2019 In Review And The Dawn Of A New Decade

By The Boy Who Procrastinates - January 11, 2020

Even though the new year of 2020 has already been rung in around the globe, it does feel like yesterday that the 2019 resolution was being made. Does time pass faster as we age? Or are we just moving at an unprecedented pace? 

Stocks around the world have posted one of their best years since the aftermath of the financial crisis a decade ago. The S&P 500 Index has achieved a jaw-dropping gain of 28.71%, hitting record high as the market rallied into the end of 2019. 

Riding the global rally, the STI and SGX S-REIT 20 Index have recorded remarkable increment of 6.05% and 20.17% respectively last year

As we are ushering out of one decade to the heralding of a new, it is a timely opportunity to pause for a moment, take stock and reflect on the ups and downs that happened in the last 365 days. With the benefits of hindsight, we can then plan and make better decisions and put ourselves on the trajectories for success in the year ahead. 

At the start of 2019, I have laid out some goals which I have hoped to achieve. And now it is time to review the progress of these goals, as well as setting new ones for the fresh and new start of 2020. 

2019 Financial Target

  • Aim to save/invest at least $40,000 this year. [Achieved] 
Summing up the amount that I have invested and the amount saved, I am pleased to recognize that I have managed to reach this figure. 

Even though 2019 has been a spectacular bull market, I have mostly been sitting on the sidelines. As such, majority of my funds have been stashed in savings accounts, waiting to be deployed in the event of market correction. 

  • Aim to beat the benchmark STI ETF by a margin of at least 3% and with positive returns [Achieved]
According to Stockscafe, my portfolio has achieved a modest time-weighted return of 14.03% against the backdrop of 8.78% for STI ETF. This could possibly be driven by a few REITs in my portfolio which have rallied in 2019. 

  • Achieve at least $5,000 dividend in 2019 [Not Achieved]
Last year, I have only managed to collect a total dividend of $4,902.07 (excluding interest from savings accounts), less than $100 from my target. This could be attributed to me taking a backseat with my portfolio seeing a dearth of action.

In spite of that, it is still a remarkable gain of 103.90% as compared to 2018. This has been a year in which the benefits from the active injection of funds into the portfolio has been reaped. 

2020 Financial Target

While it is informative to be aware of how well our portfolios are performing when set side by side with a benchmark like the STI ETF, I am having reservations with the reliability of these figures. 

My attempt to replicate the time-weighted returns (with daily returns for sub-period) on Stockscafe using Python and excel was for naught. If time permits, I could possibly come up with a personal calculation technique that offers a little more transparency. 

In any case, the battle is considered to be half won with the taking of first step to invest and seeing positive returns. 

  • With that said, I would probably increase the difficulty of the goal to beat the benchmark STI ETF by a margin of at least 5% and with positive returns.
  • Aim to increase portfolio value to $150,000.
  • Achieve at least $6,000 dividend in 2020: As part of my short-term goals, I have initially intended to generate a monthly passive income of $500 from my portfolio before 32. This goal will be brought forward to this year given the progress in 2019. 
As I have always believed that I am in control of my finance with my spending not spiraling out of control, the concept of tracking expenditure has always seemed superfluous to me. Now a year wiser, I have realized that the procurement of spending data can also help to establish a baseline budget for future reference and to better manage the flow of cash on a monthly basis. 

  • Track expenditure for 2020: Currently I am using an expense tracker app, Spendee to record my spending and I aim to keep this practice going through the year.

2019 Book Reading Target

  • For 2019, I will still keep the book count at 5 as I have intended to include a challenging book in my list. [Achieved]
I have managed to increase my book count by 2 and read 7 books in 2019. My reading list has also grown to include more non-financial books as well as fiction genre as I feel that there is more to life than money and it is equally crucial to be well versed in other aspects of life. 

  • Write at least 2 book reviews. [Achieved]
With an increasing number of book read, it is perhaps sensible to pursue an outlet to organize my thoughts, as well as to recall and recap on the learning points. Last year, I have managed to pen down 3 concepts from Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and its application on the financial decisions we make on a daily basis. 

