Monday, October 26, 2009

Earn one million dollars (in 6 years time)

A reader pointed out that it is nearly impossible to turn my $350k portfolio into $1M in 6 years time as I would need an annual compounded return of 19.1% to reach that amount.

(Snap shot of my 360k portfolio invested funds from my trading platform)

Am I being unrealistic?

To be honest, I could possibly set an impossible target judging from current circumstances, as most people think. However, to put things in perspective, perhaps there is a way (at least theoretically) to meet the target.

As a portion of my portfolio consists of CPF stocks as well, the following calculations will be based on CPF investment returns and reinvestments.

Considering I earn $80k per annum now. I spent approximately $24K a year, or $2000 monthly. I have a remaining $56k for investment.

My dividend income amounts roughly $20k a year. Thus, I have about $76k for investment. To be conservative, I put the figure to be $66k. Hence I have $10k for CPF contributions to Medisave and Special account and other off budget spending, that cannot be invested.

Assume it is year 0 on Dec 2009.

Hence from year 1 to year 6, I have $66k for investment into my $350k portfolio every year, till 2015.

Question 1: What is the annual compounded rate of return do I need for my portfolio to hit my target of $1M by 2015? ($66k invested in year 1, compounded annually (7.1%) for 6 years will have a value of $99.6k in year 6)

Answer: 7.1%

To attain this figure it means that I reinvest $20k dividends and at least $46k cash (and CPF) into my portfolio.

My assumptions for the above calculation are as follows:

I have the discipline to reinvest at least $66k (CPF+CASH+DIVIDENDS) into my portfolio from year 1 day 1.

My salary increment is stagnant from 2010. (It is in fact going to be higher, if I stay on my current line).

I do not experience catastrophic financial events (again) that would wipe out my portfolio and bring it back to starting point. (No snakes and ladders game again please, I got a weak heart)

Question 2: Assuming I have the discipline, but due to my limited ability returns yield only 5.5% compounded return. (i) How much will I have at the end of year 6? (ii) How long will it take to hit my target of $1M?

Answer: (i) $937k at the end of year 6 (shortage of $63k); (ii) 6.54 years (takes roughly 6 months longer)

Not a bad plan actually! My current portfolio is giving a decent dividend yield of $20k per year, consider I have bought ARA, Suntec, Fortune Reit, SGX, HL Finance, Starhub over this year. My trading income has also given me a decent return. Hence, at least for this year, I would earn a minimum of $20k dividends (and trading income).

The good thing is that I only need to set aside $66k per year to reinvest into my existing portfolio. My dividend income and pay will rise and I will be able to enjoy a higher standard of living. Hence I do not assume that inflation is non-existent and standard of living remains constant. In fact, I may be able to get married and still achieve this target!

Question 3: However, consider my Singapore centric portfolio, then what is the anticipated Straits Times Index in year 6 (2015) for my portfolio of stocks to be worth $1m?

This is probably the most difficult question to answer. If I assume that STI returns an average of 7.1% from year 1 to year 6, this means that it will have to rise from 2700 points to 4074 points from 2010 Jan to 2015 Dec!

However, as my strategy (philosophy) here is biased towards dividend income investing, I would only need to invest in stocks that pay 5.5% dividend yield and 1.6% capital appreciation annually. Hence, STI may hover at the region of 3500 points in 2015, but my portfolio may have already exceeded $1M.

Hence, I do think that having a million dollars in 6 years time is (remotely) attainable.

That said, we often plan with caution, execute with confidence and the rest is up to fate. I am 35% done with the journey. Please follow me through.

If my advertisements are of interest to you, please follow them as well. It will be a good catalyst to my financial journey.


Musicwhiz said...

Hi SGBlueChips,

Actually your target may sound unrealistic but that's one spurs one on to attain greater wealth and net worth. I have also set high targets for myself, and though I have much less savings than you and my total net worth is lower, I have still set myself a goal of about half a million in 5 years time. If a goal is too easy to attain, it does not make you work hard for it!

