Monday, April 27, 2009

Easy and Almost Risk-Free Financial Tips

Saving Account
The Bank Saving Interest rate now is about 0.3%, so if you have RM 10K in your bank, you get around RM 30 per year. Too little, but hassle free.

Fixed Deposit
The next best thing is to move this money into Fixed Deposit, which offer around 2% Interest Rate (RM 200 for your RM 10K savings per year). Certain online banking like Maybank2u allows you to put money in FD via online transaction (immediate deposit and withdrawal), so it’s extremely convenient.

Government Bond
Lets say you want more, you can try some Government bond offered by PNB like Sukuk or Merdeka (for Senior Citizen) Bond which offered 5% Returns for 3 years (so you get RM 500 for RM 10K of Investment). You need to be aware the launch date for these bonds and queue up to purchase at PNB or some other local Banks like Maybank. Bear in mind Maybank is really very slow with the ability to process maximum of 10 people per hour per counter (so either queue up early, or goto other bank or branches which are faster). Dividend is paid quarterly (every 3 months), so you are slightly limited on when you can withdraw the money without sacrificing the dividend.

Government Fund / Unit Trust

Let’s say you want more and can take a small risk, you can apply for ASM or ASW 2020 by PNB (is like a Public Unit Trust). Historically the dividend is between 5-8% (RM 800 for RM 10K of Investment assuming dividend yield of 8%), but there is no guaranteed. ASM and ASW looks like a saving account as they give you an Investment Passbook, so you can top up more units at anytime (assuming it is available). The problem is you don’t know when additional unit is available unless you visit the Banks and Post Office everyday or every week. ASW 2020 is the hardest to apply during launch, unless you are a Bumiputera.

You need to queue up early during launch date to grab your share, as it is known to finish up within hours or a few days. Buying these fund require some strategy in place i) queue up damn early like 8am ii) go to some unpopular Post Office or Bank iii) befriend with some officers to place your order earlier and faster. Else, you can check with the banks frequently to see if any units are available (or pay someone to notify you when units are available?).

ASM or ASW 2020 is better than those Unit Trust in the markets due to 2 reasons: i) There is not processing or transaction fee, or yearly administration fee. ii) You will never loose your capital (buy and sell price always fixed at RM 1), is a matter of how much dividend you get.

What Else?
What if you want more? Share Market and Property Investment then, which is out of my scope as it is neither easy nor risk-free.

  • Saving Account: 0.3%
  • Fixed Deposit: 2%, withdrawal every 1 month without sacrificing Interest
  • Government Bond (Sukuk, Merdeka, etc): 5% (up to 3 years), dividend paid every 3 months (The profit payments will be apportioned based on the number of days held)
  • ASN, ASW 2020: 5-8% (No Guaranteed), withdrawal anytime without sacrificing Dividend

Sunday, April 26, 2009

God gave us Freewill

“One of the most previous gift from God to human is Freewill” – City of Angels

It’s nice to be able to decide what to do with our life, but options could be quite daunting at times. But if we don’t like communism, I guess we all like to reserve our rights to choose; whether we could use our right wisely is another matter.

One of the most enjoyable things in life is a worry-free lifestyle. We have a stable job from 9-5, don’t have to work on Saturday and overtime, and we can just relax on weekend and have fun. The thing with human is that sometimes we might not be contented, and we might embark on some kind of “adventure” which will upset this worry-free lifestyle.

Why upset it? Some do it for the sake of money, while others try to find more meaning in life or be driven by our passion. We might take up a part-time courses or part-time job, which is time consuming and taken up most of our free-time, thus making it slightly more “stressful” and less “enjoyable”.

Human is a funny and complicated being. We have this unreasonable thing called “Love”, which we don’t need it and can’t live without it. Then we have “Passion” which might upset a lot of logical things in our life. Of we have “Impulse” which allows us to do something totally unreasonable.

Perhaps the imperfection of human is the thing which makes us perfect. We are partially logical, yet with hidden “surprises” from our creativity and emotions. Some might categorize logical and rule abiding as boring, and why sometimes we admire the “bad boy” image.

I can work hard in my job and earning 5-6K salary and be promoted to manager and earning a maximum salary of 8-12K before retirement. If I am lucky, I might become a regional manager or CEO and earning a comfortable 12-20K per month. But no, I have to start a business because I feel like it and kinda dissatisfied with the company I work for. I have to admit, though most of the time the money is less, but it seems more fun and more meaningful. It could be quite worrisome at times, but I don’t see there is anyway for me to turn back. So this isn’t very logical economical wise, but perhaps on emotional and spiritual satisfaction. Is this the right way? No one can really tell.

