The man who called my preferred wine apple juice

Brown Brothers White Wine - Moscato | NTUC FairPrice

I’m kinda bad at alcohol, so I cant really drink.

One day, during a church gathering-celebration, I brought my favorite bottle of wine to share. When Eddie tasted it, he laughed and called it Ribena and apple juice. It both embarrassed and tickled me so, so, so much.

In a good way.

When we were closer, back in the early 2010s, he shared stories about how he grew up so poor, he had to start working from a young age to support himself and the family. It was hard and hard, but it was what it was. Until he met his wife, they got married and kids, and he continued working.

Later, he started his own company in his 50s which I think is called ET (Eddie Tan) Marine Engineering. And it was fairly successful from the getgo from his previous networks.

He’s  who I will call the cool uncle – often cool, steady, and ever ready to help and chat.

Unfortunately, from the busyness of life, we all had our own things going on, own struggles and wins, we drifted apart. I reached out a couple of times, but it seems like it was hard to breakthrough. Maybe it’s guilt, pride, busyness or just general awkwardness to broach and reconnect.

A shame, really.

Eddie passed away in 2021 amidst the pandemic. He fought a good fight against an aggressive cancer, and the Eddie I know, is a fighter. He doesn’t go down without a fight at all.

A reminder that one of the key benefits of the passive income lifestyle is to be less bogged down with busyness of life and work; freeing up time to spend time with projects, causes and people you care about. Or at least, have space for randomness and serendipity, which matters to me. I find that if I’m too busy chasing, I miss the random variance that brings spice and colors to my life.

Eddie, I miss you. Your laughters were one of the most disarmingly good. See you in heaven later.

PS: will be buying a bottle of Moscato later to sip on.

Why this person earns $12500/month but is miserable and wanted to die

My friends shared this article and I wanted to discuss this case study with you.

So according to the article, he earns $12500/month and he says:

  1. he lives paycheck to paycheck as there are lots of things to pay for
  2. when compared to his school mates, he’s doing well but in the tech industry, he’s at the lower end
  3. he thinks most jobs are going to be the same: stressful and fast paced
  4. thought about dying but dont want to be irresponsible for aging parents

What I will do if I am in his shoes earning $12500/month

I’m gonna put myself in his shoes and make some assumptions (I am NOT a psychologist) and this is based on what I’d do from a personal finance standpoint:

Hardcap spending to max $5000/month

He said that he lives paycheck to paycheck because of

  • mortgage loans
  • insurance bills
  • medical expenses
  • rising cost of living eg food
  • etc

I will revise all the expenses, and cut down aggressively.

  • If I live in a condo that takes a big chunk of my pay, I’ll downgrade. A HDB is fine. If I live by myself, co-living is not bad too.
  • If I have insurance that I dont need, I’ll cut back and downgrade
  • Medical expenses may need to be refinanced
  • If I eat out $2000/month, surely I can cut back to $1000/month?

I dont know the details, but that’s some rough idea.

The budget will be $5000 all in so that…

$7500/month to be invested into dividend paying stocks

Assuming

  • invest $7500/month
  • dividend stocks pay 8% per year
  • reinvest every single dollar

In 5 short years, I will have $570,233.61. At 8% dividend yield, that’s $45,618.68 in dividends a year, or $3,800 a month of decent dividend passive income. I can live comfortably in a cheaper country such as Malaysia or live a bit more frugally in SG.

In 10 short-ish years, I will have $1,408,093.87. 8% per year is $112,647.51 which is $9,387.29. Based on hardcap $5000/month spending, I can retire on $6000/month and still have $3,387 “spare” to reinvest.

Note: it is likely when we stop working, we spend significantly lesser because we spend lesser on conveniences and transportation. Think about it.

Food in town hawker is about $8-10 a meal, with drinks; cafes around $20 and restaurants between $30-50. Watching a movie $15+. If we work part time or are retired, we’d likely be lessed stressed, which means less inclined to spend on conveniences like paying for food outside.

  • We may cook more at home.
  • Go for long walks or enjoy activities in an unrushed manner that doesn’t cost much.
  • We may even watch shows on computers.
  • We wont need to rush around in taxis or paying to rush food delivery.

I’m not saying to be a recluse when we retire, but I anticipate our costs just goes down significantly, and we may need less than we currently spend.

Burnout, stress and mental health

He probably

  • is stressed from the fast paced work and pressure
  • comparing to others down and up of him
  • feels stuck

Like I said earlier, I’m no psychologist or mental health therapist.

I’m also not going to say the cliche thing of “ah, you just gotta stop comparing” – it’s not so easy to stop that. It’s human nature.

I do think that he feels lost and that “it’d be like this forever”…because he doesnt have a personal finance and early retirement plan. That’s why , I’m pushing for you and me to do something that we can do:

  1. save more (flat amount OR percentage) of income including bonuses
  2. chuck all those into dividend passive income stocks
  3. spend some dividends BUT reinvest most of those delicious dividends until your yearly dividends is significant enough to retire on

The reasons why I focus on this

Happiness not included in office/work

I dont assume that work or being in office will make me happy. If it does, great. But I assume work may never make me happy (who dies thinking of “I should have worked more…?” anyway). So I will not link happiness to work.

Optimize for dividend passive income

I assume happiness and contentment may be outside of work, so what I will need to do is to build a passive income portfolio that will pay me continuously, so I can choose to not work and instead, pursue projects and people that may be of interest to me.

Will it bring me happiness? I dont know. I can just explore and find out.

Regardless, once my dividends are more than my living expenses, I can then choose to work less, retire, change job or pursue other stuff that I may be interested in. Maybe draw, travel, marry, who knows? Maybe even when I’m financially independent and free, I’ll still be working, just that I’ll be more selective of the people and projects I want to be involved in and with much less stress.

The key here is I want you to take the steps to continue building streams and streams of passive dividend income from your salary. And reinvest all the dividends until the dividends are good enough for you to have more life options.

PS: dont consider or commit suicide, ever. That’s like choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem…plus there’s so much things to do, places to go, people to visit…or even things to discover in life.

What do you think? Share you ideas in the comment below.