That said, your salary of $6.5K per month is considered nearly twice the median salary in Singapore of about $3.5K, so you should be able to build wealth very effectively. My salary is only slightly better than the median, so unless your expenses are much higher than mine, I am sure you can probably reach your goal sooner. This is also because you have a larger monetary base to work with (i.e. pool of money). For me, I have had to build up my pool of money through investing and even now it's not really a lot. With a yield of 6%, plus savings and bonuses, I am sure you can achieve your target soon!


Sgbluechip said...

Hi MW, thanks for your ever encouraging words! Though I may be earning above the average, but I have seen (most of) my classmates with minimal finance knowledge easily earning 5 times my pay. It is hard to acknowledge that intelligence and knowledge does not correlate highly to one's income and wealth. That said, I am quite comfortable with the salary and work I am doing now (though not for long), hence the current plan in place will be able to see me through before I emplace new objectives and targets.

I enjoy very much your writings as well and admire your humble composure towards skeptics. I do hope we can have more meaningful discussions over our columns to open up new perspectives and insights.



Musicwhiz said...


Don't mention it, actually your blog represents the thoughts of Generation "Y", which is why I am curious and fascinated to know how you guys think. For me, I come from Generation "X" (I am in my early 30's), and people have mentioned that the thinking and perspectives of these two generations are quite different. Financial Freedom's blog is also written from the perspective of Generation "Y", and is also an interesting read.

I do note that your generation (in their 20's) tends to place more emphasis on material goods in general. Do you agree with this? This is purely from observation of the young adults around me wearing branded items, driving cars and buying iPods/iPhones. Perhaps I am wrong but it seems there is a fundamental shift in personal finance habits and beliefs as we crossed over from the 30-somethings to the 20-somethings. Debt is also not seen as a bad thing for the new generation though for me personally, I still avoid it as much as possible. This is why I am considered very conservative even among my own circle of friends!

Thanks for your sharing. Cheers!

JW said...

Hi SGBlueChips,

Have faith! I believe you can do it! :)

For me, I have about 85+k in equities, and about 15+k in opportunity funds.... So total about 100k...

I will need to grow this by 10 times to reach 1 million... 26 years of age now... Wonder how I would be able to do it....

Considering I have no car, no house, not married... Any of those 3 mentioned would set me back by quite a bit...

Sgbluechip said...

MW, I definitely agree with you on that! People who are in their late 20s as I observe, place a HUGE emphasis on material well being. I can relate to that totally! I have classmates who earns twice as much yet spend 4x more than me! Basically they have nothing left in the bank every month.

Their sports cars are usually purchased with high loan, they trade on margin and probably have less than $30k free cash for investments.

I am not sure how sustainable their expenditure and income model is, but definitely not consistent with my style.

That said, I do sometimes wish to blow $100k on that mini cooper and wish life can be much happier ever after.. haha..

Sgbluechip said...

Hi JW, when I was your age, I have about that amount as well. I think you can do better than me, since we are in the middle of a recovery.

Designer watches said...

Hi SGBluechips, i was keeping track of your portfolio in the past. If I am not wrong, I remembered you mentioned abt buying SingPost, DBS and Keppel in the past. If privacy is not an issue, it will be great to mention about your latest stock purchases or sales. Something like your portfolio weightings. It will be of great interest to readers like me, especially when I am thinking of constructing a dividend portfolio. Anyway, it is great to know that your portfolio has grown from 200K to 350K over the last twelve months (if I didn't recall wrongly.)Oh, you will be a millionaire soon. Just a matter of time.;)

Musicwhiz said...

Hi JW,

Yes, any of those things will set you back. For house, it's mainly CPF so you don't have to fret, unless you overextend and get a super expensive condo and need to fork out cash as well. As for marriage, if you spouse agrees to keep it simple then just have a simple luncheon with close friends/relatives; some couples don't even throw a wedding dinner. You could also try to go JB for your bridal photo shoot (I did that) and save about 50% compared to doing it in Singapore, plus I got photos of a real waterfall to boot. :P That said, marriage is an expensive affair in general but if both agree to keep it simple, you can more than break even.

As for a car, you know my thoughts on this haha. If possible, try not to get one until you are very comfortable with your finances and your job is very stable.

Good luck !


Sgbluechip said...

DW, my portfolio did not grow as you have mentioned. Rather, it is because my salary has grown and I plough in almost all my idle cash and dividends into the market.

