Thursday, June 29, 2023

Wrapping up my First Month of FIRE: Had Fun, Did tons of Admin, and Uncovered Some Health Issues

So after I achieved FI, I decided to start a sabbatical in June. 

As of now, it is the end of my first month of 'FIRE' (to be clear, while I have 0 income now, I do not consider myself retired as I keep my options flexible to return to the workforce).

So what did I do? I certainly did not have a single minute of time to feel bored. The stuff I did can be broken down into 1. Fun, 2. Admin, 3. Health


I had lots of fun! 

I went to Legoland, where my kids had lots of fun.

I went Glamping, for the first time. This is where I also rode an ATV for the first time!


I went swimming, which I did not have the time to do in a long while.

Swimming, FIRE

I also did volunteer work at the Mandai Bird Paradise! Beautiful!

I have a bucket list of places to visit, hopefully by the end of my sabbatical I can get to visit a large portion of them:


I did lots of backlogged admin, including writing my Will, registering Malaysia VEP for the car, fetching my kid from school, renewing my kid's passport, etc. Sure, I could also manage to complete all these admin tasks while I was working, but this time I felt I had the time to manage these things without the feeling of being overwhelmed which is better for mental health. 


For health, I definitely walked more once I left my corporate job. I also dedicated myself to exercise 2 days a week instead of the previous 1 day during my corporate job days. 

However, I also did a health screening/ultrasound which uncovered some issues. I will skip the specifics, but long story short I need to watch my cholesterol intake. Such an irony is it not? I FIRE'ed in the hope I can now take time and effort to find good food to eat, only to learn I cannot. What does this mean really? Hmm...should I have aimed to FIRE even earlier?


I busted most of my expenses this month. Hardly surprising I guess, since you got to spend to have fun...

Eating Out Target: $650
Eating Out Actual: $803.49

Household Target: $600
Household Actual: $390.38

Travel Target: $100
Travel Actual: $81.80

Entertainment Target: $50
Entertainment Actual: $64.85

Personal Target: $100
Personal Actual: $795.25 (I bought a foldable bike so that I can exercise more...good investment no?)

Hopefully in the next few months I can rein in a bit and stick to my budget.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Game Changer: Trust Card Overseas Usage

 So recently Trust card introduced 0 foreign transaction fees when the card is used overseas:

This is great! But if you are using a cashback credit card like me, then you may be wondering if the Trust card still wins out after considering the cashback that you get on other cards.

So I went to Legoland during the June holidays, and I did a comparison.

I bought Legoland annual passes for my entire family and charged the total amount 1715 MYR to my Standard Chartered Simply Cash credit card. Looking at the transaction history, I was charged 523.66 SGD which converts to 1 SGD = 3.275 MYR. After deducting the 1.5% cashback, my actual cost is  515.81 SGD.

If I had used the Trust card, I will enjoy the Google exchange rate which at that point in time is 1 SGD = 3.39 MYR. This means I would have paid 1715 / 3.39 = 505.90 SGD instead. This represents a cost savings of around 10 SGD!!

Trust card definitely wins out in this case, even after accounting for the cashback I would have received on my SC credit card. 

 It has also been brought to my attention that YouTrip also offers Google rates:

The problem with YouTrip is that first, you have to load the YouTrip wallet, then use it via the YouTrip debit card. This is all fine during the trip, but once the trip is over you realize you will have some loose change still in the YouTrip wallet, which means now you have to withdraw it from YouTrip. This is all a hassle, and the Trust card does not have such problems since it deducts from your Trust bank account. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Portfolio Allocation - Jun 2023

The time has come for my once-a-year portfolio allocation breakdown.

This will be presented in a doughnut chart.

This year I have maintained equal weightage on both my Local and US stocks. 

I also have a larger position in cash, to take advantage of the current high interest rates offered by banks. 

My 2023 Portfolio

Here's the portfolio for the previous year (2022) for comparison:

My 2022 Portfolio

The segments that are too small and missing labels are P2P lending (dark blue) and cryptocurrency (pink).

Finally here's a comparison of 2022 and 2023 in the same chart:
Compare to previous years

It is quite clear I brought the allocation of my US stocks down (which is intended to reduce volatility), and the Cash components up.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

No. 1 Career Move That Will Make You Happier

Oftentimes I hear people complaining about their jobs. There is always something to gripe about, be it colleagues, bosses, a toxic environment, an overwhelming workload, etc., etc.

I came across this article the other day, which I agree with and I believe it will help some of these people:

The people who were happiest in their careers, he discovered, shared the same approach to work: They all had a strong sense of who they were when they were off the clock.

In other words, you need to have multiple identities and you cannot lose your entire sense of self to your job. 

Some may associate this with work-life balance, but I feel it is deeper than that. Who is to say being a parent is not work? It is in fact very tiring work with heavy responsibilities. You are responsible for somebody's life!

Coincidentally, the Straits Times published this article within the next few days:

“My husband had said something to me very early on in this journey, when I was wondering if I could ever act again,” she said. “He said: ‘We have so many other mountains to climb. Why do we feel the need to keep going back to this one mountain?’”

This reiterates the same point as the first article, does it not? There are always mountains to climb, your (day) job is not the only mountain. Even if you failed this mountain, you can always try for another. 

Later on in the same article, there was a paragraph that shares a common point that I saw in many other articles about a person encountering near-death experiences:

Koh, who has been performing for over 30 years, feels like she is making up for lost time as she has always felt like she did not have enough time with her sons, missing birthday dinners and important family occasions.

Speaking of her present lifestyle, she said: “I’m home when the kids come back from school. I have time to drive them to places they need to go. We sit down for dinner together and talk about how their days went. This time to be present with my family is a real luxury. Even if it is under these circumstances, it is a gift.”

It is sad that a person has to encounter a near-death experience before he/she realizes what is truly important in his/her life, no?

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Dividends for May 2023 [Financial Independence]

 Here are my dividends for May 2023:

So I collected $1471.65 in dividends for May 2023. 

In case you are wondering, some stocks are repeated because I have 2 brokerage accounts. 

Here are my monthly dividends over the last 5 years:

Here are the dividends I collected every year until the current day:

Also, I calculated I received $504.99 in deposit interest this month (SC Bonussaver Salary interest 2.5% + Card Spend interest 1.3% + Trust Bank interest 2% + CIMB Fastsaver interest 1.5%).