2020 is a wholesome and happening year for me.
Moreover, this new year also marked my blog anniversary, which I launch on 1st January 2020 with my first blog post. The journey has been very fulfilling, and it wouldn’t be without you who are willing to drop by and read my blog!
In order to give it back, I decided to start a giveaway. The special thing about this giveaway is, everyone will get a gift from me!
Hold your horse first. I know you’re excited, but I’m going to hold that until the end of this article.
There are so many things that happened in 2020, which I couldn’t remember if I did not write them down. Hence I decide to adopt James Clear’s idea on an annual review.
To start, I will answer these 3 questions:
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go well this year?
- What did I learn this year?
What Went Well This Year?
In 2020, many have lost their job or separated from family due to Covid-19. Despite that, I did not encounter any of the mentions and fortunate that there are things that went well for me.
I am also grateful that I have the opportunity to experience working from home from March until August. And I just realized that is exactly half a year!
My Personal Finance Blog Launch
I have purchased the hosting of my blog since 2018, but only officially launched my personal finance blog (marcuskeong.com) in 2020. Personal finance is my third niche for my blog after I changed from the other 2 niches, technology and lifestyle.
How do I end up choosing personal finance as my blog niche?
Well, ever since I started investing in stock in 2019, I have been looking at the graphs and charts of the stock market every day. I even created all kinds of spreadsheets for my stock analysis and personal finance, such as the Expenses Tracker I shared on my blog.
The realization of my interest in personal finance has given me a hint. Why not become a Malaysian personal finance blogger?
And poof! Here I am now, writing finance articles for over one year. Who would have expected that I am able to publish 28 blog articles in 2020? Definitely not me, but I’m surprised that I did it!
Even though not all articles are related to personal finance, all the articles I wrote are meant to help others on certain topics such as wedding preparation.
Having a blog that allows me to write whatever I want is always my dream since years ago. Now I have realized it, I hope I can continue with my blog even after retirement.
Job Switch, Back Home, Baby Safely Born
Eh why I squeeze 3 things into one title?
It’s because they all happen for the same reason: to welcome our beloved daughter to the new world.
For that, we have made some huge changes in our life. This includes giving up my Singapore job and moving back to Malaysia.
While you might be saying, isn’t it a bad idea to have children during the pandemic? But who would have seen this coming in early 2020?
We have done family planning since after our marriage. My wife wants to have children as early as possible. I support her decision as she doesn’t want to get into the advanced maternal age, which is over age 35.
Having a children is just a common thing, unless the world is infected by Coronavirus.
The border of Malaysia-Singapore has been closed (restricted). 14-days quarantine is implemented for those who came back from overseas. Hence, things become complicated for both of us who worked in Singapore.
Why don’t Just Deliver Baby in Singapore?
First, it is 5 times more expensive than delivering in Malaysia. Of course, after converted the Sing Dollar to Malaysian Ringgit.
Second, we plan to let my parents take care of our baby when we are working. Unfortunately, my company doesn’t allow me to work from home in Malaysia. I have no choice but to resign and seek a new job in my hometown.
Initially, we were worried that I couldn’t find a job in this economic crisis. Thank God my previous company has some vacancies and I was hired after interviews within 10 days.
The next thing to worry about is how are we going back from Singapore to Malaysia. Having a pregnant woman to be quarantined for 14 days is not something we want, but have no choice. Thankfully, all went well for us for the quarantine and we were safely back home.
After 3 weeks back home, our daughter, Mavis, has safely been born. Her expected delivery date was on 19th December, but she arrived on 30th November, 20 days earlier than expected! Thank God we decided to come back early to prepare for delivery.
There’s another thing to be grateful for. My wife gets an extended 12 weeks of maternity leave, on top of the existing 8 weeks. This was just a recent change for pregnant women by her company due to Covid-19.
Now she is enjoying her 20 weeks maternity leave in Malaysia with our daughter.
