Income Streams

This post is a quick stocktake of my current holdings.


Actually, when I look at my holdings, very little of it is in cash. Why? The key reason is this quest for Yield. Cash earns little or no interest.

Haven’t been ‘tidying up’ my portfolio for a while, and I am glad that we have handy tools in Investing Note or StocksCafe to help to track our portfolio. Perhaps StocksCafe can have a section to track the interest of Bonds (eg. Short Term Bonds, Singapore Saving Bonds, Money Market fund), CPF, etc.

For a long time, most of my funds are in Short Term Bonds, Singapore Saving Bonds, Money Market fund… and they still are. I reckon it is the waiting that is the hardest to do. To buy at a reasonable price or cheap price. However, there are pockets of opportunities here and there. The Hang Seng is one of them.

I will just quote Howard Marks for a while here:

  • Howard Marks: This Is Not a Time to Be Aggressive (read here)

“Thus, this is not a time to be aggressive in your investing. The biggest challenge is to get a decent return in this low-return environment. The biggest risk is that you and others take big risks because you feel you have to in a highly competitive environment, leading investors to exhibit herd behaviour in this respect.”

Moving into 2020, I don’t really have a rigid plan to follow. I will continue to purchase bonds (including my CPF account) and stocks, but it won’t be in big steps. I am quite happy to stay in the status quo unless there is a crisis and plenty of bargains can be found again. Although in the long term I may not be able to outpace inflation (more of that later on).

Hope these bonds and stocks will be like tiny streams adding on to the bigger tributaries.


The low return environment has many implications. For one, many have to take on more risks to seek equal or higher yield.

One of the blogger whom I do regularly follow, Sam Dogen, creator of the popular Financial Samurai blog has recently decided to go back to work full time.

  • This 42-Year-Old Retired Over Seven Years Ago, But Now Believes He’s Headed Back To Work. Here’s Why. (read here)
  • 42-year-old millionaire: I tried to retire early at 34—but failed. Here’s what went wrong (read here)

And he has this to say:
“I’m a believer of “low interest rates for life,” but I didn’t think the 10-year bond yield would ever drop to below 1.5% in 2019. I thought we’d stay around 2.5%.
Now, instead of only needing $2 million in additional capital to generate $50,000 at 2.5%, I need $2.5 million in capital to generate the same $50,000 in passive income at 2%.
At 1.5%, the required capital to generate $50,000 in passive income is over $3.3 million. Seeing such a large shift in the goalpost when you don’t want to take more investment risk is disconcerting.”

The way I interpret is, part of the reason for Sam, is that he would rather get (a job) active income rather than get more passive income via higher-yielding risky assets at this point of time.

Indeed for many, it is best to just wait it out. No point chasing after risky yields. There will come a time when there are plenty of bargains to be found. No point going crazy at this point of time.

For others, they believe in following a systematic approach to investing, be it during good times or bad.
“Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves.” Peter Lynch

I believe Joseph Carlson is one such investor. He generally ignore the market and invests regularly (with his active and passive dividend income).

Having said that, Joseph does have a sizeable portion of his portfolio in bonds (20% if I am not wrong).

I do like watching the videos in Joseph Carlson’s Youtube channel which centres around Dividend Investing, News, Commentary. It’s like a reality series centred around an investment portfolio.

You can check out his portfolio here.

Too bad we don’t have tools like M1 Finance or Robinhood in Singapore (available to people with US bank accounts).

  • Does anyone know if Singaporeans can use M1 finance? (read here)

Via M1 Finance, the dividend which Joseph receives is automatically used to purchase shares of the stocks in his portfolio which have underperformed (although whether that is a good thing in itself is questionable). No matter how small the dividend payout is, M1 Finance was able to automatically portion it and purchase fractional shares.

It is a great tool if you are a dividend investor, and believes in regularly reinvesting the dividend. It is also great for tracking your stock portfolio performance.

Ok, back to my Stocktake.

Chart 1.JPG

Let’s think about yield.

First of I have no idea if the Insurance Cash Value has any yield…hmm….. (never really thought about that :P).

Other than that, below are the yields I can list out.

Actually, CPF is really a great way to earn interest at very little risk. The Singapore Saving Bond interest rates have been going lower, and I would rather park my money into Short Duration Bond at the moment.


Yup, it is fairly conservative, and I believed the time to max out its full potential is not here yet. I am not even sure if it would beat inflation.

  • S’poreans see inflation rate of 3.2% in next 12 months: Poll (read here)

When I talk about Warchest, I typically mean my bond (Short Term + Singapore Saving Bond) and Money Market Fund holdings. These are fairly liquid and can be easily converted to cash to purchase stocks.

There is a reason why I spread out my Singapore Saving Bond purchases: So that I can have interest payments at different months of the year.

