Keinian ideals – The importance of money, and what defines you?

It might be just a contemplative phase now, but I have been mulling over some topics for quite a while. Connected, but not really connected. I’m sorry if this post seems to go nowhere, but that’s the way my thoughts are flowing.

The Job

Too many people I know are bogged down by the neverending ratrace and a quest for more money. They might call it looking for a better job, but somehow it just does not sound like it adds up to that.

When you compare:

  • a job with a lower salary/better environment
  • a higher paying job/lousy environment

What would you choose?

I wouldn’t be too surprised if nine out of ten people choose the latter. Of course, one might say that there are many factors to consider in choosing a job, and I would agree. Too many times however, I have concluded that many peers consider a better job = more money.

I have had personal experience with this matter as well, while chatting with a colleague. He mentioned that the job was crap, and the money was not appealing enough to offset the workload. I promised that I would do what I could to iron out all (note: *all*, not some!) of his concerns, but what I got at the end of the day was this: he would not stay for the long term, simply because the money concern was of higher priority.

Goes to show how important money is.

The Marriage

I have friends who are working hard towards marriage, and of course my best wishes go out to them. Once again, I understand how expensive things are these days, and what with the obligatory wedding dinner/photography session/honeymoon/new apartment/babies et cetera, the moolah factor simply drives you nuts.

Some thoughts at this point though: does it mean that you do not have a right to get married if you earn less? Financial stability means security in some way, and this is easily comprehensible. However, I do not believe in wasting time not getting married just because you happen to earn less. Does it mean that low-income earners do not get married at all?

The You

Because of the race for money, I do not seem to understand what other thoughts occupy one’s thinking at times. There is always an endless rant about money, money, money.. and yet money again.

Some random questions here:

  • How much money is enough?
  • What would you do after you earn enough?
  • Would achieving certain goals in your life make you happy? If so, what goals?

At the end of the day, what defines you? Are you the loving husband, an avid football fan and the steadfast friend, or would you want to be remembered as the corporate achiever, who focused all his energies on his work and nothing else? I like to think that people are remembered in their passing by their influences on others. While there’s nothing wrong about being a good boss/employee, being a good friend and family member speaks volumes more than anything else.

I only have one point to make: money is not everything, and you can never earn enough. There are more important things than money in life, so please look outwards and appreciate the rest of what your life is about, before it is too late.

Cheers.

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Keinian ideals – Costs of living in Melbourne (versus Singapore) part 2: Accomodation

In this post, we visit an integral component of our lives: our homes.

Most of us live in a HDB flat (read: public housing) in Singapore, and married couples (usually) apply for their own little domestic haven eventually. For the sake of privacy (read: recreational physical activities without your in-laws wondering what that rhythmic thumping noise was), if nothing else. Now that didn’t come out too well did it? Hecks.

Disclaimer: I am merely doing a comparison of numbers, so please leave the AUD/SGD exchange rate out of it. You earn SGD, you spend SGD. Same thing goes for AUD; you don’t earn AUD and spend SGD in Australia do you?

Rental:

Unlike Singapore, a lot of people (that includes me) rent apartments, which is actually private housing. That’s part of the downside of not having a family to lean on, but it’s fun since you get to have your own pad sooner. Like Singapore, rental prices are cutthroat, especially in the city. What’s different is that it is actually possible to stay in the city and not die from bankruptcy; let’s not go into the details of possible moolah you would have to fork out for an apartment in Orchard Road.

I am currently staying in a 2-bedroom apartment of approximately 64 square metres, at a rental rate of $1,600 per month. It’s reasonably located in the city, and a pretty good deal to boot. The only downside’s that the apartment does not come with a carpark (damn). On the average, rental costs for 2-bedroom apartments in Melbourne are either similar or higher to what I pay. And yes, the prices are *still* rising. Unfortunately, Melbourne city apartments are always competitively priced, and Sydney is much worse, judging from the rates I saw on my last visit there.

I haven’t actually asked about rental accomodation in Orchard Road or City Hall, but it is pretty logical to hazard a guess that $1,600 would not cover the rent, Singapore’s real estate being limited and all.

Purchase:

Quoting from HDB Infoweb, a new HDB 5-room flat in Clementi would cost about $478,000. That would be a possible floor area of 110 square metres, and you would be entitled to a lease of 99 years.

We should take into account the fact that people like us probably wouldn’t live beyond (99+current age) years, but it’s always comforting to know that your kids could stay in the same place without buying a new one if they wanted to.

The below statistics were taken from a search off realestate.com.au, incase you were curious.

A 2-bedroom apartment in my building would cost something like $440,000, with a possible floor area of 65 square metres. And it would count as a freeholding up to the point when the building collapses or something.

Alternatively, we could consider a 2-bedroom house in a suburb close to Melbourne city e.g. Fitzroy North, which would work out to something like $650,000 (land plus house). The floor area would be about 135 square metres, which would trash the HDB flat outright in this area. And yes, it would be a freeholding too.

