Saturday 29 April 2023

Millennials & Gen Z: Young And In Debt. Why? | Thoughts and my position as a Millennial

Very good documentaries and programmes from CNA, covering local context which I think many can relate to. I also liked the food delivery episode that talked about delivery drivers, how the algorithm works and they are subjected to many things beyond their control.

A recent episode I saw was about Buy Now, Pay Later where they had a few individuals on the show to share their spending habits and how they are coping with the finances especially in the face of inflation right now.

When you have income coming in and get used to spending freely, you kinda take it for granted after awhile

From the first individual, she does have good meals and take ride-hailing services frequently. She does also feel that the ride-hailing services are taking up a huge portion of her spending and wants to cut it down but it is not as easy especially when she has got used to it.

She indulge herself with at least one good restaurant visit per week with her friends. Additionally, she is also renting her own place so expenses does add up with these spending that is being done. To add things worse, her dog fell sick recently and almost wiped out all her savings. To cut her spending, it will definitely involve some sacrifices on her end like what she mentioned, having to wake up early to travel using public transport. She does reduce expenses by getting second hand items or by swapping items with her friends to try new things.

The next individual has a student loan, upcoming mortgage and wedding expenses. She is aware of the unnecessary spending that makes her unable to save especially with make-up and skincare products. She does not seem to have the habit on saving and main thing is the charging of items to credit cards and BNPL which makes spending seem so smooth so she spends almost all her take home pay.

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)

The rise of BNPL companies have sky rocketed in recent times especially when you see their advertising. I remembered I walked into Sephora with my friend once and a certain BNPL company was offering some discount if you downloaded the app and split your payments.

My friend who was paying for something did that instinctively as she was able to and why not for the discount. But from there, if she was not careful with her spending and found the splitting of bills very convenient, she might be sucked into using it and excessively buying and chalking up huge bills. Of course, if she is able to pay it off then that’s great and a good way to snag the bargains that the BNPL companies are offering.

There are advantages if you know how you can use BNPL to your advantage and I think there has been quite a bit of coverage on BNPL like here, here and here. So in the CNA show, the second lady using BNPL seems to be quite stuck in the habit of using it excessively and splitting it up especially when she has commitments on the side like a student loan which is also being paid with a credit card and she misses payments on some occasions.

In the US

USA is a country that influences the world through the many things as they are a super power. The BNPL as well as credit card industry there is huge as the general population rely on credit for big ticket items and especially so during the pandemic when people lost their jobs but needed to pay for daily necessities. The US population generally does not have a huge saving buffer hence an emergency can land them in trouble where they will then have to rely on credit cards to pay the bills.

In this video, it talks about how millennials in their 30s have taken on debt at a rapid rate since the pandemic. This group also have taken on debts higher than any other generation.

They interviewed a 31 year old lady who has 2 children and lives just outside of Miami. She shared that she now has 3 more credit cards as compared to the start of the pandemic and has maxed them out but have cleared her debts for 2 of the cards . She is now limiting her spending by not going out and not buying anything if possible.

It is a vicious cycle once you rely on credit cards to pay your bills and not paying the bills in full as the interest rates for credit card debts is so high, you would be struggling to plug the hole as the debt increases.

Evaluate and spend within your means if possible

If we were to look at the individuals in the Singapore context of the CNA show, they are mostly spending on their wants, ride-hailing services and make up products, so if they can take the time to evaluate their spending and reduce slowly on the things that are not a need, they should be able to reduce their expenditure by quite a bit and save more.

Of course, not every millennial is in debt or not managing their money well, I believe there is a good proportion of millennials who are doing well financially and managed their finances. With Seedly and The Woke Salaryman with other financial education blogs and platforms, I believe Singaporeans are aware of financial management but spending habits can sometimes be tough to change.

Always try not to inflate your lifestyle unless you are already at a minimum lifestyle haha, but it is always good to start saving and starting young is great because habits usually stays and if you can maintain good habits from the beginning, it will help as time pass. It’s good to also form a circle of friends who do not spend frivolously, a good support of friends can help your wallet.

