Saturday, August 29, 2020

35th Birthday Edition: Inverting To The Middle Ground

I can't believe that I'm finally turning 35 years old today.

If you have been following and reading my blog, you would probably have known how significant this number is for me. After all, I started this blog more than ten years ago with a vision and mission statement (or whatever you want to call it) that the race and pursuit towards financial independence were on and I gave myself a ten years timeframe to achieve or at least get close to it by the time I turn 35.


The past birthday edition articles can be found below:

33rd Birthday Post: Officially 2 Years To Countdown

32nd Birthday Post: A Year of Milestones

30th Birthday Post: The Official Big 3 Is Here

29th Birthday Post: What's The Next Target

28th Birthday Post: Growing My Wealth

27th Birthday Post: The Year We Got Married

This blog has been my companion almost through my entire adult life experience which includes a few of the successes but also the hiccups along the way. When I looked back at the past 10 to 12 years, it has been rather fascinating to see milestones unlocked such as journaling my first portfolio updates, hitting my first $100k when I turned 27, handling expenses after marriage, the addition to our family members, buying our first property home, and then achieving the equity reach of $250k milestone, $500k milestone, $750k milestone and $1m milestone respectively before we decided to invest in a second property which we currently let out for rental income. I also documented the unfortunate episode of how my Dad got a stroke last year and we had to fork out a $200k bill for his hospitalization expenses.

If you are a new reader that chanced and came across this for the very first time, chances are good that you're looking to escape the corporate rat race, like I did years ago.

Since I started writing this blog, my main thesis for achieving financial independence as soon as possible has been on the premise that working for an employer generally sucks. The night burning and years of stresses that come with it have been building up and because of this, I've been putting my aggressive hat for the past ten years focusing on many financial aspects that would accelerate my net worth so that I could one day "escape" if I wanted to.

Maybe it's a common theme that you find comfort in realizing that there is someone else out there who felt the same as you do right now. Perhaps, at one point in your life, you really like working for your company. You were good at what you do and think you'd devote your entire life and soul to the company until you realize that some external circumstances like COVID crashed the dreams both you and the company once had.

Most of these dreams are built upon the assumption that everything is going to take care of itself, so most people think it is okay to be delaying their financial planning when the sky is clear, consuming an excessive amount of debts to purchase material goods and lifestyle to keep up with the rest of their social media friends.

Inverting To The Middle Ground

I was once the same person like them.

The 5 Pillars of Life - Wealth, Health, Work, Familyand Time (Autonomy) were the entire factors that I wanted to gauge my success.

Each of the 5 pillars started from a low score because I was just not satisfied with how things were then for me. I knew I had to make radical changes to everything I did, including my lifestyle, spending, growing my asset and capital, looking for an employer that can give me more autonomy in doing things, and things that would suit my style for the better.

Report Card

Health:

My health has been generally poor since I was a kid and I was often sick that my parents had to bring me to doctors for frequent cough, flu, or gastric issues.

I've also had multiple stress issues due to work in some part of my career which leads to a couple of sleepless nights. It was a horrible feeling and one that I am glad I am finally out of the ecosystem. Hence, because of this, I have ranked my health score as 3.

Pro Tip: There are always better employers around. It might not be immediately available but keep continue looking hard for it. Don't overstay in a toxic environment that leads to nowhere.

Getting older as the day passes is not a joke.

Since turning 32 a couple of years back, I've consciously alerted myself to get a sufficient amount of sleep and exercise. Since COVID started which altered the way we work, I have been scheduling fitness into my calendar. In the morning, I tried to slot in a 45-minute schedule to swim or run (alternate days) before I start my work. After a while, the body gets used to it that the ache started disappearing and it feels different from the body with adrenaline pumped up.

I have also been cautious and consciously adding superfoods to my diet, ordering the likes of blueberry, ginger, walnuts, tomatoes, celery, kale, spinach, green tea,  turmeric, and salmon or sardines on my order lists at the shopping cart.

