Investing sucks? Lost -£1473.84.
On March 11, WHO declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic phenomenon. It didn't take long before the market crashed on March 24, a day after PM Boris also announced UK national lockdown. Before the crash, I was aware that my portfolio started tanking right after the Rona virus was spreading in Wuhan, China. This was all over the news but predominantly downplayed by China and WHO. At this stage, I decided not to do anything; for one, I didn't need the money and, secondly, I have fully financed emergency fund.
Three months later, Covid cases and deaths rose astronomically all over the world with lockdowns imposed all over. I stayed with the course all these times, buying my funds on my Vanguard account and catching falling knives on my stock picks to average down. I wasn't actively participating in the market nor was I affected with my PnL (Profits and Losses). I was guided with the FIRE mindset, where, over the long term, my positions will recover so the status quo wouldn't matter.
Until my yahoo finance and google market alerts were jam-packed with V-shaped recovery narrative, Tesla parabolic and Tech stocks ripping; I decided to follow the news, check stocks on the daily and started trading. I understood the basic concept of chart reading and interpretation prior; but executing them in real time and making quick profits were new to me. I made 20+ more trades using small position sizes to prove my "strategy" and I was convinced that I could actually do it. With the market "mooning" and convinced with my newfound skill, I decided to stop the bleeding and closed all my individual stock positions in July. My realised PnL for that month was -£1473.84.
I allocated 2 hours per day and 6-8 hours on my days off of study - following the market, reading concepts and theories, testing strategies, reading qualitative analysis on substack, discovering hidden gems on twitter and reddit. Very quickly, I learned to use financial websites, identifying bucket shops for pumps and dumps, momentum, short positions, SEC filings, etc. I have devoured countless hours of trading and investing content on youtube and finally, could relate to the Chat With Traders podcasts I have been listening for almost a year now. I became immune to the Covid news, then finally, stopped following it altogether.
Trading became my new normal and I loved it.
As can be seen on the chart, I have recovered all my losses last month and more (including unrealised gains). I have made many mistakes but learned a ton. I believe that if I could streamline my trading strategy whereby, regardless of the market condition, I'll make money more than I could possible ever make with my full-time job. I love taking risks, and if I could decrease such risks using my brains, much better. I could discuss what I have been doing per month but I think it is pointless, I'll remind myself in 2 years once I have a lengthy track record. Maybe then, I'll consider talking about my experience.
Retrospectively, all I wanted was to recoup my losses and make smart decisions with my stock picks with high conviction; it morphed into the creation of big ideas I would never have considered before I started trading. I am ankle-deep under water, I want to keep going until I find myself fully submerged. No turning back from here.
In January 20, 2020, out of the blue, I made a challenge were I should invest £20,000 (Php1,300,000) on or before December 20, 2020. Details of the challenge can be found here.
Today, my total investment is £19,084.42. I fell short, not miserably but I failed nonetheless. I would have made it if Santa came a bit early but didn't - I am talking about my salary (lol).
Anyway, my investments were allocated to the following:
Addendum: My workplace's salary for December was distributed on the 22nd. I invested £1,025 of that income; therefore, my total investment for the year is £20,109.42.
My Vanguard account is tax-wrapped (ISA) so it made sense to prioritise it. I have a with-profits savings account with Sheffield Mutual that I am paying £130 per month. This is tax-wrapped, with life insurance account and is invested mostly in the UK. For the month of August, I invested all my savings to Trading212. By November, I opened Revolut and eToro to trade using a dollar-denominated account. Lastly, I explored BTC this year. I reckon it doesn't hurt if I invest to an instrument that is gaining institutional interest this year at less than 1% of my portfolio. But that's just me of course.
Also, another requirement for this challenge is to hit the annual Stocks and Shares ISA limit of £20,000 before the next tax cycle that starts April every year. Hence, I will need £7,472.13 to hit that target. Given my current allocation, I would miss this by 25%. Not fun to be a nurse but I would probably make another challenge starting January. Maybe £21,000 (Php1,400,000) before end of 2021?
P.S. Article adjusted with my December income.
Monthly investment here.
Social media is a medium where one could interact with someone in the internet via text, video, gifs, photos or reactions. Everyone with a smartphone, in one way or another has a social media account in one or more of the following apps - Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Youtube, Omegle, Twitter, Stocktwits, Discord, Tik Tok or Parler. Whilst I have multiple social-media accounts, I only use a few and utilise them to my advantage.
