Wednesday, December 23, 2020

End of year 2020 - My Reflection On This COVID year

Just like that, 2020 is coming to an end. This year proved itself to be a year of surprises. This definitely isn't a normal year which we would go through as the whole world practically descended into crisis. Luckily for us in Singapore, the disease outbreak is mostly under control and we've not seen multiple waves as compared to other countries. Nevertheless, we have transitioned into a new norm of living with social distancing, wearing of mask and limitation on gatherings still in place probably for another year ahead.

What I learnt in year 2020

2020 would be a year I will never forget. For both my personal and working life, I had to make tough decisions which was not easy. I was suppose to get married this year with almost everything all planned out. Me and my fiancee made the decision to postpone our wedding 3 months before our big day. Luckily we did that else we wouldn't be able to hold a wedding during the circuit breaker anyway. 

For my working life, this is the year which I pushed myself so much that I didn't take a single annual leave at all. This is the first time in my 10 years of working life that I didn't take any leave. Working in healthcare supporting COVID operations in the frontline is never easy. There were several times which I felt totally burn out and wanted to give up but I pushed myself to continue. It was mentally and physically exhausting. I'm glad that the situation is much better now. Looking back, I learnt how much I could actually push myself. I realised how much more I could do, pushing myself to the limits. Of course, this could not be achieved without the support of my fiancee, family, friends, colleagues and even the whole nation coming together as one. During a crisis, work becomes very different. We had SOPs to follow but also had to make critical decisions when situation changes. Policy changes becomes a weekly affair too where we had to adjust to changes almost every other day. 

The good thing about working in healthcare is I didn't have to worry about whether my salary or bonus will be cut. My salary remained intact and bonus was not cut. Because of this, I took the risk to invest more of my savings when the stock market dropped drastically. The ride was really wild as stocks continued to drop every time I bought a new stock. There were times I doubted myself whether am I doing the right thing as I see losses accumulating. Facing a tough personal life, I had moments of depression where I couldn't sleep well at night which was worsen by the losses from my investments.

Fortunately, the stock market has recovered and my portfolio went back up higher than the beginning of this year. All the losses have reversed and turned into profits. I believe this is only the beginning of the recovery and there is still much room for stocks to run up. 

Income and expenditure update

For the year 2020, my income from employment continues to grow. Total income grew 13.8% as compared to year 2019. Other income drop slightly as I had lesser time for income generating outside of work and also dividends from stocks were mostly cut this year due to the economic uncertainty. Expenses also dropped as I did not travel this year and also partly because of the circuit breaker and work which I did not go out for any social gatherings for a few months. 

Stock Investment Performance

For investing, I kept to my believe that the best time to invest is when there is a crisis. I've been waiting for such a time like this for the longest time ever since I started investing more than 10 years ago. There were some small crisis during the 10 years but this is one of the crisis which I've never encountered before. 

As you can see from the blue line representing my stock portfolio value, it has increased by more than 2 fold as I injected more capital every time the stocks drop lower. As the red line (representing portfolio time weighted returns) dropped, I put in more money and thus my portfolio value still went up even though stocks drop a lot. I have seen wide swings in my portfolio to the tune of $50K just this year alone. Not an easy journey I must say but this has made me a better investor to be able to control my emotions better. I learnt not to panic sell stocks during such times and really need to patience to ride it through.

With the support from other financial blogger friends, all of us got excited and invested more as stocks drop. This proved to be the right thing to do when stocks are on a great discount to their valuation. Nevertheless, it is still hard to know which company will survive at that point in time. I had stocks like SATS and hospitality Reits which were the hardest hit. Stocks like these have also recovered back to the price which I bought them at. The whole wait took about 6-9 months for it to turn around. At that point in time when I invested in these companies, the outlook was bleek and future was unknown. There was even fear whether the companies would survive. Looking back, there was definitely risk involved. It may still be risky now as borders have largely remained close and tourism is almost non existent. 

What's in it for us in 2021?

While the stock market has recovered and a vaccine is underway to control the outbreak, there is still uncertainty over the impact this outbreak will bring to the economy. There might be permanent shift in certain industries due to disruptions and accelerating of technological advancements. 

Will travel resume in 2021? I certainly hope so as the urge to have a good break and exploring new places keeps coming back. It might take awhile for normal travel to resume though as the start of borders reopening will certainly face with some hiccups and also travelling cost will definitely be much higher initially due to pent up demand. 

Nevertheless, holiday season is here and its short working week for the rest of the year till 2021. Here's wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Have a joyous celebration with your friends and family members but do remember to stay safe too! 

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