Morning Breakfast Routine - Oatmeal with eggs, spinach, kale, blueberry and a follow-up Turmeric or Ginger Drink
Morning Breakfast Routine - Oatmeal with eggs,  chia seeds, spinach, kale, blueberry, and a follow-up Turmeric or Ginger Drink

Verdict: Health rating moved up from a score of 4 to 7 out of 10.


Work:

Work is the part I dreaded to talk about it the most because this is the main presumption of all the things that are happening that leads to this whole pursuit towards achieving financial independence as soon as possible.

Work used to rank really low in my dashboard because of some really unfortunate experiences that I had in one or two of my previous employers. Perhaps it was an environment that didn't really sit well with me, which leads to an increased amount of stress built up over time. This, adding on to the morning hour rush commuting of 7-10 hours per week, formal office attire, two young children, a blog to maintain, and a mortgage to finance piled on the stress level for me.

Thankfully, the new way of working due to COVID has changed the most part of this and I must count myself really blessed and lucky to have secured a role right before the whole pandemic season began (speaking of market timing huh).

The new permanent working from home at my current company is a blessing in disguise as I get to escape the morning hour rush, work in my comfortable homey clothes, dictate my own schedule, getting more autonomy, and at the same being able to get some good amount of exercises and interaction with the kids. 

Standing Workplace at Home
Standing Workplace at Home

Verdict: Work rating moved up from a score of 3 to 7 out of 10.


Family:

Family time used to be restricted to mostly an hour at night and weekends.

I would come and rush home at about 7 to 8ish in the evening to have my wife and kids greeted me waiting for me by the door.

Since the permanent shift towards working from home, things have taken a 180 degrees turn.

For the past couple of months, it is my turn to be the one greeting them by the door in the afternoon at the time they came back from school.

In the evening, we also have time to hang out more and engage in some activities like playing tennis or riding the bicycle before having our dinner together. My kids are also jigsaw puzzles trained so recently we have been challenging each other to do higher each time.

During my off days, I get to sneak out with my wife when our kids are in school to the cafe below our place to chill, at times catching up on writing this blog before fetching the kids back from school.

Art Drawing We Did Together During The Circuit Breaker


Wealth:

The wealth financial planning side is doing fine over the years but we are currently rebuilding it on a restart mode after purchasing a second home last year. We pretty much blew out our entire capital used for equities when we used the funds for the property.

The stock market today due to COVID has given a tremendous opportunity for me to build-up once again, given that the STI as of writing is only at around 2500. My goal is to hit an equity minimum of $250k in market value at the end of the year and then possibly looking at $350k when the economy recovers by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, my strategy is to keep piling onto some of the very undervalued names such as Comfortdelgro, Lendlease Reit, CDL Hospitality Trust, Starhill Reit, Jardine C&C, and many others while waiting for the eventual recovery to come. I'll provide some of these insights more in my next portfolio updates for the month of Sep.

Currently sitting at about $200k worth of stocks at a yield of about 7-8%, it is only giving us about $15k/year in dividend income, on top of the rental income we received. This is still not sustainable on its own as we still have heavy commitments on our liabilities.

Equity Portfolio: Aug'20


The CPF portion is one that I rarely talked about because I'm simply letting it accumulate passively for a number of years now. 

I'm currently still relying on part of the OA portion for the home mortgages and occasional top-up to the Special and Medisave account every now and then but that's mainly because of the tax relief. Other than that, I just treat it as my "life insurance" policy to my wife in case anything happened to me.


12 Years of Working. 
10 Years of Top-Up Contributions & Transfer
1.5 Years to FRS Target


Verdict: Wealth rating moved up from a score of 2 to 8 out of 10.

Conclusion

Thank you for all the birthday well-wishes from families, friends, and readers out there.

The last 10 years have been transformational for me for all the steps and direction which I took, and hopefully, it's the right step too. 

I also wanted to thank all the readers for the encouragement and words, and for the journey that some of us took together.

The next 10 years is one which I think will be transformational but one which I really look forward to as well. I haven't thought of anything major to announce yet but I'd try to pen through as I move along the next phase of my next 10 years going into 45. By then, my kids would have been at college-age so it is quite fascinating yet scary to see how fast time flies.

