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Year End Review 2016

It is again time to review what I have achieved in my journey towards financial freedom and what I have learnt in this continuous journey towards building up my net worth in the past year.

Each year brings me nearer to the official retirement age of 62 (or 67 if you include post-62 re-employment) and it is helpful to take a step back to review the hits and misses in this journey.

Earned Income and Savings

This is still the biggest contributor to building up my net worth through savings. I have been in my current workplace for the past 8 years and I think it is quite likely I will continue here for the forseeable future. The key challenge that I need to address is of health because earned income requires one to be healthy enough to work a regular job. I will share more on what I have done and will do in the health part.

Work-wise things are getting busier in a good way. Hence, I should focus on developing better work habits to be more efficient and effective in the office and to work on the important things as well as to maintain good working relationships with the people in the office.

Investment Returns

My portfolio comprises:

  • 46% in equities (listed stocks and shares on SGX)
  • 29% in fixed income (listed corporate bonds, Singapore Government Bonds and Singapore Savings Bonds)
  • 25% in cash (bank savings accounts)

My realised returns for calendar 2016 are about 3.42% (2015: 2.78%). This is a very rough calculation based on taking realised gains (interest received, dividends received, capital gains/losses on sales of securities). It is better than 2015 despite the portfolio size growing so I am reasonably happy with the returns I have achieved. The breakdown of my returns are as follows:

  • Dividends: 67.8%
  • Interest: 16.4%
  • Capital gains/(losses): 13.8%
  • Others: 2.1%

I have moved away from speculative trading in equities towards a more buy and hold strategy. I still occasionally buy/sell but it was only 4 trades in 2016. One lesson I learnt from starting to seriously invest and track my returns since 2003 is to have sufficient cash to manage my portfolio better. Hence, my cash on hand is about 25% which is comfortable and allows me the flexibility to move my net worth into different asset classes during different periods in the market.

The plan for 2017 is to continue to review my portfolio and diversify a bit more as currently 2 of the 4 stocks that I hold account for 77% of the equity portfolio.

Health

I am now more conscious of my health and aim to maintain a regular exercise of jogging and walks around the neighbourhood plus push-ups and sit-ups. I also try to eat more fruits and vegetables and watch the amount of carbohydrates I consume. This is an on-going thing and one thing I need to watch is my alcohol consumption especially during festive occasions.

Nowadays, I cook almost every day for dinner to supplement the tingkat dishes simple bee hoon or pasta. That allows me to control better the food my family consume. Cooking is really a very useful lifeskill that is an investment that yields returns in terms of being less reliant on outside food.

Relationships

It could be better but as I grow older, I become less impatient and am slower to get angry over small things. I still get upset by reckless or poor driving skills of other road users but understand how it damages my body and hence have been doing more deep breathing exercises to not get my blood pressure up when people cut into my lane without signalling or perform dangerous moves on the roads.

Relationship with family members are slightly better but it is also an on-going process that I must work on.

Overall 2016 has been a decent year and I continue to progress on my road towards financial freedom.

As always, it is a journey and not a destination but I am more relaxed nowadays and enjoy the process more rather than focus on the end result. However, it is important to set specific goal(s) on what you would like your networth to be at a specific point in time in the future. This has helped me achieve my first milestone that I set for myself earlier. Now I have set another goal for 2021 and am working towards that.

How was 2016 for you in your road to financial freedom?

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section.

Be well and prosper.

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