Kenneth Fong - Seedly
 
Kenneth Fong

Owner of a 4-room HDB BTO and married to financial clutz. Probably the closest to an adult you can find on the Seedly team.

Kenneth Fong

Editor at Seedly

About

Owner of a 4-room HDB BTO and married to financial clutz. Probably the closest to an adult you can find on the Seedly team.

Credentials

Editor at Seedly

Kenneth Fong

Editor at Seedly

  • Answers (20)
  • Questions (1)
  • Reviews (5)

Retirement

Investments

FIRE Movement

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong, Editor at Seedly
Level 5. Genius
Updated 3d ago
Hi Anonymous, I'd say it is. But here're a couple of things you might want to think about. I've personally worked and stayed in Thailand, Pathum Thani (about 40mins drive north of Mochit aka where JJ Market is) specifically for 6 months, and I have thought of retiring there too. The climate is pretty similar, but they do have slightly colder winters if you live up north. Food-wise, it's pretty agreeable because you're still in South East Asia (I'm presuming you're Singaporean). And if you're happy with street food or the small Mom & Pop, hole-in-a-wall eateries you can find almost everywhere, they're cheap and decent too. A meal (rice with meat and some veggies) will probably cost you SGD$2 to SGD$3, or even less - depends on which province you're in, big cities will charge more. I can't say much about healthcare, but you might want to check if foreigners have to pay more if they seek treatment at clinics or the A&E . This is extremely important as you'll be retiring there in your golden years, and the last thing you want is to (touch wood) go to a hospital after you fall in your bathroom and be charged a ridiculous amount of money for an X-ray and a plaster cast. If you're planning to have children, the best university there is probably Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok . But the more affluent locals (mostly Thai-Chinese) usually send their kids overseas. At least that's what I noticed since most of my Thai colleagues have degrees from all over the world, while local grads are far and few - in case you're wondering, I was working in the National Science and Technology Development Agency (like an A STAR of sorts for Thailand). So that means that you'll need to factor additional costs to send your kid to local, international schools in preparation for higher education. Or be prepared to send them overseas for their education from the get-go, which also means you'll need to take care of their tuition fees, boarding, and lodging (read: not cheap). Local transportation is cheap if you travel by bus, tuk-tuk, MRT, boat, motorcycle. And it's not too bad either if you decide to buy and own a car. Most of my colleagues still take public transportation because traffic is usually bad - yes, even in the small towns because some of the roads aren't as wide as SG - and are the worst in big cities. Finally, since you're looking at retiring, you'll probably want to learn more about Thailand's retirement visa. ! In a nutshell, you'll be applying for the Non-Immigrant O-A Visa (Long Stay/Retirement) visa which is renewable every year. But the catch here is that you'll have to be 50 years or older to apply for this visa. Here are some other conditions you'll need to meet: - A minimum of THB800,000 in a Thai bank account for 2 months prior to visa application - A minimum of THB65,000 monthly income (can combine with assets in Thai bank account to meet that min THB800,000 requirement) Oh, and you'll need to report to Immigration every 90 days to verify your current address . Yes, I know. It's a hassle, but those are the rules if you wanna retire there. If you're thinking about retiring overseas, I've written an article on Retirement Visas to other places around the world. Feel free to check it out if you'd like to keep your options open! Good luck with your retirement dreams and start planning now if it's your ultimate goal!
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Investments