A Happy Birthday to myself once again.

I'll start afresh Day 1 tomorrow from my 35th birthday.

P.S: Since I'm sharing the same birth date and month with unarguably the greatest investing guru of all time, Warren Buffet, I'd also like to wish him a happy blessed birthday and a fortune of health.

Thanks for reading.

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56 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday B, hope you have a good one. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks bro, you too have a great week ahead.

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  2. Happy birthday! Keep working towards your goals!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have enjoyed reading your blog over the years. Happy Birthday B.

    Thank you for sharing and being an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, appreciate the kind words.

      Delete
  4. Happy birthday B! I hope I'll be as happy with my life as you are when I'm 35 :) You've accomplished a lot in 10 years both family-wise and career-wise!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you J.

      I'm sure it's attainable, give yourself a stretch yet realistic target to work on, it'll paid off nicely when you look back over the longer run.

      Delete
  5. Happy Birthday B! Same as W.B.

    My wife bday was yesterday, my maid today and mine is tomorrow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rolf.

      It's another year isn't it that we started this cycle of our bday once again. Wishing you an early bday too for tmr and well wishes for your family.

      Delete
  6. Happy birthday, looking forward for your great articles always as I am a passive reader from your blog and has been reading more than 5 years.. Great health and happy always

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words. Likewise, wishing you back a healthy and wealthy journey ahead.

      Delete
  7. Happy birthday :)

    Remember to enjoy the process. Smell the roses and savor life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mr. IPO for the kind reminder from time to time.

      Delete
  8. Happy birthday! Incredible journey in the past few years!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Happpy Birthday B!!!!
    Many thanks for sharing your knowledge via your articles.
    Learnt alot and enjoyed reading it :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words. Appreciate it :)

      Delete
  10. Happy birthday! I have been reading your blog since many years ago. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
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  13. Happy Birthday B,

    Thanks for sharing your insights and your journey with us. Despite naysayers (the uncle123 troll comes to mind). Great to see your journey documented honestly without embellishments and a true spirit to share your knowledge with others. Benefiting myself and many included.

    Learnt alot from you as well. Glad to see you coping well during COVID and wishing you true financial independence in years to come.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Verseun for your encouragement and kind words.

      I'm most glad that it has helped the others along the way but also I wanted to leave a legacy to myself and my kids when looking back at all this a couple of years later when we all grow a lot older. All these will not be possible without the community which gives support to one another and push each other to stronger strength.

      Delete
  14. uncle168,

    the gov is turning left

    this could be your last happy birthday

    the gov is likely to limit property ownership law to 1 property per family unit or impose tax on 100% rental income

    we would also see reinstatement of estate duties as all the billionaire in sg are very old

    also tax on interest dividend reits distribution would also return

    corporate and income tax would be increased

    gst would be abolished

    see u still happy or not?

    it would completely reverse the capitalist tax cuts for the last 55 years under pap rule that made 1% of the population own 99% of the wealth

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  15. uncle168,

    actually joe teo is right

    without crude economic growth via massive immigration fuelling a property bubble supporting a leveraged banking systwm in singapore which happens to have a sky rocketing death rate and zero birthrate our country would end up with foreign investment leaving singapore in droves and massive unemployment when even no jobs for grab and grabfood

    the reality is singapore is hooked to foreign talents like cocaine to undo the damage pap did for the last 20 years the current generation born in 2000 would have to suffer for another 20 years with declining wages having to work overseas as jobs opportunities locally disappear without foreign investments

    lky left us at singapore's peak since then it has been going downhill

    the opposition is right to protect singaporeans

    but in economics unintended consequences in protectionism is well documented

    if singapore cannot continue to grow thru immigration creating inflationary demand driven growth there will be no jobs for singaporean in the future

    this is the tradeoff there is no free lunch someone has to pay

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  16. uncle168,

    if that happens a plate of chicken rice would cost s$10,000 like indonesian rupiah when the value of sgd becomes banana note

