2020 retrospective and new year's resolutions
2021 has come and I try again to make plans. Last year I said that God laughs when men make plans, and I didn’t know how right I was. I wouldn’t call these new year’s resolutions, as this is how I called them last year, and half of them I just ignored. It will be a simple retrospective and plans for a new year.
How was my 2020?
To be honest, it could have been better. I’d give the pandemic a rating of 1 out of 5 and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. However, when I draw the line, there were still a few things I should be grateful for in the past year.
Unlike many others, I still have a job, and the pandemic didn’t hit me economically. Even more, I’ve spent less and saved more because I couldn’t go out or do any traveling last year.
My investment plans were messed up and all my p2p lending and real estate crowdfunding portfolios suffered. However, I gained a lot more than I lost on the stock market.
I was supposed to have a (relatively) big wedding in May last year. Thanks to the pandemic, it got delayed and had a much smaller and manageable wedding in September. As a bonus, we’re expecting a little Daniel (or Danielle) in 7 months.
For half a year, I didn’t write anything on this blog, as I felt I didn’t have anything to say. It gave me time to invest more in stocks, to distance from p2p lending and look at it objectively, to check what’s the buzz on Defi apps, crypto, and in general research stuff I like without the need to cover all angles and writing about it.
It gave me time to build my own WordPress theme, then drop it and move my website to a new platform where I have more control over code and I can experiment more, mainly the things I was mostly interested in when I started to build my own site.
Plans for 2021
I’ll try again to split my plans into:
- Saving and investment plans
- Personal plans
- Professional plans
I’m pretty sure I’ll feel ashamed again when I’ll look at them next year.
Savings and investments
I’ve started this year to create a few bank deposits, after many years I didn’t have any. As an emergency fund for bigger purchases I might need to do in the future. It’s still a work in progress, as my emergency funds are currently worth 1,500 EUR, a bit small for any serious emergency.
Giving my current savings rate, I’ll have around 30,000 EUR in 2020 which I’ll need to spread across my investments.
Besides my flimsy emergency fund, I’ll keep investing in the following:
- P2p lending: 10%
- Real estate crowdfunding: 10%
- Equity crowdfunding: 10%
- Corporate bonds: 10%
- Stock market: 60%
- Crypto/play money: play with what I already have
P2P lending portfolio
I’ve started 2020 with 25,000 EUR in my p2p lending portfolio. My plans were big, and I was expecting to grow my portfolio to 35,000 EUR by the end of the year.
Instead, this happened:
- Envestio, Kuetzal, and Monethera decided to run with my money, eating around 2,000 EUR from my portfolio
- Grupeer got its bank accounts suspended due to suspicion of money laundering
- Covid-19 decided to hit the world, leaving the entire p2p market in acute crisis and uncertainty
- Almost all platforms had payment delays due to government-issued credit deferrals across all Europe
I ended the year with around 27,000 EUR in my portfolio and with 500 EUR less in earnings than at the start of the year.
I’m expecting to lose another 2000 EUR when Grupeer will file for insolvency. Maybe another 2-3000 EUR from Crowdestor, Wisefund, Viventor, and Fast Invest, if they finally decide they had enough and close shop.
2020 taught me not to put too much hope in p2p lending. Lack of regulation, unethical companies, insufficient transparency, poor response in front of crises, were all good reasons for me to not invest much more in this asset class.
I’ll keep a handful of platforms in my portfolio:
- Neo Finance
Except for Flender and Trine, I’ve also bought shares in these companies during their crowdfunding campaigns on Seedrs and Crowdcube.
Real estate crowdfunding
I’ve managed to get around -250 EUR in earnings in 2020. The UK platforms in my portfolio were hit the hardest.
Property Partner decided not to pay any rent for half a year and to add a monthly fee on all accounts. I decided to move out, at a total loss of 150 GBP.
British Pearl decided to pivot and close shop for retail investors. Their estimated value of my portfolio is around 250 GBP less than my invested value. Although I still need to wait for them to find buyers for the properties they manage before I can free up my funds and invest them somewhere else.
Yielders was the only UK platform that performed extremely well during the pandemic, and I’ll continue to invest here.
I plan to drop my investments in Housers and Reinvest24. Housers is an almost complete waste of time, with returns too low to even bother. Reinvest24 didn’t manage to convince me it’s a serious platform, and I can’t in good conscience to invest more than the 300 EUR I currently have invested there.
I liked Brickstarter, although 2020 wasn’t a good year for a platform focused on Airbnb rentals. Maybe 2021 will be better for them.
So, I’m planning to stay with these 2 platforms in the future:
At the beginning of 2020, I had around 8000 EUR invested in startups, splits between Seedrs and Crowdcube. I was planning to reduce my investments here, and only add 2000 EUR to my portfolio.
Instead, at the end of 2020, my portfolio is worth a bit over 20,000 EUR. A large part of my investment funds in 2020 went to this sector.
I’ve made tens of investments last year, among them being: Freetrade, Chip, WiseAlpha, Mintos, Assetz Capital, EstateGuru, CapitalRise, Pynk, Plum, Bux, AxiaFunder, Dozens, RiverSimple.
More than half of my portfolio is invested in finance & payments companies, with a few others split between electric cars, meat substitutes, and craft beer companies.
