Singvestor's awakening

Where are you and where are you going?
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singvestor
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Monthly update #28: October 2017

Post by singvestor » Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:09 pm

Monthly goal review:

20 Days without alcohol: failed (17 days)
12+ days sports: failed (7 times)
40 hours stand at desk: failed (20? hours)

While this is not very good some of the effects came from a nine day trip to Portugal where I drank copious amounts of red wine, but also walked 96 km according to the wife’s fitness tracker. This was in addition to the 7 times sport.

Portugal

If you ask me: a pretty ideal location for those who have retired. Low costs, good food, weather very pleasant all year round… Access to mountains, sea… How much better can it get?

Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos
We bones that here are, for yours await

Visited a chapel which was stacked to the ceiling with old human bones and the above motto written over the entrance. Got reminded that I need to accelerate financial independence efforts.

Photo from the inside of the chapel:

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Judging from the Wikipedia page of the chapel the two skeletons used to hang from ropes, but now have been placed into these glass boxes...

ERE Scorecard

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In October I invested 59% of my income. This is not really enough, but things should improve because:

Wife got a job

The dear wife got a professional full-time job in Europe starting next week and we can therefore return to the glorious DINK life. She is a lot more financially responsible & frugal than me and likes investing her salary. We are still keeping finances separate for convenience sake, so all the numbers in this journal are only from me. Maybe my wife should start her own journal :)

Portfolio

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In October my portfolio increased by 5.2% or SGD 11,922 to SGD 240,989 (=USD 176,500).

This gain was made up of SGD 8,254 of fresh investments and SGD 3,668 of capital gains.

Stock valuations are getting higher and higher and I am not really comfortable with the price levels, but then I started work in 2008 and so tough economic times are all I am familiar with. The economy in Europe seems to be doing quite well now.

Investment vs. plan

In October I invested SGD 8,254 which was more than the plan (SGD 7,700).

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Asset allocation

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More or less in line with the plan.

Dividends

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In October I received a bumper crop of dividends: SGD 2,744 made it to my account. Dividend income is increasing strongly and should be a significant part of my income in a few years, provided that I can continue to receive them tax free.

Hypothetical monthly income (4% WR)

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SGD 803.

Outlook

Now that the wife has a new fulltime job my spending will be reduced a bit. I am also committed to the sport program and will give it my best in November. Work is a bit surreal for me, I have to do very little and mostly quite basic work, at the same time I am overpaid for the job. I keep worrying that someone will realize what a waste of money this is and that will be the end of the gravy train and expat life. I guess I have to enjoy it while it lasts…

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singvestor
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Monthly update #29: November 2017

Post by singvestor » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:25 pm

Monthly goals

20 Days without alcohol: failed (17 days)
12+ days sports: achieved (13 times)
40 hours stand at desk: failed (20? hours)

ERE Scorecard

In November I invested 55% of my income. Not ideal as usual. I spent a week in the Spanish Canary Islands to escape work. At least I could manage the sport challenge, thanks to lots of free time during the short holiday.

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Portfolio

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In November my portfolio increased by 5.2% or SGD 4,294 to SGD 245,283 (=USD 182,100).

This gain was made up of SGD 6,235 of fresh investments which were offset by a decline in portfolio value by SGD 1,941.

Investment vs. plan

In November I invested SGD 6,235 which was more than the plan (SGD 5,700).

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Dividends

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SGD 108 were received from my small holding of HSBC stocks.

Hypothetical monthly income (4% WR)

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SGD 818.

Outlook

Work is not going too well, but I know I should not complain so much given my fortunate circumstances.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #30: December and full year 2017

Post by singvestor » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:27 am

Another year has passed and this is already my 30th entry.

The complete embarrassment: monthly goal review

- 20 days no alcohol: 13 days - failed completely, thanks to Christmas parties.
- 12 times sport: 9 times - failed due to laziness

Calories in > calories out, thus I gained 2.5 kgs in just one month. Horrible.
In January I will change the behavior to stick to the goals and eat healthily inside the calory limit.

ERE Scorecard:

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In December I invested 53% of my income, bringing the yearly savings rate to SGD 40.1%.

My portfolio ended the year at SGD 251,603 (USD ~189,400), a gain which was made up of SGD 6,035 in fresh investments and paper gains of SGD 289.

