Time flies. Just four years ago in 2015, I managed to squeeze myself into SUSS because I didn’t make the cut to enter the top 3 local unis: NUS, NTU & SMU. (My poly GPA was 3.23) I applied for SIT Accountancy and was rejected after the first round of interviews. But I was still fortunate that at least I still get into a local u, regardless of whether it was recognized at that point in time, or even now for that matter.
Fast forward to today, I managed to graduate with an accountancy degree and found my first job in an IT consulting firm. Life works in strange ways and I find my interests changing like the seasons. Until now, I am still kind of figuring what do I really want to do in the future. But I guess that is a question for me to know and for me to find out.
Financially speaking, it has been a mess also. Since my uni days, my bank account has always been on the edge. It has been going up, down and sideways but they are definitely not making higher highs.
In May 2019, the month which I finished uni, my bank account is staring at me with a balance of $895. That is how broke I am. I don’t have NS Officer savings, neither do I have a lump sum of parent savings. Basically, I have nothing. I only have a $21,150 student loan & a $4,000 personal loan to be cleared.
3 Phases of Wealth Building
I would classify my personal investing journey into 3 phases.
- Investing Days during Uni
- Settling and Clearing all Loans
- Full-Fledged War
Investing Days During Uni
I have been putting in money here and there during my uni days. But the amount is negligible. The first time I bought a REIT? I bought 200 units of Ascendas REITs at $2.63. The total cost was $551 inclusive of commissions. It’s quite funny if you think about it.
That was a lot of money to me when I was in uni as I had to work part-time jobs here and there. But the amount doesn’t matter to me. To me, I just want to experience the entire process of buying stocks and just getting my feet wet in the water.
What matters to me more is the learning process. That is because the process is the same whether you have $100,000 or $1,000. How to analyze companies, how to read charts or what to look out for. That doesn’t change.
Therefore, I wouldn’t expect many people to get very excited when reading my blog because the amount I have put in thus far is negligible. My focus now is to build up the investing knowledge and share it with others.
So, the first phase of investing days in uni is a joke. But it is an important learning process. It is better to start small and start somewhere than to wait until you accumulate a large sum of capital before learning how to invest. The mistakes made sooner would prove to be valuable lessons in the future. Start small, get it right, then go big. That is my thinking.
However, I still remembered one video I watched a while back. It hit me hard and made me think twice as I find this question extremely relatable.
There was some kind of Q&A going on and this young guy asked Grant Cardone: “What should I do with my money? How should I invest it? I have around $3-4k in my bank account right now.”
He replied: “Don’t do anything. You don’t have money right now so don’t act like you have it. Spend the money on learning new things, building new skills, going for courses, meeting new people.”
His train of thought is If you have no money, use the money and work on yourself rather than put it into investments. Fair point there.
Settling and Clearing all Loans
Right now, I am at the 2nd phase of this investing journey. I have been in my new job for about 3 months now. Gone are the days where I used to stand 10 hours at a retail shop or F&B outlet earning $8/hour. My earning power has increased multiple-folds but there is still a big roadblock in front.
I borrowed 80% from DBS for my student loan which is about $21,150. The interest rate is about 4.75% and my plan is to repay $1,500 every month.
Additionally, I have $4,000 of personal loans and my plan is to repay $200 every month since there is 0% interest.
So it should take me about 14-15 months to be completely cleared and free of debt.
As you can see, during the next 14 to 15 months, most of my salary is being eaten up by repayment of loans. I have little left for my personal savings and warchest.
My focus and priority now would be to strive towards being debt-free. Anyways, I don’t feel as bad because the stock markets are at its all-time high. It is not like there is an opportunity cost to invest that sum of money into the stock market.
It is only after all my loans are being settled, then I would really consider the start of the game of investing. Anything before that is a joke. I am referring to the amount of invested capital.
A full-fledged war means going aggressive with investing. That is when the results truly show. But anything before that? Take it as a learning process.
Personal Goals in 2020 – Ikigai
Moving forward, I have been thinking what should I do next? Recently, I have come across this interesting concept known as the “Ikigai”. The loose English translation means the thing that you live for or the reason why you wake up every morning.
I would say I am somewhere around vocation. I need to start moving towards things that I enjoy and love. What I enjoy is finance, business, investments, writing and sharing.
Previously, I have been rather distracted. I have ventured into blockchain, programming and all these other random stuff. My time and efforts are dispersed across a broad range of disciplines. While I still believe in the ideals of an expert generalist, I think it is important to decide which areas to focus on and ground my base deep in it.
Initially, I was thinking should I take CFA, CMT, CFT and was pondering between some financial courses offered by SMU Academy. However, after some thoughts, I have decided to start 2020 by learning Python & Data Analytics in Finance. And also I guess learning Python and analytics would make me more relevant in the finance industry.
The reason I moved into IT is because the finance and banking industry is shrinking. Banks are cutting jobs and equity research is dying. Trading decisions are executed by codes rather than humans.
The future of finance and accounting is moving towards automation and robots. It is not a matter of will it? It is already happening now. The only question is how fast is it happening?
I want to explore the possibilities of what can be done if Python & Data Analytics can be combined into finance. Can it translate into something tangible and meaningful? Who knows it might just be yet another passing interest.
If I found some interesting stuff, I would share it with you guys. But for now, yeap, that burdensome student loan is the only thing that is on my mind right now. And one more: waiting for BTC to moon.