Sunday, 9 June 2019

June 2019 mid-year review: Lessons in my journey so far

  Posted at  June 09, 2019 No comments


I started this investment journey with $1467.37 almost 1 Year, 3 Months and 21 days counting. As they always say, expect the unexpected.

Learn to Count Your Blessings
Recently, I have learnt to count my blessings and try to be more thankful despite my circumstances. Readers who have been following my blog would probably know that I recently have been informed of my retrenchment back in April.

Initially I was feeling under the weather but as I calmed down in my search for new employment,  I realised that this "disaster" could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. How so?

Firstly, I was getting complacent at my current role. It is a 8-5 role where I can get to leave on the dot. And it pays a rather decent and stable salary. But, there was no opening for opportunities for promotion not any pay raise.

With this retrenchment exercise, I not only had a legitimate reason to go for job hunting (for a pay increase, hurray!) and I also will be entitled to receive a small tidy sum of severance payment from my current employment. I am currently waiting 2 offers which I am told I will receive by 3rd week of June. I will explore my options and the career pathways it leads before making my choice.

If all goes well, retrenchment might have been the BEST thing that happened to me this year. I am so looking forward to securing a better job with career advancement prospects and also a better pay package.

I guess as they say, good or bad, hard to say. After all, it gave me a big kick in the butt for being complacent and got me off my comfort zone to be more intentional in my career path planning and also to being actively upgrading skills and updating resumes.

Portfolio Projection Review

As listed on my Portfolio Update page, my yearly target for this year is to hit $24,600 in portfolio value. I have not added much positions and purely relied on savings and so far I have hit $23,130.92. It seems that my goal setting is a little too easy to achieve and I will need to review my target amount at the end of the year.

I'm still on schedule to hit my goals for this year. Given the severance, I will be well over my target but this would likely be a one-off and unrepeatable.

Based on projections:
- Assuming I manage to save only $1,000 per month, (I should save more per month!)
- With no salary growth whatsoever
- Portfolio has to gain overall 6% per year
- Dividends reinvested
- Retiring for $2k/month (expected to reach by age 60)
(I will likely need to re-adjust this as seasoned readers and investors have told me this is likely too low a target to live/survive on)

------------------------------------
Projections (as of 9/6/2019):


Road to Financial Independence
PROJECTIONACTUAL FIGURES
YearAgePortfolio
Projected 2%/yr
Current capital
injection Rate/yr
Estimated
Dividend 3%
Actual Portfolio
at end of yr
Actual Capital
Injection/yr
Actual
Dividends
201831$12,000.00$12,000.00$360.00$15,941.59$16,928.40513.25
201932$24,600.00$12,000.00$738.00$23,130.92
(till date)
$5388.4
(till date)
$325.45
(till date)
202033$37,830.00$12,000.00$1,134.90
202134$51,721.50$12,000.00$1,551.65
202235$66,307.58$12,000.00$1,989.23

(cut short, for full projection, see the portfolio update)


204659$747,872.54$12,000.00$22,436.18
204760$797,266.17$12,000.00$23,917.99
204861$849,129.48$12,000.00$25,473.88
Total$849,129.48$372,000.00$311,751.57
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Portfolio Holdings so far: 


Stock nameCodeEntry priceSharesPrice% AllocationType
1FCOTND8U1.467410001467.376.54Base
2FLTBUOU1.071225002677.8811.93Base
3SingtelZ743.318210003318.1614.78Base
4APTTS7OU0.1631100001631.47.27Speculative
5VicomV016.03405003016.9913.44Base
6SSBJust for reference1.0000200020028.92Base
7
8Cash$8,330.9237.12Cash
Total Amount$22,444.72100.00

Again according to Stocks Cafe,
Time-weighted returns = -3.16%, (all time)
Xirr = 0.62% (all time)

Time-weighted returns = 10.62%, (2019 till date)
Xirr = 24.33% (2019 till date)

I have not added any more positions due to the fact that I am being retrenched at the moment and the invested capital stays around $14k in securities. The portfolio just recently broke even. I lost money mainly on short term speculative positions and my dividend generating positions have so far covered my back. I am now ever more convinced that I should be doing what works (adding long term positions) and cutting down on what doesn't.  (short term speculation with more commission fees paid and lost as a result a double whammy if I made a loss)

Personal Growth
(in terms of investment knowledge)

I absolutely love the Kindle App (can be used on mobile, ipad and computer) and I am trying to read more widely and so far I have read a simple book titled: "The richest man in Babylon". Kindle books are really great because they allow me to carry many books on the go, and they are especially useful during the morning journey to work. 


