Singvestor's awakening

Where are you and where are you going?
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singvestor
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Monthly update #9, March 2016

Post by singvestor » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:27 pm

March was a nice month featuring a 9 day cycling trip through Taiwan.

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On Taiwan's great roads

I traveled light with just two small saddle bags on the back of my bike and covered about 430 kilometers. Can imagine that I will do a lot more of this once I am retired! Taiwan turned out to be just about perfect for long distance cycling with a myriad of dedicated bicycle tracks, fantastic infrastructure and wonderful people.

Monthly update March

In March I decided to restructure my monthly European pension savings plan. I had a close look at the fees and realized I paid front load fees of 4% and other assorted fees. So I cashed out the plan and will move it to low cost index funds. More about that in my next update.

Savings rate March

In March I saved a paltry 27.7% of my income. This is mainly because I discontinued my terrible European pension savings plan and things will improve dramatically this month after the restructuring has been completed.

ERE scorecard:

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Savings rate year-to-date sits at 37% - way off my target, but bound to improve in April.

Portfolio performance

The value of my portfolio increased by 6.6% or SGD 5,009 to SGD 80,909. (= USD 59,500) For the first time my portfolio broke the 80,000 barrier and six digits are now finally in sight! March’s gain was made up of portfolio gains of SGD 2,557 and fresh investments of SGD 2,452. This strong month decreased the year-to-date unrealized loss to SGD 2,008.

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Investment targets

In March I invested SGD 2,452, a tiny bit more than I had originally planned. I was hoping to do better, but all this traveling messes with my savings rate.

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Dividends received

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In March USD 110 = SGD 149 of tax-free dividends from my bond index funds made it to my account.

Hypothetical monthly passive income (assuming 4% SWR)

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Total hypothetical monthly passive income increased to SGD 270 this month. It is nice to see this figure climbing up albeit slowly. I have to remember that the power of compound interest will make me see stronger improvements down the road in a few years.

Confessions of my ERE sins

Sadly I have committed quite a few sins in March, lowering the savings rate quite a bit.

* Bought an iphone 6S for my girlfriend's birthday (even though I myself really dislike Apple and use only the terrible corporate windows phone issued for free by my company) (USD 890)
* Splurged on a fancypants bicycling helmet (USD 60)
* Bought new bicycling computers for myself and the gf (USD 70)
* Bought a very nice pair of Nikes which are much more expensive outside the US. I have tons of shoes and do not need an extra pair (USD 90)

Reading this list I realize it is quite face-palm worthy...

Outlook: Austerity April

Needless to say things have to improve in April and I am committed not to buy any unnecessary stuff and not to waste any money this month.
My annual bonus will arrive this month and I will also add my European pension plan cashout to my low cost portfolio, so a lot of things will to my portfolio.

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Re: Monthly update #9, March 2016

Post by jacob » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:53 am

singvestor wrote: Needless to say things have to improve in April and I am committed not to buy any unnecessary stuff...
I've been committed to this every month for about half a year now. Not so much to avoid spending money but to decrease the number of my possessions. Buying is so much easier than selling, giving away, or wearing out, so the only way to the goal w/o throwing out is to stop the influx. I have to go back to September 15, 2015 and July 2nd, 2015 after that to find something that wasn't a necessary tool(*) to do work on the house or a battery or some such. So far the strategy is working. Before that I was buying unnecessary stuff on a regular basis (a couple of times per month).

(*) Snap-ring pliers to fix a jig, wrench to change router bits, router bits to make counter top.

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singvestor
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by singvestor » Tue May 03, 2016 8:13 am

Not bad, Jacob! I wish was as disciplined! This month I only bought one unnecessary item, but it is of course one too many.

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BRUTE
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by BRUTE » Tue May 03, 2016 11:55 am

brute congratulates singvestor on breaking the 80k SGD line. that's a good number. 100k just around the corner! after that it's supposed to be all downhill.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #10, April 2016

Post by singvestor » Wed May 04, 2016 1:28 am

Thanks, Brute! Surprisingly my portfolio increased and now broke the SGD 120k barrier :D

Monthly update #10, April 2016

It is a bit embarrassing to admit, but some years ago before my financial awakening I set up a monthly fund based savings plan. What I did not know at this time was that I had to pay front load fees of 3%-4% and ongoing fees of 1-1.5%. In April I finally exited the plan and transferred all the proceeds to my portfolio.

