FIRE. Financial Independence, Retire Early. A concept many pray to achieve, but very few get there. Lynn, tell me a little bit about your background: where are you originally from and how did you find out about what is money and investing in the first place?
I’m a Singaporean, 46, married for 22 years, no kids.
I’ve always been interested in money since young, specifically the power it wields and the freedom it provides. But there were two major lightbulb moments that changed my life forever.
The first one was reading Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad” at 26. My business journey began the following year. The second one was reading Mr Money Mustache’s blog, which I chanced upon accidentally at 35. My FIRE journey began the following month.
Leaving your 9 to 5 job and starting a new business must have been frightening, but also rewarding at the same time. How was the experience of transitioning from something safe, but that would not bring you happiness, to something riskier, but that opened the door to pursue your freedom?
You know, I’m truly happy for people who love their 9 to 5 jobs. I just never liked mine. In fact, I never liked the idea of a job since my early teens. Whenever my mother told me to study hard so as to get a good job in the future, I would reply, “That’s so uninspiring! What if my destiny is to create jobs, not get a job?” Many parents are like my mother. While I understand their good intentions, I think they should reposition their message lest they unwittingly limit their kids’ potential.
Anyway, after graduating from university, I did get a job as I needed to make money, of course. Although I performed well at work, I felt little satisfaction. Reading “Rich Dad Poor Dad” was what gave me the courage to move on.
Comparatively speaking, entrepreneurship was a risky decision, especially since my hubby also quit his job to join me in the business venture. We were obviously young and gung-ho then, but we weren’t impulsive. We just happen to be decisive people who embrace calculated risk-taking.
Put it this way. If not in our 20s, when? It’s like investing. The younger you are, the more risk you can afford to take. If things fail to pan out, you still have time to recover from the setback and play catch-up.
Furthermore, we didn’t have any major commitments at that time (no kids or elderly parents to take care of) and our only debt was our mortgage. Hence, the adventure began.
It was far from smooth-sailing. The business folded within two years and we found ourselves broke and back in the corporate world. It wasn’t a good feeling, but we sucked it up and did what had to be done.
We took the next five years to rebuild our finances before starting our second business, which turned out to be quite successful. Most people would have expanded the business, but we chose to retire early so as to enjoy total time freedom. To us, that has always been the ultimate prize.
I’m curious. What was the feeling on the day you and Mr. Wow realized you had just achieved your financial independence and could freely enjoy life on your terms?
Frankly, we can’t quite remember the feeling, but I do recall taking the day off and eating Japanese takeout in front of the TV, LOL! That was actually a rare occurrence as I was an incorrigible workaholic then.
What changed in your life after achieving FIRE?
In terms of spending, not much has changed. Our expenses remain more or less the same as per our budget.
There were, however, significant lifestyle improvements. Pre-FIRE, life was always a rush. Post-FIRE, we really make it a point to live slowly and enjoy the present more.
We also have more time for family, hobbies and leisure activities. An example is blogging, which is a time-consuming pursuit. I can honestly say that we wouldn’t have started our blog if we were still in business.
If you had to look back to your past self at 18 years old, what would be the main advice you would give her?
Hmm, interesting question. I would advise my younger self to be more frugal.
At 18, I was studying overseas, so my number one priority was to obtain good grades and not let my parents down. Where money was concerned, I was responsible in that I always paid my bills on time, but I was quite spendthrift.
When I eventually came back to Singapore and got a job, my starting salary was much lower than the generous allowance my parents gave me when I was a student. Thus, I had to make the adjustment from having more money to less money. Suffice to say, I didn’t save a single cent during my first year as a working adult.
Where can my readers find you online?
They can visit our blog: wowpursuits.com. Thank you!
This interview was originally published in Shield’s Investing Newsletter. Subscribe to Rafael’s Substack here: shieldinvestor.substack.com