Sunday 9 April 2023

Q1 2023 Portfolio Updates | Portfolio has recovered substantially but still volatile and 2nd half of 2023 will be interesting

Q1 2022 is over and after my birthday month, it feels crazy thinking that I am reaching my 30s soon! I believe and hope that my 30s will be a great time as I would hopefully understand myself more, be able to do better in my career as well as personal life although we never know what will happen in the future. But of course, I will enjoy my last bit of 20s!

March has been a volatile and a roller-coaster month as almost everyone thought the FED would be very aggressive in it’s interest rate hike to fight inflation but on 10 March, we saw SVB faced difficulties and domino’s effects as well as the huge Credit Suisse being bought over by UBS. March 2023 definitely felt like a crypto month but just that banks were the ones making the news. From the aggressiveness of the FED and majority thinking that a 50 bps hike will be done to eventually it being a 25 bps and even before the interest rate hike, Goldman Sachs gave a warning that the FED raising the interest rate further would break the banking industry. There was a scare with Deushce Bank as their shares plunged and people are worried about it as the past 2 weekends we have seen SVB collapse and Credit Suisse get bought out so whether will anything happen on the consecutive 3rd weekend.

We can see that inflation is still the main goal for the FED and they want to bring it down but right now with the risk of banks collapsing and bringing down the whole economy, many have already been saying that the FED will have a rate cut soon but the FED has mentioned that they will still keep rates up to combat inflation but we shall see. In terms of the portfolio, I would say it has recovered quite significantly although I am still in the red for certain counters but overall it is still looking in a better state than end 2022 and early 2023 which was quite bad.

Stocks Portfolio

It does feel finally that the amount I am investing in is building onto the value of the portfolio as stocks (mainly Tesla) and index ETFs gain some however I do think we are still in for a volatile and tough 2023 as the FED is bent on fighting inflation and so even though rate increases is nearing an end with probably rate cuts (?) but it still depends on the data coming in, rates should still remain high as we fight against inflation.

More layoffs are on the way as Meta, Accenture and others show more cuts and also Credit Suisse would most likely also face cuts especially for roles that are similar especially in the investment banking business when UBS takes over it most probably at the end of 2023. Even Endowus is cutting which we can see many companies are cutting costs and the most direct way is to cut manpower. Don’t really know how bad it will get or whether things will stagnate but yea, just DCA-ing in.

Portfolio has gone up in value but not early 2022 levels which was a bull market but I like that I have automate my investments and it really is a hand-offs with more weightage in my monthly DCA to index funds as I build it up.

Crypto Portfolio

After the Luna and FTX incidents, I have pivoted all my crypto funds to BTC and ETH. Losing money was not fun and a pretty substantial amount at that.

Read more: I got liquidated and lost my whole LUNA position | Anchor Borrow

Anyway, crypto saw a little recovery, not a huge portion of my portfolio but it still affects the overall amount so still happy about it. I am currently not really adding positions into crypto except for small amounts. I want to build up a larger base of index ETFs before venturing into the “fun” stuff. So here is my crypto portfolio at the end of Q1.

Syfe REIT+ Portfolio

Syfe REIT+ portfolio has been interesting for me as I started DCA-ing into it in September 2022 before all the interest rate hikes and focus on inflation. Over the past few months, it has been volatile but exciting as we see the news and macro environment affecting REITs.

Read more: Q3 2022 Portfolio Updates | 💎 🙌 🐻

The portfolio has grown a little as you can see here mainly due to dividends. I will still continue DCA-ing in monthly as long as I have sufficient cashflow. Hoping to grow this up.

Q1 thoughts and reflections

Not much thoughts to be honest, life has been keeping me busy, I am travelling and work also keeps me busy so with my investments on automation, it does feel like everything is set, I just have to wait for the bull market to come although we do not know when that will be exactly.

I am getting closer to my goal of hoping to reach $100,000 in investments and cash savings although the market is volatile but still looking pretty on track. Job stability is one thing on my mind and other than that, life is good.

Many weddings in the next few months as my friends are starting to settle down with their other half. Happy for them! 2nd half of 2023 will be interesting as we see how the FED navigates the situation and all eyes on the banks as we see if the industry is strong enough to tide through.

Crypto can be seen as a strong contender as people start to realise leaving all their cash in the banks might not be as safe as they think but of course, cryptocurrency is a lot more volatile and risky if you are not sure of what you are buying or how you are storing it. Overall, it’s been a great quarter, onwards to the next!