"Austerity April" announced in my previous post was more or less a success - I did not buy a lot of stuff and was reasonable overall. More like "Reasonable April" than "Austerity April", but ok.

Saving rate April

Saving rate for April was 39.5%. This would have been higher, but I had to budget for my tax payment (billed as a one time lump sum in Singapore) as well as my yearly health insurance premium. These funds sit in my saving account and are not counted, since I have to use them to settle bills in a few months.

ERE scorecard:

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Saving rate is inching up slowly. 38.2% is still not the minimum of 40%, but I will get there hopefully.
Again I received an ok annual bonus and a small salary increase which will be going straight into savings.

Portfolio performance

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The value of my portfolio increased by 57.6% or SGD 46,642 to SGD 127,551 (=USD 94,200). With this boost my portfolio finally passed six digits. April’s gain was made up of capital gains of SGD 1,255, fresh investments of SGD 10,857 and re-investment of my European fund based savings plan of SGD 34,530.

Investment targets

In April I invested SGD 10,857 and I am ahead of the target so far. I did not count the additional investment from the fund based savings plan since this was just a transfer from one investment to the other.

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Dividends received

I got to enjoy SGD 68 in tax free dividends this month. Not a big amount, but still nice.

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Hypothetical monthly passive income (assuming 4% SWR)

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By far my favorite and most motivating chart. It gives me hope that the goal can be achieved.

Minimalism

Recently I have been looking at TV sets and been tempted to buy a huge 60 inch screen. Fortunately reason kicks in just in time every time and I do not buy this lazynessenabling device each time I am tempted by some "good deals". My household is rather minimalist and I am trying not to accumulate things.

Outlook

I realize that I am quite addicted to the journal section on this forum. While I hardly post I come by every day (sometimes more than once) to read the journals. It is nice to see the progress people are making!

In May I am going to travel to Thailand with some old friends from Europe. Should be fun! Other than that I will focus on sport, saving money and reading some good books. Any recommendations?
Last edited by singvestor on Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BRUTE
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by BRUTE » Wed May 04, 2016 3:48 am

wow, good month for singvestor! brute suggests to find a bunch of free hobbies so luxurious singapore lifestyle doesn't take all that money.

suggestions:
- reading scifi books (decades worth of great stuff)
- bodyweight exercise
- hiking
- some kind of craft that can be done at home, like writing, knitting
- board games with friends and colleagues
- cooking. extremely rewarding hobby, because singvestor can do it everyday and it saves a ton of money in singapore not to eat out

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FBeyer
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Re: Monthly update #10, April 2016

Post by FBeyer » Wed May 04, 2016 4:43 am

singvestor wrote:...
Minimalism

Recently I have been looking at TV sets and been tempted to buy a huge 60 inch screen. Fortunately reason kicks in just in time every time and I do not buy this lazynessenabling device each time I am tempted by some "good deals". My household is rather minimalist and I am trying not to accumulate things.

Outlook

I realize that I am quite addicted to the journal section on this forum. While I hardly post I come by every day (sometimes more than once) to read the journals. It is nice to see the progress people are making!
...
I think it's rather important to ask yourself then: why do I think I need a TV?
You could very well need one. You could also very well just be subliminating any pent up frustration.

I, for one, get a lot of flak fot not having watched TV since I was 16 (34 now) and I can relate to the feeling of being disjoint, so one could be tempted back into watching tv to 'fit in'. If there are recurring things you find yourself ogling you should really reflect on why this is.
I'll provide an anecdotal example: I'm often tempted to look at 'design' cookware and 'design' furniture.
I could literally spend hours 'window shopping' on the net looking at functional minimalist chairs and tea kettles.
I HAVE to accept that I have become sensitive to the aesthetics of my surroundings, rather than being functionally (rationally) detached as I used to.
It's not enough for me any more that things simply work, they should be beautiful too.
It was a rather surprising finding for someone as 'detached' as I am. Now I need to gauge how long this infatuation will last :lol:

So: Why do you NEED a tv?

