I already wrote an end of year post so this one’s going to focus more on my portfolio.

While my portfolio didn’t reach the milestone that I thought it would, it’s very close and in all likelihood that milestone will be reached in the early part of the year. Overall, my portfolio is up 3.9% for the year in pure investing terms and in absolute terms, it’s grown 11.55%.

Approximately 4% return in a year where the STI basically ended flat is something I’ll take. Accounting for dividends, the STI wasn’t too far behind my own returns so as an investor, that’s nothing to be happy about. Truth be told, I should be paying more attention to my portfolio and over the course of 2017, that is something I’ll be working on. I’ll be trying to automate the tracking of my portfolio as well as incorporate features that will tell me which positions are overvalued or undervalued.

The interesting number from my results is that overall, my portfolio grew 11.55%. That is a fantastic return in any year and demonstrates the effect of savings building wealth. Remember that my end game is to reach a figure for my portfolio that will allow me to generate enough income which can cover my expenses. Therefore, two very important metrics that I should be tracking are – one, the portfolio total sum and two, the amount of income it generates for me.

Savings and its impact on Portfolio Total Sum

At present, my portfolio is still small enough relative to the amount that I can save which is why savings are such a game changer for the first metric. However, as the portfolio gets bigger, it’s unlikely that my income (and by extension, savings) will see the sort of growth that will have a huge impact on the portfolio. At that time, what’s going to be important will be the rate of return from investing.

What should be a decent sum of savings* for a young adult just entering the workforce? Well, given that the average diploma holder earns a starting salary of $2,000 and the average university graduate can get a job that pays $3,000, I would say that saving $12,000 – $15,000 a year should be more than manageable. In fact, my records show that I saved $24,000 during my second year of work. Unfortunately, that was a high point and it slowly came down to about $20,000 which seems to be a stable amount given the extra bills that come with marriage and owning your own property.

Now, if you think about it, that’s a game changer because even for a $200,000 portfolio which is large by the average Singaporean’s standards, $20,000 is going to increase your portfolio by 10% on top of whatever returns you get from capital gains or dividends.

Dividends

My portfolio generated dividends that are equivalent to just under 2 months’ salary and it was about 30% more than the year before so that’s encouraging. However, it could have done a bit better for a portfolio of its size.

Going by the target amount in my spending tracker, I’m still some way off if I want to be financially free so I need to do better in this regard.

Overall

2016 was meh. Capital gains were non-existent, dividends were okay and savings, the one area I could really influence, were great. My portfolio did okay I guess and I’m still on track to attain financial freedom.

How was 2016 for you?

 

Notes:

* When I say savings, I don’t include savings via CPF contributions. We know that most people end up using that to pay for housing anyway. The sums I suggest may seem like a huge amount but if you do the calculations, it’s not. In fact, you can turbocharge savings further by pre-committing to save a certain percentage of your income so that savings will increase with an increase in income. h/tip to kyith from Investment Moats and behavioural economists Richard Thaler and Shlomo Bernatzi for this idea.

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