monthly updates

What Have We Done This Month Towards Our Financial Goals – January 2020

So January has came and gone now.

While everyone else is doing a monthly portfolio update, we thought it is more meaningful to document what we have done this month towards our financial goals.

Mr Budget
Position Added: MNACT, Syfe, CPF SA Take Profit: N/A
Mrs Budget
Position Added: N/A Take Profit: N/A

Here’s a graphical representation of what we have done this month towards our financial goals:

Earlier this month prior to the Wuhan virus outbreak, Mr Budget initiated a position on Mapletree NAC Trust as the Hong Kong protest seems to be recovering, and the trust price seems to be attractive enough to warrant a position,

However, the price dropped further after the virus outbreak, hence it is in the red now. We are not too worried about it as the trust has a strong sponsor and we foresee the price to recover in the future.

As shared in our previous update too, Mr Budget contributed S$7,000 to CPF SA for FY 2020 to leverage on the higher interest rate returns. He also started a monthly investment plan with Roboadvisor Syfe. 

For Mrs Budget, there is not much changes this month. However, she will also be contributing to her CPF SA in the next few days when we do our monthly finance reconciliation. 

Our net worth continue to grow and excluding our properties, we are hitting S$560,000 in net worth (including CPF). Our net worth increases by a fair bit as we received some bonus from our employers end last year, along with the corresponding contribution to our CPF accounts.

Our targetted joint net worth which we set for ourselves by end of next year is S$800,000, and it seems like we may need to revise the target since we will have more property mortgage commitment in the net 24 months. To hit S$800,000 of joint net worth, we will each need to grow our net worth by S$60,000 this year and next year. Let’s see if we are able to do that. 🙂 

For now, the Wuhan virus outbreak seems to be getting worse every day, and things will be worse before they get any better. We probably won’t be doing anything much next month, and will start to look at some counters in Singapore and Hong Kong once things have stabilise a bit.

In the meantime, stay safe everyone!

Monthly Tracking

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Syfe Portfolio Update – January 2020

Frequent followers of Mr and Mrs Budget will know that Mr Budget had started a regular savings plan with Syfe, a relatively new roboadvisor in Singapore. 

The main reason why Mr Budget decided to go for Roboadvisor is because he is looking for a more affordable way to invest in multiple baskets of ETFs to get more diversification.

Another reason is that, Mr Budget views roboadvisors as the professionally managed portion of his portfolio since he does not have any financial advisor. As Roboadvisor firms have professionals looking at the funds daily, I’d think the results won’t be that bad as compared to our own DIY portfolios.

So here’s Mr Budget’s monthly Syfe portfolio summary.

January 2020
Total invested: S$2010.00
Current Value: S$2009.00
Portfolio Return: -0.25%
Downside Risk: 25%

Portfolio Breakdown

Not too concerned about the returns at this point as this will be a long term investment. It will take time for the portfolio to see some returns. 

According to Syfe’s forecast, based on a monthly RSP of S$1000 for 15 years at max risk, the optimistic expected return with a total capital of S$181,000 will be S$400,831, or an IRR of 10.856%. For the conservative return of S$245,971 after 15 years, the IRR will be 4.85%, still higher than the bank’s interest rate or even comparable to CPF. 

Will we be able to get the 10.85% return? Only time will tell. We will be tracking the returns monthly and will update here accordingly. 🙂

Syfe Referral Code: SRP6X8B8Y

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Of Wuhan Virus, Syfe’s New Real Estate Portfolio, And CPF.

Hi guys, Mr and Mrs Budget has been away last week for our honeymoon, hence the lack of articles. But we are now back with our regular scheduling. 

The biggest news this past week is definitely the Wuhan virus which has gotten many people worried. The Mrs and I are equally worried too and we are one of the many kiasi-s who have started wearing our mask when we take the public transportation. 

Of course, the virus have spooked the market too, with our portfolio registering a 3% decrease in one day yesterday! They dropped as fast as they rose! However, we have not taken any actions and are keeping the faith that this too shall pass and that our portfolio will continue to return us the annual dividends.

Some of the counters that we are eyeing this year are the usual suspects of high quality REITs which we find the prices are still sky high.

Notably, we are looking at the Mapletrees and the Ascendas, as well as Keppel DC REIT.