Career

Stocks Discussion

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong, Editor at Seedly
Level 5. Genius
Answered on 28 Dec 2019
Hi Anonymous, It's great that you've decided to start writing! Everybody has to start somewhere. If you have a particular niche in personal finance that you're well-versed in or have strong interest (maybe you're from that particular industry and have subject matter expertise), I'd suggest creating content with regard to that. For example, if you've always been fascinated with owning property or have an insight as to how the average Singaporean can work towards owning multiple properties. Then maybe you'll want to focus on property and helping your readers attain their home ownership goals. If you're a parent who's done it all, then maybe you'd like to chronicle your experiences and the costs involved in raising children. Heck, kids always do the most amusing (and unexpected) things and that would make for pretty interesting content - especially since Singapore is notoriously expensive to live in, much less raise a child. I guess where I'm going with this is: 1) know what you're good at, and 2) know your target audience Start there, keep tweaking, and see where it goes. But most importantly, think about bringing value to your readers. This could come in the form of your personal opinion on a contentious subject, a personal anecdote to help people relate better to a certain situation you're talking about and etc. Anybody can rattle off the pros and cons of doing a voluntary top-up to your CPF special account. Just do a search on Google. But if you can value add by illustrating how doing so (with numbers and figures) helps you to better plan your retirement wish to travel the world, for example. Then you would have helped someone who has ambitious plans to see the world in their retirement. It's not just generic advice that you know you should do but aren't really sure why you should follow in the first place. This is known as: 1) context (or creating relevance for your readers) If your readers find relevance in what you write about, and can appreciate your knowledge... you'll have a winning formula there. All the best!

Investments

Inflation

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong
Level 5. Genius
Updated on 04 Dec 2019
That's a good question! Shouldn't the government be reducing inflation to 0%? That way, we won't have to spend so much money on stuff what! Well... Yes, and unfortunately, No. I'm going to explain why inflation is important using something we're all familiar with: ice cream. ! TL;DR: Why Is Inflation Needed In Our Economy? Many economists, businessmen, and politicians believe that inflation, or the gradual increase of prices over time, helps keep businesses profitable and prevents consumers from simply waiting for lower prices before making purchases. On the other hand, rising prices also makes doing stuff like saving money harder. It causes individuals to engage in riskier strategies in order to increase or just to maintain their wealth. And as with anything that is remotely linked to the government, people are sure to suspect that inflation is just an excuse for some businesses or individuals to benefit at the expense of others. Defining Inflation Imagine that it's after school. And there are 10 kids who all love ice cream. The ice cream uncle standing outside school, only has 5 servings left in his cart. And he is selling them at $1 each. Each kid has $2 in hand and all of them want to have ice cream. The enterprising uncle realises that he can get more for his ice cream so he jacks up the price to $2. This $1 increase is a result of Demand Pull Inflation or excess demand of a scarce good. The next day, the uncle heads to the ice cream factory to get a restock of ice cream. The supplier informs him that milk prices have increased, so he is selling 10 blocks of ice cream at $100 instead of $80. The ice cream uncle knows that he gets 200 servings of ice cream from 10 blocks. And this $20 increase means that if he wants to make the same profit, he must now sell his ice cream at $1.10 instead of $1. This is a result of Supply Push Inflation , which is caused by a substantial increase in the cost of important goods or services where no suitable alternative is available. After all, he can't make ice cream out of water right? So bobian, he has to buy the product in order to make a living. Inflation In The Real World When everyone in an economy is expecting say... A 10% inflation, everyone adjusts their prices upwards by 10%. Suddenly your pint of milk costs $1.10 (from $1), your loaf of bread costs $3.30 (from $3), and your McSpicy meal costs... Well, you get the picture. This was EXACTLY what happened in the States during the 1970s where everyone expected double digit inflation due to high oil prices . In fact, people started factoring this inflationary expectation into their wages and prices of goods. Unfortunately, this expectation was allowed to develop and continued without significant economic growth which resulted in Stagflation . The result? Unemployment rates rose to an astronomical high and the US economy went into a recession. The world has learnt from this mistake though. So as a result, governments try to limit inflationary expectations by stating outright what the target inflation rate for the year is. This is why you'll notice that MAS makes a huge point every end of the year to announce what the target inflation rate for the next year will be . It'll usually be a sustainable and healthy level of inflation. Not high enough to turn your cash savings into "banana money" (read: currency used during the Japanese occupation which became worthless due to inflation). ! But high enough to create a sufficient buffer before deflation happens. Asset Bubbles: The Calm Before The Deflation Storm Asset Bubbles occur when Demand Push Inflation causes assets to become overvalued. Let's say all the cool kids at school think that having an ice cream after school is the trendy thing to do. The uncle decides to up the cool factor by branding his ice cream with a trademarked logo and prices his ice cream at $10 (remember that it only costs him $0.80 to make one before the supplier increased the price of ice cream). It's all the rage amongst the kids, and every one at school is either begging their parents to get them this "branded" ice cream or are saving up their pennies just to buy one. One day, the popular kids are sick of the uncle's ice cream and refuse to even pay cost price for the ice cream. The asset (ice cream) bubble has just burst, and what follows is deflation . Cue (ice) screams Sorry, couldn't help it. The Problem Of Deflation Remember the 10 kids who used to buy ice cream from the uncle? They all still have $2 to spend, but they're no longer interested in spending it on ice cream because it's not trendy anymore. Instead, they're buying Korean instant noodles because that's what all their K-Drama idols are eating. ! On Monday, the uncle sells his ice cream at $1. The next week, he drops it to $0.90 because the kids still aren't buying. A month in, he drops it to $0.80 out of desperation. Some of the kids start to wonder if they should have ice cream, because it's cheaper at $0.80 now. But they also can't help but wonder if it'll drop to $0.50 and that's when they can have 2 ice creams for the price of one . "Shiok! Deflation is great! I can buy 2 ice creams sia..." Gerald, one of the kids, exclaims. A couple of months later, 90% of ice cream uncles in Singapore can't afford to keep their carts because they can't pay for the ice cream distribution license. Gerald's dad, who also happens to be an ice cream uncle loses his job. And guess what? Gerald now has no pocket money for ice cream or Korean instant noodles... Closing Thoughts Inflation is a 'necessary evil' that helps keep the world economy functional. If you're concerned about inflation eating up the value of your dollar, Seedly has a great piece written on why investing can help you to overcome inflation. Do check it out.
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Cryptocurrency

