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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

There and back again

Travelling is the part that I love and hate about my job at the same time. I suppose being a mother and a working woman, my ambiguous feelings are pretty normal. I am at the Penang airport now, awaiting my flight home. I spent a good 3 days here really understanding the business, customers and supporting my staff. I made new friends and met new people. I also managed to catch up with a college classmate at dinner.
All in all it was a good trip and I enjoyed it while I was here. But the part I don't like is the separation anxiety from Baby Xin - I miss her most of all. Although I think I should be thankful that I get 2 nights of uninterrupted sleep, I don't like sleeping in unfamiliar beds. The nights can sometimes be scary especially with all the travellers' tales that I hear. Imagination can run very wild...
So I am glad to be going home. I can't wait to hold that baby.
Next month there is another trip coming up. I already feel like groaning - I don't want to go and yet I would probably enjoy it too.

Post-note: I am home now. It's great because my daughter, Yuan, who is always affectionate, ran to me and gave me a big hug, saying that she missed me. A wonderful homecoming.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2-week Checkpoint

It's been 2 weeks since I started work again. This is my new life after my 3rd child.
Wei and Yuan go to school in the morning and is taken care by their grandma (my MIL) when they come home. Baby Xin goes to her nanny. J sends her there as I always have to leave early to beat the traffic. And as I often work late, my dear MIL will bring the baby back home.
When I get home, the kids have finished their homework, had dinner and are usually watching TVIQ. Baby Xin will be snoozing contentedly and gets a feed when I have cleaned up and settled down. I get a little time on the computer, then gets ready for tomorrow. Sleeping at 10pm is a norm for me these days, so that I get enough rest for the night feeds and waking early at 6.30am.
Things are working out nicely at the moment. Next month I am planning to go back to my yoga class twice a week during weekdays. With the workload and the breastfeeding, yoga at the end of the day seems a little daunting now.
Tomorrow I will be at a short working trip to Penang. With good advice from Suzette, I think I know how to handle the breastfeeding while travelling as well. Well, I'm still at home now but already feel like I can't wait to be back already ;-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Negative Cashflow

Today my colleague shared with me very happily that he just signed the sales & purchase agreement (SPA) for a condominium in Riana Green. He bought it with tenancy. I congratulated him for his progress in property investments, that is, until he shared with me his mortgage repayment and monthly rental. As he is cash rich, he took a shorter loan period, only 15 years, with the monthly repayment of RM1700. The maintenance fees are at RM160. The unit is rented at RM1700.
This means that he is losing at least RM160 every month, not counting yearly recurrent expenses such as assessment, quit rent, insurance etc. And if there are any repair works (airconditioners, plumbing, drainage, cracks, painting etc), there will be further loss. Not to mention income tax on the rental collected.
I told him that he should not make a loss on the rental property, citing an important phrase that I learned from Robert Kiyosaki's book "Cashflow Quadrant". "Why are you subsidizing your tenants to live in your condominium?" He replied, "I am not. My tenants are subsidizing my mortgage." This is a common misconception that many property owners have.
As long as you have positive cashflow every month, you can own as many properties as you want for as long as you like. But if you have negative cashflow, you will soon deplete your cash reserves and will be limited to only a few properties. If the costs of living in a property is more than what your tenants are paying you to live there, then you are subsidizing your tenants. Always look for positive cashflow before investing in rental properties.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Deja Vu

At 2 months Baby Xin weighs 5.7kg, smiles and coos when I talk to her. She has also developed a habit of licking her fingers (and the fingers are still covered in mittens). Another habit is fussing just before drinking milk, and she has been doing that this past week. I am only too aware that all this will pass, she will grow up too quickly, and I am savouring every moment now.
I looked back at my diary in Dec 2003 after giving birth to Yuan, my 2nd daughter. This is what I wrote:
"Yuan will be 2 weeks old tomorrow. I have the feeling that she will grow up too fast before I can savour each moment, the same way I felt during Wei's first year. And yet these days when I spend so much time confined at home, I want to do so much, catch up with so many things, I am torn between really idling the hours away, thinking about the future, looking at my daughter, waiting for Wei and hubby to come home; or catching up with all the work that seems to pile up. I will strike a balance eventually; still the feeling that time passes me by makes me melancholic. Something like, what have I done these past 2 years, between the time I had Wei and now I have Yuan? It's almost like deja vu, sometimes it feels like I am holding Wei the little baby all over again. Yuan will grow longer as I hold her but I will hardly notice it; then one day I think, when did she grow so long like this, her feet are not at my arms' length anymore!) I guess there are times when I ponder like this, frozen in time, afraid to move on to the future because the present seems so good...."
I am only thankful to be given the chance to experience this again, thankful that in the time that has passed me by, I have made good all those moments.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Collecting the keys to my Domain

