I would be the first to admit, I am not particularly good at anything. Really. But that hasn’t stopped me from pursuing the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement and dare I say, doing a pretty decent job at it.
In primary and secondary school, my C6-grade English sucked so I bought The New Paper tabloid. I was just as bad at General Paper in junior college, so I figured out a standard methodology to tackle it. Not knowing what to major in university, I eliminated everything else that I didn’t want to study. Being an introvert, so I deliberately joined my faculty’s orientation camp and took part in NUS Rag & Flag — the contacts I made became the pivotal bridge between my wife (then girlfriend) and I.
Perhaps I am a fantastic generalist. Maybe it is because I possess a compatible talent stack. Understanding our circle of competence could be more important than what we think. My track record in terms of career changes is definitely not your typical route.
I guess what I have is plenty of curiosity in so many different areas and that has enabled me to gradually craft alternate streams of income to support my main income from full-time employment.
Blog income reports are nothing new to this blog. I have written quite a few over the years: in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and most recently 2019. I am going to shake things up just a little in the future.
New alternative income report
A tiny change moving forward is that instead of having an income report that covers purely blog-related activities, this is going to branch out to include all income that result from non-salaried work. This means that even without my full-time job, I will be able to maintain these sources of income. And likely to be much more because I would have a lot more time to work with.
This is an important metric for me to track because in the event that I am no longer participating in a full-time salaried employment, I would have to rely on these alternative income streams to sustain my lifestyle – be it the Luxe edition, Cai Png edition or Zombie Apocalyse edition of my template.
My alternative income streams now consists of these four categories:
- Ad revenue
- Affiliate marketing
- Portfolio dividend / fixed income
- Crypto income
1. Ad revenue – Mediavine and Monumetric
In terms of advertising, I went from using Google AdSense to Monumetric and eventually, Mediavine. As you can see from the chart I posted above, for the whole of 2018 and 2019, the entire revenue came from having ads on this blog. No sponsored posts or anything like that, which I really like .. since I can write about anything I want!
I began looking out for ad management options that gave a better experience i.e. pays better, less spammy and faster loading speeds for better user experience. I found it in Mediavine. Ad revenue via Mediavine will continue to be my main method of funding my web hosting and getting some pocket money.
For the first three months of Q1 2020, I was still with Monumetric network. The payment terms is 60 days so the ad revenue was actually based on the blog traffic for the months of October, November and December. I tallied the numbers based on when I receive the payment, and not when I earned it.
2. Affiliate marketing
This blog will always be free for all – I will figure out the way to pay for hosting and services. More than that, there are plenty of amazing products and services that may not survive the competition. Besides, I’m not one to leave money on the table if there are ways that are mutually beneficial!
I have been extremely careful in terms of engaging in any form of affiliate marketing. As I have mentioned before, I thought a lot about this before deciding to start having affiliate partners that I am willing to work with. It is not an easy task to get into my trusted list – I must personally be an active user of these products and services.
I will do what I can to help these survive and prosper – even if it meant giving up my share of referral earnings (AutoWealth) and paying for giveaway contests out of my own pocket (StocksCafe). I would like to think that I have played a small part in helping AutoWealth to achieve profitability in Q3 of 2020.
Below is my list of trusted affiliates –
- AutoWealth : Robo-advisor (S$20)
- StocksCafe : Portfolio management tool (3 mths free)
- Crypto.com MCO Visa : Payments (whopping US$50)
- You Need A Budget (YNAB) : Budgeting and tracking tool (1 mth free)
- Ohm : Electricity retailer (S$20)
- SiteGround : Web hosting (% discount)
3. Portfolio dividend / fixed income
The most straight-forward and traditional income stream is one that comes from investment instruments. Invest in equities that pay out dividends/distributions consistently and collect the income.
Besides stocks and REITs that provide regular payouts, I also included other options in use that generate some form of payout. As long as the payouts reach my bank accounts, they will be included.
- Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB) : Approx. 2%
- High-interest yielding accounts : UOB One (1.25%), SingLife (2.5%) and CIMB FastSaver (1%)
Automatically re-invested components e.g. robo-advisors will not included in my tracked numbers. One such example is my SYFE REIT+ portfolio (see StocksCafe screenshot above) that automatically re-invests dividends/distributions because I have yet to reach the next tier of having $20,000 portfolio value that offers the option of getting payouts. Likewise, it is the same for AutoWealth that automatically re-invest dividends.
4. Crypto income
If you recall what I said earlier about my curiosity for new things and being a generalist, then it is no wonder that I ventured into the universe of crypto and blockchain. Especially with a background in IT, it is far easier for me to grasp some of the basic concepts which would otherwise deter most people from learning about it, let alone start any forms of investments with significant risk.
Crypto income is mainly generated from proof-of-stake (as opposed to proof-of-work) activities and crypto lending. This post isn’t meant to focus on the topic of crypto so I shall not elaborate too much on it. Crypto assets that are staked and lent belonged to the category that are not in cold-storage.
Crypto staking –
- ATOM (Cosmos) 9.85% : Cosmostation
- MCO 6% : Royal Indigo via Crypto.com
Crypto lending –
- BTC 5.5% : Crypto Earn via Crypto.com
- BTC 6% / ETH 4.5% / USDC 8.6% : BlockFi Interest Account (BIA)
Disclaimer – not an indication to buy any of the listed tokens.
Total earnings for 2020 – first quarter
Due to the nature of my earnings, a significant portion of it are denominated in US dollars and I’ll use an exchange rate of US$1 to SGD$1.40 for this post. The earnings in foreign currencies are typically received and converted via PayPal. *puked blood at the horrible exchange rates*
Crypto earnings are typically converted and sent to my MCO Visa card and converted into SGD credits for immediate use. I am generally satisfied with how my crypto portfolio looks like at the moment and have no intention of adding to my holdings.
My total alternative income for the first quarter of 2020 came up to a grand total of SGD$2163.75 or an average of SGD$721.25 per month.
- January 2020 – SGD$522.11
- February 2020 – SGD$990.81
- March 2020 – SGD$650.83
This is definitely a slow and steady process of getting the numbers high enough to sustain the critical aspect of our current lifestyle expenses.
I remember sharing in my Zombie Apocalypse budget template post that it means I am basically on survival mode – no travelling, no shopping, no allowances for parents etc. Getting my total alternative income high enough to cover my Zombie Apocalypse budget is what I am aiming to do right now. Needless of say, this is an important part of any FIRE journey and this is why I’m sharing mine here.
New schedule moving forward
Instead of writing adhoc report posts like what I have been doing for the past seven years, I intend to follow a more consistent schedule moving forward. Regular reports actually serve an excellent purpose as reference/learning points for people who are pursuing the same goals.
This is going to be the few format of quarterly and half-yearly reports or what many also know as status updates:
- Jan / Jul : CPF Report
- Feb / May / Aug / Nov : Alternative Income Report
- Mar / Jun / Sep / Dec : KrisFlyer Miles Report
More than just a static update of numbers, the reports would also include relevant information for the respective topics.
For example, the upcoming Krisflyer Miles Report would include how I’m using miles payment facility for my IRAS income tax payments and how I’m getting miles out of it. For a fee, of course. Keep a lookout for it next month plus my next round StocksCafe giveaway is going to be running from 1st June to 14th June so don’t miss out on it!
The second quarter of 2020 is expected to be challenging due to the current situation. Keep a lookout for it in August if you’re interested to see how things went. As always, leave me a comment or private message if you want to chat!
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