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Sunday, August 30, 2015

30th Birthday Edition Post - The Big 3 Is Finally Here

Finally, the time for the big 3 is here as I bid farewell to the 20s of my life.
 
I turned 30 years old today and as part of the customary edition of the annual post, I usually tried to review part of my finances as a comparison against the target I have set for reaching financial freedom at the age of 35.
 
For the past couple of years edition, I have provided the short link below:

29th Birthday Edition Post - What's the next target?

28th Birthday Edition Post - What's the next target?

27th Birthday Edition Post


Financial Freedom Target
YearYearStarting CapitalCumulative Annual Capital Injection Dividends on Starting CapitalTotal Yearly Dividend PayoutMonthly Passive Income
01/9/2012$100,000.00$60,000.00$6,000.00$6,000.00$500.00
11/9/2013$166,000.00$60,000.00$9,960.00$13,920.00$1,160.00
21/9/2014$245,920.00$60,000.00$14,755.20$19,190.40$1,599.20
31/9/2015$345,030.40$60,000.00$20,701.82$25,453.25$2,121.10
41/9/2016$469,594.05$60,000.00$28,175.64$33,302.84$2,775.24
51/9/2017$627,460.53$60,000.00$37,647.63$43,245.80$3,603.82
61/9/2018$828,572.82$60,000.00$49,714.37$55,909.12$4,659.09
71/9/2019$1,085,594.23$60,000.00$65,135.65$72,090.20$6,007.52
81/9/2020$1,414,705.83$60,000.00$84,882.35$92,807.76$7,733.98


For those who are new readers of the blog, the above is a projection target which I have set very much earlier when I started the blog almost 5 years ago. This represents a goal which I am keeping track of myself each year to gauge where I am standing in front of the big target.
 
As you can see from the latest portfolio update I did for the month of Aug (See Here), I am very well behind the target of $345,030.40. I spoke a few times about the difficulty in achieving the target for this year because of more family commitments but I'm not giving up the hope yet. The market for this year is also mostly down which brings about relatively unreasonable assumption that it will go in a straight line upwards. Having said that, I am silently confident that if the market represents some compelling opportunities in the coming months ahead, I might be able to nudge the goal well ahead for next year. I'll be keeping my finger cross for this one.


Birthday Celebration

On a slightly lighter note, I treated myself quite a bit of presents these few days.
 
First off, my Dell 5423 laptop which has served me well throughout my MBA days, has gone shut right on the day of my birthday. Given that some of the components are a little weary after using it for some time, I think it's a good time to have them changed and today I bought a new Acer V3-371 at Best Denki at a price of $1,198 after promotion price, with a very good specs of i7-5500U, 16GB memory drive and 240GB SSD, which compares very well against many others with a higher price.




Second, I also bought myself a new Adidas running shoes after tearing the front for my current one. Having a new shoes definitely pushes the motivation to exercise than having a hole-in-the shoe to run. I spent about $148 for this one at an adidas store after finding the Nike running shoes much more expensive.




Third, I also treated my family to a presumptuous dinner at Tung Lok Private Dining at OUE Tower, which allows diners to enjoy a revolving full panoramic view of the whole Marina Bay Sands and Fullerton area in full sight. Of course, I had to choose the place because I am recently vested in OUE Commercial and had to support them :D (just kidding).
 
The course dining for the weekends was having a promotion at $80++/pack for a 7 course meal, which I thought was well worth the value because of the ingredient of the food used and the private dining experience.





And of course, a fun filled companion with family does complete the celebration, though I do wish my Dad, Sister and Little Kiddo were here to celebrate the event as well.






So that is it. I will be starting my 30s journey from now on and I am exactly 5 years away from the financial freedom target. It'll be a whole new experience and I shall end off with a quote I have always used.
 
                                  "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today"

                                                                                ~~
 
Oh, do you know that my birthday also happens to fall under the same birthday as the great legendary Warren Buffett? Just saying, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Warren too :)





Monday, August 24, 2015

Recent Action - Noel Gifts International

The bloodbath today in the STI market has given everyone plenty of things to think about. However, in the midst of a red market, I managed to divest my holdings in Noel Gifts International at a price of $0.34, a 15% gain from the entry price.