I collected the keys to my unit at Neocyber Domain today. It is in my best interest to do so asap, as the unit is tenanted (rented out by the developer) before it was sold. So the rental is pro-rated to the remaining days of this month. I also collected the tenancy agreement which is reassigned to me.
As I mentioned in my earlier blog, I had to pay some fees before taking hold of the vacant possession (VP). This included the water and electricity deposit, advanced service charges, advanced sinking funds, insurance etc, which amounted to a hefty sum. The good thing of a tenanted unit is that, once the tenancy reassignment is completed, I will collect the 2+0.5 months rental deposit from the developer.
The tenancy expires 30 June 2010. When that happens I shall furnish the unit, in hopes of renting out at higher rental fees.
BTW, if you are thinking of buying Domain 2 or Domain 3, do contact me for the buyer get buyer program for commission sharing ;-). RM1000 for sharing!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Working until retirement? Or until VSS?

Years ago I was a salesperson when I first started working. In my line, it was very common for sales people to jump to competitor companies. One day I even received a call from the head of sales in one of the competitor companies, offering me a job. Although I felt very honoured, I did not take up the offer.

Years passed and now I am in the senior management team, hiring sales people and sales managers. Today I came across the CV of somebody applying for the sales manager position from my HR department. I was taken aback when I saw the CV of the very same head of sales. His CV showed that he had reached the position of business unit director in his company. Then I found out that he was retrenched early this year. He has more than 10 years of experience and is fresh from a director position; now applying for the post of a sales manager.

I shuddered to think what will happen to me in a few years' time. In the corporate world, the reality is, when the company wants to cut costs, they can retrench anyone anytime, despite the strings of awards and credits that you may have earned over the long years with them. Even if you are lucky enough to receive the benefits of a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) and get a lump sum compensation, you would still have to look for a job for long term sustenance. And jobs in your capacity may be scarce or non-available or you may have to wait a long time with uncertainty.

So this strengthens the resolve in me that while I enjoy and love my job, I must plan to achieve financial freedom through my investments, so that if the day comes that they tell me, "You are very valuable to us, but we are not allowed to keep you...", I would say: "Thank you very much, I will take the VSS," and invest that money. The cashflow that I would have generated should be able to see me through life after the VSS, until I found another job that I like, or I can remain the "Home Minister".

The reality is some of us may not work until retirement, and that is not by choice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My first rental property - Neocyber Domain

Well, I lie. Because this isn't my 1st rental property. But it is my 1st rental property that will give me positive cashflow.
My 1st property was bought 12 years ago when I first started working. It is a small quaint apartment in Sri Damansara, which I thought would be the place I would stay after marriage. Well, by the time the apartment was built, I had already got married and had my first baby (3 years of construction is a loooong time....). And when we went to look at the place we decided that it was too small. So I rented out the property, making a loss every month, because being young and silly, I thought it was okay that the tenants subsidize the mortgage repayment. I still have the apartment and the same tenants are living there, but they are moving out at mid-year to their own place. Maybe then I can spruce up the place a bit and finally collect positive cashflow from rental to new tenants.
Back to my new serviced apartment, the Neocyber Domain. I know that the loan was fully disbursed 1 week ago, through letters from my bank. Now all I have to do is to collect the keys from the developer - after paying some "vacant possesion" fees. Of course. I hope to do this on Saturday. The unit is already tenanted to some students; the tenancy agreement will expire 30th June this year. When that happens I will furnish the place in hopes of collecting higher rental. I can't wait to do that...this will be my 1st attempt at dabbling in "interior design". Well not quite interior designing; decorating maybe....but it sounds like a lot of fun already. Anyone has any ideas for inexpensive furniture and electrical items?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Last weekend I attended a seminar that teaches a very important concept. If you plan for retirement, even if you can more or less calculate the amount of your monthly expenses living the lifestyle that you desire, you can never truly be sure if the monetary amount that you are saving or investing for that future will be enough. That's because of 1 major factor: you don't really know how long you will live.