Investments

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong
Level 5. Genius
Updated on 04 Dec 2019
That's a good question, and a more common one than you might think. ! TL;DR: Making Sense of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Blockchain is the technology that enables the existence of cryptocurrency, amongst many other things. Cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange, such as the SGD for example. Except that it's digital and uses sophisticated encryption techniques to govern the creation of individual monetary units as well as to verify the transfer of these units. The most well-known cryptocurrency is... You guessed it: Bitcoin. A Bit More About Blockchain A blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of immutable (unchangeable over time) record of data that is managed by a cluster of computers, that are not owned by any single entity. Each 'block' of data is secured and bound to each other using cryptographic principles aka the 'chain', hence the name blockchain. So... What's So Special About Blockchain? 1) Since a blockchain network is a shared and immutable ledger, the info is open to anyone and everyone to see. As a result, everyone who is involved is accountable for their actions, and there's really NO NEED FOR A CENTRAL AUTHORITY to govern it - which is also why MAS is having a field day trying to regulate cryptocurrency. 2) There is no transaction cost . There'll still be infrastructure costs involved though. So why is there no transaction cost? Simple. It's all data , there's no middle man or third party involved who needs to be paid. When one party makes a transaction, it initiates a process by creating a 'block' of data. This block is verified by thousands or even millions of computers in a network. Once the verified block is added to the 'chain' and stored on the network, it creates a unique record with a unique history. To falsify one record means falsifying millions of records across the millions of computers in the network - and that's virtually impossible. Why Should Companies Like Airbnb Be Afraid Of Blockchain? ! For Airbnb, we book rooms via an app or their website. They take a cut for "match-making" the host to a renter. And when we pay for the transaction, the credit card company takes a cut as well. With blockchain, we can save on credit card processing fees and even move the entire room/home booking process off Airbnb. Here's how. The two parties in the transaction are the host and the renter. The room is the 'block', which will be added to a room blockchain. Just as a monetary transaction on blockchain is unique, your booking of the room between the host and you (the renter) is also unique, verifiable, and cannot be falsified. Best of all, this process is free. Not only can blockchain transfer and store "money", but it can also replace all processes and business models which rely on charging a small fee for a transaction . If you want to read up more on cryptocurrency, Seedly has written a pretty good article on it: https://blog.seedly.sg/a-quick-singaporeans-guide-to-cryptocurrencies-and-factors-affecting-the-price/
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Lifestyle

