XiaoJiJi's little garden

Just as the title of the blogs say, this is XiaoJiJi's own little personal space where he will be putting his own personal thoughts about certain issues. He just wishes for the corresponding views of the public. These external views and comments will make his life closer within the boundaries of sanity.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Stock recommendations and the importance of knowing some knowledge about investing

I guess that every one of you who has been reading my blog will know that I have my own mini fund but I think not many of you know that I also give “stock recommendations”. The reason for the inverted commas is due to the different way that I provide these recommendations. I will never provide outright recommendations and tell you exactly which stock to buy. Doing this creates an environment of dependence which I believe is not beneficial to anyone’s financial well-being. Instead you tell me which stock you want to buy and I will tell you about the company. I will tell you about the company prospects which would have no relation to the performance of the stock. The reason is being that none of my friends trades stocks full-time and hence are all long term investors. (if they do start investing) So being a long term investor, he should only be looking at a stock in a business point of view. (this is the Warren Buffett’s style of investing) Never look at a stock by its price. That’s the rule of a long term investor.
For more clarifications on this, you are welcome to give me a call or drop me a message. Like I’ve told my good friend in
Malaysia, everyone must know how to invest. Regardless whether you are an employee in the public or private sector, an employer or even a housewife, everyone must learn a few concepts of investing. The age of putting your savings in banks are over. The only way one can ever have enough for their retirement is to invest their monthly earnings. There are so many different types of investments out there with a vast majority being unsuitable for any forms of investing. The only way that one can differentiate between the good investments and the lousy ones is to have a basic education in investing. So the time to start learning about investing is when one still does not have any money to invest.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My uncle's December rendevous and the lessons that i had learnt

I just heard that my third uncle has just returned from China a few days ago to start work for the New Year. He had been there since mid December and had spent the Christmas and New Year holidays in China. Those in the dark would really think that he’s been working real hard throughout the holidays that he didn’t even spend time with his own family in Singapore. These people are very wrong. Or should I say that he is indeed spending time with his family, but not with his lawful family in Singapore. This is because he has set up another family in China.

It has always been a constant worry that businessmen who ventured to China would start another family there. Although this was wrong, at least these men did not forsake their family back home in Singapore, still providing their lawful families with financial support. But my uncle is the ultimate. He made his parents, brothers and sisters go against his eldest brother when this brother, who is also my father, tried to stop him from going to China. He beat him up and made up lies about him to the court of Singapore so that my father will be sacked and he can replace him as the Managing Director of the company. This would give him the control and freedom to go to China on “business’ trips. The whole family was thrown into chaos so that my third uncle can have the freedom to be with his new family. How touching… If he had not been married and his methods had not been so ruthless, this whole episode can be written into a romantic movie.

I also heard that this uncle of mine wants to compete with us in the wood flooring business. (He had lost the fight to be the Managing Director of the company last September. The judge in the High Court of Singapore threw out his case but he had since set up another new company. I wonder how long would this company last.) I just wonder how he is ever going to compete with us when my parents and I had been working almost everyday even during the holidays when he had been enjoying himself in the Chang Bai Shan Mountains of China. For those who have their own successful business, they should understand that building up a new business requires a hell lot of time and effort. The business regardless of how attractive it had been in the beginning would eventually be a failure without the required hard work, discipline and intelligence. All these happen to be what my uncle lacks.

However I had learnt many valuable lessons from the treachery this uncle had used against us. One of the most important lessons is to always be honest to oneself and to others and never to do anything that I dare not admit to. The man who deceives others will one day unconsciously deceive himself. I think my uncle is already in the stage where he cannot differentiate right from wrong.

Another important lesson I learnt is to be faithful to my wife. As a Chinese, I believe that everything will go smoothly if one’s family is harmonious. I had promised myself never to be involved in any extra-marital affairs regardless of how repulsive my future wife will become. Although I’m still not married, but I had already considered myself as married since I’m already planning to do so within 2 year’s time. And I’m making this promise for myself. Many people do not understand that being faithful to their wives is actually for their own good and not for their wives’. For me it’s more of the pride that I have for my dad for being a faithful husband to my mum and responsible father to his children that make me want to follow his example.

By the way, I had originally refused to acknowledge all of those relatives who had harmed my father. But my parents persuaded me to still accord them the proper respect as my seniors in the family. This I had done so although not without the usual (inconspicuous) mutterings of vulgarities when addressing them. Luckily there’s not much chance of me meeting them. I’ll rather die than to associate myself with scum. I can’t help but feel disappointed and disgraced by the presence of such people in my family.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Meaningful facts about wood products

Every time you don't choose wood, you're helping to destroy our planet. By opting for alternative materials, you are contributing to the threat of global warming and the incidence of acid rain. Growing trees absorb Carbon Dioxide, particularly when they are young. This process levels off as they mature - so harvest the mature trees and plant more saplings.
Forest management and logging practices are being improved. Progress is being made in both the temperate and the tropical rain forest regions. Replanting and regeneration schemes are being carried out - all working towards the *ITTO target of sustainable forest worldwide by the year 2000. In most of the world's forested countries, trees are being planted in millions, putting back far more than are being harvested.


