Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Reflection of my 2014 Achievement and Failure Journey

As we approach the end of 2014, it seems legitimate to slow down and think through what we have gone through over the last 12 months. In fact, I have actually taken weeks to write this post and pen my thoughts down because there are so many learning points to reflect on which will be good for my own future reference. Of course, there are both achievements and failures along the way, which makes it rather balance and fair. This post itself will cover a range of incidents which has happened this year.

The Light is at the end of the tunnel

My last recorded equity networth currently stands at $280,820 as of Nov 14 (I'm still working on the final Dec 14 portfolio updates). You can view them here. The portfolio currently yields about $14,428/year which is a great achievement because this serves to provide me with additional income on top of my usual monthly salary.

Looking back at my investment journey 4 years ago, it seems an improbable task that reaching financial independence in only but a dream back then. I try to continue working hard for it as much as possible and every dollar that is aggressively saved has a role to play for acquiring companies that yield me passive income which will one day harvest the much awaited financial independence. For instance, I remember how I have to endure hours after hours of overtime work that allows me to purchase shares of OUE this year. Looking back, it was all worth the effort which will pay off one day.

4 years into the journey, I am getting closer each day to the finishing line. My goal is to keep focus on improving the processes despite the many “turbulences” along the way. Hopefully next year at this time I’ll be able to get even a step closer. In the meantime, it’s perseverance business and hard work as normal. No slacking.

Investing in growth and yield

Dividend investing has been a very popular strategy for investors over the past few years because of the low interest rate environment. I have too embarked on the very same strategy I advocate since I started my investing 4 years ago which have returned me well.

In 2014, I have gone a step better by focusing on companies with strong moats that yield decent return with potential growth opportunities. The key to this is to analyze companies that remains undervalued with strong balance sheet and earnings potential. They are not easy to find, but I have been trying to look deeper into the details and analyze companies more substantially. I am still learning just like many others so there will be mistakes along the way. I just need to learn from those mistakes to become a better investor.

Posts, Site Traffic and Ads Income

I've written more posts this year already (at 122 counting) and my site traffic has improved much as compared to last year. As always, I focus on writing good content than counting the post and I hope the community has learnt as much as I have learnt from the community.

It is also only this year that I have started to put some ads in my blog. They are generally from Nuffnang and Google Adsense and whilst the amount is paltry, they do generate quite a bit of income already. On average, I generally earned about $50-$60 a month based on the past 6 months data and I am just glad it's making progress. For this, I want to thank all the readers for the great support and deep appreciation.

Personal expenses are rising but for the right reason

Over the years, I have been saving up a huge chunk of my active income as a result of leading a single and relatively simple lifestyle myself. On an average month, I could save as much as 80% of my gross income. Combined this figure with the mandatory CPF saving (social security) I had to make, this figure could rise up as high as 90%. This aggressive savings have led me to purchase some great companies which has yielded me great returns so far.

This is a year I took on a different level of responsibility by becoming a father to my son which I have been yearning for years. Many people didn't know about this but I actually planned for my financials to be stable before having a kid. I think that's very important because as you can see, even with proper planning I do incur a lot of unexpected expenses which I have never thought previously. Life has been much more meaningful, though it is no coincidence that expenses have been rising fast as I expected it to be. As a result of this, my savings rate has generally declined to an average of 40% (adding CPF savings will be 50%). Definitely not the kind of savings rate I am used to saving but they are all for the right reason. No regret.

The Grass isn't always greener on the other side

Things are not all that rosy and there are failures along the way.

Some readers would know that I made a switch in the middle of the year to a company where I thought I could gain some industry knowledge and experience that would help in my investing. There wasn't a happy ending at the end as I went through a period of unhappiness in the role and decided to move back to my old role upon the request of my boss and have been there since. Even though I was only in that company for a short period of time, my learning curve was steep and I managed to pick up a lot of valuable learning points and knowledge which was not visible to me before hand. I do share some of them if you refer to my posts during the Sep/Oct period. The grass isn't always greener on the other side but they have been helpful nevertheless.

Better allocator of time and productivity

2014 was one of the busiest period in my life.

