My childhood days were difficult. Dad was a taxi driver and Mom was a homemaker. We were poor – very poor. Daily meals at home consisted mostly of just plain rice without other side dishes. Occasionally, Dad would bring home curry chicken for dinner, and this was a call for celebration! Back then, life was extremely tough. My dad did not have the luxury of having access to financial planning advice such as we do now. No financial plan. No direction. Struggling with trying to make ends meet, my parents did not believe in planning for the long term.
At the age of 14, something very eventful happened. My dad, our family’s sole breadwinner, met with a terrible accident. As a result, he was badly injured. From then on, we lost our freedom and at times had to suffice with meagre meals. There was no income continuity – Dad did not have any insurance or risk management program then. Everything came to an immediate stop because he was bedridden. The income flow to my family stopped abruptly and medical bills were piling high. Eventually, Mom had to start looking for a job. She was willing to take up any job in order to make ends meet. On many occasions, we had no food, only water. That was a nasty period in our lives – a painful one. At that time, I felt really helpless. What could I do at the tender age of 14? Relatives took pity on us. Some offered help but many shunned us.
Many months passed. Soon, Dad recovered steadily but was still unable to work. Because of the piling medical bills and the need to sustain the family, my parents had no choice but to resort to repetitive borrowing. That was the time I learnt that getting into debt was a very pathetic experience. I had to leave school to work, in hopes of alleviating the heavy burden that weighed upon Mom’s shoulder.
The year was 1976. At the age of 15, I joined the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) as a career soldier. During the early days of the SAF, its military training academy was already established to provide a career platform for youths like myself to study and be trained as a full-time soldier.
After two gruelling years in the military academy, I finally graduated as a full-fledged soldier in the SAF. Though the training was extremely rigorous and rough then, I endured the hardship, focusing instead on my responsibility to bring home income for my family. So true is the saying,
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”
A trying period in my life such as this one has indeed toughened me. In my military career, I usually topped the class and won awards in the many courses I attended. Along with it, my income steadily climbed and my family’s situation gradually improved. Eventually, we moved out from Changi to the Southern part of Singapore where we stayed in a rented flat. Compared to our wooden Kampong house, our new home was so much more comfortable, with amenities in immediate convenience. My life was transforming, slowly. Unknown to me however, Singapore was progressing and transforming at a comparatively much faster pace. Even though the quality of our lives had improved, we still:
– Did not own a home (It was rented)
– Did not have savings
– Did not have assets
– Did not have a tertiary education
In 1981, another tragedy hit. Dad passed away. Because of the accumulation of debts over the entire period when he could not work, he left behind no asset but instead, a mountain-load of liabilities. We thus had to scrimp on every cent from our monthly pay cheques to repay our debts.
My dream of becoming a millionaire was also challenged. I remembered, “Tough times don’t last. But tough people do.” I took on the challenge and confronted the obstacles head-on. I made a vow there and then that I did not want to be poor anymore. I will tell my story to the world and teach many others to be rich too. I will encourage all to pursue their dreams and be rich – because their futures were worth it.
At age 23, I bought my first home – a five-room flat in Tampines, for S$77,000. I was comfortably and happily married with two children – a boy and a girl. I had a good life then. But lo and behold, unknowingly, I had been drifting subconsciously and dangerously into my own comfort zone. I had forgotten all about my dream! I had forgotten all about my desire to become a millionaire and to teach others to become rich. Having become contented with a comfortable life, I assumed
naturally that I had invested my time, energy and money well. I assumed that the military career would last until my retirement. During that period however, the thought and idea of becoming a millionaire soon found its way back into my heart – on and off, time and again. Finally in 1988, when I was at the peak of my military career, I decided to quit. I resigned from the SAF and joined the private sector, despite a 60% pay cut! In the first few months, I was struggling with tinges of regret and even fear at times. “Why did I make such a hasty decision to give the security of a well-paying job?” “I have to make the move in order to realise my dream of becoming a millionaire!” Ha! My heart was tossing incessantly; to and fro, left and right. Ah! It was such an unsettling feeling. “No turning back, no turning back.” Yes! No turning back! I am to move forward and realise my dream. No turning back, if I wanted to make progress and grow stronger. No turning back, if I were to make it big, bigger and even bigger than anything that I have accomplished before as a career soldier. It was after the making up of my mind, the burning of bridges and the decision not to turn back to my past that I really felt a strong sense of breakthrough in my spirit. I was able to sense that my big break was coming soon, just like the movie, Rocky. Such an inspiring moment!
Because of my passion and a big dream, I always gave my best to any assignment or business project. Soon, I came to realise that not every superior appreciates a subordinate who is so hungry for and driven towards success. In fact, many felt intimidated and threatened by my zeal and enthusiasm. After having worked in a few salaried jobs, I eventually decided that it was about time that I started writing my own pay cheques, to enjoy a sense of independence and be freed from corporate politics.
In September 1992, I decided to take the plunge into the insurance industry which seemed rather promising and growth-opportunistic at that time. I figured that in order to gain full freedom and autonomy to my future, I had to engage in an endeavour that would allow me to unleash the full potential within me and not allow myself to be restricted by corporate guidelines, constraints or even politics. Within my first year in this business, I made an income of $100,000. To me, that was a princely amount of money. I simply felt exhilarated, harbouring a sense of new found freedom and optimism for the future. Within a few short years, I found my income increasingly exponentially from year to year. Soon, I felt a great sense of achievement at what I had finally arrived at – crossing the million dollar mark in my net worth value. Year 2000, I became Senior Financial Services Partner with the largest independently owned financial advisory firm in Singapore and also a Strategic Coach and Mentor to a large group of professional consultants. Today, I am Professional Trader, Senior Lecturer, Chief Analyst & Owner to Brokerage, Owner of Money changer, Owner of Food distribution worldwide and Trading Educational Platform around the world.
Are you also like myself, on the same journey and looking for directions? Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions in life.
- What are you going to do where you are?
- Are you happy presently? – if yes, move further, if no, do something.
- Who is around you will make a big difference is what you are trying to achieve.
- Read widely.
- Stick to your plan and keep improving as you move each day.
“Road to excellence is always under construction – have enough tools to anticipate those constructions ahead of you.