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Monday, October 19, 2009

A Gift to My Children – A Father’s Lessons for Life & Investing

Readers' Book Reviews
October 19, 2009 
Jim Rogers

Legendary investor Rogers cofounded the Quantum Fund with George Soros in 1970, retired at the age of 37 in 1980, and spent a number of years traveling through China and six continents by motorcycle. He has taught at Columbia University and authored many best selling books including; A Bull in China, Hot Commodities, Adventure Capitalist, & Investment Biker

Our Take
As a fan and reader of all of Jim Rogers books I was happy to pour through “A gift to my children”. I read the book in 1 hour and purchased several copies for the younger members of my family. This book is not for advanced value investors; however it is for young minds. If I had this book when I was 8 years old I would be a much wiser and smarter person today. Rogers delivers on his promise of providing gifts to younger members of society and deserves compliments for doing so. If you’re interested in cultivating a young mind and potentially rearing the next Warren Buffett this book is for you.

Keys to Success (Taken from the titles and sub headings of Each Chapter)
1. Do Not Let Others Do Your Thinking For you
2. Focus On What You Like
3. Good Habits For Life & Investing
4. Common Sense? Not So Common
5. Attention to details is what separates success from failure
6. Let the World Be A Part Of Your Perspective
7. Learn Philosophy & Learn To Think
8. Learn History
9. Learn Languages (Make sure Mandarin Is One Of Them)
10. Understand Your Weaknesses & Acknowledge Your Mistakes
11. Recognize Change & Embrace It
12. Look To The Future
13. “Lady Luck Smiles On Those Who Continue Their Efforts”
14. Remember That Nothing is Really New
15. Know when not to do anything
16. Pay attention to what everybody else neglects
17. If anybody laughs at your idea view it as a sign of potential success

Most powerful exercise from the book:
“Reflect on situations where conventional wisdom and custom turned out to be wrong. Take the time to find out what actually happened”

Favorite Quotes
“Anything that is a must see, must try, must read, should almost certainly be avoided, especially if it is popular.”

“Never act upon wishful thinking. Act without checking the facts, and chances are that you will be swept away along with the mob.”

“Learn to stay calm especially in times of pressure or turmoil. You will make much better decisions”

“Do not get married until you are at least 28 and know a bit more about yourself and the world”

“Lean to do as much arithmetic and figures as possible in your head”

Another Reader's Summary:

* Swim your own races
- do not let others do your thinking for you;
- rely on your own intelligence;
- it's important to decide for yourself what's important to you and what you want before you turn to others;
- if anyone laughs at your idea, view it as a sign of potential success;
- be who you are; be original; be bold;
- above all, be ethical;
- save ~ you must avoid the trap of spending $ willy nilly simply because you can;

* Focus on what you like
- Age is irrelevant when you are passionate about a goal;
- when you find something that interests you, just do it!
- The quickest way to success is to do what you like and give your best;
- Dedicate yourself to what you feel passionate about;
- Try as many things as you can, then pursue the one about which you're passionate;

* Good habits for life
- Be a self-starter;
- Attention to details is what separates success from failure;
- However trivial it may seem, you must research and check each and ever piece of information you need to make a decision... Only through meticulous research will you obtain the knowledge necessary for success... it requires abundant work and diligence...
- There is no such thing as "enough". No finish line!
- Live your life with a dream;
- If you continue to be passionate and work hard at what you truly love to do, you eventually find that dream;

* Uncommon Sense
- Always consider alternative interpretations;
- Seek out multiple perspectives on the same story will always help you figure out the truth;

* Your education ~ Let the world be a part of your perspective PART 1
- Do not rely on books; go and see the world;
- Experience life as they do; see the world from the ground up. By observing ordinary life... you will forever be stumbling upon experiences that will raise important question in your mind ;
- Understand the significance of BRICs;
- Be open to people who are different whether at home or abroad;
- Keep an open mind and be a world citizen;
- Be eager to move if you see opportunities;

