Singvestor's awakening

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singvestor
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Singvestor's awakening

Post by singvestor » Tue Jul 21, 2015 10:12 pm

Nice to meet all of you!

My name is Singvestor, I am a 33 year old European guy living in Singapore. After some mad years I have been slowly awaking to the reality of my finances and it has been becoming increasingly clear: I want to be FI.

I have not admitted this to anyone before and I hope to find some good feedback and likeminded people here.

My journey so far is quite embarassing, but I want to be brutally honest.

Yearly development of income, savings and taxes

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Note: All figures are in SGD. 1 SGD = 0.75 USD.

And this is how I pissed away a quarter of a million Singapore dollars in the first five years of working.

After graduating I earned an okay salary but spent it all immediately and lived recklessly paycheck to paycheck. I had very little expenses but was struggling very much to getting used to working.

Flying to Europe over the long weekend? Why not! New DSLR? Why not? 300 Singapore dollars for a night of partying? Why not!
I wish I could punch younger self in the face.

Between 2009-mid 2011 I lost quite a bit of grip on my life, dating a very difficult person while at the same time travelling for business like a mad man.

Born as an introvert I had to adapt to being highly sociable, leading a small team, travelling all across Asia, meeting new people all the time. I powered through but after a whole day of full-on social interaction with people from various cultures I was exhausted. I had started drinking quite a lot to relax in the evenings and I had gained about 10kg since graduation. Waking up somewhere in China in a hotel room with beer cans on the floor, this type of stuff.

I present you my "table of shame"

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As you can see I had no expenses (living rent-free) and still spent all the money.

The awaking begins with some first clueless steps

Somewhere in mid 2012, I realized what had happened to me the last few years. I was fat (1.79m, 82kg) had nothing to show for 4 years of working. I had no goals, but decided to get back in shape, limit beer consumption and not live paycheck to paycheck. I moved into my own appartment which is expensive as hell in Singapore and stopped spending money aimlessly.

Early 2013, I finally made a plan and rediscovered my deep love for Excel and graphs. I decided to save SGD 100,000 which seemed like an impossibly high number at this time.

Clueless about investing I opened an online trading account and bought some shares of companies that I found promising. And had a very messy portfolio by end-2013.

Life changer: Discovering FI

End of 2013 marks a big change in my life when I finally discovered proper financial planning. It all came at once: Mr Moneymoustache, ERE, Bogleheads, A Random Walk Down Wallstreet and especially Your Money or Your Life.

I was intrigued. I started using taxis less, biked to the train station, lost the excess weight and replaced some silly expenses (SGD 1,200 / year gym) with cheaper alternatives (SGD 5 per entry gym)

Needless to say I was very pissed at younger self. Living in a low tax country with no capital gains or dividend taxes and wasting all my money. What an idiot I was.

I created a new target allocation:

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and moved money into index funds.

It was a painful journey, but slowly the portfolio is growing.

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After trucking along in 2014 and the first half of 2015 I realized that I am not badass enough. I discovered the relationship of saving-rate and speed to retirement.

I realized I need to be a lot more badass to get out of the corporate 9-5.

And so it begins! Let's get this journal started!

SimpleLife
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by SimpleLife » Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:53 am

Congrats! Well done. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and is made one step at a time. I presume you are in the tech field. What prompted the move from Europe to Singapore?

Jande05
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Jande05 » Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:31 pm

Hey, nice overview! And props for coming forward with the brutal truth. I can very much relate, I'm about to post my own first Journal post, and its also going to be an embarrassing moment :D So, if its any comfort then you are definitely not alone ! But hey, you've made the decision to change things and it'll be cool to see the progress from here. Looking forward to following your way to FI !

Do you have any idea how much you will need to amass to consider yourself FI, and how long it will take?

Dave
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Dave » Fri Jul 24, 2015 12:07 pm

No shame in the past - it is already done. What is important is what you are doing right now, and you seem to be heading in a very good direction!

Welcome, and good luck!

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singvestor
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Monthly update #1: July 2015

Post by singvestor » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:49 pm

Thanks for your friendly welcome!

Before I dive into the monthly update, I would like to answer your questions:

@SimpleLife: I moved to Asia because it had huge potential for adventure/opportunity and was very different from Europe.
I am not in the tech field and have a master's degree in social sciences from an unimportant European uni.

@Jande05: I have been thinking about the right FI amount for a while. In my current situation this might be SGD 1,200,000 (~USD 875,000).

