Money, Wealth & Passive Income

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.” — Albert Einstein

Money, Wealth & Passive Income are very important goals and area to master, as early as possible in your life. The earlier you learn, understand and is able to apply this successfully in your life, the quicker you’d be able to

  • build streams of recurring passive income
  • retire early to do stuff that you like (or more of what you love / is called to do)

At this point in your personal finance and investing journey, you probably don’t need to be sold on the idea of investing. You know it’s the way to build a sound financial future for yourself.

Good.

Many people need a gentle nudge to push them to start investing. Studies are showing that a big majority of young and middle age keep their savings in cash, where there is zero growth (technically, due to inflation, the value of their savings is shrinking year on year). If the goal is financial independence, that’s not the way.

As a beginner investor, you just need to start somewhere. Pick somewhere to start.

Put together an investment strategy that you’re comfortable is and stick to it. Once you’re more advanced and have had a taste and feel of how investing is like, modify it to suit your medium and long term investment plans.

Table Of Contents

Let’s sort out some basic definitions

  1. Money is basically currency ie the medium you use to trade, barter and purchase stuff. Historically humans started with bartering ie exchanging one good for another, until we decided that using a common medium to purchase and sell good was easier, and that was the start of money and currencies
  2. Wealth is the true goal, which refers to how many years you can live without working a single day more. The more years you can live on your savings or income streams, the wealthier you are.
  3. Passive income aka positive cashflow which means income (money) that flows into your bank account on a regular basis is the lifeblood of wealth. Without passive income, there is no wealth or chance of early retirement.
  4. Assets are businesses, properties (physical or intellectual or crypto) that creates positive cash flow that flows into your bank account.
  5. Investing is the act of allocating money with the goal of achieving a specific goal at a later date. Generally speaking, there are two types of investments:
    • Growth Investments goals are to increase your wealth through capital appreciation ie increase of price. This is a more offensive proactive approach to increase your net worth and bulk capital. Most of the time, younger people focus on this more as they have more time and risk appetite.
    • Defensive Investments are opposite of growth investing, it’s moreso conservative defensive investing. It’s a strategy used to reduce risk of losing principal investments and assets. This is best to protect your funds from unexpected downturns (like the current COVID pandemic).

Goals of wealth

Early retirement

This means that you no longer need to have a job to earn income to pay the bills or put food on the table.

This also means that you can do more of what you like and give the middle finger to people who wishes you to do shit that you don’t like.

Early retirement may be more possible, closer and easier than you think, read:

Create value for the market place

  1. As an employee or solopreneur, you consume services and products from other service providers and vendors as you earn. Sometimes its for necessity, sometimes it’s for pleasure.
  2. As a business owner and builder, there is an additional layer: creating jobs for individuals which also contributes to society

Seek out higher, meaningful living

  1. Give back by teaching, volunteering and participate in philanthropic activities
  2. Change what they are involved in eg
    • going back to school to learn something entirely different
    • have more kids
    • spend more time with loved ones
    • etc

For fun and serendipitous living

Wealth building is fun when it works and adds value to the world – I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to create jobs and teams that enjoy working in the same place and projects as us and earning profitably together. In some instances, it can introduce serendipitous opportunities that makes life more fun and varied.

First, how much do you really need to retire?

Run the numbers.

If you don’t know the numbers, you cant estimate or gauge or progress or know your position. So let’s do a simple maths exercise, to answer one basic question:

How much passive income a month do you need to retire?

Take a look at your credit card bill or budget. How much do you spend on

  • necessities: roof / lodging, food, water, telco, insurance etc – the basic stuff
  • convenience: taxi rides, outsourcing
  • luxuries: holidays, high end computers

Going base on necessities, how much do you really need a month? Say you can live “cheap” with $2,000 a month

At 12 months a year, that’s $2000 x 12 = $24,000.