This was on the back of an experiment done when I decided to enter in Mar (see post here) that a dividend yield in excess of 10% would usually trigger a psychological importance to investors, similar to cases seen in Design Studio.

In the post, I highlighted a few catalysts that Noel has won during the year, some of which includes the jubilee year gift which they had won. I had estimated a total dividends of 3.1 cents/share, and the actual dividends came up to 3 cents/share, which translates into a 10% yield based on the last closing price before today.

The company still had major contracts won for FY16, though I suspect earnings will not come in as much as this year. Still, I wasn't much convinced about their core business without these special contracts won.

The divestment has freed up more capital for me which I think will be very useful during these market turbulents.



Saturday, August 22, 2015

My Thoughts On The Silverlake Case

I received a lot of email request asking me on my thoughts about the recent short seller reports that plunged Silverlake to 26% down a single day before it was halted.

I spent the whole weekend reading the 42-page report and it was very comprehensive. To be fair, some of the allegations made was not new and we've seen it before. But this report made it very comprehensive. And I was convinced.




Before I gave my thoughts, I need to state that most of these are beyond the understanding of most fundamental analysts and accountants, even for myself, and a fraud auditor working in the industry would probably know better about this.

Many people have this misconception that once the financial statements are audited and if the auditor's opinion are unqualified, then everything we read in the financial reports must be holy true. That is not the case apparently. It is the management responsibility to ensure that the financial statements are true to the best of their knowledge and it usually depends very much on their integrity to disclose more or less information to the public which was not so apparent. A good example would be off balance sheet disclosure items.

I'll just cover a bit here and there about my thoughts on the allegations matter concerned:


Related Party Transactions Red Flag

This is the main allegations amongst all that is being highlighted.

The report outlines that Silverlake has used extensively in the reporting of its revenue and expenses for the over reliance on its related party transactions, some of whom belongs to the private equity holdings of Mr. Goh himself which can be very difficult to judge once the books gone into consolidation mode, which is what most investors read when they analyze.

The report also stressed that there are some irregularities about the revenue of the private holdings before they are being injected into the group level. It is as if the financial statements are being manipulated in order to account for the higher price sold to the group. In one of the example, it even shows that though the company is making consecutively larger losses over the years, employee numbers have increased substantially, which causes a red flag. The report extensively provided case study on at least 4 of the transactions.







The point on using related party transactions extensively is this. If you are going to use them extensively, then make sure they are being reported extensively in the annual report too. This can be difficult because this is usually the grey area of accounting aspects that isn't made mandatory to report these items in the group level. The reason for this is because each individual entity is supposed to have been audited before they are grouped into consolidation mode.

For auditors who are auditing the book for the group, it is also not easy to ascertain every single related party transactions. The idea is that any transactions made within related party transactions need to be made within an arm length's decision and they are not easy to ascertain for the auditors. For example, when my auditors ask me about the proof on the related party transactions on my company, I usually tell them that it is difficult to get the quotation from the competitors if we are not the customer. At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the management and their integrity to ensure that their reporting are not a misrepresentation and they are in accordance to the accounting standards.

It also doesn't help when they had changed 12 different auditors in the span of past 10 years. In other words, there could be a case where they may be trying to hide certain things from the auditors who obviously doesn't understand the business well enough.


Chairman's History of Cashing Out At Expense Of Minority Shareholders

The reports stated that historically Mr Goh has been cashing out his stake over the span of 10 years, amounting to RM500M alone. Including the amount of dividends received, this totaled up to RM1B.

On the other hand, you can see how minority shareholders are disadvantaged because the net cash outlay at the end of the 10 years are actually in negative territory. This includes the placement or equity issued to fund the related party transactions, which was thought to be over-priced.

This negative yield ideas are getting more popular these days and you can see how Reits often extensively used this to the benefits of increasing the AUM higher and higher each year.




