What Was My Total Passive Income in 2018?


Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

May 13, 2020

Like many other personal finance bloggers, I’m planning to rely solely on passive income in my early retirement. I expect this passive income to be derived mainly from dividends from stocks and bonds, as well as a little bit of interest from high interest-yielding bank accounts.

My goal is to generate passive income of between $30,000 to $33,000 a year (in Singapore dollars) when I eventually retire early at age 41. That’s about 14 years from now.

As such, I thought it would be interesting to chart my yearly progress towards this goal.


Background Context

I started dipping my toes into the stock market back in 2015, which was when I first started working (part-time, since I was still in university). However, I was young then and wasn’t really in it for the long haul. After selling whatever stocks I had, I watched with envy as the stock market reached new highs.

After educating myself a little, I got back into the stock market in late-2017. This time, for good, and for the long haul, of at least a few decades.

This meant that 2018 was my first year of seeing real passive income.

Unfortunately, I was a personal finance newbie then (still am, actually), and did very little tracking of my financial growth. To write this post, I trawled through old records, and had to make some estimations when I couldn’t find any. Just something to keep in mind.

And with that out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff.


Sources of Passive Income – An Overview

In 2018, I enjoyed passive income from:

  • The Singapore stock ETF;
  • The Singapore bond ETF;
  • Cash in high interest-yielding bank accounts; and
  • My retirement accounts.

My passive income amounted to $1,360 from stocks, bonds and cash, excluding retirement accounts. Including retirement accounts, my passive income amounted to $1,958. This entire post is in Singapore dollars, and the breakdown has been provided below.

Passive Income SourceAmount (S$)
Retirement Accounts$598

Dividend Income from Stocks

Throughout 2018, I held stocks only in the Singapore Stock ETF. I knew nothing of high dividend-yielding stocks, nor of international exposure.

When the twice-yearly dividends were distributed in February and August, I didn’t have many holdings in the market. I started throwing more money into the market only nearer the end of the year, in a bid to increase my dividend income more significantly for the next year.

As such, dividends from stocks for 2018 totalled $639.


Dividend Income from Bonds

Throughout 2018, I held bonds only in the Singapore Bond ETF. This was advice I obtained from a book called Millionaire Teacher, by Andrew Hallam.

As dividends are typically paid out at the beginning of the year in January, I didn’t have much then. I started accumulating my bond holdings only after the dividends had been paid out.

Dividends from bonds for 2018 totalled $26.


Interest Income from Cash

2018 was the year that I discovered high interest-yielding bank accounts. I opened my first one in March 2018, and never looked back.

For much of 2018, I held a lot of cash in my bank accounts, as I had been afraid to invest. Total interest income for 2018 came in at $695.


Interest Income from Retirement Accounts

A portion of my monthly pay checks are mandatorily shuffled over to my various retirement accounts, much against my will.

In 2018, I received a total of $598 in interest income from my retirement accounts, courtesy of the Singapore government.


Progress on Passive Income Goals

Since I’m aiming for passive income of at least $30,000 a year, excluding retirement accounts, my passive income of $1,360 from stocks, bonds and cash puts me at just 4.5% completion of my goal. That means I have another 95.5% to go.

But since 2018 is my first real year of passive income, I’d say that the progress I made is decent 🙂


And that’s it for my first year of real passive income. Thanks for reading!

Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary Book Cover

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