One Year On Into Blogging... What Has Changed?

One year ago, I published my first post on 20th March 2022.  Time flies, and its already been a year, and I have posted 63 articles sharing about my personal finances, practices, strategies, beliefs and outlook for life.  I am very thankful and grateful how this blog has accompanied myself along the way, helping myself to grow, and stay focused on track towards my Barista FIRE goal.  I am also thankful to all readers out there who are interested in my posts, communicated with me via comments to help me to realize the good and the inadequacies in my personal finances.  The interactions definitely helped me to grow and learn lots through the year.

Looking back, the main purpose of this blog is to journal my journey towards Barista FIRE, making sure I keep track, and stay on track towards my goal.  Have I kept to my promises and rules I set for myself for the past year?  

1)    In my first post on 20th March 2022, I wrote the following:

"For Compounding Portfolio, I will tentatively stop injecting more capital into the portfolio.  Instead I will only continue to grow it by reinvesting all the dividends collected from the portfolio to enjoy the compounding effects. Hopefully this portfolio will be a stable income-producing portfolio that will be self-sustaining and it's one that becomes the stable base I have (apart from the CPF that I cannot withdraw till I am 55). For Growth Portfolio, I will continue to grow it at a faster pace from now on by injecting capital monthly via DCA."

Apparently, I did not keep to that, as I still injected capital into my Compounding Portfolio.  However, I definitely injected much more capital into the Growth Portfolio in comparison.  One year ago, the allocation of capital into Compounding Portfolio: Growth Portfolio is 90% : 10%.  Today it stands at approximately 83% : 17%.  The change has not been great, but definitely diversifying in the direction I wanted.  I have discussed the importance of diversification for myself here, and I am glad I am working towards that, and never be married to any stock, no matter how high my conviction for that stock is.

2)    In my post on 7th April 2022 regarding FIRE, I wrote the following:

"Personally, I hope to achieve Barista FIRE (hence the name of my blog) by age 40.  By then I would love to attain the state of semi-retirement, where I will return to my home country to further reduce my expenses.  At the same time, being able to do some part time work that I like (Yup, hope to do something less stressful as I am feeling drained after 12 years of doing the same thing) and not having to worry if I have enough to meet my monthly expenses just sounds great!  More importantly, I hope to return back to my home country to spend more quality time with my family, and participate in more family gatherings."

Looking at current circumstances, I think Barista FIRE by age 40 may be a tough call, as that is just one year plus away, and in addition, I started engaging in more "work-life balance" activities like travelling, which increased my expenses quite a bit in the past year (in the past year, I visited Phnom Penh, Bali, Bangkok on my own, went on a family road trip around Malaysia from Johor to Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur, and also on Royal Caribbean Cruise with a close friend).  As such, I have to delay the Barista FIRE age to 42, and at the meantime, spend more time with my mum (upcoming trip with my mum to Vietnam in June 2023).

3)    In my post on 12th May 2022, I speculated the following:

"Since I am so bad at selling, my plan forward is I shall just ride through the turbulent times. … … Hereby, I would like to make a prediction for entertainment purpose.  I think the market may reach a bottom around the 3rd quarter of 2022, and market sentiments may slowly improve in the last quarter of 2022."

It turned out that I am wrong as usual, as the market (for now) bottomed in October 2022, which is the 4th quarter instead.  But one thing I remained disciplined, that is to just hold on to my shares and accumulate them for dividends, while waiting for recovery.  This is especially important now with heightened volatility due to the ever looming recession and the most recent banking crisis.  Whether the crisis is truly over, is anyone's guess, but I have a feeling that even if it seems resolved with the FED and US treasury stepping in, it's basically a like a can being kicked down the road.  Underlying issues, I believe, still persist, and will continue to balloon till it burst in future.

4)    In my post on 23rd June 2022 on whether it is time to buy the dip or not, I wrote the following:

"1)    Space out the interval for DCA, probably from making monthly purchases to bimonthly or even quarterly purchases, depending on how you view the near-term macroeconomics.

2)    Lower the value of each purchase, probably from SGD 1,000.00 per purchase to SGD 500.00 per purchase, or any amount you feel comfortable with, and able to last depending on your cash holdings now."

I probably only followed half of what I said.  I am still buying monthly, but more selectively, with smaller capital as well.  Just got to slowly accumulate and grow my dividends pot.

5)    In my post on 18th August 2022 on the 7 streams of income, I wrote the following:

"That's all folks, that's my 5 streams of income currently (6 in future, and 2 are negligible for now). Although it is still far from the 7 streams of income for a comfortable FIRE, it is a small step forward for me.  With time, as my portfolio grows, I hope dividend income can gradually take up a larger percentage of my income, so that I can slowly transit to Barista FIRE with ease. With the gradual diminishing of the effects of Covid, I also hope that the rental market in Malaysia can slowly improve, and hence the percentage of income from rental to increase slightly. Not forgetting, may the sales of my assessment book and the income from Google Adsense for this blog can slowly pick up, and may the combined income increase to above 1% of my total income. Meanwhile, I will continue to blog my FIRE journey for my own learning, and if it could, help new investors in one way or another as well.  Just got to remind myself just continue to work hard and explore more alternatives, and at the same time, improve current cash-flow (not forgetting to play hard as well, with my "VacayFIRE" in mind)."

Probably this is the part that I can track and see most changes.  After 1 year, although the number of income streams I have stayed the same at 5, I can say that my annual dividends have grown from my Compounding Portfolio.  In addition, with the revenge travel ongoing, my rental property in Malaysia has also secured tenants at a reasonable rental for longer term.  Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all readers of my blog, your clicks on ads have helped me collected some pocket money from Google Adsense.  It's a personal achievement, and I am very happy that my blog can generate interests from readers.  Hopefully it can be of some help to anyone pursuing similar paths to the various FIRE strategies out there!

6)    In my post on 15th September 2022 on retiring in Malaysia, I wrote the following: 

"Based on my current financial position, I believe I will be semi-retiring in Singapore, and commence full retirement in Malaysia."

However upon visiting more places in the past year to Bali and Bangkok, I got to know myself better, and got to know these places better as well.  With these experiences, I believe I will be adding Bangkok into my retirement plans, as shared in this recent post.  I think when I am able to achieve FIRE, Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand will be a great mix for my semi-retirement/retirement living, as shared in the previous entry.

Looking back, I think I have kept to most of my promises, and directions I set for myself in the past year.  Moving forward, I will still continue to practice DCA, and buy shares slowly when they hit my desired yield, while reinvesting all dividends at the meantime.  Currently, with the most updated resolutions, I wish to achieve Barista FIRE (with annual dividends of SGD 24K) by the time I hit 42, and eventually achieve FIRE (with annual dividends of SGD 36K) by the time I am 45.  It shall be my dream that I continue to work towards, to be spending time leisurely between Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand by 45 (ideal age for retirement!).  

I hope to be able to continue to learn more from everyone, from all who commented on my post, from YouTubers who shared their financial content to everyone, from financial bloggers whose posts gave me much inspiration and knowledge, I thank all of you.  May we all become more responsible towards our personal finances, and achieve our desired goals in our desired durations.  Barista FIRE, here I come...!


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