If I have to breakdown my facebook activity for the year, it will be 10% interaction with family and friends' posts, 10% Facebook stories, 60% article sharing, 10% Tesla and Elon, 10% phubbing and entertainment. I think I have already graduated from my egotistical, narcissistic, like-my photo stage to now sharing political and Tech articles with zero care of the world. What is more, I could actually use Facebook as free cloud storage with the option to set posts as private for future use.
I optimised Reddit participation when I have found well-thought out and organised resources about investing.
Wallstreetbets (WSB) is a sub with 1.6 million members posting profits and losses, memes, due diligence, and stock-pick yolo-ism, from retail investors all over the world; calling themselves autistic, degenerate gamblers. It became extremely popular, CNBC even mentions it. The memes give me giggles but with over a million members, the brain power of the sub cannot be denied.
You will see posts like -
Sample 1, Sample 2, Sample 3 and websites like Sample 4, Sample 5.
If you know where to look and know what to consume, there are hidden jewels in the sub you will never going to get somewhere else.
Forget about Trump vs Twitter shenanigan, Twitter is the home that politicians, economists, Tech-nerds, hedge-funds, and retail investors are active. This, in turn, creates a networking effect in the Fintwit community. For example, it was Twitter that I get to learn SPACs because of Chamath Palahapitiya which has led me to follow astute SPAC investors who also follow extremely helpful websites like spactrack. News also spread like wildfire in Twitterverse, so reactive search on stocks is only a few second search using the $ sign plus the ticker. It was Twitter that I get to learn how quantitative and qualitative analysis are made by hedge-funds and to network on quality substacks, blogs and podcasts.
I think people see Twitter as a toxic community as a whole but that is not the case. I block bots and turds, follow bulls and contrarians alike, and bookmark insightful and helpful threads for future reference.
I have Instagram where I follow investing accounts but not as effective as Twitter. Stocktwits for pre-market and after-market data but the ideas are downright bin-worthy.
The idea that soc-med are time-wasters is simply untrue. Well, it could be if you allow it to consume you. However, if you know what you are looking for, you will find it.
If you are an OFW, investing in the Philippine stock market may not be a good decision penny-wise. But if you desperately want to own Jollibee shares, by all means, proceed with whatever floats your boat.
The reason why I don't invest in Pinas is simple
- Fees. And more fees.
1. Trading Fees
This is taken from the COLFinancial website, a popular investment platform in the Philippines.
For Buying -
Commission Fee: .25% (of gross trade amount)
Value Added Tax (VAT): 12% (of commission)
Philippine Stock Exchange Transaction Fee (PSETF): .005% (of gross trade amount)
Securities Clearing Corporation of the Philippines Fee (SCCP): .01% (of gross trade amount)
For Selling -
Commission Fee: .25% (of gross trade amount)
Value Added Tax (VAT): 12% (of commission)
Philippine Stock Exchange Transaction Fee (PSETF): .005% (of gross trade amount)
Securities Clearing Corporation of the Philippines Fee (SCCP): .01% (of gross trade amount)
Sales Tax: .60% (of the gross selling amount)
*Note: The Commission fee has a minimum charge of P20.00 per transaction. And if you require a broker-assisted trade, the commission charge is .5% of the gross trade amount.
Buying - Total fees for buying 20,000 shares of ABC at P5.00/share
PSE Fee: P5
Selling - Total fees for selling 20,000 shares of ABC at P5.20/share = P104000
PSE Fee: P5.20
Sales Tax: P624
Gain = P4000-P295-P930.80 = P2774.2
That's a lot of money lost. What if the stock go down and you decide to sell at a loss?
2. Handling Fees
Some handling charges are listed below:
3. Mutual Fund Fees
Pesolab has a detailed article about how mutual fund fees work. Click here.
In summary, below are the fees expected if you invest on mutual funds in the Philippines.
Philequity MSCI Philippine Index Fund, Inc.
Sales Load: 5%
Holding Period: 90 days
Management Fee: 3%
Brutal! I am not familiar with the brokerage firms in the Philippines, it does not interest me. But, imagine if you buy funds via a broker, you also need to shoulder the transaction fees of buying and selling. That is too much.
In comparison, I could purchase funds in the UK with an expense ratio of just 0.06%.
I will never touch a fund whose expense ratio that is greater than .30%, yet alone 1% or 3%. Yikes!
4. Other fees
Although not related to investment fees per se, investing in the Philippines require you to send money regularly to top up your account, and doing so require you to pay remittance fees. On top of that, you have no control over the exchange rate between GBP to PHP or USD to PHP. You may lose from this as well.