The only way to ensure that you will not outlive your money after retirement is to generate a continuous stream of cashflow - passive income that is more than your expenses each month which continuously flows into your account. And we need to build that cashflow now while we are still earning our income.

There are 4 classes of assets that can generate cashflow:
1. Properties
2. Paper assets (Stocks, unit trusts etc)
3. Business
4. Alternative assets (precious metals, jewellery, antiques, art pieces etc that appreciate in value)

Although good to know, we still have to learn how to invest in one or all of the above classes to generate positive cashflow that will last for a long time. This is where books and seminars play a role in enhancing our investing skills, so that we can build a goose that will continue to lay golden eggs for our golden years.

Don't just earn an income from your job and save for retirement. Build or buy assets that will generate indefinite cashflow, today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back to the Grind

This morning I went back to work and found a huge basket of daisies, lilies, birds of paradise and forget-me-nots on my desk. It says " Welcome Back!" I nearly cried out in joy. Instead I called the department secretary - "Hi there! Who sent the flowers?"

"Who else?" she says. And I guessed correctly. My boss, the high standards-high expectations-no-nonsense lady, is also a darling when it comes to the little gestures.

So it is worth going back to work, dark eye circles and all. I was woken at 5 am by Baby Xin, nursed her for a while, and then went on to do the milk expression. At the end, she woke up again and I ended up feeding the expressed milk to her in a bottle. Hmmm..... might as well not express, I could have fed her directly. By the time I finished, it was too late to go back to bed.

Work started with 500 unread emails. By the time I finished the day, I still had 150 unread. And work ended with a meeting, late at 7.30pm too; so that I was late picking up Baby Xin from the babysitter. On the way home, I called my dear mom-in-law to help pick up Baby Xin, but she already did. I could hear her crying for milk. And Yuan took the phone to tell me that she's been wheezing today. Oh dear, what a day to go home late!

By the time I write this, Yuan is in bed after taking her inhalers, a montelukast tablet and an antihistamine syrup (we have all these at home). Baby Xin is being taken care by J for the last feed. I'm off to la-la land soon. Hope everything is ok in the morning.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last Day of Maternity Leave

So there you go, 2 months of bliss. Amazing how time flies and my fat, fat baby (as my hubby, J, sometimes calls her) is 2 months old. And, I go back to work tomorrow ;-)

As I remind myself how lucky I am to have a job that I like, I am also setting a goal of retiring in 4 years' time, so that I am able to spend more time with the kids. Today I am supposed to attend a seminar that will help me achieve my cashflow goals, but I had to give it up as I need to prepare things for tomorrow. The babysitter needs to be visited again to get a short briefing on what to expect tomorrow. I also need to pack all the baby stuff to bring to her, as well as get all my work stuff ready. It has been so long, I've forgotten how to juggle an infant and work; forgotten how it was that I coped with night feeds and a fulltime job (10-11 hours a day). And this time round, I have 2 school-going kids (Wei, 9 and Yuan, 7) as well. I still call them my babies - children do not grow up in their parents' eyes!

Yesterday, I was very happy because I bought a 2nd-hand Avent ISIS manual breast pump. Baby Xin is being fed by a combination of formula and breast milk. No excuses here, it was my fault for not breastfeeding exclusively because I couldn't bear the baby crying pitifully during the first few days before the milk "came in". But I shall try the combination feeding for 6 months at least, and now that I am going back to work, the breast pump would really help me. Why a 2nd hand breast pump? I owned a Pureen electric pump which had seen better days and now does not work anymore. I have been surviving on an ordinary manual pump which is hardly effective, the final milk product quantity is so little, you'd think why bother! I have read reviews on the Avent pump and would like to have one, but it does not seem very cost effective to be buying a brand new one for one last use. So I found a seller on the web who wanted to sell her pre-loved Avent ISIS, and I believe it is okay to be used as I can wash and sterilize all the parts. Thank you, Nana, the pump works perfectly! Even my hubby, J, noticed the difference and said, "Wow, so much milk!"