This is the final part of a four-part series. If you have not already read the following articles, it’s highly recommended you do so:
- Our Story and Business Adventure Part 1: The Beginning
- Our Story and Business Adventure Part 2: The Defeat
- Our Story and Business Adventure Part 3: The Lost Years
I’m like a comeback kid — you can’t keep me down for long!Nicola Adams
2010 — 2019
On 13th March 2010, we opened our enrichment centre. We knew exactly what we needed. We found a place in a quiet neighbourhood but close to a train station. The rent was cheap compared to those in prime locations, so we took it without hesitation. Prime locations are only necessary if the business relies on walk-in customers, but the business model of enrichment centres is quite different. The best part: as the place used to be an art school, everything was there, so there was not much to renovate. We only gave it a fresh coat of paint and bought classroom furniture. Within a month, we were ready to operate.
Although we weren’t making big bucks, the business was profitable by its third month. Besides teaching in the centre, I also conducted short courses in schools, which provided us with stable revenue. However to be on the safe side, Mr Wow only quit his job and joined me full-time in 2011.
In 2012, I discovered Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE). Gosh, it totally changed the way I looked at personal finance, investing and retirement! I could hardly contain my excitement when I shared my discovery with Mr Wow. We had a new goal in life — to get FIREd in 10 years. (I’m proud to say that we managed to reach this goal three years earlier. Mr Wow was 45 and I was 42.)
Our business really took off in 2013. Kudos to Mr Wow for doing such an excellent job in digital marketing! We kept operating costs low; we were trainers, salespeople, bookkeepers, receptionists and cleaners. But we did hire a few associate trainers so that we have more time to learn about investing.
Despite steady growth in profits year after year, we didn’t inflate our lifestyle at all. We stuck to our budget, saved and invested most of our income.
In May 2018, we cleared our mortgage and made some money by downsizing to a smaller place. With our biggest expense gone, we were on the ‘FIRE Autobahn’.
On 31st July 2019, we celebrated our Financial Independence Day. We couldn’t be happier to realise our dream!
At the time of writing this article, we have accumulated a net worth that will last us a lifetime*. We are debt-free and our portfolio generates a 6-figure passive income which is more than enough to cover our annual expenses.
*Nope, we’re definitely not wearing rose-coloured glasses. If anything, we might have been too conservative with our calculations. We recommend everyone to take a more pessimistic view about the future and see if your portfolio can survive it. Also, we focus on investable assets. We consider our home a lifestyle expense/unproductive asset as it does not generate passive income like an investment property.
2020 — Now
2020 was a momentously important year for us. We sold our business (just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Singapore; very lucky) and retired as we wanted to pursue other interests. Although business was good and we enjoyed our work tremendously, we didn’t have trouble letting go. The business had served its purpose and it was time to move on. Life is short and we simply don’t see ourselves working like a Trojan till our 60s or even 70s. We want to experience different things before kicking the bucket. Isn’t it great to have options in life?
If you’re wondering whether FIRE is possible, especially in an expensive country like Singapore, our story is a demonstration that it can be done. We weren’t corporate high-fliers — far from it. Our finances were still in shambles 10 years after we had graduated from university. The small business that helped us turn things around wasn’t a big or glamorous enterprise. But who says success must always be on a grand scale?
We hope you will be encouraged by our story, wherever you are.
This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.Winston Churchill
Thank you for walking down memory lane with us, from the beginning till now. Our defeat and lost years have only made us stronger, both as individuals and as a married couple. We would not trade our experience for anything in the world.