Edit: if you want to look into board games, shoot me a private message, I can talk for hours about board games :ugeek:

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singvestor
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Re: Brute and FBeyer

Post by singvestor » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:00 am

Thanks for your comments, Brute and FBeyer!

@Brute: Really like your list! Lots of good ideas!

Regarding Sci Fi Books: Can you recommend me some?

Normally I read novels or crime fiction for fun but I like a good sci-fi book now and then.

I have read the following sci-fi books in the last few months:
- Jennifer Foehner Wells: Fluency | Confluence [quite interesting with some fresh concepts but overall not so believable]
- Kim Stanley Robinson: Aurora [Exploring generation ships - interesting]
- Neil Stevenson: Seveness [Had to stop after finishing about 2/3 - no idea why this book is so hyped]
- Sarah Lotz: The three | Day four [not bad]
- Ernest Cline: Ready Player One [highly rated, but all that 80s pop culture name dropping geekery started to irritate me]
- Sean Platt: Yesterday's gone Season 1-3 [Starts great but quickly downhill in Season 2-3]
- Hugh Howey: Shift and Wool [Really innovative but deteriorating a bit after the first book]

I did not like any of them particularly much... I like stories set in the near future, ideally some first contact story like "Sphere"

Do you have some good ones to recommend?

Bodyweight exercises

Good idea! I am a bit ashamed to admit that my condo building has a huge free lap pool so there is no excuse to spend money on exercise. I try and do my hotel room / prison cell workout on a regular basis (5 rounds of burpees, mountain climbers, squats, rope, pushups, situps).

Saving money by cooking

Here things get a bit tricky. I love cooking but always end up spending more than when eating out. The relaxation and fun of cooking is of course worth it. The reason for this is that Singapore has extremely cheap food. Here are two examples from near my house:

Home made shrimp and pork dumplings with vegetables in broth: cost SGD 3 (= USD 2.2) Also pictured: cup of coffee with milk, no sugar: SGD 1.4 (= USD 1):

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Chicken Briyani: cost SGD 6 (= USD 4.3)

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Somehow Singapore has very cheap food given the high cost for everything else.

Board games: great idea! I invited some friends for dinner at my place on Saturday and having a board game session and some wine after sounds nice

@FBeyer: thanks for the message!

It is a good way to look at the TV purchase. I used your method to analyze if I really need a TV and have decided to use the existing 44 inch HD ready TV which I got for free for the time being. If it ever dies I might upgrade or go TVless.

I think the main reason for wanting a TV was my love for all gadgets and the fact that I was not allowed to watch TV when I was young. Hippy parents!

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Monthly update #11, May 2016

Post by singvestor » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:50 am

May was a nice and also brutal month.

What was nice: going to a small island in Thailand with old friends
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Leaving the island

It felt good to reconnect with my friends and to spend time with them.
I did not care so much for the island itself. Quite crowded and not as peaceful as compared to the Philippines.

Unfortunately I also had to face a tough private issue in the month which I do not really want to go into. All is ok now, but for 2-3 weeks I was very depressed. Things are a lot better now and I have regained clarity of the situation.

But now, back to business:

Monthly update May

in May I saved a paltry 33.3% of my income because of my travels and lack of discipline, bringing the overall year-to-date savings rate to 37.6%. This has to improve in June.

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Portfolio performance

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In May the value of my portfolio increased by 3.7% or SGD 4,746 to SGD 132,297. May’s gain was made up of capital gains of SGD 2,026 and fresh investments of SGD 2,720.

Investments vs. plan

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All is going rather smoothly and I am now SGD 1,744 ahead of my plan, after having invested SGD 21,544 year-to-date.

Portfolio allocation

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All good at the moment...

Hypothetical monthly passive income at 4% SWR

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I feel like in the middle of an ocean, slowly rowing on a boat with so much further to go.
I have to remember that the engine of compound interest that is silently purring in the background gets stronger every month and will help me get to the shore faster.