The good thing is that, our friends at Syfe told us that they are launching a new fund focusing on REITs in Singapore. The new Real Estate portfolio is slated to launch in February, and we might choose to put some money in it if we like what we see. According to the investment manager, the way the portfolio is constructed, one will be shielded from major corrections! Sounds too good to be true, but let’s see. 🙂

If you are looking to join Syfe, here’s my referral code: SRP6X8B8Y

Besides that, Mr Budget has also received a lot of great feedbacks with regards to my CPF calculation. Some readers pointed out that the calculation is slightly wrong. It makes more sense to max out the Medisave first so excess Medisave will overflow to our Special Account up to the full retirement Sum. There is also a cap on the RSTU to our SA account. 

Another great pointer pointed out was that one should keep some money in the OA and not empty out the OA to SA because of the cap on the RSTU so that in the future, we can continue to enjoy the tax relief of RSTU, hence it makes more sense to drag out the time where you hit your full retirement sum of the SA account. We will probably be doing another article and scenario play this. 

We have also received our CPF annual statement as with everyone else. In 2019, the total interest credited was S$3063.91 as compared to a total of S$1029.86 interest credited in 2018. This represent a 300% increase! This is not far off from our projections.

Mr Budget’s 2018 CPF Interest Received (highlighted in yellow)
Mr Budget’s 2019 CPF Interest Received (highlighted in yellow)

Do keep a look out for more of our articles in the next few days for our monthly updates! In the meantime, happy Chinese new year to all, and don’t let the virus dampen our festive mood. 🙂 

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We Care Less About CPF Life’s Rate Of Return, More As A “Forced Savings” For The Compound Interest

Recently Mr Budget received a comment from a reader (thank you! We love reading them!) commenting on the CPF scheme.

Ronald shared his views that I should do a calculation on the CPF Life annuity scheme to see if it is a fair deal before committing so much into CPF, after all CPF contribution is a one way street – once you put in the money, you can only see it more than 25 years later.

That prompted Mr Budget to do some digging. 

Many in the financial space will be familiar with Kyith’s work from Investment Moats, and we are also big fans of his.

Kyith always use data to support his articles, and when we dug deeper into his archive of works, we found that he calculated the returns of CPF Life, which saved us the trouble of doing the calculation ourselves.

In case you are unfamiliar with the CPF Life scheme, at age 55, CPF will automatically create a new Retirement Account (RA) for you. The source of the RA account come from both your OA and SA account. For us, we foresee that we will be able to hit the full retirement sum, which is at S$181,000 now. 

Here’s the internal rate of return Kyith simulated based on the following parameter: Computed in December 2018, at age 55, a total of S$180,000 is transferred to the RA account.


As Kyith rightfully pointed out, the IRR and amount disbursed changed according to the age you pass away. 

For Mr Budget, I foresee I will be able to live until 65 – 70 years old, hence the IRR for the basic plan will be between 3.97% to 4.33%, with me getting back between S$275,112 to S$313,526 from the S$180,000 CPF retirement scheme.

Of course, there are a lot of moving parts in calculating the IRR and amount received as the government will raise the basic retirement sum over time and they might also adjust the payout amount, but at this point we can only hope that Singapore has our best interest in mind, and that we can only plan based on current data.

So the question is, are we happy with the returns? I’d say we are quite happy with the results as it is quite rare for us to be able to find a guaranteed annuity giving this rate of return, especially since we expect our risk profile when we are older to be significantly lower than what we have today.

Of course, knowing the payout only paints part of the picture.

The reason why we actively contribute to the CPF account is also we see this as part of a forced savings so that we can really see compound interest in the works when we are older.

Here’s Mr Budget’s projected CPF with the following parameters: constant CPF contribution from employment as well as annual S$7,000 RSTU scheme, at an annual interest of 3.5% (instead of 4%).

YearAgeStart of Year CPFCPF ContributionCPF InterestEnd of Year CPF
Mr Budget’s CPF Projection

If all things stay constant, Mr Budget should be able to hit S$1,000,000 in his CPF by age 49. That is really quite a lot, and from the table, you will see that every year, the interest received is getting higher and higher, and we earn the magical interest on interest.

To be honest, we have yet to enjoy the benefits of compound interest especially in our current bank account because we are always moving our cash around. Our cash in bank will also be depleted every time we have a new milestone in life.

Hence CPF in a way is really our “forced savings” portion of our portfolio, for us to really see the effects of compound interest. There is probably no other ways we can clearly see this manifested in our lives other than CPF because we tend to move our funds around, and that’s always the case for Mr Budget.

By age 55, after setting aside the basic retirement sum, Mr Budget can also withdraw the rest out for usage. 

We confirmed that we can withdraw the rest of our CPF based on the CPF withdrawal Q&A on the CPF website.