Over-Valuation

The report made a claim about the over-valuation of Silverlake when comparing them against near competitors and they appear to be overvalued in terms of the price to sales. The report also mentioned that the revenue per employees is unusually high and this is done to inflate the revenue figures so that it looks impressive on the books.

For us investors when we are analyzing, we get attracted to Silverlake mainly because of its great CAGR on their revenue and profit margin, without actually thinking whether these numbers could be manipulated or not. In other words, we usually take the numbers as face value and we think they are a representative of what it should be. The report obviously stated otherwise.


Final Thoughts

When I made a decision to purchase this counter, I admit that I didn't think the figures could be manipulated at all. I take these figures as face value and was impressed by it. There were previously a report on its related party transactions, but it wasn't extensive enough to convince. This report has somewhat convinced.

The company would most probably issued a rebuttal to deny the allegations and I would be very much interested to read the case from their point of view. This would also most likely caused a rebound once the halt is being lifted.

Unless the counter-argument is convincing enough, I would most likely divest my stake in Silverlake when the market opens. I think given that they are operating in such a complex manner, it will be a matter of time before another short seller produces report similar to this to attack the company again. In view of this, I think it is better to stay clear about this stock until things are a lot more clearer. Fortunately for me, my average price for the stock was somewhere at around 72 cents because of the 5-for-1 bonus shares issued, so divesting them right now would not result in a substantial loss for me.

For investors who are thinking of going long because the share price looks much "cheaper" now than before, I would advise that you BUY only when you truly understand the allegations being made and you are truly convinced that those were not true.

Until then, let's see how they are going to respond when market reopens on Monday.



Friday, August 21, 2015

"Aug 15" - SG Transactions & Portfolio Update"

 No.
 Counters
No. of Shares
Market Price (SGD)
Total Value (SGD) based on market price
Allocation %
1.
Vicom
8,000
5.90
47,200.00
15.0%
2.
China Merchant Pacific
45,000
0.96
43,200.00
14.0%
3.
Kingsmen
36,000
0.81
29,160.00
9.0%
4.
Accordia Golf Trust
22,000
0.63
13,860.00
4.0%
5.
CapitaCommercial Trust
8,000
1.30
10,400.00
3.0%
6.
Nam Lee Metals
35,000
0.28
  9,800.00
3.0%
7.
Silverlake Axis
14,400
0.64
  9,216.00
3.0%
8.
ST Engineering
3,000
2.92
  8,760.00
3.0%
9.
Noel Gifts
18,900
0.31
  5,860.00
2.0%
10.
Stamford Land
10,000
0.49
  4,900.00
2.0%
11.
MTQ
7,000
0.52
  3,640.00
1.0%
12.
HoBee Land
1,000
1.96
  1,960.00
1.0%
13.
Far East Hospitality Trust
3,000
0.60
  1,800.00
1.0%
14.
Warchest*
115,000.00
38.0%

Total SGD


304,755.00
 100.00%





What a month it has been for August.

It has barely been a month and it has created a lot more chaos than what we were expecting.

To be honest, things were not much different from what we've seen last month. We always knew that China would have a soft landing and the US is going to hike up the interest sooner or later. It appears that there are some sorts of panic selling amongst the local retail investors scene as I've witnessed many who sells their existing portfolio to raise cash in order to buy back later at a lower price. 

For me, I have been involved in a various of activities this month, much to my delight that I have finally the opportunity to add. I know there will always be people who thinks the market will go lower. If so, great. All the more I am going to get aggressive and buying more. If not, I'll stick to my plan that I had originally planned. This will work out to what I believe to be excellent in the long run. 

For the month of August, I've managed to pare down my stake in China Merchant Pacific (See Here), Nam Lee Metals, and divested King Wan. You can refer to the Recent Transactions for further information regarding the divestment.

I have also been busy allocating capital this month to what I think represents an excellent opportunity, especially for investors who are looking for investing for income. I've added Kingsmen, Accordia, CapitaCommercial Trust, Far East Hospitality Trust and Ho Bee Land. I have not had a chance to write about my thoughts on these companies, and I will do so over the next few postings, but these are companies which has been in my target list for a very long time. When the price represents a decent entry, I will position my sizing to go in batches. It is not in my strategy to catch the bottom of the price, as one can only predict upon hindsight. There's also a few emails asking my opinion on the recent Silverlake allegations. I will have to read the report over the weekends to analyze their stands as it is a long report. Looks like it's going to be a busy weekend now.