* Your education ~ Learn philosophy and learn to think PART 2
- Philosophy will teach you how to think for yourself;
- You must learn to think at a profound level if you want to understand yourself and what's important to you. You must know yourself if you want to accomplish anything in life...;
- To think outside the established framework, to examine things independently this is true philosophy...;
- Draw conclusions from your observations as well as on the basis of logic;
- As an investor, look for the bull and the bear;

* Your education ~ Learn history PART 3
- An interest in history, politics, and economics will help you see the world with clearer perspectives;
- Nothing is really new: what is happening now has happened before and will happen again;

* Your education ~ Learn languages (make sure that Mandarin is one of them) PART 4
- Mandarin will be the next global language;
- Pay attention to the major changes taking place in the world now, especially China;

* Know thyself by understanding your weaknesses and acknowledging your mistakes
- Know who you are;
- To be a successful investor you really need to understand psychology, history, and philosophy;

* Recognise change and embrace it
- Everything changes. Everything;
- Embrace the principle of supply and demand;
- Change can be a catalyst;
- Adapt or die;

* Look to the future
- Read the newspapers, but think differently;
- Pay attention to what everyone else neglects;
- If you are looking for success, be quick to start something new, something that no one else has tried;
- The more certain something is, the less likely it is to be profitable;
- Do not think in terms of what you wish (ergo, wishful thinking versus willful doing);
- Know when not to do anything;

* Lady Luck smiles on those who continue in their efforts
- Do your homework'
- If you let vanity and self-importance (ego) take over, you will lose all that you have achieved;
- Never let yourself become arrogant. Study hard. The more you learn, the more you will realise how little you know - armed with this humility, you will never lose sight of the distance between self-confidence and self-importance;
- Do not stop when you are working towards your dream;

* Epilogue
- The devil of life is always in the details;
- Anything that is a must-see, must-try, must-read, must almost certainly be avoided, especially if it is popular;
- Use good manners no matter where you are or whom you meet;
- Learn to do as much arithmetic and figures as possible in your head;
- Take care of yourself;
- Learn to stay calm;
- Once you do get to know and understand yourself, remember who you are and stay with it;
- Don't be greedy

Another Reader's Summary:

At the age of six, in 1948, Jim started his first business. Instead of playing baseball with friends, he preferred to collect empty bottles, sell them and pick up a little cash. Then one day his father offered him to loan $100 to start his second business that was highly successful selling peanuts and drinks at little league games. After 5 years, Jim had paid off the loan and still had $100 in his bank account ($100 were a lot of money in those days.)

Jim won a scholarship to Yale University. After graduating in 1964, he found a job on wall street. In 1973, Jim co-founded the Quantum fund. During the following 10 years, the portfolio of this fund grew 4,200% while the S&P grew less than 47%. At the age of 37, in 1980, Rogers decided to retire and fulfilled his lifelong dream: an around the world motorcycle trip across six continents, the Guinness world record.

Currently he lives in Singapore with his wife and daughters. In this book he has tried to put down all the lessons at one place that he has learned in his adventurous life, for example work hard and never quit, think for yourself, always prepare for the worst, read as much as you can, learn history and philosophy and save and invest your money to live a beautiful life. He has written this book for his young daughters and for anyone seeking success.

Some of my favorite chapters from this book are following:

Swim Your Own Races

Do not follow the crowd. Many people are ready to offer you advice but only you can decide what is important to you. You were born with the ability to decide. You know it very well what is good for you and what is not. So most of the time you should follow your instinct to make right decisions. Jim Rogers says when he was new to wall street, he tended to assume that his seniors knew more than him but sooner he realized that he was wrong. He stopped allowing himself to be influenced by others.

Be Who you are

If you look at people who have been successful in their chosen field you would find out that they do not try to copy others. They all approach their work in the original ways. He advises that you should find out what you want to do in your life. May be you want to become doctor, lawyer, accountant, web developer or investor. You should do what you want as long as you do not violate the rules and laws of society.

Save money

You are living in consumerism age. Every year new technological products are coming out in the market. You feel pressured to spend all the money you are earning. But you should avoid this trap of spending money. You should try to save money. Before buying anything you should ask yourself is this really worthwhile. Jim Rogers was once married to a woman who wanted to spend all they were earning but Jim wanted to save and invest money so that later in their life they could buy anything they want without being dependent on social security. They did not stay married too long.

