27 September 2016

When Junk Bonds Default

Opening disclaimer:
I should first declare that this is not about some oil and gas company going under!

It had to happen at some point. After a few months of trying out peer-to-peer (P2P) loan on Moolahsense, I've finally experienced the first delayed payment.

The company concerned made two monthly payments promptly for a 12 month loan, but it was only able to provide a partial and late payment in the third month. Not good. It is a potential default case.

As of now, I have 15 loans, each varying between $1,000 to $5,000. So it's still well within the 5% provision I made (see When junk bonds become my moolah).

It's still too early to count the rate of default. It's only been four months into this journey. Fingers crossed.

In 2005, when I first came across this form of P2P locally (Crowd funding comes to Singapore), the number of loan offers ("campaigns") were few and far in between. I guess those were its infancy. This year, the pace seems to have picked up quite a bit. Sometimes, there seems to be one every other day. Then it goes quiet for a period. Quite patchy. It's not yet a steady stream.

But once the portfolio has a number of loans made, it's kind of shiok to see notifications of payments almost every other day. It's probably mere coincidence that the loan payments fall on different days.

23 September 2016

An Uber Shiok Ride

I am a late starter I guess. I've been patiently waiting for taxis on evenings after work, to catch the ride home. But it was only last week that I got round to trying out Uber. More specifically, UberPool, which is potentially a shared ride.

The experience was seamless!

After keying in my pick up location and destination, I got a response instantaneously. The Uber cab was only 2 minutes away. Must be my lucky day. And on the app, I could see his vehicle number, car model, where he was at that moment, and the route he was taking. I could even make out that he was making a U-turn! Talk about real-time tracking and total situation awareness.

But as I was waiting along the roadside without an obvious landmark at the pick-up point, I was worried he might miss me. Likewise, I might not notice him in time since there would be no taxi markings. But no worries, the cab came with his headlights blinking away. That was his way of signalling to his passenger. How thoughtful.

Although I had booked it as a UberPool ride, there were no pick-ups along the way. So I was alone for the entire journey.

On reaching my destination, I only needed to get off. No time wasted fiddling around with my wallet and change. As my account was already linked to my credit card, the payment was automatic. Seamless.

Soon after, I received an e-mail detailing the ride, the path taken, and the final bill with discounts accounted for. The journey I took normally cost more than $25. The trip, even at a surge rate of 1.2x, cost only $23.90. And since it was my first ride, there was a discount of $10. So the final bill came to only $13.90. With the rate defined up front, there was no worries of variation depending on where he went, or conditions due to traffic.

Thoroughly seamless. And cheaper to boot! Uber-wonderful.

The driver was a nice chap to chat with. He was a retiree and was driving only to past his time. He typically drove 3 hours in the morning and another 3 hours in the afternoon. That was enough to make a few hundred dollars a day to supplement his income. As an Uber driver, he also enjoyed fuel discounts of 30%. Sounded like a damn good deal to me.

I gave the driver a 5-star rating on the app.

And in case you're as much a noob as I am, here's a discount code for your first ride: "8J72RG53UE". According to the Uber advert, you should get a $10 discount on your first ride, and I will likewise benefit with a $10 discount too.

Have a pleasant ride and a wonderful weekend!

21 September 2016

How Much Cash is Needed for a Hospitalisation?

So my aged mother had a fall. She is statistically above average in age. It's a blessing that she has been largely well all these years. But it had to happen, sooner or later. Any fall at this advanced age is likely to have consequences.

She has decided to forego an operation given her age. And she'd rather live with the pain and a slow recovery (if ever), rather than subject herself to the risk of an operation.

It's been a fortnight of hospital stay, followed by weeks in the rehabilitation ward at the adjoining community hospital. Hospitals can be quite seamless with this modern clustering design.

Class C ward can be a very noisy affair at the primary care hospital. Lots of fellow patients groaning throughout the day and night, the occasional smell of overflowed urine, the psychological fear when there is an unfortunate death, etc. Many negatives.

But the rehab ward was a different matter altogether - significantly quieter, a lot more airy, spacious and fascinating layout of eating and resting spaces that try to prepare the patient towards conditions that are closer to the home feel. The nursing care has been quite an eye opener and pleasant surprise. Such cheery looking staff! They are wonderful people.

What's the financial damage? Well, for a Class C ward, the total bill after Medishield was a few thousand dollars which was taken care of by Medisave. So that's been zero cash outlay so far. It's so important that we have these safety buffers.