Monday, 4 February 2019

Expenses - January 2019

Total - S$3,424.04

Happy New Year 2019! Massive expenses month to kick off the new year.

Largest expenditure category was Vacations. Spent a little more than a week in Thailand with my entire family this month, and went a bit over the top with the requisite complementary expenses such as alcohol over there and the duty free shop. Speaking of which, the duty free shop at the Airport isn't exactly that cheap... I can find better duty paid prices in local stores, which is surprising actually.

Anyhow, a large majority of the expenses of this category was contributed by a return air ticket to the USA. Will be heading there for a month and a half in the middle part of the year, and I managed to snag a decent airfare with a sweet top tier Asian airline at c. S$1,150. That was a good steal.

Second largest category was "Eating Out". Had some good meals out at certain restaurants this month, but this category wasn't as much as expected, as on other days I began to experiment with cooking in (scrambled eggs with sausages anyone?).

Third largest category was Alcohol. Much of it was duty free expenses at the airport, and I had a bottle of wine with my partner at a local wine bar this month. No regrets here, though on a separate note, I could probably cut back a bit on the imbibing.

So I'm about 14% under budget this year with what is my largest monthly expenditure thus far. All is good, and I'm happy with the balance in my life. In fact, I think I could be spending more, but I don't think that would necessarily increase my level of happiness.

I do think February is going to be a big expense month , given Chinese New Year and several other notable events worth celebrating, and I would be happy to bust the budget if necessary, given the lower than expected incurred expenses since I left the workforce.

Let's see, let's see. Wishing all a Happy Chinese New Year, and may all be happy, healthy, safe and free :)

Friday, 25 January 2019

Expenses - December 2018

Total - S$2,863.78

Expenses came up to S$2,863.78 in Dec 2018.

Boy oh boy, it was a "decadent" month from an experiential standpoint. Flew out to Thailand and Indonesia thrice this month, and was away for 19 days. Majority of the expenses for Vacation / Diving were already front-loaded in November, given this is a cash accounting concept of expenses, so let's see what contributed to the bottom line in Dec 2018.

Largest category was Diving. This involved front loading diving expenses for a diving trip in Jan 2019 to Khao Lak, where I wanted to check out Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Similan Islands. Also, paid up for an add-on course module that allowed me to take on Nitrox Air in the future.

Second largest category was undoubtedly Vacation. This involved spending on accommodation and airfare to Indonesia to cross the New Year with my partner, and also for payment of accommodation for the second part of the Jan 2019 diving trip with my family in Phuket.

Eating Out was the third largest category. There were many catch ups with various groups of friends over the holiday season, and as a family, we indulged in the festivities as well. Fun times.

So I was about 28% under budget this month, and I believe I really did live it up this month, and am happy. Not that I'm challenging myself to use up my budget, but perhaps there is a case that I really am quite content with what I have at the moment, that there probably isn't any further utility from increased spending.

Let's see.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Expenses - November 2018

Total - S$2,948.31
Expenses in Nov 2018 totaled S$2,948.31.

Diving took up c. 42% of it. Decided to embark on my Advanced Open Water Diving certification, and headed to Indonesia to complete the requisite dives. That was a pretty good few days, and it was fun to be underwater after more than 12 years again.

Vacation was the next big category. This involved hotel expenditure and envisaged expenses as I went over to Chiang Mai for a meditation retreat and a short holiday thereafter. Retreat was great, and Chiang Mai is certainly a really livable city. It does seem like a place that I'll be happy to stay for sometime.

Donations rounded up the top three categories. Spent about 3.5 weeks in Malaysia on meditation retreat over the course of Oct and Nov 2018, and donated some cash to fund living expenses. Most of, if not all of the meditation retreats are donations only, so thought it apt to at least cover my perceived living expenses.

I'm 26% under budgeted for expenses this month, and while the safety margin could have been more, am glad that I went ahead to get my diving done. That's not a cheap sport, but it's certainly a worthwhile one. Some of the scenes underwater are amazing, and it feels good to be able to have the chance to experience it in this life.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Expenses - October 2018

Total - S$1,332.49
Spent much less moolah this month, largely because I headed off for silent retreat during the last week or so of October . 

