Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't Run the Rat Race

Since young, I have always heard this phrase : " Don't run the rat race."

It is only now, 27 years of age, that I finally think I understand what this phrase means.

After working for a number of years, I suddenly realised that I was actually running the rat race! I was working hard at my job, looking for my next promotion, next pay raise. I was also constantly comparing myself with others and checking out what cars they were driving, where they were living, what sort of restaurants they go to, etc , etc.

All these resulted in me neglecting other aspects of my life - spiritual, social, emotional.

Getting Out of the Rat Race

At the turn of 2008, while I was doing my own personal reflection, I realised that I had hardly grown as a person be it in terms of character, knowledge, etc. Yes I did grow but I would not say that the growth was great. Again I compared myself to my peers and saw how some have actually leap frogged past me in terms of qualifications, knowledge in specialised fields, promotions, pay, etc.

I also noticed one thing. I looked at my bosses' lives and did not admire what they were going through. Little family time, weekends spent doing work and going through reports, lots of pressure from the bigger bosses above... I asked myself: " Do I really want to be like them?" The answer was a simple "NO."

It was then that I decided that I needed to get out of this rat race - badly. This rat race was consuming my life. As Lily Tomlin puts it: "The trouble with the rat race is even if you win it, you're still a rat."

I stopped listening to my bosses' "encouragement" to take on more responsibilities so that I could get my next promotion, pay raise, bonus, etc, etc. I told myself that I would no longer run a race that was so meaningless. I would instead run a race that I set out for myself. A race that at my dying bed, I would know was worthwhile for my family, friends, loved ones and myself. Simply, a live that was well-lived and worth living. All things I placed in the context of that final day when I lie at my death bed and ask myself: "Was it worth it?".

A lot of things are simply not worth it. Working long hours and missing dinner with loved ones. Working over the weekends. Getting so tired that I had no time to spend with friends.

For those of you who know, one of the race that I have set for myself is to achieve financial freedom (i.e. earning more in passive income than my expenditures). My spendings and investments have also taken a turn as I now see everything in terms of what will increase my passive income and what I can do to decrease my monthly expenditure.

This blog chronicles my journey. I have journeyed for 1 long year already. Everyday, I am getting closer to my goal. I have also learnt tremendously from fellow forummers and bloggers.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. The race is still on and I challenge you to take part in this race too.. the financial freedom race.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

$1590.38 in Dividends & Passive Income for May 09

This month was another bountiful month for me similar to Feb 09.

The breakdown is as follows:

1. Stock Dividends = $1553.50
2. Canroys Distribution = $15.88
3. Other income = $21.00

This brings the grand total to an amount of $1590.38.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Raking in the Money

Decided to cash out of some stock positions to realise the gains that I have. They are not alot and are nothing to be proud of since I am still actually sitting on paper loss on my other shares.
Also bought into Ascendas REITs

Below are my trading activities for today:

1. Sold 6000 Hongguo at $0.255 (Remaining left 24,000 Hongguo shares)
2. Sold KepLand @$2.27 (Remarks : Bought @1.96, Sold the rights for $755 plus gains of $270, not bad)

3. Bought Ascendas REITs (3000 shares @$1.37)

As you can see, I am really a small small fish in a big big sea. The quantity that I trade is very little so I really need the stock price to move up a lot before I can make a gain.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stock Dividends Received for 26 May 09

Received the following stock dividends:

1. $66.72 (KingBoard stocks)
2. $750 (Innotek)

Total Dividends received for today = $ 816.72

Monday, May 25, 2009

Liquidated My Stocks and Rights

I decided to liquidate my stocks in Pengrowth Energy Trust and also my rights for KepLand.

Reasons being this:

1. The amount of shares I own in Pengrowth Energy Trust was only a mere 100. The price had risen to give me a returns of greater than 25%. Also, the dividends that I received were not substantial enough to warrant UOB Kay Hian from deducting $5 for postage and handling fees.

2. KepLand had recently declared dividends of $0.08 per share. To subscribe to the rights, I would have to pay slightly over $1. This would set me back by $1000 which is not too good for my current cash flow. On top of this, Pac Andes has also recently announced that it will issue rights too. This is a scary thought....are all the companies I own starting to issue rights now to gain more money to boost up their books? What happened to all the passive income I am supposed to get from dividends?

Therefore, I liquidated my 100 shares of Pengrowth Energy Trust and my 900 nil paid rights of KepLand.

Total amount I will get from the sale of both should amount to $1800

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Aren't My Stocks Supposed to be Assets?

Robert Kiyosaki mentioned in his book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" that assets put money into your pocket while liabilities take money out of your pocket.

It was with this in mind that I started to acquire more of these assets (e.g. stocks) instead of frivolous stuff like clothes, accessories, electronic devices and stuff.

These stocks I own have been paying me quarterly and yearly dividends. Thus, they have been putting money into my pocket over the years.

However, two stocks that I have recently declared "rights' issue. For the uninitiated, that basically means that the company is issuing me with more shares and I have to pay for them if I intend to exercise my "rights" or either forfeit them and see my shareholdings in the company diluted.

What an irony. These assets are now taking money out of my pocket! All the dividends that I have earned from them are like useless.

If they are so cash strapped, why did they even declare dividends in the first place over the years?

Didn't they foresee this coming? Why weren't they more prudent in calculating the amount of dividends that they were giving out over the years?

