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How I Made My First Million (not clickbait)

Look out for an announcement at the end of the article 🤓


It took a total of 17 years. It was not a short walk. Throughout the years, I’ve fine-tuned my strategies through losses, grew stronger mentally and gained confidence to do bigger trades overtime. Although, even now, I still make mistakes. Not all my trades are profitable as nobody can win 100% of the time.


As much as I’ve shared my knowledge and experience with friends, one can’t achieve the same investment acumen by following “a tip”, a “secret formula”. It takes time and practice. No “get rich overnight”. Anybody who tells you making money is easy, selling you “get rich overnight” schemes could be too good to be true. Making money is hard work. It's going to be uncomfortable, unfamiliar and uncertain but the rewards are good.


To share, I did not come from a finance, investment or well to do background. My mum only has primary school education, my dad failed his secondary school exam and my wife is an Engineer too. None of my relatives / friends were from the finance sector when I started out. Anyway, no need to compare. There’s always somebody who is better looking, richer or with a higher pay check. Cliché but true, the only person you should compete with is yourself. Run your own race and be better than before. Have an end goal in mind, meaning your needs and wants in life, and work towards it.


“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.”- Jim Carrey

Achieving the SG$1 million milestone at 30s is a nice feat but honestly, not as big a sum as compared to the 90s due to inflation. Millionaires back then were the real feat. Although it took a long period of 17 years to make SG$1 million, the next million I believe would be attainable in much less than half the period required to make the first. There’s magic in starting early and patience is essential. The magic is in compounding. As shown in the chart below, Warren Buffett made most of his wealth from age 52 onwards via compounding.


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Of course, apart from monetary wealth, there are other forms of wealth. Wealth in terms of health, experience, spiritual, happiness, etc. which I believe is part of living life to the fullest. I’m sure we’ve all encountered individuals who have a great attitude despite being in trying circumstances. There are also those with a plethora of fortune and privilege, yet they’re negative, critical, and resentful. Money is important but not everything. Just to share, one of my greatest regret is that I did not spend enough time with my grandpa who passed on years ago, especially when my grandma was bedridden due to stroke for quite a period of time. It must have been painful for my grandpa to see his soulmate being bedridden so long that he eventually left before my grandma. I regretted taking their presence for granted, I ought to spend more time with them. My grandpa has paved the way for my dad who similarly paved my route, giving me a good environment to grow as a kid and supported me all the way till university despite a rough start due to my own doings. My hope is that I can also provide the best environment for my kids to grow and they will be better than me.


As much as I enjoy investing, the best way to optimize my time and to live life to the fullest would be to seek a balance in all aspects such as time with family, learning new things, keeping fit, having balanced diet and sleeping well. We can’t invest time to make time. Once the moment is over, we lost it forever. It is necessary to make every moment count. Okay, I’ve digressed a little, back to the main topic.


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My Story “From N-Level to Masters, From $20k at 19 to over $1m at 33” (Also shared by Dr Wealth / theFinance.sg / NextInsight, etc.) >> About me


View >> My Portfolio

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Another nostalgic trade where I’ve made a SG$6.11 profit (mostly eaten by brokerage fees) for holding Thai Beverage for 4 years. This was some time back during my NS days when I was still a noob. My Encik told me that this stock cannot run one. Back then, SG$800 was a big sum for me. Never would I have dreamt that I would be managing a 7-figure portfolio today. Do not despise small beginnings!!



Stay tuned till the end for an announcement 🤓


To share a bit on how I reached the first milestone. First and foremost, you need to have the right mindset. From a plan to grow your income to controlling your expenses. This could mean being less bothered by social status like big cars or premium products. I’ve seen many young people funnelling their salary into weekly clubbing, branded apparels, expensive gadgets and some chasing branded cars even before buying their first house. Not sure if they knew how much a marriage will cost, how much building up a family will cost, how much looking after parents in time to come will cost. The car I bought previously was a Kia model as I needed it for work and my ex-company does help to cover some of the expenses. I’ve seen young guns who immediately bought a Mercedes. On the contrary, I also have another friend who is a regional manager working in a reputable MNC yet still taking grab to work daily together with his wife, saving up money to invest with plans to retire young, retire rich.


I do love cars too. Have to admit that the temptation is real as I bought my Mercedes earlier this year, 1 month before the COVID-19 crash and at the same time, before I quit my job in January. The new car is a reward I promised myself when my net worth hits SG$1 million. I’ve achieved this milestone in 2017 but only bought it recently. Glad that the COE price now is above my initial buy price. I always wished that COE will go higher after I bought my car 🤣. Don’t want to “malu”. It's important to be wealthy instead of looking wealthy.



