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Singaporean Guide: Where to Invest $10,000 Right Now

What have you been doing with your salary?

If you have been diligently following the 50/30/20 rule on allocating your salary where:

  • 20% goes into savings
  • Only spend 50% on expenses
  • Last 30% into your wealth account for investment purpose

The median household income per household member is S$2,584, which is also close to what some of the fresh graduates might be looking at.

Assuming one stick closely to the budgeting percentage of 30% to your wealth account, one should $10,000 in his account ready to invest after 13 months.

How To Allocate Your Monthly Salary

Read more: The Average Singaporean Household Income: Where Do You Stand?

Sometime last year, we asked some of Singapore’s top financial bloggers on where they will invest their first $10,000.

Ready to give our audience more insights this year, we asked three really experienced individuals about their take for the year. So brace yourself to be mind blown!

Editor’s note: I am so gonna bookmark this article and refer back every time I run out of ideas as to what to invest.


Financial Horse

Seedly Contributor: Financial Horse

Financial Horse was started to demystify money’s mysteries.
He is a firm believer of, “if you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you do not understand it yourself”. Financial Horse is updated weekly with commentary on financial markets. One can also follow him or Facebook where he shares his trade ideas!

Diversification is the name of the game

Now that volatility is firmly back in equity markets, I expect the next 12 months to be a bumpy ride. With this in mind, diversification should be the name of the game for retail investors, to minimise downside risk while gaining broad exposure to returns on global asset prices.

Trade wars

Despite all the talk about trade wars, I am still largely bullish on the US economy. Trump’s tax cuts, coupled with an interest rate hike cycle, and a yield curve that has yet to invert, indicate to me that there is still some steam left in this equity bull-run. S$10,000 isn’t very much to go on, but I would put S$4,000 of that into a broad-based US equity index.

For this, I like the S&P500 (SPY) the most. It is a market capitalisation weighted index of 500 of the largest companies listed in the US, which offers a broad exposure to the health of the US economy, and is the gold standard by which most hedge funds benchmark themselves against. Investors with a higher risk appetite can go for the NASDAQ (QQQ), which offers far greater exposure to the higher growth tech industry. Ideally, I would want to own both, but with S$4000, I would prefer to minimise transaction costs and stick solely to the S&P500.

On Singapore’s economy

The remaining S$6000 will be deployed on the SGX. I want to get broad exposure to the health of the Singapore economy, and I have found that the best way to do that is via the local banks. Of the 3, I like DBS the most due to their emphasis on digitisation, and the high dividend yield (about 4.5% at current prices). I will buy 1 lot (100 shares) in DBS, which at current market prices is about S$2600.

That leaves about S$3400. Regular readers of Financial Horse would know that REITs are my first love so no portfolio of mine would be complete without some allocation to S-REITs.

Given the small amount left in play, this would have to be a single REIT. And to me, there is no better choice than Mapletree Commercial Trust. It has a fantastic Sponsor in the form of Temasek owned Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd, and a broad exposure to many asset classes in retail (Vivocity), business park (Mapletree Business Park), and office (Mapletree Anson). All its assets are located in Singapore, so there’s no need to worry about forex risk or exposure to another country’s property cycles.

For a beginner REIT, there is no better choice.


Mr Finance Savvy

Seedly Contributor: Mr Finance Savvy

When Joel joined Phillip Securities in the year 2009, he was widely known as the “youngest” Financial Advisory Consultant and embarked to be a Trading Representative. In 2009, the stock market crash-filled traders and investors with fear and jitters. The harsh economic slump left many individuals jobless with financial obligations and investors fearing to take action. Subsequently, it was followed by a huge rally in mid-2009 to 2010.
Through the different market cycles, he developed his own financial strategies and have consistently profited in various market conditions. Follow him on Facebook.

Where to invest $10,000 right now?

You are studying, saving diligently and even took up side hustles along the way to build up a sizeable amount of funds to start investing. Or perhaps you have started working for a few years, grinding your way and finally managed to accumulate sufficient funds to finally embark on your financial journey.

