A Review Of My Choices In 2015

The past weekend was really crazy and zoomed past like the speed of light! X’mas is traditionally quite busy for me with quite a few gatherings with friends and relatives. However, the advantage of being a freelancer these days is that weekday mornings are relatively quite chill and here I am, squeezing out a couple of hours on a Monday afternoon to do some writing and typing.

Last week, I watched my favourite movie Forest Gump (probably the 5th time I was watching it) again. And here’s the famous quote from that movie below:

tom hanks forest gump

Life might be unpredictable and not exactly within our control, but what we make out of that one life we have is a function of our choices. Afterall, Forest could have chosen not to eat any chocolates.

So here’s a review of the choices I made in 2015:


 

Career

Somewhat unfortunately, the switch to become a school teacher didn’t exactly work out. However, just to set things right, that opportunity made me realise that I simply love to teach. Minus the formal appraisals, endless meetings and the rigid lesson plans, teaching was a joy. Instead of the classroom environment, I loved the more informal consultations I had with my students.

And voila, the switch to become a full-time tutor has been smoother than I thought. Two months ago, I plucked up some courage, posted some information of myself on my in-laws’ condo’s FB page and now, I am almost fully booked. Each lesson I have with my students is just mostly one more of those enjoyable consultations.

This is not a choice without any potential costs. Since I am looking at an income of $30k to $40k in 2016, it’s easily a 50% cut compared to the salary I had as an office drone. Let’s hope this choice doesn’t come back to bite me.

Blog

Making a choice to spend more than 200 hours on this blog churning out more than 70 posts has been nothing short of rewarding. Although I sometimes whine about the “obligation” of keep the blog up to date, deep down, I know that this blog “give me more than what it takes away”. It’s a platform which allows me to organise my thoughts, reflect upon my actions and decisions and of course, improve my life.

Through the blog, I have met up with other like-minded individuals, expanded my (somewhat limited) social network, improved my personal finance knowledge and made a little bit of money in the process.

Honestly, I think the blog doesn’t need much progress. I hope the previous sentence doesn’t come across as too obnoxious, but what I meant was that I am very comfortable in this current state. Looking to allocate more time on it, grow it further and monetise it more makes me weary and it’s simply not a task or responsibility I am willing to take at this point in time.

Who says status quo can’t be good?

Health & Well-Being

This is an area where I continually struggle with. I am often accused by my better half that I tend to get obsessed with things. Be it the blog, tuition or even games. I get addicted, become intense and ultimately, suffer a burnout at the end. Besides the mental well-being being affected, during the episode, I would also ignore my physical well-being, choosing not to exercise as much.

If I were to compare, I am struggling to live up to late 2014. I was feeling better, fitter and sleeping like a baby during the months when I was almost half a year into my sabbatical.Hopefully, things will continue improving in the next couple of months. I hope to eat better, move better and sleep better by the middle of 2016.

Finances & Investments

The decision to stay largely invested in the markets is hurting me. Unless a miracle happens in the last few trading days of the year, I would not just be in the red, but under-performing the local STI index as well.

But well, who could have perfectly timed the market? Who could have predicted the current malaise affecting commodities and oil? Even right now, nobody knows whether we are going to see 2,700 or 3,000 soon for the index.

In the past few months, somewhat a little belatedly, I have taken some money off the table and is currently still about 50-60% invested in the stock market.

Somewhat surprisingly, the slump has not adversely affected our overall finances much. Even though we are not earning as much as previously, we are still saving enough to offset the losses and our networth is actually up year-on-year. Our choice to have a simpler and less material-dominated lifestyle is paying dividends.


All in all, not such a bad year after all! Here’s hoping 2016 would be even better for everyone!

 

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    23 thoughts on “A Review Of My Choices In 2015

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi Cory,

        Thanks for your well wishes. I guess I got lucky!

        Happy New Year to you and your family too!

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi Kevin,

        I actually used the piano piece in the beginning and end of the movie during my wedding! That’s how much I like it.

        I am pretty sure you’re going to have an awesome 2016 too!