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong
Level 5. Genius
Updated on 04 Dec 2019
That's a pretty good question that almost everyone in Singapore has asked themselves, at some point in life. I suppose it boils down to 2 things: ! 1) Is it a want? Meaning a good-to-have kind of thing because you just want to avoid squeezing with everyone on the trains and buses on your commute to work. Or perhaps you want it as an "indicator" of wealth - a relatively poor one I might add. Then it's a liability . 2) Is it a need? Meaning you depend on it for your livelihood or for your day-today living. A good example would be salespeople who need the speed and convenience a car provides in order to meet clients. Or perhaps you need it to ferry your ailing parents or grandparents to regular checkups and etc. It's still a liability, but also a necessary asset - in some sense. The problem with owning a car, in Singapore especially, is that it's ridiculously expensive . Especially with the COE prices, road tax, car park fees, fuel, and etc. If you identify that a car is a want. Then you're better off using the 50% expenses/30% wealth building/20% savings rule to figure out how much you can responsibly allocate to this expense/liability AFTER you have contributed to your wealth building and savings fund. If your peers are driving around when all of you are earning something within the $2,000 to 3,000 range, this probably means that they are over-leveraged and are not saving enough for their future. If you identify that a car is a need, well... You should still use the above 50/30/20 rule but probably have to consider other equally important things like, does it make more sense to own a car vs. getting a private hire car/taxi to go about your daily life? In terms of: 1) Cost (taxi fees vs owning a car; arguably cheaper for the former but the convenience of a car means you don't have to wait or get cancelled on at the last minute by errant private hire drivers) 2) Time saved by driving vs. taking public transport (will you put it to good use eg. self improvement or exercise or answer 5 more work emails? or waste it on video games and Netflix...) And potentially more factors, depending on your circumstances and how heavily do you rely on having a set of wheels to get around. Also, being able to afford a car, is also different from whether you SHOULD buy a car. If you're interested to find out how much a car will cost per month, and how much you should realistically be earning if you want to buy a car, Seedly wrote a really good article about this: https://blog.seedly.sg/buy-car-how-much-should-be-earning/ !
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Lifestyle

Family

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong, Editor at Seedly
Level 5. Genius
Updated on 16 Nov 2019
Hi anonymous! It's good to realise that besides saving and investing, taking care of your health is one of the most fundamental things which most people neglect. As cliche as it sounds the age old adage of "Health is Wealth" is very true! Think about it, if you're working yourself to the bone and your health suffers... you'll end up spending more on medicine and health checkups to nurse yourself back to health. Which kinda defeats the purpose of working that hard right? The key here is to find options which are economical but most importantly are near or along your daily commute . That way you really don't have a reason not to go since it's just 5 mins away from home, or literally on the way to your office or back home. With these considerations in mind, we've also recently updated our " Cheap Gym Memberships Under $100 Per Month " article which should help you make your decision! ! Included are also a couple of options which might be near your workplace so there's no excuse for you to NOT get active! If you want to squeeze in a workout during lunch hour, then you might want to find options which are closer to your office. And as always, Seedly's got your back fam! Check out our " Affordable Fitness Classes Near Your Office For A Quick Workout ", and hopefully you'll find an affordable option near your workplace! ! Lastly, starting is always the hardest. But consistency and discipline is key to maintaining an active lifestyle. The first few day or weeks will be the toughest, but keep at it and you'll eventually find that it becomes part of your daily routine. All the best!