Nevertheless, we are so grateful that everything went smoothly for us. From finding a new job and welcoming our baby to this world, 2020 didn’t treat us as badly as others.
In order to promote my blog, social media is the key to grow my blog traffic. For my blog, I used to focus on Facebook and Instagram. But now I include my Twitter account as well.
I find that Twitter is a great platform to gain traffic for my blog, due to it’s mechanism. Twitter is made easy to share and bite-sized information are favored by many.
So far I have been very satisfied with the number of followers on my social media pages. Here are the audience for all my blog social media (as recorded on 10th January 2021):
- Facebook Page: 1,375 Likes, 1,522 Follows
- Instagram: 2,158 Followers
- Twitter: 2,865 Followers
You can obviously see that Twitter has the most audience, and Instagram comes second. You might think I put more effort into Twitter. But the truth is, I focus more on Instagram. It took quite some time to create visually attractive yet informative posts on Instagram.
Facebook Page has a lot fewer audiences as I don’t really focus on growing it. Previously I would share my Facebook posts to several Facebook groups. But now I don’t feel like doing it anymore. Maybe it was just me, but I feel that the Facebook community is not as friendly as the other platforms community.
What’s next for 2021? Well, I do not have any goals for my followers on social media. This is because I am a believer in focusing on the process rather than the goal.
In other words, I would focus on sharing content consistently on social media and keep engaging with my followers, rather than staring at the scoreboard.
What Didn’t Go Well This Year?
I know it is counter-intuitive to have this in my “didn’t go well” list for a finance blogger. But it’s true, I didn’t do well on it in 2020.
Till today, I have been investing in stocks for just 2 years. The truth is, I am still an amateur. Sharing about stock investing doesn’t mean I’m an expert, right?
As a new investor, I was caught off guard when the market crash in March 2020. My whole portfolio was dropped by 40%.
That 40% is a massive chunk of money for me, so I can’t sleep well at night for a few days. Selling off (almost) all of my stocks is the only rationale for me at that moment.
After that, I regret it.
But if you ask me now if I still regret what I did, I will say I’m not. Why? That big mistake gave me a great investing lesson, which will be embedded in my brain for lifetime.
With that experience, I learned what is the meaning of “stay invested” and understand my own risk tolerance. It shapes me to become a better long-term investor.
I have been building a habit of exercise 3 times a week. However, I drastically failed it, especially during the lockdown period.
In Singapore, it is compulsory to wear a mask when we’re outside, except when we are exercising. Other than that, we need to wear a mask.
I find it tedious to wear mask before and after exercise, hence I did not exercise for a few months.
My weight increases by 5kg in 2020 due to working from home for 6 months. Hopefully this year I am able to allocate more time for exercise.
Just like exercise, I always wanted to build a habit of reading every day. For me, reading is an important habit that can drastically improve our knowledge. As Sir Richard Steele said,
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”Sir Richard Steele
A book is literally the product of organized knowledge by the author. By reading a book, we may gain a decade of experience by the author which already compressed into a book.
I aimed to read one book in a month, but failed it in 2020.
In total, I have only read 5 books:
- Atomic Habits, by James Clear
- One Up On Wall Street, by Peter Lynch
- Money Stories from Malaysians (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2), by Suraya Zainudin
- 花掉的钱都会自己流回来, by Mentalist DaiGo (Directly translated as “The money you spent will flow back to you”)
In 2021, my goal is to read at least 12 books. Though I must admit it will be challenging as I need to take care of our newborn. Nevertheless, I will accept the challenge.
What Did I Learn This Year?
This annual review means nothing if I did not learn anything from them. Hence, I pick the top 3 lessons I learned in 2020:
Investing Should Be Boring
In my early stage of stock investing, I always enjoy reading comments, rumors, and news about different stocks. No doubt, it influenced me to take the speculating path. Who doesn’t like quick profit, right?
