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,
K.C.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Class divide. Yes, but don't let it become your excuse.

  Posted at  October 06, 2018 No comments

If you have not seen this video yet, now is the time you should probably do and think about it. Because chances are, this affects you and your future generations.

Full Story Here

CLASS DIVIDE: WHAT'S THE BIG ISSUE?
---------------------------

What was your "awakening" moment? When did you start to realise that maybe you were different from the rest of your peers in terms of family, background and upbringing?

I can understand that many of us are angry/emotionally charged because some of us have had at least ONE bad experience dealing with someone of a "higher" class. It was an eye opener because it seems to tell us a story of how the rich viewed the poor, and vice versa. But, this was a narrative that didn't sit well with many Singaporeans.

Why?

Some of us are angry with the system.

What happened to meritocracy? Because for a government that constantly drills this big word down the Singapore education system, many of Singaporeans can see that it is perhaps starting to deviate from what we are being told. We are told by our education minister that "Every school is a good school" but obviously we know that not all schools are equal. And then, Meritocracy seems dead. For example, SMRT for some reasons unknown to us always employs ex-generals from the SAF.

In a post that went viral on facebook, an ex-teacher reflected on the state of how Meritocracy, for all its worth seemed to reinforce the walls of class divide instead. Because, when we categorize children while they are growing up based on their streams, they become deeply entrenched attitudes in the future in the form of class divide.





The class divide has seemingly also perpetrated harmful stereotypes based on factors such as education level, income, profession prestige etc. The attitudes of some of the rich people towards the poor are even seemingly more appalling. And the poor's response were of upset, but mostly helpless. In the CNA Insider video, a security guard at a condominium was scolded "stupid" and "useless" because he "can't even do his job of opening the gantry properly". He felt under-appreciated and not treated like a human being. It is scary to think that his low-wage warranted the abuse from those who think of themselves as elites.

Then, there are widely accepted generalisations to explain why the poor are poor. So-and-so is poor because he didn't study/ work hard. They are poor because they are lazy or stupid. These generalisations show an utter lack of empathy and regard by the rich to the poor who feel no obligation at all to the poor.

Contrast this to the mindset of some of the wealthy in the past who did charity work, pioneers of our country who built schools to serve the poor and actively gave back to society.



CLASS DIVIDE: WHAT CAN WE DO?
---------------------------

First of all watch another video below. Again this is about students. But it might change your mindset about what causes class divide at least in academics (which would shape what professions students end up taking).

One parent in the video said: "Someone may not be pulling the grades in school not because they are not smart. But because they just don't have access to what the other kids have."

This immediately brings us to my first point:

1. ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE/ RESOURCES


When you watched the video earlier, imagine yourself as one of the students behind the curtain in the team with the encyclopedia. How would you have felt when the opposing team managed to come up with answer after answer while your team couldn't even come up with one and started arguing among yourselves?

"Why are they so smart?" (Why am I so stupid?)

"How do they know this?" (Why do I not know this? My confidence is shattered!)

If the curtains were never raised, the teenagers on the encyclopedia side might just live out their lives thinking that they were much inferior to the teenagers of the other side with the laptops. But when the curtain is lifted, one of the students exclaimed: "Are you kidding me?"

Why?

Because it was an unfair advantage.


The kids on the other side are certainly NOT any smarter and neither were the kids on the encyclopedia side stupid. They just had a better tool to access the knowledge compared to the other team.

If it is not obvious by now, I dare hypothesize that children who are in poorer streams probably have unequal access to information to life. This deeply limit their ability to rise up to their true potential because we all make choices based on the information we have. It is hard to make informed choices when you don't know what is out there and you do not know what resources are available to you.

My own "awakening" came when I entered Secondary school from a neighbourhood school. It didn't take long for me to realise that most of my peers were more well to do than myself. But one particular exchange with a friend at 15 years old changed my life forever.

While answering the question: "What do you want to do in the near future?", one friend started talking about wanting to go to one of the Ivy League Universities. Of course, at that point I did not know that those were the most prestigious universities to go to in the world and most people who go there are from the higher middle to upper classes in society.

With my peasant mindset at that point in life at 15, I couldn't even figure out that I wanted to enter a local university! I merely studied because I did not want to be looked down upon and to feel accepted in school. It was anecdotes of experiences with people of the higher class that drove me to thirst in a way to know more about what was outside my bubble. The main barrier was that, I did not have resources available to me at that point in time because my family was not that well to do. However, I'm proud of my parents who raised me well despite not completing primary education level and earning an honest living. They have imparted me good values that became a foundation stone for life.

When faced with exposed inadequacy, we can feel inferior or we can take action.

Luckily, came the internet.


I made sure to find out whatever information I could to chart out life ahead. And this has served well over the years. With the internet, I have self-taught many valuable lessons that would otherwise have been unavailable to me such as investing.

In the course of life, I too have met many young children who are bright but do not have access to vital knowledge or resources for success in the modern age.

The first thing the government could do is to bridge the knowledge gap between rich and poor. 

The first thing we could do is to take effort to bridge the gap ourselves. 

It is counter-intuitive because every nation would focus more resources on the "gifted" and the "talented". But what if those who couldn't perform just didn't have the same access to knowledge and hence didn't do so well? More could be done to educate and plan out education pathways early on for students to help them visualise what they want to be in the future.

