I am honoured to be interviewed by Financially Independent Pharmacist recently. His blog mainly focuses on making Personal Finance accessible for everyone. He hopes that one would be able to make informed decision about their own finances.
1. Give an introduction of yourself!
I am the writer of Frugal Youth Invests. I am currently serving the National Service since last July. As of time of writing, I have already served one year and I have one more year to go.
As for what I studied in Polytechnic, I studied Finance in Polytechnic and I will be studying Business Analytics in NUS after I ORD next year.
2. It’s so rare to find someone who started investing at such a young age! What got you started on your investing journey?
I think the main reason why I started investing at the age of 18 is because I was not from a well off family. My dad was a sole breadwinner and his company was on the brink of closing down.
I am thankful for my parents even though my family was not as well off as others, my mum applied for many bursaries on our behalf, and eventually saved them in our joint accounts.
This was why I became more mindful of managing my personal finance at the start, when I was as young as 16 years old!
Since I studied in Poly, I have been saving close to half of my monthly allowance and will try to work part time during school holiday.
3. What’s your investing strategy? Do you look out for value, growth or dividend stocks?
I would say prior to the crash, I will look out for dividend stocks because I prefer to have passive income. Some would argue that aiming for dividend stocks at such a young age will not do good because the dividends will be insignificant.
Instead, some people have recommended youth to look for growth stocks in the United States for example. My portfolio strategy currently is to look out for growth in the United States while continuing to have some dividend stock in Singapore (i.e DBS) to satisfy my hunger for dividends.
I acknowledged that I have missed out of potential gains for not striving for growth but I guess it is not too late to change my strategy.
Having said that, I am now looking out for growth stocks in the United States and dividend stocks in Singapore. As I am still new to the US market, I am still not confident in picking my own US stock. Therefore, I have embarked on a dollar cost averaging strategy to buy the S&P 500 ETF using FSMOne’s ETF RSP.
4. You mentioned that you have started investing for more than 2 years, could you share with us your experience and what you have learnt from it?
It has been close to 2.5 years since I am in the market and I wouldn’t say that my returns are great but I try to improve myself by documenting my reflection at the end of each year.
The first lesson that I learnt, which I feel is the most important, is to do a thorough research on the company before buying. You cannot just rely on hearsay that it is a good company to convince you to buy a stock. You always have to do your own research.
At least with some research, you will not regret buying into the company. There’s always reasons why the share price of a company goes up or down.
Secondly, it’s fine to punt a small amount of money you are willing to lose for some coffee money but definitely not punt with your entire capital.
If one wants to punt, one must have the courage to execute it. That being said, one should have a stop loss so that loss can be contained to a certain level that one is comfortable to lose.
Feeling disappointed about my loss in Singtel, I told myself that I should try to earn back the losses from rising stocks like Creative. I was committed to my plan and decided to buy Creative on the same day I sold Singtel.
The feeling of buying Creative was as if I was riding a roller coaster. At one point, I had close to $1.4k of profit.
When the price plunged after the Circuit Breaker was deactivated, I panic sold. I tried to enter again due to FOMO when it went up but I panic sold again.
In the end, I settled with a $250+ profit which was only able to cover most of my losses selling Singtel. Creative was still in my watchlist and seeing it rise even further tempted me to re-enter again.
What made me think twice was because I was actually burned by it. What’s important is if you have cash that you are willing to lose, you wouldn’t have hesitated to enter to punt but no one knows the future.
Ever since then, I have not ever punted on any stocks as I believe everything is just pump and dump.
Thirdly, one should sell a bearish stock if the stock gives an opportunity to sell at a profit. Profit is profit. One will not own a bearish stock if he/she has done extensive research. Even though Singtel painted a great picture of its other business segments such as Enterprise and Digital Life back then, I was bullish that there will be a turnaround in the next few years.
That was what I thought in 2018, when earnings from associates were sliding and I believed that the other business segments would be growing. I was still giving Singtel many chances for it to perform but right now I will describe Singtel as someone who you give many chances, but they always fail to deliver.
Looking at its latest FY, its enterprise segment business continues to slide, how do you expect a segment to grow if it can’t grow its topline? I am thankful that I am out of Singtel and it will not be a stock that I will consider in the future.
Lastly, profits may be tempting but do not sell your golden goose unless there is something wrong such as change in fundamentals. I bought my first two REITs in November 2018 namely Mapletree Logistics Trust and Frasers Logistics and Industrial Trust (now called Frasers Logistics and Commercial Trust).
Both REITs made good profit and it’s very tempting for me to realise the profit. What’s worse, Mapletree Logistics Trust went up by an additional 50% over a year after I sold, and I really regretted selling it.
I didn’t buy back because I was anchoring the price I bought but it did not happen. It is normal for us to anchor the price we bought at first, it will be hard to see it as cheap after it has run up. I would like to quote from The Good Investors:
… stocks that have risen significantly over a long period of time that are the good bargains. The logic here rests on the idea that stocks do well over time if their underlying businesses do well. So, the stocks in my portfolio that have risen significantly over a number of years are likely – though not always – the ones with businesses that are firing on all cylinders. And stocks with businesses that are firing on all cylinders are exactly the ones I want to invest in.
5. What motivated you to start your blog?
I think the decision to start a blog was the best choice, not because I did it for advertising revenue but I feel that with my blog, I can reach even more audience, compared to just writing on one forum.