To be an artist or an accountant? Most might say accountant because it’s a more stable job and decent income, but an artist is so much more interesting (use you creativity to generate money dude). Maybe it’s just a bit unconventional.

In the end, we are afraid of the unknown, yet our heart will probably point us to the right direction. The right direction doesn’t not mean success; it still depends on how we do it.

We have the freewill to decide what to do. We have a heart to guide us what to do. We have a mind to think how to do it. We have hands to do it. I guess we already have all the right tools :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thinking Back

Thinking back, I do wonder is life simpler or more complicated now? I think it had become simpler, yet I recall it used to be simpler last time with much more going on.

Michelle used to label me as a perfectionist one, but I just rub it off. Perhaps I want a simple (and perfect life) in my own mind? Everyone live happily ever after, and no one will die.

Theoretically, I am supposed to be a very boring person at once glances. Perhaps the most interesting thing about myself is my thoughts, if there are anyone to listen to what I had to said.

Looking back at some past blog entries, it really seems like a long journey with many ups and downs. Last time relationship troubled me the most, now career keep juggling in my mind (and the future as well).

So many people walk pass and leave, sooner I later I would live in isolation. I always thought relationship and marriage is a friendship killer, as we don’t spend as much time with others. Maybe I am just lazy.

I don't really make much new friends, or join new groups. Perhaps I am really a passive and anti-social person. Maybe I should join a new club or something. I do admire Michelle's lifestyle, and I do have a certain level of respect for her determination (though not totally agree with all her actions).

Why? A question which I don’t know how is asking about what or what to answer. Just life and what I had become, for some unknown reasons.

Sorry, my friend :(

I believe I made quite a few mistakes in my life, some I am fully aware of, some I am ignorance of and some, I really don’t know. Though I try to be a good person, but I did have my selfish and emotional moment. Sadly, I can still make mistakes and did something bad (or not so nice).

I think most people want to be a good person: Honest, Trustworthy, Loyal, etc. Too many good attributes to keep track of, and too easy for some not so good attributes to creep in as well. I think I just want to be able to sleep at night, so I try my best to maintain that. Sadly, it isn't perfect either.

Do I believe love in first sight? There might be some good feelings, but not necessary equal love. Is it wrong to choose the right candidate as your potential love one? Logically it is like job hunting, send out more letters and attend a few interviews to find out which company is more suitable for me. Sometimes go for big corporation, sometimes go for good working environment, and sometimes go for passion. This might sound logical, but it might not be “openly” accepted, though I am sure many would try that. Again, I believe Love is achieved through Trial & Error. Does love need to be built up? Yes, it does not fall from sky. Opportunities might fall from sky, but relationship needs to build. Yes, it takes years to build and 1 day to destroy it. Is it alright to reject a love? There is no right way to do this, all ways are wrong.

Human is a complicated being, what you see is not what you get. A lot of time people will hide away their true feelings and behavior, so can’t expect anyone to be an open book. After sometimes, if we are observant enough we will find out what is good or what is bad. Sometimes it might be too late. Though I am not a very good character reader at first, but I do know who the culprit is and who is a friend, eventually. Sometimes, keeping a secret or telling a secret is harder? I think telling a secret is harder.

Misunderstanding is what I fear most (only to people I care of), though some of it is my own doing. Can’t make people love us, can’t stop people hate us as well. Some people do carry some weight it my heart, and it’s sad that some relationship had to abruptly end in such “unfriendly” state. Probably I said something or do something wrong (which I conveniently forgotten, or didn’t mean it), but deep inside I know I didn’t meant it and you are still a good friend in my heart; no matter what I had said or done.

Ego wise, I would give myself excuse that I had done the right thing; but for every right decision, there is a hidden wrong. Opening our heart could be a scary thing to do, but I don't think closing it would be any better as well. No matter what, life is full with a lot of surprises and lessons. No matter what, I just want to say

“Sorry my friend, for what ever I had done to hurt you”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

xxxHolic: How to achieve Happiness

Besides movies, cartoon is my second love, especially Japanese Anime. They good thing about Japanese Anime is sometime they target more mature audience, so with deeper thoughts and more complicated life matters (not just kiddy stuff and happily every after).

xxxHolic caught my attention not so long ago with its attractive artwork and special kind of storyline and plot. Perhaps it is one episode that caught my attention, especially.

I want Happiness? Do I want Sadness? Can there be Happiness without Sadness? I think these are pretty common and logical questions, yet mind boggling.

Let say there is Yin and Yang, so we need both Happiness and Sadness to balance it out (so one cannot exist without the others). If there is no Villain, there shall not be Hero.