I didn't quite intend it to be this way, but spending time working on the mind at a meditation center seems to jive with saving monies, as its mostly donations only concept, at least at those centers I've been to in Asia. And its a double win, cos you'll work on yourself at the same time and imbue simplicity into your daily life. 

Eating Out and Alcohol were the two main contributors this month. Bought some drinks for my family at Oktoberfest and stocked up on some good stuff from DFS when I got back from Taiwan in early October. Despite that, I realise that I have actually cut down on my propensity to drink - perhaps not much need to dull the senses to actually prepare for work? :)

Self Improvement rounded up the top 3 contributors. The usual yoga subscription and 2 books on Chan meditation contributed to this. 

I'm 67% under budgeted expenses for Oct 2018, which is what it is, and I didn't feel deprived at all during the month. I don't have the mindset that I actively need to save money and cut costs, and I ponied up where I wanted to or needed to. That being said, my natural disposition is to find value in what I invest or spend on. 

So the sentiment so far is that I'm happy, and perhaps the budget of S$4,000 per month of spending for my current circumstances might be over budgeting so far. But let's see how November turns out. 

Friday, 5 October 2018

Expenses - September 2018

Total - S$2,650.53

First ever expenses post even though I've been monitoring expenses since mid 2015. I reckon it's mostly motivated by my new found situation and to see if I can maintain my personal budget of less than S$4,000 monthly as I wade into the post F.I.R.E lifestyle.  

Total expenses tallied at S$2,650.53 and have been split into various categories. I use cash accounting for my own standards, albeit taking credit card payments as "cash payments" even though they are due c. 1 month later. 

Vacation expenses contributed almost c.50% to total expenses this month as I spent c. 2 weeks in Taiwan and booked some air tickets and hotels for Thailand next January. 

Food consumption under "Eating Out" is next on the list. This is remarkably lesser compared to records when I was employed granted most of that came from hawker centers and food courts instead of restaurants. That being said, I won't be able to claim S$500 to S$700 of monthly expenses from my old employer under this category anymore. 

Self Improvement comprises yoga classes and books. I've a monthly subscription to a yoga studio that allows for unlimited visits and that works out to be c S$144 a month. Bought a book from Book Depository as well. 

Transportation was basically a S$50 top up to my EZ Link and S$64 road tax for my motorcycle. 

And that's a distilled round up of my expenses in September 2018. 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Random thoughts on gratitude

Sometimes I just need to remind myself of what a lucky guy I am, that there's so many things to be grateful for in my life. The past 5 days have indeed been a huge wake up call to show more appreciation to what I have, instead of constantly desiring for even more. 

Here's a song / poem I've had the chance to come across over the last 5 Days. 

"In gratitude, you have watered the seeds of love in me in gratitude, 
In gratitude, I will water seeds of love in someone too.
I know you're there for me, and I am so happy. 

In gratitude, you have watered seeds of love in me in gratitude, 
In gratitude, I will water the seeds of love in someone too.
and when you suffer some, just call and I will come" 

- Plum Village 

There's so much to be grateful for in my life, and if I could list down perhaps the first 13 things that come to my mind at this point in time... 
  1. I've got a great team and boss at work who have been nothing but short of supportive in what I do
  2. Despite 1, I still be leaving my job behind in just a few months time
  3. I'm financially independent before 33 years of age 
  4. I've a totally blank canvas to paint whatever I want to paint in few months time
  5. I've had a chance to experience the Dhamma and receive proper teaching 
  6. I've in good health and decent shape 
  7. I've got great parents who raised my siblings and I in a loving environment
  8. I've got a great pair of siblings who are really supportive and provide great company 
  9. I've got a great set of friends who are multi faceted, supportive and are always there for me 
  10. I've discovered and am building a meditation practice 
  11. I've discovered the practice of yoga and am diligently developing my yoga practice 
  12. Even though I don't ride that often these days, I still own and have had a chance to ride a motorcycle - that's an exhilarating feeling!
  13. Many more... 
I go to bed tonight with much content, gratitude and a heart bursting full of you; and I invite you, my dear reader, to perhaps set aside a few seconds to think of what you could be grateful for, at this very present moment when you are reading this. 