I have to juggle in between work, school, family (with kid) and blogging with the finite time I had. The transition from a single to multi-tasking so many things at the same time was overwhelming. I had to admit that giving up halfway was an option as I made ridiculous appeal to myself many times that this will all be over one day. I thank the support from my family and employer for allowing me to go through this busy period.

I wrote about my experience dealing with multi-tasking quite a bit recently. From this experience, I had become a better allocator of time as I do things swiftly with higher productivity. With finite time not on your side, there is hardly little time to waste.

Interacting and Meeting with fellow bloggers

I've known many of the fellow local financial bloggers through active interaction via blogs, chats and comments. And I have personally met a few of them on site. The finance community is small in Singapore, so it's good to be able to know their character and personalities in close detail. Many of us shared the same vision and objective, so there are many common topics that we talked about. There are plenty of learning points that I have learnt daily from the experience of these bloggers themselves.

It is also enlightening to see that we have many new blog entries into our finance community this year, some of whom are as young as 20 years old. They reminded me of myself when I started blogging 4 years ago, going into the unknown territory and learning from the peers. I hope they are able to persevere and continue to contribute to the learning of the community which would benefit all of us.

Last but not least, there's a couple of one-off incident and tension in our local finance community which I hope will not happen again. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinions and it will be good to show reciprocate courtesy to one another to benefit the overall experience we already had.

So this is it!!! It is now counting days to the end of 2014 and we are abound to start 2015 pretty soon. I am currently working on some of the 2015 goals and will be updating them shortly in the blog. For this, I wish everyone a successful 2014, Merry Xmas and looking forward to a better 2015.

What about you? How has your experience in 2014 been?


  1. Hi B,

    Took a good 5-10 mins to digest everything. =p

    Failure is too strong a word. Nobody has a 'perfect' year and I really think it has been an amazing year for you.

    For eg, your passive income is now pretty substantial and I think that probably played a part in the Mrs' decision to become a homemaker for now. That's really quite an achievement since many of my friends can't imagine not having a dual income in Singapore.

    And I can see so many silver linings with regards to your work. At least now you know what a 'good' job you have? And it takes courage for a person to go back to his previous company and also shows how valued you are to the company.

    I have always been rather impressed by how frequent you blog and do keep it up so I can learn more from you. $50 a month is pretty decent and it's tempting me. Oops.

    A Merry X'mas to you, Ivana, Oscar and the rest of your family!

    1. Hi 15hww

      I hope it doesnt give you indigestion :D

      My wife was reading your reply yesterday night and she wants me to thank you for your kind words. We immediately get together to have a heart to heart talk.about how we are going to keep our expenses for next year.

      Hmm, I somehow still see it as a failure though. I remember how disappointed I was during that time though at the end of the day I managed to learn something from it and benefit indirectly.

      Hahaha I just blog whatever that comes to my mind and the ads money is rather decent though paltry. I think you definitely come close to me in terms of this.

      Wishing you and Mrs a happy Xmas and new year ahead ;)

  2. HELLO B!

    Im always waiting for your post, happy to see you grow and learn as u invest. one thing im always unable to be like u is to save 80% of your income and reinvest it due to other commitments. i wonder when will i ever reach your level...

    wish you a merry merry christmas and stay happy with your family!!!!

    1. Hi jfree

      Just saw your name in fb that it's actually called Jeffrey :)

      Thank you much for your kind words and support all these years. It's good to have you blogging as well and increase the number of people in the blogosphere to educate more people outside.

      Noting that you are still single you probably would do good saving anything above 50%. The results will be exponentially compounded.

      Have a good xmas and new year ahead of you too ;)

  3. Hi B,

    Agree with 15hww...what failure? :) All are success in its own way! May the new year bring happier, more fulfilling moments in your life :)

    1. Hi LP

      I've certainly failed in a few ways like reading books is one of them when I see your book post. I definitely will try to pick it up in the new year ahead and try to catch up a little bit.

      Wishing you and Mrs LP a merry xmas and happy new year ahead :)

  4. Hi B,

    Great sharing as always. Merry Christmas and many happy achievements going forward.


    1. Hi PIF

      It's been a very good interaction with you this year and hope to continue in the year ahead.