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_______________________________________________________________________________

Yearly review 2017
I made it!

2017 goal: invest SGD 53,000
2017 result: invested SGD 57,887 (+SGD 4,887)
(1 SGD = 0.75 USD)

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I could not resist creating a waterfall chart:
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Where did all my money go?

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These are by far my favorite charts. Unfortunately, 2017 saw a huge increase in discretionary spending. I spent around SGD 18,000 more than last year! Behind this shocking figure there are a lot of one time costs because of my move to Europe. I bought a lightly used car in cash (SGD 19,400) and spent around SGD 5,400 on furniture and household stuff. Too much!

In 2018 I expect this figure to go down.

Income development – after tax

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Salary has grown nicely. 2018 is probably going to be a good year, thanks to expat benefits and hopefully a higher bonus. Dividend growth is accelerating and should make up quite a sizeable chunk in a few years or so.

Should I be able to stick it out under current conditions I should be financially independent sooner than I had hoped.

Goals for 2018

It is time to finally commit to the ERE ways and this forum with a proper saving rate goal:

Saving goal: My plan is to save SGD 100,000 (~USD 75,000) this year. This will mean a saving rate of around 60-65%.

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Quite a step up from my earlier goals. It will require quite some discipline to get there.

Discretionary spending goal: Discretionary spending should be reduced to below SGD 50,000 (~SGD 26,000 less than this year). I admit it is still ridiculously high, but <insert excuses here>

Life goal 1: Find a new job outside the company I currently work in
Life goal 2: 240 days no alcohol, 144 days sport
Life goal 3: be fluent in French

Outlook – freaking out at the markets

Equity prices feel way too high. I know the whole theory about not timing the markets, but cannot help it much.

What will I do to fight this feeling?
- Increase cash allocation: Currently I have only 0.5% of my portfolio in cash, but will increase this a little bit, to maximum 5-10%.
- Stay the course for the rest of the portfolio
- Eliminate all unnecessary spending and avoid the exuberant mindset that sets in when incomes increase and the mood is good in the company
- Try to use the economic boom phase to find a new job with a better company
- Further reduce clothes and other possessions to reduce stress

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Viktor K
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Viktor K » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:27 pm

What are we doing for sports these days Singvestor? Remember, we have the same, rare personality type. I too have found my exercise goals unattainable at points in my life. What are you doing to reach (or miss) yours? There are times where I have hit my exercise goals and felt quite committed to my sport/workout consistently. I've also identified (potentially) what made me so consistent during those periods and would be happy to share with you if you want. Otherwise, good luck this year and hope you hit those goals!

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singvestor
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by singvestor » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:42 am

Thanks Viktor! For January I have re-evaluated the fitness approach. I used to just go to the gym and do bodyweight training but have since added 2 cardio sessions to the mix. I have already nearly met the January goals. What do you do to stay motivated?

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singvestor
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Monthly update #31: January 2018

Post by singvestor » Sun Feb 04, 2018 6:54 am

Monthly goal review:

- 20 days no alcohol: achieved - 25 days
- 12 times sport: achieved - 16 times

In January I pulled myself together, budgeted for sport and drank less alcohol.
I added running and other cardio to the mix and carefully watched food intake and made sure I got a good mix of veggies, protein and wholegrains.

Also went to bed at 9:30 pm every day. Maintained a 400 calorie deficit for each day and lost about 2 kg as planned.
Also learned to cook a whole bunch of new dishes, as I did mostly cook at home.
Pulling it off for a second month is key, as the habit needs to be instilled. Diet is a lot like personal finance, budget, permanent lifestyle change and sticking with it for the long term is the only way.

ERE Scorecard January

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Saved 56% of income in January. So far, things are going according to plan.

Portfolio update

In January, my portfolio increased by a massive SGD 15,624 (6.2%) to SGD 267,227 (~USD 202,520). This is the first time that my portfolio broke the USD 200,000 barrier.

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Investment vs. plan

I invested SGD 7,022 according to the plan.

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Dividends received

SGD 918.

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Portfolio allocation

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At the beginning of January I added a small cash allocation to the portfolio. Cash and picked stocks should not increase 10% of the total portfolio, as I know I have to stay the course.

Hypothetical monthly income (4% WR)

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SGD 891. For digits within reach.