HDB BTO

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong, Editor at Seedly
Level 5. Genius
Updated on 13 Sep 2019
Great question! In order to answer this properly, it's best if you have an idea of what to expect at each stage of the BTO buying process, as well as the overall timeline. In fact, CPF created this very helpful infographic which should give you a very clear understanding of what the timeline is like: ! Source: CPF Now, to answer your question regarding which stage of the BTO process do you apply for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) . This happens at Step 4: Book A Flat. So what happens exactly? Booking A Flat Your BTO queue number will determine your priority in choosing your desired unit in the development your applied for. For the really popular launches, the number of people in the queue will usually exceed the number of units available. So if your queue number is damn cui, chances are slim that you'll get a unit - much less be able to pick the one you want. But let's assume that your queue number is pretty good and you're informed that you should head down to the HDB Hub to book/select your flat. You turn up with a few options in mind and select your unit by telling the HDB staff your choice. Once the staff locks it in, you'll have to pay an option fee on the spot. This will be $500 for 2-room flexi flats, $1,000 for 3-room flats and $2,000 for 4-room or larger. This is also when you will apply for your eligible CPF housing grants . Simply inform the staff that you would like to check and apply for the grants and they will assist you with the process. I'm guessing you already know this, but I'll just state it here for the benefit of readers who aren't aware: as of 11 September 2019 , you won't have to contend with the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) or the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) anymore because they've been replaced with the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) . Eligibility For EHG To be eligible for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant, applicants or their spouses must have been employed continuously for at least 12 months . This is in line with other HDB schemes and grants. More importantly, applicants must buy flats that they can call home until they reach the age of 95 . For flats which fail to meet this condition, the EHG will be pro-rated based on the extent that the remaining lease will cover them till that age. If you'd like to find out more about the EHG and how it might potentially benefit you. Seedly has a pretty informative guide to The New Enhanced CPF Housing Grant. There're also a few scenarios illustrated which you might find relevant to your BTO journey ! Good luck!
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Savings

Shopping

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong, Editor at Seedly
Level 5. Genius
Updated on 08 Jul 2019
Where to find the cheapest ON whey protein, you ask? I gotchu fam. TL;DR: Protein Powder Price Comparison - The lowest price per serving of a quality protein supplement like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey is $1.04 (buy through Lazada) - If you utilise cashback sites like ShopBack and optimise your order amount to qualify for free delivery, you can reduce it to $0.98 per serving (if you buy through Lazada) I did a comparison across 10 different online stores and got this: ! For more info, you can refer to this blog article: Ultimate Protein Powder Price Comparison 2019!
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SeedlyTV EP03

Savings

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong, Editor at Seedly
Level 5. Genius
Updated on 07 Jun 2019
Even when both of you are still dating, it's never too early to start thinking about your life together. Or... a life without each other for the matter. Here's why. When Should You Talk To Your Partner About Money It's going to be a little creepy talking to your partner about saving for a wedding and a life together, especially if you've ONLY just met. Case in point: ! Source: knowyourmeme Don't do that. Unless he or she is totally into that, then... Erm. Congrats you two...? Instead, give it a couple of weeks, or months, or years in fact. Get to really know each other before deciding if you would really see yourself growing old with the person. And usually, this would entail finding out pertinent stuff like money habits and your individual views about money. THIS is when you know that it's time to get serious about saving for a life together. If you're curious about how you can broach this topic with your significant other, Seedly has a great post about how to talk to someone about money without dying. Should I Still Be Saving In The Meantime? Yes. Whether you see a life together with your partner or not. Both of you should still be saving regularly . In the worse case scenario where you both don't work out, your savings will still allow you to wallow at home, while you watch reruns of Friends, and stuff your face with ice cream till you feel like you can socialise with people again. Or to pay for important stuff in your life like: - A school study loan - A car loan - A life-sized replica of the Iron Throne - Your insurance - Your healthcare plans - Your parents' living allowances, and etc. And in the best case scenario where you both decide that "Yeah, I'm totally cool living with this weirdo for the rest of my life," you'll have a solid base of savings to begin with and can continue to build your life upon it.