Personality type

I noticed that many people here post their Myers Briggs results. After never having taken the test before I took it twice on different sites and learned that I am ENTJ-A. Descriptions of this personality type are ranging from "Commander" to "Field Marshall" and I find this quite worrying. Definitely gave me a lot to think about.

Monthly update July

Saving rate for July was 27% (terrible).
I tend to invest all my bonuses which brings up the overall savings rate, but I still spend too much on a monthly basis.

All in all I invested SGD 2,440 (~USD 2,160) into my portfolio and SGD 540 (~USD 390) into my set-it-and-forget-it fund-based retirement plan.

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The overall savings rate for the year is 35.2%

Investment Portfolio update

I have been trucking along to my investment plan from the beginning of the year. Now that I have been slowly awaking to the realities of ERE I feel it is not Badass enough, but here is the status:

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Value of the portfolio increased by 1.5% or SGD 923. This was made up by a decrease of portfolio value by a whopping SGD 1,517 and fresh investments of SGD 2,440. China is rattling the markets and stocks are selling at cheaper prices. Nice!

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These days my portfolio is quite a plain vanilla index fund affair, if you want to see the details you can have a look at my singvestor blog which I have been writing for over a year now. More focus on investing in Singapore and less on extreme early retirement.

Monthly spending behavior

I eliminated as much unnecessary spending as possible, as I have a holiday in Europe coming up. Unfortunately I have to admit that I booked a cheap ticket (SGD 440/USD 320) to Japan to enjoy 9 days of holidays there just one month after coming back from 9 days in Europe. Furthermore I booked all my hotels in Europe where I stuck to smaller local guesthouses and inns.

Reading this I feel quite ridiculous. I do not value possessions much and don't even own a TV, but when it comes to traveling I really cannot resist. I do not travel very expensively, I would estimate the overall cost of the Europe trip to be SGD 1,120 for the flight, SGD 450 for hotels (shared with my partner) and about SGD 500 for the rest. All in all about SGD 2,070 or USD 1,500 for 9 days in Europe including flights. Not cheap, but overall relatively reasonable.

To lessen the impact of these trips I have drastically reduced spending in July and my only big ticket expenses were a yearly health insurance premium of SGD 6,100 (~USD 4,450) and a nice present for my mom (SGD 320 / USD 230). The health insurance is high, but has zero deductibles and covers all possible illnesses and accidents as well as disability. As a European guy I wanted to get a health insurance which matches the system there. Not very financially sound, but it offers tremendous peace of mind and free doctor visits whenever I feel like it.

No problem to hit the saving target for July from earlier this year despite all that, which is why I feel it is too low a target.

Hypothetical monthly passive income

To stay motivated I have created this graph for myself showing my hypothetical monthly income with a 4% withdrawal rate:

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It surely is motivating to see the number crawl up!

steveo73
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by steveo73 » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:36 pm

Looks good to me. I would focus on your saving rate. I think its a great metric to track because it is something that has a significant impact on how quickly you reach FI and its something that is really based on how well you performed over the course of the current year.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #2: August 2015

Post by singvestor » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:54 pm

Another month flashed by quickly. In August I took a vacation to Europe which was lots of fun, but also quite expensive despite booking cheaper guest houses and doing my best to keep cost under control.

Travelling as a saving rate killer

Another holiday to Japan is coming up this month and I am realizing more and more that my urge to travel and explore really hurts my saving rate.
Travelling while not retired means optimizing public holidays, booking accommodation during peak times and generally being forced to optimize for speed not for cost. Slow travel would be a much better and way cheaper experience which I am looking forward to during retirement.

Monthly update

Saving rate for August was a shameful 25%, bringing the overall saving rate year-to-date to 35.1%. Definitely not a number I could be content with.

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As Dave has suggested above I will focus much more on the saving rate. I will try to get it up to 40% for this year and then hopefully find some ways to increase it even higher later. 40% is hardly extreme enough and will force me to spend much more time left working so I have quite a lot of optimizing to do.

Portfolio performance and investing

At the beginning of the year I set myself an investment target, which seems a bit too low in retrospect. Here is how I am tracking so far:

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Despite fresh investments the worth of my portfolio declined by SGD 1,342 or -2.1% to SGD 61,341. This was made up of fresh investments of SGD 2,140 which were offset by paper losses of SGD 3,482.

