#1 Biggest money mistake young men make and how to avoid it

The #1 biggest money mistake young men make…is simply not having a plan for their money.

This is the first and foundational problem, which leads to:

  • wanting to impress others, so they spend lots of money on branded clothing, saving for fast cars and watchs
  • wanting to fit in, they spend all they have to hangout at “cool” places
  • etc

These are really bad money moves that young men make, which will haunt them till they’re in their 30s or even 40s, because debt can and will snowball, and if you just pay the bare minimum, it can take you years and years.

Don’t do that bros.

Instead, you have something that many of us “old ones” (I’m 40 this year) dont have, which is time. Herein, many young ones start to roll their eyes and tell me “so what?”

Man, if I could trade you all my money to get my youth back, I would. Because the truth is that time is the only thing you cant buy. You can save time by outsourcing and delegating, but you can NEVER buy time back. And that’s why I value time so much, and tell those younger than me that they have so much they can look forward to.

That special thing that young ones have that we oldies dont have is this thing called compound interest. This itself will blow so many things out of the water, not to mention living long enough to see new technologies.

Now, back to compound interest.

If you can get a standard return on investment of 7% per year, that’s mean that you can double your money in 10 years. Now lets run a case study, say that you invest $100,000 once off when you’re 20.

If you double that every 10 years, that’d mean:

  • $200,000 when you’re 30
  • $400,000 when you’re 40
  • $800,000 when you’re 50
  • $1.6M when you’re 60
  • $3.2M when you’re 70
  • etc

And that’s “just” a once-off $100K investment. Imagine every year you can invest $100K, and every year the amount grows – this is the superpower of the young, which is time, with a

BIGGGGG BUT (two of them)

#1 Earning more

Of course no one has $100K lying around, especially when you’re young right?

WRONG!

Go out there and freaking hustle and work. There are so many opportunities available, the catch is you have to freaking do the work.

I could list down hundreds of examples, the crux of it is that you have to work, course correct with feedback and improve, and keep going forward in earning more and serving others.

#2 Saving and investing more

Now with the additional income, if you dont save and invest the surplus, then it’s not gonna compound and grow. You got to actively and manually take out a budget, pull out the fund, research whatever investment that works and rocks your boat, and pull the trigger.

And you keep on repeating again and again and again.

Retire earlier and richer than you thought possible

 

I know I threw out some bigger numbers out there, say $100K investing per year. Some people will have sparkly eyes and gleam and say “that’s what I want” – if that’s you, go out there and get it done. And let me know when you get there.

Some of you dont need so much. Some of you “just” need $50K a year. Sure, do that then. It doesnt matter to me if you’re wanting to aim for $50K, $100K or $1M – what matters to me is that you dream and you freaking do what it takes to get you closer and closer to your dreams.

Don’t just close your eyes and dream without doing, that’s just foolish dreaming. If you wanna dream, then do it right – map it out, break down the large tasks to smaller subtasks, and keep trucking on.

How to deal with haters, critics and liars (these trolls are everywhere!)

Haters. Some people call them trolls, but these haters…they’re everywhere.

  • many hide anonymously behind their keyboards, and shoot lines after lines of poisonous text on social media and websites
  • others speak anonymously and venomously behind closed doors and other people’s backs, talking bad, shit and lies about other people

Overall, these people slander others in private spaces, because they dont have the ability to share it publicly with the world, where the truth can come to light.

I take them like vermin or roaches – which can be found everywhere.

Do not engage haters

Ramit Sethi loves to engage the trolls (maybe cos he has fun doing so), but mostly I go by ignoring the trolls because of one thing: I dont like to waste time.

For whatever reasons, these people’s character seems to enjoy to hide in shadows as they tell lies and scandalize others, and I do not foresee engaging with them will be productive at all.

Check if their points have any substance

Of course, before I ignore and write off these scums, I will take some time to pay attention to what they say. What I’m looking out for is constructive feedback where there is utility, where I can improve or fix something on.

Examples:

  • if we take too long to reply clients, say we average 2 hours before we reply, sure, we can shorten the wait time to less than an hour
  • if the business waiting area or lobby is too dusty, and the cleaner only comes in once a week, sure, we can get the cleaner to come in at least twice a week
  • if we made a mistake and delivered the wrong product, we can fix it by sending the right one and letting them keep the other wrongly sent one for free

These are clear lines where we can improve.

