Friday, August 01, 2014

Last Retirement Post !

It's been 7 months since I retired from active work.

This is my last update on my mini-retirement because it will be all over next Monday. Next week, I will be going over to SMU to get my matriculation card, and for the next three years I will be busy getting Law qualification.

Here is my update :

a) Financial Performance was relatively good.

Even if you account for the Argentinian default and 7th month, my portfolio did fairly ok, I paid off one semester of fees of $17k+ and the capital gains made up for it within the same month. I hope to be able to execute this a few more times until the end of the year, as my next payment will be due in December 2014.

One of my objectives is to scrimp and save enough for the next two years so as not to graduate poorer than I was before graduation, this will be a hard act to follow considering that I have to pay my mortgages, move into my new place, start paying off the utility bills, and still pony enough cash every month to pay my fees and still eat.

b) We are now officially a zero-earned-income family.

To top it all up, I guess I was having too much fun for the past six months - so my wife also joined me by quitting her job ! I could not give her more money but she figured that it's possible to keep expenses low and pick up some spare earnings helping my brother in law out.This is a pretty insane development, but I'm very curious to see how having a portfolio could take care of a family with members participating in the economy.

We've jointly decided not to apply for any welfare benefits which can help with my daughter's school fees. Other Singaporeans need it more than I do. Same principle why I did not apply for needs based scholarships in SMU. I will only stick to merit based scholarships.

I think at the rate we are going, we should be able to make it but I think I'll return to work and let my wife retire in my stead after graduation.

c) Coursera classes are complete.

As I will soon have real offline classes, I've ended all involvement with Coursera for now. It's been a pretty fantastic year, and Coursera has given me a chance to make my days meaningful and productive even without employment.

I clocked 8 out of 9 distinctions for the Data Science Specialization only to realize that my old team is now giving out money for Singaporeans who can complete it.
Completed all lectures for the Model Thinking course which I think is possible the best course available in the Coursera system. Too bad the course is still not open yet.

More interestingly is that I completed a class in British Common Law offered by University of London. This is very cool as I have completed all the quizzes which includes a round of case and statute interpretation. This gives me enough foundation to actually start mugging for my upcoming classes. The advantage this will give me is unknown but I will be reporting my results on this blog.

I've signed up for some courses on How to Study to complement my journey in SMU and will take on any introductory course to legal systems from around the world.

d) Exercise and health

I don't have good news on this front, I have increased the frequency of exercise but I am back sliding on my food intake. Seems that a non-carb diet is hard to sustain in Singapore. Fortunately, exercise has become less tiring and I have made it a point to integrate some gym time with my mugging time while in school.

e) Books I am reading

I've been reading my preparatory texts and must say that I'm getting used to hardcore study mode. The past few days have been productive, I learnt what a Humean Guillotine, Legal Positivism and Natural Law is. I've added words like "Promulgaton" into my sad engineer's vocabulary.

For leisure, I read geek classic The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It's a story about a fat, Hispanic D&D player. I am in the middle of Michael Lewis' Flash Boys since I signed up for Kindle Unlimited.

It's probably not productive to stop reading after starting school, so I am likely to continue to read widely and that means the occasional fictional piece. Right now, I'm eagerly The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman.

So we've come to a close of my short "retirement", my next earned paycheck is going to be possibly 3 years away and I'm pretty excited about my next journey into SMU as a law student at a really ripe old age of 39.

Of course, I do have some anxieties about Law school, what if this turns out to be the stupidest move I've ever made - the fees may exhaust my finances and I may forced to eat into my capital during the next 3 years, something which I have not done since graduation from Engineering School in 1999. It's also a big unknown as to whether the law firms will give training contract for a 42 year old uncle in 2017. There is a possibility that I will end up project manager for service delivery manager for an IT firm after 3 years of law school - this will give me ample nightmares in the months to come.

But I think that's life. I can "declare victory" right now, live on my dividends and have spare cash to reinvest into my portfolio, but in truth, such a life can be boring. There are only this number of folks I can have kopi with day in and day out to get an intelligent conversation. if I choose this path,  in a few months, I will stop empathizing with working folks, I may start to belittle their problems at work and stop building up my technical and financial skills.

If it's anything the reader can learn from my short, failed "retirement",  it is this - As human beings, we need to constantly grow, our accomplishments are an important source of our happiness. Stop striving and it could mean an early death. A life of meaning is superior to a life of pleasure.

I achieved financial independence a little too early to ride into the sunset.

It's now time to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and start all over again.

See u guys in SMU !


  1. We will miss you for sure.

    Enjoy the journey!

    SG Wealth Builder

  2. Hi Chris,

    A month plus into unemployment, I have to agree with you that a fully retired life before 40/50 might not be a blessing.

    We all need to be actively engaged in some form or another and all the best to your time in SMU!

    It's great that your portfolio allows your wife to quit her job and you to pursue this 'dream'.

    My 15HWW

  3. Bloomberg terminals ftw!

  4. See you around at SMU.

    I am often at the LKCSOB doing my Masters there for classes.

  5. Oh cool, a fellow student.

    We should have kopi sometimes.

  6. All the best Chris!

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