Well, on hindsight, I could have gotten a slightly better yield if I have bought the whole lot earlier (with interest rates dropping), but I am not really too bothered by this percentage differential yield.


For NIKKO AM Shenton Short Term Bond SGD, I am able to track the daily increment cash profit via Fundsupermart.

As for CPF, I always wait for the annual financial report.

So that is for bonds (and CPF).

Same for the dividend stock portfolio, by having a diversified portfolio, the payout dates would also be spread out. The other advantage would be to help to minimise risk (to a certain extent).

StocksCafe has a great function of showing the projected dividend payout dates and projected dividend payout amount. Of course, all these are after all projected. With the on-going crisis in Hong Kong, the payout might be reduced. Nobody knows what the short term future will be. Below shows the payout dates of my various stock holdings (PS: I have removed the no. of shares and payout amount).

Table Stocks.jpg

I reckon these are just small steps for this year. I will continue adding to the portfolio slowly next year. Nobody knows if we would have a recession in the US or Singapore in 2020. Or if the stock market will crash. Like what STE mentioned, “If you are in wealth accumulation stage , crisis is your friend and you should not be afraid of crisis.” (read here).

Frankly, the monthly passive income is not much, but on a regular basis it does help and hopefully, it will snowball.

The ability to hold on to stocks for the long term is easier said than done. I think the key is what one should focus on. In my opinion, for property owners, the illiquidity of properties can turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

  • The Strength To Hold (read here)

To quote Mr Tako:
“You’ve probably heard all of this advice before — Hold stocks, don’t trade a lot, think like a business owner, etc etc. But at the end of the day it seems that most investors just keep ignoring this advice. Why?
I can only speculate here, but it might have something to do with the mix of capital gains vs. income. Business owners like a landlord or cafe-owner focus mostly on income. Yield from the investment.
In contrast, common stockholders are laser-focused on capital appreciation. They focus on growth and want it fast! That fast growth orientation isn’t always a good thing.”

I reckon the focus for both Mr Tako and Joseph Carlson is the same and that is on the earned dividend income and the fundamentals of the business behind the stocks.

I always feel that assessing dividend stocks is the inverse of assessing growth stocks – although both methods will end up with the same metrics. For dividend stocks, you study the yield first then working backwards to study the payout ratio, fundamentals and growth. After all, no companies can forever payout out dividend more than its earnings with deteriorating financial fundamentals and no or negative growth and shrinking business.

Secondly, it is always much easier (psychologically) to hold on to stocks when you have bought the stocks at reasonable and cheap prices. Mentally it is just much easier. Of course on a wider context, the fundamentals of the company should be strong and the business in which it is operating in, is not dying. That is easier said than done.

It is a constant process.

In the case of Joseph, he is always tweaking his portfolio, weeding out the less desirable stocks and adding on to those with better fundamentals and growth stories. Some of them are dividend aristocrats or growth dividend stocks which pay out consistent and increasing dividends while others are leveraged retail / commercial REITs which payout inconsistent dividends (which he uses the dividend to add on to the growth dividend stocks).

I have yet to find equivalent monthly dividend stocks in the local or Asian stock markets for US listed stocks such as Realty Income or LTC Properties (which are among the top holdings of Joseph Carlson).

And I am still searching…

Well, that’s the update I have for today.

About apenquotes

Born in 1976. Married with 2 kids (a boy and a girl). A typical Singaporean living in a 4 room HDB flat. Check out my Facebook Page:
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8 Responses to Income Streams

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  2. Orangethecat says:

    Hi. Nice write up n you have accurately summarized the lay of the land …. there is nothing to invest in! For myself with my corporate bonds maturing, I found myself switching to bond like instruments such as resale endowments … these are secondhand endowments that you acquire at a discount. XIRR for anything more than 5 to 10 year maturities can be 4.5%. Wondering if you considered that while you wait out for a correction? Appreciate your tots also Have a happy and healthy 2020!


    • apenquotes says:

      To be frank I do not know a lot about this asset class. Did a quick read on Heartland boy’s post (

      Well, my initial thought is firstly I believe that insurance is should be primarily treated as insurance not investment (eg. the belief that term policy is a better policy than life policy etc .. although I have life policy, etc and so does my family members -one is enough for each). There is really no need for one to have too many policies – I feel. The fees and charges for investment-linked policies are high – and I would much rather pick stocks (which suits me better).

      Secondly, I do think these are not really liquid. And no point buying if I am not holding to maturity.
      Yes, there may be little to invest now. But I do not know what will happen next month, 6 months later, or 2 yrs later. So I need liquidity to capitalise on bargains.


      • Orangethecat says:

        Yes. Agreed. Just like a wholesale bond, you need to hold to maturity for these resale endowments otherwise will lose money. So it is for cash you do not need for 5 to 10 years.


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