These are the accelerators in my simplified financial independence playbook and ranked from easier (top) to hard (bottom).
- the easier it is, the more time it takes for compounding to work
- the harder it is, the more intense and stressful the learning curve but when it works, the revenues and profits can massively accelerate you towards early retirement and financial freedom
- they are stackable and combo-able which means you can have multiple of these accelerators at the same time but bear in mind
- the energy and effort to master and maintain each that you take up
- ideally the stack flows well and naturally
once you’ve achieved your financial freedom target, you’re financially free
If you start from zero like me, and no inheritance or special funds, then we’re the same: we start from basics –
Table Of Contents
- 1 Have a job to cover basic living expenses
- 2 Save as much as humanly possible…but budget treats too.
- 3 Invest consistently into simple basic investments that you understand
- 4 Earning more is often the right (starting) answer*:
- 5 Advanced players
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions / Considerations
- 6.1 Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE)
- 6.2 Passive Income & Cashflow
- 6.3 Assets = Passive Income & Cashflow Machines
- 6.4 Rules of 25X & 4% Withdrawal Rate
- 6.5 Dollar-cost-averaging (DCA) is the way to investing and everything
- 6.6 Compound Interest Magic
- 6.7 Protect your health and money with health insurance
Have a job to cover basic living expenses
- roof over your head
- utilities such as power, water, gas
Start with basic jobs if you have to at the start.
It’d be bonus if you have a good paying job that doesn’t hurt your mental or physical health.
Upgrade & unlock more pay by increasing competence and experience at job; as well as network and improve communication skills.
Save as much as humanly possible…but budget treats too.
If one cannot spend and save wisely, no amount of earning is enough.
I’m not remotely interested in living like a frugal, miserable miser, living in crippling, lonely and miserly in a cave (I like caves, but that’s another story lol).
Ew, what a sad existence.
Fine, maybe a couple of years if I have to, but I do not subscribe to coupon-clipping and living miserably cheap forever – that’s not how I like to live.
This is more about saving for stuff that you love than to waste money buying shit you dont care about to try to impress people you dont care for.
Examples of things worth saving to splurge on:
- investing for capital growth and passive income which can help you retire earlier and achieve / maintain financial independence
- going for more holidays and travels
- philanthropy and charity that tugs your heartstring
- retiring your loved ones
- hiring personal trainers, chefs and assistants
- your once-in-a-lifetime wedding
- that $500++ pair of shoes (or whatever that is high quality)
- and more
Every dollar you save will have a direct impact on future net worth, how early you can retire as well as business and investment passive income streams. They add up.
I dont like to keep thinking and changing my financial game plan every month. I’d rather set aside a fixed percentage for different functions for example
- 30% rental / mortgage
- 15% power, gas and water
- 15% savings
- 20% investment
- 5% learning
- 5% charity / philanthropy
- 10% stupid / fun money
Tweak it accordingly.
Saving more articles:
Early retirement articles:
- How much you need to retire (yes, your magic number)
- How much to retire in Singapore
- Extreme frugality: how to retire as early as possible
- Early retirement strategy
Invest consistently into simple basic investments that you understand
The holy grail of passive income, where your money works harder and make more money for you. Every dollar I earn is a worker that I will delegate to work harder to make more money for more me ehehe.
At 40 years old, I finally realize how important it is to invest in
- assets that are proven and reliable with a track record
- low management fees
- as early as possible in life
The simpler, the better: I recommend 80% of your investments be in index funds for simplicity; and 20% you can use to look for the 10-50x growth companies (requires a lot of luck, research and even networking).
Read more on building investment passive income streams.
Upgrade & unlock serious growth compounding magic simply by reinvesting profits consistently
Earning more is often the right (starting) answer*:
Earning more and learning to build business passive income streams is one of the most powerful enabling skills you can learn and do.
I recommend everyone I know to start a business on the side (side hustle / side gig) for so many reasons and plus points including
- building streams of passive business income as you grow, hire and leverage on technology and other people’s time
- have options in case your job gets “downsized” or you need more flexibility in time
- using time productively to learn entrepreneurship which a transferable skill which you can teach loved ones and students
- in fact, earning more can usually solve a lot of financial problems
Also, earning more is one of the most powerful and enabling skills and experiences that you can have, providing you and your loved ones with more flexibility, opportunities and more.