CPF example of withdrawal computation

Of course, this is the idealistic projection because there are many unforeseen things that could happen:

  1. Government might change certain rules with regards to CPF withdrawals or interest rates.
  2. Mr Budget might lose his job or have a pay cut
  3. Mr Budget may need money for his child expenses, hence the annual contribution will be reduced by S$7,000
  4. Mr Budget passes on before 65 years old.

If Mr Budget really passes on before 65 years old, then the S$180,000 would not be worth it. By then, money wouldnt matter anymore to me haha.

So to Mr Budget, the main reason for the annual CPF top up is basically leveraging the CPF to get an annual 4% interest rate so that we can see a compound growth over the next decade and we can enjoy the fruits in the future. The annuity portion of CPF life is really just a small reason why we actively contribute to CPF. 

And hopefully the government don’t introduce big changes to the CPF scheme over the next 30 years! 

Also one last note, this post is not to show off the CPF amount, because the truth is, the same compound interest applies to everyone, and if most people chart their CPF projection, they will most probably get similar graphs.

It’s to share our thinking behind why we contribute regularly and to visualize (in numbers) compound interest in the works. This is also not any investment advise as Mr and Mrs Budget is just 2 regular working PMET trying to make sense of our financials and to plan for the future. 🙂

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More Intentional Living In 2020

Last night, I was having a chat with Mrs Budget before we go to bed. I told her that in 2020, we need to have more intentional living, otherwise, another year will pass and we will waste another year again.

I think this is timely because we are still at the start of the year and it is probably a good time to set certain goals for the year, and even if we don’t achieve most of them, we will still achieve something.

So for 2020, other than personal finance related goals, I told Mrs Budget that we should host more of our close friends over at our place.

Since we are staying at a private housing, and are paying monthly mortgages and maintenance fee, we should try to make use of the facilities and our house more before we get lazy few years down the road. We both agree that we will host more regular dinners at our place with our close friends this year.

Another thing that we want to achieve more is that we want to spend more time with our family.

Mrs Budget shared that she would love to have more breakfasts with her parents and that breakfasts are more meaningful and nice since its the start of the day and everyone is still energised and not rushing for anything.

Besides do you notice that after breakfasts, you will feel like the days are longer because you still have so much time to go about your daily activities after the meal. So that’s something that we will be doing more this year.

Both Mrs Budget and I will also try to exercise more this year. We’ve set aside a biweekly run around the neighbourhood and this will happen during the weekends. One thing that I’ve learnt is that, everything compounds in life, including your bad habits. As we laze around more, I think bad health will catch up with us one day. So it’s probably a good idea to exercise more to make sure that we are always in good shape. 

Finally, Mr Budget is trying to pick up his habit of reading books again. Hopefully I can finish one book a month. Mr Budget is currently reading his first book now and he is only at 10% in when it is already mid month. So I should probably buck up more. 

While these might all be seen as small incremental habits, hopefully we are able to achieve all of them and that 2020 will be a great start to the new decade. We tried to think of big drastic goals for the year, but the truth is, we can also find joy in the little things in life. 

Mr Budget is currently reading the Art Of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli now. Are there any books you would recommend us to check out?

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Baby Steps For Our Retirement Planning – Regular Top Up Of Our CPF Special Account

One of the many stuffs that Mr and Mrs Budget set out to do this year is to top up our Special Account via the Retirement Sum Topping Up Scheme. 

With the receipts from the wedding angpaos recently, Mr Budget has used the receipts and went ahead to top up S$7,000 to his Special Account.

The reason why I do it earlier in the year is to allow the compounding effect to start earlier this year in order to enjoy the interest rate by end of 2020. Of course, we also stand to claim a personal tax relief of the amount contributed.

Mrs Budget will also be contributing to her CPF SA account in the next few weeks when we do our monthly finance reconciliation. 

With the RSTU done, what’s left for Mr Budget this year is to:

  1. Increase Singapore portfolio to S$110,000 from the current S$80,000 level.
  2. Reduction of annual expenses from current S$95,000 to a more manageable S$60,000, or even lesser since the real mandatory expenses we calculated for last year was at around S$35,000.
  3. Start renovation for Malaysia property and then rent it out for rental income to balance off the monthly mortgage payment. Will have to wait for the TOP for the project.
  4. Monthly consistent S$1,000 contribution to Syfe Roboadvisor.

If you are thinking of topping up your CPF SA account to enjoy the tax relief this year, you should probably do it earlier too. 🙂

Also, Chinese New Year is just less than 2 weeks away, if you have not exchange your new bank notes, you should probably do so soon!