Along the way, you got excited. You heard from your friends on how they have built wealth machines from investing and leveraged on the power of compounding to achieve financial independence.

However..

You have no idea on how to kickstart the journey. Worse, you got lost in all the complicated financial jargons. This article is for you and I hope this practical guide will accelerate your learning in financial literacy.

What You Should Be Mindful Of:

Be Defensive in your initial investments.

There are many financial institutions and banks who strongly advocate people who are younger or just entered the workforce to take higher risks in pursuit for potentially higher returns. 

The reasoning is that younger people are able to recover from any significant investment drawdowns due to the number of years that they can still be working going forward. In short, they are telling you to work harder to recuperate from your losses.

This is a formula for disaster.
:

The tendency for Higher Risks + Little Financial Knowledge = Gambling

It is essential to adopt a prudent mindset towards investing. You are in the phase of your life where you have lesser disposable income, in comparison to those working for a longer period of time with higher income and fund allocation for investments. Thus, it is difficult to tolerate any major drawdowns as it will be setting you back a few years.

Be realistic

Be realistic in benchmarking your expected returns.

It is important not to seek instant solutions or expect unrealistic returns. Based on your past investment experiences, how were your returns on investments consistently? What is your rationale or logic, and the steps to attain the returns that you are expecting?

For example: if you have been achieving 2% annually, it is quite a far stretch to expect 30% consistent returns on a new strategy that you want to adopt.
Focus on the learning process and the results will show over time.

An investment is a transaction between you and the company or fund. When you invest, you are either paying the funds fees for their efforts to invest on your behalf or lending a specific company funds in exchange for company shares.

You should not view investing as companies or funds being noble in giving you the “opportunity” to grow your wealth. Instead, it is a mutual exchange between lending them your funds to serve their own objectives and you believing in the company or fund’s profitability potential.

Emergency Funds

There is a rule of thumb to save between 3 to 12 months’ of your monthly expenses and is meant for any unforeseen circumstances. The most common is unemployment. In the event of unemployment, you will have sufficient liquidity to tide you through till you find a new job.

Strategy:

The key is to save 5% of your annual income (you can do it on a monthly basis) to increase your emergency fund on an annual basis, even after you have built up your emergency funds. The rationale is that you excel in your career and expect a salary increment of approximately 5% annually.
After you have built up your emergency funds, you can consider allocating a portion of your emergency funds to Singapore Savings or Corporate Bonds as shown in the diagram below.

Allocating into index funds, Singapore savings/corporate bonds, high interest rate accounts

High-Interest Rate Savings Accounts

By default, your emergency funds should be deposited in a high-interest rate savings account. Your capital is guaranteed while trying to maximise the interest rate with high liquidity.
You have to take note that the guarantee comes from the bank that you place the funds with. In the event that the bank goes into bankruptcy, it is detrimental for individuals and proves difficult in retrieving your capital back. In Singapore, there is a deposit insurance scheme that ensures individuals up to $50,000 per account in the event a bank or finance company fails, providing a safeguard for individuals.

Strategy:

Seedly has a great article on best savings account comparison. I am currently using DBS Multiplier account for my emergency funds, and CIMB FasterSaver to build up my war chest for investing.

Personally, I stay clear of saving accounts that require individuals to have a minimum monthly expenditure to gain higher interest rate. This results in a conflict with the need to “spend more to save more” unless you track your monthly expenses closely and is able to fulfil the criteria needed. If not, you may come across a situation where you feel pressured to spend more monthly just to achieve a higher interest rate.

Singapore Saving or Corporate Bonds

Another low-risk investment is to invest in Singapore Savings Bonds (preferred) or Corporate Bonds (financial knowledge required).

The difference between Singapore Savings Bonds and Corporate Bonds is that Singapore Savings Bonds are issued by Singapore government whereas Corporate Bonds are issued by the respective companies.

You can read Seedly’s detailed guide on Singapore Savings Bond or DollarsandSense guide on buying Singapore Savings Bond for more details.