It's official: my resolutions for June

For June I have to set some targets to improve quality of life and happiness and increase the savings rate as a positive side effect:

June Resolutions:
- Exercise at least 12 times (swim, gym, cycle or body weight exercises)
- At least 20 days without drinking alcohol
- Learn to cook at least 3 new dishes

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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by BRUTE » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:17 pm

true disciprine come from within!

brute agrees on Seveneves. he did finish it, but it was kind of a burden. definitely one of Stephenson's worse books. has Singvestor read/listened to the other ones? brute is especially fond of Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, and most of all, Diamond Age. but most of his earlier stuff is great, too.

other scifi authors brute enjoys are William Gibson and Heinlein. but other books are fine, too. brute was merely suggesting scifi because he'd been reading scifi at the time ;)

the cheap restaurant situation in SG is quite interesting. it might be due to the high number of malay/chinese/indian migrant workers, who bring a pretty high quality, yet cheap cuisine. it might actually not make financial sense to cook at home for singvestor.

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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Augustus » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:18 pm

BRUTE wrote:true disciprine come from within!

brute agrees on Seveneves. he did finish it, but it was kind of a burden. definitely one of Stephenson's worse books. has Singvestor read/listened to the other ones? brute is especially fond of Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, and most of all, Diamond Age. but most of his earlier stuff is great, too.

other scifi authors brute enjoys are William Gibson and Heinlein. but other books are fine, too. brute was merely suggesting scifi because he'd been reading scifi at the time ;)
I was stoked when you guys suggested sci-fi novels. Then the floor dropped out on me when you didn't like Seveneves, I consider it one of Stephenson's best. Not many writers can pull off an epic, and I love how humanity nearly eradicates itself because it can't control it's animal urges, that one really struck home for me.

With that in mind, I would suggest the following novels, but we may have drastically different tastes:
Rendezvous with Rama
Spin
Dune
Hyperion
Diamond Age
Cryptonomicon
Ringworld
House of Suns
The James S A Corey novels
Water knife

Hopefully a well rounded list of classics.

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singvestor
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by singvestor » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:25 pm

Thanks Brute and Augustus!

Have read quite a bit of Augustus' list as well! I liked the world building in the James S A Corey novels and Spin was quite innovative as well.

Will read Diamond Age next since you both recommend it and Waterknife next since it sounds interesting. Thanks for the the recommendations :)

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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by BRUTE » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:41 pm

Augustus wrote:Then the floor dropped out on me when you didn't like Seveneves, I consider it one of Stephenson's best. Not many writers can pull off an epic, and I love how humanity nearly eradicates itself because it can't control it's animal urges, that one really struck home for me.
brute isn't much of a malthusian, so the whole theme of humanity/hubris didn't really jive with him. it also felt like the book was 3 different stories that were almost completely independent, and they didn't play well together. each of them had interesting parts, but none of them felt as intriguing as any of the other Stephenson stories. oh, brute also loved Anathem. wow.

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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Augustus » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:34 pm

singvestor wrote:Thanks Brute and Augustus!

Have read quite a bit of Augustus' list as well! I liked the world building in the James S A Corey novels and Spin was quite innovative as well.

Will read Diamond Age next since you both recommend it and Waterknife next since it sounds interesting. Thanks for the the recommendations :)
I found water knife to be a slow starter, but by the end could not put it down. I actually think he's on to something, with water shortages having a much larger impact than temperature changes in the near future, although both go hand in hand.

Diamond Age is amazing, an all time favorite.

@brute: not Malthusian, but think it's kind of hilarious, and accurate, that in a truly existential crisis, trivial cliques and infighting would still prevail against common interests. Lots of parallels to the real world there. Human population of 7 all alone in an inhospitable location was great fun for the imagination as well. But I see your points.

