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While on my monthly stroll down Orchard Road today (mostly empty on the sidewalks, as almost everyone’s in a shopping centre or in the air-conditioned underpasses), a crowd outside the OCBC branch at ION Orchard drew my attention, so I stopped for a while to have a look-see. It turns out that the bank was having a mini-carnival, in which free coffee was being given out, and they were having a promotion for their fixed deposits and insurance plans. Of course, this was a side-track from my original plan to cancel my EZ-Reload facility (because my EZ-Link card is about to expire), pick up some socks from Uniqlo ($19.90!) and doing some groundwork on my equity investments – nothing beats getting your shoe on the ground there. But I suppose a free latte wouldn’t hurt, so I queued up for it.

Nothing much surprised me, as I was approached by a sales rep from the bank after getting my coffee for a “short” discussion about my financial planning (it was about an hour long), and it was pretty much the same standard replies – I look young, I have very little emergency funds because I directed my savings to the stock market, stocks are risky, I should have more cash on hand, etc. Ultimately, I had to reject every policy she had to come up with, as I really couldn’t commit any more insurance premiums on a monthly basis, as they’ve breached my own budget for insurance (not more than 10% of my monthly income, and I’m at 11.8% already!). I find it really odd that you have to rely on a financial adviser (sometimes, with questionable intent) to manage your financial planning, when one can do it yourself, if you’re disciplined enough. It seems that the art of delayed gratification, deciding between a need and want, and taking reasonable risks in investing is being lost to the younger generation, from what I gathered over the last few years.

Now, when I mention budget, I don’t mean the daily, weekly or monthly budget. What I’m referring to is similar to the Budget Day speech which our Finance Minister speaks annually around this time of the year. And usually, I also plan for myself around this time of the year. I look at the year in whole, plan what I want to achieve for the year (ease up on investing and enjoy life a little more this year by keeping cash, or focus on my portfolio of stocks and keep cash to a minimum), and then execute them – in my opinion, it really isn’t that hard to plan, but execution would be hard. Budgeting is a little bit on the hard side for me as I am somewhat lazy sometimes, but it is flexible. It’s not a hard and fast rule to follow, but as long as I achieve at least 70% of my planned amount to keep as cash or stocks, it’s good enough to run with, until the next year.

Currently, as my plan for this year is to enter the market “all in” (direct most of my savings into the market), I have to cut back on Starbucks (hence the free coffee) and shopping, and thus sometimes, when an opportunity to buy stocks cheap comes, I might take some cash set aside as emergency funds to put on the market.

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Well, after having a chat with the nice girl from OCBC, I made my way to Uniqlo. Along the way, I noticed that there’s a signboard outside Goldheart Jewellery, advertising Aspial’s latest retail bond offer. Interesting development, I would say, given that Aspial just issued one tranche of bonds last year and are now issuing another one.

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Finally, at last, I got the socks…but I forgot to cancel my EZ-Reload facility…*facepalm*