2020 Book Reading Target

  • In a world of asynchronous communication, where our attention so often consumed by ephemera, the significance of reading a book has never been more pronounced than in our present day of technological distraction. In order to learn and sharpen our minds, I aim to maintain the completion of 7 books in this new year. 
  • Write at least 3 book reviews.
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.                                                                                         - Dr. Seuss

2019 Personal Development Target

  • Initiate on a financial analysis project using either Python / R programming. [Achieved]
The financial analysis project can be referred to in this blog post that is related to the inflation rate. The intention of incorporating Python Plotly as data visualization tool is to paint a better picture of inflation rate trends for various categories via interactive charts. 

  • Blog at least twice a month [Not Achieved]
This has not been completed due to the lack of blogging in October as I was caught up with travel plans and fulfillment of the annual NS obligation. 

Blogging still holds a special place in my heart as the process of penning down my thoughts helps to reorganize them. On top of that, the externalization of my thinking process can be retained as a record of my personal development over time.

However, with other commitments in life, I would not impose a fixed blogging schedule this year.

  • Learn to play a piano piece [Not Achieved]
Another year of failure to achieve this goal. The P-115 in my room has remained a white elephant, especially with the pile-up of miscellaneous items that makes it harder to reach. Perhaps decluttering should have been the first order of business. 🤔

2020 Personal Development Target

  • In this current Information Age, it is crucial to pick up some programming language so as to keep our skills up to date and relevant. In this regard, I am still an amateur and there is much for me to learn. Therefore, I wish to brush up on my Python/R programming and apply it on financial related projects

2019 Health & Fitness Target

  • Maintain a jogging mileage of 10-15km on a weekly basis. [Achieved]
These days, you would probably be amused by the items that I have been tracking in life. And one of it is the distance that I have ran on a monthly basis.  

Here is a little infographic of my running mileage in 2019, which totaled 525.3 km. Averaging by month and week, it is calculated to be 43.78 km and 10.10 km respectively. 

Despite my aspiration to reach the maximum jogging mileage of 15 km per week, I have fallen short of the expectations, chiefly because I have grown to be more comfortable clocking 5 km each run. 

Interestingly, it would seem that I have clocked the furthest distance in January, which could probably be attributed to being caught on the fire of enthusiasm after setting the New Year resolution. I am keeping my finger crossed that this regime will be more lasting than a fleeting moment. 

Ever since I have embarked on a consistent jogging regime since Nov 2017, the distance clocked has been on an exponential rise over the years. But, it is unlikely that this rate of increase will persist.

  • Complete 5.2km (my usual running route) in under 30 minutes which translates to 5:46mins/km pace [Achieved]
For this objective, I have managed to complete 5.16 km in 29:18 minutes, which is approximately 5:40 mins/km pace. For a slow-footed runner, this is probably the fastest pace for me. 

  • Complete 10km in under 1 hour 5 mins which translates to 6:30mins/km pace [Not Achieved]
There has not been many attempts going for 10 km run in 2019. Among those, the fastest timing is 1 hour 11 minutes for 10.14 km with a pace of 7:05 mins/km, still shy of the target timing.

  • Complete the yoga sessions with 90% - 100% attendance rate. [Achieved]
I have attended about 32 yoga sessions in the first half of 2019. Unfortunately, this practice has not been extended due to logistical hiccups. Nevertheless, my brief encounter with yoga has been rewarding as it allows one to cultivate mindfulness and develop concentration. It is definitely an activity that I would love to incorporate into my lifestyle someday. 

2020 Health & Fitness Target

After the passing of model-actor, Godfrey Gao at age 35 due to cardiac arrest, I have grown to consider jogging as more of an avenue of achieving better heart health than building and toning muscles. Good muscle tone is mainly a cosmetic quality and not an accurate indication of good health. With that, I would probably focus on going for a comfortable distance than achieving a certain pace. After all, life is a marathon and not a sprint. 

  • For 2020, I would still strive to maintain a jogging mileage of at least 10 km per week. 
  • Cut down on the intake of processed food (Class 1 carcinogen) and fast food. 

I have mainly listed these goals so as to remain accountable to myself. Thank you for reading if you have reached this far. Do feel free to share your new year resolutions too!

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