Hello stranger, welcome to FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) Singapore, a blog on FIRE and related life hacks! I am Tom (an alter-ego, but you know me if you know me). For the uninitiated, FIRE is a movement that dedicates to extreme savings and investment. This lets you retire faster than people usually expect.
I made this site because I am tired of friends doing self-destructive things to sabotage their retirements. These acts of sabotage include gambling on random stocks, Forex trading and other random get-rich-quick schemes. Also, in general not giving a heck about their money.
Who is Tom?
In 2017, I was a 34-year-old person having been in the workforce for 6 years. I had zero control of my finances. Also, I was afraid to know how much I had in my bank accounts. I did not know how much the ‘investments’ that my financial adviser recommended me to buy were worth. Neither did I have any idea how much I was spending per month, how much I was saving, nor what my financial goals are.
Sure, I had yearly reviews with my financial adviser. But trust me when I say that most financial advisers do not have your financial interests as their top priorities. At the end of the day, these reviews are meant to upsell additional products (most of which are investment-linked products that yield the most commissions).
Of course, the end result of buying financial products/insurance policies gives you moderate coverage in terms of accidents, hospitalisations and illnesses.
However, one should never buy investment products from companies wishing that you would have enough money to retire in future. The opportunity cost of doing so is too high. You will reach your retirement pot of gold much faster, if you do your investments yourself. It is not hard, but I took years to realise this!
Just so you can identify a little more with me, here are some vital statistics:
- Average married person born in the early 1980s.
- No kids (that probably makes me not so average).
- Typical office worker with a typical graduate salary.
- Lives in a HDB flat.
Retirement is a Hard Topic
Have a chat with your friends.
Try sneaking in the topic of retirement, and see what the typical responses are like. Chances are there would be a lot of ‘urms’ and ‘ahhs’. People are generally uncomfortable with the topic because it isn’t something that most people find measurable or something they indulge in working towards. The typical person assumes the normal pathway in life is to work, save, stop working, live on savings, and then die.
Note that I said ‘stop working’ to describe the act of literally ‘stopping’ your job, because you have reached ‘retirement age’. Reaching retirement age doesn’t necessarily mean one has enough money to retire! I was uncertain of all these back in 2017 too.
As described above, I:
- Avoided the topic of retirement because ‘it’s so far away’.
- Had no idea how much is needed for retirement (or whether I am on track).
- Assumed my financial adviser has as much vested interest in my financial well-being.
- Bought some unimpressive investment-linked policies.
- Had expensive Starbucks/restaurant food up to 2 or 3 times a week.
- Wasted money by meeting for drinks with friends excessively.
- Addicted to travelling via Grab (because I ‘had a hard day at work and deserved some luxury‘).
- Generally bled money.
Here at FIRE Singapore, we don’t want to just slog till we are 62, be forced to ‘stop working’ and then live the next 2 or 3 decades hoping we have enough money saved up. We don’t want to be afraid of whether we have enough to have a high quality of life that will last till our deathbeds. Instead, we want to stop working because we can afford to do so, and we want to do it fast. This is the key topic at FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire early Singapore).
A Financial Epiphany
Since mid-2017, I realised something was very wrong with how there is so much uncertainty with my finances (despite earning a moderate salary). Not having kids was already a load off me and my wife’s finances. However, the subject of retirement still weighed heavily in my mind.
I had been doing a lot of research on the topic, and discovered (I know it sounds cheesy) the holy grail of reaching financial independence fast.
It has nothing to do with meeting your financial adviser to buy investment products, nor about trying to scrimp and save every cent to hoard in your bank accounts. It is also nothing about being excessively prudent, such that you don’t enjoy life.
I discovered something called the Bogleheads portfolio. Since then, I have been personally taking charge of my investments and growing my money very well. With a plan in mind, I am now able to spend prudently. I do this without missing out on social interactions or well-deserved luxuries.
Real talk – I have not personally achieved FIRE, as someone who only got into this seriously in my mid-30s. However, I am now growing wealth consistently, and exponentially without anxiety.
The Purpose of FIRE Singapore & Related Disclaimers
Having reached an epiphany on my personal finances, I just want to share what I know with you (a stranger that has stumbled upon this site). I’ve done what I can to spread the magic of the Bogleheads portfolio with friends and family. With the exception of my brother, few take heed.
In general, I have observed that those with less ‘investment experience’ are able to erase the wrong notions of personal finance they have built up over the years. They are able to think logically and critically with fresh eyes, instead of letting pride and greed blind them from achieving FIRE.
Since I am not a certified financial adviser, I am obviously not trying to sell you useless investment products to earn hefty sales commissions.
The main purpose of the site is my step-by-step guide on how to make your own Singapore-style Bogleheads Retirement Portfolio. This is something that I have done for myself. It has achieved good performance over the years, and is a better plan than rotting away your working years doing nothing for retirement (or leaving it to financial advisers).
Where there are certain useful books/products that I recommend, I might earn a small commission, but monetisation is not an objective.
On top of mostly discussing the Bogleheads portfolio strategy, I also wish to share lifestyle and money hacks as and when I discover them with you.
An important disclaimer – material on this site should not be taken as financial advice. Everything here is for educational purposes only. As per everything in life, please do your own due diligence.
So, how does one retire gain financial independence and retire early in Singapore ? Read the next section to find out!