As for my allocation, I do not want to be accused of manipulating the market. Hence, now I do not disclose my holdings anymore.

But yes, they have grown quite a bit, partly because I have included 60k of CPF investments into it as well.

Sgbluechip said...

MW, that's a good tip on wedding! Perhaps I should include it on my "Stretch your dollars series: Savings on Wedding" next time round! haha!

JW said...

Hi MW,

I agree with you... However, as they say, it's a once in a lifetime affair... There's no need to be too cheapskate, but also no need to be too grand... Car wise, I was considering, but would still prefer taking cab at the moment. This is because the amount I'm raking in from tuition is more than my main job :( I really do need more time for all my activities... Talking about that, I do think we could include time management on our blogs as part of the journey to financial freedom :)

Hi SGBlueChips,
I didn't include my CPF because of the rule that the first 20k cannot be touched :x I believe you were like me, scholarship recipient, hence able to have this amount at this age ;)

At the moment, I'm really at a loss on how to proceed from here. My salary from my main job isn't that great, and I'm supplementing all I can from teaching tuition, such that I have roughly the same monthly intake as you, excluding holiday months. However, it's tiring... I'm bonded to my company due to scholarship (1.5 yrs more), but I don't forsee much prospects here... 6k a month? Highly unlikely... I can make a rough guess that even the managers here who have been working for 8 years just scraped that amount (perhaps a little more)... Just a guess....

I want to come out to earn by myself, be answerable to myself, one day, but have not much idea at the moment... So far, giving tuition seems to be a great source of income... In fact, I calculated that if I include giving tuition, I could probably reach 200k in savings by end of next year... but I wonder how long I could sustain such a busy lifestyle... During the busy months, sleeping 4 hrs a night was common affair...

It's the sch holidays now, so I could take some break to really consider what I really want... I guess I just haven't really found my direction in life...

Sgbluechip said...

Dear JW, looks like you are taking my way of life to hit your financial objectives, at least in the initial stage.

To me, life must strike a balance between work, family, leisure and others.

Teaching tuition is never an option to me, even though it may yield me another $3k monthly. But that would mean only work and at the end of the day, am I just a money making machine?

What is life if full of care when we have no time to stand and stare?

I believe you can possibly take a break and set your objectives right.

Decide on your investment philosophy, stick to it and enjoy the journey.

In life, money is not everything. Actually, I do enjoy my current life now. If I hit my target, wonderful. If not, just make do with less. I am fine with it either.

Musicwhiz said...

Hi JW and SBC,

I agree on the trade off between time, money and effort. While most of us are probably not paid well according to the amount of time we put in (hey, it's Singapore after all), there's always room to grow other sources of income such as tuition and dividends. I also do not recommend slogging till you drop and staying late every night just to earn a few $K more, but sacrificing quality time with your wife/kid/parents. I've known some people who are doing that and though financially they are better off than me, I'd have to say that's not the path I wish to take.

For me, tuition is a supplement for cash flows (instead of waiting for end of the month salary from my company). I also restrict it to at most 2 students per year to ensure I have sufficient time to spend with my loved ones and take walks with them and at least see their faces. Take note that exam time can be particularly hectic even with 2 students, as they would want extra classes. The money is actually quite good if you can manage your time properly (e.g. choosing students near to your home and bargaining for higher fees at the outset). For me, I always choose a student whereby I have a direct bus from my home, so I cut down on excessive travel time. If it's a faraway location, I make sure the fee compensates me for my time.

Allocation of time is increasingly important as we get older, as time becomes more scarce even as money becomes more abundant.

I remember someone mentioning this:-

When young, you have time and energy but no money.

When middle-aged, you have money and energy but no time.

When old, you have money and time but no energy.

So how to maximize all 3? That's the ultimate answer!


Sara said...

Hi SGBlueChips,

It is highly possible. Someone has done it in 6 yrs starting off with $10 000.

"At twenty-two, Alan Corey left his mom's basement in Atlanta and moved to New York City with one goal in mind: to become a millionaire by the time he was thirty. His parents and friends laughed, but six years later they were all celebrating his prosperous accomplishment–at a bar Corey owned in one of Brooklyn's hippest neighborhoods.