Assuming your passive income dividend stocks payouts are 5% per year, then that means that to hit $2,000 a month in passive dividend income, you need to have a bulk of $2,000 / 5% = $480,000.

Double check on the numbers: $480,000 x 5% / 12 months = $2,000 / month.

The number is correct.

So then, real question is: what can we do to earn as much as possible in as short a time to achieve $480,000?

Seems kinda surreal far isn’t it? Especially if you’re at neutral (zero debt and zero savings) or worse, in 5-figure student debt. It’s okay, we all have to start somewhere.

Say you earn $3000 a month and can save crazily $1,500 a month including bonuses, so that’s $18,000 a year (I’m going very conservative and didn’t factor in promotions or increments through the years). Say you are serious to follow through with this plan to get $2,000 a month from 5% returns of a capital of $480,000;

The simplest method most people will do is to just divide $480,000 with $18,000 per year = which means $480,000 / $18,000 per year = 26.67 years. That’s not bad. If you start at 20 years old, that means you can retire by 26.67 years conservatively.

Let me introduce you the magic of compounding interest.

Say you invest into index funds or dividend stocks that pay you 5% year on year, and we keep to the same $18,000 per year investment:

  • Year 01 $18,000 + 5% dividends = Year 1 Capital including 5% dividends $18,900
  • Year 02 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $18,900 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $38,745
  • Year 03 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $38,745 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $59,582.25
  • Year 05 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $59,582.25 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $81,461.3625
  • Year 06 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $81,461.3625 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $104,434.43
  • Year 07 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $104,434.43 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $128,556.15
  • Year 08 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $128,556.15 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $153,883.96
  • Year 09 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $153,883.96 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $180,478.16
  • Year 10 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $180,478.16 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $208,402.06
  • Year 11 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $208,402.06 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $237,722.17
  • Year 12 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $237,722.17 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $268,508.28
  • Year 13 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $268,508.28 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $300,833.69
  • Year 14 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $300,833.69 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $334,775.38
  • Year 15 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $334,775.38 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $370,414.14
  • Year 16 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $370,414.14 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $407,834.85
  • Year 17 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $407,834.85 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $447,126.59
  • Year 18 $18,000 + Previous year carry over $447,126.59 + 5% dividends = Year 2 Capital including 5% dividends $488,382.92*

Achieved in year 18 instead of year 26.67.

Means if you started at age 20, you can retire by age 38.

The variables here are:

  • The bigger sum of money, the faster you can reach your goals (earning $3,000 a month versus earning $10,000 a month has very different speed outcomes)
  • The less you spend on living expenses, the faster you can reach your goals because your target becomes smaller (two persons who earn the same amount $3,000 a month but if one spends $3,000 and another spends $1,500 a month will lead to very different outcomes)
  • The more time you have to let compounding interest do its magic, the more you can reach your target faster (the younger you start the more the magic of compounding works)

Steps of wealth building

It is simplified essentially to this: to learn and apply successfully how to

Learn / provide one or more skills that provides employment income

There are so many different skills that you can learn

  • trade school (electrician, plumbing, construction etc)
  • professional school (medical, legal, nursing, etc)
  • general skills eg sales
  • etc

Choose whichever you’re interested in that costs the least with as little student debt (none if possible) and have the most upside. Upsides include

  • earning potential
  • availability of jobs and work
  • mobility / portability of work

Always start with having a stable job

It doesn’t have to be high income or very highly engaging and learning. Some people like jobs that truly engages them a lot and allows them to learn a lot (this is good and useful especially early in life) but I note that this is extremely tiring mentally, emotionally, physically.

The good thing with that is that we learn a lot from those kinds of work.

The bad thing about that is that usually work don’t make us wealthy or rich (I know, learning is fun) but we need to focus and be honest about our energy levels now and into the future. When we’re in our 20s, sure, intense learning is nice. But as I go into my 30s and 40s, I can’t go with such high intensity – I prefer a “simpler” job with stable income where I have a lot more energy to work on my business after office hours.

