Thursday, March 30, 2017

New 2017 formula to determine amount of EPF Account 1 money that can invest in Unit Trust funds

If you want to diversify the money in Account 1 of your Employees Provident Fund (EPF, a.k.a. KWSP) by taking it out to be managed by local Unit Trust fund managers and invest in EPF approved unit trust funds, which then invest in various markets locally or globally or both, depends on the funds' prospectus, the first thing you need to know is: what is the maximum amount of money you can take out from your EPF Account 1 to invest in those approved unit trust funds?

Begining 1 January 2017, EPF has enforced a new formula for this calculation, and the old formula used before was no longer valid.

While the old formula only allowed you to take out a maximum of 20% of your (Account 1 - Basic Savings) for unit trust investment, the new formula allows you to take out more. The maximum is now 30%.

The new table to calculate your Account 1 Basic Savings is as below:

For example, if you are borned in 1982 and your EPF Account 1 has RM100,000, your Basic Savings is RM50,000. Maximum amount you can take out for unit trust investment is (RM100k - RM50k) x 30% = RM50k x 30% = RM15k.

Same as before, you can withdraw your EPF Account 1 money for unit trust investment once every 3 months.

To make the case simple, assume that your EPF money does not increase.

Amount in Account 1 after the withdrawal = RM100k - RM15k = RM85k

3 months later...

Available amount for unit trust investment = (RM85k - RM50k) x 30% = RM10.5k.

You can continue the process every 3 months until your available amount for unit trust investment become zero or negative.

Note that:
  • Normally, there will be around 3% one time charges by the unit trust company for this kind of investment. Subsequent years' management fees of around 1.5% are reflected in the fund price.
  • Make sure at the end of the year, you are confident your fund can give you return higher than your EPF dividend. Otherwise, it is better to let your money stay in EPF.
  • You are not necessary to withdraw the maximum amount. Any amount less than the maximum allowed is OK.
  • You are not necessary to withdraw every 3 months. You can adjust the timing based on market conditions.
  • You are not necessary to invest into the same fund for each withdrawal. You can choose different fund to invest, as long as approved by EPF.
  • Once you sell out your unit trust, the money will go back to your EPF Account 1.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Neato XV-11 all floor robotic vacuum cleaner

Talking about robotic vacuum cleaner, you might first thought of the famous iRobot Roomba. It is fantastic but it is quite pricy too.

There are many other robotic vacuum cleaners available in the market now, but not so many can perform as good as the iRobot Roomba. I found Neato as the one which is much cheaper than iRobot and also many people commented that it performs even better than iRobot.

Neato has several ranges of robotic vacuum cleaners. I purchased the basic one called Neato XV-11 from Corvan Asia at the online price of RM1,732 only. This company normally selling this model at the price of RM1,888, so you have to patiently wait for special discount occasion to get the RM1,7xx price tag.

Unlike most other round-shape robotic vacuum cleaners, the Neato robots are D-shape, specially designed to clean the wall and furniture lining better.

The Neato XV-11 consists of 2 main parts: the robot vacuum itself, and its charging station. The robot is intelligent enough to be able to find this charging station provided there is no obstacle (leave at least 3 feet clear space) at the right, left and front of the charging station.

The robot will automatically find its way to this charging base whenever its battery is low, or when it has completed its vacuuming job. It will then recharge itself and get ready for the next mission.

When operate, the robot sounds like a hair dryer. Some people might find it a bit noisy, but thinking on the positive side, the noise enables us to locate the position of the robot easily. Sometimes it might need a little bit help from us to escape from being stuck in places with a lot of obstacles.

I noticed one interesting thing about this cute robot. It is able to step down from dining area to my kitchen floor, which is a bit lower. However, it is unable to climb back up to the dining area later to return to its base. It will keep on trying to climb up the level. A little help from me to lift it up, then it will continue with its journey.

Unlike most of the dumb robot vacuum you see in the market, this Neato XV-11 is really intelligent with a laser based navigation system. It has eyes to scan through your house layout and furniture position, then plan its path to vacuum in a systematic way. You won't find it wandering randomly like those dumb robots. It will seldom knock on something too, and it won't fell down from staircase, since its eyes are able to tell it to avoid hitting on walls and things, and not to fell down a cliff. I believe this is where I paid for its price, compared with those dumb robots that you can get at a few hundreds ringgit only.