The warchest amount is currently at 38% of the overall portfolio in what I believed to be in a decent position to be utilized when the opportunity arises. The dividend income received this month also helps to increase the amount of warchest, which is the reason why I love dividend investing a lot. It provides cashflow repeatedly in a predictably manner and helps to buffer for any capital gain loss while waiting for it to recover.



The equity networth has gone down from the previous month high to the current month at $304,755. I think this is not surprising given how everyone experienced quite a bit of bloodbath in the market recently.Although the amount of networth has shrinked this month, I have added more units of shares that gives out more in terms of dividend income. The cashflow is all we need in order to go through our daily lives.

The projected target is to reach the end year networth of $333,105 (Link Here). It is still somewhat a distance for now, but we'll never know what will happen to the market. With the last quarter of the year representing a strong month to finish off the dividend income, I might just be able to reach there if the market does not head south further.

In the meantime, enjoy the ride to the volatile market and perhaps we might see the bear pops out in a while more.

What about you? How has your portfolio been for August?







Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pacing Your Buying Activities (2) & Start Actioning

Oh boy, the last time I wrote a piece on the issue of warchest (see here) and pacing your buying activities article (see here) was back earlier in the year in Mar and June respectively. Back then, the mood in the market was extremely buoyant and it appears that nothing could stop the market from trending up and higher each time.

The local STI index is still hovering at around 3,000 points, and we can immediately see the sourness turned mouldy bearish atmosphere in the market. If you have been approaching your buying activities with some margin of safety, you shouldn't be looking at a large paper loss at this point in time. Imagine what would happen if the STI plunge to 2,500 or 2,000 points. If you are already looking at a large paper loss at this point in time, then let this be a learning experience that your entry price have not considered the margin of safety required to withstand a down market.




What can be worse from here is the inability for you to take opportunity in this opportunistic time in the market due to the lack of warchest fund. I've spoken quite a bit on the topic of warchest in my previous article so I will not repeat that again. The truth is these warchest provides us with a valuable call option to strike whenever we think the market presents an opportune time to do so. Some investors may have utilized all their funds previously and are either awaiting for market to reverse up or let the market dictates your holding portfolio. It is true that you can wait 3 to 5 years for the dividends to get even on your buying price, but you certainly want to make some good returns during opportune times like this. If you have a lack of warchest fund, then you lose that moment to capitalize.

There are also some investors who are sitting on plenty of warchest and are afraid to deploy them now that the good times are over. My advice would be to spread them wisely. It is absolutely fine not to have catch the bottom of the shares you are eyeing on. Just make sure you have plans to average them out if the market turns more sourish. For example, you can average down on STE at $3, then next at $2.70, and then at $2.50. I've seen some investors averaging down at $3, then at $2.98, then at $2.95. If you are averaging down this way, you would have exhausted your funds very fast and you will be out of bullets very soon.

Most investors emerge as winners from the behavior they did during the down market and not during the up market. Consider your options, strategies and make the best out of our resources during these opportune times.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Recent Action - CapitaCommercial Trust

I recently added 8,000 shares of CapitaCommercial Trust (CCT) at a price of $1.33 into the portfolio.

This is on the back of a great recent fall from the high of $1.94 in recent times to the current low at $1.33. I was looking through closely and waiting for a comfortable price to get in and I thought the current share price offered reasonably good long term returns with a price to book value at 0.77 and a dividend yield at probably around 6.5%.






The office sector is undergoing some corrections right now with massive supply glut going to come in 2016. They are also more cyclical to the economy than any other reits we can find out there. This is probably the reason why buying an office reits require investors to consider margin of safety. Investors who bought near the peak would be waiting to lick their wounds for a prolong period of time.