Here are what you can do to earn more:
- Simple physical side hustles that you can weave into your daily schedule
- Learn a “sweaty start up” skill and service
- Pick up a high ticket skill and service
- Learn to build an online business
Upgrade & Unlock: Scale up your start up and business and even build business passive income streams
For those who really enjoy the game and want to level up more, you can consider higher leverage games and instruments such as
- venture capitalism
- real estate*
- merger & acquisition
- taking companies public
- trust and wills*
where you have more levers to play with such as debt, amortization, depreciation, appreciation.
For now, I will enter the asterisked stuff mainly trust and wills to manage wealth legacy and perhaps consider real estate which seems to be a good defensive leveraged asset play in land-scarce Singapore. Other than that I likely wont enter the others as I play the game of early retirement to spend time with people and projects I care about.
I don’t need $10M++ to live free and happy.
Frequently Asked Questions / Considerations
Like any games, there are rules to be aware of , maximize and to play by.
Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE)
FIRE originally started in 1992 out of a popular finance book called Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, where the core of the book was
- that people should evaluate every expense in terms of the number of working hours it took to pay for it and to be very mindful and frugal of one’s spendings
- by saving up to 70% of their annual income, FIRE retirement proponents aim to retire early and live off small withdrawals from their accumulated funds.
Things has grown since, and that earlier movement is more known as LeanFIRE, which is to accumulate 25x of your annual expenses and to invest and live off the interest / dividend generated on a basic, essential level of spending.
There are many other FIRE-differentiation now, such as
- BaristaFIRE: Barista FI is having enough investments that can cover a portion of your current expenses today and supplementing the difference by working a lower stress, part time job.
- FIRE / RegularFIRE: Regular FI is having enough investments that can cover your expenses associated with your current lifestyle. This is synonymous with traditional retirement and is the most commonly referenced type of financial independence. Upon having enough assets to be Regular FI, you would be able to quit your job and enjoy the same level of spending that you have today. This means being able to cover your essential expenses (i.e. housing & food) AND discretionary categories (i.e. vacations).
- CoastFIRE: Coast FI is investing up to specific amount and then relying on compound interest in order to reach your FI number, without the need to invest anymore. The idea is that by investing early and often, you will eventually hit a point where you no longer need to save anymore in order to hit your FI number. You let compound interest work it’s magic.
- ChubbyFIRE: Chubby FIRE is considered the upper middle class of the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retired Early). With a net worth between $2.5m and $7.5m, being Chubby enables you to retire early and enjoy life with some luxuries.
- FatFIRE: Having more than enough investments that can cover expenses associated with a higher standard of living than your current lifestyle. This type of financial independence is the one that takes the longest to achieve, but enables the greatest financial flexibility down the road.
Passive Income & Cashflow
These two are similar to me, and I use them interchangeably.
I call them essential life blood to businesses and personal lives – there is little point to live in a big home with no cashflow or money. I rather live in small home with lots of cashflow if I have to choose.
Of course, best is have both lol
Cash flow is a term that’s commonly used in active businesses and active trade ie getting paid for products and/or services ie generally active income. Passive income, on the other hand, refers to any incoming cash flow generated by assets that doesn’t require active involvement or ongoing work.
This inflow is passively generated; in other words, once you “set it up,” this income essentially runs on autopilot.
The types of passive incomes (non-exhaustive):
- Rental income from properties and assets
- Dividends from public traded stocks, REITs and ETFs
- Business profits and dividends from equity / company ownership**
- Fixed deposits (FD)
- Peer-to-peer lending
- Royalties from intellectual properties such as music, designs, patents
- Online business**:
- Affiliate marketing
- Display advertising from content creation such as blogs, social media accounts
- Digital products such as ebooks, video / text courses
- Royalties: photography to create stock images
- Sponsored posts or content
- Selling online designs
- Cryptocurrency staking, DeFi
Assets = Passive Income & Cashflow Machines
If you want to retire earlier, spend less and invest more/most/all of your savings into buying and creating assets that generate you more income, which you can use to buy more assets (good cycle).