My head is hurting writing this article (lol). It appears to me that my beloved country is not investor friendly which is a shame especially if you want to support companies back home. Hopefully, things will change in the not so distant future. For now, the UK offers the best deals if you want to invest in the stock market. Even better in the US.
Random photos taken in Central London during the lockdown (raw).
Minimalism is owning fewer possessions. Simple as that.
Like many of those who got converted to the minimalist lifestyle, I used to own exuberant amount of clothes, shoes, books, useless paperworks, among others. I perfectly recalled the days I was itching for my salary to reflect on my bank account so I could shop for brand new tees and trainers. No purpose, I just needed to buy new things. The incessant urge was merely driven by want than the reason of necessity. Nothing more.
However, my viewpoint changed when I was contemplating of moving in London a year before my work contract expired in 2019. Years passed, I have actually accumulated a mountain of clothes and useless stuff I had no intention hauling with me to the capital. To add, the idea of travelling alone with 3 luggages and 2 backpacks did not interest me at all.
Pursuit. Searching the internet for tips on how to organise my stuff, I stumbled upon minimalism; I read about it and read more. Intrigued, I bought a book, "The More of Less" by J. Decker seeking for guidance on how I could implement it in real life.
Give, Donate, Bin, Sell Segregating everything that I own into groups (with the help of bin bags) was tiresome but productive experience.
Bin - stained and overstretched clothes, broken gadgets, old learning materials, insignificant documents, etc
Donate - Shoes, Training Gears, Books
Sell - Mostly shoes
Give - Mostly clothes
By the way, this process took me roughly 3 months to complete until I ended up with two luggage-full of stuff. This did not end here, however. A month before I moved in London, I decided to just bring with me enough clothes and shoes to fit in my small travel bag and my all-purpose backpack. The rest I would leave to my friend's.
What I brought in London early last year.
1 trainers (pair)
1 lifting shoes (pair)
1 formal/casual shoes
4 socks (pairs)
1 gym bag
Assorted important documents
Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc)
That same year, my major purchases were:
1 running windbreaker
3 pillows and pillow cases
2 sleeping blankets
1 electric fan
1 pair of pants (changed the old one; ripped off lol)
Today, the rest of the stuff that I left are long forgotten. Good riddance.
Psychology. Detaching myself from at least 90% of what I previously owned was shockingly effortless. I did not miss any of those stuff. I think this is because I don't complicate the way I make decisions. If I want something, I do it with grand enthusiasm. Also, in retrospect, I actually hated shopping believe it or not. Shopping is a painfully stressful experience for me especially if I spend too much time and effort looking for things that I want but couldn't.
This entire exercise, although still a work in progress has rippled towards many positive effects in my life e.g. buy with purpose, increased productivity, renewed focus, positivism. My life became way easier to live than before overall.
End note. Minimalism is one of the best things that ever happened to me. And I could only hope that many Filipinos will reap the merits of this lifestyle should they attempt it.
For more info visit:
Building-up a savings buffer
Photo by @camilo_jimenez on @Unsplash
I had a casual conversation with my friends when the topic pivoted into finance and the stock market. I chimed in that I usually put off investing when my Emergency fund is not fully funded (6 months of my monthly expenses). Shockingly, one of my friends innocently admitted that she has no clue what an Emergency Fund is.
I can't blame her. I knew about Emergency Fund when I was already 22. I was young but should have known the concept when I started working full time at 20. To add, I figured it all out myself. My parents didn't teach me about Emergency funds nor did we sit down as a family and talk about money matters in general. My mum, however, had a monthly budget and was frugal. No wonder I budget in detail and turned out to be frugal too (lol).
Anyway, if you are like my friend, say no more. Pag-usapan natin to!
What is an Emergency Fund?
This is an easily accessible cash buffer to protect your other assets when life's mishaps happen. When your car or boiler breaks, the roof is leaking, your child caught a bug requiring hospital care, or your boss did an "eeny, meeny, miny, moe" and fire you, an emergency cash reserve allows you to deal with these issues without using the money you saved for more important things like retirement or investment.
I was searching the internet about the EF concept in the Philippine setting, luckily enough, I stumbled upon a study conducted by the Central Bank of the Philippines (BSP) in 2015.
Interestingly, in relation to saving money, it documented the following:
* 4 out of 10 Filipino adults (43.2%) currently have savings, 32.3% used to save in the past but have stopped saving money, while the remaining 24.5% have never experienced saving money
* 7 out of 10 adults (68.3%) who are saving money keep their savings at home. 32.7% of adults with savings put their money in banks while others save through cooperatives
At a glance, there are so many things that are wrong here based on how Filipinos manage our money but let's focus on bullet 1.
