Reviewing my first year investing journey in US market

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Today, I mark my first year anniversary with the US stock market.

I was feeling a little hesitant in penning this post as I still don’t see myself as an ‘investor’ as I still sucumb to ‘gambling’ tempations. Despite dabbling in the US market for a year, I have not learned to read charts. Most of my trades are still made based on recommendations, market sentiments and gut feel. I don’t know how and why I should be sharing anything with people when I myself don’t even know what I’m doing most of the time but I guess I am here to tell you that you are not alone – no matter how up or down you with your investments – I’m here with you and this is my story.

Huge disclaimer: I am no expert matter in this and I’m just sharing data of my performance, my mistakes, my learnings and my thoughts/feelings/emotions. This is not a recommendation or advice to anyone. It is more like a ‘I feel you’ piece if you’re feeling lost in this ‘investing’ journey and also an avenue for myself to introduce some ‘realism’ into social media. Somehow, I’m a little sick and tired of social media / online communtiy only showing the ‘good’ and ‘best’ side of things but we all know that reality is far from that. I’m just a normal person blogging about money and you need to be normal to read it.

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1 year ago on 12 June 2020, I made a purchase of my first US stock – Disney, 20 qty at the price of $116.  If I held on to the stock and not sell it a month later (July 2020), I would have made a return of 52% on my investment. ouch. reality hurts but if I looked back at my ‘then’ objectives of investing back then, it was the ‘right’ decision back then as my aim was to do frequent buy/sell as long as I meet the 5% profit target. Back then. the market was in ‘recovery mode’ and it was not difficult to hit 5% profits even within the same day.

My portfolio was was very green for me in the first two months and I ‘tipped’ at 9.75% for ROR.

Then, I got greedy and joined a chat group (3 days free trial) on ‘Telegram’ where the guy is >90% accurate on his trades if you follow his actions exactly. He would give you the price to enter, the price to sell, the price to stop-loss – and everything could happen within a minute or so. In order to ‘profit’, you had to be very precise and.. of course, be using a trading platform that could support buy/sell in one click. Anyway, so there was this one stock that I gambled with and because I didn’t want to realise my first ‘loss’ in my portflio, I didn’t stick to his rules and ended up selling half of my position a week later at 50% loss. You know what’s the worse part of it? Today, I’m still holding on to the remaining half of the stock and it is currently at -86%. If you put the sums together, I’ve lost $1,591,50 – 65% of my original investment. I don’t know why I’m still holding on to that stock today (only worth ~$150 now) but a part of me hopes that it could one day become a meme stock and I could recover some losses. Fat hope but.. yep this is my worse investment to date.

My second worse investment (which I have not realise the loss) belongs to this volatility index called UVXY. It is an index which goes up when the market goes down and for reasons beyond my own cognitive knowledge, I bought it right before the US election (Nov 2020) thinking that the market will crash when Biden wins. As ridiculous as it may sound, the intent when I bought it was to ‘balance’ my portfolio should the market crash. Right now, I’m facing a 86.44% loss on that small purchase and the stock had to merge 10 to 1 in order to maintain the minimum price. It is my second worse investment in terms of monetary damage but for reasons I can’t farthom, it still resides in my portfolio with a total value less than an apple stock.

I shall not dwell more into my other tragic losses but my portfolio now consists of 17 stocks, of which only 3 are in green. It definitely looks bad on the long term hold and my portfolio mix is pretty embarrassing – a lot of ‘growth’ (or so I thought) stock bought at high prices and I obviously didn’t do a good job at ‘picking’ the bottom. The happy/sad thing is that despite being so much in the red, I am still green overall (for my Tiger Broker account; more about my other accounts later on). Although I am still ‘green’ overall (8.92% Time weighted Rate of Return), my friend feels that I have nothing to be proud of as I was probably just ‘riding the recovery wave’, rather than having any successful strategy.

Just some numbers to make my post less boring. In the past 365 days (on Tiger Broker’s platform), I’ve made 176 trades across 60 US stocks. My ‘Realised PnL’ is at USD 5,757.41 and the stock that generated the highest profit for me is Tesla – where I made 11 transactions, earning USD647,93. You may think that I’m in love in Tesla but the ‘earnings’ I had in the earlier days made me greedy. I ‘averaged up’ a couple of times (in view of long term potential) and I am now in red on my remaining Tesla holdings. I am extremely red in a CFD trading for Tesla (in a separate platform) but that story is a little too sad to share so I’ll save it for another time – maybe at the end of the year where I decide that it is time I stop paying more interest. Of course, it is tempting to ‘average down’ on Tesla given that the prices are less than USD 600 in recent two months but.. I don’t feel safe to let Tesla have such a huge proportion of my portfolio as it is already the largest.