In general, the structure of bonds is similar to fixed deposits issued by banks. You invest a fixed amount into the bond, and receive bond coupons (interest) periodically. Your capital and bond coupons are guaranteed by the issuer.

Similarly, the guarantee usually fails for individuals and you may potentially lose all your capital if the issuer goes into bankruptcy.

Strategy:

Allocate 50% of your emergency funds into Singapore Savings Bond. Using this strategy, you will be able to maintain high liquidity with better interest rate than savings accounts. If there are any unforeseen circumstances, you can withdraw your invested amount and there is no penalty for early withdrawal.

Index Funds

Investing in an index fund such as STI ETF or Vanguard 500 Index Fund to track different market indices such as Straits Times or Standard & Poor 500 is a great method to gain a broad stock market exposure at very low management fees. However, note that your capital is not guaranteed and may result in a capital loss if the market moves against you or in a downturn.

The rationale for why many funds or financial experts recommend investing in index funds is on the assumption that indices will have higher peaks and higher troughs in comparison to their past performances. This is crucial as you have to be prepared for the scenario where this assumption no longer holds true, such as the occurrence of the collapse of a country’s economy.

Strategy:

You can invest in a lump sum or do dollar cost averaging. For lump sum investing, individuals require good macro-economic acumens and active management to time the market for entry. It is advisable for individuals with low financial knowledge to avoid this method.
For autonomy, it is better to do dollar cost averaging into an index fund on a monthly or quarterly basis. Be warned, as you will need to be prepared mentally and emotionally to see paper losses during major market corrections or economic crisis as shown in the picture below. In 2015, the Strait Times Index had a major correction and there was a 28% drop during that one year period.

Thus, in the event where you are investing consistently in STI ETF during that period, it will take time before your investment breaks even when the Straits Times Index starts to recover.

STI Chart
This is how the overall strategy will look like:

Mr Finance Savvy investment strategy $10,000

In summary, you will realise that I have placed great emphasis on autonomy and passive management for individuals embarking on their investment journey. After you have allocated the necessary funds and implemented the strategies effectively, you have built up your defensive foundation and are ready to move on to the next level: active management.


Smallcapasia

James is an avid value-growth investor since 2007 and has chalked up more than 10 years of experience with a decent track record. His turning point came when he joined the Motley Fool Singapore as a writer and joined a group of like-minded investors. It was also during that time where he learnt the great works of successful investors such as Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, Sir John Templeton, and more.

When he’s not busy with analysing quarterly reports and working on his website.

Over my past decade of investing, there was this common question that surfaced quite often:

“How should I Invest $10,000?”

I remembered answering this same question to several of my friends from the army, ex-colleagues and more. I even wrote about it several times across the years – in dollarsandsense.sg and Seedly too.

This time round, I want to take a more holistic approach to come up with the answer. Here are 6 quick questions to gauge a person’s risk profile and draft out a simple investment plan:

  • What level of investment knowledge do I have?
  • My age + family commitments (kids, parents etc.)
  • Financial Background/Mindset (parents got fingers burnt by bad stock market experiences OR parents are retired through passive dividend income)
  • Risk Profile (how much risk can you stomach – 10%, 20%, 50%?)
  • The velocity of Financial Plan + Time Horizon (a.k.a. How fast you want to reach your goals)
  • Free Time Available

When a person goes through the above questions, he/she is able to invest any amount comfortably, be it $10K or $1 million.

Taking a typical millennial (22 – 37 years old) as an example, they have more time to build their retirement nest egg and are more finance-savvy these days. Being in this age bracket also means that they have lesser commitments (as opposed to a middle-aged person who must take care of their parents and sponsor their kids’ Uni fees).

Thus, they can accept higher risks given a longer time horizon. That said, they are generally short of time with higher workloads and occupied with social media (Instagram/Facebook) etc.  With that in mind, they can invest more towards higher return instruments such as value-growth stocks, unit trusts, P2P lending and more.

In a nutshell, everyone’s investment plan is different because we all have different circumstances. It is important to be aware of how you stand financially before ploughing your $10K into anything.

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