For those that have savings (43.2%), even though BSP did not categorise where this money is being saved for (i.e. emergencies, cellphone, car, vacation, life event) making it unclear, actually, it doesn't matter. This only shows that almost 60% of Filipinos potentially has ZERO emergency fund, and for savers, is likely that the money is saved for something else. This study was conducted in 2015 so who knows behaviour may have changed for the last 5 years but I am yet to see statistics for the present.
How much cash
There are a few arguments on how much money is saved in an emergency cash reserve pot. Papa Dave Ramsey for example, preaches $1000 Emergency Fund first, pay-off debt next, then at least 3 months of monthly expenses, then 6 months. For the risk-averse, they can go as high as 12 months to at least 2 years of monthly expenses in cushion.
Quite frankly, for my personal circumstance, 1 month cash reserve is enough as I work as a nurse with one of the highest vacancy rates in England. I also rent so I don't need cash for house fixes and I don't own a car. However, as a member of the Sandwich Generation Club, based on my calculations, I need at least 6 months of emergency money just in case shit happens back home in the Philippines.
How much money to be kept in this fund is therefore case by case basis. Having a preview of what could go wrong in every facets of your life is a good start and then adjustments could be made along the way.
I opened a separate bank account sole for this. It earns the crappiest interest yield but earning interest out of this fund is not the point. Although others do hack their Emergency fund by saving it into a high yield savings account. It also makes sense to me that this fund is put on a different account so I don't mix my regular incomings and outgoings. And when it comes to shove that I need to mobilise the reserve, I would know how much exactly I used and then simply refuel it back at full. Again, in my case is 6 months of my monthly expenses, which is £7200.
I also predict that as I grow old past the wealth accumulation stage of my life, I would propel my safety margin to at least 1 year. Or on a contrary, I could press it a bit down to £6000 should I see opportunity like a dip in the market for example.
About 4 months ago, my mum got seriously ill to the extent that she could no longer work. After the initial lab tests and doctor's appointment, the clinician was unable to determine the exact cause of her deteriorating health. This was clearly an urgent matter and therefore, I mobilised my Emergency Fund so she could get specialist appointment and treatment - Ophthalmologist, Cardiologist, and ENT. She was prescribed multiple drugs and diagnostic tests after these appointments. This is exactly, how important having AND maintaining an Emergency fund is. I had access to that fund stat without me touching my investment portfolio. And then when things got better, I just replenished my emergency shield back up.
Having an emergency fund is a powerful tool to ensure that other important assets are protected when unexpected events happen to your life. It is beneficial to separate this from your main account. The amount is dependent on your personal circumstances and risk tolerance. If used, replenish as soon as possible.
Credit: Terrence Horan/MarketWatch
Do you know the reason why is it hard to get ahead financially as a Filipino? I’ll tell you. Once we land a job and start earning money, and be in the position of “financial capability”, we tend to provide financial assistance to our parents, grandparents, own children, and sometimes siblings, their kids, and to some extent, relatives too. Call it altruistic Filipino tradition but it does have a term in the personal finance space - Sandwich Generation. This is not unique amongst us as this holds true to many people. If this resonates to you personally, think about a typical sandwich delicatessen; one bread on top, one at the bottom, and in the middle is the meat, cheese, fresh lettuce, tomato, and the savoury spread. You are the middle yumminess; your parents and grandparents, the bread on top; your kids, the bottom bread. I could devour a delicious sandwich but in this case, it is not very appetising.
How costly is it to be in this situation? Expensive enough to hardly save for your own retirement. In the end, you will become dependent from your children; then it becomes a generational financial pressure, and the cycle continues.
My Personal Story
My family is not an exception to this. In fact, I belong in the Sandwich Generation Club. What an honor. Here’s my story.
In 2010, I helped my parents build a new house, whilst the old one has always been home, it was uneconomical for us to renovate it. I didn’t have the capital to get that project started, however; so off to the bank to borrow money. Of course, the new house needed a few furniture so I ended up borrowing more. At 21, I was instantly 6-digit in debt. Yes, gainfully employed but in debt neck deep. I had to pay the owed sum for 3.5 years.