What is if it’s a Debt System. If you have too much Happiness, you must pay up with the equal amount of Sadness. Is like people need to work very hard to go through a lot of hardship, before they can enjoy later in life. What if you win a Lottery? Since you still owe the System, perhaps you will be required to pay your debt in the later stage?

Why I am not Happy? Perhaps I had not contributed enough hardship to match up with the level of Happiness which I expected? We know there is not Free Lunch in this world, and we know day dreaming without do any actual work would not get us anywhere. We know lottery winner usually end up with a very miserable life.

So in order to achieve happiness, we need to work hard for it (or suffer for it, so to speak). Remembering nothing is free, so we have to pay for what we want with something. If I want 100K per year, I would need to worker longer and smarter than those who earn 50K per year. If I want to be the next Google or Facebook, they I have to be better or pay a higher price than they did before.

The price to pay is our action, the happiness we hope for is just a dream without action.

Business Idea: Open Resume Project

Though I am not much of a real businessman, but I do like to dwell into some new business idea. Sometimes I might be crazy enough to start off alone without any funding, such as Malaysia Most Wanted. I still think MMW is the best in this circle, though I can be naïve or ignorance at times :)

Online Card, Physical Delivery
About a few years back I think of an online greeting card delivery (not E-Card), where we design custom-made card, print it out and mail it to our clients. Our target audience is people (especially businessman) who are too busy with their daily work yet still need to maintain good PR with their clients, and custom-made delivered card would be more personal and standout among the rest. I still think the idea is pretty good, and Foldees did it pretty well with the funding they got. They get idea for new cards from contest by offering prizes and revenue sharing, which is pretty cool as long as you have money to spend.

Why I didn’t do it myselves? Is the supply problem, where I can’t do design well enough, and I don’t know people who could actually do it and I don’t have money to encourage people to do it for me. So either I get some funding, or I know a lot of friends in the design circle, and I am neither of both. Anyway, I am already busy with MMW and don’t have time to take care of too many babies.

Open Resume Project
Recently Job Street played with a new idea, PitchYourTalent. Basically you pitch your talent (more like a more casual and interesting resume), and people will look for you and offer you job. Sound interesting, where now I have a personal page to flaunt my talents to others (without the need to setup a personal website), and a proper search engine for others to find me (or my talent). The idea is simple and yet refreshing, with a lot more room for improvement. Reminds me of LinkedIn, marketed as some business social network. Any, I think the core of this idea is
  1. a page to show my Skills and Talents
  2. a good search engine to find me
Is like a marketing tool for personals (rather than business). Might it be potential job candidate or a freelancer, is a tool to sell yourself. In some way, it is an Open Resume Project, in similar spirit to Open Directory Project (ODP).

How to make money out of it? I really don’t know that’s why I am not a good businessman nor can I get any funding. The initial idea sounds quite alright, and I am ready to pursuit it further. If possible, I would rather not start this off as another lone ranger project. If you are interested (yes, you who are reading this) to start of another Web 2.0 Social Network thingy about Resume with me, do leave a comment.

I have quite a bit of experience with Web Development and SEO, so I am capable technically. I need someone who share the same passion in entrepreneurship and believe in the same idea that we will be working on, and hopefully someone more business-minded and marketing centric than I am.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spidey and Me

I think we are used to hearing some old people saying, “Nowadays’ young people are so lazy, irresponsible, ungrateful, etc”. I even hear myself saying it now to some younger people due to their lack of sense of responsibility or urgency. I remember the 1st time I heard that sentence, I felt annoyed and just ignore it; either this old man is just mumbling, or I am not in the crowd he is talking about.

I know that human is not perfect, thus I will make mistake and have some weaknesses. Teacher might do something stupid, and parents will make mistake, fact of life (thought we think these people are saint or superman when I was young). But what should we do when we know that we did something wrong? What to do with our weaknesses?

When I was young, there is always someone to correct me (my parents, my teachers, or even my friends). Nowadays no one seems to be there to correct me, unless I am VERY VERY VERY wrong. I can be lazy and I can sleep late, even though I know that I am probably wrong, but there is no one to apprehend me. I can actually escape!

So who will actually stop me? Guilt? The sense of righteousness? The need to be good? Would I prefer someone else to correct me? Do I need a mentor to guide me?

I do really feel strange where there is no one to correct me and I can actually do what I want. I can be so right, yet I can be so wrong. There is no check and balance, and everything is just playing in my mind.

Maybe this part is called growing up, where we take responsibility for our own action. I have more power and freedom, yet it comes with greater responsibility for myself, and the ones I love. Like Spiderman (with great power comes great responsibilities), it requires a bit more understanding of myself, and how to deal with this new power.

