Life Update

It’s been a hectic couple of months. I started school, dropped the maid, and worked more on this site. Here’s a quick update.

School

Studying for the masters has been the biggest adjustment, and the time it takes up is quite significant. It’s 15 hours of lectures in a week, not including homework and group projects. There are also quite a few individual essays to do up.

It really requires a shift in mindset. Absorbing information through lectures is something I haven’t done in a decade. Writing at work and at school is quite different, something which I’m still adjusting to. I think I’m improving, but its true that as you get older, its harder to learn.

Sometimes I find myself doubting if this is the right thing to do. It is a lot of hard work and time, taking me away from my family and taking care of my health. I don’t know what is the exact payoff from this.

But there isn’t a better time to study than now. Work now in the office would be pretty crazy, plus the pay would be lower. Because of the covid pandemic, the masters is entirely online. While it took some getting used to, I prefer this to commuting a couple of hours a day. Right after the lesson, I can turn to my kid and give him the attention that he needs. In fact, he is often sitting on my lap while I’m listening to lectures. I don’t want to make the sacrifice of spending less time with him. I’m taking the maximum number of classes I can this semester, because who knows what the situation will be like next year.

I had contemplating dropping out so I can concentrate on this site. I have doubts about returning to full-time work, and honestly that’s what a masters is for.

But I think I should stick with it. Even though I don’t know if I will use it, it may still come in useful. Who knows how I will be like 2 years from now. Besides, I always wanted to do this. My grades weren’t good enough to study here for my undergraduate, and I studied overseas instead. It’s been a long-time dream to do a masters and at a local university. No better time than now really.

Home

Housework has been more than I thought since we let go of the helper. I spend at least an hour a day marketing, cleaning, doing laundry, and cooking. It is a chore to cook and wash up after dinner, and I find myself preferring to eat out rather than at home. The difference in affordability is not really that much.

I’m also become the main caretaker for my child. His mother is quite busy at work, and frequently has calls in the morning and evening. So she tries her best, but I’ve become the preferred parent.

I can tell that he is delighted that his parents are more in involved in his life now. He is singing and jumping around on the bed, yet more cooperative for things he used to dislike, like showers and brushing teeth. It makes it even more difficult to go back to full-time work as I won’t be able to give him the attention he craves. I’m still struggling with what is better, time with him or giving him the good life.

Website

I’ve been putting a lot of thought on how to balance costs, privacy, and still add value to those who are not ready to subscribe yet. But it does take quite a lot of time. Writing a good well-researched article takes days if not weeks. I’m still working on various drafts that I have, and trying to put out both paid and free content at a steady pace. There is also troubleshooting and tweaking of the plugins and settings. These technical details don’t come easily for me, and I find myself frustrated often.

You would see that I am experimenting with Google ads. I’m trying to achieve a balance between breaking even and readability. I’m figuring out how to minimise or cut it out completely for members.

Revenues from the book and site are minuscule compared to working in my occupation. I may have to slow down as my school work piles up, and if that happens, I’ll lower the subscription price. I don’t feel good if I don’t meet the value that people pay for.

The subscription model does reduce the visitors of the site, but after thinking through, I still find myself finding that there are not many other alternatives. I don’t want to flood the site with ads. More importantly, I feel more at ease writing about issues that can be sensitive (portfolio, leveraging, insurance, etc), and prefer to share those with a smaller audience. Hope people understand that it doesn’t make sense to stick my neck out for nothing. I’ll be adding more options soon.

Money

It’s been a surprisingly good year, and my investment income this year is double my old salary, despite the recent crash. I know its not a stable source, and people are saying the market could be in a bubble. I don’t know how things will be like a month or even a week from now (no one does), but I do know that time in the market beats timing the market. The only discipline needed to do well in investing is not do anything. Even better, forget it’s there. As long as its in a broad and diversified index (not found on the SGX) and businesses you believe in, it will be fine.

Dollar for dollar, its better to earn money from investing than working. It takes up much less time and effort, is not taxed, and can be potentially more rewarding. Of course its best to have both sources, but if you have the luxury of choice, investing is the way better option.