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The Best Personal Finance Decision Mr Budget Made In 2019 – Expenses Tracking

Regular followers of Mr and Mrs Budget will know that we track our expenses monthly.

We have been publishing our monthly expenses since the start of this publication and if you have missed it, here’s our expenses for October, November, and December.

Many might find that tracking expenses is a tedious thing to do, especially you need to log down every single transaction that you spend on a daily basis. Mr Budget, like many many Singaporeans or Malaysians trying to sort out his life, tried to start tracking his finances long time ago, and always failed to keep to the habit. 

I remember my first attempt of daily expenses tracking was in university back in 2010, when I needed to know where I spend my money on. After tracking for a few days, life caught on and I soon stopped tracking because I didn’t understand why I need to track my finances, and told myself that since I have no control over my finances, there was no point in tracking.

After all, every month I would always end up spending everything in my bank account.

I tried again when I first entered the workforce in 2012, but because I was living pay check to pay check, with an entry salary of S$2,400, all of my salary would be used up for my rental payment, school loan payment, and my daily expenses.

To me, there was no point in tracking my expenses too because the entry would be the same – I would spend S$500 on rental, S$500 in school loan payment, S$500 on food, and the rest would either be brought over to next month, or will be spent indulging on entertainment.

It was only in mid 2018 when I finally sit down and told myself that I need to know where my money is going and only with these information can I optimise for my cashflow. 

This was also due to the fact that all financial gurus out there included expenses tracking as one of their mantras – surely all of them cant be wrong?

Here’s the first annual expenses report after I started tracking my expenses:

Expenses CategoryTotalAverage%
Transportation (mrt)$795.04$66.250.83%
Groceries / Home$9,931.37$827.6110.31%
Shopping / Cloths$1,525.40$127.121.58%
Phone Bill$687.20$57.270.71%
Income Tax$1,415.72$117.981.47%
Hair Cut$323.20$26.930.34%
Digital Subs$302.51$25.210.31%
Malaysia Mortgage 1$10,222.20$851.8510.62%
Malaysia Mortgage 2$1,308.91$109.081.36%
Singapore Mortgage & Home Renovation$16,102.11$1,341.8416.72%
Hometown Expenses$1,305.12$108.761.36%
CPF / EPF$8,000.008.31%
Mr Budget 2019 Expenses Table

Looking at Mr Budget’s 2019 annual expenses, the highest expense categories are our current Singapore home related expenses, taking up a 16.72%. This is on the high side as we just moved into our new home this year and incurred a one off renovation and move in expenses. 

This is followed by our wedding expenses, which Mr Budget spent almost S$14,000 on. This is another one off item and the cost is cushioned by a one off receipt in January from our wedding angpao received. 

Another high expenses category is the monthly mortgage payment of Mr Budget’s condo in Malaysia, which will be done soon, earmarked for investment purposes. 

Our home and groceries expenses is also another high expense category as both Mrs Budget and I are still purchasing new stuffs for our home occasionally and we are figuring out our co-living expenses. We foresee this to ease a bit this year in 2020.

Surprisingly, Mr Budget’s food expenses only makes up 5% of his total expenditure in 2019. We will be using this as a barometer to compare against our projected expenses for our retirement planning. 

While the overall expenses is high, eclipsing almost $100,000 of cash outflow in 2019, Mr Budget draw comfort in the fact that the high expenses categories are either one off items or are for asset building purpose.

These are the expenses paid in 2019 for asset building:

Asset Building ExpensesTotal%
Malaysia Mortgage 1$10,222.2010.62%
Malaysia Mortgage 2$1,308.911.36%
Singapore Mortgage & Home Renovation$16,102.1116.72%
CPF / EPF$8,000.008.31%
One Off ExpensesTotal%

Minusing these, the actual day to day expenses such as meals, insurance, commute, groceries et cetera only makes up 32% of my total expenses in 2019.

With these data points, Mr Budget looks forward to comparing them with my 2020 expenses to see if there will be any improvements. I foresee that while bulk of the one off expenses this year will be channeled towards the asset building expenses this year, especially to continue servicing my mortgage responsibilities, we will see an overall reduction in expenses this year. 

For those of you who have not been tracking your cashflow, Mrs Budget and I really encourage you to start doing that. Once you get into a monthly habit of collating your expenses, you will continue to do that to find your spending patterns and with that, you are able to better optimise your personal finance and make data driven decisions. 

Happy tracking! 

Side note, do you track your expenses? What do you use to track them?

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