2020 In Review

By The Boy Who Procrastinates - January 30, 2021

2020 was a year unlike any other. Just barely months into it, the world was consumed by the coronavirus pandemic as we knew it. 

The COVID-19 has upended most of the normal routines in our lives and work. Wearing face masks has now formed an integral part of our outfits when out in public places. Working from home arrangement has become the default mode of working.

As the pandemic reshapes the contours of our lives, many aspects of our society will probably never be the same again. Nevertheless, I trust that we will chart a new path and emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis.

For many, New Year’s Day means spending more time with loved ones, a new set of resolutions, nursing a hangover, and a refreshing tabula rasa.

At the start of 2020, I have laid out some goals which I have hoped to achieve. And now it is time to review the progress of these goals.

2020 Financial Target

  • Beat the benchmark STI ETF by a margin of at least 5% and with positive returns. 
Last year, we have witnessed a steep correction in the first quarter but it was short-lived as things have picked up quickly towards the end of the last quarter. 

2020 is a year marked with volatility in the markets and with it comes opportunities and adversities. Undoubtedly, there is fortune to be made for astute investors. 

Regrettably, I was gripped by emotion during the correction and have not acted decisively on the opportunities presented. 

As such, I have not been able to fulfill the target of beating the STI ETF. Be that as it may, it is a valuable lesson to walk away with. 

  • Aim to increase portfolio value to $150,000. 
With the strong rebound that happened in November, I have managed to scrape through this target. Compared to 2019, it is a modest increase of 29%.

  • Achieve at least $6,000 dividend in 2020
I have fallen short of this target and have only managed to reach $5,300 dividend last year. Due to the impact from the pandemic, a number of companies have reduced their dividend payouts or offered scrip dividend schemes. Compared to 2019, it is a mere 8% increase.

  • Track expenditure for 2020
Using the expense tracker app, Spendee, I am able to diligently record the cash inflow and outflow from my wallet. 

Last year, I have spent a total of $15,000. As I have just started tracking my expenditure in 2020, there is no past figures that I can compare to. On average, that will be an approximate spending of $1,250 a month. 

Given the COVID situation in Singapore, I guess it does help to save money in some ways, particularly no overseas vacation, less travelling and dining out.

2020 Book Reading Target 

  • I aim to maintain the completion of 7 books in this new year. [Achieved]
I have managed to increase my book count by 3 and read 11 books in 2020. That will be close to 1 book per month. Here's giving myself a pat on my back for someone whose reading list used to consist of Japanese manga only. 

I have expanded the genre to include books that helps to nourish the mind and spirit such as The Book of Ichigo Ichie and The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. The management of mental health has never been more crucial, especially when stress and anxiety is on the rise due to the pandemic. 

  • Write at least 3 book reviews. [Achieved]
In order to recall and recap on the learning points, I have made it a point to write reviews derived from these tomes of knowledge. 

Last year, I have managed to pen down 1 additional concept from Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and its application on the financial decisions we make on a daily basis. 
On the spiritual front, I have shared nuggets of wisdom distilled from The Book of Ichigo Ichie that may help to shape your perspective to events in life.

2020 Personal Development Target 

  • I wish to brush up on my Python/R programming and apply it on financial related projects. [Achieved]
Based on my progress last year, I guess I could manage a pass on brushing up on my programming skill.

I have produced 3 blog posts related to back-testing analysis of the STI based on various contexts using Python: 
On top of that, I have also picked up on some advanced concepts on machine learning and have built models using R for predictive purpose.

Overall, I would think that 2020 was the best year to pick up some new skill online given that we are mostly staying at home for the better part of the year due to the pandemic. 

2020 Health & Fitness Target 

  • For 2020, I strive to maintain a jogging mileage of at least 10 km per week.
Here is a little infographic of my running mileage in 2020, which totaled 698.6km. Measuring on a more granular metric, I have managed to attain my target and have completed 13km per week. 

Clocking 5km under 30mins has also become more attainable as compared to my condition the year before. 

But the increment in the distance clocked over the years has slowed considerably. I guess it will probably plateau at this level which I am contented to maintain at. 

Now that the arrangement of working from the comfort of your home has become the new normal, there is somehow greater motivation to get on my feet to reverse the adverse effects of leading a sedentary lifestyle.

As I am starting to creep past the age of 31, my focus has also switched from finance to health. Sometimes, it feels like we are using our health to chase after wealth, only to spend our wealth later to get back our health.

This is especially so now that the importance of maintaining good health is more pronounced than ever during this unforeseen pandemic. Despite the rollout of vaccination programme, our innate immune system remains the last line of defence against any invading pathogen. 

However, I do find it draining to remain self-disciplined and would sometimes wish to give myself some days off. No doubt it can be dreadful if the motivational goals are not pointing to the right direction. 

Compared to losing weight and building good muscle tone, I personally find stronger motivation when I strive to run for health and survival. Run like your life depends on it. 

  • Cut down on the intake of processed food (Class 1 carcinogen) and fast food.
Standing by the maxim of "You are what you eat", there has been some changes to my diet last year.  

For a start, I have forgone breads and pastries from the bakeries in the morning and have instead opted for lentils, rolled oats, soy milk, chia and flax seeds for breakfast.

These are mainly funded by the Cold Storage vouchers redeemed using AIA Vitality points earned from those weekly jogs. However, the overhaul of the reward system in July has introduced element of luck and has made it less lucrative for voucher redemption. 

Overall, there has been a larger proportion of leafy greens and fish on the plate than poultry or red meat. Intake of processed food has also been cut down significantly. 

On the topic of fast food, I have made 17 visits in 2020 which translates to 1.4 visits a month. Hmm, there is still room for improvement I guess...

Some Thought on 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely left us with a surreal and empty experience with quiet streets for the good half of the year. 

2020 does seem to be a year devoid of the human element as we reduce the duration and proximity of our physical interaction. 

Going through the circuit breaker and watching the events unfold last year, it has evoked an unspeakable emotion in me. I do hope that we can get through this situation and return to normalcy soon. 

Have an ‘Ox’spicious New Year ahead!

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