Also, having a stable job and income means that we can have our basic human necessities met: roof over our heads, water, toilet, food, etc

Next, live on as little as possible so that you can save as much as possible

Don’t blow all your money on luxuries or convenience when you’re starting out or when you hadn’t reached your passive income goals.

This includes buying or consuming that

  • $5-10 drink
  • $20+ meals
  • $10-20+ transport
  • $100+ dinner or apparel like sneakers
  • $xxxx+ rental
  • $xxxxx+ cars
  • $xxx,xxx+ apartments or homes

Basically don’t waste money on stuff that you can’t and shouldn’t afford yet.

  • Make your own drinks such as coffee or alcohol at home
  • Make your own meals at home, and make extras to take to work
  • Take public transport like the train and the bus, don’t need to take a taxi or uber
  • Don’t buy expensive branded apparel. Just use non-branded generic ones.
  • If you eat out, make sure there is a capped budget
  • Don’t rent or buy an expensive apartment: if you can, live with your parents first. If you have to rent, rent the one that is cheapest first (do not ignore safety of course).
  • Move to a cheaper location or town if you can. Some cities or countries have lower taxes and lower cost of living. Maximize such opportunities.
  • Speak about money with people you’re dating or interested in. It is terrible if you’re a saver and investor who’s together with someone who has zero interest in saving or making more or passive income.
  • Don’t buy a car if you can help it: take the train and bus. If you have to have a car due to distance and travels, then buy a second hand affordable hardy car. There are many good cars sold at second hand price that are underused who are bought by people who dont drive it as much as they thought they would.

I’m being very practical here: it is much better to “struggle and harden” in your 20s and invest every single surplus during that time into cash-producing assets that will create streams of dividend or passive income.

Wealth Accelerator #1: Build Assets (Entrepreneurship) & Earn More

Start a side hustle outside of working hours to accelerate your wealth

Once you have a stable income job, excel in it, have your daily expenses and living.

Save as much as possible to invest into businesses and dividend stocks; and more importantly, start a business on the side. Yes, outside of your normal working hours. You work 9 am to 6 pm on your day job, and then from 8 pm to 1 am on weekdays and full days on weekends you work on your side gig.

Your day job will provide you with financial stability, comfort and sanity (as well as colleagues for socialization), which is a very important requirement for you to be able to sustain your side hustle and nurture it until it becomes stable and good enough for you to choose:

  • fire your job / boss and become your own boss
  • continue having both day job and side gig
  • etc

Most of the rich acquired their wealth by building businesses

Yes, you heard me right. Think:

  • Elon Musk
  • Bill Gates
  • Dell
  • Warren Buffett
  • etc

Most of the world’s rich today built and hustle themselves to wealth. Yes, many inherited networks and income, but many started with nothing, just with hunger and eye for details and patience.

And that’s just like you and me.

Entrepreneurship is my #1 wealth accelerator and solution to breakthrough from middle class or poverty level

I was born in a middle class family where my dad (my hero!) was the sole breadwinner and he provided for us all we needed: 2 homes, food, transport, education. I am extremely grateful and forever blessed by my parents’ sacrifice. And also I know that if I stayed as an employee, I will never be able to be comfortable.

To be comfortable financially means that we have to have much more passive income streams coming into our bank accounts, and for that we need to earn more.

Entrepreneurship was a natural and practical reductionistic decision: it was the only way for me to breakthrough from a $2000/month salary to a business that is 7+ figures.

Entrepreneurship is a wonderful teacher

So many things that entrepreneurship taught me:

It’s really no wonder that entrepreneurship becomes one of my deep passions and interest.