    then u top up your retirement sum also no use your monthly cpf life not even enough to buy a plate of chicken rice

    i think we should not have the illusion that we can survive without immigration without having to suffer immensely for an equivalent length of time of the past 55 ywars of prosperity brought upon by foreign investment

    it would be like the day the british withdraw from sg many lost their jobs and back then don't even have ceca

    actually sg pmet problem is not due to immigration it is due to structural unemployment

    there are so many new degree holders and people are working longer hence pmet jobs will be less than the those seeking employment

    this is a problem that the gov can fix by increasing pay in essential jobs like cleaner construction worker plumber carpenter so no need degree also got high paying job

    but that would take decades which i think pap don't have time as the next election in 2025 would be one with high youth unemployment no foreign investment and a divided country that has chosen lky to lead it to a golden path of state capitalism, a road to no where

    all that glitters is not gold yo

    a lot of unhappy stinkies in the future when grow old cpf cannot take out hdb lease expire no place to live

    luckily ah gong run road liao

    keekeekeee

    ReplyDelete
  17. uncle168,

    you should write about the greater fool theory on tesla and apple

    japanese can make cheaper electric car than tesla and oil is so cheap who would want to drive an electric car?

    xiaomi phone $99 can buy who so stupid go buy $2k iphone?

    both stock price make no sense

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. uncle168,

      looks like no more greater fool liao

      keekeekee

      Delete
  18. uncle168,

    i voted for wp in ec grc hoping they will win and in time to come form the gov after 2 or 3 more elections

    who in the right frame of mind vote for a party and hope it doesn't form the gov?

    lhl doesn't understand aingaporeans has lost trust in the pap after forcing in a non elected malay president, pofma and the 2 casino went thru without the consent of its people

    lhl's gov in one word is greedy

    in his term of gov the economy grew very fast thru massive immigration which the minister profited greatly from performance bonus from gdp growth kpi

    there was no kpi on the people's happiness so no pap bother to fight for min wage

    min wage is very important for workers dignity and pride

    progressive wage model on the other hand is a political tool to make workers feel useless and have to depend on workfare to make ends meet

    while min wage would cause some unemployment initially it is the responsibility of the gov that employers pay a living wage to its worker which give them dignity in the work they do

    if they get retrench because of min wage the gov has to help them find new jobs or upgrade their skills or punish the employer for unfair retrenchment

    we have to do this because it is the right thing to do because min wage uplift the moral of essential workers more than any meaningless message that they are important when the gov can't even pass a law to pay them a living wage

    i have no doubt the pap will lose power by 2030 because of their greed for power and money

    the people don't mind suffering now if we can transform our country to be more domestically driven by local employment in booming industry like healthcare food manufacturing and education

    we should reduce our reliance on fake economic growth industry that hire a lot of foreigners and not resiliance in times of pandemic like banking construction tourism

    to be a sustainable economy we need to reduce the population and focus on domestic activities we can export that is in high demand like education and healthcare

    i feel happy nowadays that more nurses and doctors in the local hospital are singaporeans as nurses wage has risen because the opppsition fought for us

    i hope the wp form the next government in 2030

    lhl has proven that pap is the real free rider as singaporean desire is for the wp to slowing but surely take over from the pap in the next decade

    so essentially the pap minister would get a free ride until 2030 then they can get their workfare when they become grabfood riders and see if they think min wage is important or not when they can't even feed their families as nobody would hire a member of a fallen political party no even to sweep the floor

    god speed

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  19. uncle168,

    if i was lhl i would admit i have failed as a leader so long then find successor when the future of the country was more important then your own family dispute

    that pap lost more seats because more aingaporeans no longer trust the pap because of the way they force laws thru

    i have no doubt sia would be bankrupt by 2021

    the gov should have merged sia sia engineering sats and st engineering and force sia to sell most of its fleet and switch to leasing planes instead

    the next to collapse are the 3 local banks how on earth are mortgages going to be repaid when the gov allow the installments to be deferred?

    if u can't pay $2k today how would it be possible to pay $12k by dec 2020?