SeedlyTV EP03

HDB BTO

Loans

Kenneth Fong
Kenneth Fong
Level 5. Genius
Updated on 07 Jun 2019
This is a very important question for most Singaporeans to consider, especially since the majority of us will end up calling an HDB flat, home in the foreseeable future. Why Am I Buying The HDB Flat? Before we talk about home renovation and home renovation loans, you need to consider why are you buying the HDB BTO in the first place. 1) Buying To Sell Are you planning to buy the HDB flat, hold it for its Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) then sell it in hopes of upgrading to, say, a condo? FYI: for an HDB flat, you must occupy it for a minimum period of five years before you can sell the flat in the open market. If yes, then you wouldn’t want to spend so much on renovation. 2) Buying Your Forever Hom Are you planning to buy the flat and make it your ‘Forever Home’? Then you’ll probably want to spend a little bit more money to make it nicer since you’ll be living in it for a long time. ! Yeah... Preferably NOT like that... How Much Money Do I Need For Renovation? This is highly subjective and dependent on the aesthetic that you’re going for. 1) Buying To Sell If you’re planning to sell the flat in a couple of years, then you wouldn’t want to pour too much money into it. But hey, you’ll still need to live in it in the meantime so you’ll probably need to do some minor renovations. Let’s say you wanna go budget and don’t really care about creating a “dream home”. Then maybe you’d like to consider opting in for HDB’s Optional Component Scheme (OCS) . ! FYI: Not THAT OCS tho. What the OCS offers will differ between housing projects and can cost anywhere from $5,000 and up . For reference, the OCS for my 4-room HDB BTO (in a relatively mature estate) that was completed in 2017 costs $8,000 to $9,000 – depending on the types of fitting you choose. It's also important to remember that you have to opt for your OCS upon selecting your flat. Which means that it'll be 3 to 5 years before you see your flat. And by then, you might change your mind with regard to what you want your place to look like. #justsaying I've had plenty of friends who went for the OCS only to decide that they would rather overlay tiles or change out the doors and shower sets for something more their style. And that means extra cost. 2) Buying Your Forever Home Congratulations. 🎉 Now comes the hard part: saving and budgeting. If you plan on creating a home with built-in carpentry like kitchen counters and wardrobe cabinets, floors with homogeneous tiles, and maybe get some electricals and wiring done… Basic stuff really. Be prepared to set aside at least $40,000 (this is based 4 room BTO reno prices which my friends have paid). For reference, the renovation for my place was more than $60,000 . I've got friends who paid even more... ! You can definitely achieve a lot for lesser depending on what you prioritise. But I’ve seen what ‘lesser’ can get you, so at least find a contractor or ID who you really trust or has really good after sales service . So... Should I Take A Home Reno Loan? There are two schools of thought: 1) Take The Home Reno Loan Take the loan if you believe that you can grow your money at a much faster rate than the interest charged . Looking at the market rate now, loan interest usually ranges between 2.88% to 5.8%, with a tenure of 1 to 5 years. Basically, this will depend on how confident you are at beating the prevailing rates when you apply for a home renovation loan. The fact that you would like to do up your house nicely is also an equally valid reason, albeit within a reasonable budget of course. Because technically, this would be more of a want than a need. 2) Or… Start Saving Now I didn’t take a home reno loan because my investment horizon is way longer and I wanted to only spend what I could afford. Call me old fashioned or conservative but I didn’t want the nagging feeling of owing the banks more than I have to . So how did I do it? I started early. 5 years early to be exact – remember that I said I collected the keys to my home in 2017? When my wife (then girlfriend) started her first job, we decided that we would each put $1,000 aside every month. At that point, we decided that this amount would be saved for our future. Naturally, we wouldn’t have known how our relationship would work out, but it’s an amount that we decided is good enough. The caveat being this was for a future, with or without the other individual : 5 years x $2,000 = $120,000. With this amount, we had more than enough to cover her university school loan, our wedding, our honeymoon, and of course, our home reno. The more investment inclined readers will point out that it’s a lot of money which could be put towards growing a portfolio, and that’s true. But at the same time, nothing beats having a peace of mind when it comes to paying for big-ticket items like these. More About Home Reno Loans If you'd like to read more about the existing home reno loans in the market and which is probably the best one for you, Seedly has a pretty good article which you should check out: https://blog.seedly.sg/renovation-loan-interest-rate-singapore/
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