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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by jacob » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:27 am

Trigger warning: I loved Seveness

Other recs:
Windup Girl - Bacigalupi (year 2300, biopunk/scifi)
Rollback - Sawyer (year 2075, SETI and age reversion/scifi)
Reamde - Stephenson (present, mmorpg/int crime/thriller)
Little Brother - Doctorow (present, surveillance/teenage/thriller)
The Mote in God's Eye(*) - Pournelle/Niven (year 3000, first contact/scifi)

Also see viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6374

(*) If nothing else than to learn the expression: "On the one hand ... on the other hand ... but on the gripping hand ... "

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BRUTE
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by BRUTE » Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:50 am

@jacob: brute is not surprised, seveneves being all about the end of the world and heroic physicists that have to combat the stupidity and infighting of regular humans ;) the difference is that brute isn't very invested in humanity. species extinct? everything will be fine. brute prefers the "little drama", like in Reamde.

by the way, the whole point of "SeveneveS" is that it is the same spelled backwards. really easy to remember the spelling that way.

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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by thrifty++ » Thu Jun 02, 2016 2:14 pm

singvestor wrote: I feel like in the middle of an ocean, slowly rowing on a boat with so much further to go.
I have to remember that the engine of compound interest that is silently purring in the background gets stronger every month and will help me get to the shore faster.
Your NW actually looks like its growing pretty fast to me. Nice work!

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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by inchicago » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:37 pm

Hi singvestor-My parents weren't hippies but no TV as a kid for me, either. I still could care less for TV. I just don't have enough time to bother with it.

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singvestor
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by singvestor » Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:07 pm

Hi inchicago, the Hippies comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek, my parents were not real hippies, but definitely a bit overprotective of the kids with regards to TV. This was just a small complaint, my relationship with them could not be better and I am tremendously grateful for everything they have done for me in my life

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Monthly update #12, June 2016

Post by singvestor » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:12 pm

Hooray, 1 year anniversary of my little journal!

June Resolutions update:

- Exercise at least 12 times: Achieved. Exercised 13 times: 5 times swimming, 8 times gym)
- At least 20 days without drinking alcohol: Achieved (21 times)
- Learn to cook at least 3 new dishes: Achieved: learned a lot of new dishes (e.g. Cantonese steamed whole fish, home made pasta, Chinese sauteed mushrooms).

My fitness regimen was motivated by Brute's Southpark video which he posted. It definitely inspired some discriprine.

Science fiction progress

Read Rollback and it was quite interesting. Am about halfway through Water Knife and like it quite a bit so far. Definitely something innovative. Started Diamond Age but have been making slow progress so far.

Life in general

Feel like I am lacking a lot of "inner peace" at the moment. Am not the esoteric/spiritual type, so I tend to handle personal up and downs with lots of reflection, introspection and rationalization, which then sometimes spirals into some form of mild depression. Things are getting a bit better.

Monthly update June

Saved 34.8% percent of income, not terribly good. Main reason was the need to save a bit of money for an engagement ring. Spent about 1.4 weeks of salary on said ring. Not sure if I should really get engaged, will see.

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Portfolio performance

Ups and downs because of "Brexit" made the portfolio rise and fall, in the end my portfolio increased by SGD 1,468 to SGD 133,765 (= USD 99,424). The small gain was made up of fresh investments of SGD 2,692 and a paper loss of SGD 1,224.

I was amused at Jakob's comment on his page mentioning measuring net worth in cars. I calculated my portfolio to be worth 2.8 brand new BMW 2 Series Cabrios or 5.8 Opel Corsas in German prices. Needless to say I am not planning on ever getting a car in Singapore.

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Investments vs. plan

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All good, but I need to invest a bit more. So far SGD 1,936 ahead of plan. I need to step it up and become FI faster.

Dividends received

In June I received SGD 150 in tax free dividends. It should be more, but my second broker mailed me a cheque for my dividend and it only arrived in July. Receiving a cheque for a dividend in the mail seems so 1980s, but ok. July's dividends are therefore forecasted to be a new record for me.

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Hypothetical monthly income (4% SWR)

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SGD 446 per month - crawling up a hill.

Outlook

Career wise I am doing well and things are overall good. Still I am stuck in my current job and I do not get much inspiration out of it. I am fighting the feeling by doing new things, increasing my team and responsibility and trying for new experiences. In the end I know all that is moot and working for my current company is pointless in the end.

I just have to navigate some life challenges which are always harder than ERE as there are no formulas and things are messy.
July should be better!

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