    the gov would be forced to allow banks to reverse the mortgage if the buyer cannot pay and own the property in a bad bank entity to avoid a downward spiral of foreclosure and auction of defaulted mortgages

    keekeekee

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  20. uncle168,

    fwah mas allow local bank to borrow from the gov using its residential loan as collateral

    gov take our money bailout fat cats again

    knn

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  21. uncle168,

    tharman ah min wage and pwm is not the same

    min wage put a floor to wage, the purpose is to create jobs that pays a living wage to survive in singapore

    pwm is like a fishing net that has many holes so many years still got so many people earning wages cannot make a living and has to beg the gov for help

    the gov sell state land to foreigner make so much money but the side effects is very high cost of living yet it doesn't want to create a wage floor is ridiculous

    i have no doubt tharman would lose jurong grc in ge2025

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  22. uncle168,

    had pwm and workfare worked the pap would not have lost sengkang grc

    the reality is the gov has sided with the rich for 55 years hoping wealth would trickle down

    capital and wealth is not taxed its returns is also not taxed even gold is not taxed

    but the gov tax consumption so even very poor people has to pay tax while the gov argue that the tax they pay is little compared to the transfer they get there is a timw gap to getting the transfer after consumption

    these people already has little yet you want to tax them

    then the rich so much money you don't want to tax them and use taxpayer money to bail them out

    who in the right frame of mind would vote for the pap?

    you protect ceca and tax the poor

    pap you not only lost your way

    you are finished

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  23. uncle168,

    this pandemic is the perfect time to implement min wage as essential workers are in short supply due to global lockdown

    this means even without min wage the shortage is driving up the wage of essential workers

    essential workers ironically are people who don't earn enough to make a living

    pap keep saying they are important but don't increase their wage is all talk but no walk

    the reality is pap minister is more worried about their own ricebowl than low wage workers

    they are afraid that min wage will give them more trouble to help those who are retrenched if min wage is implemented

    they would rather the low wage worker earn less then create more work or trouble for themselves

    that's why pap lost sengkang where all the young people live the future of singapore

    the future worker of singapore don't want to vote for the pap

    what future do pap has?

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  24. uncle168,

    the living wage in singapore is s$1,688 which is the 21 percentile of the median wage

    we should peg the min wage at the level initially and adjust annually according to inflation and gdp growth

    assuming a 42h work week the hourly rate is $10

    for the first year of implementation employee that get retrenched because of min wage can approach mom for help

    if an employer cannot pay the min wage it should be asked to close down as its operation cannot sustain a living wage yet is able to make a profit for the business owner is of little use to our society

    employers that has problem paying min wage should exist in the first place as they make money by paying low wages

    a good example is ntuc fairprice and mcd which pays very low wages but makes a lot of money

    sheng shiong on the other hand pay bonus during covid to reward its employees

    we need legislation to narrow the income gap by having min wage and a gradual increase in income tax for the top earners

    a high gini coefficient has proven to be destructive to the ruling party as people feel the gov is protecting rich people as they are earning millions and do not care about the poor

    the pap has been hoping wealth would trickle down but it didn't

    when i was a young boy the gov changed all the laws to remove taxes and make it easier for the rich to become richer

    removal of estate duties
    removal of tax on bank interest and dividend
    removal of section 44 dividend refund
    extensive cut in personel and corporate tax
    introduction of gst from 3% to now 7% and soon 10%
    removal of gst for gold
    90% reits distribution is tax free

    clearly the gov hope that by favouring capital it can attract foreign capital and hence create full employment in singapore

    yes we have full employment but with 100,000 singaporean going hungry every night waiting for the gov to implement min wage can lee hisen long and tharman sleep at night?

    if they can sleep then i think there is nothing more to debate because they don't walk their talk

    every year lhl say leave no one behind

    100,000 are left behind how long do thwy have to suffer?