By-product of successful entrepreneurship

A good by-product of a successful business is profits, which translates to:

  • direct employment income (ie business pays me to do work)
  • passive income as the business scales and grows, I will hire more and more people to do more valuable work for me (they will be paid well too of course), and I will be paid with surplus income / retained earnings as dividends

My goal of any entrepreneurship venture I start will always be to outsource myself from the business ie the business needs to be as automated as possible without my constant direct management

ie it needs to become a passive business income machine.

Don’t get me wrong, starting a business is damn easy: it’s just

What’s bloody fucking hard is to

  1. know what to sell and market that clients want to pay for
  2. where to find, attract, convert and keep these clients
  3. ensuring cashflow and culture is positive

Read more in the entrepreneurship section.

Grow your passive income streams (ongoing)

Basically this refers to acquiring more and more passive automatic assets that provides passive income via dividends or income.

My #1 goal of passive income is to have passive income streams that are more than my / my family’s expenses. Achieving and maintaining this will mean that I have retired financially.

Other than automating my businesses to run passively without me (or as little as possible) which creates passive business income, I take my surplus earnings, dividends and profits and channel them into assets that can provide me streams of passive income.

As I spend more of my waking hours either with my family or with the businesses, I don’t spend as much time here in the investing portion, so I simplified the way I invested a lot, which is typically split into:

Dividend stocks investing

Most of my investments are here due to its simplicity, defensiveness and reliability in nature. However, the downsides is that

  1. there are market price fluctuations (expect % ups and downs in the short term, but upwards % over time) as well as the
  2. low %, typically between 2.5-8% passively (conversely, I make 10000%+ returns in business but because it’s super active involvement)

I look for stable and defensive dividend stocks in multiple sectors such as

  • telco (communications)
  • business trust
  • real estate investment trusts (REITs)
  • REIT managers
  • commodities
  • index funds*
  • etc

*Index funds are the safest, so if you want something really really defensive and hands-off, arrange a dollar-cost-average (DCA) with your bank or broker where a % of your income is invested into the dividend stock of choice. The DCA approach is the best approach as it doesn’t take mental space or energy, and is very resilient and has proven to work over decades (yes, it beats the S&P as well).

Wealth Accelerator #2: Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology investing

Cryptocurrencies refer to currencies that are made using blockchain technology, which is a very exciting and here-to-stay technology.

Please note that cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and there are many, many scam fraudulent coins out there with sexy marketing to make it look good but some are truly shit fundamentally.

There are a few ways to make money in cryptocurrency:

Investing in crypto for capital gains

Traditional

When you think of cryptocurrency, the

  1. “Gold standard” is always Bitcoin (BTC) and the
  2. “Silver standard” Ethereum

Buying either of these two cryptocurrencies are fundamentals and typically is “safe” (as safe as crypto can be) and likely will not go out of fashion typically, unless something drastically happens.

Up-and-coming with sound fundamentals

These refer to good cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies as well as platform tokens such as

  1. Cardano (ADA)
  2. Kucoin (KCS)
  3. Quant (QNT)
  4. and more

They typically have good and sound foundations, but tends to be slow to increase in value due to decreased hype and more focused on technology, research and applications.

Also tends to be headed by level-headed geeks and organizations that want to increase case-use first before wide-spread adoption. Typically early investors get frustrated because their pricing tends to go side-ways for a loooooooong time.

Memecoins and shitcoins

These…these…are the joke coins and shitcoins. Avoid these like the plague. They tend to have followers that typically say “when moon” and “to the moon” or “when lambo”.

Many of these are outright jokes and scams and frauds. The biggest problem is that they tend to be very sexy marketing wise, and are very smartly able to “rouse” up speculators’ hypes and curiosity.

If you have a lot of time and able to ride the wave and enter early, you can speculate and play a little. There are many people who have 2-1000X their invested amounts by being very early speculators. But really, tread very carefully here.

Note: these kind of coins are really highest risk of exit scams.