At 25, my mother sought for my assurance that I should help the youngest with his tuition fees when he starts University. And, if possible, I shouldn’t get married until he graduates. Of course, I said, “Yes.” I was matured enough to understand that my parents were approaching retirement and the burden to pay for my brother’s fees wasn’t the best position to be in at an old age. I am paying for my brother’s tuition fee and allowance at present, he graduates in 2022. Two years to go! Dang!
Last year, my parents retired and I know for the fact that their retirement coverage from the Philippine government would not be enough to assist them when they get ill. I am preparing for that too.
My personal circumstances is not unique but never the worse. My parents NEVER milk me of money; they do the opposite. They push me to look after my finances and save for the rainy days. Equally praiseworthy is my younger brother - the most loving, understanding and clever lad that he is. On no account did he ask me for material things and has never expressed jealousy over the inflated lifestyle amongst his well-off peers.
To the contrary, the stories of other Filipinos are shocking - some unavoidable, others self-inflicted. Paying for medical bills, sending children, siblings, nephews and nieces to private schools, monthly family food allowance, house renovations or building houses for siblings, and so on. I am in no way demonising this, bet helping an ill family member get the best hospital treatment is the right thing to do. But perhaps, a public school is as equally effective to get educated rather than sending your children to expensive schools. And if your parents are still working, why send monthly food allowance? I believe this is worth pondering upon because the opportunity cost of all these has humongous ramifications towards your future financial health.
I’ve long accepted the difficult responsibility of ensuring our family tree will #SandwichGenxit. I and my brothers’ children shall be liberated from the costly Filipino “culture” that for years, has long been accepted as normal. Here’s a few tips.
Jubilee Greenway Walk - 9km, chilly but delightful Central London walk along the canals
Start: BT Tower, Marylebone Rd, Edgware Rd, Little Venice, Paddington Central, Regent's Canal, Feng Shang Princess, Regent's Park Broadwalk, End: BT Tower
Explore Little Venice.
Places of Interest
Photos taken using Samsung 9+ - uploaded raw.
The Little Venice was a lovely place to visit but would not take your breath away. Possibly better experience during summer.
Paddington Central is a hidden gem. Grand architecture with plenty of restaurants.
Regent's Canal offers a well maintained path for a lazy stroll or a sprightly jog.
Easy, straightforward walk. Planning not needed.
Alternative route is to start from Little Venice and end at Camden Market for a much needed after-walk munchies.
Before Christmas break last year, a colleague and I were just talking about how careful should we be on our extra hours as earning £50,000 per tax year in the UK would qualify one to be taxed on a higher rate at 40%. Confidently, I mentioned that I wouldn't reach that earning for the tax year as my annual salary is only £24,214 and even if I max out 20 hours of extra work every week, my total annual salary would still be under £50,000 before tax. She agreed but was astound to know that my annual pay is only £24,214 when it should have been £26,220. Yup, a difference of £2,006 since the start of the tax year, April 2019. She quipped that I should have my pay reviewed the soonest as it would take several months to be rectified as this happened to her and another colleague.
When I heard the news, I genuinely felt that I have let myself down for not noticing the err on my payslip. I budget down to the last penny, yet, ironically, I failed to notice that I was on the wrong pay scale. Although I was disappointed of myself, I knew, there was no point in crying over spoilt milk and should just focus my energy on what I could control moving forward.
So, what exactly I could control?
My employer's payroll is a third party company and since that time was a holiday, there was no way I could call them to explain my dispute. I could, however, create an escalation ticket via our intranet portal; then compose a draft email to be sent immediately to my line manager after the New Year. That's exactly what I did.
The timeline - I created the ticket on December 24, received a reply on the 30th. I sent my drafted email when I got back to work on the 2nd of January, received a reply from payroll on the 6th (also apologising for the delayed correspondence as the latter have just returned from Leave.) On the 24th, shockingly, my payslip has been updated with the correct pay and arrears for the 9 months I paid wrongly. Issue resolved. Happy days!
What a way to earn a little under £4000 for a month (Php265000). I may never get this again so pardon me for my unmatched elation (although, I have plans on how to boost my income in the next 1-3 years).
What happened to the extra income?
My frugal mentality whispered that I should put 55% of that to my Vanguard and Trading212 accounts; and I delivered. I didn't treat myself to a nice meal from a fancy restaurant nor bought new things because #IDeserveIt. No, not on my watch. I was happy to invest that extra money, that is all that matter.
I am thankful for that colleague of mine for challenging me to correct my pay and for my employer for the quick, hassle-free rectification of my dispute.
Now, I have to live off on the remaining 45% of that income for the month of February. My heart is full.