My FIRE Path: 2023H1 Update – Time in the Market Wins Again

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What an end to H1 (first half) of 2023!

As I write this, literrally on the 1st of July, the S&P 500 just closed up more than 24% since the lowest point in October 12, 2022. (For those using VWRA like I am, that grew more than 25% in the same period and IWDA was more than 26% – even better than the S&P 500!) Apple has just hit 3T market cap (again) and is now at All-Time-High.

That’s an insane recovery… Especially when over the last 6 months the general sentiment has been “the market crash isn’t over”, “the market could go down another 50% from here”, and “there’s going to be a double dip recession” – and that just hasn’t materialized.

Honestly I am as astonished as everyone else as I did also expect more pain during this year as inflation is not over and rates are still being hiked.

Now the market may very well could still crash again, but (1) I’m not holding my breath and (2) I’ll take that as further buying opportunity.

This just shows how difficult it is to truly predict where the market will go. The general sentiments will always remain negative much longer than when the market begins reversing and by the time the sentiments shift to positive, you’d have missed the bottom.

That’s why I’ve always advocated understanding your long-term investment strategy, be committed for a long term, know that downturns are normal and will happen, and stick to the strategy – stay in the market. Also, whatwever you do, don’t sell unless you absolutely must (which is why an emergency fund is extremely important.)

Anyway, with that PSA out of the way, let’s take a look at how I’ve been doing shall we?

(For those wanting to catch up, you can read my end 2022 recap post.)

Investment Portfolio Performance

Chart of portfolio value and cost over time.
My portfolio value and cost over time.
Chart of total gain over time
My portfolio gains over time.
Chart of gain/loss and XIRR over time.
My portfolio gain/loss and XIRR over time.

So over the last 6 months, I’ve basically added my entire annual bonus as well as any extra income that I can to the portfolio.

Since the start of the year, I’ve added a total of roughly S$70,000 to the portfolio – however the portfolio value has increased from around S$840,000 to S$1,173,000 over that same period. That’s an increase of S$334,000, which means the growth from the market movement was around S$263,000 – basically cancelled out all of the market loss that hit the portfolio last year.

The XIRR has increased from 3.26% p.a. on 1st January 2023 to 11.46% p.a. now.

So from a “Market Movement” perspective, I’ve already basically broke even. This is even though the market has yet to hit it’s previous high in January 2022.

Why? Because I’ve been buying on the way down last year. So the market does not have to fully recover for me to break even.

However, you might notice that my “cost” line (which represents the funds I add to the portfolio) doesn’t move much during the 2022 downturn. So how did keep buying but I never really added much money?

Well that brings us to an experiment I started last year, lifecycle investing. So let me give a short update on that – but if you want to understand the concept, do read that link first.

Lifecycle Investing Update

Disclaimer: Before I proceed, I must reiterate that this a high risk strategy and is NOT recommended for those who don’t fully understand it. So don’t take this section as any form of advice or recommendation for you to do the same.

I just wanted to try this strategy out and share my experience with you at the same time. OK with that out of the way, let’s proceed.

If you go back and read the lifecycle investing section of my year end update (in the above link) you would see that at the end of the year, it was not doing great.

This was because I used the borrrowed funds to buy the market on the way down, while at the same time I was pay interest on the borrowed money. Plus the interest rates were rising!


So it was a double whammy of market continued to drop, interest rates continued to rise, compounding my losses.

However, I kept my safety margin large (basically I can withstand another 50% drop at all times) and knew I had cashflow coming in to service the interest on the loan.

I knew that as the market rise, as it always eventually does, the market growth in the long term should outpace the interest rate cost.

So let’s see what that looks like now after 6 months.

Current Margin Used (A)– USD 322,000
Current Investment Value (B)USD 354,000
Margin Paid Back (C)– USD 18,500
Gain / Loss (A + B + C)USD 13,500
Interest Paid– USD 12,700
Total Gain / LossUSD 800
XIRR-0.71% p.a.

The results is certainly not fantastic by any means, but at least we’re about breakeven now! It went from losing a lot of money, to not losing money – so that’s a win in my book.

If the market continues to go up, then this should start looking very good. Only time will tell.

Now how about the house cashout refinancing experiment?

House Gamble Update #4

For the previous updates, here are the reference links:

  1. First post about the house gamble
  2. Update 1
  3. Update 2
  4. Update 3

Here’s the usual performance chart of how the house gamble portion is doing:

Chart of the value of the cash-out refinance portfolio performance over time

At the start of the year we were sitting at around break even at S$180,000, and now we’re up to about S$209,000.