Outlook

I feel like a graduated from personal finance 201. I know how to calculate time and money spent, I have read all the books, including Jacob’s more than once. Now everything is more or less on autopilot. Quite curious about the new book Jacob mentioned the other day in the forums. I wonder what it might be about. The first book was so comprehensive, so I guess it might be about it a totally different topic?

I have a lot more to learn in the renaissance man department, for example: further improve cooking, level up fitness, take care of my friends and manage my “career”. Goal for February: call 3 people I have not spoken to in a long time. Also intensify French study.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #32: February 2018

Post by singvestor » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:18 am

Monthly goal review:

- 20 days no alcohol: achieved – 20 days
- 12 times sports: achieved: 13 times

February was a short month, so it required discipline. I am quite proud of the achievement .
March will be challenging again – 5 weekends :)

ERE Scorecard February

Saving rate was 55% for February, year-to-date saving rate sits at 55% as well.
Saving rate is bound to go up when my bonus will be paid out in April.

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Portfolio update

In February my portfolio decreased by SGD 1,137 or 0.4% to SGD 266,090 (=USD 200,570). Fresh investments of SGD 6,271 could not compensate paper losses of SGD 7,408.

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Investments vs. plan

II invested SGD 6,271 – just a tiny SGD 29 below the plan.

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Dividends received

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SGD 10.

Portfolio allocation

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When markets went down in early February I reinvested some of the cash. Made a few hundred dollars profit, but will stick to staying the course in the future.

Hypothetical monthly income

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SGD 887

Outlook

A third of my Europe assignment is already complete. I have been enjoying all the perks of Europe life tremendously. Lots of vacation days, relaxed work, so many nice concerts, environmental consciousness, nice nature and great road trips are the advantage, stifling bureaucracy, existential dread and shitty weather are the other side of the coin.

I have stopped reading much about early retirement and instead spend more time reading other things and learning French.

DW

My minimalist wife is happy here and enjoys Europe even more than I do. She earns a nice salary which she mostly invests as I cover the running costs and my company pays for the flat. We were thinking of combining the finances, but were just too lazy to change the separate system we kept up while living together the last few years.

While we keep separate accounts, I consider all my assets to be hers as well, but her growing portfolio is a bit of an upside in our retirement plan which I never thought about.

Life is good!

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Family father
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Re: Monthly update #30: December and full year 2017

Post by Family father » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:58 pm

I really like to see your detailed charts!

Thanks for sharing!
singvestor wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:18 am
shitty weather are the other side of the coin.
You should come to Spain! ;)

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singvestor
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Monthly update #33: March 2018

Post by singvestor » Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:27 am

Monthly goal review:

- 20 days no alcohol: achieved – 20 days
- 12 times sports: achieved: 12 times

This was challenging! I got a bad cold and could not exercise for a week, had friends visiting, went to Paris, had business trips and work dinners – but thanks to “budgeting discipline” I made it.

ERE Scorecard March

Saving rate was 53% for March, year-to-date saving rate sits at 54%.

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Portfolio update

In March my portfolio increased by SGD 846 or 0.3% to SGD 266,936 (=USD 203,084). Fresh investments of SGD 6,140 were largely offset by a decline in portfolio value of SGD 5,294.

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Investments vs. plan

I invested SGD 6,140 – a bit below plan, but April should more than compensate.

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PRIIPS Regulation

I know the European Union means well with their PRIIPS regulation, but it is totally messing up my plan. I cannot buy ETFs in Singapore anymore as my Singaporean broker has locked all Europe based clients out until they can figure out the impact of this legislation.

Existing investments are not affected, but for all new investments I had to sign up with an European broker. This means I must put up with the European tax implications, which sucks. Foreign dividends remain tax free for me, but my holdings with the European broker will be taxed.
Fortunately, there is a way out: my current country does not have a capital gains tax (unless I hold funds/shares less than 6 months) and taxes only dividends.

Thus, I will just buy accumulating ETFs that reinvest and not distribute the dividends and I should be in the clear.
It was a fun project to research the tax implications, find a new broker etc. Bogleheads wiki turned out to be fantastic for this.
The only thing that irks me is that I cannot continue to grow my dividends while in Europe. It is completely irrational of course as the additional dividends are just invested in the background now, but I will miss the comfort of having them appear in my account!

