Sunday, March 01, 2015

Hurray for redundancy

I saw B's post on market valuation here and I thought he did a good job to remind people about not investing when market valuation is high. I'm here to warn about another thing - that disasters does not strike alone. Usually we're well equipped to handle one big disaster in our life, but we're seldom well equipped to handle 2 or more in quick successive hits.

We talk about employing our war chest and how when the market is crashing, we'll swoop in and buy at cheap valuations. But we seldom talk about the circumstances that happens when the market crash. Usually our jobs is at stake. You wouldn't dare to invest all your war chest, even though it's meant for that purpose, because you're worried now whether your emergency cash is enough should you lose your job. The circumstances when the market crashes is very different from now, when you're sitting in your chair comfortably reading this post. It'll be anxious, uncertain and gloomy.

So the real question is whether you can still secure your own active income in the form of your job, have enough cash to tide over while your spouse look for another job because he/she is retrenched, handle the increasing stress level and possibly adversely affecting your health, AND also invest at cheap valuations?

I'm not sure if I can do it, but I'll try. I hope I did everything I can and I'm still worried.

The key is to survive first then we talk about thriving. Be resilient to any crisis, and then have the means to take advantage of it. If you can't even survive, don't even talk about striking it rich by buying OCBC at less than $5 when it crashes.

To survive, it's about combining all the factors of job security, insurance, emergency cash, family support, belt tightening measures etc etc. To thrive, it's about having the means to take advantage of the general gloom. That's just having ample liquidity.  Always plan to survive first and check and double check what can happen if your mortgage loan increase, you lose your job, your passive income stops giving you money and your spouse gets retrenched, you have health problems and you're the last man standing holding everything together.

We talk about having a safety margin for our stock purchases. But do you have a safety margin over your emergency cash? 


Createwealth8888 said...

Great reminder to all of us!

This is something that I was caught sleeping in 2007.

Read? More money probably won't make us significantly happier???

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

I understand, cos in 07/08 I was busy licking my wounds! I haven't survived yet and I still don't know what is happening in the last bear

Hopefully I've no problems surviving and can thrive in the next bear! said...

Hi LP,

Redundancy sounds like my job. B inspired you and now you inspired me to write something too.

My emergency fund backup is my future and luxury funds. When money is tight luxury and future funds will act as a supplementary fund to my emergency fund.

la papillion said...

Hi Derek,

Haha, that's gd! There's so much focus on just-on-time delivery and efficiency and profit maximisation! All is good when nothing fails...

Will look forward to your post!

Createwealth8888 said...

It will be interesting to know how those married investors with school going kids prepare for their emergency fund? How much is enough?

SGRetailTrader said...

That's true LP, it's like you can set a stop loss of $X per trade but when you edge close to the stop loss getting hit you gotta account for your emotional state as well. It's easy to plan for something during good times until someone punches you in the face. I was still in a very junior position during the 2009 bear so was largely shielded from its impact although I still lost quite a bit of whatever little money I had to the bear market as well. The more bear markets an investor or trader survives, the more badges of achievement he can wear with pride.

B said...


A very good post giving us something to think about from another point which is usually understated in terms of bringing that up.

Like you said, a warchest might be there but the practicality of using that warchest when the world is in recession is in a totally different story. I'm sure you have went such an experience during the GFC and see this as one aspect of concerns.

Thanks for the post.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

You should be the expert in this category ;)

Let's see if there are others who replied :)

la papillion said...

Hi RT,

Like what SMOL said in his post, we all have a plan until we get punched in the face LOL

I agree with you, the more bear market you went through, it's like a badge of pride and honor ;) More like battle scars!

la papillion said...

Hi B,

I experienced the difficulty of pressing the trigger even when your gun is full of bullets!! There's just too many things going through my mind, esp when you have limited bullets and too many enemies out there...

Glad you like the post :)

Lee Chin Wai said...

Totally agreed with your comments! It's easy to look back at the Global Financial Crisis now and wondered why I had 38% in war chest and didn't deploy more of it in stocks and REITs then (see The Bull-Bear Tug of War). The truth is, there are so many enemies that I didn't know where to shoot, how many more enemies are coming and how long the bullets can last!

la papillion said...

Hi CW,

That's exactly how I felt! The worse is when you enter a candy store on fire sale and realised you have no more money in your wallet! said...

My post is here but it has to do with financial planning rather than investing.

la papillion said...

Hi Derek,

Great post :) Posted my comments directly in your article ;)

SS said...

Hello LP,

You struck the nail on the head. Having a war chest sounds like a good idea, but how many investors can really pull the trigger during a crisis?

As part of defense, I try to live well below my means so that even if I have to scale down my income because of retrenchment or ill health, my family can still carry on their life as per normal.

Having a supportive spouse helps too. said...


When the time happens, lets encourage each other to use our warchest ya. ;)

la papillion said...


I think living below your means certainly help. What I'm worried now is that the bubble, when burst, will have so much repercussions in our economic world and jobs are lost. When that happens, the doomsday clock starts ticking straight away. You start drawing straight from your reserves and you may even think of drawing from your warchest.

Having a supportive wife or in a broader viewpoint, supportive family, is perhaps the most important part of survival.

InvestingWolf said...

I always believe that you should only invest with money you will not need to use for the next 10 years. Hence, if it is designated as a warchest, then it should be employed as 1 and not be used to cover Financial Crisis woes. That should be the job of the Emergency Funds (which goes to the point of "how much do you have in case of emergency").

la papillion said...

Hi investing Wolf,

Nice to see you here :) hmm, you don't get the spirit of the post I'm making here. We all know what we should do rationally, but that's peace time. When shit hits the fan, and several crisis hits you, the last thing you have in mind is about thriving during the crisis. All u think about is surviving.

So the q is how do u know that your emergency cash is enough? It might be enough when you have a job and everything is fine. But will it still be enough when everything that can go wrong hits you all at the same time?

Createwealth8888 said...

It is very hard to understand crisis until we personally witness with our own eyes to see somebody close to got badly hit by it.

My emergency fund used to be at least 3 yrs.

Now my survival fund for two at least 20 yrs

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Thanks for sharing your experience!

May I know what's the purpose of your survival fund? Is it for very basic needs only?

Createwealth8888 said...

Survival expenses will exclude travel expenses, overseas fishing trips, restaurant meals. I tracked these expenses closely in My Expenses Diary.

See those past monthly spikes in expenses that can be cut.

See? Worry about future inflation? Are we getting it right??? said...

Hi bro8888,

An emergency fund for 2yrs and a survival fund for 20 yrs is a mind boggling amount but a survival fund sounds cool. Let me think about it.


la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Understood. If i have to do survival fund, it'll still be very high because of my mortgage. That alone takes up 2k in total, and that's my biggest worry. If i can settle that, the rest isn't such a big problem.

To ease my worry, I put extra cash into cpf as a special emergency fund just for mortgage payment. I want to hold at least 1 year worth of mortgage payment (as a couple, so it's 2k x 24 = nearly 50k).my situation is different cos both of us don't have cpf.

Hopefully my job is somewhat more defensive than others. If the situation is bad, I will devote my savings to emergency funds. At the rate I'm saving, I can push it to save maybe 2 months of expenses every month.

That's my plan anyway. Thanks Bro, you make things clearer for me ;)