The XIRR (because of interest payments on the loan as well) is currently sitting back at 2.15% p.a.

Not bad, but also not great since inflation is certainly more than 2% – in order for this to have been worth it is to see the XIRR go above 5% or higher. The benefit is that this still also allows me to own the property while I make use of the equity to invest in more assets – kind of having your cake and eat it too, as long as the investments appreciates and I can service the loan.

Which brings us to where my networth is at now given all of this.

Networth snapshot

As I was reviewing my networth, given that it’s made up of several components, I had to review each one… and one totally took me by surprise.

Over the pandemic 2020, 2021 and then post-pandemic year of 2022, housing prices in Singapore has been going through the roof. So when I relooked at the value of the condo I’m living in, it went from somewhere around S$1.1 million in early 2021 to now around S$1.35 million now – in a span of 2.5 years. That’s insane.

Of course, given that I’m living in it, this isn’t something that I can actually use (unless I refinance and take the funds out again – hmmm) so at the moment it’s tracked as part of the networth.

It was one of the big reasons why my networth climbed from 1.5 million in January to more than 2 million now. I basically just added 50,000 to my networth every month starting in January to account for the increase in property value (that’s why you see a huge surge.)

Of course, the increase in investment portfolio at the same time also helps.

If you were to ask me at the start of the year whether I think I’d be gaining more than 500K in networth in just 6 months, I’d definitely said no way in hell – but here we are!

So… remember and repeat after me folks… “Time in the market beats timing the market.” At least that has been extremely true for me so far. We’ll see what the next 6 months brings!

Hopefully that was interesting and insightful for you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time!

7 thoughts on “My FIRE Path: 2023H1 Update – Time in the Market Wins Again”

  1. Awesome Update! Really love the updates from you. As for life cycle investing, if i do have a 20-30 years investing horizon and plan to invest with 1.1-1.2 margin for long term using IBKR, would it be advisable?

    • Hey thanks for reading! I’d say if you wish to do it, you should read up as much as you can about it first (starting with the book I mentioned.) understand the risks and potential downsides and have a plan in place to handle the various situations so that you’re completely clear about what you’ll get into before pulling the trigger 🙂

      • Got it! Will come back again after reading thru the book, may i also know what you think of FWRA, its a knew ETF that tracks FTSE as well with lower expense ratio of 0.15%, the ETF is under Invesco. It exists in IBKR and just want to know if you are aware of this new ETF + hopefully make a post about this 😀

  2. It’s wonderful timing! I was just thinking about your update when I saw it pop up. You’ve mentioned that you’ve been adding $50,000 to your net worth every month since January to account for the increase in property value. How confident are you in this monthly property value estimate, considering how property values can fluctitate and be affected by a range of factors?

    Furthermore, I’m curious to know how this increase in your net worth, due to property appreciation, impacts your overall financial strategy. Does it prompt changes in your investment decisions or the timeline you’ve set for achieving financial independence?

    • Hi Wendy! In terms of property confidence, I’m fairly confidence (at the moment) since I’ve validated the number both with a bank rough valuation as well as the sale price listed for units in my condo and my size (with about 100k discount on that) so I’d assume it would be in the right ballpark. However this is going to depend on timing, but given I’ve checked quite recently, it should be a good assumption. Also, I am considering selling in a few more months, so we shall see if this turns out to be accurate or not.

      In terms of whether this impacts my strategy, not really aside from knowing that I potentially can either pull out more (cash out) to invest or sell to get the value in cash (but then I’d also have to buy something else to live in.) So from a FIRE plan perspective, I won’t count this as liquid… and since it’s my primary residence, it doesn’t generate any cashflow. I don’t count it as part of the portfolio I can actually withdraw from to generate passive income (unless do another cash-out refinance, but then that also increases my monthly expense by adding on more mortgage payment.) so overall this growth in networth isn’t changing anything yet aside giving me some options to potentially sell the property and cash out some of the liquid capital and buying a new place (which will increase monthly expense – getting a new larger loan for a new property – at the benefit of freeing up some of this locked up equity.) I’m considering doing this mainly also because we are looking for a larger place – we’re likely to outgrow this 2Bed2Bath place soon!

      Unfortunately if that happens it may actually delay the timeline since it could mean increasing my FIRE number quite significantly (lifestyle inflation!) Haha. So I’ll probably have to relook at my numbers again once that happens and all the numbers of the sale + purchase etc comes in. I’ll probably write a full post about that when and if that happens!


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