Last year end, I did a FOUR-point self-reflection. This year, considering there were few updates throughout the year, I shall do a EIGHT-point update for 2014 (I DOUBLE the number, aggressive boh?), using the countdown from #8 to #1 style, even though it probably doesn’t necessarily warrant a ranking in that order (but it always sounds more exciting to do it that way, and exciting is good, sometimes). Ok I admit, I wanted to do 10 things but decided to change it to 8 as I went along. Boring life, I know.
8) Lucky Draws
Potatomato took part in a contest organised by our Community Centre (CC) together and won for ourselves (or rather, Rayner) a “Teamson” brand children dinosaur cabinet, and a marine book-shelf. It was the usual “answer-the-following-
So much has revolved around Rayner over the year, so naturally he deserves one update of his own. Rayner is 2.5 years old now and has finally learnt to string sentences together, such as “Papa eat da bian.” Rayner’s health has been improving gradually too (which is a good thing) and he is getting less of those bouts of fever/cough/flu, though he did recently had a fever again. He is also more responsive to our requests now that we are able to communicate better with him. He recently did some “toddler class” graduation shot (see below). Swee boh. This year I have also proudly clinched the “Lego playmate of Choice” award, sponsored by Rayner.
6) Potato’s other family
You gain some, you lose some. This year is also the year that Potato is officially estranged from both his siblings. Henceforth, no sibling shall ever speak to each other. Tragic? Depends on whose perspective we are talking about. It appears it’s not, at least from the 3 of us.
5) Financial Independence
This is one theme that often pops up time and again, at least in this blog. Sometime back I started using this iPhone app called “Pocket Expenses” to track and record my daily expenses. I stopped doing it after a few months as I could already tell where my big ticket expenses were, and what needed to be managed, hence doing it continually was not too meaningful. However, I just did another tracking for the month of December, given it was traditionally a month of higher expenses (Christmas gift buying – not that I buy a lot, Chinese New Year shopping, etc), just to revisit if my expenses have changed much (and it was also a good month to use for conservative estimates going forward). The top 3 expenses were in:
(i) Car related expenses (31%);
(ii) Mortgage payment (18%); and
(iii) Rayner (11%)
There were other one-off expenses, such as:
(i) Car aircon repair - $660;
(ii) Gifts - $338.50;
(iii) Father’s medical expenses - $161.35.
Takeaway 1: Despite the hefty car related expenses, I take comfort in knowing that this category can be eliminated if there is a dire need to (though in practice I’m not so sure it would be an easy decision to make). Dining expenses made up only 8%, so I do not need to sweat the (relatively) small stuff over such expenses.
Takeaway 2: The tracking was performed for (i) my personal expenses; and (ii) Potatomato’s joint expenses, and doesn’t factor in (iii) Tomato’s personal expenses (we have 3 “wallets” to attribute our costs to). Tomato was too lazy to do her own tracking and hence no further observation can be made. Based on the figures, my income is able to cover (i) and (ii) with minimal savings left. Now what’s left, is to scrimp and save every penny of Tomato’s income and fund our retirement (Tomato: pls take note). Financial freedom lo! (kidding obviously)
As of today, our housing loan stands at $13,663.15. I can’t remember how much loan has remained for our car though (I think it’s still somewhere close to $20k). And I made the unfortunate blunder of accidentally breaking our car’s side mirror-arm yesterday morning, which I have repaired using scotch tape (budget constraints this month).
Sometime last year, I made a decision to take a big pay cut to quit my company and join another. I am pleasantly surprised that my total pay for the year 2013 has exceeded the high water mark for my previous company, due to the bonuses I received. I have also achieved my objective of acquiring another set of skills to keep me relevant.
This year I spent quite a lot of time studying on top of my work and play hours (actually “play” refers to my work done to clinch the “Lego Playmate of Choice” award). Passed Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1 (So late then study this ah! Better late than never okay) and Certified Financial Crime Specialist (CFCS) (still need to clock a number of credits to achieve the final certification).
Tried very hard to share some updates here... I think my investments have stopped almost entirely (other than picking up occasional rights and warrants issues). Last I checked, I’m 87% in cash and waddling in cash everyday (I have learnt from the Great Wise Man, that dreaming is free). I feel as though I have lost some acumen on this front. As a result, my total profits STILL stand... at $152k, not having moved from about a year ago. Not flattering for CAGR/XIRR/whatever fanciful metrics you fancy... that’s why I use only ABSOLUTE DOLLAR RETURNS (Hey I saw this coming years ago before I developed my performance benchmark! Got to give me some credit).
I completed my first ICT cycle (consisting of all high-keys) and unfortunately, am about to be recycled for yet another ICT cycle against my will.
I participated in some NSmen forum sometime back to discuss and feedback on issues relating to NS, and how we can all make NS better for everyone. The observation remains where MINDEF appears to have too many NSmen that the commanders “didn’t know what to do with them” (as quoted by one of the participants who is a Commanding Officer (NS) in his Battalion) versus MHA, where ironically “there are very limited officers so there is no choice but to recycle them automatically”. Obviously, I belonged to the latter camp.
Enhance NS satisfaction? Come on, let’s fix equitability first by levelling expectations from MINDEF and MHA. Satisfaction comes from knowing that a situation was premised on good principles. Good principles in return, come from a sound policy. And I hardly think that having MR as an option for MINDEF folks but not MHA folks is anywhere close to being an effective use of NS resources. In the absence of any strong counter-argument, I am of the opinion that NS obligations obviously need to be managed on a National Level, and not simply on a Ministry Level.
Final words (for The Potato Times in 2013)
So there, 8 grand updates.
Last but not least, wishing everyone out there (or at least the deserving ones) a Happy New Year for 2014, and may the odds be ever in your favour.