With a year of frequent trades in the market, and also get beaten up by the unexpected market crash in 2020, I learned a few lessons:
- In order to earn a quick profit via short-term trading, you need to predict if the price is up or down.
- It requires a lot of time to monitor the price change.
- It is emotionally challenging when you do short term trading.
As I mentioned above, I am learning how to be a long-term investor. I only buy stocks that I plan to hold for at least 10 years. Like what Warren Buffett said:
Over times, having this mindset helps me a lot.
There are times when I’m fully occupied, such as interviews for new jobs, packing things for moving service, and traveling back to Malaysia. I have no time to keep monitoring my stock prices, but that’s okay. Because I have confidence in my stocks that they will increase in value over the long run.
Investing in the long run should be boring, it shouldn’t be excited as you expected.
Productive Should Be Sustainable
Ever since I started to be serious about blogging, I have allocated most of my free time to write articles and create social media posts. From that, I have learned a lot about productivity, whether it is time management or task management.
Initially, I aimed to post one Instagram post everyday. After 3 weeks of consistently posting, I felt exhausted to keep up with this schedule. It reduces the time I have for my loved ones.
Hence I adjusted my post frequency to 3 to 4 posts per week. With only 2-3 hours, I able to create posts for a week. This is more sustainable as I can do it after work during weekdays, so I don’t need to sacrifice my weekends.
I always thought that being productive is to squeeze in as many tasks as possible in one day. Now I realized that balance is the key for better productivity.
True productivity is when we are able to do things consistently, without getting burnout. Now, I just focus on designing my days in the most sustainable way.
Setting Priorities In Life
As a blogger, there are so much stuff I need to do. It is not as simple as writing articles and publish them.
I need to find a suitable feature image for my article, do an SEO check on my published article, share my blog post on social media, and curate my article content into a digestible Instagram post.
Occasionally, I will receive emails, PM, or DM from followers or companies who look for partnerships. I feel like there’s a need to be responsive to that. Hence I always try my best to reply to every blog and social media comment.
Having said that, these activities are quite time consuming and it took away my time to write more articles.
One day, I stumbled across this video that gave me an idea of getting more time out of my day – Setting Priorities.
From the video (at 1:18), Matt said “When you identified what you really want to create, you need to drop every non-essential work task that doesn’t support that”.
That advice really helps me to focus on producing blog posts in a shorter time. Rather than keeping up with the posting streak on Instagram, I will focus on writing articles first.
In fact, we can find this idea being adopted in most of the workspaces. Your leader will always tell you to focus on the task that has the highest priority. With that, we can only complete our works or projects before the deadline.
First Anniversary Giveaway
If you read all the way from top to this point, then you earn my deepest respect.
According to my instinct, 80% of my readers will straight scroll to this final section to get the freebies I provided. I can totally understand that, because who doesn’t like free stuff?
Anyway, here is the gift you will get from my blog’s first anniversary.
I’m sharing my customized Stock Dashboard spreadsheet to all my readers for FREE!
This stock dashboard is built with many formulas, pivot tables, and queries that automate a lot of calculations. It takes me almost a half year to complete all the functionality I want.
Here’s a tutorial video on how to use it:
Honestly, I was planning to sell it as my side hustle. But then, it will against my own principle of building this blog:
“Provide value to my audience first, then earn money second”.
After all, this stock dashboard will be a good gift for you if you are one of the new investors. I wish it will help you to track your stock performance and motivate you to invest in stocks.
How Can I Download This Free Spreadsheet
To get a copy of my Stock Dashboard, all you need to do is to sign up as my blog subscriber.
When you have subscribed to my newsletter, the spreadsheet link will be sent to you via email.
Note: Please do not email me to share my spreadsheet with you. On my spreadsheet, just go to “File > Make a Copy” and use that copied spreadsheet. Thanks!
Last but not least, thank you so much for your support on my blog. Hopefully, I will continue to write more articles and help more Malaysians with stock investing.
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