However, knowing trolls, they will come up with all kind of cock-and-bull stories, with lots of added seasoning of their own crack mind. You may have experienced how trolls:

  • attack your personal character eg “I wonder why her husband loves her, she’s no good at all”
  • bring in social/family members (example above)
  • find examples to cause you personal hurt, grief and anguish

These kinds, I immediately fire if they’re clients or employees – toxic behaviours are not permitted

Trolls enjoy hurting others and causing grief

Often these trolls troll because they’re sadists, and when I deem they’re just out to cause mischief and grief, I disengage so as to

  • not waste time
  • not feed trolls the dopamine they get when they see their victims in hurt or pain

That’s how I deal with hating haters, lying asses and detractors.

Two things you need to do consistently to become richer

I grew up middle-class to poor-ish, and I remember my mum telling me how embarrassed and guilty she felt whenever she saw me and my brother standing in front of the glass window of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), looking at people eating. I can still remember the moment, like I was there myself.

  • that delicious looking fried chicken in the paper basket
  • the steam that rose up from the heat of the freshly fried chicken
  • the coleslaw and mashed potatoes
  • the droplets that formed on cups of the drinks looked so refreshing

I was just hungry and greedy, and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and KFC were a luxury.

I…learnt to not ask for my parents what they couldn’t afford.

I learnt to “make do” with what they could afford.

…because I dont want to see the look of embarrassment and guilt on their faces.

I didnt know how to put it to words when I was young, but I could tell that money was both a frustration and pain to them, and that they did their best. So I didnt want to make it any harder by putting on “stupid demands” on them.

After all, I was just a kid right.

I love my parents and I dont want them to suffer.

I told myself that I would study what they could afford, and do what we could afford.

And that, was a trap with a silver lining.

The trap

The trap is:

  • starting to think of living within my (and my parents means)
  • not asking or yearning for more and suppressing my desire for more, for fear of making my parents feel bad

This is a good way of surviving, and just live with it, but the biggest issue of this was that I would just be a floater and learn to say “what to do, it is what it is” instead of pushing to learn and grow and think of how to get what I want.

The silver lining

The biggest upside of picking up this habit is that I gain this…patience sort of non-chalance, where I dont get too hung up on losses or potential losses. This has taught me that even if I had to

  • capitulate
  • cut losses

as long as it will bring me closer to my overall medium and long term goal, it is fine.

It kept me from wallowing in self pity or blaming others, and instead, learn that there are “losses amongst wins, and as long the wins are greater than the losses” it is profitable.

I’m 40 years old this year, and have long decided to not live within my means. I do not need to be a billionaire to be happy, but boy I want to not worry about money so I’ve not just read books, but I’ve put to action consistently since I was an occupational therapy student in 2002.

That’s 20 years ago worth of tried-and-tested wisdom.

Here’s the two things that you need to do consistently to become rich (or richer) beyond your normal life.

Step 1: Build a cash / profit surplus

The easy way to do this is by cutting back on expenses that you dont care about. Maybe you spend $500+ a month on frivolous stuff that you couldnt care less about, such as

  • $8 bubble tea x 20 cups a month = $160
  • top of the line internet $100 a month when at $50 a month one will do = $50
  • buying clothings / accessories / stuff that you will not wear and throw away = $300
  • insert whatever shit you spend on that you dont care = another $300 maybe

That itself is $810 a month.

If you can carve out $810 a month, that’s plenty for the next step.

For others, maybe you’re tight financially already, and cant squeeze out anymore. If that’s you, then you need to earn more, and earning more is my favorite game anyway.

The biggest 3 upsides on earning more? Number 1: you learn and grow so much more than sitting down watching netflix. Number 2: you will meet more people who may end up being clients, friends or even loved ones and Number 3: there is no earning limit.

Step 2: Invest the profits

Take at least half of the profits to invest into boring, slow investments that you understand, such as

  • dividend stocks
  • REITs (real estate investment trusts)
  • rental properties

these will provide cashflow which you can reinvest.