The Neato XV-11 can be scheduled to work automatically at a user defined time. Its scheduler is by day of the week, so you can set different schedule for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The limitation is only one schedule can be set for one day. Anyhow, you can always press the Start button for it to work immediately outside the scheduled time.

The dust, dirt and debris collected are stored in its transparent plastic container, which is pretty easy to take out and clean.

Like some other robot vacuum, we can use magnetic stripe to block it from going to the region which it not suppose to go, such as the bathroom. Note that this Neato XV-11 works indoor on dry floor. Excessive water on the floor might cause damage to the robot, so bathroom with potential wet floor is its forbidden place.

One thing I don't like about this Neato XV-11 is that its battery is of NiMH type, which is considered old battery technology. Neato does produce robots that use Li-ion battery for its higher end models, at more expensive price.

Corvan Asia is giving a generous 5 years warranty plus 5 years of free yearly service to Neato robots, which I think is irresistible to bring home this robot vacuum at such a good price. Currently, the seller is also giving an upgrade from normal brush to combo brush to its online buyers, and an upgrade from normal filter to HEPA filter to buyers who reviewed and rated the Neato product at the e-Commerce website where it was bought.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Online renewing Malaysian passport with MyONLINE*PASPORT website

Renewing Malaysian passport at the immigration office has been a time consuming process that can easily cost you half a day to even a full day.

The good news is: now Malaysian can renew their passport using the online service provided by the  MyONLINE*PASPORT website.

With this service, you can complete your password renewal application, together with its payment, anytime and anywhere by using your web browser. Then, you just need to go to the immigration office of your choice to collect your new passport, which will take you probably less than 30 minutes counted from the time you step in the immigration office.

The prerequisites to use this online passport renewal service for Malaysian are as below:
  • You must have a valid Malaysian passport with electronic chip.
  • For children under 18, the renewal applicant must be the same person who applied for the existing passport.
  • You must get ready a JPG file of your recent passport size photo that fulfil the requirement, to be uploaded during the online renewal application.
  • You must have a valid credit card to make online payment.
  • You must have a printer to print out the receipt, to be used to collect your new passport at the immigration office.
The steps are as follow:
  • Get ready your photo.
  • Use your web browser to go to MyONLINE*PASPORT website.
  • Read the terms and conditions, and click on the "Agree" button.
  • A popup window will appear, click on the "OK" button.
  • Fill in your existing passport and IC detail. Specify your choice of location to collect your new password. Search for your passport detail in the system.
  • Fill in the online application form, upload your photo, and submit your application.
  • Make online payment using your credit card. For normal 5-year Malaysian passport, the fee is RM200. Senior citizens above 60 years old will get 50% discount.
  • Print out the receipt.
  • Bring the receipt, your existing passport and your IC to the designated location to collect your new passport.
You can also go to the same website to check for your passport renewal application status.

It seems that many are still unaware about this online passport renewal website, because the website currently shows the number of online application so far is only 3380. Feel free to bookmark this article and share it with your family, relatives, friends and colleagues.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mobile LTE network: moving forward from 4G to 5G

5G is the next generation mobile network coming after the current 4G LTE-Advanced. It is still under research and development, but we can expect it to hit the market in near future.

What can we expect from 5G enhancement from the current 4G technology?

  • Up to 1000 times increase in bandwidth per unit area
  • Up to 100 times more connected devices
  • Up to 10 Gbps connection speed to mobile devices in the field (see picture below for comparison with older technologies)
  • Perceived network availability of 99.999%
  • Perceived 100% network coverage
  • Maximum of only 1ms end-to-end round trip latency delay
  • Up to 90% reduction in network energy utilization

So, 5G is the next generation mobile technology well prepared for the world of IoT, with significantly improved bandwidth, connection speed, stability, reliability, coverage, etc.

With 5G, the necessity of laying fibre landline will be greatly reduced. The world will truly enter into Gigabit Internet era.

Huawei which has just received the "Outstanding Contribution for LTE Evolution to 5G" award at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 is among the industry leaders who lead in the worldwide 5G development. (Unfortunately to investors, Huawei is not a public listed company)

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.