Dividends received

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SGD 159.


Portfolio allocation

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All on track. A bit light on the stock index funds, will buy some more in April.

Hypothetical monthly income

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SGD 890. Not moving much, due to the declining markets this year.

Outlook

Life is good !
Last edited by singvestor on Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:55 am

Hi singvestor,

I just read your journal from the beginning. Very interesting life you have led over the past few years :)

I'm a fellow ENTJ, and find it amusing to find two others here in one morning. Is your current assignment on contract? (does it have an expiration date)

Would you move back to SE Asia after your stint in Europe?

Any updates on coast FI progress? It's a metric I like to track myself. MMM refers to it as "retirement inevitability"

Douglas
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Douglas » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:38 pm

I like your idea of keeping track of days in a month without alcohol. I am keeping track myself now. That and $ / month in alcohol spent

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BRUTE
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by BRUTE » Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:20 pm

brute congratulates Singvestor on achieving his alcohol and sports goals.

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Viktor K
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Viktor K » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:08 am

Nice job on the goals this month. I was reminded in another post that I never replied, but I'm doing the 5-3-1 program.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #34: April 2018

Post by singvestor » Tue May 08, 2018 10:09 am

Thanks Brute, Douglas and Viktor for your encouragement!

To answer 2Birds1Stone's questions:

My contract has an expiry date, it is for 3 years. After that I am guaranteed an equal post back in Asia or (if I want) somewhere else in the world. I would not mind moving back to Asia in the medium term, as I believe it will grow faster as a region than the US or Europe and therefore has more opportunities.

Current coast FI progress is that I could retire at age 72 (assuming 2% inflation and 6% interest). It is improving slowly and I am looking forward to the day I will have “frontloaded” regular retirement at 60 years old. Official German retirement age is now even 67 – no idea how anyone can work that long!
------------------------------------------
Monthly update #34: April 2018

Monthly goal review:

- 20 days no alcohol: achieved– 20 days
- 12 times sports: achieved: 13 times

This time it was hard since I went on a trip to Greece and had lots of obligations at work. I watched my monthly plan like a hawk and budgeted carefully. Rather proud of the result haha!

ERE Scorecard April

Saving rate was 74% for April, lifting the year-to-date saving rate to 65%.
In April my bonus was paid out which meant that I earned a crazy amount of money, so saving 74% was not hard. I spent quite a lot, but it was mostly for gifts for my wife’s parents and my parents.

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Portfolio update

In April my portfolio increased by SGD 35,053 or 13.1% to SGD 301,998 (=USD 225,958). Fresh investments of SGD 30,884 and capital gains of SGD 4,169 contributed. For the first time I broke the SGD 300k barrier, just 10 months after the 200k.

Months needed to reach 100k: 26
Months needed to reach second 100k: 14
Months needed to reach third 100k: 10

Compound interest, but more importantly salary growth contributed.

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Investments vs. plan

Thanks to the bonus I invested SGD 30,884 which was significantly more than the plan (SGD 26,000).

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Dividends received

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SGD 939

Portfolio allocation

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Due to the annoying PRIIPS regulation I had to open a brokerage account in Europe where I am now buying low cost accumulating ETFs to avoid tax on my investments. This complicates the portfolio a little bit and I cannot increase my dividends further, but other than that there are no major disadvantages.

Hypothetical monthly income (4% WR)

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SGD 1,007. Finally 4 figures! Things have been moving nicely ever since I started this journal less than 3 years ago in July 2015.

Outlook

May will be another hard month on the sport challenge, thanks to lots of business and leisure trips. For the first time in my life I will visit the US, looking forward to it!
Last edited by singvestor on Tue May 08, 2018 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Viktor K
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Viktor K » Tue May 08, 2018 10:13 am

Awesome savings rate, your portfolio value chart really highlights the effects of your hard work.

Good luck in the US

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Tue May 08, 2018 8:54 pm

Great progress indeed! If you are in NYC on your travels I would love to buy you a beer.

