remember that this is without a yearly contract – which means you can just cancel the gym membership when needed.

Good deal right?

Do note that I am not given any incentives for recommending True Fitness or AIA Insurance policies – it’s just that that in order to utilize this method you’ll have to go through these 2 companies. It’s as simple as that.

That’s all we have for today. Remember to subscribe if you felt that our posts are helpful or interesting.

Till next time then.