So now instead of owning assets, I am like owning two businesses which are asking me to pump in more money into them. I can't tell whether these are assets or liabilities just yet.

*Big Sigh*

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dividends from Canroys

Received dividends from my canroys

PWE - $10.60
PGH - $5.28

Total = $15.88

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Received $268 in Dividends

Received the following stock dividends for 19 May and 20 May 09:

$140 from China Aviation Oil
$128 from ST Eng

Saturday, May 16, 2009

In 2003 I had only $4.35 in Bank Account

I was just flipping through my old bank records when I came across this entry:

100403 = ***********4.35

Yes..there was a moment in my life that I actually had only $4.35 in my bank account! I was too proud to ask my parents for money even though I could.

I remember those days and weeks while I waited for the next pay check. It was terrible. The only consolation was that I still stayed with my parents back then (was not married in 2003) so I had no bills to pay and stuff. Food was also free =)

The feeling was just so terrible. Friends asked me out and I gave excuses not to go.

That lasted for close to a month where the magic wall (ATM machine) would not give me any cash. The minimum withdrawal was $20 just in case you did not know. I almost wanted to go to the bank to close the account so that I could take out the $4.35 inside.

Ha.. Those were really the days..

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Family Networth Hits $500,000

With the brief stock market recovery/rally, my family's total networth (assets minus liabilities) has exceeded $500,000 for the first time.

Not a time to celebrate though as the markets might drop and bring our networth down again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Old Post from ST Forum

An old post from ST Forum. Is the Swede quality of life really that good??

Swede quality of life

I REFER to Ms Heng Siew Cheng's letter, 'Why one couple is resettling in Sweden'', (July 17) and the replies by Singapore Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua (July 22), and 'Where else can you buy your home in 5 years?'' by Mr Peter Wadeley (July 24) My Singaporean wife moved to Sweden in 2001. She gave birth to our first child, a boy, last November. We are now on holiday, extending our first flush of joy of parenting in Singapore with my wife's family.

My wife, a teacher, is on a year's maternity leave. I am on paternity leave for 45 days here. When I return home, I shall still be on paternity leave for three more months. The generous duration of our parental leave is mandated by the state. Mr Wadeley implies that Singaporeans can buy a home in five years. I disagree. Last year, the median household income was $4,870. Even with grants, an average family cannot pay off a flat that quickly. It is also unachievable for Ms Heng and her Swedish husband, even if their collective income barely breaches the HDB's $8,000 bar.

Mrs Lim's comparison is incomplete. Nine in 10 Singaporeans merely lease their homes (HDB flats are typically 99-year leaseholds). Freehold ownership is higher in Sweden: Forty per cent live in landed property, 20 per cent in freehold condos and 40 per cent in rental flats. Swedish rental flats are akin to HDB flats. The main differences are that there is no downpayment, and the rental contract does not expire.

It is true, as Mrs Lim says, that Swedes spend 13 per cent of their income on housing. But for the money, half of us have our own garden - and precious time - to play with our children.

She suggests it is less expensive to raise children here. It is true that consumer goods are cheaper here and Singapore ranks third globally in per capita GDP (purchasing power adjusted) and Sweden 12th, according to the World Bank. But as more of Singapore's GDP comprises imports and exports, the statistic does not reveal the extent of benefit to its citizens.

The World Bank uses Household Final Consumption Expenditure (HFCE) as an affordability benchmark. Including goods and services provided by the government, it tells how much one has for useful spending, either directly or through tax. Sweden's HFCE per capita, in 2005 figures, is US$30,000, (S$42,000) double Singapore's US$14,000.

Ms Heng is concerned about raising children here. Having lived in both countries, I agree. The United Nations' Human Development Index, based on 350 indicators, tracks 'a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living'. Sweden ranks sixth worldwide, while Singapore trails at 25th.

I am not advocating the adoption of Sweden's welfare system wholesale. But, if Singapore adopts a tiny part, giving parents flexibility and cheaper childcare, it probably means a tax hike of just a few per cent.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to Ms Heng to Sweden.

Jan Sundström

Saturday, May 9, 2009

$120 Dividends From NOL

Received $120 dividends from NOL

My portfolio of stocks has also risen in value by $10k. Still sitting on paper loss though for some of the stocks

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

So the Bull (or Bubble) is Here ($1500 to be coming soon)

So it seems that the bull market is back in full force. Or maybe it is simply too early to tell. It could be the greatest Bubble for all we know.

I guess most people have missed the bull run up as share prices of alot of stocks have already risen dramatically over the past few days. Seems like the swine flu and the global financial crisis no longer strikes any fear in people.

It is good to see my portfolio recover some of its paper loss. But of course I am lamenting the fact that I have missed this great opportunity to ride the bull up. I was not too disciplined in doing my dollar cost averaging as you can see.

Anyway, the month of May will be a bountiful month for me in terms of dividends. Below are the list of stocks that I am holding that have declared dividends:

1. ChinaAOil (SGD 0.02 per share)
2. First REIT (SGD 0.0188 per share)
3. Innotek (SGD 0.05 per share)
4. KingBoard (HKD 0.01 per share)
5. NOL (SGD 0.04 per share)
6. ST Eng (SGD 0.128 per share)
7. Suntec REIT (SGD 0.02918 per share)
8. KepLand (SGD0.08 per share)

I estimate that I should be getting about S$1500 plus in dividends for the month of May.

Hmmm.. so maybe its not too bad also..some extra cash in my pocket.

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