This is the #1 lesson I learnt from Rich Dad, Poor Dad, that an asset is something that puts money in my pocket (or bank account) ie assets are assets when they make us richer.
I started broke as heck, and from a lower middle class family so since I didnt have money to invest, I first needed to learn how to make and earn more money first. This is why I am very passionate for business and entrepreneurship.
Nowadays I recommend people to have a stable day job to have a place to live in, food to eat and hot water etc, and to start a blogging business that is not only very affordable to start, but more importantly
- every page works as an employee for you 24/7
- you can build it from anywhere in the world
- you can work on it as and when you’re available
- it scales using technology, applications and plugins
- very high profit margin
- a skill you can teach your loved ones
- a business you can sell for 30-60x of monthly profits
- and many more
Rules of 25X & 4% Withdrawal Rate
There is a recommendation by Bill (or William) Bengen to accumulate 25x of one’s annual expenses, combined with 60% stocks and 40% bonds whereby you can live off withdrawing 4% of proceeds of investment and not run out of money until you pass on.
Read more on the study done at Trinity University (now the study is informally referred to as “Trinity Study“).
My spin and approach: to customize and buffer based on criteria such as
- how early you want to retire (which impact how long your investment needs to last; someone who is retiring at 55 will typically need an investment that lasts at most 45 years – compared to someone who retires at 30 and may need an investment to last at most 70 years)
- how much lifestyle? Do you want it to be very lean (achievable faster)…some buffer…or a very very comfortable buffered retirement investment with more than enough for luxury?
- how much safety net? This is linked to #2 above
I’ve concluded that for me, I will be taking a buffered approach with safety margins of
- accumulate +30% to annual spending x 30 years
- investment returns need to be at least 8% net, of which 4% will be withdrawn and 4% to be reinvested
considering that I want a standard FIRE to coast/chubby FIRE lifestyle.
Dollar-cost-averaging (DCA) is the way to investing and everything
Dollar-cost-averaging is the most recommended way to investing because:
- it bypasses our human emotions (which usually works against us)
- good system and habits, when done consistently, are what that brings about good success
An example of DCA is to set aside a portion (percentage % or dollar amount) each month from your salary or investment returns, and invest these into stuff that you’re interested in, be it index funds or crypto or whatnot.
Monthly over years and decades, and let compound interest magic do its job of compounding and growing.
Compound Interest Magic
Albert Einstein once said “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it”.
Compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal sum of a loan or deposit, or in other words, interest on interest.
It is the result of reinvesting interest, rather than paying it out, so that interest in the next period is then earned on the principal sum plus previously accumulated interest.
To show you, say your investments make 5% per year, you put in $100 ONCE and reinvest the 5% every year, this is what you’d get:
- End of Year 1: $100 + 5% = $105
- End of Year 2: $105 + 5% = $110.25
- End of Year 3: $110.25 + 5% = $115.76
As long as you keep adding the 5% back (this is called reinvesting), it’d keep growing and compound. That’s why I call it compound interest magic heh.
You can accelerate this compounding by dollar-cost-averaging ie keep adding more principal money monthly, quarterly or yearly – that’d accelerate the compounding a lot more.
The downsides are:
- it takes time to work so this works very well if you invest from a very young age AND live long to enjoy
- there will be market fluctuations so you need to keep on going on with the plan for it to work
Use this compound calculator: http://www.moneychimp.com/calculator/compound_interest_calculator.htm
Protect your health and money with health insurance
If your country provides very affordable or free healthcare, great, but if not, take note that diseases, illnesses and accidents can set you back years if not cripple your finances. For that, you will need adequate health insurance.
Without health, wealth is meaningless…health wiping out wealth…is also painful.
Protection of both health and wealth will be one of the basic necessary luxuries that you will need to get for yourself and your loved ones.
You may not need life insurance (which tends to be pricier and with less protections BUT it typically can appreciate over time and finite premiums eg 10-15 years); term insurance will suffice: best protection, lower costs but costs go up with age brackets.
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