Main reason was the bad performance of Asian indexes because of the weakening Chinese economy. If you want to see details of my portfolio you can view it on my website.

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Hypothetical monthly income

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Outlook

All in all I feel like I am still spending too much money and having no discipline. I make a lot of excuses for myself and fall back into bad behavioral patterns. My goal for September is to declutter my apartment and to get rid of things I do not use/wear anymore. Minimalism is very appealing to me and I get stressed when I enter my apartment and see the huge amount of things I have gathered over the years.

Some years ago all my belongings fit into two suit cases, now my partner and I suddenly have about 20-30 boxes worth of things...

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singvestor
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Monthly update #3: September 2015

Post by singvestor » Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:04 am

Feels like yesterday I started on this forum and now it is already time for monthly update #3!

Travelling as saving rate killer - episode II

I just finished an 8 day trip to Japan and I have no big regrets, despite the rather large monetary impact. Japan is not cheap and while I lessened the impact with renting a bicycle in Kyoto instead of taxi, Airbnb instead of those Japanese expensive hotels and very local food instead of fancy meals I was not able to resist the wonderful craft beers, late night sushi joints and so on.

I can really recommend this country to anyone and will definitely try to spend some more time there during retirement.

Monthly update

Since I embarked on an austerity program before the holiday I managed to achieve a savings rate of 36.5% for September. Nothing to be particularly proud of, but better than last month.

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Looking at this development and the saving rate I regret my fancypants apartment quite a bit. I should have rather elected to stay in a crappy, cheap place since I am working all day anyway. The only issue is that cheap apartments do not really exist in Singapore, which is the world's most pricey city in many studies.

Yearly goals

So far I am quite on-track with regards to my not-ambitious-enough yearly goals. I will try to exceed them if possible:

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Portfolio performance

In September the value of my portfolio increased by SGD 2,755 or 4.5% to a total of SGD 64,096. This was made up of fresh investments of SGD 2,973 which were reduced by a paper loss of SGD 218.

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Hypothetical monthly income (4% SWR)

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SGD 214 per month, it is nice to see that number climbing up.

Outlook and comments

I am definitely still spending too much money and at the same time I have been very bored with my job. After four years in the same role I feel that some change is necessary and I would like to get posted outside Singapore for a while. The ideal scenario would be being delegated to another Asian country on my existing Singapore salary. This would put an 80% saving rate into easily achievable range.

Such contracts used to be extremely common in my company, but are now very hard to come by because of the difficult state of major Asian economies (especially China) and the lackluster performance of my company.

Still I am committed to the program and I hope to lock in a 40% saving rate for 2015. To achieve this goal I will continue to keep my spending as low as possible in October.

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singvestor
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by singvestor » Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:13 am

Quick PS: The de-cluttering efforts announced in my last post were quite successful. I got rid of quite a number of old clothes and items that I do not need anymore. Minimalism definitely appeals and it is liberating to own less.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #4: October 2015

Post by singvestor » Sun Nov 01, 2015 8:19 pm

October was a weird month.

The company flew me to Europe for a leadership training, a privilege which I enjoyed at the beginning, but it led me to deeply question whether corporate life is for me. The stories and topics keep repeating and I really miss putting my brain to use. Even at the so called leadership training we focused very much on becoming better employees, leading our teams better, dealing with change etc.

Should leadership not be about deep thinking, challenging the way we do things and transforming the company for the better? No good books were read or recommended, no deeper discussion took place.

Having said that it was not all bad at all. I made a number of new friends, ate and drank like royalty and got to meet all the big bosses. When asked to write a letter to ourselves in a sealed envelope at the end of the meeting I wrote to myself that I should be more extreme and drastically re-evaluate my life choices.

Monthly update

I saved 29% of my pre-tax income when including investment income. Excluding re-investing investment income the figure was only 23%. The figure was lower than usual since I have decided to build up some cash savings outside my investment account so I can change jobs easier. I do not want to count this as part of my "official saving rate".

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Yearly goals

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Very well on track with my goals. Overall not very challenging. For next year I will set goals worthy of this forum, I promise!

Portfolio performance and investing

The value of my portfolio increased by 7.4% or SGD 4,756 to SGD 68,852. This gain consisted of SGD 2,095 in capital gains and SGD 2,661 of fresh investments.

(Furthermore I invested SGD 540 in my set-it-and-forget-it pension plan.)

