18 November 2016

Health365 and Counting

So I've been trying to clock 5,000 to 10,000 steps per day to walk off the calories. The logic being that 5,000 steps is approximately 250 calories expended. Doing that 30 days a month equates to 7,500 calories, which is about 1 kg of weight. [More on this: Investing and dieting - wealth and health]

It's not too difficult to reach 5,000 steps a day really. Walk to the MRT on the way to work. Walk out for lunch and back (I know, weather might suck). And again from MRT to home at the end of the day. A little each way and it all adds up.

But reaching 10,000 is an altogether different challenge. It means deliberately walking from the office to the MRT station without taking the feeder bus. In terms of time, it takes only marginally a few minutes longer. So it's not really a hustle. But it is a hustle doing so in working attire with a load in my bag, especially the laptop. Back-breaking killer.

I guess it helps to fiddle with the phone, catching a few pokemons and swiping at pokestops along the way. A mild distraction.

Wouldn't it be great if one could make some money doing this as well? Actually, there is. Not much, just a little.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) started another season of the National Step Challenge not too long ago. All I needed to do was to download the Health365 app from the AppStore, and sign up for the challenge. With the S-Health app on my phone that does the step counting, I only needed to run the Health365 on some days to sync the step count.

[There's an alternative option of getting a free step counting device (Fitbit-like or a watch type) from HPB.]

The steps are accumulated. So every step counts. There are several levels of rewards as certain step counts are reached. A few click on the Health365 app on the Rewards page and an NTUC voucher gets mailed to me a few weeks later.

Free money for doing nothing more than keeping up my health. Isn't it great? Stay healthy yah.

03 November 2016

REIT on!

Owning a property can be a real pain, especially when you are still servicing a loan. Presuming it's rented out, then comes the pain of maintaining the property and dealing with the rent collection and such. There's also the income reporting and tax deductibles. Seems like quite a bit of work.

But there's an easier alternative of course. Outsource it! Let someone else manage it, and you are effectively engaging them to do it for you. Of course they take a cut, but you still get rental returns. With just one property, there's however no economy of scale. So the overheads involved can be high.

And then we have REITs. Effectively the same thing after all, but with the property manager handling multiple properties, collecting rents, while maintaining the properties. It's diversification.

I'm quite for REITs, particularly as they can serve to generate an income stream. It's not without risks though. There will be times when they raise funds from shareholders to fund some acquisitions. Each time they do so, they could very well be collecting whatever income they paid out!

And then, we now have the Phillip APAC Dividend Leaders REIT ETF. So we can own a slice of multiple REITs even! But I have some doubts if it's worth the while right now.

  • With an estimated yield of 5% dividends, its 0.5% management fee would drive it down to ~4.5% yield. I would expect to get 5-7% yield on typical REITs. So getting below 5% seems like a letdown.
  • Significant chunks of the REITs are non-Singapore based. While that offers country diversification, it comes with a foreign exchange risk.
  • And finally, it is a dividend-weighted ETF. If I understand it right, that means high-yielding REITs dominate. My sense is that a high-yielding REIT is not necessarily a good thing. Examine the local REITs and you can see that those yielding above 7% tends to be the ones whose total returns are huge negatives!

For now, I will keep to buying individual local REITs that are backed by parents with the muscle to provide a pipeline of properties to feed them. Capitaland, Ascendas, Mapletree. There are enough choices.

Reaping property incomes without owning any single property nor servicing any loans. I like.