The other portion, put into higher risk speculative growth assets such as

  • growth / tech stocks
  • cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, ethereum, cronos coin, RVP
  • etc

The goal of high growth speculative investments is to grow your investments 10-100x, which you can then route some profits into boring slow investments. Of course higher risk growth investments can go south too, so do your due diligence.

Dont stop there

Like any good boxers, to win, just a single 1-2 isn’t enough to win.

If you want to win, you will have to practice like mad over years. You will have to compete, and throw thousands of punchs and even take beatings, but you know what.

Champions dont stop there.

You keep going, after after your first beatdown loss.

You keep going, after winning your first break.

Preventing regret later in life

After 3-4 years of not visiting family, me and my family finally got a chance to travel to them in Kuala Lumper (KL) and Seremban in September 2022. And it was truly nice to meet them again – met my grandma who’s already 86, and 2 families of uncles and aunties and some of their kids.

What stood out to me during this time is chancing across personal regrets from a couple of friends and families – interestingly, they were similar:

regret going back to their home country in Malaysia, whatever the reasons then

I got a little reflective on this and how preventing regret is a big part of my psyche and adventuring in passive income, personal finance and financial independence.

Here are some takeaways:

You gotta choose the value you believe in.

I feel that that this is something that’s often ignored or overlooked, and not discussed enough.

Maybe it’s because it’s “in the air”, kinda airy-fairy, and maybe your parents or culturally you may not cover these kind of topics. I understand, I grew up in a stoic kind-of-grit-and-pivot as it comes. Which is an okay approach to float, but the problem with this is that it’s a coasting/floating without directions.

You need to choose which values (and principles) that are important to you and let these values help you make life and money decisions. It’d bring clarity and even happiness.

When you understand the values you choose, you can align with decisions you make. Let me give you an example of how I set values in my head and heart, when it comes to finance and money:

#1: My time and freedom is greater than money, so I dont want to keep actively working or being locked into a situation long term for money. My money needs to be generated passively and work harder for me.

#2: I dont want bloody or shady money. My money that is made needs to be made with the regular work and through investments that are clean. I do not want to make dirty money. This leaves plenty of money on the table but I sleep well and I am comfortable to meet my Maker.

These 2 money values drives the way I do business and spend my money, so it’s commonplace to see me prioritize decisions:

  • that make money for me passively, such as being pre-occupied with dividend stock investing and eventual property investing
  • decrease taking on expense-generating activities unless its a true need, such as expensive cars and watches and phones, which bring me zero joy
  • teaching my kids about business and money and ethics

See, there’s a lot of societal pressures (be it family, friends, advertisements) which can be huge – when you don’t know or hadnt chosen your values, you can be easily affected and swayed. That’s why you need to know what’s important to you.

Of course it comes with sacrifices – I have to follow my values of not buying those swanky cars even if I can afford them. It just doesnt make sense to me. My friends who want to migrate will have to live with the pains and perhaps some loneliness; especially seeing their loved ones in medical conditions or even passing on, without being there by their side.

You’ve gotta know and decide what’s important to you, be it for money, life, love, career – define them clearly and these value will help you avoid big regrets down the road later.

Plan in advance and execute consistently based on the values you believe in.

This is a continuationof the values point I shared above.

It’s one thing to know and choose the values you prefer; it’s an entirely different thing to plan in advance and execute consistently based on the values you say you believe in.

Talking and thinking isn’t enough, you gotta do what you say and keep doing UNTIL it’s done.

Again, I will use my example of my financial and money values:

#1: My time and freedom is greater than money, so I dont want to keep actively working or being locked into a situation long term for money. My money needs to be generated passively and work harder for me.

#2: I dont want bloody or shady money. My money that is made needs to be made with the regular work and through investments that are clean. I do not want to make dirty money. This leaves plenty of money on the table but I sleep well and I am comfortable to meet my Maker.

For me to live the passive income lifestyle where my investments will pay for my lifestyles and expenses, I will definitely need much more than I can invest right now.

From a very conservative standpoint, say I want to have $10,000 to spend every single money so that I dont have to worry about money, assuming a 5% return on investment, that would mean I will need $2,400,000 (This number is derived by annual amount ($10,000 x 12 = $120,000) divided by 5%).

Two problems:

  1. I dont have that large sum of money lying around: I need to think of how to break that down into bite-size-chunks where I need to earn and invest X amount over a Y period of time
  2. I need to consider the possibility of adding a buffer, say 20-50%, in case things change down the road (who knows right?)

