As I keep hearing Justin Bieber’s Mistletoe playing on the radio (ok, I have to admit the tune’s pretty catchy and I quite like it), I realise that “the most beautiful time of the year” has arrived.
No, it’s not just about those snow, X’mas trees and festive feasting. It’s also the season when I get to ruminate over what I have “achieved” during the past 12 months, in line with what I had done the previous year. It also serves as some form of a scorecard against the goals set for this year.
To enjoy it further, I have even penned it down on this blog to share these glories with you. 🙂
So here’s a quick lowdown of Year 2014 for me:
This comes first not because money is the most important thing to me in this world. But well, this is by and large a personal finance blog, right?
With the amazing OCBC 360 account introduced earlier this year, the $250k portfolio target was made that much easier and that mark has been breached a couple of times already this year. We have also initiated positions in some dividend-paying blue chips like OCBC, St Engg, SGX and Dairy Farm besides adding on positions in Semb Corp, MTQ and Kingsmen.
This has resulted in our passive income close to approaching $750 a month, enough to cover some of our basic expenses like 3 simple meals, utilities and insurance. Good progress since it represents a good 50% increase compared to a year ago!
Nonetheless, with expenses averaging >$4,000 a month for this year, there’s still some way to go (either through increasing investment income or reducing expenses) before semi-retirement becomes a possibility for both of us.
2. Health & Fitness
I feel so much healthier and fitter compared to a year ago. In fact, I think I haven’t been this fit since almost a decade ago.
Sticking to largely apples and nuts for breakfast during the past few months seems to have paid dividends. I think I actually enjoy it now. Moreover, I have been preparing dishes like barley soup, steamed carrot and corn and army for lunch quite a number of times. Besides a healthier meal, they are easy to prepare and washing up is a piece of cake.
Exercising more than 5 times per week during the past 6 months, slow but steady progress has been made in both my swimming and running. 20 laps of breaststroke in 40 minutes isn’t really that much of a challenge nowadays and I finally managed to clock 6km in 30 minutes a couple of weeks ago (albeit in a climate-controlled environment)!
3. Life Event: A 6-month sabbatical
I definitely didn’t anticipate taking a 6-month sabbatical one year ago. In fact, the smart money would have been on me continuing my previous job for at least one more year just to save up more money.
But I took the plunge and I really do think that its the right choice. During the half-way mark, I did some reflections too. Obviously, there’s the perks but life’s not exactly a bed of roses during this period.
After this episode, I am more convinced than ever that I don’t want to be held hostage to a job till retirement age. But the irony is that I think even when I become financially independent , I doubt I would want to be on vacation forever (most people’s dreams). I guess that’s why the idea of a 15 hour work week is so appealing to me. 🙂
4. Personal Development: Making new friends on the blogosphere
Being lazy and somewhat apathetic towards reaching out and arranging get-togethers was a bad habit that was costing me friends. (Brilliant article from Raptitude that totally resonated with me.)
On hindsight, one of the main benefits of writing this blog for me was being able to reach out to like-minded people. But I was still really very passive until Alvin from BigFatPurse invited me to his VIMC workshop half a year ago. Besides learning a great deal from the course, I was also able to meet up with Christopher Ng that day. And I have been quite a big fan of his ever since reading one of his personal finance books during NS.
I always had this misconception: Why would these famous authors/established bloggers want to meet me when I have so little to offer?
It was being challenged and shortly after, shattered. When I met up with one of my readers, I gathered that it wasn’t really hard to establish a connection with people whom I admire. All I had to do was to ask that person out for lunch or coffee. The worst that could happen is being repeatedly turned down and even then, I am no worse off than before.
So I became more active, played host to a group of finance bloggers and authors for a session of poker, attended an NTUC roundtable discussion and even took lots of initiative to ask people whom I admire and benefited greatly from out for coffee or a meal.
I have made some new friends as a result. 😉
Hope you have had a great 2014 too! And Merry X’mas!