This book is a collection of parables and stories of how the richest man in Babylon came to be and what are some of the principles to draw from these relatable and easy to understand short stories such as "paying yourself first" (but 10% is too low. For people who starting out it ought to be more than 50% but it is a good principle) and "making the money work for you" to which I can identify with when I blogged previously https://30yearoldinvestor.blogspot.com/2018/07/if-you-spend-what-you-earn-you-need-to.html where one needs to keep a portion of what we earn first. Without spoiling the book too much, here is a summary video of one of the short stories:




I am also starting to read a classic in The Intelligent Investor (which is a recommended read by many forumers on Investing Note) and also one other book that intrigues me alot which is the book titled :"Stock Market Investing for Beginners" If you are just starting out, these two books would no doubt anchor you well in terms of sound knowledge.

I didn't always have the luxury of access to information when I first started with $1467.37. But one always have to start somewhere. The good news is that we can always accumulate knowledge over time. I will be looking forward to share my thoughts and also if possible try to adapt some of the shared illustrations these books have to some Singapore examples. So, do watch this space!


Market Outlook
I am still adopting a defensive strategy towards my holdings. I will still only go for dividend generating REITs or dividend generating stocks on the Singapore market. With the current trade war ongoing, and the hype over whether interest rates will be cut by the FED has sent the market into a whirl. REITs have gone up probably due to the hype that rates will be cut. Fundamentally, things have not changed at all and I believe that I should not be buying on speculation of the rate cuts because they have sent the REITs higher. Many stocks on the other hand are being punished at the moment due to the trade war manifesting itself since that fateful Trump tweet in May about adding more tariffs on China.

Dow Jones index looks to be on the rebound and STI index seems to be following suit.

STI Index have fallen and the mantra "Sell in May and go away" seems to be in motion.



I might be waiting for a market crash that isn't coming given that June is seeing a bit of rebound but that is fine by me for now as I look to keep more cash on hand given my situation and to see if Mr. Market presents good opportunities that I think I cannot pass up.

I have also since come to learn that P/B ratio isn't a very good gauge for whether a REIT is undervalued or overvalued. As challenged by a fellow blogger to dig deeper into the numbers, a better gauge is DPU consistency and growth. Some good REITs might have a high P/B leading us to believe that they are always overvalued. But they never present a chance to buy because they will always be going up (if you just rely on P/B). A good REIT will have such a good track record of their management team being able to deliver growth.

-----------------------------------------

In all, I would like to wish everyone success in your own journey and thank you for reaching out to me and sharing with me your nuggets of wisdom especially in this transition period of my life. I am grateful to have you guys journeying with me so far in my fledgling investing journey.


Until Next Time,

K.C.
If you like this post, you might like our facebook page as well. I'm also on Investing Note.



Disclaimer: The views expressed, opinion and information in this article are strictly for informational purposes to encourage educational discussions only. It is important to conduct your own analysis before making any investment decisions based on your own personal circumstances. You should take reasonable measures such as seeking independent financial advice from professionals and/or independently research and verify the information that you find on "30 Year Old Investor" before undertaking any important investment decisions. No content on this site constitutes - or should be understood as constituting - a recommendation to enter any securities transactions or to engage in any of the investment strategies presented in our site content. We do not provide personalised recommendations or views as to whether a particular stock or investment approach is suitable to the financial needs of a specific individual. No representation or warranty expressed or implied is made as to, and no reliance shall be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information or opinions contained on this website. "30 Year Old Investor" shall not be liable whatsoever for loss or damages of any kind arising from the result of any use, reliance or distribution of the articles or its contents from information contained on this website. 

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Why we should keep our Resume updated, always.