Do what you love to do

Many people find it difficult to figure out what they really love to do. Here is the solution, try as many things as you can and eventually you will find the thing, you love to do the most. Jim Rogers became successful because he found out early in his career that he enjoys the investing most. The least happy people are those who are stuck in the jobs they don’t love.

Work hard

If can find out what you love to do, you would surely work harder in that field than other people. You would naturally would do that job in the best way you can do. Jim Rogers says that when he was studying in the Yale University, most of his classmates were better prepared than he was. But his advantage was that he was willing to work much harder than they did. The same strategy he applied to his investing career. He read all the books, he could find on investing. He read several annual reports of companies to find the winning investments.

Go see the world

To become successful in your life, you must expand your perspective toward life and world. You need to know yourself to become successful. You need to find out what advantages do you have that other people do not have and how you can make most of your advantages. To find out more about yourself and your advantages, you need to travel around the world and see how other people are living.

According to Jim Rogers, China, India, Russia and Brazil are destined to be the world’s leading economies by the year 2050. You need to acquire information to take full advantage of the investment opportunities in these growing economies.

Keep an open Mind and Be a World citizen

Jim Rogers have travelled around the world and he has found out that no matter where you live, we all want the same things out of our lives. We all want to become successful. We must keep an open mind and we need to see ourselves as the citizen of this world. We should treat others well who are different. Do not follow people who want wars. Break the chains and live away from the wars. War has never been good for any nation.

Learn Philosophy; Learn How to Think

As we have said before that if you want to become successful, you must figure out what you want to do in your life. What is the purpose of your life. What are your strengths and weaknesses. If you want to know all these things, you must learn philosophy. It will help you to think at profound level to understand yourself. It will also train you to examine every concept and every fact of your life.

Learn History

 Jim Rogers says that if you want to become a good investor, you must learn the history of different countries of this world. Thus you will understand how the world works. He says what is happening now has happened before. History repeats itself. If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London, if you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York and if you are smart in 2007 you move to Asia. Studying history will help you to learn how to analyze trends and how to anticipate the future.

Spain dominated the sixteen century, France was most powerful nation in 17th and 18th century, the 19th century was the century of Great Britain. In 20th century, the United States was the super power. Now 21st century is the century of China. Jim Rogers sold his mansion in New York and moved to Singapore so that his daughters can learn Mandarin and prepare for the 21st century that belongs to China. He thinks English and Mandarin will be the two most powerful languages of 21st century.

Buy Chinese Stocks

Jim Rogers says that if you want to make money in 21st century, you must invest your money in Chinese stocks and commodities. Jim says that he owns two or three dozens Chinese stocks. He likes to invest money in stocks during bear market. He advises you that if you decide to buy Chinese stocks then you should wait for the bear market. As soon as you hear in the news that Chinese stocks and real estate prices have fallen more than 20%, consider it as the best opportunity to start buying Chinese stocks.

Final Thoughts on This book

This is a short and easy to read book in which Jim Rogers has assembled some unique ideas about life and investing. He says that everything changes and we need to learn to adjust our lives according to the changing world. I highly recommend you to read this short book to learn some valuable lessons from the life of legendary investor, Jim Rogers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cheap and Good Food in Singapore

Ah Balling (Glutinous ball peanut soup)
  • #01-75, Golden Mile Food Centre, 505 Beach Road.
  • Hai Sing Ah Balling at Block 335 Smith Street, #02-90 Opens: Noon to 6pm, closed on Sundays.

Ang Ku Kueh
  • Tiong Bahru Teochew Kueh #02-02 Tiong Bahru Food Centre.
  • Borobudur Nonya Delights Blk 537 Bedok North St 3#01-523

BBQ Seafood
  • Leng Heng BBQ Seafood & Claypot Deluxe at Stall 6, East Coast Food Village. Opens: 2pm to 1am, closed on alternate Thursdays.

