Sunday, September 8, 2013

More things to consider buying from USA

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A follow up to my previous entry Things to buy in USA, here's a further recommendation on things that you could get at a cheaper price in the USA.

Turn of the ABP (AdBlocker Plus) icon in your browsesr URL if you cannot see some of the pictures as I am using ad-links on Amazon to display the pictures of the items.

MENS ELECTRIC RAZOR
I'm still undivided on are electric razors really of any use. Many years back I bought one, but hardly use it, or hardly found it of any use except the trimmer which works good for mustaches, not really side burns since they need a better tool. Anyway, it seems razors are slightly cheaper there, especially with discounts if you are lucky and coupon. Check out a couple of brands like

Besides the Philips, Panasonic and Braun's razor are well reviewed. Panasonic and Phillips use what seems rotaty blades.



Where as Braun uses a different system, most reviews mention Braun has the sharper shave, but tends to wear of faster it seems.



What matters at least for me is besides a clean shave is it works in the shower, i.e key word wet or aquater.

LADIES EPILATOR
Yes, there is also the ladies version, ranging from Phillips, Emjoi and Panasonic. Start of here and take a look at your choices.

Epilators - Start Here


BATTERIES
I've been a huge fan of eneloop batteries. The price locally in Malaysia is not quite close to what you'd get in USA except for a few dollars saving.



You can compare price locally try googling or at http://www.m3shoppe.my/categorynew/chooseBrand/58.html?gclid=CJfnwqPqu7kCFW4B4godhmEAkA


HMMM 
How do I start with this product. Maybe I'll keep it brief.. I mean it is briefs...Got it? Yes boxes, briefs etc. In the beginning I thought that like many, get branded briefs - yes UNDERWEAR. I've come to realize by experience that the branded ones aren't really much to shout about, and obviously not that well priced.

What helped me understand briefs is WALMART actually. In fact I was going to make my purchase from Walmart based on the products they offered online and had good reviews. But so happened Amazon had a 20% offer at that time so I went with Amazon. What I've realized is that now be too dependent on Amazon, check out other sites, Walmart has got pickup which you save on shipping and cheap shipping (but no one beats Amazon's free shipping for above $25.

Fruit of the Loom is a brand I have never heard of in this side of the world, but reviews are pretty good and prices basic. So definitely worth taking a look. End of the end it should fit well, wear well and for our hot and humid country be cotton or similar. 



Hannes is a rather well established brand, and even on their own website has got a good range of sales at times. Here's one from Amazon




Important thing to remember - model not included. Read the reviews, they are quite enjoyable since many of them are actually the ladies buying for the guys....wink2

PANTS - DICKIES
If you are like me, you'd wonder dickies what....We have been so accustomed to brands like Dockers and Levi's but there are some real fundamental brands around that offer good value, and are very highly rated.

The Dickies 874 seems to be a long time favourite.Some of the reviewers mention that they wrinkle less then Dockers also. Could be maybe not 100% cotton, but reviews are good for feel and value. The cut seems to be a little loose / regular




And if you like something tighter and 'fitter', check out below. Mixed reviews.


My only complain is sometimes the model of the pants are not well specified.

KINDLE 
Yes what I thought was the Amazon e-book reader has got many version, the cheapest with e-ink meant to do reading only with superb battery life (no dark reading). And then Kindle paperwhite, which doesn't need backlight. And then the high end tablet type. In fact a contender to the likes of Nexus 10 / Samsung tablets.Kindles - CHECK OUT HERE



Monday, June 3, 2013

Predictably Irrational

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Finally finished this book. Nice read. Helps you understand why people don't behave as expected.

Why sometime you buy the 2nd cheapest item. Why its no fun eating out and taking turns ordering to the waiter...

Easy to understand, backed by data, and simple experiments, plus entertaining.
  

There are interesting case studies, that you can implement yourself.

I tried the Pepsi / Coke Blind test with some adjustments to fit the environment and sample side I had. Of a sample size of 17 students, I first asked them to jot down whether they preferred Pepsi or Coke. Then I asked them to leave the classroom, poured Pepsi and Coke into cups with markings only I understood. The students returned to the classroom and have themselves two cups without knowing which was Pepsi and Coke (but knew that the cups were either Coke or Pepsi).

The results were dramatically different. 1. Firstly when asked to just jot down their preference - 12 prefered Pepsi. 5 preferred Coke. 2. In the blind test, 13 out of the 17 students matched their actual preference and what they preferred in the blind test. There were 4 mismatches, equally divided (2 for coke 2 for Pepsi).

What's your thoughts?

