It’s often a cliché to say that the year flew past us in a blink of an eye but this seems to be an accurate description of 2021. I felt that 2021 was worse than 2020 and this was despite 2020 having 2 months of Circuit Breaker. Maybe it was the stop-start nature of the Covid-19 restrictions which really frustrated a lot of the plans that I have made. This was especially bad for me as I am someone who likes control and certainty in my life. Nevertheless, I prefer to look at the positives in life and here are the top 10 highlights of 2021 for Heartland Boy.
1. Opening of Sofia Wellness Clinic’s own office
My wife opened her own office space this year and I am damn proud of it. The role I played was definitely not minor as she appointed (it’s a euphemism) yours truly to project manage the entire renovation process. The experience of renovating an office space in Singapore was a steep learning curve but I definitely learnt some stuff that will come in handy for my own career as well.
Having her own office space is definitely a milestone worth celebrating as it is testament to the progress that she has in her business. Do also read her heartfelt interview with Dollars and Sense here.
2. Improved my home-office setup
One of the best investments that I made in 2021 is to get myself an ergonomic chair for my home office setup. I was convinced of the comfort I will derive from it after trying out the wife’s new chair in her office. While the chair was undoubtedly expensive, the payoff was almost immediate as my back hurt less and my productivity also increased. In addition, I did such a good job in #1 such that I was allowed to exchange my small monitor with the bigger monitor in the missus’ office.
With work-from-home the norm this year, I am glad that I spent some money to improve my work-from-home setup. I consider this as a form of self-care and I am glad that I took care of it.
3. Promotion at work
Still on the topic of career, work has been incredibly hectic, challenging and unpredictable in 2021. I prefer not to elaborate much but thankfully I had an improved home-office set up to tide me through, lol. The positive outcome was that I was rewarded with an off-cycle promotion. As a result, I will shoulder even more responsibilities but I also welcome the opportunity to learn more as this could pay off in the long run.
4. CPF MA reached Basic Healthcare Sum
On the personal finance front, I celebrated my CPF MediSave Account (‘MA’) reaching the Basic Healthcare Sum limit in the middle of this year. Future mandatory contributions meant for the MA would now be channeled into the Special Account (‘SA’) instead. This increases the pace which my SA would reach the Full Retirement Sum. This is significant because CPF forms an important tenant in my FIRE goal.
5. First cryptocurrency investment
I applaud myself for taking the first step into investing in cryptocurrencies as it is an asset class that is becoming too big to ignore. Besides, I firmly believe that there is still plenty of money left since my view is that we are only at the early majority stage of the adoption curve.
As a test of my faith, prices of cryptocurrencies tanked after I have made my first investment. Bitcoin went from $48,000 to $30,000 in a span of 2 months. I stuck to my guns and continued to make small purchase to average down my purchase price. This was made easier because it still constitutes only a small part of my portfolio.
6. First cruise trip for the family
In early February, our family embarked on a wonderful seacation with Quantum of the Seas by Royal Caribbean. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and felt that it was indeed equivalent to a short regional holiday.
On hindsight, I am glad that I took a leap of faith then when there were still many doubts on the “safety” of Cruise To Nowhere. When we were on board, the cruise was probably operating at 30% of its maximum capacity and I could try every activity that I wanted. Unfortunately, as Cruise to Nowhere increases in popularity, I have heard less favourable feedback- just look at the plight of this TikToker.
7. Staycations at family-friendly hotels in Singapore
Hooked by her Cruise to Nowhere experience, Olympia began to bug for more experiences to “sleep on a hotel bed”. I finally relented and booked a 3D2N stay with Sofitel Sentosa. I timed the staycation such that we also celebrated our wedding anniversary there. Olympia had fun at the beach, the pool as well as the kids’ room. For the adults, it was more like a health and wellness session as we just read our books at the pool and cycled around Sentosa island.
As part of the HSBC WOW Weekend promotion (must pay with HSBC credit card), we paid $280 nett (inclusive of $50 dining credits) for a 1-night stay at the Garden Wing in Shangri-La Singapore. Besides having fun at the Splash Zone and Buds, the glow-in-the-dark painting session also fascinated Olympia to bits. Admittedly, these staycations were not cheap but the experiences and memories that we had as a family were invaluable.
Aside: The HSBC WOW Weekend promotion is really fantastic because I managed to get plenty of good deals such as 1 for 1 at top notch restaurants!
8. Cycling becomes a family hobby
What started out as an activity to beat the boredom of the pandemic soon turned out to be a family hobby. If the weather permits, we cycle almost every weekend as a family. Not only do we get to save on transportation costs ($1,080/yr) from cycling, we also get to squeeze in a good physical workout as well. Staying healthy and fit is a very important part of my daily routine.
9. Rekindled my interest in golf
After 6 years of taking a break from the game of golf, my friends invited me to the driving range out of the blue. This subsequently progressed to an amateurish session on the green and before I know it, I was looking for a coach. To my own surprise, I continued to invest further sunk costs by replacing some of my terribly dated golf clubs. Golf is indeed an expensive hobby but I convinced myself that I don’t have many hobbies anyway (cycling is a family activity, so it’s not counted).
10. Olympia’s progression from a toddler
Of all the highlights in 2021, none comes close to having a ringside seat to witness Olympia’s progression in 2021. She is now fully toilet-trained, more mature and less afraid of strangers. For instance, I could leave her alone in a baking activity with the instructor while I had my morning coffee at a nearby café. Such a thought would have been quite inconceivable just last year.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of work life, her presence serves as a reminder for me to enjoy the journey of parenthood. That’s it, here’s signing off 2021 early, have a good break over the festive period everyone!