      Merry Xmas and Happy new year to you too ;)

  5. B,

    I like you have used the "failure" word instead of sugar coating it ;)

    You had a plan when you changed job, and I remember how enthusiastic you were when sharing about your new position... Remember how I responded to you in the comments?

    But how you reacted when you knew it was a mistake sets you apart from others. No little lies to yourself and no crap like if I leave before 2 years it would look bad on my resume...

    It's how we react that matters ;)

    There were certain verification steps you didn't do before you jumped over to the other fence. I guess you won't make the same mistake again.

    That's why the Chinese say failure is the mother of success!

    If we deny our failures, well, there goes the offspring ;)

    Here's to more free time in 2015 (no night class anymore)!!!

    1. Hi SMOL

      Hahaha it's how we reac that matters.

      Thank you very much. I remember what you had said back then. It almost as if I had graduated from smol education now at this point.

      Open up our mind and we can have a toast whenever we want. Toast and cheers to the lady and butterfly and the year ahead of us.

    2. Hi B,

      Failure is Not an Option, It's a Must! Haha.

      Failure is just a term anyway, it depends on how you respond (cannot use react anymore - copyright SMOL!). I probably understand your feeling "on the greener pasture" as it happens to me before too!

      I am sure you are more positive than me, and this is just a phase of life that you gets stronger mentally.

      Merry X'mas to you and family!

      See you around in 2015.

      Cheers, Rolf

    3. Hi Rolf

      That is right.

      At some point in our life, we are abound to meet with some disappointment and failures. I think we grow up facing up to our action leading to these failures.

      I hope the new year ahead will make us even stronger mentally. Have a good year ahead and wish your family a happy family and 2015 :)

  6. Sounds like you had a pretty great year! And now a newly minted MBA grad too! And you're like what, 25-30 years old? The future is pretty bright! :)

    1. Hi Henry

      Thanks for the compliment. I definitely want to keep the momentum going into the new year. I foresee more responsibilites and issues ahead and I hope I am able to keep them strong.

  7. Hi B,

    2014 seems like an eventful and fruitful year for you. Your portfolio is impressive and your analysis of a compant is structured, detailed yet easy to follow.

    Congrats of being a MBA holder and a father this year! Hope that you will enjoy time with your child as much as I do with mine.

    Thanks for the advice even when I am new to the financial blogging scene. I've never blog before, but a community with like-minded fellows like you makes it welcoming for me.

    Happy holidays and may 2015 be an even better for you!

    1. Hi SRSI

      Thank you for your kind words always.

      I always love interacting with you and glad to have you come into the blogging scene. I hope the new year ahead will be well for us and im sure with the encouragement from one another we will be able to keep it strong together.

      Have a happy holiday and merry xmas.

  8. Hi B,

    Sound like a overall great 2014!

    Child expenses go lower as the child grow. The most headache part is when they go childcare at 3 or 4?

    They fall sick super easily!

    It is not joke when I say my son has more days sick than well when he first go child cAre

    1. Hi Sillyinvestor

      Thanks for your advise.

      I saw how you are currently undergoing all the things with your kids and I am taking reference to that. Pls share more experience on that for me to take note :)

  9. Hi B,

    What makes life so awesome is the ups and the downs. The wise man said, "no success without failure". So failure will ultimately lead to success!

    I too am glad to see a growing finance community. If you have any tips to grow it, do let me know ya.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

    1. Hi Derek

      Failure determines our stature in life, whether to succeeed or going down further hill.

      I am glad that the community you have built have expanded over the past few years. I hope this is not just a trend because of the bullish environment but we can also have this kind of community during the bear times ahead.

      Wishing you a merry xmas and new year ahead :)

  10. Great reflections B, and it sounds to me like you've shown some great resilience and persistence to get to where you are today. Some of those challenges can easily cause people to give up, but you're still going strong, congratulations!

    Have a wonderful Christmas with your family, and hoping for your continued success in 2015!



    1. Hi Jason


      They are definitely not easy to overcome and I am just glad to have what I have at this point in time.

      I hope the new year ahead will be even better and I too wish you a very successful year ahead of you and your family :)

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