The company has convertible bonds due in Sep 2017 at a price of $1.54 for it to be in-the-money. If converted, the existing gearing will go even lower than the current. Judging by the looks of it, it appears that the company is able to obtain the cheap financing loan from this one at 2.5%.

I also like the fact that the company is retaining a portion of its distributable income in their retained earnings, which could be distributed if they are suffering any setback to their distributional income in the future.

Investors though should also take note that most net capitalization for office property reits in Singapore stands at the lower of 4%, while the dividends offered are in the north of 6%. This means that there are some form of income support stabilization with regards to the property that are pushing its yield higher than what it looks like. For example, the income support for Twenty Anson will expire in Sep 2015, currently yielding a net capitalization of 5.5%, and when it expires, it will go back to the 4% net yield. If you don't like this type of thing, go instead for FCOT, where most of the capitalization rate is much higher for overseas properties.

There's something about the Grade A premium office properties that Capcom owns that makes them special. Because of that, investors usually have to pay a little bit of premium when considering these Reits. With the rest of the stake in CapitaGreen looking to be acquired sooner or later, we can ensure that the company's assets and WALE remains intact with longer lease.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dividend Income Updates - Bridging The Cashflow Dream

The time has come again when we as dividend income investors enjoy the fruit of our labor. This has become one of my favorite section as I am able to enjoy the dividend income received year after year at this very same time as the businesses I am vested in flourish. When they do, these companies return part of their earnings to shareholders in the form of dividends, a cycle that now goes on almost in auto-pilot mode and it keeps on piling up until you are no longer vested in the company or when the latter goes kaput.




The reason why I am doing these regular updates is to account for my own responsibility of what I had set to do from the beginning. The other intention is to provide for some kind of inspiration for any new investors that are having second thoughts on investing and whether these sorts of passive income is a tangible idea or not. All I can say is they have rewarded a lot more to me than anything I can ask for in my investing journey and the best part of it is they keep on getting better and better as we look back on the seed we've planted all these years in the past. Since we've just witnessed and celebrated the national jubilee celebration, I trust that most people can relate to the same.

Dividend income continues to play a big part in my overall strategy to move on from a corporate role into something I would like to embark on. It provides a very predictable cashflow that I can use them almost for any expenses I incurred such as utilities, phone bills, milk powder, etc. When these pots are huge enough that they are able to produce constant income that meets my defined criteria of the projected expenses, then I'll most probably be quite done and over with the money concept.

As the reporting season began to wind down, I've tabulated across the amount of dividend income I will be receiving this month. Some of them will span across and be paid early next month but that doesn't really matter too much to me. Without further ado, here are the breakdown:


CountersDividends (S$)
China Merchant Pacific1575.00
Vicom700.00
Kingsmen360.00
Stamford Land300.00
MTQ140.00
Total3,075.00


That's $3,075 of dividend income I will be receiving just about passively, without having to actively work for it. It could have been a lot more if not for the recent divestment of the Reits I owned previously but those capital are sitting nicely in my warchest pot, and they will be utilized at some point in time purposefully.

One of my goals for 2015 is to receive a dividend income of $18,000 for the year. Including the amount I've received previously during the year, the total amount of dividend income received is so far at $8,678 or 48% of the overall goal. It looks like I will not be making the goal successfully for this year but I reckon it'll come closer. The month of Nov and Dec will be a big one for me now.

Thanks for reading.

How was your month been for you? Does dividend income provides a buffer in this market volatility?



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Recent Action - Kingsmen Creative (2) & Q2 FY15 Results Thoughts

Kingsmen Creative had recently announced their Q2 FY15 results and I used these opportunities in recent times to average down on the shares after maidenly buying their shares about a month ago (you can view here). I added 21,000 shares at an average price of $0.91 into my existing portfolio during the last couple of transactions after the share price seen some weaknesses.

The Q2 results are disappointing for sure, with revenue segment, especially for the Retail & Interiors segment taking a big hit, with luxury sectors taking a slowdown globally. The Exhibitions and Museums remain the highlight for the company's business, especially after Singapore held their 28th SEA Games and a couple of new themes coming up such as the Kidzania concept up and coming in Sentosa.