  Posted at  May 05, 2019 2 comments


If you are currently job hunting or even at a stable job, you should think about keeping your Resume/CV ALWAYS updated. This can come in the form of resumes updated on job portals and even our LinkedIn profiles.

tl;dr
1) We are always prepared if things go south. not wait until the end of the road
2) We have a chance to be headhunted, even while we are not actively looking
3) It helps us in our preparations emotionally and also for doing homework preparations for interviews

As with my last post, my situation at being retrenched set off a scenario I never imagined would have happened to me and it got me thinking about how complacent I got to be after working for about 5 years.

As with every difficult situation, sometimes we enter a state of denial first before we come to terms with the reality and really buck up.

I'm quite thankful that in the past month, since I've updated my professional profile and sent out resumes:


  • I received 4 interview offers (3 2 actually came from headhunters/recruiters on LinkedIn)
  • I have since attended 3 interviews. (I sort of screwed up the first interview since its been a long time since I have last prepared for one)
  • The return rate from job portals has been rather poor so far (just 1) compared to 1.5 years ago when I landed my current job. I believe online portals have more applicants so it takes time. I do tailor make my resumes to fit the relevant skills set the employers are looking for.


Through this last month, it also has been a wake-up call to be more vigilant, to be ever ready to "give a defence for yourself". As it turns out there are many aspects to ace-ing an interview. It goes all the way down from emotional preparation to doing your homework on the various questions we might be asked.

The need to constantly update our professional profiles

When the retrenchment hit my department, there was a senior marketing manager who visited us  thereafter (He is in his early 40s) who by his standards is quite a high flyer. He mentioned something that stuck with me: "Oh, I am always ready for an interview. My resume is always updated."

True enough, regularly updating our LinkedIn profiles might not seem like a very important thing. Especially when we already have a stable job.

But, regularly updating of our resumes does 2 things:

  • It helps us to crystallise our professional journey and document where we are in our careers and internalise what we have done thus far
  • It puts us "out there" in the market to help us "look out" for opportunities


Sometimes, having a good career/job boils down to really luck: Meeting the right people at the right time and at the right place. We never know who would pop by to our profiles to take a look and say to themselves: Hey I think this guy could do a job for me/ is just the person we been looking for.

It also helps us to be prepared for the unforeseen circumstances given the tough job climate these days. Having an "insurance" plan in place surely helps. And if we are new hires/headhunted to a new firm, my guess is that our chances of being made redundant is minimised in a way.

Constantly updating our professional profiles gives us chance and opportunities, even when we are not looking.

The Emotional Side

If we have not attended an interview for a long time, usually our first interview in a while tends to screw up a bit. Why is this?

It turns out that FEAR of the unknown and desperation can cause us to under-perform. People generally fear what they don't know and being thrown into a situation like this is nothing short of traumatic.

The denial phase would set in first and we might be blaming every other thing/person for things not going our way. Nothing just seem to go right at the moment.

However, once we are able to calm down and attend a few more interviews, we become more sure of who we are and takes things better in stride.

I myself screwed up my first interview because I gave myself too much stress thinking that I had to land that job or I would be in trouble. Needless to say, things didn't go well because we appear a little too desperate and it was inevitable that I said the wrong things.

When we feel unprepared as well, we tend to appear less confident as well. Partially why constantly updating our profiles on a regular basis helps is because it helps us to crystallise and internalise what we have learnt on our current roles, instead of the last minute cramping and memorisations of scripts. This would not be natural.

If you have a faith/belief in a religion, meditation or studying wise wisdom from sages or faith giants might help us in our journies of self-discovery and give us some inspiration too.

Ultimately, master the mind or it will master us.

The Preparations (homework) Side

I start to find that once we internalise the knowledge about what we do at our current work, it would be easy to describe what we do.

The main bulk of interviews challenges therefore comes down to researching about the company (to show we are interested and make an effort to find out about them) and also Situational/ Scenario based questions.