Bak Chor Mee
  • Tai Wah Minced Pork Noodles (Hill Street) Blk 466 Crawford Lane, #01-12.
  • Ah Kow Mushroom Minced Pork Mee Blk 531A Upper Cross Street, #02-43.
  • Xing Ji Rou Cuo Mian at Blk 85 Bedok North St 4 #01-07 Fengshan Food Centre.

Bak Kut Teh
  • Founder Rou Gu Cha at 347 Balestier Road.
  • Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha at 7 Keppel Road #01-05/07 PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex

Beef Kway Teow
  • 237 Geylang Lorong 9.
  • Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow22 China Street #01-01 Far East Square.

Black Pepper Crab
  • A coffee shop called Eng Seng Coffee Shop at the junction of Still Road and Joo Chiat Place.

Char Kway Teow
  • Outram Park Fried Kway Teow at Blk 531A Upper Cross St #02-18 Hong Lim Food Centre.
  • Hill Street Fried Kway Teow at Block 16 Bedok South Road, #01-187. Opens: 10.30am to 7.30pm, closed on Mondays.
  • Lai Heng Fried Kway Teow at Sembawang Hill Hawker Centre #01-12.

Chicken Rice
  • Wee Nam Kee 101 Thomson Road  #01-08 United Square
  • Boon Tong Kee at 401 Balestier Road.
  • Sin Kee Chicken Rice at Blk 40A Margeret Drive #02-548
  • Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Stall 10 at Maxwell Road. Opens: 11am to 8pm, closed on Mondays. This is the stall that had American TV chef Anthony Bourdain and Australian celebrity chef Tetsuya Wakuda raving.

Chilli Crab
  • Mattar Road Seafood Barbecue at Blk 51, Old Airport Road, #01-131G.

Chocolate Cake
  • choc*a*bloc at Blk 86 Bedok North Streeet 4 #01-179.

Chwee Kueh
  • Jian Bo Shui Kueh at #02-05 Tiong Bahru food Centre.

Crayfish Hor Fun
  • Tuck Kee (Ipoh) Sah Ho Fun Blk 531A Upper Cross St #02-41 Hong Lim Food Centre.

Curry Chicken Noodles
  • #01-127 Hong Lim Market & Food Centre. The gravy is fantastic, while the chicken is of that found in Hainanese Chicken rice.

Economy Rice
  • Susan Chan Food #05-100, Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road.

  • Hock Seng Choon Fish Ball at Blk 16 Bedok South Road #01-211.

Fish Soup
  • Blanco court fried or sliced fish soup stall at 341 Beach Road. They deep fry pieces of fish with egg. It is then served in a big bowl filled with piping hot fish broth.
  • Han Kee Fish Soup at 02-129 Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road.

Hawker Centre
  • Glutton's Bay at #01-05 Esplanade Mall operates from 6pm to 3am. Must try the Char Kway Teow, Fried Hokkien Mee, Oyster Omelette, Satay, BBQ Seafood and Yong Tau Foo.

Hokkien Mee
  • One of the best hokkien mee is at Geyland Lorong 29.
  • Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee at Block 51 Old Airport Road, #01-155J. Opens: 11.30am to 8pm daily.
  • Sheng Seng Fried Prawn Noodle at #01-40, Pek Kio Market and Food Centre, Blk 41A Cambridge Road.

Ice Kacang
  • Annie Peanut Ice Kacang at #02-36 Tangjong Pagar Plaza & Food Centre.

Indian Rojak
  • Sajis Indian Food Blk 262 Waterloo St#01-29 Nan Tai Eating House

Kaya Toast
  • Ya Kun Kaya Toast and Kopi.

Kway Chap
  • Garden Street Kway Chap at Stall 21, Serangoon Garden Market. Opens: 8am to 3pm, closed on Mondays.

  • Famous Katong Laksa at No 49, 57, 59 East Coast Road.
  • Sungei Road Laksa Blk 27 Jalan Berseh #01-100 Jin Shui Kopitiam.

Lor Mee
  • On the 2nd Floor of Amoy Street Market Food Centre, stall you see when you climb up the stairs next to the POSB ATM.

Mee Rebus
  • Selera Kita at Blk 58 New Upper Changi Road #01-217
  • Afandi Hawa & Family Mee Rebus at 14 Haig Road, #01-21 Haig Road Food Centre.

