Saturday, July 07, 2007

Popular Advice You Shouldn't Take

WallStreet Journal
Sunday July 1, 3:30 am ET
By Jonathan Clements

If you're in your 20s, the world may not throw money at you -- but you'll get plenty of free financial advice.
For instance, you have no doubt been told to save diligently, fully fund your employer's 401(k) plan and avoid credit-card debt. And those are all good suggestions.

But there are other suggestions that aren't quite so good -- including these four popular pieces of advice.


If you are just out of school, you probably have all kinds of financial ambitions, including buying a car, purchasing a home and trying your hand at stock-market investing. But according to some financial experts, your top financial priority should be amassing an emergency reserve equal to six months of living expenses, with this cash tucked away in conservative investments like money-market funds and certificates of deposit.

Let's be honest: This is dull, unrealistic and -- I would argue -- not all that sensible. Even if you regularly sock away 10% of your after-tax income, it might take four years or so to amass six months of living expenses. At that juncture, you are supposed to leave this money in low-risk investments, where it will earn modest returns for the rest of your life.

Sound bad? It gets worse. While you were building up your emergency reserve, you were likely neglecting important goals like funding your 401(k) plan, which might earn you a matching employer contribution, and saving for a house down payment.

My advice: Forget the emergency reserve. Instead, stick at least enough in your 401(k) to get the full company match. Next, fund a Roth individual retirement account. If you still have extra money to save each year, by all means stash it in conservative investments in a regular taxable account.

If you get hit with a financial emergency, tap the money in your regular taxable account first. But you could also borrow from your 401(k). In addition, at any time, you can pull out your Roth contributions -- but not the account's investment earnings -- without paying taxes or penalties.

You could also use your taxable account and Roth for a house down payment. Once you have bought the house, set up a home-equity line of credit, which you can then use as an emergency reserve.


That brings me to another piece of conventional wisdom that's often doled out to folks in their 20s: Buy the biggest house possible.

I have some sympathy with this suggestion. If you are early in your career and you expect sizable pay increases in the years ahead, you may want to stretch to buy a somewhat larger house.

After all, if you purchase a place that you quickly become dissatisfied with, you could soon find yourself trading up to a better home. That will mean forking over a 5% or 6% selling commission, mortgage-application costs, lawyer's fees, moving expenses and more.

Don't, however, misconstrue what I am saying. I am not endorsing the contention that real estate is the best investment you can make, that you should buy the largest house possible or that you should take out the largest mortgage possible.

Borrowing a huge sum to purchase an unnecessarily large house is financial foolishness. You will saddle yourself with hefty monthly mortgage payments and a lifetime of large utility bills, maintenance costs, property-tax payments and home-insurance premiums. Rather, when buying that first home, you should strive to purchase a place that's the right size for you and your family -- and that you can see living in for a good long time.


Insurance agents often push folks in their 20s to buy cash-value life insurance, arguing that it's far cheaper to purchase these policies when you are young.

Don't do it. To be sure, under the right circumstances and with the right policy from the right company, cash-value life insurance can be a decent investment. But for those in their 20s, these policies are unlikely to make sense.

Remember, the principal reason to buy life insurance is to protect your family -- and you may not even have a spouse, let alone kids. And if you are married with young kids, you no doubt need a heap of coverage. The cheapest way to get that coverage is with term life insurance, which offers a death benefit and nothing more.

Cash-value life insurance, by contrast, combines a death benefit with an investment account. Because the premiums on these policies are so high, you will likely skimp on coverage, which means your young family won't be fully protected. Moreover, if you buy a cash-value policy, you probably won't have the spare cash for other, better investment opportunities, such as funding a Roth IRA and your employer's 401(k).


Those in their 20s are encouraged to invest heavily in stocks, because they have decades until retirement and thus plenty of time to ride out market declines. This is good advice -- in theory.

In practice, I would be a little cautious. You don't want to invest heavily in stocks and then panic and sell during the next market plunge. Yet that's a real danger if you are new to the market and you have never lived through a market decline.

My suggestion: Start with 60% stocks and 40% bonds. If you find yourself unperturbed by market swings, move your stock allocation up to 85% or 90% after a year or two.

Younger investors are often also told to favor highflying growth stocks. Growth stocks can be wild short-term performers -- but the hope is that they will deliver superior long-run returns.

Unfortunately, there's a good chance this hope won't be fulfilled. Academic studies suggest the highest returns are earned not by growth companies, but by prosaic bargain-priced value stocks.

I am not, however, suggesting you load up on value. Instead, start by building a well-diversified portfolio that includes both growth and value stocks, as well as offering exposure to the broad U.S. market and to foreign markets. If you later want to add a tilt toward value stocks, be my guest. But your top priority should be broad diversification.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Chinese in Malaysia part 2 - GENTING Group & IOI Group

鉅富祖籍耍本色(第四篇) *福建幫*

1天內拿到賭牌, 林梧桐白手起家

“Uncle Lim”,是大家對今年4月剛歡慶90大壽的丹斯里林梧桐的暱稱。














除了將雲頂業務版圖,透過麗星郵輪(Star Cruise)擴至公海,林國泰更將賭業投資拓展至美國、英國、盧森堡、澳洲和菲律賓等地,成為亞洲最大賭業上市公司。

成功取得英國最大賭場營運業者,史丹利休閒(Stanley Leisure)的控制股權后,在林國泰領軍下,雲頂贏得新加坡第2張賭場營運執照,一年內雙喜臨門。







后來,他從事房業發展,首個計劃即是加影附近的南順發花園,但真正讓他開始嶄露頭角的,卻是獨力收購氣體製造業者工業氧氣(Industrial Oxygen)一役。