I find that the advice from this website was very helpful indeed.
https://zety.com/blog/job-interview-questions-and-answers
https://zety.com/blog/situational-interview-questions

Q: Tell me about yourself.
Q: Why are you applying for this position?
Q: What motivates you?
Q: Why are you the best person for this job?
Q: What are your strengths (and greatest weaknesses)?
Q: Why did you leave your last job?
Q: Tell me about a mistake you made
Q: Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for work.
Q: Describe a situation where you weren’t satisfied with your job. What could have made it better?
Q: Tell me about a time you reached a big goal at work. How did you reach it?
Q: Describe a situation where you saw a problem and took steps to fix it.
Q: Tell me about a time you had to collaborate with a coworker who was tough to please.
Q: Tell me about a long-running project you handled. How did you manage your time to meet your deadlines?

When we are asked questions such as these, how do we answer? What is the context we should be framing our answers so that we do not go out of the context of what they want to know? We need to flip that table around and imagine we are the interviewers. What do they want to hear? What are the telltale signs in their job descriptions? It also takes effort to try to LinkedIn search who your potential interviewers might be. Who are they and what roles do they play? Do remember their names by hard.

My take is that mostly we have the answers to these questions, but if we do not take time to consider how we are going to answer them, it will show as a lack of confidence, lack of thoughtfulness in answers, or our stories may lack coherence and detail.

There are two chinese sayings which I like to fall back on:

1) 养兵千日,用兵一时: Feed a thousand soldiers, all for one fight. (Describes how storing/accumulating resources to fight a war in normal times is crucial for a war)

2)台上一分钟,台下十年功: A performer performs a minute on the stage, but it took him 10 years of practice. (Describes the crucial preparation and hardwork behind the success of a single performance.)

-------------------------------------------------

If you are in the middle of a job search, all the best. And also, if you are not looking out for anything, now is probably a good time to start.

Update 6th May 8pm: Just received a call from my Headhunter saying I did well for the interview. They are considering me for an alternative position even though I'm a bit lacking in the position I applied for. If it is an upgrade in terms of pay and career progression/security, I will take it up.


Until Next Time, 

K.C.
If you like this post, you might like our facebook page as well. I'm also on Investing Note.


Disclaimer: The views expressed, opinion and information in this article are strictly for informational purposes to encourage educational discussions only. It is important to conduct your own analysis before making any investment decisions based on your own personal circumstances. You should take reasonable measures such as seeking independent financial advice from professionals and/or independently research and verify the information that you find on "30 Year Old Investor" before undertaking any important investment decisions. No content on this site constitutes - or should be understood as constituting - a recommendation to enter any securities transactions or to engage in any of the investment strategies presented in our site content. We do not provide personalised recommendations or views as to whether a particular stock or investment approach is suitable to the financial needs of a specific individual. No representation or warranty expressed or implied is made as to, and no reliance shall be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information or opinions contained on this website. "30 Year Old Investor" shall not be liable whatsoever for loss or damages of any kind arising from the result of any use, reliance or distribution of the articles or its contents from information contained on this website. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

I'm retrenched: 3 things to think about

  Posted at  April 09, 2019 26 comments


When it rains, it pours. In life, we always have to be prepared for the unexpected. I was just posting about how one should have a Plan A and a Plan B for his/her career on 31st March and here I am one week later, retrenched at age 31! It took me a while to process this piece of news and let it sink in. (Note: This is not a post to garner sympathy. Don't.)

I have called a "Safety Time Out" on buying counters as my immediate priorities have been changed, albeit unwillingly. I too, once thought it won't happen to me. At least not so early in my working career but here I am. Unfortunately, due to company restructuring, they have decided to close my whole department and shift operations elsewhere.

Immediate objectives:
  • To secure a new employment (there is a bit of buffer time to do so)
  • To minimise spending and stay afloat on my current emergency funds.
  • To halt further purchase of stocks/Reits until I am employed again.
    (Those already bought will remain for now in portfolio)

Following my own set of advice I wrote on 31st March, my immediate thoughts are:

For circumstances like retrenchment, one can practically:

- Cut down on unnecessary expenses. e.g subscriptions

My subscription plans are already at their minimum after a review 2 years ago. The only thing I can cut further would be my mobile plan expiring late this year or early next year. I would likely switch to data only plan which are in the $20-30 range and not purchase new phone + combo plan. 

- Start thinking of Plan A: Building a career advancement (so you are not easily replaceable)
Tell tale signs were already there and the danger of my industry is that it is quite niche, meaning it is hard to find similar jobs if things go south. I needed to think of a Plan B that would allow me to be more employable.