Mutton Soup
  • Bukit Timah Beauty World #01-113N.
  • Haji M Abdul Razak Mutton Soup at Blk 17 Boon Keng Road Market and food Centre.

Nasi Lemak
  • Selera Rasa Adam Road Stall 2 Adam Road Food Centre.

Nasi Padang
  • Warong Nasi Pariaman738 North Bridge Road

Oyster Omelette
  • Ah Chuan Oyster Omelette boasts both crispy and mushy textures in one fabulous dish at Block 22 Toa Payoh 7 #01-25.Opens: 3 to 9pm, closed on Tuesdays.
  • Ah Hock Fried Oyster#01-111 Whampoa Drive Hawker Centre

Peanut Pancake
  • Frankie's 15 Boon Tat Street, Singapore.

  • Kway Guan Huat at 97 Joo Chiat Road.
  • Nonya popiah at Glory Restaurant 139 East Coast Road.

Prawn Mee
  • One of the best prawn mee you can ever get is at a coffee shop at Onan Road. It is near to the Geyland Road end. The prawns are very fresh and the soup is delicious.
  • 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles at 01-326, Tekka Food Centre, Off Serangoon Road

Prawn Vadai
  • Gordon's Katong Vadai at 936 East Coast Road (Opposite Killiney Kopitiam). Opens: 11am - 8.30pm; closed every alternate Wednesday.

  • Lau Hong Ser Rojak at #02-14 Dunman Food Centre. Opens: 4.30pm to 1.30am, closed on Sundays. Expect to wait for at least 30 minutes for your dish to be ready.
  • Soon Heng Rojak at Gourmet Paradise Food Court, 480 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #B1-23, HDB Hub

Roti Prata
  • Thasevi Food235-239 Jalan Kayu
  • 126 Casuarina Road (off Thomson Road).

  • Warong Sudir Mampir at Blk 14, Haig Road #01-19. Opens: 10am to 7pm (weekdays), 10am to 5pm (weekends); closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  • Fatman Satay at Blk 51, #01-117D Old Aiport Cooked Food Centre.

Satay Bee Hoon
  • Meng Kee's Satay Bee Hoon at Stall 17 East Coast Food Village Opens: 6 to 11.30pm, closed on Tuesdays. The queues may be long, but the ingredients on the bee hoon is delicious.

  • East Coast Seafood Centre. There're many restaurants all in a row serving everything you fancy, from drunken prawns to the famous black pepper and chilli crab.

Soto Ayam
  • Inspirasi Stall at Block 207 New Upper Changi Road, #01-11. Opens: 12.30 to 9pm daily.

Tau Kwa Pau
  • 125/127 East Coast Road coffeshop. Tau Kwa stuffed with duck meat, pork, fish balls, cucumber, ngo hiang, etc. Eat with chilli sauce garnished with fresh cut green chillis and chinese parsley.

Tapioca Cake, Onde Onde, Sweet potato balls
  • Xing Xing stall at Maxwell Market Food Centre.
  • Ri Xing Xiang Ji Stall 76 Maxwell food Centre

Wanton Mee
  • Joo Chiat Ah Huat Wanton Mee at Dunman Food Centre #01-04
  • Sin Hoi Hin Wanton Mee at 12 Rowell Road

Best Local Food
Home Remedies
Household Tips

You can run, but you can't hide

Tue, Oct 13, 2009
The Straits Times

By Lorna Tan, Senior Correspondent

Many people do not understand the importance of maintaining a good credit history. Did you know, for instance, that if your credit history is less than satisfactory it may be tough to get a mortgage or a personal loan?

Notching up a poor credit history is not that hard to do but the good news is that those who blot their copybook can make amends over time to help remove the stain.

'Frequent late payments and taking long periods of time to repay outstanding amounts can contribute to a poor credit history, which may lead to unsuccessful loan applications,' said Ms Helen Neo, head of consumer banking, Maybank Singapore.

It is not surprising that your credit history is a key factor lenders look at when deciding whether to extend a loan. Others include salary, job and other financial details.