Often, the poor already have difficulty making ends meet and luxury items such as computers and high speed internet are a challenge for these families. Is it difficult for the government to set up study corners with working computers in schools or rental flats to cater for the needs of such individuals?


2. OUR PERSONAL/SOCIAL ATTITUDES

We probably believed in the lies that we are worse off compared to the ones in the higher class because they are smarter than us and we are not as smart as them.

My heart goes out to Nadiy, and Sufa, the two NT students in the CNA insider show. For that matter, they seem to me as clever bright kids who are simply just lacking in confidence and esteem because of the apparent lack of even academic ground they are standing on.

I hope they can see that at their young stage in life, it is hardly fatal to be at the stage where they are. How do I know this? Because I was in the Express stream and I had a close buddy in University who became the top of the cohord. And he was from a Normal stream. By University, I was the one struggling instead. He succeeded against all odds because despite being looked down upon and told:"He would never make it in life", he ignored that noise and worked hard in his studies at University level.

Again, things start to change again when I started to get into the workplace. I realised that I have certain skills that gave me the edge over some of my friends who were more academically inclined back in school even when I didn't do so well.

Success or failures are seldom final and you have more control over your future than you know it.

My own experiences tells me that there are 2 important factors in determining success (but remember all failures are usually not fatal and all successes may not be final):
1. Access to the right information when you need it
2. Hard work and grit. (Attitude)

Instead of complaining or feeling sorry for ourselves, we need to go beyond that to challenge ourselves to do better. There is a Chinese saying that says:

"沒有什麼是不勞而獲的, Nothing is achieved without effort."

When we experience failures in life, we are gaining experience, gaining knowledge. Only by changing our own attitudes towards our handicap can we scale higher. Success is hardly due to luck, and the truly successful ones create their own luck through sheer hard work and grit.

I would also think that we as parents (or future parents) should set good examples to cultivate good values in our children while educating them to excel academically (but this is another story for another day).

The second thing the government must do is to preserve Meritocracy.

The second thing we could do is to change our own mindsets. 

On the other hand, social mobility must be something that is protected if Meritocracy is still alive as the government narrative tells us. The ability to move upwards (mainly) in social status, income, prestige despite the odds by those in the lower classes must be preserved. This is highly important given the high class divide in Singapore. If we start feeling that no matter how hard we try we can never change and improve our lives, the final nail in the coffin has already been driven in. Meritocracy should ideally provide everyone with an equal opportunity to succeed. The rich can already afford better resources to their child. If our system does likewise, it just punishes the poor for being poor.

What are some other factors leading to the income divide and how can we try to bridge the gap? Do comment below to share your thoughts with me.

Until Next Time,
K.C.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Time = Money? And Health is Wealth?

  Posted at  October 02, 2018 2 comments


I'm sure many of us have heard about this paradox in life that is encapsulated in the diagram above:

  • When we are young, we have a lot of time, but have no money.
  • When we finally start working, we try to exchange all our time for money (sometimes at the expense of health). 
  • And finally when we get old, we exchange all our money to try to buy back our health (time)

Why did I start to think about this? Just yesterday, I had a rather bad stiff neck and I had no choice but to go to a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician to get my stiff neck sorted out, after enduring it for one night. As I laid there, I had no choice but to be "Guai" (be a good kid) and listen to the physician as she went about her work.


"Your body seems too heaty, Have you taken enough water/vegetables/fruits?"

"Oh you used to work shift work? Your body constitution seems rather weak and not too suitable for that now."

"Have you been exercising? It seems that your body's immunity is rather low at this point."


At this juncture, all I could think of was just "Just take my money and patch me up, please." Indeed, two years of shift work has taken its toll and I had exchanged the bulk of my time for money and a shot at career. Was it worth it? Possibly, I had no choice at that point in time. It also led me to my current work which I have worked for almost a year, is now 8-5pm and I start to have a bit more of a work/life balance.

But the damage it seems has already been done with those 16 hours a day work.

It seems that it is perhaps time to start planning to live more healthier, because what good would it do, if we gained all the money we could, and couldn't enjoy it because we traded all our time and health for it?

If you followed my story, you would know that my Dad suffered from lung cancer. He had worked hard as a bus driver over the course of 28 years. And it was shift work. Long term chronic fatigue and unhealthy habits must have taken its toll over time. And it was difficult to journey with him to his final days. Perhaps, this is a good wake up call.

Luckily, I still have a bit of time on my side although time is limited for everyone. 

I am trying to change that top picture to this bottom picture:





What if our life spheres could be changed to look like this?

  • With some of the time used to exchange for money, some of the money is poured back into assets that generate income over time. 
  • These assets should generate money while we are not actively using time to exchange for money. The overall effect is that the money sphere gets bigger over time (compounding effect) and we spend less time having to earn money.
  • Our time may be freed up for the things that are more important in life: family, health and maybe some fulfillment in life.

We would still end up having to pay for our health in our later years but we would have grown our money sphere bigger. It also means lesser worries at our older ages where we have no more strength like when we are young to exchange our time and health for money.

I do, hope that time is still on my side and with prudent planning, it can still be done.

Okay, okay, maybe it is time to pay a bit more attention to health 😭

Until next time,

K.C.


If you like this post, you might like our facebook page as well.


Related topics:
1. About K.C. What is my story?
2. My 3Cs to money/investing
3. My goals and portfolio update


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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.

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