    god speed

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  25. uncle168,

    with ntuc fairprice owned by the gov paying very low wages how can the people be convinced that the gov appreciate essential workers

    if the cost of living in singapore is not so high earning $1.3k can raise a family 30 years ago

    the cost of living in singapore is very because on one reason high rental because of reits

    ever since the gov allow reits no need to pay tax all the property owner converted to reits

    the glcs reits are the main culprit for rental escalation driven inflation

    banks also pay very low deposit rate of 0.005% when the fed pays 0.25% this auto gave the local bank a easy 0.245% margin just on cost of capital

    this has gone on for decades after posb merged with dbs

    posb had all the deposit of blue collar workers whom deposit was fully guaranttee by the gov and was paid high interest rate around 5%

    after the merger posb depositor saw deposit rate drop to 0.005% and has never risen since

    that is why even if you employ a monkey to be the ceo of dbs it will still make money as the rate was too low and mas didn't intervene

    as savings rate was artifically low many retirees lost all their money chasing high yield products like hyflux bonds which can be prevent had posb not merged with dbs

    we should have a saving bank owned by the gov for singaporeans to deposit their hard earned savings and earn a decent interest rate

    this bank can be run by cpf and the money can be loan out to hdb bto buyers

    the imterest rate would definately be more than 1% and soon all local banks woulf increase their deposit rate once this national bank is set up

    dbs is a shame as it didn't refund the gov covid relief package despite being profitable and is the main reason why deposit rate is so low in singapore

    i find it strange why nobody question the huge spread between fed and our deposit rate

    mas kept quiet

    something is very wrong

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  26. uncle168,

    the biggest risk of not having a living wage floor is social unrest

    it happened twice the little india riot and the kidnapping of sheng siong mother

    it was when the gini coff was very high

    when the poor no money to eat they would rob the rich as they have nothing to lose

    the gov is happy to have many billionaires in sg but unhappy to give everyone at least a living wage

    with a wage floor mechanism in place the gov can reduce social welfare expenditure and close down all the business that only made money because they exploit labour by underpaying them as the gov do not have a min wage

    ironically the gov converted all its jtc and hdb industrial estate to reits making smes pay escalating rental

    so the gov is willing to push up rental cost but unwilling to set a wage floor

    this is crazy as the property can't vote for the pap but the low wage worker can vote for the opposition

    the free loader example doesn't make sense as if you look at the election results pap candidates varies from 50% to more than 70% vote so voters are actually voting for pap candidates that has done good work and didn't vote for those who didn't do anything

    teo chee hean example of the old lady is a sample size of 1 and lee hisen loong take it that 1 person perception represent 3 million voters?

    this is an example of sour grapes

    if pap has indeed done well voters would vote for pap

    teo chee hean never tell his boss got one person drinking beer wear a mask say he will not vote pap

    clearly the pm only want to hear the good things about his leadership

    such a leader who surround himself with yes man is doomed to fail

    keekeekee

    ReplyDelete
  27. Happy birthday. Hopefully can know more about you and treat you as my example in life

    ReplyDelete
  28. My Bitcoin Investment  Experience. No doubt Bitcoin has been the trend of today and it's doing a lot in the world of business because people prefer saving  up money in their wallets rather than banks,   I lost about  $54,000 USD last summer due to the fall in the price of bitcoins. A colleague at work who knew my ordeal on bitcoin savings  introduced me to a platform  (cryptoforex345.com)  where I can save and invest my bitcoins with more than 100%  profit  margin.  At first I was skeptical about it so I decided to try it out with just $50 USD. I was amazed after 12 hours I earned additional $60 USD and I was able to make an instant withdrawal and ever since i have been investing and making more money.  Bitcoin investment with cryptoforex345.com  has changed my life as I have made over $176,000 USD. You all can sign up at:  
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  29. Hi Brian

    Happy belated birthday! :) thank you for sharing your journey and investing experiences. They have been really inspiring and do serve as a good guide for me. I'm 25 this year and i've just starting out in investing, slightly over a year into in my first job, and I hope to achieve what you have accomplished in the coming years.

    I wish you and your family good health and happiness, and all the best in everything you do!

    Thank you again for your sharing!

    Darren

    ReplyDelete
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