Investing in cryptocurrency for staking / dividend returns (paid in cryptocurrency)

Yes, you can “stake” certain cryptocurrency and be paid in the staked cryptocurrency as a reward for providing stability and liquidity to the network (or because it’s a loan done by the platform).

There are many ways to do this but I typically use centralized platform:

Receiving bonus Kucoin Shares (KCS) just by holding a minimum of 6 KCS on Kucoin

Receiving crypto dividends via Crypto.com‘s Crypto Earn

How I protect myself from scam or shit cryptocurrency coins

  1. Firstly the biggest bulk of my cryptocurrency holding is in Bitcoin and Ethereum (the gold and silver standard)
  2. For any new projects, I will read and research on:
    • The project team members
    • The project backers eg are they invested and backed by large reputable crypto organizations
    • Read and understand the whitepaper and its case-use application
    • Read and understand the token sale
    • Limit the amount of investment to a very small % if I’m really super interested in it

Insure yourself and your family. Always.

Depending on where you live and the quality and cost of medical coverage in your country, I always recommend that you’re fully insured. If the country you live in provides free/cheap and quick medical coverage of high quality, then you don’t need medical or hospitalization insurance.

If not having medical or hospitalization insurance will compromise the medical care you receive in terms of quality, wait time, then please get yourself and your family insured.

The reason why I share this is because health conditions can be unexpected, like bad medical discovery or a bad accident…which can totally destroy you financially and leave generational debt.

It is a terrible situation to have to choose between…do I save someone at the expense of going totally bankrupt versus letting them die with no financially costs. Just buy insurance.

It is a necessity.

Singapore Personal Insurance

If you live in Singapore or want to buy insurance in Singapore, I happily endorse my AIA financial advisor Hendri Kamarudin who is also my best friend with full disclosure. I do not get any financial or monetary returns to endorse and recommend him 100%, and I do so because he has been serving me and my family since 2009 with 100% claims success to date for me.

Anyone can sell insurance, but the magic and trust is in the claims success rate.

You can reach Hendri:

Worldwide / Global Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions on Money, Wealth & Passive Income

Can I don’t be an entrepreneur and just have a career and invest?

Of course!

You can just set aside a % of your net income (10-75%) depending on

  • how much you earn
  • how much you can aggressively save

and put them into the investment vehicles like I mentioned above.

If I have $500 now, where can I invest?

I’m typically quite conservative, so I would typically recommend beginner investors to put their hard earn monies into safe stuff like index funds in their own countries.

If you’re much more aggressive, cryptocurrency investing/speculation has much higher yield but it has much higher risk.

Should I buy rental properties?

It’s really up to you – some investors really love properties, sometimes it’s personal preferences (some like “physical, touchable” investments”, sometimes it’s due to the nature of property investment tax breaks in their own countries.

I personally dislike rental properties because of a few reasons:

  • I live in Singapore where properties here are a minimum of $1M++ and above per unit. Property market here is hot stuff, so there’s a lot of governmental restrictions such as ABSD (additional buyer stamp duty) which can levy additional 7-15% stamp duty on the cost of the investment. Plus for 2nd property onwards you may need to place at least 40-50% down payment. So it’s a lot of upfront money and stamp duties. Note that this means that yield may be 1%+, or breakeven. Most people who invest in properties is aiming for capital appreciation. These are big restrictions for me.
  • Secondly, at this time in my life I don’t like to manage properties ie being a landlord. I think when I have lots of surplus I may look at being a landlord and outsource landlord work to property managers.
  • Thirdly, I like to have an easier life: I invest into REITs (real estate investment trust) where I own a % of commercial, office and industrial properties, that’s managed by property managers (I also invest into these public listed ones). In Singapore, REITs payout between 4-8% per annum in dividends, right into my bank account. This is easyyyyyyyy.

How much % should I allocate to crypto and dividend stock?

This depends on how aggressive you are (or how much of a technology futurist you are).