If nothing comes to mind, perhaps you could enjoy these two meditative melodic trance songs that have been in my favourites list for the longest time. Have a great week ahead! 

Kaskade (feat. Mindy Gledhill) - Eyes 

Oceanlab - Lonely Girl (Gareth Emery Remix)

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Project Django Unchained - Pulling the Trigger

I'm penning this as I watch Hans Zimmer in Concert - Prague 2017 on Netflix. 

For the uninitiated, Hans Zimmer is one of pre-eminent composers for movie scores of all times. He's written scores for movies such as Black Hawk Down, The Dark Knight Rises, Crimson Tide, Sherlock Holmes, Inception, etc to name a few. I'm a big movie fan, and a closet fan of symphonic music given my teenage influence from playing in the band for 6 years - I'll strongly urge you to check out Hans Zimmer. You might actually like his music! 

I digress. 

It has been a tough few weeks at the office. Since my last post, I've actually begun execution of my plan to leave the bank. Got my finances sorted out, medical check ups done, and steeled myself to pull away from the herd, without a major push factor in the way. 

And when the medical results came back all good (or rather a decent baseline that I could work with), I followed through on my plan and started communicating my desire to leave the bank to my immediate supervisor and direct business head. I won't go into the intricacies of the conversations I had in this post - it'll probably be another post by itself (and I can't fathom writing in detail about that so maybe I'll just skip it in totality) or maybe I'll just skip it totally, but the bottom line is that the trigger has been pulled, the bullet is out of the gun, and boom motherf*cker there is absolutely no way back :) 

At this juncture (over 2 plus weeks since I'll pulled the trigger), I'm still in a bit of a grey area in terms of leaving date, mechanics, etc and what not, and coupled by the fact that my contractual notice period is a couple of months, it's been a bit of a funky period where I know I'm gonna bounce eventually in the next few months or so, but I'm still CRANKING. 

Cranking, just like a first year investment banker out of college, and it's been god knows more than eight years or so. *cues the score from Gladiator, or actually maybe a more apt scene would be Helms Deep of LOTR* 

The ironic thing about this is I have had a relatively peaceful lead in to 2018, but over the last month or so, work has picked up tremendously. I find myself in the cross-hairs of leading a cross border elephant transaction that spans China, Hong Kong, Europe and Singapore, and guess who's the lead banker on the execution process? That's absolutely right Sir, yours truly. 

Straddling both internal management, the junior bankers and the client, lies RB35, who has put in a request to resign and is leading an elephant transaction. For the uninitiated, an elephant transaction is one that brings in ate least c. US$10m of revenues. That means a lot of senior management oversight and RB35 is right smack in the spotlight with no way of shunning it :) 

The irony of it all is that I'm halfway through the door, but I'm still leading an elephant deal, and I'm not lessening any effort to get the transaction through. In fact, I'm multiplying my efforts and doubling down on the process, rolling with the punches and trying to push for the appropriate economic landing. 

Ah - the travails that accompany certain inherent character traits. And you know what? These 4 weeks have reinforced the notion that I'm doing the right thing. That I want to forge a better path for myself and investment banking is not the right path for me. Coupled with the palpable relief that I felt ex-communication of leaving desires to my bosses, this transmutes to a sense that of.... absolute liberation at this time. 

A feeling of liberation even though I've been working non stop day in day out since the end of April. And that feels pretty sweet, like the taste of tangerine nectar on a hot summer day. 

I don't know when exactly my last day of running this investment banking gig will be, but I sure am excited for what is to come thereafter. And that is, like what I mentioned to a confidante last Sunday, a blank slate where I can draw whatever I want to draw :) 

F.I.R.E - here I come!