Closing thoughts

I find myself quite stretched and forgetting the reasons I am taking a break. I’ve been skipping gym to write for this blog, listen to lectures, and do homework. My average words written per day is about 1,500, including edits and rewrites. Not very far from what I used to produce in real work (minus all the meetings and discussions).

It’s ironic to feel this way in “retirement”. I feel busier than before, and I’m filling up my time with activities which I’m not certain of the payoff. But things which are certain in life are few and far between. Many times it doesn’t seem like its worth the investment.

But I need to chase something. There must be some purpose at all stages of life. I think the moment that we don’t have a purpose, we die. Or we go into a depression. Without being busy with this site and schoolwork, I’ll be wasting time with Netflix and video games. And probably feeling even worse.

Though its hard, at least I’m striving towards being a better person.

13 comments

  1. Did my Masters while working many years ago. The commuting from work to campus twice a week was a mad rush every time and sometimes work commitments meant that I would be late for class and dinner (more like supper) was possible only after classes ended. So I will exchange those for online lessons any time. I am grateful for the opportunity to study again despite the hurdles though the ROI wasn’t there, I reckoned I emerged a better person after the experience and the qualification might have opened doors for me later in life.

    1. Your story makes me glad I can do mine online now. I hope I can be like you and see that it will be eventually worthwhile. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. It’s not easy, but you will get the hang of it at some point. Remember to always take care of your health first.

  3. Education, either to pick up new skills or re-brush existing skills, is never a wasted effort. I regret picking it up only now, and not as a life long activity in parallel to work. All the best in your learning journey!

  4. Hi, the best investment is always to invest in yoruself! Education is never a wasted effort. May i ask what masters are you currently pursuing?

    1. Hi YC, I’m doing a masters in information studies…. learning how to organise data basically. While I’m not sure if will lead to salary increase, always good to add data capabilities to ownself. Got a subsidy and it’s quite affordable. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Hi there, I recently got a RM assigned to me from one of the banks, and the only thing that seems to be good is that I can leverage? I am really unfamiliar but it seems that you have been doing it for awhile. The RM and the specialist seems so confident that leverage is the way to go since interest rates are so low. but I am not sure – what do you think? I see that you have really used it to your advantage! but what should I really be looking out for”? Really appreciate your advice.

    1. Hi Mrs Sppon,

      The main advantage of privileged banking is the ability to leverage at cheap rates, much cheaper than a brokerage or anywhere else. Your RM is not wrong to say that leverage is attractive now due to the rates. I do take advantage of it, and I’m leveraged for about a million.

      It depends a bit on your risk profile. If you are low-risk, you can consider an insurance income plan that pays out on a regular basis. If you are moderate risk, can consider coco bonds from banks such as HSBC and Credit Suisse. Have to work harder for yields nowadays, and it’s not attractive to buy AAA bonds now.

      This is my latest article on the subject (https://thefi35.com/2020/08/29/members-how-the-savvy-can-beat-cpf-life-get-back-their-retirement-sum-and-retain-wealth/)

      As in all things, use debt moderately and don’t overstretch yourself. Can start small, and use more as you get more confident. Stay safe!

  6. “I can tell that he is delighted that his parents are more in involved in his life now. He is singing and jumping around on the bed, yet more cooperative for things he used to dislike, like showers and brushing teeth.” Enjoy the time with your son. It’s really precious moments for him. I did my masters when I had 3 kids, with 2 already doing school at that time. So after I was done going through their homework did I have time to write my essays. It was tough but totally worth it, so don’t give up. It’s an achievement when you see it through. Erm, what’s wrong with an overseas ed? I loved my years away from SG. It widened my world.

    1. Nothing wrong with overseas ed, but I felt bad my parents had to pay so much. I would have preferred to stay in Singapore for an affordable and good degree. I did make good use of my overseas degree and it has given a good return, so no regrets too.

      You are blessed to have 3 kids, hope they will grow up healthy and well.

      You are a fellow AMD investor right? Let’s hope we huat together!

  7. Definitely hoping to huat with AMD. Another item for your “to-do-list” … give your son a little playmate. :-). I am blessed to have 3 kids, and I’m happy they are blessed with one another.

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