My thoughts - Firstly the test is conducted in Malaysia, where both Pepsi and Coke have a strong brand presence, but maybe Coke's presence is similar to Pepsi. So possibility is that Pepsi has in Malaysia what 'Coke has in USA - a 'mental preference'. Or the sample size really do know their preference, and might be less swayed by marketing....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman

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This post is not only about the review about the book, but also about myself putting into implementation the 59seconds guide in the book.

Firstly a big thank you to the organizers of Big Bad Wolf (Penang) that made such good books so affordable. One of the books I was enticed to purchase was 59Seconds, sounds very much like the movie 'Gone in 60 Seconds'. Wonder if it was intended. The main reason I bought this was it was based on more scientific data and had quick fixes and implementation guide, so not all theory only.






Yeah, you might have figured by now, its a self-help guide book. So far I have found it quite informative. For beginners try to hold a pencil (unleaded?) or pen with your teeth not letting your lips touch the pen. Besides making you a better kisser (joking) it forces you to smile. Theory is if you are happy you smile. AND if you smile you will also feel happy. Give it a try. See, not only did reading my blog make you smile, the theory works, i.e now you feel happier. So keep it up - bitting a pen / pencil and reading my blog.

Ok, so main reason I'm writing this entry, is to put the motivation chapter implementation into practice. Firstly  its recommended to write down (or type or post it - i.e what you want to improve / achieve) based on a certain format based on research. Focus more on :

    1. Making a step by step plan rather then focusing on an idol  e.g a great leader. 
    2. Tell other people about your goal - yes so I am blogging here about the goal. And plan to come back to this entry an update you on the progress / achievement. Avoid thinking about the bad things that will happen if I don't achieve my goal. 
      1. Note - you should still be in touch with the bad things that would happen on the path to achieving your goal - 2 different things padre. 
    3. Think about the good things that will happen if I achive my goal and avoid trying to suppress unhelpful thoughts (e.g avoid thinking about being lazy). 
      1. So here it seems the more negative you think, the more you ponder in the negative zone - something like the SECRET book / DVD eh?
      2. Be objective about the good things and avoid letting it be picture perfect (I found the book a little contradictory here against not doing item 10) 
    4. Rewards yourself after making progress toward your goal. 
    5. Record your progress - this blog will be the avenue to record me progress..
So lets use the 59seconds template provided ok? 

  1. What is your overall goal 
    1. My overall goal is to be a well sought after lecturer (part time also can). In a nut shell, I want to be a real good educator, lecturer and motivator, that I am ranked and recommended highly by my students, 'disegani' among the academia, and am able to produce results via the students exam results and also the observable improvements in the students' themselves. E.g people noticing the improvement in the personality, vision and results of the students. And the climax of it - bumping into a successful student.
So now break it into SMART sub -goals. Feels like doing PM (performance planning) / Focal!

STEP 1
First sub goal - is to get opportunity and to lecture at a couple of universities and colleges. Among others Olympia and UiTM seems possible prospects, but not limited to them. Private colleges have usually got twinning with foreign universities, so this will also potentially open up wider avenues. 

I believe I can achieve this goal because, I now have lecturing experience and it will be a good stepping stone. 

To achieve this sub-goal I will update my resume, respond to offers and continue to actively be on the look out for opportunities and 'kangtau'. 

This will be achieved by Sept 2013. 

My rewards for achieving this is a treat to family, friends and myself - a MAKAN treat!

STEP 2
2nd sub goal is - to ensure that my lectures are highly regarded, impactful and self satisfying. Ensure I add value to my lectures, keep them interesting and yet deliver the content. 

I believe I can achieve this goal because though I am busy, I am passionate and totally enjoy lecturing. My MBA, and personal affliction with business subjects will be the main basis on delivering this. 

To achieve this sub goal I will need to be constantly keeping up to date on 
i. Lecturing techniques - Listen to ted.com on teaching / lecturing topics.
ii. Stay abreast on the topics I am teaching - related to real life examples, people and stories. 
iii. Continue reading informative books and sites, and conduct some of the experiments in the books during class which would be related - e.g differing results of blind test and non blind test for pepsi versus coke. 
iv. Look for interesting videos.
v. Ensure class participation - group presentations. Discussions etc. 
vi. Yet be strict and set early expectations and ground rules.

This will be achieved in my lectures, by completing a couple of them by Sept 2013 and continue on. 

My rewards for achieving this will be self satisfaction and a holiday trip + chocolates.

STEP 3. 
Begin and complete my PhD or Doctorate. 

I believe I can achieve this ....do I ? I can achieve this since I will have had lots of experience and in depth reading and teaching on subjects. My PhD focus yet to be determined but could be dependent on my interest at that time. 