For the 1st time, I am afraid with the power given to me to decide on my own life. For better or worse, it will be my own decision. 

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Who to run a software company?

I always believe the owner of a Software Company need to be a programmer (or ex-programmer) in order to understand Software Development and appreciate Programmers' Talent. If it is run by marketing people in suit, I really doubt that they could attract the right talents or develop the right product. I used to make it a point if the person interviewing me has no technical background, I would probably not work for the company (as an interviewer, you would fail to evaluate my skill).

I once try to talk about programmers’ need and how proper software development is done to a CEO, but I think he hears nuts from me: either he thinks the extra cost is not justifiable or what I am talking about is just utter crap. I concluded that he would never understand what software development is all about, besides just employing some people and get the work done.

Even if the owner is a pretty good Techie, we still have to pray that he have good business connections, very good luck, excel in sales and marketing or be very cash rich. No matter how good he maybe in running software company, he still need to be able to charm the market and sell something.

No matter what, I still think a software company is a very fragile business as it needs special kind of people in a special environment. If you try to run it like a factory or be marketing-driven, you will kill creativity. Software Development could be somehow chaotic, an art with a lot of unpredictability, worsen by programmers with special behaviors. If you try to impose too much order and procedures, it will kill productivity and creativity as well. If you cannot manage it, your software will never complete or ship.

Nevertheless, a software company should never be run by marketing people in suit as all the good programmers will be chased away and be seen as rebellious child (rather than a great artist).

An interesting read forwarded by Kenny about How Software Companies Die by Orson Scott Card. Simple and straight to be point, something some people would never understand why.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Dream, Dream, Dream

I wanted to write something for quite sometime now, but just couldn’t get my thought together, but what the heck, let the pen (or keyboard) do the writing!

Hmm, what should I start with?

I could talk about dreams, where I wanted to do many things, yet I didn’t have the chance, or didn’t put my heart into it. Generally there are many things I would like to do, sometimes I change my mind after working on it, others just potentially consume so much time that I stop at research stage. There is only so much time and resources, where I can only focus on one or two. I would like to draw art and comic, make a robot, build a game, travel the world … So many dreams, so little time.

Chasing dreams cost time and money, and both are precious to me. Frankly, I did sacrifice a lot of opportunities, time and money to do something which I believe in, yet I am not sure how it word turn out (kinda contradicting). It’s fun and useful, just that may not be economically viable. It’s strange how I lasted until today. Not sure I am dedicated and right in keeping my dreams alive or just plain naïve working around dead corners. Self doubt is the path I must go through.

Besides dreaming, I come to realize more I am not a good businessman. In fact, I am a pretty lousy one. I am shy and don’t dare to approach people, and I really sucks in sales and marketing or even PR. Deep inside I am still a techie enjoying new technology and solving technical problem. Yet, I had chosen the path of self-employment and entrepreneur wannabe. I should have work in some software company earning good money, yet there is something missing. I don’t get to do what I like, yet a lot of time working to earn some money is not actually very enjoyable (yet I try to do something enjoyable yet be able to make some money). I try to work around my weakness most of the time, which I think is the right way to go (is it?).

I think that I am smart, yet I feel I am lacking something. I am good, yet I haven’t actually tasted much “success”. Success is something pretty subjective, but I just wanted some sense of accomplishment, something I am happy and be proud of. I have a void I have to fill, something is missing. Certain feelings and senses.

Life is full of shit, just a matter of perspective how we look at it. We will never have enough time, money or love; just how we utilize what we have. When I get rich … will never actually come if I wait for it. It will happen when everything is in the right proportion. So won’t try won’t know, once tried will know.

Life is full of choices and opportunities, just that it is a bit hard to decide when we are at the cross road. I need quite a lot of convincing to do something, especially another partnership. It is not that I don’t believe in them (a bit though), just that I am not quite sure what to do with them. If you give me 100K, what I am suppose to do with it? If we are supposed to work together, what should we work on, and how? Too bad we are not much of a friend before we are partner, or not. If I were to find a job now, what should I do?

Everything has some potential, which require polishing, and the potential might not be that big, depending on what you do and how you think. I personally think a farmer could feed his whole family, why can’t a Technopreneur wannabe? Still I kinda feel the best way to make a quick buck is not through Technology, but Technology is more interesting.

I always wonder why people don’t take up their dream. Because a dream is a dream, it is uncertain and risky, and it had some hope in it, but nothing to concrete to feel safe about. Is like the wind, take no shape, can’t be captured, yet we know it is there. Like lottery?

Every dream has a start, and probably an end as well (keep we keep dreaming our entire life)? Let’s make 2009 the year to make a dream come through for me, or a few of them :)