Monday, December 15, 2008

IPPT and Investment

Yesterday I secured another 200 bucks for Christmas shopping as I obtained a silver award in IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test). It was money well deserved! I had spent the past 4 months training 2.4km and chin ups. My training regimen was simple, running 4km thrice a week and doing chin ups or sit-ups after every run. There is no fanciful gym or treadmill training but just disciplined scheduled workouts at the stadium or jogging tracks.

In order for me to ensure I pass my IPPT, I “invested” in an electronic watch (costing $50). By spending money on the watch, I force myself to commit into taking my 2.4km timing thrice a week in order to “recoup” my investment.

What has this got to do with investment? Plenty!


During the 4 months of training, there are times I really felt like giving up. Running at 8pm isn’t exactly pleasant, especially after a long day’s work. However, the prospect of attending remedial training (2 weekdays evening and 1 weekend afternoon) was simply too daunting to any salaried worker. My work, leisure and social life would be terribly affected, not to mention my self confidence when entertaining questions such as “how come you cannot pass?”, “you mean you failed?” and other “friendly” comments.

Similarly in investment, our ultimate aim is to accumulate a comfortable buffer of assets so that we can do what we like eventually. The motivation to invest also stems from the daunting prospect of having to work till the very day you hit grave, isn’t it? I am sure you wouldn’t want to entertain queries like “how come you don’t want to retire?” and “You mean you still haven’t repaid your mortgage?”

We are effectively spending more time now to free up even more time in the future.


It took me 4 months to train effectively for IPPT. Initially, my 2.4km timings never went below 15 minutes for the first month. However, it did not deter me to give up. Usually, I will try to run as fast as possible for the first 2.4km, followed by a slow jog to complete the remaining 1.6km. I paced myself and listened to my body. Failing IPPT was the worst thing to happen, but if I had pushed myself to the extreme for faster results, I might have been dead. Hence, always strive to be in a manageable pace when pursuing your objective or you might end up being killed by it.

While saving for retirement, we often hear people taking unnecessary investment risks in derivatives (eg accumulators and warrants) or simply investing blindly (eg Lehman mini bonds and structured products). If you do not know where your money is going, you have lost pace of it. It is as dangerous as training without knowing where your body is heading.

The results can be disastrous.

Hence, do not be in a hurry to accumulate wealth and work 20 hours a day, losing your health in the process. Pace yourself, slowly but surely reaching your destination.


As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of obstacles along the way to my silver award. There are times where I felt disillusioned that after 2 months of training, when my fastest 2.4km timing was still 14 minutes. If I were to miss training for a week, my timing will revert back to 15 minutes! I have to give up dinner meetings, favourite tv shows and eat sparingly to control my weight. Fast food, snacks and chocolates have to give way to IPPT training.

During my investment journey, I do have a fair share of obstacles. I do stumble upon the allure of luxury goods. I feel the “need” to have that “want”. There are times I would just want to break my bond, quit my job and pay a year of salary to my employer. The hottest stock in town has risen 500% in a week, I feel like buying it after it has corrected 20% (when eventually it will correct 90%). My colleagues change car so frequently that my trusty Japanese car seems to have more value if I trade it in with the antique shop.

The above obstacles will stray us away from the investment path and only by focusing on the original objective will we be guided back to the initial path.

Margin of safety

Eventually, I finished my 2.4km run in 11 minutes together with 10 chin ups. It was a far cry from my initial 16 minutes and 4 chin ups history. Nearing my IPPT date, I was pretty sure I can pass and possibly obtain a silver award. However, I continued to push myself, climb steps and increase my training hours, even though I can bag a silver award just by doing 7 chin ups and running 2.4km in 12.00 minutes.

However, I do not want to merely scrap through a silver but persevered to improve on a decent set of results. In fact, there was a rather heavy rain yesterday during the run. If I had not trained harder, I might have missed the silver award. Having a margin of safety here allows me to comfortably enjoy the IPPT process without fear of missing my target.

In investment, the margin of safety concept has been repeated so frequently that even the cows know it. Thus, I will not dwell on it here for now.


The rewards of meeting your objective are sometimes beyond your expectations. I am healthier, more confident (after losing weight), more discipline and basically a happier person after passing my IPPT.

If I were to meet my financial objective now, I am sure other non tangible rewards would follow. Perhaps I have more time to study, enhance family ties, exercise (even more), travel the world, volunteer and do stuffs that make me a happier person.

Who says IPPT and investment are different?


Ah goh said...

Hey sgbluechip, nice analogy =) so are you still in your late 20s? or 30? I'm amazed by the capital you managed to accumulate during ur earlier years. Respect.


Sgbluechip said...

Hi AG, I am 28 this year, but I have been working part time and giving tuition since 18.

bk said...

Respect too.. The amount of capital you have accumulated is tremendous I must say. Would definitely like to learn more from you.

Care to exchange links?

Ah goh said...

Wow.. admirable... i'm 26... but long way to go before i achieve wat u have so far... thx for sharing on ur blog. got lots to learn from u


Sgbluechip said...

Hi BK, I have already linked up! :)

Sgbluechip said...

Hi AG and BK, thanks for the compliments!

Investing is perpetually a learning journey for me. I hope to interact with more readers and learn from other unconventional dimensions (other than press and books).

ghchua said...

Hi sgbluechip,

Congratulations on passing your IPPT with silver award!

I wondered why the IPPT 2.4km run still went ahead despite the rain. It is quite risky running on a wet ground under heavy rain.

Sgbluechip said...

Hi ghchua, thanks for dropping by! Yeah man, the IPPT was delayed an hour before we managed to get the green light. I was rather fortunate to get a silver after several failed attempts!

PanzerGrenadier said...


Congrats on getting silver on your IPPT! :-)

The IPPT is certainly a challenge for all reservists who work office hours. Those that have family will find it even more tough to train for it.

I am fortunate that I passed my IPPT every year. I was fortunate that the 2x I failed my IPPT, it was under the "new" system where you are given 1 year from the date of your birthday to the next to clear it. So I managed to clear it within my window.

I used to hate jogging until being a NSF and then NSman in a combat unit meant you couldn't escape it. The strange thing is that I've come to see jogging now as leisure and health activity to destress, unwind and to keep fit.

Same thing for investments. I used to think the "experts" (fund managers, banks, financial planners etc)were good at it. Now I realise they are also as good as monkeys throwing darts at lists of stocks.

I manage my own funds and learn from trial and error to be better each day, month and year.

Be well and prosper.

Sgbluechip said...

Hi PG, thanks for sharing your investment insights with us. Agree that experts are really no better than the man down the street if one studies the market and companies he owns thoroughly. In fact, over reliance on experts like Madoff can bring about catastrophic results.

That is why I advocate DIY financial planning and try my best not to go through 3rd party and invest directly into the companies I like.