With less than 2 weeks to go before 2013 concludes, I am already looking forward to the new year! After all, Jan 1 is the time when the number of sick leave resets back to 0, accompanied by a new lease of 18 days of vacation leave. =p
And much as I dislike filling up the yearly appraisal document when the year-end approaches, I have to admit it’s a useful exercise to look at how much you have done (or not done) for the calendar year. It’s also made less painful by the fact that my boss is going to use it as a reference to grade my performance for the year. (And obviously, performance bonuses given out in March are dependent on the grade.)
Since work is regarded as just a small part of my life (at least for me), it makes sense to put in some effort (if not more) to prepare a scorecard to reflect on how I spent my year outside of work in 2013 too. At the very least, it should make for interesting reading/recalling 5 years down the road. =)
Here’s a quick lowdown of Year 2013:
After struggling through a year of employment in 2012, it was a relief to have stumbled on blogs like ERE and Mr Money Mustache (see here) and discover that it’s possible to retire early. It helped that I had always been fairly frugal and had already accumulated a 6-digit stock portfolio by early this year.
As a result, there’s a slight shift in my investment philosophy towards businesses that pay out higher dividends. Afterall, the aim is to scale back on our careers after we turn 35 and we might need to rely on some form of passive income to help sustain our lifestyle. This year, we have initiated positions in relatively high yielding property counters like PLife Reit, First Reit and Low Keng Huat.
And instead of procrastinating another year, I opened a savings account with CIMB that enables us to earn a much higher interest on a savings account. Also added some Yuan to my foreign currency holdings earlier this year when the exchange rates were favourable.
2. Health & Fitness
When the IPPT window opened in late April this year, I slowly began an exercise regime. But the difference from past years was that after clearing this annual obstacle, I haven’t rewarded myself by slacking off. The past half a year, I have been exercising 3 times a week on average. Even during my short vacation to Bangkok, I swam twice in the hotel’s lap pool. Right now, I am probably the fittest I have ever been since my army days.
A copy of Newpaper, a piece of waffle from the neighbourhood shop with peanut butter spread plus a Giant Slurpee. That was a heavenly treat I gave myself at least once a week during my Primary and Secondary school days. Blessed with a high metabolism, this didn’t exert much costs on my weight. I was often classified as borderline underweight up till I was like 21?
Having consumed at most two cups of Slurpee in the past year, there has been a huge improvement in the quality of my diet. The sweet tooth is also dying a slow death as I start to find stuff like macarons and cupcakes too sweet/sugary for my liking. I enjoy fruits much more, although soft drinks and ice-cream remain huge weaknesses. =p
3. Life Event: Home ownership
Hedonic adaptation has creeped in slowly as occasionally, I start to lament at the rust/mould growing in some of the corners of the bathroom, grumble at the dust accumulating at the blinds and window panes and mumble regrets about the choice of our floor tiles.
But boy am I proud to be part of this majority of Singaporeans who own their shelter. There’s a price to pay though. The renovation and furnishing costs which amounts to >$60,000, the monthly mortgage in excess of $900, and utility bills and the like that adds up to roughtly $200 every month.
But all these is really a small price to pay to have a castle of your own, where we have easy and cheap access to water, gas and the electricity grid. Seriously, before all of us start complaining about the increasing cost of living in Singapore, we should reflect that we are the envy of not just people who helm from developing countries. If you’ve seen a slum in a North American city, you know what I am talking about.
4. Personal Development: Started a blog
I am surprised that I have kept it running at such an intensity for almost half a year, publishing at least 2 articles every week. Admittedly, there have been times when this blog feels more like an obligation rather than a passion. But just like exercising, one begins to enjoy it once you start and get past those first few sentences.
I do think that this kind of discipline builds character and I have also realised that I really do enjoy writing, especially when I am wrapping up one of these “babies” with the conclusion. Moreover, I am proud to call myself a personal finance blogger and it’s been amazing to pursue financial independence along with so many wise souls (yeah, you’re probably one of them) reading, commenting and of course, encouraging me on this humble blog. =)
Ok, I guess you have had enough of my “self-indulgence”. (Hah! I already feel an upswing in my mood already as compared to a couple of hours ago.) But in case you’re curious to know what’s next, do stayed tuned to my next post where I shall share my 2014 plans & goals!