Thursday 20 December 2018

2018 Year End Review

  Posted at  December 20, 2018 2 comments

End of 2018 is near. I set out to achieve the following goals as listed previously in a blog post: 

My 2018 Goal and objectives:

1. Save between lower target of $12,000 and higher target of $15,000 and buy REITS.
Comment: I achieved my savings target of $15,000. In fact, I saved a total of $18,222.79.

2. Buy one REIT/Dividend Stock every 2 months to lower the cost (DBS cash upfront)
Comment: I currently hold 2 REITs, 1 stock and Singapore Savings Bonds. I refrained from making too many transactions so as to minimise cost. And also decided to hold more cash for better opportunities/entries, or to buy a REIT with more lots to minimise costing.

Statistics for the year and reflections:

Current holdings: 

Stock nameCodeEntry priceSharesPrice% Allocation
4SSBjust for reference1.00002000200212.07
Total Amount16584.97
*figures do not contain CPF and insurance commitments

Straits Times Index YTD performance: -10.35%
My portfolio performance: -8.99%
Dividends collected YTD: $350.75

Comment: My only profitable counter for this year was Frasers Logistic and Industrial Trust. My main losses came from trying to trade positions in AEM, Creative and APTT. Those did not go well as it is very difficult to do trading while I am at work. Work demands make it almost impossible as I am not able to play with the BBs in action. I was trying to make quick trades but halfway had to attend to work. Things got ugly and I got stuck having to make cut-losses to ensure that I stay on course for my savings plans. 

With the market getting more volatile and more scares of a impending bear market, perhaps the attractiveness of the Singapore Savings Bonds as a safe-haven for cash makes it very useful.


I have worked out a rough estimation based on calculations like a "benefit illustration"

To attain my Goal would depend on 3 income drivers:
1. Capital Gain from Portfolio
2. Increase in income that I am able to save (depends on advancing career)
3. Growth in dividend income collected.

I should do better at the savings portion over time so this is likely a very pessimistic bare minimum non-negotiable I have to try to hit.

*Bright green show actual figures.

End of Year
PortfolioCurrent capitalEstimated
Projected 2%/yrinjection Rate/yrDividend 3%

Based on projections:
- Assuming I manage to save only $1,000 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)

Comment: I have decided to moderate the growth % to 5% as I'm not so confident that I am able to consistently grow it at 5%. I would still need more time to study how to be more profitable as compared to now. This year was a productive year at work and I received cash awards from my work. I have not planned them into my projections as they are likely to be non-repeatable.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ahead! As the bull and bear wrestle over the next few months hope we hang on tight.

Until Next Time,

Friday 23 November 2018

Interview process cycle: How to increase your interview rates

  Posted at  November 23, 2018 No comments
Job Hunting.

You are not alone if you have been searching for a job without much results to show for and you feel more depressed by each passing day. Repeat after me: This is just a passing phase in life, it will not last.

This is just a passing phase in life, it will not last.

You might have sent out a ton of resume applications but none come back to you except those pesky sales firms. It doesn't feel good, it makes one feel unwanted. As the days go by without a single reply, you start to wonder:

"Am I that lousy?"

"Nobody actually wants to hire me?"

"I can't even get any interviews, much less jobs! Even those I think I am over-qualified for!"

From there, your self-esteem and self-confidence goes through the floor and you find yourself unmotivated to move each day you wake up. What do you do? By actually understanding how the whole interviewing process works you will get a better chance at it.

Where does your resume go after you click "APPLY"?

The main issue here is that most resumes won't even get past stage 2. Why is that? Through my own experience and a few other friends' experience, we were able to increase our chances of securing an interview. In fact, in the year before I landed my current job, I secured a 5 interviews within half a year which translates to 71% success rate based on 7 resumes sent. How was this done?

Increase your chances of scoring an interview by doing this:

Stage 1, 2: The Application & Gatekeeper stage
Common mistakes:

  • We often put what we want to say about ourselves rather than ask the question:
    "If I were an employer, what would I want to see in a candidate?"
  • We fail to recognise that modern applications are screened by softwares that are created to pick out keywords from our resume (We still go by what we want to say about ourselves)
  • We fail to see what are listed in the job description and did not create a "Match" with the software that screens our resume

In the previous job that I was hired, I found out from my hiring boss that the numbers for my interview process were as follow:

  • 400+ Applicants (I believe it was 425 at least)
  • There were 20 applicants shortlisted for 2 separate rounds (40 candidates) ~ 10% rate!
  • Finally, 2 candidates hired in the end. - < 0.5% rate!

As you can see, the chances of becoming the candidate hired was merely < 0.5%. However, by breaking the process down, we can see that it is much more easier to increase your chances of scoring an interview (thereby increasing your chances of getting hired). How do you become that 10%?

Do this to get past Stage 2:
HR personnel usually don't have the time to screen through so many resumes for a single job offering. The "person" who does this is actually a software/machine that filters out the 10%. So how do you do this? 

You create a MATCH. What do I mean? First of all take a look at an example Job description for an assistant chemist posted on JobStreet (K.C. likes to use JobStreet):

See this job description? Those highlighted in Red are what they are looking for. Instead of just coming up with a generic resume that tells other what you do, it would be better instead to tailor your resume such that it re-phrases those requirements into the resume you have. This is best done by putting them under your past experiences section such as your FYP, internships and previous jobs.

