Five Cents Ten Cents

Financial freedom, one realistic step at a time.

Five Cents Ten Cents - Financial freedom, one realistic step at a time.

Happy Labour Day 2015!

It appears that my posts are coming now at quarterly or less frequent intervals. ¬†ūüėõ

That is partly due to my waning interest in blogging on a regular basis as there are other outlets for me in my career to engage in writing articles related to work activities. For instance, I publish an in-house newsletter in my organisation sharing about my team’s activities.

At the same time, one’s interests and hobbies evolve with each phase of life. I am now coming¬†more into parenthood starting to deal with¬†expectations and pressures of “keeping up with the Lims, Muthus and Alis” in the academic rat-race now that my daughter is in Primary One. I can see now how parents are stressed from our education system which loads our children a lot early in their lives.

On a positive note, I am travelling a bit more since last year as I managed to weave in overseas trips as part of my work. This has exposed me to more cultural awareness of other countries. I think now is the time for me to travel more for personal leisure partly because my child is old enough to follow and at the same time I am better able to manage my schedule as well as finances to fund such trips.

I am also becoming increasingly aware of the importance of health and fitness and realise I must invest in the time and resources to do so if I intend to reach the average male expectancy of 80.2 years for males.

I believe I am still learning as my language learning helps to work my brain in terms of memorising vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. At the same time, trying to speak even simple sentences is a big cognitive effort and helps to exercise those little grey cells even more.

The market feels kind of over-valued currently given that equity markets have more than recovered from the previous highs prior to the global financial crisis in 2008. I am currently about 44% in cash and cash equivalents¬†with 21% in fixed income and 35% of my liquid net worth in equities. I would likely switch out of one of my investment-linked¬†insurance plans as the mortality charges would be quite high and go into a term life insurance as the ILP has more or less “broke even”.

Wishing one and a a Happy Labour Day long weekend and as usual, be well and prosper.

Happy New Year 2015

It has been half a year since my previous post and 2014 was a decent year with regards to my investment returns. Despite being about 61% invested in 39% in cash and cash equivalents, I managed to generate a return of around 3.12% for the year.

This is not huge but still beats returns on time deposits. The interesting thing I note is that the bulk of my returns came from dividends, followed by interest from fixed income securities (Singapore Government Bonds and Corporate Bonds) and finally capital gains from the occasional punt.

In short, I spent less time on managing my investments but still performed better than 2013 (1.88% annual return).

In my journey towards financial freedom, I am inching closer to my target but realise that in nearing the destination, my journey has made me a different person who now understands that happiness is more in the process than the journey.

2015 sees my daughter enrolling in Primary 1 which is the start of the formal schooling phase in her life. I take equal measures of delight and stress from now helping her cope with our competitive and fast paced education system.

I also have discovered a hobby that is complementary to my interest in learning foreign languages. Besides learning nihongo or Japanese language, I am getting interested in fountain pens as well but have not really splurged on them. I currently own only three all costing below $50. This is just for me to explore how fountain pens work and how to use them to pair up my interest in improving my handwriting by developing a consistent and legible cursive style.

I am also exploring Midori notebooks but because they are so costly (S$53 or passport sized!), I am starting to explore youtube videos and online resources on how to make them by hand.

Work-wise there has been some challenges which will help me become a better person. My role has not changed much but it is interesting because one of the secondary roles in my job exposes me to lots of learning opportunities although they take up my time.

I would like to wish all readers and friends a Happy New Year 2015 filled with happiness, health and wealth!

Be well and prosper.

July 2014

We are past half of 2014 and it has been a while since I last updated this blog. As I grow less hair, my body is now more susceptible to wear and tear. Last month, when I was on a business trip, I pulled by posterior cruciate ligament i.e. the ligament behind my knee while lifting up a heavy luggage bag at an awkward angle. That took me some time to recover before I strained the ligament again during a ball game.

Really once one is past 40, one has to be more conscientious about healthy living and exercise because the recovery of any injury takes longer than when one was younger.

In terms of my journey towards financial freedom, savings from earned income continue to be the main source of my investible savings so I am on track to my targets. Work-wise, it got busy for the first half of the year and looks set to continue. I am happy with the challenges as they are still manageable and allows me to achieve certain “flow” in my work where the tasks and activities engage me pretty much and time flies.

There has been a change in the big boss at my workplace so we are still figuring out the optimal working arrangements. In the meantime, more time is spent bringing the big boss up to speed about the key areas of my area of responsibility within the organisation. It is interesting to note that the big boss is my age but is already the CEO.

Such things hardly faze me nowadays as I had encountered people who were in senior leadership positions even at age of 30+ early on in my career.

The markets seems high to be as equity markets have reached the peak since the 2008 crisis. I am still about 52% invested (22% fixed income, 30% equities) and 48% in cash and cash equivalents.

It will be the second half of 2014 soon and at the rate that the days go by, very soon 2015 will beckon as well.

Be well and prosper.

May 2014

It’s been quite some time since my blog post and we are coming to the middle of the year! Looking back, my net worth has moved northwards mainly due to savings from earned income. In terms of investments, am still not fully invested in the markets and am still around 60% in equities and fixed income (Singapore Government Securities and Corporate Bonds) with 40% in cash and cash equivalents.

Work-wise, things are getting interesting because of leadership transition with a new CEO coming into the organisation. The strategic direction, tone at the top and culture of the new CEO is still unknown as he has only come on board this month. It remains to be seen how he will slowly mould the organisation into his own ideas and views. This is the year also that opportunities for leadership positions have emerged for me and for me to really develop those EQ skills in working with people and trying to build consensus while aligning individuals to the goals of the organisation.

I am entering a different phase of my career in that technical skills, while important, are basically there to allow me to share and coach my staff to be better technicians than I am in my area of work. My real value-add is to make the connections that help the work we do matter to the organisation and people within. My other value-add is to become better at coaching people to their fullest potential and also to understand¬†what others truly want so that I can practice “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” as given in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.

Health-wise, have made strides in exercising more regularly and eating right that the belt and pants are becoming slightly looser than before. Need to incorporate more weight training into my exercise schedule.

Family wise, as my daughter is going to Primary 1 next year, it’s also time for me to develop the skills of being a tutor to my daughter in those areas that I can. For those areas that I can’t, to get a good tutor for her so that she can keep up in the competitive landscape. :-)


1st Quarter 2014

It is already the first quarter of calendar year 2014 or last quarter of the financial year 2013-2014 (assuming it is a 31 March 2014 year-end). My last blog post was somewhere around Christmas 2014 / New Year 2014 period.

Life is moving quickly these days as my daughter celebrated her 6 years recently. Less than 1 year and she will be in the school system. It amazes me how fast she grows. The last 2 years have been spectacularly fast as I look back at her old baby photographs and pictures taken.

Investment-wise, I have re-allocated my portfolio towards equities and this is a snapshot of my current portfolio. I still have about 32% of my investible assets in cash. I am reasonably comfortable with this portfolio for the time being.

I will be 43 years old this year and am starting to invest more into my own personal growth and development. I guess I have finally come to the realisation that the final frontier is to really develop the mind and to take care of the people you care and love. Living a balanced life between work, family, personal development and leisure is one of the ways towards being happy.

Money is truly just a means to an end and once the basic needs are met, yearning for the next bling and gadget will never make one permanently happy as life is a continuous series of states that we find ourselves in based on our decisions and interactions with this world. To base our happiness on materialism and things is to not truly understand the role of money in our lives.

Be well and prosper.