Portfolio value is increasing slowly and steadily:

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Hypothetical monthly income (4% SWR)

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It motivates me greatly to see this figure creeping up.

Outlook

The year is coming to an end slowly and will achieve the goals set. Still I have to think about some more drastic measures for the coming year. Clearly a further change in mindset is strongly needed.

I still am doing a lot of things that hurt my ERE performance and that probably deserve ridicule.

Confessions of my ERE sins

* Spending SGD 40 a week to get my apartment cleaned
* Taking 6 international holidays this year, including 17 flights and 43 hotel nights
* Ordered a tailored cashmere overcoat from my favorite tailor (USD 260) this week
* Spent USD 60 on a pair of loudly colored Nikes last weekend because I liked those as a kid and could not afford them

Awakening is not complete and a lot of behavioral change is needed.

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sea
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by sea » Sun Nov 01, 2015 11:10 pm

I really like your hypothetical monthly income bar chart. I might need to copy that idea on my own journal when I start one.

You sound very hard on yourself for not being extreme enough. These things can take time, and I look at your charts and see your savings rates going up (except for 2012) and meeting your investment targets. What kind of challenging goals are you planning on setting for next year? Do you have a particular savings rate in mind?

llorona
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by llorona » Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:10 am

My favorite part of your entry was the confession. Everyone should have sins and guilty indulgences, otherwise what's the fun?

Looking at your yearly overview chart, everything is going in the right direction. Look how much you've increased your savings rate over the past two years!

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singvestor
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Monthly update #5: November 2015

Post by singvestor » Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:36 am

Thanks sea and llorona for your encouragement! My plan is to achieve a 40% savings rate for 2016, but I of course dream of a 70% rate sometime in the future. Currently I am trying to avoid all lifestyle inflation as my career is progressing which will hopefully prop up the saving rate.

Monthly update #5: November 2015

November was more happening than usual. Flew to Europe again for a company meeting, but had to take the journey in economy class. Many colleagues pitied me for this "hardship" and I really wonder how spoilt people must have become to complain about something like that.

Corporate life is quite meaningless, but I still had some fun visiting China and Europe this year and working with some interesting people there.

The tragedy of the commons

Working in Asia for eight years has changed my view of the world, mostly for the worst. I am quite concerned to see the tragedy of the commons unfold in front of my eyes every day, with natural resources being recklessly depleted and nobody seeming to care. Malaysia has turned into a gigantic palm oil and pulp & paper plantation, Indonesia is burning its forest clouding Singapore in smog etc. Driving through Shanghai feels like a dystopian vision of the future in so many ways - I digress.

Monthly update

I saved a terrible 26% of my income in November bringing the year-to-date saving rate to 35.6%.

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Yearly goals

Finally some good news to report: I beat my yearly goal already in November and everything I will save from now on will be a bonus. Needless to say I aim to end the year with as much savings as possible. Definitely not resting now!

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Portfolio performance and investing

November was not the greatest month for my little portfolio. After a solid October, the value of my portfolio increased by SGD 412 or 0.6% to SGD 69,264. This small gain was composed of fresh investments of SGD 2,183 which were offset by paper losses of SGD 1,771.

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portfolio value is slowly creeping up, but things take so long , because of my bad spending habits.

Hypothetical monthly income (4% SWR)

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Only small improvement this month because of the difficult Asian markets.

Confessions of my ERE sins, Part II

As always I sinned a fair bit...

* got two shirts tailored when picking up my new cashmere coat (SGD 80)
* Booked a Southeast Asia trip for my partner and my parents to spend some fun, quality time together in February (SGD 1,700)
* Ordered 38 bottles of very nice Wine and shipped them from Europe. We can do this at a subsidized rate via our company, as Wines are crazily expensive here (SGD 800)

In December I will try to behave a lot better...

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singvestor
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Monthly update #6: December 2015 & Full Year Review

Post by singvestor » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:37 am

2015 has come to an end. I created a list of things achieved and found some interesting facts:

Traveling: the saving rate killer

I went on holidays to 10 different countries (Australia, Austria, China, Croatia, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Slovenia, Sri Lanka), took 17 flights and spent 43 nights in hotels in 2015. In addition I went on 9 business trips to 8 different countries, spending an additional 40 nights in hotels.

Obviously my love of traveling is really harming my goal of ERE and I have to think on how to improve this. In contrast traveling for business is quite good for the saving rate: I hardly have to spend any money during these trips.