The thing to note is that you do not have to necessarily hit all of the points. Assuming if I am a candidate with a chemistry background, most of these descriptions listed are already relevant skill sets that I have. However, presentation of our resumes are important such that we need to demonstrate explicitly in KEYWORDS that we have what they are looking for which the screening software filters out.

By rephrasing the requirements into your resume as capabilities you score a much better chance with the software gatekeepers.

Chances are if you can get past even stage 2, the HR personnel who reads your resume would also find that you have a good fit of capabilities because you have essentially answered the question of why they should interview/hire you by "demonstrating" that you have a good fit.

Point to note is however, do not abuse this method to over state/lie about what you know because you will be found out at the interview.

- To get more job listings, play around with search words related to the field you are in. (e.g. Chemistry, lab, lab work, chemicals, -insert whatever relevant words you can think of-)
- Tailor your resume to reflect the key job requirements others are looking for, not what you want to say about yourself.
- Keep in mind that the screening software screens for Keywords from job descriptions which you want to incoporate into your resume.

We will take a look at how to score well in an interview in a future post.

Meanwhile, keep sending out your tailored resumes. If you find it difficult due to your emotions or you are feeling depressed, remember that on average one has a 10% chance of scoring an interview.

Therefore, by working backwards, to secure 1 interview, you should send out at least 10 tailored resumes with relevant job descriptions. Then, break that down to sending 2 quality resumes a day which is more manageable. By one week, if you send out 2  daily from Monday to Friday, you will have achieved this objective. Then, it will just be a matter of time.

Ending this post with a story of 2 farmers:

Once, there was a devastating drought in the land. There were two farmers who prayed for rain but only one continued to work the land and sow the seeds. When the rain came, which farmer benefited?

Keep sending, it is only a numbers game.

Until Next Time,

Wednesday 31 October 2018

SGX Bull challenge Final Result: Key takeaways

  Posted at  October 31, 2018 2 comments
So, the SGX Bull Charge Stock Challenge has finally concluded and I am positioned 80th out of 146 participants. That leaves me in the 55th percentile region and I ended the challenge with a loss of $8,673 with an initial $50,000 capital. I cannot imagine how much losses the others behind me must be taking because I'm quite a conservative investor and for this particular challenge, I already have made more aggressive and risky moves. There are a few takeaway lessons for me from this challenge but first of all let us take a look at how I compared to the top crop.

It started relatively okay for me but October was a bad month for most investors (myself included). Still, the top 2 participants managed to register winnings of up to 30%+. That's almost $15k in profit from 3 months. An average of $5k a month. Pretty impressive stuff. (by the way, 3F's is Brian from the blog Forever Financial Freedom)

Key Lessons/Takeaway:

1. Less is more:

I tried to trade too many positions that I thought would potentially do well. As it turns out, I incurred more costs from entering/exiting positions and that diluted some returns. Instead of trading every single potential opportunity, one may want to focus on what has a much more solid risk-reward ratio. Too many positions also make it difficult to keep track especially when you are at work and half-distracted from this challenge.

2. There are some who do well are also well-versed in structured warrant and DLC trading (Leverage is a double-edged sword):

I am really not well-versed in these instruments and when I did try, it resulted in losses. Either way, this challenge really exposed a tool that is a double-edged sword that I could add to my arsenal of weapons. With leveraging, your winnings are multiplied but so are your losses. And these are meant for mostly intra-day trading. The main constraint that I encounter is not being able to physically sit in front of the computer to make the trades nor did I have the ability to predict the direction they would go.

3. One needs discipline and emotional stability to follow through decisions and not chase positions/opportunities that are already gone:
I followed the Big Boys (with some due diligence) for AEM early on and reaped a profit. However as time gone on, I became very undisciplined and tried to chase positions that were already lost. This meant picking up stocks at unattractive prices and also the margin of safety was not there. When I do my due diligence and decide a fair price to enter for a stock, I should follow through it to enter at that particular price decided. If that price is gone, I shouldn't buy at a higher price to chase it.

4. Develop your own style and not blindly copying others:

Since everyone's portfolio was available for all to see, the craving was on to see what others are doing and following suit. However, we have not done the homework ourselves and neither do we know what they person's rationale is. Their investing strategy/mentality may also differ from us. Ultimately, it is also difficult to figure out their exit positions and neither would we be buying stocks at the prices they did.

5. Never be overconfident and stop learning:

There is still much to learn in everything we do in life. There is a Chinese saying that goes: "满招损谦受益“ which means that if we are too over-confident or even arrogant, we bring disaster upon ourselves. On the contrary, if we remain humble we stand to benefit. This is no different here because nobody will be right 100% of the time. On Investing Note over the past 3 months, I certainly did make many mistakes but also made many new friends and gained new perspectives that I can learn from.

Overall, this bull stock challenge has made me realise where my current gaps are in my investing journey. Luckily I was only doing paper trades. There is much more learning to be done. I'm thankful that through this challenge I have found more tools online that are pretty useful to me and made a few more friends on this investing journey.

Until Next Time,
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