Friday, January 12, 2018

2017 Reflections, 2018 Gameplan

Hi to all my readers. I know this is very late, but here's wishing everyone a happy new year and good health to all!

2017 has been a good year to me. Though some of the challenges I've faced made me doubt myself, I somehow managed to pull through and learn from the experience.

Career-wise, I am thankful for the bump (in my industry, at least) to my salary. At the rate I am going, while keeping my fingers crossed, I will be hitting $100k net worth before the end of 2018 (excluding CPF and emergency fund). When I first started reading personal finance and investment blogs around January 2015, I remember coming across one of Budget Babe's post on saving more than $100k before 30.

It awakened me to the possibility. However, I would not have envisioned myself to achieve just that. Social science researchers with an undergraduate degree are at the bottom-most rung of the food chain. This is further exacerbated by low income growth and a low income ceiling. Furthermore, I did not have AWS for the first 2 years of my working life. Still, I enjoy what I do, but I warmly welcome additional pay anytime! :P

If you ask me in 2015 or 2016 what concerns I have on my savings rate, I would readily point to my salary. The numbers just do not add up; I do not think it is realistic for me to hit a net worth of $100k before 30. To manage my expectations, I have always assumed that I will be drawing fresh graduate pay with zero increment and no bonuses for the rest of my working life. Extreme, I know. But it sure beats my peers who unrealistically believe that they are worth more than they actually are. I have observed my peers setting themselves up for disappointment again and again with this type of mentality they bring before employers.

After being in the workforce for three years, I could say that I have achieved a greater degree of self-awareness. I know where my strengths and weaknesses lie. Socially, I am still rough on the edges. I am task-driven and speak in a matter-of-fact tone (I know some of my blogger friends would disagree with this after experiencing plenty of "nonsense" comments from me. Ahem). Now that I have a subordinate assisting me, I have to consciously remind myself to do otherwise.

Another area in my life that requires serious work is the way I work. I have a Type A personality in the workplace. Don't ask me why, but I have this tendency to clear work ASAP. I feel uncomfortable leaving work undone; uncompleted tasks are a bloody annoying eyesore to me. Obviously, this is not good for my health and I am experiencing some of its negative impacts already (tension headaches, stiff shoulders). I have made some headway on this. It takes some conscious effort not to get swept up in a whirlwind of faux busyness.

This leads me to my next point on blogging. There have been multiple occasions where I was too eager to publish a post. After publishing said posts, I cringed because of the following: (a) I recall a point that previously eluded me which would have been good to include in the post, (b) breaks in the thought patterns in my writings, (c) my "voice" fails to manifest and the post conveys too mechanical a feel, and/or (d) my tone did not come out right.

A good solution is to step back. Save what I have written, come back another day with fresh eyes to look at what I have written. There is no need to rush the completion of a blog post (or non-urgent assignments at work, for the matter). Allowing things to sink in and mulling over them instead of reacting immediately to events in my life.

Why the rush, Unintelligent Nerd? I want growth and I want to collect achievements. The uncertainty brings forth anxiety about my ability to meet my own expectations. As long as there is uncertainty and expectations that "should" be met, there will be anxiety.

This does not mean that, moving forward, I expect nothing of myself. I would still deliver my best. It is a small but subtle shift in my mindset. To speak in metaphors, it is coming to terms with the fact that one unit of effort may or may not always map out to one unit of achievement.

For 2018, I intend to carry this mindset with me. To continue improving myself, to sharpen my craft minus all the stress and anxiety that results from my realization of the discrepancy between what I am now and what I aspire to be. To pay the toll of hard work while I am still (somewhat) young and energetic and to build up my human capital. To be more conscious of my physiological state and to regulate it better (e.g. do not allow my blood pressure to rise when I receive a task to do over email). To divest non-core stuff in my life such as toxic friends and personal development areas-of-interest that lacks synergy with other areas-of-interest.

On the "administrative" side of things, I will be hitting the $20k emergency fund goal once my January 2018 pay is credited in (see here). Depending on how conservative I want to be, I might consider increasing my emergency fund further (at the expense of my cash allocation). This is not set in stone yet and is open for revision.

That's all for now. While some of my peers are busy relaxing in their youths, I will continue to make hay while the sun shines.

As a certain controversial financial blogger would say:

The hard road leads to the easy life
The easy road leads to the hard life



  1. Unintelligent Nerd,

    Welcome to the delicate art of knowing how hard to "grab" the bird in hand ;)

    Squeeze too hard; bird dies.

    Squeeze too light; bird flies away.

    Amazing how much psychology our Hokkien words of wisdom hold right?

    1. Hi SMOL,

      Yah man. Squeeze too hard, dividends will be used to pay medical bills. >.<

      Work hard, but not at the expense of health. Aim high, but have to be realistic. Prioritize "high margin" tasks. Live mindfully and consciously.


  2. Hi Unintelligent Nerd,

    Relax, Breathe and Play... 20s is the best time of our life...ENJOY...

    1. Hi Lady You Can Be Free,

      Thanks for visiting. Noted, will do. :)

  3. Hi UN

    Gratz to ur 100k net worth soon...
    Me still long way to go :(
    I still have to work harder... sigh

    1. Hi SY,

      We are all friends in this journey together. Let's take one step at a time. Gambatte!

  4. It seems we joined the workforce around the same time, we might be of the same age! Worrying about before 30. Hahaha. I always have the impression that you are much older. lol.

    1. Hi KPO,

      Should be around the same time lah, based on what I read in your blog. :P