Burning the rain forest accounts for up to 25% of the world's Carbon Dioxide emissions. Forests are burned when the land is wanted for agriculture, industry, a power station etc. Even so, burning wood is "Carbon Dioxide neutral' - the CO2 released, is only equivalent to that absorbed by the tree in its growth.


Acid rain is caused by the emission of sulphur dioxide and the oxides of nitrogen from power stations and other burners of fossil fuels. 60% of the coniferous forest reserves of Europe and 50% of the deciduous forests of Germany and France are at risk from acid rain. The extraction of coal, oil, iron ore, bauxite and limestone requires far more energy to produce steel, aluminium, concrete etc. than is needed to process an equivalent quantity of wood products. Measured in kilowatt-hours per tonne, it takes 3780 for steel and 20169 for aluminium against 435 for wood. A tree grows on natural energy in a lifetime - how many thousands of lifetimes will we need to replace our stocks of fossil fuels? Those concerned about the environmental impact of forestry should consider the effects of mining and quarrying, oil spillage and the risks inherent in nuclear power.


Wood is bio-degradable


Wood is recyclable


Wood is non-toxic


Wood is durable


Wood is natural


Wood is organic


Wood is renewable


Wood brings quality of life

Friday, January 05, 2007

LIFE

“Somewhere along the line, we seem to have confused comfort with happiness,” Dean Karnazes told Wired magazine. “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well preserved body… but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow! What a ride!”
I was reading this article about the limits of what’s humanly possible when I saw this quote from Dean Karnazes. Dean Karnazes entered a 12-man, 199-mile relay race – by himself. He later ran 350 miles without sleeping. And a few months ago, at age 44, he ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 different states, finishing in New York. Then he ran home – to San Francisco. After all those feats, a reporter interviewed him and that was what he said.

I know that there’s a few of my family and friends who do not understand why I love making money so much. Do I really need to make so much money? A stable job would already be enough for have a good life. Do I really need that much money? Or am I just greedy? Well, the statement from Dean Karnazes clearly explains the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing. I did not come to this world just to enjoy myself. I’m not here to have a stable job and be contented just living a good life. I believe the only way for one to truly understand the statement Dean made is to experience death or experience near death. Only when one feels that death is near will he start to think what he has done and has not done.

When I was critically ill lying on the bed of Changi hospital, I thought about many things. My parents, my sis and my current girlfriend Gelin whom I loved deeply but most of the time when I was lying there for 28 days too weak to move I thought about my life. Had I lived a life worth living? What have I done to show for it? I would really have died in there if not for the things I had not done. I pulled myself out of the depression after 2 weeks and eventually recovered in a year. The doctor had considered it a miracle. He had told me that with the condition of my illness, the most I can expect is another 10 years. That was the maximum. But now this illness had been completely cured and I can only thank God for this miracle.

I left the hospital with a desire to do the things that I had wanted to do but had not done. There were a whole lot of them. One of them is to get really rich. I want to have something to show for the years of work that I have done and what better than by using cash? My interest in investing also complements this goal. When I was recovering in hospital, I told myself that I will win the love of my current girlfriend. We were not together then. I admit that my approach after that when courting her was a bit strong but at least I knew that she was the girl whom I want to grow old with. Some of my friends do not understand this. I believe they just do not understand what I had went through.

Like I’ve told this wonderful girl who is now my girlfriend, it will not be a bed of roses spending the rest of her life with me, but I can guarantee that being with me will be the most exciting ride of her life. There will be joy, laughter, tears, excitement and surprises. I do not intend to live a stable or the life the general population thinks is “normal”. I want to live a life really worth living. And I hope all my friends will understand my desire and not wait until death to understand that; “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well preserved body… but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow! What a ride!”

Monday, January 01, 2007

My New Year Resolution for 2007

It’s the start of a New Year again and it’s the time when I’ll be doing my New Year resolutions. Many people do not understand the importance of goal setting in their lives. For those who do, they will know that goal setting is a vital component that drives us forward.

Goal setting is not only crucial to the advancement of my life but also the only way I can drive myself to achieve “impossible” feats that I, under my normal self would never be able to achieve. The goals that I set for myself will always be a little harder than what I can normally achieve. There’s no point setting a goal if it’s something you can achieve easily. It should always demand at least 120% more of you. My goals also always come with a failure clause. (ie. What I will do if I fail to achieve my goals) So far, I have not failed a single of my goals and I do not intend to do so throughout my life. If you are close to me, you should know that I can be a very laid-back person. But when it comes to my goals, I will be the most disciplined person in the world. I will also share my goals with others so that I will strive harder to achieve them.

