Author: Finance Smiths

Increasing income vs cutting expenses

The previous post on our average monthly income & expenses in Singapore is useful in providing a context for this discussion on increasing income vs cutting expenses. It was a big step to reveal those figures but should be a good reference point as we update them going forward for changes in our lives. It’s always interesting to see how our income and expenses will evolve over time. Now that you have a better picture of our monthly personal finance position, it’s time for me to write about a topic that has been on my mind since we started tracking our net worth in...

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Monthly Income and Expenses

I have been reading the monthly income and expenses reports of personal finance bloggers around the world. It’s always an interesting experience because you get to see the impact of different tax systems, employee vs self-employed income differences, retirement fund scheme contribution variations etc. In the interest of contributing to the global personal finance blogosphere, I might share our average monthly income and expenses report in Singapore. The figures in the report are not exact and not for any specific month. Instead, these figures represent the monthly average since we started tracking our net worth in Jan 2016. For illustrative purposes, the current foreign...

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Monthly dividend income hits S$1,000

Once in a while, I write these numerical milestone posts to celebrate certain achievements with our asset portfolio and passive income. It’s a long and tough journey to financial independence and these results keep us motivated to keep going. Previously, I wrote in April 2016 about our monthly passive income exceeding S$1,000. This takes into account the monthly dividend and interest income that we receive. For May 2016, our monthly dividend income has exceed S$1,000. We only started to aggressively build our Share portfolio in late 2015 & early 2016 and most of the holdings pay their dividends in May 2016. It made sense for...

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How we manage our finances as a couple

I met my wife in our first year at university in Melbourne in 2007. As a student couple overseas, we spent a lot more time with each other on and off campus since we were in the same course and didn’t have any family there. We made our own and common friends, which allowed for social interactions as individuals and a couple. However, we were basically living together unofficially. After graduating in 2009, we moved in with each other and lived together officially. From there, we transitioned into a working couple and started building our careers in Melbourne and Sydney. The benefit of...

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Should we invest in a Gold ETF?

I was reading this guest post by Kim Iskyan on BIGfatpurse about 3 Good Reasons You Should Own Gold. It got me thinking about whether we should include Gold in our portfolio. Correlation between asset classes in our portfolio From our asset portfolio, there is a strong correlation between the ETF and Share portfolios since the Global and Singapore stock markets tend to move in the same direction. However, they have low correlations with our Cash, Wholesale Life Policies and Bonds portfolios. Given the size of the ETF & Share portfolio and the Other portfolio are about the same, this has helped...

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Should we invest in real estate?

I realised that my blogging frequency has been going down recently. It has been a busy time at work with the deadlines for the deliverables of a few tax advisory projects overlapping. I just want to get through this week before we fly off to Seoul (South Korea) for a short holiday. Looking forward to that! Anyway, I just read this post by Budget Babe on understanding home loans in Singapore and started thinking about our home loan. We bought our apartment in the East in 2011 and the interest rate then on our housing loan was 3-month SOR (Swap Offer...

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How much cash to hold in our portfolio?

I have discussed the cash component of my portfolio in some detail in my previous posts but I have not dedicated an entire post about cash yet. Given that about one year has passed since we started seriously investing in Singapore in May 2015, it’s a good time to discuss in more detail the role of cash and the amount of cash we hold in our portfolio. Why do we hold cash in our portfolio? In my asset allocation post, I discussed how we hold cash for the three main purposes of Emergency, Spending and Investment. I will give...

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Which retirement scheme do I prefer?

In my previous post, I gave an overview of my Superannuation in Australia and Central Provident Fund (CPF) in Singapore. This post will be about my personal opinion on which retirement scheme I prefer. It’s important to note that Superannuation and CPF serve as retirement funds in Australia and Singapore respectively where the cost of living, tax rates, lifestyle etc are different. It can be difficult to compare these two retirement schemes on a level playing field. This comparison might not be fair but it will be based on my experience and views. At the very least, isn’t it...

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Retirement – Superannuation vs CPF

My post on What are Retirement Funds is the second most read after the post on Monthly passive income hits S$1,000. It does seem like personal finance topics like passive income and retirement continue to be among the most popular. I thought it would be interesting to have a post about my experience with Superannuation in Australia as a retirement fund scheme compared to Central Provident Fund (CPF) in Singapore. Upfront disclaimer – I can only compare my experience with Superannuation during my 4 years working in Australia vs CPF during my 3 years working in Singapore. I’m aware...

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My hope for FinTech in Singapore

I update our Google Sheet regularly for changes in bank account balances, shareholdings, dividend & interest income received etc. As much as I like designing the templates, graphs and charts on the different spreadsheets (which is important in understanding your personal finance situation), I always think to myself whether it is possible to have a single window on all of our holdings. After all, we have multiple bank, brokerage and retirement accounts and it’s time-consuming having to login separately many times to access the information I need to update the Google Sheet. Plus the requirement to enter OTPs from devices and phone SMS...

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Monthly passive income hits S$1,000

I have been tracking our monthly dividend and interest income since 2015 and only started posting the figures from Jan 2016 on this blog. This is exciting for me to write because I just realised our monthly passive income has exceeded S$1,000 in Apr 2016. First milestone reached! We received a coupon payment from one of our corporate bonds and dividend income from our index ETFs and shares in one of the telecommunication services companies we are invested in. Together with the interest income from our bank accounts, our monthly passive income has hit S$1,000 for the first time. I...

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Importance of letting time pass

I have always wondered what direction this blog will take when I started it 2 months ago in Feb 2016. It seems to be a mix of the technical and psychological aspects of personal finance. As much as I like writing about the things we do and updating the numbers in our portfolios, income & net worth, I enjoy exploring the psychology of personal finance as well. After all, our values and beliefs drive the actions we take for better or for worse. Besides, I’m about to turn 30 in June and there’s nothing like a major life milestone that...

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Progress update on financial goals

It’s time for a progress update on our financial goals for 2016. ETF portfolio to reach S$40,000 by 31 Dec 2016 We have been buying the Singapore and International ETFs regularly over the past few months and the rebound in the stock markets in Mar and Apr have helped us as well. It’s been growing at about S$3,000 every month since the Jan balance of S$20,000. The ETF portfolio looks on track to hit S$40,000 if we can keep this up. However, I must admit that we have been buying less ETFs given the recent rally in the global stock...

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Why I prefer not to have a recession

I liked my post on the net worth update but have to admit the method of calculation is almost always going to be up for debate. In my view, our net worth is an arbitrary figure to begin with and I am generally more concerned with the direction it is headed over time. As long as our net worth trends upwards positively with each month, I’m okay with that and the absolute figures don’t matter to us as much. Global Financial Crisis and European Debt Crisis However, the net worth update post did get me thinking about whether our asset portfolio & income can...

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Net Worth Update

As I write more posts on this blog, I start to realise that the content becomes more relevant and applicable the more honest I get with our personal finance numbers. It’s one thing to write about how to save more, how to spend less and how to invest more but if I don’t actually write about the actual impact of these strategies on our net worth, it’s difficult even for myself to see if they work. I doubt we will ever fully disclose our net worth but I have already been providing snap shots of our portfolios & asset...

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