For this year, I’m also planning to invest less here, and I really hope I can stay away from this sector.
I’ve started the year with around 3000 EUR invested in WiseAlpha and planned to reach 5000 EUR at the end of the year.
Target achieved, although not all went according to plan.
I was also planning to invest more in EUR bonds, but WiseAlpha’s offer is too limited to even try. I decided around December to withdraw around 2000 EUR from the platform and invest them somewhere else.
I’ll keep investing in GBP bonds, and stay away from the others.
I also went through the first bankruptcy here. The 300 EUR I had invested in Travelex bonds transformed after debt restructuring into 80 GBP.
No love lost, as the returns from WiseAlpha are still pretty good, and I’ll continue to invest here.
2020 was a good year on the stock market. After the crash in February, I continued to do what I do best, which was buy more. And it paid out.
In June I started to invest in the Romanian stock market. I’ve spent a few days researching the largest companies listed on the market, then invested around 6000 EUR (30,000 RON) split between 20 of them. Each month, around 600 EUR out of my paycheck goes into this trading account, and I’ll keep doing that until it reaches a decent value, at least 50,000 EUR.
At the end of the year, the total return was 13.63%, with an annualized return of 26.25%. Not bad for a first year.
In November, Degiro decided to tell me I need to close my account, as I don’t live in a country they support. It was a shit move on their part, as I live in the same country I was when I created my account and they approved it. They gave me until the end of the year to move my funds or to transfer my assets to another broker. I’ve decided to sell all my assets and start fresh on Trading212. It prompted Bunq to ask me for some proof of funds, as they’ve never seen so much money in my bank account.
Leaving aside the bad breakup, my Degiro investments weren’t too bad. In the 2 years I’ve been invested there, my annual return was 28.5%. Much better than what p2p lending offers.
I’ve dabbled with the Revolut brokerage account for a while but decided after a few months that I’d be better using a real broker.
I’ve also been investing for the past 2 years in a managed fund from a UK company named Strowz (formerly known as Marketsflow). I’ve been adding almost every month 100 GBP to my account, and let it grow at a rate of around 10% per year. Unfortunately, Strowz decided they need bigger investors, and the minimum deposit starting 2021 would be 1000 GBP, a bit too much for me. I decided I’ll withdraw all my funds from Strowz and invest them somewhere where I can control what amounts I’m willing to invest monthly.
Crypto – play money
I had around 2000 USD worth of crypto split between 2 accounts at the beginning of the year. At the end of the summer I’ve started to play around with it:
- Exchanged BTC into some Romanian shitcoin stablecoin (RONCOIN) and invested it in some 12% interest-paying accounts
- Staked some ETH on Uniswap and didn’t earn anything as I’ve moved my funds out of the pool before the rewards distribution
- Staked some ETH on GeoDB and earned around 100 USD worth of GEO tokens that I’ve promptly reconverted into ETH
- Moved some ETH and BTC to Nexo, Nebeus, and Celsius Network and left them rotting there with an interest rate of around 6%
- Moved lots of coins from Coinbase to Binance and put them into interest-earning pools
- Exchanged ETH to Elrond gold (a token released by a Romanian startup) and started delegating it on the Elrond Mainnet
My crypto funds are worth now 4000 USD, so I’m better off than at the beginning of the year. If I just left those funds sitting there and did nothing, they’d be worth 6000 USD by now. Lessons learned: none.
Last year I was planning these
- learn French – I didn’t
- learn sewing – I moved the sewing machine to a dark corner of the house, but I still have hopes I’ll get to it one day
- start meditation – I honestly didn’t believe I’ll do this even when I wrote it
- build social skills and go to the gym – the universe thought otherwise and gave all of us the pandemic, so zero progress and these areas
- Quit smoking – it should have been easy to do in isolation, but I kept smoking out of frustration
This year I’ll keep some of last year’s, but adapt them a bit:
- Learn any foreign language (e.g. French, Spanish, German, Russian)
- Get a hobby that doesn’t need a computer – sewing could have worked, but drawing could work too, or indoors gardening (I don’t know if that’s a thing) or anything else really
- Be less negative and critical – I want to see the good things in the world, not the bad ones
- Quit smoking – I know I can do it
- Read 100 books – I’ll be happy if I get past 50, but 100 sounds more challenging
2020 made me feel disconnected from my job. All the plans went to dust when the pandemic hit. My usual daily routine could be summed up in 3 steps: desk-couch-bed. I’d start working in the morning, and then I’d spend most of the evening on the couch, and then later at night move to my bed for sleep. And then again the next day, and the next one, and so on. It’s hard to keep yourself motivated when most of the days look the same.
I don’t have big plans for 2021, I just want to regain the joy in my work. Everything else would be easy afterward.
I was a late bloomer in terms of saving money. I was almost 30 when I started to not spend all my paycheck before the end of the month. It didn’t matter that my income grew exponentially since I started working, I would always spend it all before the next paycheck. I used to make jokes with my employer that I don’t want a pay raise, but I’d like to get my paycheck more often, at least twice a month. It sounded funny to me back then.Read More
I don’t intend to give any financial advice on this blog. To make my point clearer here is a bit of my history, including the many mistakes I’ve made along the way.Read More