Last year this time, I was at a seminar in Kuala Lumpur organized by this motivational speaker Zhang Yi Qiang. I shared my goals with him and also with my parents and sis who were with me. He is the one who taught me the importance of giving back to the society. So from that time onwards, all of my goals involving financial objectives will also include a charity component. It will be the same for this year.

The following are some goals that I set for myself last year:
1) save $3k per month
2) save $50k by end June
3) save $100k by end 2006
4) give 5% of my total annual income to any charity of my choice
5) pass all my course modules
6) maintain an annual income of $50k per annum (this is my taxable salary)
7) finish reading all investment books about Warren Buffett by year end
8) find 2 stocks that fulfills the method used by Warren Buffett in his books
9) learn the wood flooring trade from my dad
10) go overseas with my dear

I’ve got the say that I had fulfilled all the goals that I had set for myself. I had actually done a lot better than what I had wanted to do for some of these goals. I had donated more than 5% to charity, I had more than passed my course modules and I had read much more than just Warren Buffett’s investment books. Let’s just say that for every one of my year 2006 goals, I started from nil except for goal number 5 and number 10. Although I view learning as crucial to the advancement of mankind, I do not think good academic results genuinely reflect the understanding one has with the particular subject. So just passing my paper has always been enough for me. But the same could not be said for my investment results and my ability to save. I aim to be the investor with the best investment results in Asia.

Anyway all big dreams have to start from small little steps. So this is the goals I have set for myself for the year 2007:

1) double my savings per month by year end ($6k per month)
2) double my charitable contributions (10% of total annual income)
3) start two new businesses by year end
4) maintain an annual income of $50k per annum (I do not want too high a taxable income)
5) read at least 2 investment books per month (this excludes the daily newspaper and regular financial magazines which I would have to also read all)
6) find 2 NYSE stocks with the greatest potential for growth
7) graduate from my degree course
8) enroll in CFA course
9) go on a business trip with my dad
10) go overseas with my dear

For goal number 10 for both year 2006 and 2007, what I had meant was that I have to save up enough to pay for the trip on top of my monthly savings. For those who had read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki would know that it is very important for one to pay himself first. The whole book was actually revolving around this very idea. So no one gets paid until I do. Not even the blood sucking banks. If I do not save the amount of money I want to save, I will not be doing anything that costs money until I manage to save the money.

Lastly I want to wish all my friends a very happy and fulfilling 2007! I hope you will find the purpose in your life and then work hard towards it. I have a beloved friend who lives in Malaysia who dared not live his dreams because he thinks that his dream is not financially feasible. I understand his fears and I think it takes great courage to do something that seems to have no future. But life is doing what one believes in. I just want to say to my friend that God made us for a purpose. God never said anything about economic values when searching for our purpose in life. Believe in your dreams and abundance in life will soon follow you. An idea of commercializing his ideas would be to compile his ideas in a book and selling them to the mass market. I hope my friend will go ahead and live his dreams in the field of philosophy. I love philosophers. They live a Spartan existence but they bring so much meaning to life. They are the true assets to society. If my friend does live his dreams then I will have another reason to admire about his character. He is one of the most frugal and hardworking person I had ever known. As for me, I most probably will never stop investing. As long as I am fit and healthy, I will live and breathe investments everyday of my life.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The boon and bane of successful habits

When I first started out on my learning journey to be a great equity investor, I was introduced to the concept of fallibility by George Soros and that the same habits can make and also break a man. I had kept this in mind even when the mini fund that I was managing surged up to 25% and made me a tidy profit. Now more than a year after I first started out on my learning journey, I had begun to have doubts about the existing methods that I had been taught. More importantly, I have not been satisfied about the performance of my fund. I had expected more out of myself.

History has also proven that people who constantly changes oneself to adapt to the challenges confronting him will be more able to survive these challenges and excel. Hence it is no surprise that people such as Warren Buffett and Tiger Woods are the best in what they do. Warren Buffett changed his stock selection method at least twice in his life and Tiger Woods re-learnt his driving twice. When Warren Buffett changed his stock selection method, his stock portfolio performance surged. Being a value investor, Warren Buffett would never have bought Coca-cola in the late 1980s since it was trading at a premium. Coca-cola is one of the stocks he bought after re-learning his stock selection method. Now this stock had earned him over many times his original investment. Golf prodigy Tiger Woods re-learnt his driving twice in his career so as to stay ahead of the game. He continued to win several PGA tours after that. These men knew that to keep staying ahead of the game, it is crucially important not to be tied down by old habits or methods. Old habits may have made you successful, but the world changes constantly and if one is unable to break out of their old mindset and adopt a new one, he will never constantly succeed in life. He will be just like the song,”Gone with the wind.” and fade into history.