So if our own credit history is so potentially crucial, we certainly ought to be familiar with this vital statistic that is checked by lenders to determine our financial health.

As it turns out, it is easy and cheap to keep track of your credit history - more details of that later.

Another reason to seek out details of your credit history is that it could act as a red flag when crimes such as identity theft and fraud are being attempted.

If, for instance, an impostor applies for a loan or credit card using your identity, a review of your credit history would bring this to light.

Reviewing this regularly allows you to be aware of any information that is uploaded on your credit file, said Mr William Lim, executive director of Credit Bureau (Singapore).

The Credit Bureau maintains data of consumers' credit history to help financial institutions better assess individuals' creditworthiness.

It compiles the credit history of people based on data from its 20 members which contribute specific credit performance data monthly. These members are all banks and financial institutions involved in providing consumer credit facilities here.

Here are some things you need to know about maintaining a good credit history.

Q What is a credit history and how does it work here?

A credit history is a record of an individual's past and current borrowing and repayment patterns, including information about late payments, said Mr Nanan Waluja, head of credit operations at Citibank Singapore.

This is detailed in one's credit report which is compiled by the Credit Bureau. It is released only under certain conditions to credit providers when they make inquiries about an individual when he applies for, say, a loan. It includes information such as:

a) Basic personal profile details such as address

b) Records of all credit checks made on the consumer

c) The last 12 repayments showing the promptness of payments relative to their due dates

d) Records of default on payments, if any

e) Bankruptcy record, if any

The report gives an indication of the person's track record in handling credit by looking at how reliably he has repaid past debts.

Q What does it mean to have a bad credit history?

A bad credit history would comprise a record of missed payments and defaults. For lenders, meeting payment obligations is important, so a history of timely payments is a clear advantage.

While different credit providers use different methods for credit assessment, here are some of the factors which lenders look at when assessing credit applications:

1. How affordable is the loan for the applicant given his income and expenses?

2. What assets does the applicant own?

3. How does the consumer manage debt? What are his payment patterns?

4. How many loans and other credit facilities does he have? What is his current total debt?

5. Does he have a record of bankruptcy proceedings, litigation or payment defaults?

Q What are the consequences of a bad credit history?

A consumer with a bad credit rating may find it harder to get a credit card, a mortgage, a motor vehicle loan or a personal loan. He may even find his application for such loans rejected.

Mr Lim said in some countries, though not yet in Singapore, credit ratings can affect the pricing of credit. A consumer with a bad credit history or rating will be able to borrow funds only at a higher interest rate. Conversely, a consumer with a good credit record is rewarded with more attractive rates.

In short, a good credit repayment history will make it easier for you to obtain credit and to qualify for loans.

Q How do you clear your bad credit history?

The main emphasis among lenders is on the more recent payment behaviour. For example, an account that shows a delinquency seven months ago but that has been current since is likely be treated as a lower risk by a lender than an account that shows a delinquency in the last one or two months. As recent history carries more weight, getting into the habit of making on-time payments will improve your credit profile even if you have slipped up in the past.

For existing accounts, information on the account's history will be displayed on a rolling 12-month basis in the credit report.

Information on any defaults will be retained in the credit report until such defaults are discharged or otherwise settled.

For defaults where the outstanding amount has been settled in full or on a negotiated settlement basis, this will be shown for three years from the date of settlement.

It is important to note that each lender has a different risk policy and therefore it is possible for one lender to decline an application and another to approve based on the same Bureau data.

Q Where can you go to check on your own credit history?

Your credit profile changes based on your financial activity, such as each time you apply for a credit card or loan. The Credit Bureau suggests that consumers check their credit reports every six to 12 months to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date.

At a cost of $5 plus GST, you can get a copy of your credit report through various channels including online from the Credit Bureau at or at any SingPost branch islandwide.

Consumers who wish to guard against identity theft can also subscribe to My Credit Monitor, a 12-month monitoring service that alerts them whenever financial institutions notify the Credit Bureau about missed payments on loans or when an application for credit is made in their names. Once they sign up, they will also receive a complimentary copy of their credit report.

The cost: $35 and $40 plus GST, for e-mail and postal alerts respectively.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.