    1. RB35

      Interesting analysis 15HWW. Always a pleasure to read your posts.

      One thing that struck me – is there a reason why you took money off the table when the markets were down? You must have had your reasons – perhaps a new blog post might be in order (or I might have missed that post of yours outlining your analysis) 🙂

      All the best for 2016. A new year brings about new hope!

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi RB35,

        I actually liquidated positions that were resilient or even did well in this crisis. I am moving towards a more passive strategy and I will write about it real soon!

        Looking forward to your new parts for your year end review!

    2. LP

      Haha, regarding income, you know you can make more if you want. Don’t know if you’ll be ‘pressed’ to take more student due to other reasons than income though, haha! We shall see.

      Great year for this 2015 it seems 😉

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi LP,

        When that happens, it would be really hard to reject the extra students or lessons.

        It’s a good year, but probably not as perfect as a 5/5?! Oops… Couldn’t resist a dig there. LOL

    3. B

      Ho ho ho…

      Seems like you’ve got no time for fifa now, your schedule is rather full packed.

      That’s great to know you made the transition easy to a full time tutor. I might have to get some tips from you on how to do that.

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi B,

        I have had a lot of fun with some games these past few days. Housework and whatsapp chats are taking a backseat as I pound away on some RPG games on the iPad!

        In terms of the difficulty of the transition, it’s ego > income > daily changes. The ego part is still the most difficult to overcome.

    4. bb

      Well, money is not everything as most people wil come to realize in time to come. I think when we see there’s more to life than juat being a salary man or woman chained to material possessions, we start to live better. I think it’s only then we truly see what is important and what makes us happier. You’ll have a good year ahead, hehe, like what everyone says ^^

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi happiebb,

        I am happy spending my time doing what I enjoy best and feel I contribute most to! Hopefully, it does lead to long-term satisfaction and indeed, happiness.

        My self-worth is definitely not attached to how much wealth I have or my job title.

    5. Frugal Daddy

      I like this : “Our choice to have a simpler and less material-dominated lifestyle is paying dividends.”

      I think this is the most important element to beating most austere investors out there. Another level up is truly enjoying the lifestyles with the minimum material consumptions.

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi Frugal Daddy,

        Being able to enjoy simplicity is key. If one is not enjoying it, one could probably be better off splurging instead. If you can splurge and be temporary happy, it sure beats being in misery all the time.

    6. sillyinvestor

      Hi 15 HWW,

      wa… teachers no longer teach, that is a fact. I considered cca teaching too. My time spent in direct teaching related business has gone from 50-60% to 30-40%… I must say it hurts too. But I man whore la…Will do it for the 40% pleasure and hope the money make up for the 60%, I used to have it good LOL

      Market? I buy buy buy during the market downturn, so I think I am doing worse.. LOL but the good thing is I dun feel the pinch, dun know that is good or bad thou… Looking to buy more.

      Or sell if market recovers, now I just Zzzzzzz and work my ass out. I am still preparing for tomorrow meeting you know… its almost 12 p.m.

      Better to fall asleep on the table than wakes up in cold sweat..

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi SI,

        Even though I was in quite a benign environment in a JC and teaching quite an interesting subject (Econs), I didn’t really enjoy the “job”. Guess I was “poisoned” too much from all the early retirement reads and from my own sabbatical. LOL

        Regarding the market, the point at which we choose to assess our performance makes all the diff. One could be goading others for not “playing” in 2007 and one could be absolutely depressed in 2009. So maybe not thinking too much is the way to go!

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi,

        Happy New Year to you and your family too! Hope you have a good year health and wealth wise.

    7. Singaporemm

      Interesting review! I wouldn’t worry too much about the decreased income part, the key I find is really to decrease expenses which you’ve been doing!

      I find that many men have this problem with temporary obsession, my husband, my dad included. Maybe women are too rational and unaffected by this, and can only nag at the men in their lives to stop being ridiculous 😛

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi Singaporemm,

        I am still finding it hard to find time to cook. Which is, argh, so disappointing.

        Thanks for the sharing. I am glad I am not the only one. Going to show the Mrs this post!