I’m writing this blog to warn my fellow investors and wanna-be investors who are reading this blog. The stocks that you had chosen may have earned you some money, but do not be complacent and think that your method is the best in the world. Such thoughts would be the beginning of the end. Successful methods may not be really successful. Many times we confuse skills with luck. It would be a blessing to lose in the beginning than to win and then lose even more afterwards.

Hence I will not be buying anymore stocks as of now until I have re-read the two books, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and Common stocks and Uncommon Profits by Phil Fisher. I believe these two books are the most fundamental to any value investor. I will be reformulating my stock selection method after reading these two books. There are many other books that I will be reading but I believe that the other books are not as crucial to successful long-term stock investing as these two books.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thank you everyone!

It is Christmas today and it is a day of giving for those who believe in Christ. For me, I believe that this is the time of the year where you take stock of the whole year and thank those who had made a difference to your life. Hence I want to dedicate this blog to those who had made my life a better one this year.

Firstly I want to thank Jonathan Poh, MD of Supreme Flooring for his help in resolving the 24 years of misunderstandings and hatred I had for my parents. If not for his help and intervention, I would never have gathered the courage to apologize to my parents for what I had said and done to them all these years. My family would not be so loving to each other without his influence and I would never had realized that my parents actually loved me the most all through these years. If you ever want to do laminate flooring for your house, please go find him at his company at http://www.supremefloor.com.sg/index2.htm. His multinational company makes the best laminate flooring in Singapore.

All thanks-giving will not be complete without thanking one’s parents for the life they had given us. I want to thank my parents not just for the wonderful life they had given me, but also for the good habits they had cultivated in me and my sis. Both of them had done much more than what a parent should do. I really cannot ask for more from them. I am immensely proud of my parents. And I believe my sis will think so too.

As for friends, I want to thank Daniel for the help and advice he had given me when I was contemplating to start a Subway franchise outlet. Although he had a daytime job, a café to run in the evenings and a home cheesecake bakery business, he spent more than 6 hours explaining to me the things that I should look out for before accepting the franchise. If I have more friends like him I would become the next Li Ka Shing real soon. (For your info, one of Li Ka Shing’s strength in business is in the great friends he had met over the years. The help of friends like Lee Shau Kee of Henderson Land and Cheng Yu-tung of New World Holdings ensures that his businesses will continue to flourish.) Please visit his Liquids Cafe at 56 Sembawang Road, Hong Heng Mansions to chill out in the evenings or buy his delicious cheesecakes at his website http://sg.geocities.com/rolypolyking/. He’s the tall handsome guy who looks somewhat like Adrian Pang.

In terms of friendship, there is no one else like my best bud Jimmy Chong. I want to thank him for the damn funny sakae sushi and car polishing sessions that we have together at least once a week. Though he’s the best mate one can have in stressful situations, he is one hell of a disciplined fellow. Although I do not agree to his ideas of vegetarianism, I do admire his resolve not to eat any meat products when everyone around him is feasting hungrily on anything delicious. Like I’ve always believed, people with good discipline will all eventually be successful people. I can only foresee great things for him.

I want to thank Jackson Yee for the insightful discussions on the stock market that we have regularly at my girlfriend’s place. He’s the most investment-crazy person that I know. (other than myself) We spend hours discussing the best investment ideas and the best stock to buy whenever we can. Just like what Marcus Tullius Cicero said,”A friend is, as it were, a second self.” He breathes stocks and investments just like me. It’s really hard to find people around my age who think like I do about the importance of investing. All the others whom I know also buy stocks are at least two decades away from my age group. People of my age only seem to think about how to fully utilize their earnings to enjoy themselves rather than saving for a rainy day. Maybe one only understands the importance of investing when they grow older. However I prefer to start learning about things before I need them. Maybe only Jackson and I are blessed with such foresight. Lately we are trying to come up with an online clothes wholesale business idea. Though I don’t foresee a great profit (our profits are small to keep prices low) and also since it’s a niche business, but at least we are one step closer to financial freedom than the rest of the population. I will be informing everyone about this when the idea materializes.

I also want to thank everyone who had left an imprint on my life be it big or small. Although there are too many to be listed here on the blog, their assistance in my life would never be forgotten.

Lastly I will end with one of my favorite quotes from Aristotle; “Men are divided between those who are as thrifty as if they would live forever and those who are as extravagant as if they were going to die the next day”. Maybe with this quote, one can understand another’s outlook in life simply by looking at the amount of money he saves and invests.