- Start thinking of a Plan B: In case you are retrenched.
The plan was to start on getting certification in Safety. This will take me a year. I forsaw that there would be changes in my company, and those were communicated to take place in 2020. Unfortunately, it came prematurely.

- Downgrade lifestyle if possible (but not burning another side of candle)
I am currently good on this. Food wise, I won't be saving much except choosing cheaper options.

- Keep an emergency fund of at least 6-9 months of living expenses in the bank
I am good to go for this. Have ample to stay afloat for now. I will still have some income coming in.

As some readers would know, K.C. is in the oil and gas sector. This is a sector that has been ravaged badly from the oil crisis in recent years and certain areas have not recovered. There are also intense competition for business.

Trends of a globalised workforce:
In a 2016 article by CNA, they interviewed a few people who lost their jobs and were under 30. My feel is that depending on the sector you are in, the Singapore market has already been like this for some time and a globalised workforce means that the rice bowl that you and I have now are ever so easily replaceable. Your job could be here, but gone tomorrow.

Bank executive James Ng* was retrenched this May when his job at an American bank got offshored to a cheaper country. The 26-year-old had been processing credit card applications at the bank for three years when he was laid off.
“I wasn’t too surprised (by the retrenchment) because my job scope was being reduced as the workload increased for the team in the offshored country,” he said, adding that his last duties at the bank consisted of training colleagues in the Philippines to do his job.
“The younger ones got retrenched first, in my case. This is because the seniors are the ones who contribute to revenue,” said Desmond Kok*, 28, who was retrenched by National Oilwell Varco in May.
At the time, the mechanical engineering graduate from National University of Singapore (NUS) was less than halfway into his four-year trainee programme with the US oil and gas firm.

Anyone can take our place anytime if our employers decide to shift operations elsewhere. Companies also regularly use "restructuring" to get rid of redundancy. Many MNCs also shift operations elsewhere after their grants expire leading to mass exodus from across different sectors.

A more recent article in 2018 shows a decrease of retrenchment figures from 3 years ago but more and more professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) make up those retrenched. They made up 75.8 per cent of local retrenchments last year, up from 72 per cent in 2017 and significantly higher than their share of the local workforce at around 57 per cent. 


Make your own conclusion out of these graphs.
At the end of the day, the job market isn't as safe as we think it is and we would be well right not to take things for granted or be complacent with what we have.

1. It is not your fault (but don't play the victim)
Sure, it feels sucks to be retrenched. But as we can see from the above scenarios, usually it is not our fault that we have been retrenched. Many of us might suddenly feel a sense of loss of direction because we have pinned all our hopes and life around our work.

Our work defines us. When people ask us who we are, we often start by introducing what we do (in our line of work). This sense of identity is now lost.

Take a day or two to process what has just happened but please, do not take your emotions out on yourself or the loved ones around you. We might feel bad about our situation but don't go into self-pity mode or go into a victimised mode. This phase won't last (because eventually we would wake up to our senses and then find a job again). However, if you had acted out badly in the fit of the moment, it might have done some irreparable damage to you and those around you.

We are always finding something to blame and account for why this happened. We could blame others or even ourselves. But, it being a business decision, it is neither discriminate or indiscriminate. Once you have recovered from the shock, just got to move on and look ahead.

Keep your emotions in check. But go easy on yourself and others. 😇 Be more positive.

For me, I'm pretty chill about my situation. However, I would be lying if I said it didn't affect me. To be honest, there are many implications: such as affecting my saving/investing goals or plans to getting married. 

2. Where are you now and where headed from here?
In  Sun Tzu, The Art of War, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”. He also says “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Only fight a battle you know you will win (where you have the right tools, right resources). We can only do that by knowing where we are and where we are going from here. The immediate goal is to secure employment. The main enemy is not knowing our own value, and what is available in the job market out there. Discuss with your family/ spouse on possible methods to cope. Chances are if you had done planning beforehand and also included this possibility you would now be sitting on some emergency funds. It is not time to hit the panic button, yet.