The other stocks that generated good returns for me were Fastly, Palantir and Tiger Brokers (raises an eyebrow). These stocks are volatile and I buy them repeatedly for swing trading. Not healthy but these purchases were made in the earlier days where I didn’t have a day job.

If you’re using tiger interface, they do provide your highest ROR and mine is at 25.77%, recorded on 2nd March 2021. In comparison, if I place my entire portfolio just on SPY index, I would have been getting the highest ROR of 41.21%. Times like this make me wonder if I should just throw my entire portfolio into index funds for a long-term play but.. when I think back on my original intent of my investing journey, that wasn’t even an option. As ridiculous as it sounds, I started trading in the US market because of COVID-19 and the lockdown – I was unemployed, bored and having the habit of sleeping late at night (2am is my norm now, even on work days). Monitoring the stock market for >5 hours each night was a pretty decent ‘past time’. At least I had a ‘chance’ to earn some money vs watching Netflix/K-dramas all day and all night long. If I go back to my original intent of why I started investing – it was a success *half grin*. Anyway, just for record sake, my lowest ROR was recorded on 30 Oct 2020 at -10.55%. Thankfully, by that point in time, I was already earning a stable income and figured a way to ‘sleep at night’ despite ‘paper losing’ money while i sleep. Always try to maintain a portfolio that lets you sleep at night *looking at those MEME stock buyers*. My take on meme stocks? I don’t really dare to buy them as I’m afraid of being greedy if I start earning money. I guess it does sound funny coming from the one who invests heavily in Tesla.. *same same but different*.

More numbers for you! In my pre-employment days, I made about 22 trades per month and this number dropped to 12.8 trades per month after I started having a full-time job. Currently, I still set alarms when the stock market opens (4pm, 7pm and 9:30pm) but I no longer open the app religiously at the said timings. My real life takes precedence and I seem to lose the drive to day-trade. To the best of my ability, I still do try to stock-pick and am targeting to reposition my portfolio into a long-term one (e.g. buying disney at a discount) and hopefully being able to ‘cash out’ when I need money for my house renovation in the future. Still have yet to figure out what’s the best method to get to that ‘long term plan’ but time has taught me that ‘diversity’ is king. On a side note, I started Stashaway and Endowus (using CPF) too. For whatever reasons (perhaps it was timing), my conservative 12% risk index Stashaway is still in red (-0.66) across the past 11 months (gawd, are you kidding me) while my 40% risk index Endowus is up 5.50% across the past 7 months. It is not an apple to apple comparision but just wanting to record the numbers somewhere. With the above comparison, it does seem like my active investing methodology is still performing better than the robo-investors. Sadly, I no longer have the luxury of time and energy to monitor the stock market closely so I guess my long-term plan needs to come in pretty quick..

On a side note, I have not mentioned the few SG stocks (3 in total) that I’ve bought using Tiger Brokers too. Their weightage in my portfolio is not significant (~max 20%) but fun fact – the amount of dividends I receive is significantly more than my US stocks. Across those 12 months, I’ve received USD 120.94 + SGD 118.9 for dividends. Once again, it is not ‘fair’ as US dividends are taxed 30%. I’m still trying to ‘strike a balance’ between growth and dividend stocks.

Anyway, if you’re feeling frustrated with my writing (which is very messy and random), I’m telling you that it is deliberate. I actually prepared the numbers info in a table format but I feel too embarrassed to make my gains/lossess so obvious so I decide to leave the table out which could possibly reveal how much I have in my portfolio. It is not a large amount but it is not small either *ha* so I’ll leave it as ambiguos as it is.

Thanks for reading my one year journey and thanks in advance if you are going to use my referral codes for Tiger Brokers or Moomoo Trading. These referrals had been useful in ‘cushioning’ my portfolio. If you’re still uncertain on whether to start trading after my writeup, please don’t jump into it and perhaps do ‘paper trading’ first. You don’t need to start something because everyone around you is doing it. Think properly on what is your ‘plan’ (it could be to past time like me) and always stick to the ‘rules’ you set.

Good luck 😀

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