I also hope that my blog articles would help others understand a little bit more on the companies that they have been researching on but it is still important to do their own research and conduct their own due diligence.
As for myself, having a blog, would mean that I will force myself to document my research down which I think will be better than just looking at the investor presentation slides, balance sheet, cash flow or income statement.
It also means that I will hold accountable for my purchase and will not regret it even though it’s below my purchase price because I know that so long the fundamentals remain the same, I can ignore the noises.
6. What resources have you been using to improve your financial literacy?
I do not like reading books. I have never read thick story books before in my whole life. So you will not be surprised that I have not read a lot of investment books.
The only PDF book that I have read was Rich by Retirement, which taught me the idea of passive investing with ETFs.
I am not trying to start a debate, but I believe that it is more important to read books that share about investors’ mindset, or behaviour in the stock market, or even on stock picking.
So you might be curious on how I got my knowledge? Even though I did not read investment books, I got my knowledge from reading forum discussion on Hardwarezone, InvestingNote and FB Investing groups.
Besides this, I also read analyst reports for Singapore stocks which are published on .
However, I have to warn that one should take their target price with a pinch of salt but to focus on their opinion of the stock instead.
Lastly, I have joined many Telegram group chats about investing. These include discussing about Singapore stocks such as ‘Dividend Investment’ and ‘REIT Chat’. I have joined groups that discuss United States stocks too, such as ‘US Market Chat’ to keep myself updated with the market.
7. What are your thoughts on the financial literacy that millennials in Singapore currently have? Do you have any ideas on how we can improve it?
I really cannot comment much on the financial literacy of millennials in Singapore. I mean there will always be people at different spectrum when comparing financial literacy.
Some would say that money saved is meant to spend. I agree to a certain extent. I believe that we should strike a balance between enjoying when we are young before we transition ourselves before becoming a work slave and saving our money for rainy days.
I read an article explaining that saving money is important, but there are times when it’s necessary to spend.
One shouldn’t cut corners when it comes to spending money on things that improve one’s health, happiness, or financial situation.
Case in point, I am obsessed with making more money, but sometimes I ponder the money that I lost in trying to make more money from the stock market can be spent on making myself happier with electronic gadgets that I might be eyeing for a long term.
Do I feel happy that I have more cash/assets than my counterpart? No. To be honest, I feel miserable to have not enjoyed my youth enough. Therefore, I made improvements to myself by becoming less stingy when it comes to expenses.
I think what’s important is to move those from the extreme end of the spectrum to possibly somewhere in the middle so as to strike a balance. We don’t need to discuss investing, but if you are able to move away from the YOLO end of the spectrum, it will be commendable.
8. Do you have any tips (personal finance, investing, life tips etc.) that you would like to share?
First of all, for personal finance, as mentioned earlier, I believe in striking a balance between enjoying when we are young and saving our money for rainy days.
Both ends of the spectrum should make changes to their life in order to achieve the balance that we are talking about. I recommend to start off with budgeting and keep their expenses within their allocated sum.
It is important to set aside money meant for savings before spending so that we know that we will still be building up our cash after spending.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to allocation for budget as it really depends on our lifestyle. I might be saving 80% of my inflow, but for you, you may think saving 80% will leave you with very little money left to spend. Therefore, it is important to adjust accordingly based on your comfort level.
As for Investing, I know that this year is a perfect opportunity for newbies to enter into the market. However, it is important to ensure that before you start investing, you get your finances right.
Firstly, you have to ensure that you have sufficient emergency funds or savings to fall back on.
Secondly, you have to make sure that you still have a consistent inflow of cash so that your daily livelihood will not be affected.
This was the first time I experienced such a crash where my portfolio was down close to 35% in March, which was being dragged down by Lendlease Reit when it lost 50% of its value in two months. I had four digit losses, though it might be painful to look at, I did not cut losses because I have a strong financial position to ride out the bloodshed.
Thirdly, invest your cash that you do not need in the short term.
Newbies may have the tendency to over invest in equities because they believe in capturing the opportunities to earn big bucks and thus treating the stock market as an online casino.
They might have overlooked the risks of investing in stocks in the sense that the share price may not work in their favour as planned. They might not be able to sell in the money when they require the capital in the short term.
I bought Astrea V bonds a year ago with my savings (money not from warchest) in hopes of getting higher returns compared to CIMB FastSaver’s 1%.
I did research substantially on this bond and posted my analysis on my blog. Though the bond invests in private equity, I am confident that it will not default on its payment because it has safeguards put in place to prevent that from happening.
The fund was not going to be utilised until later this year but I was already panicking when it went below its par value and decided to cut losses as I was uncertain whether the price will be traded at a discount when I want to sell for cash in the future.
Fourthly, I believe that in order to improve ourselves, we have to be humble and continue to read up more. One should not be narrow minded. Instead, we should learn to accept different views of a certain topic and then do their own due diligence afterwards.
Lastly, this is from my personal experience, I believe in practical lessons where one will only learn from their lesson when they are actually in the market.
No matter how many books you have read and how confident you are from reading them, the real test only happens when you are on the actual battleground. Some might be prepared, some might not.
What’s more important is actually documenting down your experience in a book or post so that you can learn from your mistakes. This is why I have been penning down my reflections at the end of each year.
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