How to amass $2,400,000 in the least time possible

Perhaps, I can consider moving to a cheaper cost of living space. Maybe a cheaper country, or a cut down from $10,000 to $5,000 (this will decrease the amount to a much more easily $1,200,000).

If that can’t be done or I’m not willing to, then the next thing if I want speed, then I need to answer this question:

How much can I earn and invest per month/year?

The more I can invest, naturally the timeline decreases. Here, let me show you.

The more money you can invest, the faster you can accumulate (kinda straightforward).

How can you improve on this?

  1. Earn + save + invest more. This is the easiest in my opinion and is the #1 focus of mine, because I enjoy business so much. Why? Because business can grow. This year I may have $50K profits, but next year with improvements, we may earn $75K, and the extra $25K can be invested. The year after that maybe more and so on so forth. Business also can be sold for a sweet multiple that can accelerate my personal finance amount target too (I sold my first business for a sweet 7 figure deal after hustling like madlad for 10+ years).
  2. More time (I dont like this because time is the only resource we cannot replace or earn back; but this will work great for someone really young eg your kids/family/newgrads) but not suitable for me who’s 40 at this time of writing.
  3. Improve on your ability to research and invest. The calculations above are based on 5% returns. What if you can find something that can give you 10% per year? That changes everything. Let me show you:

Look at the difference – it’s massive. 2% vs 3% vs 5% vs 7.5% vs 10% etc can have startling differences. But investing can be hard and choosing the right steps can be hard, and I dont want to monitor the market too much or have too much volatility.

I take the approach of

  1. earn more building and growing business which pays for my living expenses
  2. dont spend unnecessarily
  3. invest as much as possible into relatively stable dividend stocks, investment properties and even vanguard (not dividends, but been 8-9% last 10 years)

That’s it.

Regardless, can you be patient for 20 years? It may be earlier if my business profits grows exponentially and I can invest more and more.

I can and I will, to prevent as much regrets as possible.

Resisting influece, the joneses and lifestyle creep

You may have come a long way from being that broke student living off instant noodles. I know and remember those days.

Maybe nowadays you earn a lot more, and can now afford to enjoy a much more expensive lifestyle because

  • you worked hard for it
  • you deserve it
  • you wanna catch up on lost time

These are what I call “lifestyle creep”, and they’re like addictive feel-good-drugs that does make you feel powerful and good…but only for a while. The more you earn, the more you spend.

  • Maybe your neighbour bought a swanky 4 wheel drive and you like it and thinking of buying a 2nd or 3rd car
  • Or your parents are bugging you to refinance their home for them or telling you to buy a bigger house
  • Maybe your close friends are planning to go on an expensive trip
  • Or your spouse wants an expensive gift
  • etc

And then after, nothing changes. Sure, you have more expenses and things to pay for. If anything, your bank account is smaller, and you’re further from your passive income lifestyle.

The longer you can live on a small budget with minimal expenses, the more you can save and invest — and the easier it will be to have more choice, freedom, and flexibility in the future.

Yes, it’s sometimes tough to cut back when you’re used to spending more or to a certain lifestyle. By practicing more frugal habits now, you can invest more and have more than enough to “play” with the extras later.

Save and invest as early as possible

When you’re young (20s or 30s), you have a big advantage that older people dont have: time.

Time is a very powerful tool that helps to compound your money, and the longer time you have, the more it can compound your investment returns and be increasingly profitable. I’ve shared this earlier so I wont go too much into this.

  1. Person A who invests $1K/month upon graduation at 22 years old, and continues all the way till they retire at 62 (total 40 years) with 5% returns will have $1,449,597.29
  2. Person B who invests $1K/month for 10 years with 5% returns will have $150,934.71

See the big difference when time is involved? Time plays a very big role especially when it comes to personal finance and financial independence.

Regret prevention

After hearing the personal stories of the regrets, I am doubling down on my efforts to

  • build even more passive income streams and portfolio
  • carving out more time to spend with people I care about including praying/time with God

I dont want to regret when I’m old, because when I’m old, I cant catch up; so this means I need to anticipate as much as I can to go in the direction of where and who I want to be in 10++ years time.