Next, on expenses. I am thankful for a good and understanding wife that sticked to my financial goals for the family. On a daily basis, I would record our expenses and categorize them in a excel table (even till this date). There are many phone applications nowadays that is able to do this, making it much more convenient. However, I still prefer to use excel due to its customizability as I will continuously re-format the tables to optimize my tracking process. Once every year, I will also do a total income vs expenditure, investment and net worth growth calculation. I will use my excel table to determine which category of expense has the highest overhead and how to better manage it in the subsequent year. My goal is not just to have positive cashflow annually but to keep the expense constant despite growing income from salary or investment / passive income. It was challenging to keep expenses constant as there were events such as weddings (mine or friend’s) or once-off home renovation costs but I managed it by deferring some expenditure. For example, for the year where we’ve overspent due to these “no choice” events, we will not go on any overseas holidays that year and the next, so as to buffer back the “over-spending”. For this, our wedding honeymoon was postponed. We lived almost like a peasant, below our means but we had no regrets. Of course, when times got better, I bought my wife a Prada bag which she kept in the cupboard since 2018 and never brought it out once. Maybe to her, that’s value investing🤣. Well to me, my wife is like a multibagger + main core where my holding period is forever. This is a focused “all in” investment without diversification / asset allocation 🤓. Anyway, the takeaway here is to control your expenses. I want to stress the importance of building your first pot of gold at an early stage of your life and let time compound it for you. Eventually, your passive income will settle your daily expenses or even better, settle a somewhat luxurious lifestyle.


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More from EngineerInvest.com:

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My first job was in a reputable shipyard when oil prices were still booming (I was lucky). We typically worked 6.5 days per week in exchange for an above average salary that comes with 9 months bonus, stock options, good progression and a rotation program to various departments. The good paycheck helped to speed up the process. During that 3 years period, I also took my part-time Masters at NTU and got married. Having 7 hours of sleep was a luxury, annual leaves were taken just to clear assignments, catching up with school work, meeting wedding bridal / banquet appointments, renovation plans, etc. I still remembered the time when I was sick and had to attend the last lecture prior to exam. During break time, I went to vomit and returned back to class as if nothing happened. I witnessed the same incident happening to my friend previously. It’s as if these are the normal for us, we would just re-direct our focus on moving forward, letting go of the pain and not dwell on it. Those were good and bittersweet memories but I’m glad they are over. All these would not have been possible without the support from my wife and family. I’ve learnt to multi-task and to do more with less time. For example, exercising while listening to news or selecting school assignments with team mates working in the same industry. Choosing project topics which I was more familiar with or closer to what I was doing helped a lot too. Unlike a rubber band, once your capacity is stretched, it won’t go back to the original size.


I was also lucky to have met 2 good friends from my Masters that have stayed in touch until now with the same can-do spirit and whatever it takes attitude. If you are thinking the way most people think, doing what most people are doing, chances are you will reap the same results that most people reap. If you are wondering, I didn’t have time to do short term trading but only focused on long term value investing which don’t require a lot of monitoring.


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A large part of my wealth came from investments and more on what sparked my interest is in “About me”. Apart from starting to invest at a very young age, I also did many entrepreneurial ventures, generating multiple streams of income. Regrettably, none of it has blossomed. However, I did have some small profits from some of it. Just to share on my adventures, I sold second hand books online, recyclable WPC (Wood Plastic Composite) wood decking, flowers during Valentine’s Day, foldable bicycles during my NTU days and even experimented with ecommerce for household wares. My ideas were quite common actually. To me, the successful entrepreneur is not the one with the best idea but the one who took action, kept their hands dirty, persevered and sweat it out. After all, it’s action that will drive results i.e. profits.


From the Forbes list of richest over here [2], you can see that most made their fortune either through inheritance, business / tech, property or investments. These are the timeless ways to get rich. Investment is not gambling, it is a timeless principle to wealth. If it is pure gambling, there won’t be sovereign wealth funds that invest for their countries. One of the key aspects is to start early and you will witness the power of compounding as I’ve witnessed it for myself. Next will be the skillset, to identify great companies at a discount i.e. hunting for undervalued stocks, and to practise proper diversification / asset allocation as not all trades will prove profitable. I hope to encourage you that anyone who’ve put in hard work can too reap the same results, if not better. Do not despise small beginnings. Whatever amount you start with, one can achieve a lot in a decade.


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“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with a 130 IQ. Rationality is essential.”