 To achieve this sub goal I will start looking for interesting and suitable titles, continue reading, talking to people in the academia, see any work related stuff can do with company grant?  Figure out on supervisors, Uni, sponsorship. I'm not much into long term research so I will plan out in detail with milestones, dates and things to achieve. Need to find a topic I enjoy so will keep the engine going. 

This will start in 2015 and complete by 2019. Full time? 

My reward for achieving this will be being a Doc!

STEP 4
COMPLETE - A fully recognized, sought after lecturer, with great lecturing and the academia backing! Even recommended by foreign Uni!


NEXT:
What are the benefits of achieving your overall goal. List 3 important benefits, focusing on how much better life will be for you and those around you. Focus on enjoying the benefits associated with your desired future rather than escaping the negative aspects of your current situation. 

I can decide on going full time or part time this plus stay in the industry. Being well-marketed, I can choose and decide. 

Will have good financial steady income, and have decent fall back options available. 

Contribute to the society - making a change - doing my part!

NEXT:
Going public - I just did with this entry!

Ok that's all for this entry. Wish me luck, keep me motivated, and if you know me personally, tell me am I crazy or on the right track. Once a friend called Shahril Izuan told me during my undergrad mock lecturing I should lecture. Some things come a long way. Wonder if he even remembers... Thank you anyway. 

My better half also always tells me I have a unique way of motivating people... :)


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pairing Your Maybank Amex with OCBC Titanium

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NOTE - OCBC Titanium has changed its policy and is now a 1% cash back for nearly everything, instead of 5% cash back for certain merchants. Some pros and cons, more cons for me for now. 

Maybank 2Card (Amex + Visa / MCard) still remains my first choice.

As I wrote in my previous entry about the best credit card option currently being Maybank, here is a usage strategy we're using to maximize our returns.

Firstly what you'd do is setup all your auto billing to OCBC Titanium. NOW if you are like me and your total autobill does NOT hit RM1,000 then the above table should be applied. If your autobilling hits RM1,000 with your OCBC card, my suggestion is to put your OCBC card aside (except for autobill payments) and use your AMEX all the way!. Autobilling includes Astro, TM, Unifi, TNB, Digi, - i.e utilities, which you'd expect 5% cash back. Both OCBC and AMEX cash back is capped at RM50, with AMEX still giving treat points with no cap.

Ok so now lets say your auto billing does not reach RM1,000, then lets get started on the below table.


*By preference, #1 being first preference.



Just a quick explanation on my reasoning.

Firstly for weekends, AMEX wins hands down, as you get 5% cash back on top of 5x treat points.

For electronic item purchases, read thru AMEX T&C, as it has got a good coverage for extended warranty. With this in mind, I'd suggest use your AMEX for anything that would come with a warranty that AMEX would provide an extended warranty on top of this (remember to keep your receipts, if in doubt call the customer service).

Obviously on weekday's for groceries, petrol and dining, use your OCBC to max out your 5% cash back. However for Jusco, just stick to AMEX as OCBC only gives 1% for Jusco Aeon (at least the one near me) instead of the 5%. I called to check and it seems this is due to Jusco AEON vendor code is deparmental store and not groceries.

For any other purchases on weekday, AMEX is better coz according to most reviews AMEX 5x treat points is close to 2.5% cash back, which is better then OCBC 1% for other items.

For online purchases, I am pretty reluctant to use my AMEX as, as last I checked, you DO NOT get a on-time-password sms'ed to you for verification like your Visa / Mastercard. So i fear more easily for fraudsters to target AMEX.

For overseas, as we know AMEX has a higher commission charged compared to Visa / Mastercard. So last choice. Here I'd be split between Maybank Visa / Mastercard against OCBC. You'd need to figure out which bank offers a better conversion rate ( just call and ask what's the current conversion rate). Also supposedly for OCBC Titanium you can still enjoy the cash back 5% for petrol, dining and groceries purchases overseas. 


Note I have tried to make the matrix as simple as possible. Do share any thoughts if there is a better strategy you can think of. 

This is an entry under Value Tips which has got quite a number of blog entries and sharings on how to make your money work best, and saving $$.  If you found this entry do like it / share in on FB or twitter and spread the word around.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Quick One - Increase your returns by 5x

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Here's a quickie blog post. The engine's hot and running, full of steam, so lets put in one more Value Tips Entry. If you maintain a minimum average of RM2,000 in your savings account at least for a month, then read on.

I've had a Maybank account for ages. Actively started using it as my pay went thru there. Never thought about it as something to consider seriously for 'savings'. Then I came across http://generationsxyz.blogspot.com/ a very informative blog. So how do you up your returns easily by ~5x? 

