Sunday, January 28, 2024

After 8 months of FIRE, can I still FIRE?

Now that we are done with 2023 (which was a great year for me btw), I can revise my monthly expenses with the latest data points. 

This revision is particularly important because my status is now different for the first time in my life - I am not working in a salaried job.

As I mentioned in my previous post -, I busted my Personal budget for 2023. The main reason is that I had to buy a new laptop in 2023. Without this large expense, I estimate I need to allocate a yearly budget of 3000 to the Personal category, which works out to be 250 per month.

I did my spreadsheets and arrived at the below:

So Starting Balance is > Required savings, which means I am still FIRE. 

The US market is doing well now. SP500 is at all-time highs, which gave a boost to my stocks.

Also one of my readers suggested a buffer of 2-3 years in annual expenses to ride out any market downturns. 

So the no. of years provided by my buffer is given by

(Starting Balance - Required savings) / Annual expenses =  (1,715,065.71 - 1,564,396.67) / 46,931.90 = 3.21 years

Which is pretty good, phew! 

Friday, January 19, 2024

Portfolio Returns for Jan 2024

I felt it would be good to track the returns on a regular basis since the returns will fluctuate from time to time depending on the stock market.

Here are the movements for this month:

The USA fund is the best performer, one head above the rest. The SGP portfolio dipped slightly. The bullish run in cryptocurrency portfolio dropped slightly this month, but I believe it will continue.

There was a bit tech bull run in the last couple of days.

Here's what the market is saying about the interest rate cuts:
However, investors are still concerned that the Federal Reserve may not wind down its aggressive monetary tightening as quickly as market participants expect.

The last Fed meeting in December had markets increasingly expecting rate cuts to begin in March 2024. These expected cuts were also anticipated to be much deeper than what the central bank had forecast for the year.

However, those expectations are in doubt this week after strong December retail-sales data and after policy makers talked down expectations for an early start to rate cuts. Investors in both stock and bond markets are now speculating that the central bank will be in no rush to cut borrowing costs as the economy shows signs of resilience.

The Ukraine and Israel-Hamas war is still ongoing, though the newspapers are reporting less of them now. There is also a worry that Trump may become President again, though it is generally expected it will be good for the markets. 

Meanwhile, China missed its growth targets for Q4 2023, which caused its stock market to languish at 5-year lows. 

I have also noticed something that I believe is already quite well understood, but worth reiterating here:

* When interest rates are expected to go down, REITs will rise, but USD will fall
* When interest rates are expected to go up, REITs will fall, but USD will rise

As such buying USD is a good hedge against REITs. 

Friday, January 12, 2024

Wrapping up my Seventh month of FIRE

I just finished my seventh month of FIRE in Dec 2023.

Below are what I ate and did for fun, and a record of my expenses.


Oyster omelet at Beng Thin (OCBC Tower).

Must go in Malaysia.

One of the best, if not the best crab I had.

First time trying sea grapes.

Some fancy cupcakes. Good to see, too sweet to eat.


Ipoh! The mountain scenery is awesome.

Kek Lok Tong, Ipoh.

Lake Gardens of Taiping.

Lata Kinjang Falls - the tallest waterfall in SEA.

Langkawi! A much quieter alternative to Bali.

Gem of islands in Langkawi - Pulau Dayang Punting (Pregnant Maiden).


I busted some of my expenses this month. It is the holiday month after all and I did some traveling as you can see above.
Eating Out Target: $650
Eating Out Actual: $778.71 (went on holiday so had to spend on food)

Household Target: $600
Household Actual: $372.67

Travel Target: $100
Travel Actual: $116.20

Entertainment Target: $50
Entertainment Actual: $106.05 (holiday expenses)

Personal Target: $100
Personal Actual: $521.42 (attended a weddings are expensive these days!)

I only managed to find time to do a few food deliveries this month. All in, I only managed to earn $21.80 this month. For the whole year of 2023, I earned $145 doing food deliveries. 

It will look like I busted most of my budgets in the above, but let's look at the budget for the whole year instead. 

Here's my discretionary budget for the whole year:

So I only busted my Personal budget for the whole year, though by a pretty big amount (-5216.85). This is because I had to buy a laptop this year. 

Without this large expense, I estimate I need to allocate a yearly budget of 3000 to the Personal category, which works out to be 250 per month. I need to adjust this to my FIRE calculations accordingly (another post). 

Onwards to the next month of FIRE!!

Friday, January 5, 2024

Dividends for Dec 2023 [Financial Independence]

 Here are my dividends for Dec 2023:

So I collected $2024.97 in dividends for Dec 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:

My plan is to first receive $2500, then finally $5000 in dividends every month on average. 

Additionally, I share the interest I received from the various banks this month (referring to Dec):

So I collected $420.42 in interest payments this month.