– Warren Buffett


Announcement:

I will be starting a tuition for 1 to 4 pax per class for those who are interested in investing. This stems from the many email queries I’ve received, conversations with friends and friends of friends. Some of the questions were difficult to answer over email with all the necessary details and many experienced investors did not seem to have a clear investment strategy. Subsequently, I’ve received enquiries if I can do 1 to 1 “classes”. It was then that I decided to start teaching private investment tuition. I don’t see myself as a “guru” or “coach” but am more interested with the term tuition. I hope to share with you on how I’ve done it so that you can “fish” independently. There won’t be any “stock tip / recommendation” or whatsoever. What I can offer is to help guide you in the right direction, speed up your learning curve with my 17 years of experience, saving you time and to start to compound as early as possible.


Do note that investing and profiting from the market requires hard work and strong mental tenacity to go against the crowd i.e. buying when everyone else is selling (this is easy during a bull market but hard to practice in a bear market). The stock price may still continue to fall below your buy price. It is bound to happen.


You might wonder >> If you are already a millionaire, why do you still need to give tuition? I don’t need to sell courses in order to fund my lifestyle but nobody will mind making more money to work towards their next goal. Afterall, I’m passionate about this topic and believe it will be a win-win situation. If you are sceptical, you don’t have to patronize. I only intend to have 3 - 5 two hour slots per week as I want it to be more as a hobby and less like work. I’ve benchmarked the prices according to Junior College (JC) Econs tuition rates. You can choose the topics of your interest based on the course list. There won’t be games / assignment during paid hours. You can stop any time to clarify and lessons are conducted at your own pace. There is no software subscription fees or hidden fees but just revealing my strategies.


You can see from the history of my articles that I only share stocks which I’ve bought for myself with proof of purchase. All my sharing in articles and Telegram / Facebook Page are time stamped. Though not perfect, I’ve put my credibility on the line and you would have seen my track record. I can’t go back in time. Also, if you did well in the market after attending my lessons, you will be rewarded with cash rebates from us.


Find out more info here >> EngineerInvest’s Tuition Class



An example of my all-time favourite article coincidentally with the most views “EngineerInvest.com’s go-to Charts to Determine Market Bottom” published early April 2020 where I’ve shared how I determined it was time to buy stocks. I’ve also shared my single day transaction of buying Alibaba (HKEX:9988), putting more than SG$100k into one company. At this point of writing, I’ve reaped a total of HK$340k+ unrealized profit from it. My Alibaba holdings has briefly touched the same HK$1 million milestone as my Ping An holdings first did. Hope my Tencent shares will reach the same mark soon too. Besides the COVID-19 crisis, you can also see my portfolio timeline where I’ve shown my buy receipts of various stocks at historical low-price during previous crisis. Some notable purchases are OSIM at SG$0.055 (sold 20X higher), Venture Corp at SG$4.24, Ping An at HK$36.60, Tencent at HK$133.30. I say this respectfully but I don’t see many gurus out there who are early investors of China stocks and have actually bought at such low prices and big single transactions as I’ve did. Most are focused on either SG or the US market. In fact, I’ve observed that some had started to use my sources as part of their articles which I don’t usually see earlier. No hard feelings, the internet is free and it’s always good to learn from each other.



Updates from Telegram / Instagram / Facebook page:

Here are some of the selected posts (screenshots) from my Telegram, Instagram & Facebook page. If I did any trades, sometimes I will also share it there. Do join us to check out our previous and future sharing!!





Not encouraging any trades & my positions might change without notice. Just sharing the stock idea for reference, learning purposes only. Do not follow trade, practise due diligence and do check out our full disclaimer.


Cheers & Great Weekend!!


Disclaimer: Just sharing from experience as I have put my own money into the stock market over the period of 17 years. I am not a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charterholder and do not have any finance-related qualifications. Please also check out our full disclaimer.


The best compliment the Engineer can receive is your referral/sharing of EngineerInvest.com to your family & friends.


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Reach out to me at engineerinvest.biz@gmail.com


Reference Links:

1.https://www.azquotes.com/quote/1034416#:~:text=Unwavering%20Faith...-,THE%20MIRACLE%20EQUATION%3A%20Unwavering%20Faith%20%2B%20Extraordinary%20Effort%20%3D%20Miracles.,create%20miracles%20in%20your%20life.

2.https://www.forbes.com/real-time-billionaires/#6d301a453d78

3.https://greatmusings.com/a-successful-entrepreneur-warren-buffett/

4.https://www.stlouisfed.org/open-vault/2018/september/how-compound-interest-works


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