2017 in Charts and Graphs

2017 was a great year for equities, CAPE ratios are raising all around. Great but that might suggest future performance will be expected to be poor given the popular theory of reversal to the mean CAPE. Or will momentum play a bigger role for the next year leading to further highs?

I doubt anyone has a crystal ball of that sort that could predict the future or where the next crisis will arrive but our best bet is to focus and be steadfast on the simple and enduring values and principles that will hold true help us steady the ship and sail along despite the storms. Come what may!

Portfolio

FP Portfolio

Towards the end of Dec 2016, my unitized portfolio Unit value was at 113.11. This grew to 137.75 per unit on 4th Jan 2018. A growth of 21.78%! I must say I am pleasantly surprised but cautiously suspicious of the reasons for this performance. I must admit I am no genius or brilliant in my methods just following the passive route to wealth building.

A lot of this performance I gather is due to the weakening pound/dollar currency exchange in 2017. At this stage of wealth accumulation with a long way off decumulation, this volatility shouldn’t be too much of an issue but it is a good lesson to note how currency fluctuations can affect your portfolio and note how currency hedging can help wealth preservation in the latter stage of life.

FTSE WORLD INDEX

Part of the reason I tracked my returns in a unitized fashion was so I could capture data of some resemblance to standardized methods and therefore I can compare to various funds or indexes. Looking at the FTSE World Index:

Between 30th Dec 2016 and 31st Oct 2017:

FTSE World Index (Net Tax) grew from 2531.6 to 3026.9 (19.56% increase)

FIREplant portfolio grew from 113.11 to 133.09 (17.66% increase)

The lack of up to date data on the FTSE Russell website means I could only compare to Oct 2017. Losing by 1.9% to the FTSE index will probably a reflection of the allocation of my portfolio. I am content with that. Perhaps in another year, the FP portfolio will outperform but we know average is good enough.

Dividends

Dividend Chart

Dividends has been steady growing as expected. 1st year of breaking the 1K Dividend barrier. Hurray! Time will tell whether this chart will become exponential and if the laws of mathematics will hold true.

Cash

Cash Worth

I only just met my savings target for the 2017 semi-motivated by the thread on MSE forum. Saving is such a lonely journey sometimes, people tend to be quite protective about their financial situation perhaps quite rightly. However, it is quite liberating to chat and talk to people about how you are doing in terms of your monthly savings and your failures and successes. It helps us introduce a reflective practice and accountability to our choices and actions and also learn from the mistakes and failures of others.

To be successful, learn not to commit the mistakes of others.

Savings Rate

Savings Rate 2017

In the end, my total savings rate sat at a dismal 46.5%. Not hellish but could be a lot be better. I think it tells a lot about how much more potential I have to streamline and smooth out the edges in terms of spending and practice active minimalism. Let’s hope I can improve on this in 2018.

Enjoy a photo I took in Château de Versailles in 2017:

And Yet Here We Stand

FIREplanter

Brexit is Upon Us All. Life goes fucking on.

Life’s a relentless bitch so far for most of us. Just some quick thoughts for this month whilst I can get a break.

So we all heard, Article 50 for exiting the European Union has been triggered. Britain is going to be out of EU, loads of debate and negotiations going on about the terms and conditions of the exit. And then I start receiving emails about 50 opportunites in the Post Brexit World. As I mentioned above, I don’t have time nor energy for all these. If I were to start thinking about whether Brexit is going to affect me and worry about things like this, how would I be able to live my life?? (I should be worrying shouldn’t I)

I am starting to appreciate theescapeartist’s point on ‘No News is Good News‘ in the sense that not actively gobbling up the news or all information or reports out there like a news junkie is actually ‘good’ for your mental health, wealth and general happiness.

The idea of passive investing helps too, giving the market free rein to go where ever it wants. Let capitalism takes its course. We do our bit by focusing on ourselves, having tight finances and good cash flow and asking ourselves what we really need to be happy and really how much do we really need to be content.

The best things in life are the simple things.

I have also read a great article last weekend: The Greatest asset is YOU postulating that basically what we ourselves are our greatest asset. And with time we are in fact transmuting our human capital  into other forms of value, ie Financial capital, social capital, etc. It is up to us to make the transmution process be more efficient and maximise its potential, piling up the right kinds of assets rather than liabilities.

Fireflies-in-trees-by-Yu-Hashimoto
Fireflies in Trees by Yu Hashimoto

Some day I swear. I am going to see it with my own eyes.

Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House 21 April – 7 May 2017. Might be worth having a look. Photos are captured dreams after all.

-Fireplanter

 

Photos of the Week: Life in 1950s Seoul

Sometimes looking at a photo or artwork or listening to music, you can simply appreciate and grasp snippets of pure joy. Perhaps that’s what they call self-actualization. Best things in life are sometimes the simple things and you don’t need financial independence to start enjoying it.

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Photos taken by Han Young-soo of life in Seoul in the 1950s after the war.

‘The war had taken away many things,’ Youngsoo wrote. ‘Not only had it mercilessly trampled down on our beloved families and neighbours, but also their happiness, hope, and furthermore humanity itself. As if that wasn’t enough, by the end it had utterly destroyed everything on the face of the earth leaving behind ruins, despair, famine and sorrow’

Wars are indeed bad. I never been through one and I count myself extremely fortunate. Hope it stays that way.

Check out his other photos here.

Current exhibition at International Centre of Photography in Jersey City, New York till June 2017.

-FIREplanter

The world is much more than I.

Greece
Refugees in Greece. Mum feeding kid along railway tracks Photo: Tobias

Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in work and life rolling on. Seconds become minutes, minutes becomes hours, hours become days, days become weeks, weeks become months and then years and decades and at some point people reach a point when they pause and think ‘what’s the point of all this?’ ‘Where is the end?’ (Midlife crisis?) I think we all have our mini crisis on a daily and weekly basis hence needing to look forward to happy hump day and weekends!

Well we are lucky that time flows in one direction and all things must come to an end (sounds morbid I know), but that means all things good or horrible will not last forever. So we should just enjoy the view, appreciate the tears of joy and sorrows along the way and consider that everyone else is on the journey as well. It is one reason I enjoy stories, real or fiction reminding me there are others out there feeling the same worldly frustrations or wonders. Reflecting on other people’s stories also reminds you that the world is much bigger than your five senses or your internal narrative.

Hence the photo narrative can hopefully be a therapeutic break for the mind. The world is much more than I.