The management did concede that the bidding for the luxury segment was going to be more competitive in the future, hence they have decided to expand into the more affordable mid class segment in order to gain further footprint in the industry. I thought with their capability they should have done that long ago. Perhaps, the margins are lower in those segments.


P&L Statement


Business Segmentation

Just doing a couple of updates here into the spreadsheet.

Gross Margin remains fairly strong and within the range while the overall drop is more due to the drop in revenue as mentioned above. The company has managed their cost control pretty well, and they will need to do so since their net profit margin at 5% or so means that they cannot take any margins of errors, especially with salaries being the main costs contributor.

Free cash flow remains highly in the red but that's because they've purchased a building premise earlier in the year and not because their capex requirements are high.

The management has strongly asserted that the 2H would be much stronger, so I do expect the majority of the revenues to come in the 2nd half of the year. Interim dividends have been cut to 1 cents (from 1.5 cents) last year but you can see how the management is taking a very prudent approach when the first half is not doing well.




Vested with 36,000 shares as of writing.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Vicom Q2 FY15 - Impending Slowdown Coming?

I just wanted to quickly update on the latest announcement for the Q2 results.

Nothing surprising in general other than what I have previously discussed which you can view here on the vehicle and non-vehicle segment.




Topline growth looks quite evidently and seems to be muted now, after years and years of consistent growth. The management has somewhat outlined that growth in the vehicle segment are likely to slow down, especially with the carmageddon wave of deregistering coming in the next few years to come.

The black horse was always going to come from the Setsco segment, which has grown bigger over the years and now contributed almost 2/3 of the revenue and 1/3 of the total profitability. Unfortunately, the management has also guided that growth is going to fall as the industries they are servicing are experiencing a slowdown, probably a global phenomenon that everything is going to fall apart pretty soon. Maybe.




The company has maintained an interim dividend of 8.75 cents/share which will be payable by this month. I foresee full year dividends to come at around 28 cents/share, a slight increase from the previous year, though do take note that it represents almost an 80% payout from its earnings.




Balance sheet continues to look very strong, with cash equivalent having more than 50% of the overall assets. I'd love to see them doing something with the cash though there isn't really anything that they can do other than keeping them in their balance sheet for now.




Final Thoughts

I'm vested with 8,000 shares and am likely to keep the shares for now.

The business though slowing down has proven time and again that the business model is working well and free cash flow generating capability remains very strong with the low capex they are incurring. Both the vehicle and non-vehicle segment provides servicing, so majority of the costs will already be accounted for in the overhead costs, and with that they are still able to generate an EBITDA margin of 34%. That is a very strong model we are talking about.

I hope this doesn't go in the way of Super Group or Osim, both of which has been on an uptrend and one poor quarterly results send them down the entire way. 

Let's see how it pans out. This remains one of my core holdings for now.


Monday, August 10, 2015

The Power Of Free

It's been a really fantastic long Jubilee weekend for all of us. 

For the nation, we celebrate our 50th jubilee year of national independence and it has been a truly remarkable journey for all Singaporeans. The grand celebration at Padang was also an indication that marks the face of the tiny little dot to the envy of the whole world.

However, one thing that stands out from the "giving" for this Jubilee weekend has been the exceptional power of "FREE" that marks a truly significant sharing to all Singaporeans by various vendors and attractions.




One of those attractions I mentioned was the Art of the Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands, which was offered free entries during the Jubilee weekend. I was personally there to witness the long queue myself and had planned to join in until I was told that the waiting time was over 5 hours. I changed my mind of course. My rationale was simple. If the cost of the entry ticket to go in is $30, then a 5 hours wait might not be the most sensible thing to do. This is myself of course being able to have the luxury to spend on these things. Perhaps, we could argue that it was not the case for everyone, but I think most people in the queue would be able to afford the tickets easily.