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singvestor
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by singvestor » Wed May 09, 2018 3:20 pm

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 8:54 pm
Great progress indeed! If you are in NYC on your travels I would love to buy you a beer.
So kind of you! Unfortunately I will not be in New York.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #35: May 2018

Post by singvestor » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:28 pm

Monthly goal review:

- 20 days no alcohol: achieved – 20 days
- 12 times sports: achieved: 12 times

It was not easy! I went for trips and activities, including a visit to the US and a cycling trip from Brussels to Amsterdam. I am quite proud that I achieved the goal five months in a row, which is a big change from last year. I budgeted quite strictly and planned the whole month.

Thoughts about the US

For the first time ever I visited the US, which is strange, given that I grew up with US TV and pop culture like most Europeans… I was on a business trip to fellow forum member Barlotti’s hometown and I was really impressed and surprised.
Bicycle paths crossed a walkable metropolis, great weather, fit people jogged through lush parks… The whole city was clean to Singapore standards and even the border guards were nice! Not at all what I was expecting. Where was the US that is portrayed to us in European media? ;)

From a cost perspective I found it eyewateringly expensive, but probably because we only went to fancypants places for business dinners and lunches. Main courses always seemed to cost between USD 40-70 which seems a lot, given the high prices for tips and drinks. Glad the company paid…

ERE Scorecard May

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Saving rate was 60% for May, year-to-date saving rate is 64%.

I could have done much better, but I enjoyed spending money for trips in Europe, so I have no regrets.

Portfolio update

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In May my portfolio increased by SGD 3,852 or 1.3% to SGD 305,841 (USD 228,400). Fresh investments of SGD 6,582 were offset by paper losses of SGD 2,730.

Investments vs. plan

I invested SGD 6,582 which was more than planned (SGD 6,200).

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Dividends received

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None!

Portfolio allocation

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Nicely in line with plan

Hypothetical monthly income (4% WR)

SGD 1,019. Next big mile stone: SGD 1,560 when the monthly passive income is EUR 1,000 per month at current rates.

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Outlook

June will be a challenging month, as it is full of activities, including in-law visit and business trip to Japan. I have to be as disciplined as possible to make the sport challenge happen and try to resist the cold beers.

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BRUTE
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by BRUTE » Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:32 pm

slow but steady wins the race

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singvestor
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Monthly update #36: June 2018

Post by singvestor » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:53 am

Oh man, my three year anniversary on the forum with the 36th update is the one that will have to start with “this month I completely fell of the wagon…”:

Monthly goal review:

- 20 days no alcohol: absolutely failed – 14 days
- 12 times sports: totally failed: 7 times

Spent one week in Japan for business, brother got married and I also had various visitors, including the in-laws for nearly three weeks. These activities were detrimental to the sport and no-alcohol program.

Nonetheless, with more discipline it would have been possible! I only have myself to blame.
Now I have already restarted the program and have set the goal of 22 days no alcohol and 14 times sport for July.

ERE Scorecard June

Saving rate was 44% for May, year-to-date saving rate is 62%.

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Portfolio update

In June my portfolio decreased by SGD 481 or -0.2% to SGD 305,360 (USD 222,860). Fresh investments of SGD 4,803 were offset by paper losses of SGD 5,284.

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Investments vs. plan

I invested SGD 4,803 which was a lot less than planned (SGD 6,300). What happened?

Unfortunately, I had to buy several flight tickets, hotels and nice restaurant meals for the in-laws and could therefore not save enough. In July I will need to focus on some austerity measures to get back on track.

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Fortunately, I am still ahead of the plan, thanks to a good performance in previous months:

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Dividends received

SGD 233.

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Portfolio allocation

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All good.

Hypothetical monthly income (4% WR)

SGD 1,018 – small decline.

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Three year anniversary of this journal

As mentioned earlier, this is my 36th monthly update and therefore the three-year anniversary of this journal!

Some stats:
Portfolio in monthly update #1: SGD 62,683
Portfolio in monthly update #36: SGD 305,360
Average fresh investments per month: SGD 5,316 (~USD 3,880)
Total capital gains excluding dividends: SGD 17,710
Total fresh investments including reinvested dividends: SGD 191,360 (~USD 139,687)

Small improvement this month: reducing monthly parking costs

I finally quite my fancypants covered garage parking space which I had been renting for EUR 140/month (I know, I know…). It will be replaced with a cheaper option. I admit I only took this step because the buggers raised the rent to EUR 170 per month.

Outlook

In July I will minimize activities and focus on fitness and getting enough sleep. Feeling really exhausted after this crazy month!

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