No, Corey didn't climb the corporate ladder to build his fortune. In fact, he worked the same entry-level 9-to-5 job for six years straight. But by pinching his pennies and making sound investments, he watched a pittance blossom into a seven-digit bank account. In A Million Bucks by 30, Corey recounts his rags-to-riches journey and shares his secrets to success."

Drizzt said...

hi sgbluechip, hope u achieve ur goal soon. its one tough journey so its nice to know someone like u around the blogsphere to learn from your experience.

just dun forget to invest in some ginseng and lingzhi.

Sgbluechip said...

Hi Drizzit bro, thanks for the encouragement. I do enjoy your forum postings and writings as well!

JKfund said...

I think your exposure in SPH is too much. It is good that SPH stands at its ground back to close $4 from low at $2.35, probably it has given you a roller coaster journey...

It would be good to diversify some of your SPH holdings. I know the dividend is good... not to mention I also bought at $3.

Besides all this, real estate is another option.

PanzerGrenadier said...

Hi SGBlueChip

All the best to your financial plans.

One of the risks of riding on equities as the vehicle for accumulating capital gains and dividend income is that it is subject to market forces.

I realise that one has to time the market when one needs to realise cash for living expenses when one "retires" or wishes to stop full-time employment.

That timing puts one at the receiving end of market forces, e.g. if one wanted or had to raise cash to live during the period Nov 08 to Mar 09, one would have had to sell at very depressed prices.

Fundamentally, that has made me rethink about whether I should not consider other type of investments e.g. investing in a small business to generate returns and future capital gains (from selling the business).

Be well and prosper.

Sgbluechip said...

Dear JK, after factoring dividends, my overall portfolio is already in the black. I view all stocks I have as a single portfolio, though I must agree that having too much of a single stock is silly.

Hence, all dividends and future purchases will be devoted to other yield stocks.

Sgbluechip said...

Dear PG, to keep things simple, I would still advocate equities as it has the flexibility for me to switch betweeen active and passive management.

However, I am still mindful not to be over confident and remain humble when handling Mr. Market mood swings.

It is good to consider other forms of investment. For me, education is the best form of investment as the knowledge learnt can never be taken away from you unless you choose to throw it away.

la papillion said...


Wah, huat ah! Who says you cannot do it, prove them wrong :)

Once you reach 1 million mark, you'll have excess to a lot of interesting things that is not open to those with lesser capital. You'll find that your goal to the next million will be so much easier ;)

Forex Educator said...

To be frank, I am impressed by your current assets. I am earning more than you and yet my assets are much lesser. Ha!

Sgbluechip said...

Hi LP and FE, thanks for the encouragement. It is just a dream I am pursuing, much like an ordinary Singaporean--A million dollars dream.

This helps to stay at the course of work and investment. It is a nice feeling to stay focus and be rewarded by numbers.

LP, I enjoyed your hokkien "If I have 1 million" youtube video sometime back! Perhaps I will put it up soon!

Musicwhiz said...

Well I've realized one does not actually "need" a million as a target. As long as one's cash flow is +ve every month, and one invests in good companies which grow over time and provide stable yield; that should be sufficient.

Unless of course you live a very extravagant lifestyle, then ahem no amount of money is enough. :P


Meiji said...


I just stumbled upon your blog today and I must say tat its a very interesting read. I supposed we are in the same profile in terms of age group and income level. But my level of savings is just way below yours. Perhaps this could be due to the fact tat i previously bot a HDB, owned 3 different cars over the past 10 years and blew $$$ over my wedding tat has resulted in a divorce just last month :(

But well, I shall drawn strength from your journey and race you to the million $$ mark! Lets do it!

Sgbluechip said...

Meiji, thanks for sharing your life. To be honest, I quite admire your life experience. You have been through the high life, heart breaking moments and yet can stand up and laugh at yourself about. I must commend on your excellent recovery!

Do let me share on my take of marriage here:

Wei Ling said...

hi there,
just wondering, how did u even amass 350K portfolio after working for i would say around... 4-6 years?

FoodieFC said...


chanced upon this past post of yours. Very interesting! Setting high goals can help to spur one on. And I can see that you have planned well in advance on how you plan to reach that!