Here goes, most of us who have a Maybank Savings account started off with a Kawanku Savings account or a Savings Account-i. Here's a quick summary (as of date of this blog entry)

For KawanKu :

And above for Savings-i, source Maybank Savings-i  & Maybank Kawanku

So if you had anything up to RM10,000 the max you'd be getting is 0.4% per annum. Put simply, RM40 returns per year or a meager RM3.3 monthly.. Now if you had RM2,000 that would be RM8/year or less then RM1 per month.. Wow that is little.Probably can't cover your ATM withdrawal or yearly ATM card fees. So now HOW DO YOU INCREASE YOUR RETURNS BY 5x? Usually if it sounds too good to be true, I am doubtful, but from what I've experienced it is true

Just open up a Maybank2u Savers / Savers-i account. YES it sounds that simple and is simpler to do.
If you maintain RM2,000 min, you get an indicative return of 2.1% per month for the Islamic and 2.1% for conventional. That's 5x more right? 2.1/0.4 = >5x!





To put things into perspective, if you had RM10,000 your returns per annum would be 10,000*2.1% = RM210. Or monthly RM17.5. Now if you maintained RM2k, RM42 per year or RM3.50 monthly. Decent to at least cover your transactional chargers. The plus point is it is based on daily rest and paid out monthly, so if you can't maintain the minimum for the whole year, you still get paid 2.1% for whatever months you do maintain a min of RM2,000. Also I prefer the M2u Savers-i because firstly it's Islamic, and secondly it still gives a 'nominal' 0.4% if you can't maintain min RM2k versus the conventional where you get a 0% it seems.

Note there are some limitation, which to me is manage-able, e.g no passbook all online. You can easily transfer from this account to your still active KawanKu savings. I haven't checked if this account is accesible thru MEPS ATM (non Maybank). If from Maybank ATM, choose Lain-Lain Akaun/ Amaun and select amount and account if you want to withdraw from here.


So now the big qs - soalan cepu emas. How do you setup this m2u savers account. Sorry to disappoint you but its too easy.

How do I apply for m2u Savers-i?

To apply m2u Savers-i, please follow these few simple steps:
  1. Log-in to Maybank2u.com
  2. Click Apply Online at Maybank2u.com secured site homepage
  3. Select Account Type = Personal Savings Account, Product Type = m2u Savers-i & click the Continue button

    Source : http://www.maybank2u.com.my/mbb_info/m2u/public/faqQuestion.do?cntKey=ACC01.12&faqId=ACC01.12-M2USavers-i&faqChPath=/mbb/FAQs/01-Personal Banking/FACC-Accounts&faqKey=206549#206549.

    Happy savings. This is just a rather simple way to make your hard earned money work harder for you. Do share your thoughts on this.
     

Thursday, January 3, 2013

SSPN Tax Relief vs Higher Div rates outside

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So in my previous post, I wrote on how to reduce your taxable income, especially starting 2012, the government has increased SSPN taxable relief to RM6,000. So then we started to discuss, if you can get better returns outside, say 5% compared to say SSPN gives 3% dividend, does it still make dollar sense to go for this tax relief.

If you google like from SenseOfMoney, the average div (simple averaging) is 3.56%. So let's do a comparison to see what % of dividends you should expect from other sources if you decide to not invest in SSPN. Let's assume SSPN pays out 3.5%. The RM6,000 tax relief is from 2012 to 2017. Believe after that would reduce down to RM3,000 or extended. So to keep things simple, we shall calculate based on saving RM6,000 yearly in SSPN from 2012 to 2017 with returns of 3.5%.

 *Note one key assumption to the below calculations is that the tax relief savings you get, you save back into your SSPN (to keep it simple). Now  if you save the tax relief savings into a higher yield vehicle, this should translate into higher total savings.

If you're in the 19% tax bracket, your compounded returns with the above assumptions should be RM48,405 (RM48k):


To have comparable returns from external sources that don't give you the tax relief on your RM6k savings, you'd need to find a vehicle that gives you 8.5% per annum on average:


Now, for those big buck earners, who've reached the highest taxable bracket; 26%, your compounded returns for a yearly savings of RM6k would be RM51k.



 To have comparable returns from external sources that don't give you the tax relief on your RM6000 savings, you'd need to find a vehicle that gives you 10.5% per annum on average:






Remember though that SSPN when compared to bonds, FD, mutual funds and so on has certain difference i.e withdrawal requirements, capital guaranteed and so on. So take this into considerations too, e.g. the flexibility you require with your hard earned money, and the amount of cash you have.

If you notice anything that doesn't quite seem to add up, please leave a comment. This in based on my own understanding and calculations. 
 

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