And of course, location defines the price. The further we head out, the cheaper it gets.

Over at Bundoora (approximately 40 mins’ drive from city), a 3-bedroom house would cost about $350,000 or so. I couldn’t get the floor area because the listings did not show any, but an estimate would be 130 square metres and above.

Aside from actually judging on the amounts we have to fork out on buying the house, we probably have to consider our financing options too.

CPF/Superannuation financing:

In Singapore, we get to utilise our CPF as a part of the downpayment. No such rule goes for Australia’s superannuation fund (we call it CPF); it’s untouchable. Good or bad, you decide for yourself.

Bank loans:

Disclaimer: I am not trying to perform an indepth analysis of all banks in Australia so that we could have a look at the cheapest repayment rates, so keep that in mind.

Australia

Singapore

  • POSB’s Home Ideal First offers an interest rate pegged to the CPF rate, which would be about 2.5% for now.
  • UOB offers a rate of about 3.50% p.a.; it’s a little variable but I couldn’t be fcuked to write that much.

We can probably conclude that buying a place of your own in Australia isn’t as affordable as Singapore, but of course the benefit of having a freehold affects the equation. I’ll think about the next topic to discuss, and leave these as food for thought.

Literary – Crossroads

The junction once again
Of various choices
Of conflicting paths

A single step taken
Erases other paths
Burns all bridges

Factors to be weighed
For, or against?
Better, or worse?

Time is of the essence.

But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we’ll not fail.

– Lady Macbeth: Scene VII, Macbeth’s Castle, The tragedy of Macbeth.

Keinian ideals – Costs of living in Melbourne (versus Singapore) part 1: Taxes

I came across this post by mrbiao, titled Analysis on Canada vs Singapore, again (Day 94 in Vancouver). His post raised quite a few relevant points that could have just applied to Australia as well as Canada.

This is probably the most popular question that friends endup asking. “Australia tax so high, good meh?”

Income tax: Australian’s income tax is of course much higher than Singapore’s.
If we were to take an average Singaporean university grad’s income, say $3,000 per month so that’s $36,000 per year.

Australia – Using the simple tax calculator, we end up paying AUD$6,150, or about 17.08%. This is a rough figure, refer to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for more details.

Singapore – If we refer to the tax rates found on the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) website, we end up paying SGD$680, or about 1.89%. Note that there might be other possible reliefs like NSMan, insurance, charity etc.

Goods and Services Tax (GST): Australia does 10%, with Singapore holding at 7% for now.

This seems to be a pretty clear-cut case isn’t it? If we are judging from the numbers alone, why the fcuk would people want to leave Singapore for Australia? Or anywhere else for that matter?

Logically, we should conclude that other pull factors exist in the picture. I’ll do my best to write about some in a later post, so keep an eye open for now.

Cookie: mama no more

V took Cookie to the vet last Thurday for her desex operation, and brought the pup home with stitches down her belly, and so very quiet. (The anaesthesia hadn’t worn off yet at that time.)


She had to wear this protector around her head to stop her licking/biting the stitches. Methink the vet went too far in his choice of protector size; she couldn’t even eat properly with that fcuking lampshade around her head. I ended up feeding her by hand, and the stitches were due to be removed in 10 days. Ten. bloody. days.

Well, that was last week.


She seems to be in good spirits today.


Peering at the camera.

Well, she’s always very obedient when food is near.


I decided to try my hand at homecooked steak (actually scotch fillet), and this was it. Well one of *it* anyway, I couldn’t be bothered to take pictures of all three.


A close-up.

I had three slices in all, and they tasted good enough. Rubbed ’em down with olive oil and cooked them on the pan. Added a bit of salt and pepper, a dash of lemon and cheese (just for fun). Good stuff, will try again next time round.

Massive brainburn

I spent the better part of today designing a billing system at work. It was pretty abstract, because design considerations included stuff like database schema design (deciding what information had to be stored), workflow redesign (understanding the current policies and improving them) and interface design (aka how to make it friendly to the user), ouch. It feels like you’re trying to grab at ten ideas at once when you have only got two hands. Too many factors to consider, and only one brain to handle the processing.

And the best part is, I know absobloodylutely nuts about the freakin’ accounts receivables (aka our beloved A/R).

Antivirus – AVG 8.0 Network Edition

I had the honor of deploying AVG 8.0 Network Edition in my office recently. I’m actually running a Microsoft SBS, but we skipped out on the SBS Edition because of the price tag heh heh.

That aside, server and client setup was relatively hassle-free, SBS Edition or not. I had a bit of a problem with one workstation which absolutely refused to accept my license as a valid key, and gave up on it that night. Miraculously enough, the tantrums stopped the next day.

That being said, I had to manually install the AVG Agent before it installed successfully. Therefore, this is something you might want to try if you’re having problems: install the damn Agent by hand!