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Do the right things and we could transform our lives.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Some of us have advantages in life. Some of us have disadvantages in life. However, if we all do the right things, the right things will have a higher chance of happening to us.

I received many encouraging emails as well as the not so encouraging ones in the wake of my many recent blog posts on the "Return our CPF" protest in Hong Lim Park.

To readers who wrote to me to ignore negative comments, I would generally say that I will still try to reach out to those on the other side of the fence because I believe that if it is a job worth doing, it is worth doing well. They are fellow Singaporeans too. Of course, whether I succeed in reaching out to them is something I don't know.

I would like to share a thoughtful and well-written letter sent to me by a young reader. I find it very encouraging and it could also inspire other young readers. Note that he is quite candid about having an advantage in life but what we should take note of is how he decided to make important changes to the way he deals with money matters as well as how he took decisive steps to improve financial literacy which has produced a positive outcome for him.

I hope you find this heartening as much as I did:

Hi AK,

I wrote this email to you directly because the negative comments from the general public has made me do so.
I followed your blog since the beginning of last year and your blog posts have provided me with so many insights that my life has changed ever since. From a spendthrift student since then, I have transformed into a working adult who can live frugally, and enjoyably. Never have I ever thought that one could achieve both of these aspects concurrently. For that, I owe you a big "thank you".

Some people just do not plan ahead or think far enough. What you have shown us is a result of financial prudence which can be simplified into an income statement and statement of changes in equity. Revenue - expenses = net income (exclude taxes and lumping interest into overall expenses) and how much of the remaining income is saved and invested. Despite the revenue portion could be something harder to stretch at first, but the other variables like expenses and savings can actually be adjusted to maximise the remaining income available for investments. 

Being someone who is slightly more fortunate as my family owns a business, my monthly allowance is paid in the form of salary expense from it. As a result , a portion of this amount is being saved into my CPF indefinitely on top of my lavish expenditures. I cannot imagine what could have happened if I was handed over all the money in the past. I believe I would have most likely squandered them off too. Above all, it yields me a 2.5% and 4% return in my OA and SA respectively. Now, I am following after your footsteps and have been religiously contributing small amounts into my SRS for the tax benefits and my war chest accumulating efforts.

Fortunately, at the current juncture, at the age of 26, my financial intelligence has levelled up significantly. Now, my net worth excluding CPF has recently grown to 6 figures. This amount though small and could have only been your 1 year's dividend income, however, this means a lot to me. As 50% of this amount is in dividend paying value stocks in blue chips and reits where my portfolio is currently yielding an average 6% yield, this means that I have created $3000 in passive income per year and better still, it doesn't stop here since I will be generating more income and my accumulated reserve is large enough to purchase more stocks should the unexpected occur. This is something which I am excited about because in a few years time, the amount from my OA + a little top up in cash (without liquidating my stocks) should be able to let me purchase a HDB flat very comfortably with minimal debt obligations. And hopefully the rule of 15 still gives a green light to pull my trigger by then ( Source ASSI ;) )

Most importantly, I do not need to depend on my parents to pay for my home. 
So much about myself, let's get back to my original intention of writing to you. The people who irritates me are the people who deliberately go against the system without a reasonable stand point. Just by reading what they have written in your comments section, I know they are confused. Worse, they deny and insist on playing the blame game. As much as I feel sad for them and would like to help them see the light, however, for some who have been so used to hating the system, this could be more than a challenging feat. Even if its possible, the time and effort spent trying to "redeem" them might be counter-intuitive. If I were in your shoes, I would simply thank them for their comments and move on. Ultimately, they have a choice in what they read. If going against the system is their pagan, there's not much you can control.

Because, in my perspective as a reader, he is just a waste of resource since he is competing with me and other readers for your time and effort to reply their comments where this time could be otherwise, be used to write another blog post, where like-minded people like us who are rational and genuinely interested in adopting a second level thinking of looking at things could learn from. 
I will end off by saying thank you again and look forward to reading your many posts to come. Its a shame that I wouldn't be able to attend Invest X Congress this coming Saturday since I will be overseas. 

Understand that this is your first public appearance, all the best ahead!

Warmest Regards,

Having advantages in life helps but:

"Time is key to building your financial security."
Suze Orman.

Make good use of it and be amply rewarded.
 "Each of us have our own circumstances and priorities. What matters is that we achieve the goal of financial freedom. Some might get there faster. Some might be a bit slower. Everyone who arrives at the destination is a winner. There are no losers at the end point." AK


Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Makes it worthwhile doesn't it?

You silly bleeding heart you...

You go break a leg you hear?

AK71 said...


I can always count on you to make a cryptic and encouraging comment at the same time. Kamsiah. ;)

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Thanks for writing in to cheer AK on. This is very much appreciated.

Glad to hear about your financial awakening at such a young age. Congrats!

Life is more than money, there's spiritual development in love, compassion too ;)

But look who's talking! I am a egoistic, self-cultivating man myself.

I jokingly poke AK as a bleeding heart; AK has a bodhisattva heart.