The free cable ride offered at the Sentosa was another which I was bemused. Last I am hearing, the waiting time for the free cable ride goes for as long as 10 hours. That's practically almost half a day long just awaiting for the free entry to the cable ride. Does it make sense for someone who can afford to do so on any given normal day? Maybe not so. But humans are predictably irrational, as Dan Ariely will tell you so on the power of free.


The Power of Free

In his book on the "Predictable Irrational", Dan Ariely talked about how the hidden forces of free shapes the irrational thinking of mankind. It's like as if there are almost no downside limitation to it. After all, what can you lose if you are paying nothing? Not nice or not fun? Hey, it's FREE!!! Some may argue that the waiting time I talked earlier was a downside, but perhaps maybe not many think so.

On the investing front, we can relate the concept of delayed gratification to this. Since many people are seemingly eager to participate in the activities that they do not have to pay upfront, perhaps the same can be said and applied to personal finance. If these people are able to sustain and control their physical and emotional awareness to waiting, then my assumption is that they are able to control their buying impulsiveness for the greater good of the latter. After all, it is all about sacrificing the current state to the benefit of the latter, which most likely is the case.

For this very same reason, then we could perhaps deduce that the low utility of personal finance to Singaporeans would be more due to the not knowing how than the irrational state being of the individual himself.

What do you think of this concept of free? Would you have done the same waiting if you were there?


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Financial Independence Isn't Necessarily All About The Money

The easiest way to begin framing financial independence in your mind is to think of a typical day. I'm not talking about a special day or the week that you took leave from your work, where you might do something only occasionally, but on an average day, one that would categorize your activities once you've achieved financial independence.

The pursuit towards financial independence has somewhat evolved through the recent years I've been pursuing it.

It started off as a pursuit towards being able to handle basic proper financial planning like the usual stuff we often hear about - Being frugal about things. Never spend anything more than you can save. Spend on needs over luxuries.

The next step is about how to grow these amounts of money through investable assets that would make money work harder for you - Grow the human assets aspect. Invest in assets that will grow over time. Compound savings and investment early in our years. Choose the right portfolio allocation.

Finally, we look at things from the end results point of view. Grow our passive income. Determine the crossover point where passive income exceeds expenses. Calculate withdrawal rate after retirement.




In one of my previous post on redefining the concept of success (article here), I talked about how most society defines success as a measure of how well an individual is doing. One of the comments by a reader talks about a profession of doctor. Most of the popular professions such as doctors and lawyers are "favorite" because it carries "weight" to their profession, which can differ depending on how society sees it. When kids talk about wanting to grow up being a doctor or lawyer, the motive behind the reasoning is always going to be saving people's lives or bringing justice upright. But the moment one grows up, the society (and perhaps including your relatives and neighbours) sees such professions as having how much money, houses or fancy cars do they own. We can't really blame the society for viewing it that way, as we do have some correlation about the impression of money that can make an impact to this world.

Financial bloggers often talked about wanting to achieve financial independence on their blogs and it is not difficult to see why the community is so fixated on achieving the perfect aspect of this plan, be it savings or investing in any form of assets that can help grow the money. The truth is we can't deviate from the monetary aspect of this financial planning and they are critical if we want to survive in this world. They may look shallow to the first time reader reading the financial blog but they are there to serve the purpose and that purpose isn't all about the money at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that most bloggers want to achieve independence rather than financial independence, though we can't argue much than accept the fact that they are a subset of the former.

This is perhaps the true intention behind my goal to reach the state of financial independence one day and that is to allow more freedom from whatever I am tied to do right now, be it fear from finding an alternative career path or an impossible task to take sabbatical away from work for a considerable period of time. I also dislike when there are people questioning my motive on my goal because these are mostly the same people who do stick to the conventional wisdom of life - Study hard, get a degree, find a stable job, and stay until retirement. And I want to live my life, while not forgetting my role as a breadwinner of the house. Not an easy task by any means. I can't simply walk away quitting and let my wife and child bear the burden of my selfishness.

I salute those who have the courage to step out of their comfort zones in life and whilst I can't speak for everyone's experience since everyone's situation is different, I'll stick to what I believe in when I started on this blog. But one thing for sure, it isn't necessarily all about the money at the end of the day.


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