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My first investments, how I got started

Updated: Jul 3

In early 2018, I had been working for 6 months at my first job. I was pretty content with keeping my savings in bank accounts even though they were tiny. For non-Singaporeans, our banks are very stingy with interest rates (1% return is considered to be quite good). I knew that there are other avenues to keep your money in and grow it at the same time, but I had never really bothered to do find out how.


Anyways, soon enough I decided to try out this curious area of investing and see what the fuss was all about. So, I started looking for things where I did not have to be too hands, but at the same time I had some control. I did meet some financial advisors who offered to manage my funds for me (for a fee of course), but I decided against it. The main reason for not going with a professional financial advisor was that I wanted to learn more about investing myself, and I could only do that if I was managing my own money. So, for beginners, my first advise would be to do as much research as possible and manage your own expectations. If you are someone who doesn’t really want to bother with the market and its ups or downs, you should definitely get a professional to manage it for you. If you are like me however, start off small and be open to learning more early on rather than immediately starting to make money.

As I was researching into what are the investments that I can make, I had a few criteria:

  1. I wanted it to be diversified. Because I had no clue which industries, I should be investing in

  2. I wanted to be able to control how much money I am putting in every month, and also be able to pull out my money if I got uncomfortable

  3. I needed easy access to the markets, I had no idea what trading platforms were or where to buy stocks / bonds etc


ETFs

This is when I found out about Roboadvisors. This was a new up and coming way of investing passively. I won’t go into too much detail about the pros and cons of Roboadvisors, but if you want to know how they work this Investopedia article is quite thorough. The Roboadvisors I was looking at would invest your money in ETFs. An ETF is basically a collection of investments such as stocks, bonds, commodities and they are traded on exchanges just like an ordinary stock. Because ETFs contain multiple investment types, it is an easy way to diversify your portfolio.


So basically, I decided to use Stashaway to start my investing journey. Basically, Stashaway takes my deposits every month and buys a basket of ETFs so that I am well diversified. Why did I choose Stashaway? No specific reason really, its just something I came across and started using and I am quite happy with its performance.

(Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored by Stashaway).


I started by putting in SGD $1,000 and contributed between $100 - $400 every month and here I am. So far, my portfolio has earned me SGD $1,186.30 over a period of 18 months. To reach this, I have deposited $8,000 which in simple terms is about 15% returns. Do note that the actual returns are higher than 15% because the money has been deposited over time, but I did not want to complicate the calculation.


Stashaway performance to date

Early on the returns made were miniscule, however as I gave it time, the compounding effect is really starting to kick in as can be seen by the diverging gap from August 2019 onwards.




Mutual Funds

Another are which I delved into quite early on was mutual funds. Mutual funds are similar to ETFs but are actively managed by a fund manager. I currently have a SGD 1,000 investment in Franklin Technology Fund and its value its currently sitting at $1,151. This fund gives me access to multiple technology stocks such as Alibaba, Amazon, Mastercard, ServiceNow etc. One thing I realised as soon as I bought into this fund is that the management fees for Mutual Funds can be quite high, so you really need to choose a fund that will give you enough returns to cover the fees. So, my tip is to really do a thorough research on the fees applicable on the fund that you are interested in buying. When I bought into this fund, I did no such research and was quite surprised when the fees turned out to be quite high. Some of the fees associated with mutual funds are front load fees, back load fees, expense ratios, management fees and many more. As such, I have not increased my investments in mutual funds because I want to wait a full year and see the effect of all these fees on my investment.


These were my first 2 investments, I started off "passively" with mutual funds and ETFs which were doing quite well in 2019. This got me really interested in managing my own portfolio semi-actively and looking into stocks.


Please refer to my blog for my full portfolio which is updated every week

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions regarding the post.

Also, if anyone is interested in using Stashaway please comment below. I have a referral code that will give you $0 fees for the first 6 months.





Disclaimer: This post should not be interpreted as investment advice as I am not a professional financial consultant. The objective of this blog is to share my experiences with others and receive feedback. I will provide links to my information sources to the best of my abilities, but the reader is responsible for their own due dilligence





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