AK will not be AK if he just preaches to the choir boys ;)

I guess AK is more needed to the heathens, pagans, and infidels.

If we support AK, don't restrict him ;)

AK71 said...


You are writing in English but I think I need a translator in some parts. -.-"

But no out of this world praises, please. What bodhisattva heart? I don't have, I assure you.

I am all for helping others to help themselves but I will not sacrifice myself in the process. I am all too human. -.-"

Anonymous said...

Hi AK,

To be honest, I havent been reading your posts for close to 2 weeks as I was super busy at work (until 4-5am). Well, I am still trying to achieve financial freedom to be like you, so I have to continue contributing to my employer since they do pay me for my effort and this is my work ethic too :p

Anyway, I want to say that you are the only blog that I bother to read back all previous posts which I had missed, and realised this hot topic on CPF. Like many others who had already given you encourage, I just have this to say: Please continue your good and sincere work. Like PN who wrote to you, I had also levelled up financially since following your blog. so THANK YOU!

AK71 said...

Hi aceirus,

To have good work ethics is good but working till 5am in the morning for 2 weeks in a row is not good. -.-"

Hope you are taking good care of yourself. Drink plenty of water and pop those Vit C pills. Keeps you strong. Many are falling sick, including me. :(

I am very happy you have found my blog helpful. Thank you for letting me know. :)

seefei said...

AK, i also like to register my thanks to you. Your art of bowling ball gazing had enlightened me tremendously in navigating the perilous sea of shares investment.

However, my level is only good at gazing at golf ball. Nevertheless, with your continuous sharing, i hope to graduate to the level of bowling ball one day.

AK71 said...

Hi seefei,

Haha... Thanks for bringing laughter to what is actually a very dreary morning at work. ;p

It is true that I do not have a working crystal ball. I only have a schizophrenic bowling ball...
Navigating the perilous sea of investments? Sounds like I need a working compass now. I once owned a compass that pointed south instead of north... Honest!
You have been warned. ;)

Investopenly said...

AK, Great sharing and kind of touching too. It is always warm to see such email from the readers (or should I say fans).

One thing is for sure, you've touched many hearts!

Keep going!

AK71 said...

Hi Richard,

Thank you very much for the encouragement. :)

As long as I feel the need (or want) to talk to myself, I will continue talking. ;p

Anonymous said...

"Being someone who is slightly more fortunate as my family owns a business, my monthly allowance is paid in the form of salary expense from it. As a result , a portion of this amount is being saved into my CPF indefinitely on top of my lavish expenditures. I cannot imagine what could have happened if I was handed over all the money in the past."
Like father like son.

He sees the advantage of doing your own business, early. There are more than one ways to skin a cat. (aka legal "loopholes" in business accounting). Most people in businesses take advantages of the official loopholes. i would be surprise if it is not.
Business class really is so much different from working class.

AK63 said...

Hi AK71, sorry if you find my comment abit of a wet blanket or too negative, but I just have to say it....

It's good to highlight the success stories of young people especially those who will help shape the future of this small little country, but I find more meaning if we can also highlight real-life stories of common people trying to live their lives not to the fullest but to the bare minimal at least just to survive everyday. All of them have very different circumstances, different difficulties, different problems and different needs but the same dilemma....

I know this is the wrong platform to discuss such matters but they are fellow Singaporeans facing so many challenges and struggles just to live, let alone what financial prudency, freedom or retirement....

Just want to say this....

AK71 said...

Hi AK63,

Firstly, I want to thank you for all the very thoughtful comments although they tend to be a bit sardonic at times. ;)

As for the suggestion to talk about people who are struggling to make ends meet, I do that sometimes when I encourage readers to be charitable and not just financially too. Definitely, we should not forget fellow Singaporeans on the margin.

If we have excess money to invest in stocks, we are more fortunate than many and should count our blessings. :)

AK63 said...

Aiyoh, I don't deserve your flattering lah, I'm just a sick old hag who got nothing better to do than rotting away in my little chair....

I really can't thank you enough, not only for providing so much investment information and insight, but also a platform for me to use what's remaining of my brain matter before they get wasted away, and most importantly, learning more never-before-seen words to strengthen my very limited vocabulary.... :))

I'm known for my sarcasm which is ingrained from life, and now I can correct them, me not sarcastic ok, me is sardonic.... Feel more high class, like real! :p

But seriously, I would prefer to see more younger people who are making progress in their lives to make an effort to help others along the way, not only financially but physically as well. Many of them need more than just money or food, they also need a helping hand, a listening ear, a shoulder to lean or cry on, and most often, just a simple gesture of holding their hands in yours in silence, is more powerful than anything else.... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi AK,

Don't worry. Although I work late until 4-5am but i have the luxury of sleeping until i wake up naturally, usually around just in time for lunch! haha

I take care of myself so I didnt fall sick. Need to keep healthy to catch the early morning world cup matches hehe. You take care too AK :) Wealth without Health is as good as living life without goals/dreams

AK71 said...

Hi aceirus,

Thanks for the well wishes. :D

I don't watch football or soccer but Ole Ole Ole Ole! Ole Ole! Or am I outdated? ;p

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