Monthly update: December 2015

Saving rate for December was 39.5% despite a long vacation to Sri Lanka.

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This brings the yearly saving rate to 36.1%. I am definitely not pleased with this and hope to achieve my minimum rate of 40% next year.
If I had not been going on so many vacations the saving rate would definitely be a lot higher, but then seeing the world is why I moved to Asia for. I think I will much rather cut all other expenses before reducing traveling. Difficult!

Portfolio performance

In December the value of my portfolio increased by SGD 5,686 or 8.2% to SGD 74,950. This gain was composed of SGD 6,209 in fresh investments which were offset by a paper loss of SGD 523.

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As dividends are getting more substantial, I will have to introduce them as a new category. Do they count as income?
Or should I just count them as appreciation of my portfolio once I reinvest them?

Reviewing my full year targets for 2015 - did I achieve them?


At the beginning of 2015 I announced my goal to invest a total of SGD 31,400 into my portfolio in 2015, which at the time seemed like an ambitious plan. A year after I can confirm that I definitely exceeded my target and invested a total SGD 39,566 during the year.

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Yes, I know... The original plan was hardly ambitious enough. I will come up with something better for this year.

Dividends received

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As mentioned dividends have increased last year and I will report them better from now on.

All in all I received SGD 1,608 in dividends this year and the good news is that they are tax free in Singapore as capital gains are not taxable. Very nice!

Hypothetical monthly income (4% SWR)

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It is quite encouraging to see this chart. Makes me feel hope to escape this office life one day.

Goals for 2016... Coming soon

I will finalize the goals for 2016 soon and will then post an update soon...

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singvestor
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Goals for 2016

Post by singvestor » Fri Jan 08, 2016 4:31 am

How did you start the new year?

I accidentally slept through new year's eve as I was tired after a day of hiking in a mountainous part of Sri Lanka. Think I am getting old ... Woke up at 7 on new year's day without any hangover.

The views in Sri Lanka were very nice though:

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Goals for 2016

Last year I planned to invest SGD 31,400 and ended up investing SGD 39,566. This year I have decided to invest at least SGD 41,600 and hope to significantly exceed this plan again. On top of this I will invest SGD 6,500 into my old European retirement fund which I started before finding ERE when I still thought I had to work until 65. I also want to increase my emergency savings by SGD 2,000.

Total saving goal for 2016: SGD 50,080
Target saving rate for 2016: 40.2%
Realized saving rate for 2015: 36.1%

Investment schedule

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Thoughts about the targets

The target does not seem very aggressive as it is only a small step up from the realized savings for this year. I will do my best to exceed it again. A saving rate of 40.2% is nice and definitely way ahead of the average population, but I know that a saving rate of 40% does not get me to retirement very fast and I only feel that saving rates of 50%+ are worthy of the ERE label.

On the bright side I plan to save more this year than I earned in my first full year of full time work!

I do expect a dip in my bonus this year as well and no salary increment, both thanks to the disastrous performance of the company I work for. My job itself is secure and the company has prevailed through 2 world wars and many recessions/crises/crashes, so I am not so worried about job security.

Unfortunately I am terribly bored at my current job and have applied to different companies and have been talking to my bosses about a possible assignment in another country with my current company. Should any of these opportunities arise I would be receiving a lot higher salary and I would be able to boost my saving rate into ERE territory.

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BRUTE
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by BRUTE » Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:37 am

brute enjoys singvestors graphs verily. keep it up, human.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #7: January 2016

Post by singvestor » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:42 am

Thanks for the encouragement Brute! Glad you like the graphs!

Monthly update #7, January 2016

January is over and already now the mood in the office reached new lows. China slowdown can be felt and Singapore's stock index is hovering at levels last seen in 2009. We are supposed to stop all business traveling, cut cost and focus on "core business" which means filling out unnecessary Excel sheets for the global head office.

On the bright side I have lots and lots of time to read, exercise and spend time with my girlfriend and friends.

Monthly update

In January I saved 39.7% of my income. This does not including some extra cash savings I made for paying my taxes later this year. Overall I have been quite reasonable with my spending. Fortunately I got a mini salary increase of SGD 160 per month thanks to some changes in Singapore compensation policies.

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Yearly plan update

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I invested SGD 2,735 which is a bit more than the planned SGD 2,450. Furthermore SGD 540 was paid into my European fund based investment plan.