I wrote an old piece on getting more interview hit rates and it has got to do with understanding what the employers want and giving them what they want (provided we have the relevant skills and not cheating):
https://30yearoldinvestor.blogspot.com/2018/11/interview-process-cycle-how-to-increase.html

I am well aware of my capabilities at the moment and aware of the market. The idea is not to start making excuses for yourself but after the dust has settled, quickly access where we are in our careers. Know what options are available to take and if need be we need to tailor or resumes/cover letters to "win the war". 

We should also narrow down certain goals:
- is it just to secure a position? (can we stomach a pay cut?)
- could it be a chance to upsell instead with relevant experience?
- what industries and jobs are we building into? Are we also changing industry altogether?

3. Take action! Set daily achievable goals.
Break it down into small little daily targets so it is not overwhelming. The task of securing a job immediately puts a lot of stress on ourselves but we can break that down into smaller, easier actionable steps that would lead us to it.

To secure a Job we need to go for interviews.
To land interviews, we need to send out resumes and CVs.
To send out resumes and CVs we need to be smart about it and edit/ tailor it to suit the job descriptions.

Working backwards,

To secure 1 job offer, it may take 10 to secure 1 (10% success rate)
To get a job out of 10 interviews (10% success rate), 20 interviews (5% success rate)
To secure 1 interview might take alot of CVs sent. Every 5 CV sent (20% success rate),
10 CV (10% success rate)

Idea is this: If we do not send out enough CVs, there won't be interviews. If we don't go to enough interviews, we can't possibly hope to land a job.

I think by now, it is clear that sending a few well-tailored quality CV or resume is better than mass spamming a generic one. Assuming we do 1-2 quality one per day for a month, we would have sent out at least 30 applications. Some industry might be smaller and have lesser openings, that is fine.  

I will keep to one quality CV per day. Until I exhaust the possible openings I can apply to. Its a numbers game.

-------------------------------------------------

If you are retrenched and happen to read this, know that you are not alone. This is only a passing phase of life. It won't be fatal, unless we let it fester and rot. 


Until Next Time, 

K.C.
If you like this post, you might like our facebook page as well. I'm also on Investing Note.


Disclaimer: The views expressed, opinion and information in this article are strictly for informational purposes to encourage educational discussions only. It is important to conduct your own analysis before making any investment decisions based on your own personal circumstances. You should take reasonable measures such as seeking independent financial advice from professionals and/or independently research and verify the information that you find on "30 Year Old Investor" before undertaking any important investment decisions. No content on this site constitutes - or should be understood as constituting - a recommendation to enter any securities transactions or to engage in any of the investment strategies presented in our site content. We do not provide personalised recommendations or views as to whether a particular stock or investment approach is suitable to the financial needs of a specific individual. No representation or warranty expressed or implied is made as to, and no reliance shall be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information or opinions contained on this website. "30 Year Old Investor" shall not be liable whatsoever for loss or damages of any kind arising from the result of any use, reliance or distribution of the articles or its contents from information contained on this website. 
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Sow today, Reap Tomorrow

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About

You don't need to pay anyone/company to have a plan of your own and work towards achieving Financial Independence. Only we alone have no conflict of interest with our own money. "30 Year Old Investor" is a personal blog about a Singaporean's savings and investing journey.


Being the average Singaporean, K.C. is also interested in good food, a little bit of politics and a good slice of humour.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The views expressed, opinion and information in this article are strictly for informational purposes to encourage educational discussions only. It is important to conduct your own analysis before making any investment decisions based on your own personal circumstances. You should take reasonable measures such as seeking independent financial advice from professionals and/or independently research and verify the information that you find on "30 Year Old Investor" before undertaking any important investment decisions.

No content on this site constitutes - or should be understood as constituting - a recommendation to enter any securities transactions or to engage in any of the investment strategies presented in our site content. We do not provide personalised recommendations or views as to whether a particular stock or investment approach is suitable to the financial needs of a specific individual. No representation or warranty expressed or implied is made as to, and no reliance shall be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information or opinions contained on this website.

"30 Year Old Investor" shall not be liable whatsoever for loss or damages of any kind arising from the result of any use, reliance or distribution of the articles or its contents from information contained on this website.


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