What would live be without One Piece?

What would live be without One Piece? Please give us more in 2014 Oda Sensei!

Where should I begin?

Wealth

2013 was another great year. The STI basically went nowhere (from 3274 at the start of the year to 3149 at this point in writing) but my portfolio performed nicely. How nice? Well, the portfolio’s investment returns were a little over 17% (assuming nothing drastic happens in the next 2 days).

In reality, the portfolio has grown even more (roughly 27%) due to contributions . I know this isn’t the best way to look at investment returns but I’m managing the portfolio for myself so what’s really important to me is the eventual size of the portfolio. Of course, the ideal is to have most of that 27% come from investment returns rather than contributions but at this early stage, I’ll take it. In fact, it’s important if you’re trying to get to financial freedom and I’ll try to blog on that in my next post.

Of course, 30% growth in the portfolio isn’t going to happen every year. In fact, since I’ve begun investing keeping proper records (in Nov 2008), this number has only seen a downward spiral (2009: 90%, 2010:60%, 2011: 60%, 2012: 35%) due to the low base effect. i.e. It’s much easier to double your money through investing + savings if you’re starting with $10,000 rather than $100,000.

From here on, it’s going to get tougher to increase the portfolio through contributions and that the portfolio growth rate will eventually converge towards the investing rate. So, in the long run, I still need to keep becoming a better investor and I’ll probably be extremely satisfied with a CAGR of 15%.

Having said that, it should be no problem for the average Singaporean graduate to amass a (small) fortune of $100,000 before 30. A Straits Times reporter made it his personal goal and I think it elicited quite a bit of response across the island. Depending on where you looked, that response would have been either skeptical or affirmative. In my corner of cyberspace, I think I saw more affirmation because so many of us in the Value Buddies community have already been there and done that. For me, I hit the milestone this year and $100,000 is a marker I passed some time ago.* Here’s how you can too.

Health

My health is another matter altogether. After getting a terrible ankle injury early in the year, I stopped basketball altogether, got lazy and hit the gym only once a week, doing pull-ups and deadlifts for the most part. By some miracle, I still managed to pass my IPPT and towards the end of the year, I started getting nasty dietary habits (like increasing my kopi intake). All this must change in 2013. I’ve started by doing more bodyweight workouts in order to build more strength. Coming into the new year, I’ll be working out a new diet.

Personal Matters

2013 was also the year of coming and going. There were quite a few deaths in the extended family. Thankfully, the passings were mostly all due to old age and they went peacefully. Not as many births compared to last year and I attended fewer weddings but still I’m happy for my family and friends that have moved on to another phase in life.

I attended two reservist stints in this year (same year but different work year so that’s allowed. Go figure.) which only confirmed my suspicions that ICT is a horrible waste of time given the amount of work that piles up while one is away. However, some guys see it as a good opportunity to catch up with acquaintances that they haven’t met in a while or a break from the monotony they call work. Well, all I can say is I can’t wait for the day they abolish the stupidity called ICT (which they won’t, otherwise we’ll see too many people without any hope of doing anything else become unemployed). I suspect before that day comes, I would have served my NS liability.

On a good note, I visited Japan for the third time in my life and fell in love with the country and culture all over again. In my heart, I wasn’t thinking of going anywhere with the house coming along but now that we’ve gone, I have no regrets. In fact, I can’t wait to go again. The trip this time round was much much better than my previous two trips for a couple of reasons- my wife, Ichiran Ramen, One Piece, Disneyland & Disneysea and trip preparations have become much easier thanks to the internet. We never got lost even while trying to find a coin laundry nestled the back alley of some residential estate but language is still a huge barrier. That’s probably the main reason why the wife is taking Japanese lessons and I’ll join her as soon as I’m done with the CFA exam.

Speaking of the CFA exam, I cleared level 2 and signed up for level 3. It’s crazy tough studying for it but I need to persevere. For the next 6 months, I need to be disciplined and do nothing but workout and prepare for the CFA exam. It’s been too long and it’s time to finish this. I need a Masters equivalent and then I can put the entire paper chase behind me (for a while?) and concentrate on finding more/other streams of income.

2014 looks like it’ll be a challenging year. Hopefully, work won’t throw me too many curveballs so that I can clear the CFA exam and in the later half of the year, I’ll focus more on creating new streams of income and growing the portfolio further.

With the new home finally coming (it seemed like so long ago that we signed up for it), the wife and I will probably lead an even more homely life that the one we already do and I plan to start cooking on a regular basis as well. Hopefully that will lead to better and healthier meals as well as save us buckets of money.

Here’s wishing you a 2014 that will be as good as mine!

*If there are any of you out there trying to achieve this, my advice would be to try hitting this without counting your CPF monies or your primary residence. Most people don’t have much in their CPF anyway because it goes mostly to buying a home.

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