Portfolio performance

The value of my portfolio decreased by SGD 1,648 or -2.2% to SGD 73,302. The decrease was made up of a paper loss of a whopping SGD 4,383 which was offset by fresh investments of SGD 2,735.

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Dividends received

The good part of living in Singapore? Tax free dividends. In January I received SGD 159 in dividends, which was about double the amount received in January last year.

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Hypothetical monthly income

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A bit lower than last month, but overall things are still looking up. Looking at this chart I am at the 10% mark of a comfortable life in Thailand which SGD 2,400 / month could easily pay for. Having spent quite a lot of time in Thailand I can of course say that I would go nuts if having to live there full-time...

Outlook

I feel like I am coasting along. The dropping equity prices and losses in my portfolio do not bother me much as I feel I am still in the accumulation phase and can buy more for less. Dividend yields are increasing and even the Singaporean index currently sits at 3.7% - not so bad.

Work is still tremendously boring but I am glad for having a well-paid job during the difficult economic situation here in Singapore. Still I am really fed up and thinking about maybe doing a short sabbatical sometime this year.

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singvestor
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Monthly update #8, February 2016

Post by singvestor » Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:06 am

In February I made use of the Chinese New Year vacation to spend 8 days in the sunny Philippines.

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View from the hotel’s empty beach.

It was a beautiful time, but when I came back to the office I felt it was quite difficult to adjust. Holidays of just a week are not so effective as I take a few days to calm down my nerves which are frayed from office life.

Breaking the calorie bank

I also drank way too many beers and ate too much unhealthy food during the trip. I blame the long Spanish and US-American colonial period for making the food in the Philippines rather unhealthy (but also very tasty!). Lots of fried food and meaty dishes in huge portions. Vegetables are mostly absent, but fruits are very good.

Back to business: Monthly update February

In February I saved 39.6% of my post-tax income, bringing the year-to-date savings rate to 40.2%
The new tax calculator from the Singaporean tax authorities came out and I realize that I have to pay more taxes for 2015 than expected. This also changed my saving rate for 2015 to 36.3%.
This is the latest overview:

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Saving rates north of 40% are definitely nice to see, but north of 50% is still the target with 70% being the ultimate dream goal.

Investment plan

In February I invested SGD 2,780, SGD 330 more than I had originally planned. Quite good! I will stay on track and do my best to beat my target for the year. I also invested another SGD 540 in my European pension plan which I will cancel soon and transfer to the main portfolio.

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Portfolio performance

The value of my portfolio increased by 3.5% or SGD 2,598 to SGD 75,900 (=USD 54,215). This gain was made up of a paper loss of SGD 182 and fresh investments of SGD 2,780.

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Dividends received

In February I received SGD 209 in dividends. Not terribly much, but it is quite motivating to see some passive income coming in consistently.

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Hypothetical income (4% SWR)

Slowly going up in line with my portfolio...

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Outlook

Asian economy is looking gloomy with a mood like 2009. My friend told me that most employees in one of the big global energy companies in Singapore had to give back their company mobile phones as cost saving measure. Mood in my company is very tense as well.

At the same time I am rather demotivated at my work and feel like I really need a new job. It is terrible, but of course I would never quit without having a new job. I keep scouring the job sites and trying to keep moving and staying actively involved in my current job.

Did
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by Did » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:19 am

Great journal. One tip for survival in corporate horror: if small treats like cleaning help keep you sane for a little longer they will easily pay for themselves, if you are otherwise stashing away an enormous amount of cash. You can cut back post FIRE, and it will be very natural to do so. I think for corporate warriors (cf post grad nerds) it is extremely difficult to live as frugally as will come naturally post FIRE. There is a certain lifestyle that just comes with the territory/necessary for sanity, and if you can do that AND stash away the cash then it's all good. Better than a really "efficient" pre FIRE lifestyle driving you insane/making you quit early. I know that isn't the classic model for ERE/YMOYL but we are all on different journeys and that is an observation from mine.

Of course if I had my time over I would be much much much more efficient!

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singvestor
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Re: Singvestor's awakening

Post by singvestor » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:54 am

You are right! So far I am relying on vacations and traveling to keep me sane, but I am also staying in a not very frugal apartment with nice pool and I pay for someone to clean the apartment and iron all my clothes. Once retired I will probably move out of Singapore which is constantly ranked as one of the most expensive places to live in and will then enjoy life in a lower cost of living area.
That is the dream at least... :)

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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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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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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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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. March’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?

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