Traditionally, some people have been recommending placing 1-10% of your total net worth into cryptocurrency. This means that if you have net worth of $1,000,000; you can allocate $1,000 to $100,000 into cryptocurrency.

Or don’t put into cryptocurrency at all.

There are so many investment vehicles out there, you have to choose those that you know, are comfortable with and are as safe as possible – the reason why is because investments are typically made with savings from hard earned monies.

What do I have to have to invest?

You mean, other than money?

So when we talk about investing, we’re NOT talking about day trading. Some people are damn good at day trading, but for the untrained or unskilled, it can be bloody risky.

Also remember, the large majority of investors can never beat the market…especially DIY investors who are just learning to invest.

The key to making lots of money when investing is:

  • have good amount of savings where you can regularly dollar-cost-average (DCA) in, and when you know a good stock (business) is tanking but their business is still super sound, you can put in more money
  • for that you need to research into the businesses that you’re investing into, of course
  • letting time do it’s magic with compounding interest, so whenever you get the interests, reinvest it!

If you’re the sort that gets very happy to buy-sell-buy-sell and lose money, please please please consider working with a broker or financial advisor who can help you.

Investing is typically medium to long term, day trading is very risky.

Do I need high risk tolerance?

I typically prefer zero or as little as possible risks for hard earned monies and savings.

If you want higher risk for higher returns, consider

  • passive income entrepreneurship
  • cryptocurrency investing/speculating
  • active trading

What’s an index fund?

Index funds are a type of passively managed mutual fund built around market segments. For example, index funds may be built around

  • top companies of certain market cap in that country
  • companies that pay high dividends
  • by specific sectors or industries
  • by company size.

Index funds do not try to beat the market – they are designed to track the market. Index funds can have varying levels of volatility (price-wise). Still, they are generally seen as safe and cost-effective long-term investments. Even Warren Buffett and other investment heavyweights recommend index funds.

What’s an ETF?

I find ETFs close sibling of index funds, where they track a basket/bundle companies together and they’re really also very ideal for beginners (or even advanced) investors who wants a more hands-off, passive method to investing.

Benefits are similar with index funds which include

  • less risky
  • more diversified
  • low expense ratios
  • abundant liquidity
  • range of investment choices
  • diversification
  • low investment threshold
  • and so on

Difference is that they can be actively managed with higher fees (not recommended as they tend to perform worse with active management) and index funds can only be sold at the end of the trading day whereas ETF can be bought/sold at any time of trading hours.

Overall, ETFs are a solid choice for beginning investors.

How often are dividends paid out?

Rental properties typically pays out monthly when you have an existing tenant (so if no tenant = no rental income)

Dividend stock payouts can range from

  • quarterly (every 3 months)
  • bi-annually (every 6 months)
  • annually (every 12 months)

Cryptocurrency dividends can be paid out on a shorter time frame:

  • daily
  • weekly
  • monthly

Do I want / need someone to manage my investment for me?

Some people like the idea of paying fund managers to actively oversee their accounts…but this usually comes with large management fees…and with no guarantee that you 100% will make money.

The biggest issue with someone managing my account for me is two things:

  1. Fees matter. If my investments typically make 4% and they take 2%, that’s 50% cost to me
  2. Results matter. If they take my money and don’t make me more than I can make myself, then they’re not really good for me.

Using traditional brokerage accounts

A traditional brokerage account is a financial account that will let you sell bonds, stocks, funds, and other types of securities.

In short, a brokerage firm is a holding company that will secure your money while you distribute it into various funds. They are slowly opening up to allow cryptocurrency purchasing and selling as well.

The one I use in Singapore is Lim&Tan

Using cryptocurrency platforms / brokerage accounts

A cryptocurrency brokerage account is a financial account that lets you buy and sell cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects. Same as traditional brokerage accounts, it is a holding company / platform that helps you hold your money whilst you distribute it into various crypto/blockchain projects.

The few main platforms I use for cryptocurrency are:

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